Evaluation of 2020, training, working, training for the next triathlon race…

Triathlon season 2020 race medalsSeychelles, Comores, Madagascar, Kenia, and some other countries of East Africa. Yes, that region has been my working area for the last 3 months. Working indeed, and no vacation 😉 But first I’ll go back a bit further to autumn and winter of 2020.

Last year, after the Ironman 5051 Maastricht triathlon race at the end of September 2020, I continued my triathlon training as normal. No more races and my long 3 months work-free period was coming to an end and it was time to evaluate the season of 2020!

Due to the world-wide Covid-19 pandemic, 2020 has been completely different than anyone could have foreseen. Season 2020 has been a challenge and I’ve been very lucky that I competed in two triathlon races. Unfortunately, the Ironman 70.3 Subic Bay in the Philippines was postponed to early June 2021, and the Ironman 70.3 West-Friesland in the Netherlands was postponed to late June 2021 (will be a busy month!) but I was fortunate enough to be able to compete in 2020 in the Ironman 70.3 Les Sables d’Olonne and the Ironman 5051 Maastricht.

Of course, every race is different and you can’t really compare one race with another race. You can face completely different conditions like open seawater/flat calm lakes, mountain bike track/flat fast tarmac roads, hilly run track/flat run courses. And besides the track conditions, you have the weather from no wind to stormy weather, rain, cold, or maybe too warm.

Anyway, to evaluate my triathlon performance for 2020, I’ve created a table and compare myself to the top 3 in my age group.

Ironman 70.3 Les Sables d'Olonne 2020 - Suffering but hammering throughIronman 70.3 Les Sables d’Olonne

Let’s start with the race in France: Ironman 70.3 Les Sables d’Olonne. The swim is starting with a rolling start from the beach. Due to Covid-19, the rolling start was based on age group and not based on your expected swim time (this is causing slower swimmers to be overtaken by faster swimmers of another age group). The swim is a short distance into the sea and then around the pier going against the current in the channel to a marina. The bike course was hilly with approx 600m height difference. The run was a few laps along the promenade.

AG #1

AG #2

AG #3







dT with me




#42 (top 23%)






dT with me




#19 (top 10%)






dT with me




#18 (top 10%)






dT with me




#18 (top 10%)

Result: place #18 (top 10%). Ok, not too bad but I had expected a better result. What was the reason?

Swim: I’m just not fast enough yet! Since the rolling start was based on the age group, everyone in the age group was starting almost at the same time and the current that was getting stronger in the channel to the marina wasn’t an excuse. I just have to train on improving my swimming technique! Simple as that!

Bike: Quickly after the start, I lost part of my nutrition on a high bump in the road and had to stop and pick up my bottle twice… The bike ride felt tougher than it should have been and back home I found out that my full disc wheel bearings were worn out. This caused a lot of resistance and probably did cost me quite some energy, speed, and time.

Run: Since I had given quite some extra energy on the bike course, the run was pretty tough as well. Half a marathon in 1h36m isn’t even too bad but I was aiming to stay under 1h30m…

Total: About 25 minutes behind the AG winner. No, I couldn’t have beaten him if I didn’t have the problems on the bike but I would have been closer. How much closer… Good question, maybe 5 minutes which would have brought me closer to finish in the top 10… We’ll never know 😉

Ironman 5150 Maastricht 2020 - Crossing the finish lineIronman 5051 Maastricht

Olympic Distance triathlon race in Maastricht, the Netherlands. The swim was in the river Maas and was according to a traditional rolling start based on expected swim times. The swim was in the first half partly against the stream of the river. The bike track is over a lot of narrower roads, bike paths, and a lot of turns. Not that many straight sections that would benefit a TT bike. The track was rolling with one climb in it. The run was first along the river Maas and back through some towns and an industrial area.

AG #1

AG #2

AG #3







dT with me




#10 (top 15%)






dT with me




#4 (top 6%)






dT with me




#4 (top 6%)






dT with me




#4 (top 6%)

Result: place #4 (top 6%). Very, very close to finishing as 3rd in this race! Only 10 seconds difference! What went wrong :/

Swim: went pretty ok for me, considering that I really have to work on improving my technique. The transition to the bike was horrible. The weather was pretty bad with cold temperatures and windy. I decided to put on my slimfit bike jacket which was a struggle to get in… This cost me valuable time!

Bike: many narrow and twisting roads which aren’t ideal for a TT bike. The ride itself went pretty ok!

Run: went all good for me and was trying to stay close to some faster runners in front of me. Unfortunately, another athlete crashed into me coming around the last corner of the run (he was cutting the corner on the wrong side), which cost me a few seconds to be disoriented, and painful shoulder.

Total: Just over 10 minutes behind the AG number 1 and only 10 seconds behind the number 3! Very unfortunately that I lost stupid time in T1 and at the end of the run. This could have been my first Ironman podium finish 😉 But could have been doesn’t count. Next time just go faster!

Zwift bike workout at homeTraining off-season

Tri2One swim training in LelystadIn October and November, my triathlon training kept on going: swim training focussed on improving my technique, run training to build up speed, and bike training to get me to become stronger.

All felt really good and I felt that I made good progress in October. Unfortunately, in early November I had a small injury in my left knee which resulted in a pause in run and bike training. The swimming continued but work was calling! After being off work for 3 months, it was time to work again!

Working offshore east Africa

End of November I flew to the Comores (a small island east of Africa) for a week quarantine before embarking on my research vessel. During the week quarantine, I was able to do a few trainings. There was a small swimming pool of 17 metres and a gym with a bike and treadmill. The temperature in the Comores was quite tropical, which caused some adjustment for my body.

Comores palm trees at the sea front Comores sunset in sea Comores small swimming pool during quarantine

After a week, we embarked on the research vessel. Although I have a busy job on board and little time to train, I’ve been able to train up to an hour per day for the whole duration (3 months) on board. But training onboard is quite different from training at home. In a small gym, next to the engine room, where it’s noisy and hot! Noise from the engines and heat up to 34 degrees Celsius… Together with almost no ventilation meant that after about 20 minutes of training, I was completely soaked in sweat. The gym facilities weren’t really high-end as well. An old-fashed bike with only a resistance knob to control and a saddle that was broken and pretty uncomfortable. The treadmill was only a few months old but already suffered from the usage on board by the many users. Quite often I couldn’t complete the full training due to the extreme temperature conditions. I tried to stay motivated but that was quite tough sometimes.

Working offshore dry swimming in the gym Working offshore on the indoor bike in the gym Working offshore on the treadmill in the gym Working offshore - hot gym temperature

But I’ve done quite a lot of dry swimming exercises to train the high catch and strong pull, next to specific upper body training with a resistance band. The treadmill was sometimes a challenge due to the sea conditions with high waves causing it pretty difficult to run safely on the belt without falling off. And the bike was just very uncomfortable but I’ve been able to conduct quite a few training.

During the 3 months on board, we worked in the waters and close to the coast of the following countries: Comores, Seychelles, Madagascar, Kenia, Somalia, Kenia, and Tanzania.

Madagascar impressive rock cliffs Seychelles arrival in port Victoria Seychelles waves breaking on the rocks
Seychelles dolphins playing with the bow wave in front of our vessel Dar es Salaam Tanzania fish market Dar es Salaam Tanzania street market selling fruit

End of February it was finally time to disembark in Tanzania! What was supposed to be a short stay in the hotel to conduct a Covid-19 PCR test and fly home after 2 days was delayed by the poor organisation of the governmental ship agent. After a week, we were finally able to fly home! In the early afternoon of 2 March 2021, I came home 🙂

Training for the first triathlon race

Running trail through the forrest/dunes in Schoorl North HollandOn the same day that I came home after being away from home for 3 months, I did a short run to stretch my legs and being able to sport outside again! It felt so good although the a huge temperature difference with east Africa!

The next few days I did several bike and run workouts to get used to the longer durations. Compared to a maximum of 1-hour training onboard, it was time to build up endurance again. The bike trainings went quickly up to 2h30 and the run trainings up to 1h30m. Of course, this will get longer in the next few weeks!

All the indoor swimming pools closed due to Covid-19 just after I left home in November 2020 and unfortunately those are still closed. Fortunately, for a few weeks,  the outdoor swimming pools are allowed to open and are extremely popular with recreational and competitive swimmers and triathletes! The water is heated but the outside temperature is far from pleasant…

Winter outdoor swimming pool in the NetherlandsTwo days after coming home I was doing my first swim since the end of November in the Comores. The water temperature was supposed to be around 20-21 degrees Celsius but the outside temperature was just above freezing… This was the coldest swim session I’ve ever done in my life! And without a wetsuit, I could only swim for about 20 minutes 🙁

The next day I had my swim training in the endless pool of Tri2One in Lelystad to see where I was standing, what mistakes my technique was obvious, and what had to be tackled directly. This was a good session (in a warm pool) and I received great tips from the trainer Hylke. I’ll train, increase my swim endurance and focus on the tips he gave me for the next couple of weeks before I’ll start with regular swim trainings from him again! Looking forward!

Next triathlon race?

Ironman 70.3 Subic Bay PhilippinesUnfortunately, Covid-19 hasn’t disappeared from the planet yet and some races have already been postponed until a later date in 2021.

I’ve got 2 races booked for this season so far: Ironman 70.3 Subic Bay in the Philippines (rescheduled from 2020) and Ironman 70.3 West-Friesland close to my hometown in the Netherlands (also rescheduled from 2020.

Ironman 70.3 West Friesland Hoorn NetherlandsConsidering the current situation with the pandemic and the new infections every day in the Philippines and in the Netherlands, I doubt if both races will go through… But on the positive side, just the last two days, two major triathlon races were conducted! The Ironman 70.3 in Dubai and the Challenge Miami races and it’s such a motivation to see races being held again that I hope that in a few months my races in June will be possible as well…

It’s still too early to tell but I’ll post an update when I know more! Till then: train hard, get back into shape, and focus!

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