Slanghoek: Lessons Learned- Tracy Markham

I would describe Slanghoek as my nemesis race.  A race with which I have a love-hate relationship- I love it but it seems to hate me. Or at least, that is the way it feels!

It was the first triathlon I ever did (back in 2011) and I got a black eye in the swim. Then I did it again in 2012 and was so sick on race day that all I remember was feeling miserable as I walked (hoping no one would see me) around the run course. Then in 2013 I have a wobbly swim, a rough bike and find myself dragging myself through a very sandy and HOT run course (no walking this time, at least).

Now, whilst the results were good in all 3 attempts, Slanghoek has taught me there is a difference between a good performance (executing a race strategy well) and a good result.

The swim this year was a little different than the previous years. For one, we were in differently constructed waves and secondly we had to swim a small loop and then a big loop around buoys that were quite hard to spot. As a result of not focusing properly I didn’t spot correctly, resulting in me missing a crucial buoy and receiving a 30sec stop-and-go penalty.

A bit flustered, I dashed into T1, grabbed my gear and sprinted out onto the bike course. The ray of sunshine in the race was definitely transition- I am definitely getting better at these! I think I even managed to rescue the time lost in the 30sec penalty through making sure I had an efficient transition!

Onto the bike course my legs decided to go on a picnic. No matter how much I pushed the Watts were not there. It is a very frustrating thing when you are feeling ok but no matter what you do, or how hard you focus, you just can’t hit your target. I fought my bike for the full 42km and have never been so glad to see T2 before. This was a strange feeling for me because I am definitely a cycling lover… with much less love for the run leg (actually it usually boarders on fear and terror).

Bike racked and helmet off I managed a speedy transition onto the run course. By this time the temperature had risen by a bazillion degrees and I started to fear melting into the sand.

The run course at Slanghoek is no joke. It is sandy, rocky, sandy, sandy, sandy and HOT!! There are only 2 water stations and you literally run for survival between the two. Having fought my bike for 42km my legs weren’t exactly feeling light and fluffy so it was a proper slog and, had I not caught up to Gareth on the run, I might have considered a few paces of walking (which I would have denied flat out if anyone had asked!)

Running on the dam wall was the best feeling in the world as I knew I was nearing the end. Crossing the finishing line with Gareth was spectacular and I was so grateful to be finished and in the shade!! Hearing that I was second lady across the line was also pretty good news and I waited in anticipation to hear if any of the vets and beat my time (they had started after us) but was happy to hear that I kept my ranking.

So, I hear you asking, she came second, what on earth is she unhappy about?! Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy, and feel super blessed, to have come second but there is something unsatisfying about not having everything come together and finishing a race knowing that even though you placed well, you did not execute well.

There is a difference between performance and results, and I have learnt that at Slanghoek. But chin up, pencils out and lessons recorded because that, at the end of the day, is what every race and training session is all about. You take the good with the bad and learn from both.

Here is to executing better next time!