When I have a goal, I go Big 👊
I qualified for Kona in 2022 in Emilia Romagna, Italy. I took first in my age group and third woman overall. Prep is easy in the summer, long rides, long runs, and swims. Working and training, as many of you know, takes quite a toll on day-to-day life as well as mentally and physically. However, when I have a goal, I go big
Leading up to Kona, my race prep had already started towards the end of 2022. I went to South Africa over Christmas to begin my training and to prep for my first Ironman of the 2023 season which took place in March. I took first in my age group and second woman overall to claim the title of African champion. Soon after I decided to switch my coach, I was good but just not good enough yet. I needed that last kick to reach the top, meaning improving my swim, bike and run times and really focusing on what I needed.
MY fastest bike & run time 🏃♀️
After switching coaches in April, shortly before my next race, Ironman 70.3 Rapperswil-Jona. I made huge improvements to my bike and running times First in my age group and forth woman overall and a qualification for the Ironman World Championships in Finland, unplanned but I took it and went for it. Finland was great prep, I moved up from 35th place to third in my age group and eighth woman overall. The fastest bike and run time I have ever recorded!
One week later, I stood on the start line for 70.3 Locarno. This would be the perfect last race before the Ironman World Championships. We were aware it could turn into a remarkable triumph or a noticeable setback. Being fatigued from the World Championships, I did not know how my body would handle a race after such a demanding race a week earlier. But it went well, first in my age group, first woman overall and I took the 2023 title of Swiss middle-distance Champion.
The Best year of my Triathlon Career 💥
The Ironman World Championships Kona, Hawaii. I had four weeks to empty the tank for that final push. The year had worked out well, better than I could have ever imagined. In fact, it was the best year I had ever experienced in my triathlon career. It started off with a post-race week recovery, it worked well for me but I’m not someone who likes a lot of rest & recovery. Then, it was back to the grind. I got back to normal daily training, which consisted of swimming at least four times per week, increased running mileage and more time in the saddle, giving me 25 hours per week on average. Week two of four started with the heat adaptation training, more clothes and more indoor training which resulted in lots of sweating and less fluid intake. I did this two-three times per week on the turbo, concentrating on elevation on the bike.
Catch Medals, not Feelings 🥇
I left for Kona two weeks prior to race day. Flying was great, however, the jetlag hit me hard. How did I handle this? By building my bike at midnight and waking up at 6:30am to find a breakfast spot with my friend. The first five to six days were tough, but I completed all my training blocks and slowly but surely managed to slip back into my normal sleeping routine.
My Focus is to keep the Body Firing 🔥
How does my training look two weeks prior to the biggest race of my career thus far? Not much different. All I had to focus on was keeping hydrated and adapting to the hot temperatures in Kona. The first few days I trained during the hottest times of the day. Thereafter, I tried to replicate how it would play out on race day, swim in the morning, then cycle and run in the blazing heat of the day. Race week saw less training and more recovery, my focus was to keep the body firing with shorter sessions and more recovery time. I planned my sessions in the final week to make sure I rode the entire bike course, swam the length of the swim course, as well as running sections of running route. It helps me to plan for race day as well as mentally preparing me for what is to come. Three days out from the biggest race of my life I focus on the nutrition. Putting focus on what I eat and when. Rest, recover and fire into those short sessions.
Lights, Camera, Action 🎥
It was race day and I was competing in the 25-29 age group category. We started the swim as the second to last group, which meant we would be doing a lot of overtaking from the age groupers Infront. My swim went well, as per usual there was lots of pushing and pulling but I managed to get out of water in a helpful position with a time of 58:00 and in eighth position. I felt good and was ready to start the chase.
I had no Idea Where I Was 🤷♀️
I entered Queen-K feeling average on the bike. I thought this could become a long day if I didn’t find my legs soon. However, I kept to the plan formulated by my coach and rode my own race. I had no idea where I was on the leaderboard and where the ladies were in front of me. I just tried to focus on myself and believe I was riding strong.
Disaster Struck ❌
It was hot & windy, and I became lonely. I was on the catch up, overtaking the majority of those in front and searching for the girls in my age group. At 70 kilometres, disaster struck, I lost an important bottle, my carb drink. This was a game changer as I hadn’t started drinking from this bottle yet, this meant I was in the negative of my overall carb intake. I quickly devised plan B, split my gel intake and drink as much water as possible to stay hydrated. Luckily, I had added an extra emergency gel which filled up that 60-gram carb loss. I knew that the bike can either make or break you and the ride had to be executed wisely.
I Felt Good, I Felt Great 🔋
At the turn in Hawi, things started to take a turn for the better. So excited to get on the infamous harsh run, the plan was to take it up a notch up in the final 50-Kilometres if I felt good and I felt great. I have never felt that good in a long-distance race before. I pushed and executed the plan successfully and I was spontaneously informed by a spectator who knew me, I had climbed from eight to third. I couldn’t stop smiling and I couldn’t wait to get to T2.
I tried to stay focused, which becomes harder the longer the race goes on and I knew I had to keep hitting my numbers towards the end of the 180-kilometre bike ride. The heat and wind were really starting to play havoc with me, keeping cool and hydrating became my main focus. A cooler body temperature leading into the run would set me up for a controlled effort with no fear of overheating too soon. It’s hard out there, lonely on the 180-kilometre bike course, it messes with your head. So, I started preparing for my run, I tried to stay as present as possible on the bike by staying connected with my body, getting ready for my transition in T2
I Soon Passed the Leader 😎
I left T2 in good spirit, the volunteers were amazing with assisting in the transitions. I was motivated and ready to tackle the hardest part of the race. I was in second position and soon passed the leading woman, which put me as the overall age group leader for a few kilometres.
I was soon passed though; I had headed out too fast, I was trusting my watch, but it was only showing me my average and not my actual pace. I was quickly told to reduce my pace as the race will only start once I’m on Queen-K. I felt good and was within myself, I had a positive mindset and wasn’t too disheartened from being passed by the girl who was in my age group, we cycled together for a bit on the highway, so I knew who she was. I didn’t let this distract me but instead I stayed focused on my own race. That is the beauty of long-distance triathlon, anything can happen, and the race only starts to spring into action at around 25–30-kilometre mark.
The race had finally begun ✅
I usually get stronger the longer the race goes on and I finally entered onto Queen-K, it was hot and humid. The race had finally begun, I knew it was about to get challenging. I focused on keeping cool and hydrated and took a pitstop at around the 14-kilometre mark as my stomach began to feel bloated. This didn’t concern me too much as I knew my body was struggling to digest carbs due to dehydration. I wasted a few minutes at the pit-stop but got back on track and was still about 10 minutes ahead of the woman chasing me.
I entered the energy lab, and I hoped my pre-race training would pay dividends. I knew that every day would be different and that I would not fully be able to prepare for what’s to come. However, I had mentally prepared myself for that fact that this would probably be where I would hit the wall and I did. The volunteers, spectators and women racing alongside me made the tough times so much easier. All the support we received before and on race day was just indescribable.
The Mind Wanted More, But the Body was done 🤕
Just before the furthest point in the energy lab, I walked for the first time. I felt nauseous and dizzy, I tried to walk it off for a few seconds, gather myself and my thoughts, toughen up and talk myself out of causing too much self-drama. I picked up the pace again, the sun was really beating down on me and the tailwind was creating an unbearable humidity as I headed back onto Queen-K.
The 30-kilometre mark, ouch. I tried to focus and cool down, but I was struggling to keep my legs moving. What disappointed me at this point was that I usually become stronger towards the backend of the race, but today that wasn’t the case. I had big plans for my run in Kona and had dreamt about winning this race, but I had to quickly get those thoughts out of my head and focus on finishing my run regardless of the pace.
My boyfriend David kept me updated throughout the run; he was trying to motivate me as he could see I was really starting to struggle. The last five kilometres were the hardest five kilometres I’ve ever experienced. I didn’t have anything left in the tank; the mind wanted more but the body was done. Somehow though, I managed to keep my body moving, walk, run, walk, run and so on.
I gave it my all ✅
I ran through the finish line in second position in my age group and third women overall. I collapsed on the floor. I was done, my legs were broken, and my entire body and mind were exhausted. I can proudly walk away from this race saying I gave it my all. My official time was 9:25:00, I completed the swim in 58:00, bike in 4:58:00 and my run in 3:26:00. Running across the finish line, I couldn’t help but think about the amazing sponsors who have supported me in getting to the start line, it made it so much more special and emotional. It means the world to me, to be able to give back to the people who tolerated my cancelations, tiredness, moodiness and not to forget walking the road with me in support on runs, cycles and swims to get me to Kona. Thank you.
I have Unfinished Business in Kona 🌸
I’m second in the 25-29 age group category and third woman overall in the world. I’ll take that home with a big smile on my face. I have unfinished business in Kona. This has been my best racing and training year to date since I started as a rookie eight years ago with triathlon. I had to learn how to ride a bike over long distances and improve significantly on my swim and run.
The year 2023 has been full of difficulties, but the hard work paid off for the biggest race in my career thus far. I’ve never been closer to being able to take the next step in pursuing my dream of standing on the start line as a professional Triathlete in 2024.
I love inspiring those who follow me 💗
It’s extremely exciting to be able to share my experience in Kona on the Muuvr app. I’m quite transparent when it comes to training and allowing others to see what I do, as it’s all part of the journey. Muuvr allows me to document my training whilst earning Muuvs as I go. I love inspiring those who follow my journey as a triathlete, from the seasoned campaigner to those starting the sport for the first time.
I wouldn’t be where I am without the endless support from my boyfriend David, my family and sponsors. They all passionately believe in me and my dreams of becoming a professional triathlete. (Muuvr, CATFP, Insiders, NutriperformX, SponsorFood) 🎥 You can follow Michelle’s journey in 2024 here 🦾 Has Michelle inspired you? Why not take on one of our challenge’s here