My Ironman Dream – Idelette Olivier


Let me take you back a while to where it all started.

2014 Ironman 70.3 Buffalo City.

Idelette Olivier Team participant – GREEN Team Band… and there was the problem.

My dream was ignited by this photo. An Athletes photo.  Those that know me well, will know, that did not sit well.  I wasn’t an athlete, I was a swimmer.  Yes, I was probably one of the better swimmers around but just a swimmer…

The dream started to really burn when my husband crossed the finish line and had the biggest smile on his face. I still drove back home after the race with a Euphoric man playing with his medal every so often…

A month later I borrowed a Mountain bike and started riding… What a joy! After riding for a month I entered 70.3 East London, quietly.  It took about 2 months for me to own up to anyone.

I had a couple of problems to sort out… I needed a bike. BUT

Most daunting was the fact that the furthest I had ever run was 10km and I walked most of it; it was before I had my kids and I was about 25kg+ lighter…

I had lots of help (Thanks MR D!) and lots of encouragement; some people thought that I was crazy and would not make it. I did make it, straight into the Medical tent and on crutches but I finished and within the cut-off. Box ticked.

The week after the race I entered the 2016 Ironman 70.3 EL. I was in love with a new sport.

The same year Bernus entered Ironman South Africa and being part of his journey expanded my dream. I also wanted to hear “Idelette, YOU are an Ironman”.  I also wanted to go to KONA.  So I settled on 2017 to tackle IMSA.

Whilst training for 70.3 EL, Mr D asked, “Why wait? You could do it 2016.  Get to EL injury free and then you could do IMSA.” Louis thought I could do it!!…He believed!!

All I needed to do was believe too. After driving everyone insane around me, especially the ever patient Mr D and my rock, my husband, I decided maybe I needed a coach and joined Tissink Triathlon.  So now I could stop bugging people for sessions and only bug them for information.

70.3 EL arrived and a lighter, fitter and more confident me was at the starting line. Still scared, but I had no injuries!  I took off 1hour 22min of my time! Thank you!  And then my mind was turned to the big one…  The training for “half” was hard, so I thought… The IMSA training hit me and boy what an eye opener.

I was forever tired and constantly hungry. Rest days was something that seem to happen to other people not me and long rides took on a whole new meaning.

My bike and I started a love-hate relationship and I was pushed/helped by my friends and my coaches.

Bernus and Louis accompanied me on most rides to ensure that I wasn’t left on the road alone and the runs I found a way to make it work. Some days it was running around a field 25 times if I could not bully someone into running with me.

As long as the blocks on Training Peaks were green to show a session was done properly I was happy. And I tried to keep it green.

And the weeks passed…The guys kept my spirits high with banter and encouragement. The days were slowly ticking by and then Race week…

Isn’t it weird how everyone asks you, “Are you ready?”, “Do you think you can do it?”, “Have you trained for this?” I mean it was the week before the race and I was still entered, obviously I thought I was ready.

I was warned that I was going to get tired of training. I did not believe them; me get tired of training?!?  Not in this lifetime.  I was wrong, so very wrong.  And with tapering come irritability, self-doubt and an almost debilitating fear that I would let everyone down.  Impatience as I just wanted to do this already!  I had packed my bags a week before the race to ensure that I had everything and only needed to add the consumables.  Queen K was serviced.  Running shoes were sparkling clean.  I just needed the race to arrive and then also wanted it to be another month.

Registration was settling as I seem to feel better once I had my Athletes Band (The most satisfying feeling!). I remembered to collect my Special Needs bags.  Race Briefing was great but a little subdued and boring as I knew everything they told me.  I am one of those that actually read the Info guide and Race Rules.

But this was real! All these people were Superfit!  They almost looked Superhuman.  There were no fat people, I seemed to be the only one that had some weight to lose.  They all looked like they meant business, talked the talk and walked the walk.

“Channel nervousness into Excitement” Mantra for the weekend! So I was Super excited, translated into I was Super Nervous!

Saturday I was to go for the Orientation swim and met up with Team Tissink.

What a team! But they all looked so kept together.  Not nervous at all.  Ready for this.  I wasn’t so sure.  Those buoys weren’t even visible…  At least there were no waves.  The swim actually settled me down a little.  My next worry was to get to my room and pack my bags.  My checklist was done, Tri-suit added as I almost forgot it.

I packed and checked my bags at least 3 times and I think I tipped them out again just before leaving the room. Bernus the ever patient husband just kept going through the motions and quietly lending strength where his wife was going off the rails.

Bike Check in and I met some team mates and other athletes. Francois Naude was one of them, at the time I did not know that he was going to play a big role in my race.

Walk transition, get landmarks (I had a good number and I had awesome landmarks), release some air from your bike tyres; note where everything is and remember you can still get there on race morning, so nothing is a crisis. Take some photos and enjoy the experience.

Supper at Marilyn’s, last checking of everything and mixing bottles. Off to sleep. Or Not.

Race Morning…

OH MY WORD IT IS HERE! “Channel nervousness into Excitement” It worked yesterday, why does it not want to work today!  No tears, not allowed to cry. YOU WILL NOT CRY!  This is going to be fun, ok maybe not the whole time but it will be.

YOU WILL NOT PUKE! Right let’s leave the room.  Bernus still being my ever patient husband quietly reassuring me.  There is transition.  Right bag into the right truck. Ok, let’s go check this out.

Bike Chain Lubed. Tyres inflated. Easy Gear. Nutrition added. Bottles added. Small pep-talk with Queen K and she is ready.

Bags checked and nutrition added. Everything is going according to plan.  Ok, everyone looks nervous today.  I feel better.  Let’s find B.

He is waiting at our Spot, same place I met him last year. Wetsuit halfway, street-wear bag dropped off.

Mr D is on his way. I WILL NOT CRY. Photo time.  Honestly I don’t really remember what was said at that time, except that I was to enjoy my race.  This was the fun part.

Ok its time. Lets swallow the GU.  And then I completely forgot to be nervous as I was concentrating so hard to keep the GU down and not embarrass myself completely.

Waiting in that starting shoot everything just became eerily calm. I was surrounded with Tissink Athletes and they were so excited.

“Channel nervousness into Excitement” and boy it worked again! I was doing it! I WAS LIVING MY DREAM! I was about to start one of the most Iconic Races in the triathlon world! I was about 15 hrs away from being an IRONMAN.

The Cannon went off and the energy increased all around me. Couple of minutes that felt like forever and it was my turn.

I hit the water and my attention is diverted to get past the waves. The rest can wait.  Right, now swim.  No surges, just swim.  Everyone is flying past me!  Am I supposed to worry and keep up??? “Steady is fast” so I looked for a rhythm, tried to sight for the buoys which seemed to be gone because it was not flat.  It was not an easy swim.  Getting to that turn around buoy was talking longer than expected, so may 57 wasn’t on the cards today.  Find feet, they suddenly seem to be too slow, so I start picking them off, 1 by 1.

I had to stop completely once, as I swallowed a big gulp of sea water. After settling down I wondered why the damn chopper was so close, it just made things worse.  And there was the turnaround buoy, let’s take it home.  Long and strong.

400m to go and the next obstacle is getting out of the sea, I really need to get rid of this fear of the waves, and a blue bottle stings my pinkie. EINA! EINA! I have never been stung before, fear of the waves forgotten, and I’m on the beach. As I hit the sand I cramp! Oh no, not a small little cramp. One of those where you actually need someone else to help you to straighten your leg.  But it’s IRONMAN and you can’t.  Moments of panic as I see my dream disappear and then the wave (the very one I am so scared of) helps me to stand and get rid of the cramp.

Ok, next step T1. Running out of that sea I felt like a champ! The supporters were amazing!  There was Delano & Lize and Bernus.  I could do this!

Swim time 1:02, not bad for the conditions and splashing around in the waves J

Out of transition, clipped in, I didn’t fall J  There’s Mr D!

My strategy on the bike was simple, ride within yourself and ignore everyone around you. Remember to drink and remember to eat.

Second feed I decided to have my sandwich, this was supposed to be nice and easy to eat and digest. About 15 minutes later, I realised I was in trouble.  I had stomach cramps like I have never experienced before. I tried some fluids and that made it worse.  I thought that maybe getting sick was on the cards, but didn’t know if that was the way to go.

I was an Iron-Virgin and I had no plan. I tried to remember everything I had read about nutrition and what I have been told, most of that has been about what to eat and do to prevent the situation but not much about what to do to remedy the situation.  At about 50km into the bike I thought for the second time that day that my dream was shattered. “Plan A, Plan B, Plan Finish” Ok we were on the next plan.  Get to special needs.  I stopped drinking and eating.  I took two Bessemax, not part of the plan, but muscle relaxant… just maybe it will help.

Pass the Supporters, smile and wave. No reason to make them worry.

Special Needs, Plan B accomplished. Slowly drink ensure.  I can keep it down.  Get rid sandwiches and stock up on potatoes.  I am scared, if I take a deep breath it hurts.  If I go down today I go down fighting.  I have not come this far to quit.  I don’t care if I puke or cry but this race I will finish.  I have 16hrs 45min.  We are onto Plan Finish!  So let’s get cracking.

I find some water and get rid of everything else. New nutrition plan… Water and Potatoes only thing I can face.  135km BINGO!  IT’S GONE.  I have some GelShots and its ok.  I have ½ PowerBar and that’s ok.  Plan Finish was looking a hell of a lot better.

This time cycling past my supporters my smile was real and the excitement was real. I was feeling tired but strong and confident!

Bike: 7:18 (10 minutes at Special needs and about 10 minutes of stopping to cool down/manage tummy cramps, I’ve done well)

T2: Easy does it. REMEMBER YOUR GLOVES! The ladies in the tent were awesome. They mothered me through and all was well.

Now for 4 arm bands and then I was done…

Getting to the aid station at Perrot Avenue and seeing Kevin was God sent. It made such a difference having someone on that side of the course.  I was ok.  I had no idea what my pace was, but it didn’t matter.  Later I realised I managed to average 7:51 for the 1st 21km.  It was ok, not a land speed record but it was ok.

Round 1, Got to the Clan and Mrs D told me to Smile. Bernus was having a hard time.  That’s very sweet, someone to worry about. Smile and wave!

Round 2 & 3, Mr D took a turn to run with me. “Hardest Round coming up, Round 3. Round 4 was easy, you’re going home. So Easy Peesy Running.” Ok, got a plan, now execute.  When I saw them again, I was SO happy I was on my way to becoming an Ironman!

Round 4: I have 4 bands and I have a glow stick.  I actually asked for one. J I wanted the whole experience.  I was a little over 8km away from becoming an IRONMAN. And then my hammy cramped properly.  I came to a grinding halt after a couple 100 meters and there was my buddy from Transition.  Francois Naude.  He stopped and asked what was wrong.  I explained that I was cramping and he asked where.  And proceeded to rub out the cramp.  By this time I think I hit my 1st real low.  I was tired, my knee was starting to hurt, my feet were hurting, I knew I had blisters even though I kept my shoes as dry as possible.  I was sticky and dirty and suddenly 7km felt like 70km to go.

Francois, “Ok, let’s do this together!” Me, “Please go ahead, there is no way I can run.” Francois, “Wie het gese ons gaan hardloop! Ek is net so moer toe, ons het meer as n uur en kan nog steeds onder 15 ure klaar maak.”

We walked and talked and joked. High fived the crowd and just had some fun. I cramped, we walked it out.  He cramped, we walked it out.  He hit a low, I talked him out of it, I hit a low and he talked me out of it.  At one time someone told us that, “That was the Ironman Spirit!” and we embraced it all.

He left me at the turn off to the red carpet. We had concluded that we were meant to run into each other, to ensure we finished the race.  It was all part of an incredible day that was about to culminate on the Magical Red Carpet.

I found the strength somewhere and it felt like I was running, probably shuffling, when I got onto that carpet.

It was surreal.

It was magic.

It was my dream…

And the words “IDELETTE, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN” was a reality.

Today I look back and I am blessed to have a Mr D and the most amazing husband.

I made the right decision to join Team Tissink and the Dream has evolved…

 We’re going to KONA

Author: Tissink_Admin

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