Colonial Beach Triathlon & 2019 Race Goals

Last week we discussed Christin's first triathlon racing experience and this week it's my turn to share what I've been up to. We have some very exciting news: I qualified for Nationals!!! Woohoo!! We are heading to Cleveland today!! In our latest video, I'm sharing a summary of what my racing season has been like. As Christin discussed, we've really enjoyed getting plugged into Team FeXY and joining a lot of group training activities this season. That has really helped me establish and target a big goal for the year, which is to qualify for the 2019 Age Group U.S. National Championships and ultimately, by competing in Nationals, the next goal will be to qualify for the 2020 World Championships.

I've had the opportunity to represent South Africa in two world championships, first in the World Duathlon Championships, held in New Castle, Australia, in 2005. Then in 2016, I competed in the World Triathlon Championships, held in Cozumel, Mexico. At the time, I just recently moved to the U.S., and my time was absorbed with adjusting to a new country. This year, it was time to finally get back into serious racing, especially because USA Triathlon rules allow a legal U.S. resident to qualify for U.S. Nationals, and thereby World's, after living in the U.S. for three years. I set my sights on competing in three local Kinetic Multisports races, in order to qualify for Nationals. First up: Rumpus in Bumpass in mid-April.

Bumpass is the name of a small lakefront community about a 2-hour drive from where we stay in Northern Virginia. The course is absolutely stunning, along Lake Anna, a freshwater inland reservoir. But there were a few hiccups. First, the area had been hit with a heavy thunderstorm the previous night. Part of the running course features a woodsy trail, which was a total muddy mess after the rain. From our parking spot, we, along with many fellow race participants and spectators, had to traverse that muddy trail to get to the race start. And then during the actual race, people were slipping and sliding on that section. The ride also had some hair-raising sections, especially due to the fact that sprint-distance racers were let onto the same course as the olympic distance racers, who were flying down a descent, finishing their first of three laps. Unfortunately this led to several crashes and our thoughts go out to those who were injured. I decided from then on, to pick races whenever possible that allow the olympic and sprint-distance competitors to ride on separate days, or at least on separate courses or without multiple laps. But aside from the race course itself, the biggest challenge I faced was a calf injury that had flared up a few weeks prior to the race. I was never able to completely pinpoint the cause, but suspect that it has something to do with all the indoor training on a rigid system throughout the winter months. In any case, a third of the way into the run, the pain really crept in and made for much slower results than what I'd hoped for.

At that point, it felt like I might have to throw in the towel completely on my tri season. I consulted with a physical trainer who advised me to rest completely from running for 3 weeks. Fortunately I could still cycle and swim, to maintain my fitness, with hopes that I'd be back into the run by early-June. After those few weeks of rest, I gradually began short, moderate runs on soft trail and track surfaces. It was looking hopeful that I'd be able to hit my second race target of General Smallwood on June 15th. But I got hit with a nasty head cold days prior, and racing was once again, a no-go. Now I really thought my chances for Nationals had flown out the window.

But I still had one last shot - Colonial Beach in mid-July. After recovering from the cold, I set out a training plan to get me back up to speed as much as possible for race day. Once again, the course was beautiful, with palm trees and as much of a beach vibe as you can get two hours from DC, although the swim, as it happens at the lower end of the Potomac River, is incredibly murky. The ride is an out and back course, as is the run. Sprint distance participants do compete on the same day, but unlike Rumpus in Bumpass, competitors weren't getting jumbled up by multiple laps. The danger-factor came in by the fact that the roads were open to motorized vehicles, and this also led to at least one crash that I’m aware of, involving a vehicle. My race was not ideal, as a painful cramp fired up my hamstring about a mile into the run. It was so bad that I stopped at the first water point to try to massage it out for two minutes. But somehow, despite that slow effort on the last leg of the race, I managed to pull out second in my age group, and with that, I actually made my goal and qualified for Nationals! I can't wait to take on this next challenge and see how I do, stacked up next to all the best U.S. Age Group Triathletes! Stay tuned to hear how it goes!

- Wiehan


Tell us! What health and fitness goals are you working toward? How’s it going?