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World Age Group Win!

World Age Group Win! Saturday 11 November, Clearwater, Florida. It's 4:45 am when the alarm of my mobile phone wakes me up. During the week I am used to get up at 5:10am to get to work so I am used to get up early in the morning but this was different. I felt nervous because today was my first international race, the first time I race outside Belgium and the first real Ironman event I participated in (the Marc Herremans classic, where I qualified, is just a normal race where you can earn a slot but certainly not an ironman event). After having breakfast and checking everything for the 10th time we got to the start. At that moment I really got nervous, seeing all the athletes doing the final preparations on their bikes. The race I'd trained for the last couple of months for was about to start in 2 hours. This was all new to me and I was overwhelmed by the whole thing. The start of the pro's was at 7:00 AM, followed by the start of the female pro's at 7:05 AM. At 7:15 AM the first age-groupers (30-39) started their race. The start of my group was at 7:20 AM. It was a running start from the beach and I got a place at the middle of the front row. I managed to get into the water with the first people of my group. After some small fights in the beginning I was able to keep a steady pace. At the turnaround we already caught up some people from the group that started 5mins earlier what made the return to the beach a bit more difficult. When leaving the water I had a look at my watch and I saw it took me 26mins to complete the swimming course. That's a great time for me. Now I had to try to make a fast transition and of we were on the bike. After having more than 1000 miles on my new Planet X in training, it was now time for the first real test in a race. Already during the first miles of the bike course I had a really good feeling and I managed to pass several small groups. After approximately 30 miles a big group passed me who were all drafting. I managed to position myself just behind the group and I tried to follow them at the regular distance of 7 meters. My feeling on the bike was really great but I just stayed behind them to save my energy for the run. When entering transition 2 I already knew that I was doing a good race as I did not see a lot of people that were already out on the running course. At that moment I was still feeling really good and already in the first meters on the running course I could manage to run at a decent speed. The running course consisted of 2 laps in which we had to cross the memorial causeway bridge 2 times. After one lap Katrien told me I was second age-grouper overall and I was leading my age-group. That gave me some extra stress because I was afraid to have a breakdown in the second lap! 2 miles from the finish I saw that someone was getting really close to me and I didn't had the power to accelerate anymore. This was really hard and I was just able to keep him off until the finish. I finished in a time of 4:00:24 which put me in 15 position overall. This is a really great result that I could never have dreamt of. I also was second age-grouper overall and I won my age-group (25-29). I really want to thank the people from Planet X for the support they gave me. And for all the guys that still have doubts if a time trial bike and aero wheels make a difference: YES, it really makes a difference; it's not only in the mind. Best regards, Joury

2 December 2006

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