Kyle Lotz is a Project Manager based in our Cape Town office. Starting in 2016, Kyle underwent a serious training regime, determined to turn his life around, and committed to taking part in South Africa’s Ironman Challenge: a series of long-distance triathlon races based all over the world. We caught up with Kyle to see his reasons for taking part, the difficulties and pleasures the training brought, and how his amazing achievements mirror his work for Kurtosys.
Kyle, would you be able to tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in East London (on the southeast coast of South Africa), spending most of my time on the sports field or in the sea, snorkelling or body boarding. I obtained my provincial colours in both swimming and horse riding (shock, horror!) and I also enjoyed playing rugby, soccer, squash and cricket. In 2011, I moved to Cape Town after obtaining my Bachelor of Commerce Honours in Information Systems at the University of Fort Hare. I have a huge interest in sports, both playing it and watching it, and I am a loyal supporter of Manchester United, the Springboks, the Stormers and the Proteas. Most of my free time these days is taken up by my Ironman training, which I absolutely love, but I also enjoy mountain biking, trail running, hiking and spending time at dinners and braais with friends.
With regards to your work as a Project Manager at Kurtosys, what drew you to the profession and the company?
I have always had an interest in computers and technology and wanted to pursue a career in the field. During my studies at university, I found my interest moving towards software development and I was intrigued by the entire software development lifecycle. That, together with my natural ability to plan and bring people together, led me to a career in project management. In January, I was retrenched from my previous job and set out to look for a company that was growing, dynamic, had good structure and practices in place, and had a good working culture. This is when I was introduced to Kurtosys, and the rest is history.
“I woke up one day and decided that enough was enough… the best way was to enter something, something in the near future that was daunting and required me to get off the couch and get my butt into gear in complete fear of how much I would suffer if I didn’t.”
You recently took part in the Ironman 70.3 Durban challenge as the latest part of an incredible journey. What was it about that particular event that drew you in?
I grew up in East London, the home of Ironman 70.3 South Africa, and I have followed the Ironman events passionately for as long as I can remember. I have supported my brother and a number of my friends, as they competed in these events, but I could never imagine that my admiration for them would one day translate into me actually competing in one. When I set out on my life changing journey, I used the Half-Ironman East London as my first big goal. This event was extremely tough and, although I had come a long way, I felt that there was so much more to achieve at this distance. With my desire to achieve more, and my complete addiction and love for the sport, I entered half Ironman in Durban in 2017.
“By mid-December I had started feeling on the up, and had another triathlon, the Jail Break minimum escape triathlon (Olympic Distance). I had a great race and managed to shave almost 30 minutes off my [first] time [3:29:00 in Slanghoek Valley], finishing the race in 3:00:37.”
What were the biggest challenges that you faced in your training and in the events? How did you overcome them?
The biggest challenges you face in training for an Ironman event is managing training and physical fatigue. The sport is very demanding on your body and requires you to train 9 to 12 times a week, with an average of 16+ hours of training a week. To overcome this, it is important to listen to your body when it is telling you that it needs a break, which is challenging when you are competitive and just want to keep going. The biggest challenge that you face on race day is the mental one. You put your body through a lot and all triathletes speak of the “dark place” they all find at some point in the race, normally somewhere in the second half of the run. This is when your fatigue sets in and you start thinking of reasons to stop. To overcome this, it is important to stay focused on your goal and to take in the proper nutrition to assist your body’s recovery.
“I realized that I was hooked. Hooked to the feeling of improvement, hooked to the feeling of achievement, hooked to this general ‘fit feeling’ and so entered Ironman 70.3 Durban… In April, I ran my first ever sub 2-hour half marathon and all 3 of my disciplines had improved dramatically.”
If you had to give three pieces of advice to others regarding self-improvement, what would they be and why?
- Set a goal – when starting, in my opinion, it is essential to have quantifiable measures to track your progress against. These goals allow you to have a clear vision of where you are going and what you need to still achieve.
- Make it social – join a group of like-minded people who have the same goals. This will help make the journey fun and you get to make new friends who will also help hold you accountable.
- Know that nothing is impossible – something I have learned through my journey is that no goal is impossible if you are willing to put in the effort to get there. Knowing that hard work pays off and that you can do it is important. Always remember to look back during your journey and recognise how far you have come.
“On 18 June 2017 in Durban, I smashed my overall goal with a 5:38 total race time…1.5 hours faster than East London in January. I often look back at where I have come from and am so incredibly proud of what I have achieved and am only hungry for more.”
How did your training and competing influence your role as a project manager?
The hard work, strong mind and determination you require when training and competing is also something that is of high value in the work place. Once achieved in my training I have found it easy to apply in equal measure to my work life, making me a stronger and driven project manager and giving me the confidence I require to lead the team I work with.