After arriving Tuesday midday into Richards Bay I was so exhausted that I managed to have a full nights sleep even with the stomach ache and diarreah. I hoped I would awake feeling better and the food poisoning having passed. I did feel a little better Wednesday morning and was able to have small meals throughout the day. I also managed a 2km ez swim and a 1hour ride with Lauren, Kyle and other international athletes Marco Albert and Dirk Bockel. Although, at times I felt very tired just keeping up on the ez ride. I had a reasonable dinner but my stomach would fill up fast and begin to gurgle shortly after the meal. I then spent the rest of Wednesday evening and all that night between bed and the toilet. I was not obviously rid of whatever was in my gut. Thursday turned out to be a struggle having not slept more then a couple hours at a time and having not digested any of the food I ate the day prior as it just washed through me. After doing a 25min ez run in which I struggled at one point to run up a hill back home; needless to say I was concerned about the race in three days.
After plying myself with immodium and urgently trying to replace my electrolytes I was a little more coherent on Friday and managed another swim and ez bike and had a few smaller simple meals. Saturday was significantly better then the days prior and I had hope that I would be feeling capable of racing at full strength. My tuneup workouts on Saturday went relatively smoothly for the first efforts since racing a week earlier.
Sunday morning I awoke with confidence that I would be able to race hard and achieve the Top 8 pre qualifying standard that I needed. My body was a little stiff from the tune up workouts on Saturday but I wasn't bothered by that, I still felt strong.
The swim start was rough as usual at the first turn and I had the opportunity to look around as the bunch came to a complete stop as we fought around the can. I noticed I wasn't at the back but I wasn't as close to the front as I wanted. So I put my head down for the remainder of the lap to move up inch by inch and new I had to put in a strong second lap. I launched myself back into the water after the beach turnaround and continued to work my way up through the pack. I exited the water 10sec or so back from the lead swimmer and by the run to transition I was right near the front. I got on my bike and pushed hard for the first 500m to easily bridge to the front riders and then just positioned myself for the rest of the ride. It was another uneventfull group ride with the odd attack and only Matt Reed and Brian Fleischman of the US getting up the road 30sec heading into T2.
Having been near the front into T2 in Korea and still having to sprint I made sure I was the front of the group this week. I exited transition second from our pack and pushed the pace with him until were joined by a group of four others. We set a good pace drawing the leader Matt Reed into 10sec up from us and then held that distance. There were a few surges but I felt strong and in control. At about the 3-4km mark I actually felt the pace become comfortable as I relaxed a little. However, after covering a few more surges through the 5km mark I began to hurt but I normally have a strong second 5km so I was confident I could hold it together. Unfortunatley this confidence quickly dissapated as withing the next km my heart rate would dramatically increase and never return to normal. I was able to hold a reasonable pace for the third lap but my energy was completely draining from me and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I was runing all out at max heart rate but I was not running fast. I pushed right to the end to where I collapsed in a very dissapointing 18th place. I am a far fitter and stronger athlete then this performance and all of my performances this year but I was just left with no energy after suffering through the week on little nutrition, almost no training and lots of depletion.
It is so frustrating to have seen my pre qualifying opportunities this year first fall away after my crash at Mooloolaba, and then go down the toilet (literally) this week in in Richards Bay. This has put me in a very difficult position for Olympic Qualification but I hope to find a way around these troubles and still get done what I need to.
Thanks for reading and one of these days I will not have write about my battles through adversity and just tell you about the awesome performance I am capable of.
I CAN be on the podium!