Sunday, October 31, 2010


As the saying goes, it's not good to confuse ambition with ability. We went out for an in course training for the half ironman that a couple of us are doing in two week's time in Karapiro. I remember from last year that the course is hard-ish with a long succession of small hills that play with your head if you're not in top game. When I did it last year I had a few longer rides under the belt and I prepared for the race quite seriously. I was also getting married six days later, so the mind was in top game.

By the way, if you are a rowing fan, the world championships are being held there over the next week. It's a nice location for a multisport race, but somehow the HIM is a low key race. Anyway, back to my business. We went there with Nick and Jeremy who are both handy riders and have done the miles. I know I haven't and I know it's OK because my program is going at a different pace and maybe in a different direction altogether. However it was a good training opportunity and I was not going not to take it. We were greeted by clear blue skies on a side and gray clouds on the other side, we were heading towards the clear blue skies. I kind of knew the road but vaguely, but none of the other two seem to know it so we came to an arrangement that if I was not on the lead I's shout at the turns.

It was a harder ride than I thought, the main reason is that we had 80% of the ride with head or cross winds. I hate them both in equal terms because I suck at riding into the wind. I never got the hang of it and get frustrated quite easily. I held my form and told the guys that I would have nothing for the second part of the ride where the ondulations are. I was not that far behind, but I was pushing harder than the other bastards. In the process I took the wrong turn at one point and we rode 6km into two big hills to a dead end street. LOL.

The last 20km were annoying enough but it all went OK once we got to a ridge that overlooks the lake. The place was busy as in pre-race mode, the world champs start time was for later in the day and there was plenty of crews coming and going and the midday sun gave it all a beautiful glare. I had my camera but was too concentrated in getting back to the truck and hanging the bike for good.

We did the last 10km into the wind with no troubles, and ran for 35minutes after. The legs were OK and the crowd in the streets were all nice to us thinking we were rowers in training, it was a fun run. So, not to confuse ambition with ability. I know I can ride 90km, but I knew in advanced I was going to push harder than the other two. What I didn't calculate was the wind factor and how much it would f---k me up, he he he.

Sunday was a lazier day and I got up at 7, went for a solo brick session. On the bike part I was happy to feel the legs were there. I saw another training buddy, Kev, doing his Sunday long ride so I modified my course and rode with him for a good quarter of an hour. Kev is a veteran IM but has a dodgy knee so now he just does Oly distance. He managed to kick my ass in a TT three months ago, not sure what drugs he take.

rest of the weekend is sofa time, reading and getting ready for November.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mt Eden, Auckland

Hill reps are back on the menu. Today was time to hit Mt. Eden again for a dozen times. The fresh morning breeze and watching dawn as I was clicking up the hill was a great feeling. It just doesn’t get any better.

Well, yes… it does. It is when you can do the same while swimming and that was what swimming in the new pool provided me with. It was not overly long distance, but I know it would be silly to jump from just over 3km to 5km.

The weeks are now taking a familiar shape, with training, a race every couple of weeks, more training, long rides and good sleeps. It’s about time I start playing with nutrition again to see if any further advances can be made in that front.

In the next month or so I have three races, two swim-runs and a half ironman. In my prior to HIM races I’ve been disappointed on the run times. I believe I'm capable of running a decent half marathon after a 90km ride. I’m trying to work out a new nutrition plan. Last time I went for bonk bars, gels and water and it didn’t work. I think I found a new weapon in the form of NUUN tablets. I think the scheme is going to be NUUN in every water bottle, 3 gels on the bike and another couple on the run. We’re doing an on-course training this sat, so I’ll give it a shot.

Tomorrow is an action packed day, training in the morning and midday +exams+last day ever at my current workplace (I’m not leaving, my workplace is merging into a regional authority instead of a city council). I’m probably out of the next for a couple of days.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

first impressions

I took the new bike out for a spin yesterday morning. I hadn’t ridden for some time and I managed to do a decent couple of hours.

The TCR Advanced is the lower of the racing bikes line of Giant. As the name states, Giant is no picnic, they have a large range and there’s constant updates, colour layout and so on. I’ve always been a bit apprehensive of big brands, for no particular reason. That said, I had a trek 1000 as my first road bike, and I had an old Giant from the first carbon eras and they were both great bikes.

Back to my ride, I was undecided between the bike I got and a TCR Alliance, which is a funny combination of carbon and alloy, the price was pretty much the same, but there was the 105 vs. Ultegra issue and the full carbon vs. alloy carbon issue. I ended up with a 105 setup, I don't know if luckily or not, but this bike didn't come with compact cranks.

Tuesday morning was the date and I took the bike for its first ride, easy spin for 10 minutes and then rolling hills for most of the next hour and a half. It ended up with a 8km TT section with headwind and back spinning home via the upland hills. The first thing to note is that 105 has come a long way, but it is sill a long way from Ultegra in terms of shifting performance and overall smoothness. I don’t love it, but it will grow on me. The second thing is that this bike is a pretty solid performer on the climbs and can hold some efforts. I reckon is a good combination of the oversized bottom bracket and the Aksium race wheels. They are not the lightest wheel, but they do the job and don’t need a lot of maintenance.

Steering up and down the hills is great and there were no wobbles in the speedy sections, only a slight drop in the top speed, but I'll probably sort that out. The head set is pretty normal, not too big, not too small. It's quite massive as well, but that's what you usually get in Giant.

On the TT section I went on to the drops and felt no loss of power, so the guy that sold and fitted it to me did a great job, Thanks Steve.

It’s a great improvement for me to finally have the right size of bike, with pretty much the right specs and a geometry that favours the type of riding I do. I look forward to more k’s on it and confirming if these impressions are right.

Another first time was for our new swimming squad. We’re now in an outdoor non heated pool and we have the whole pool for ourselves with no fast 11 year olds making us feel old and slow. The session is also a bit longer (1.5hr) but being on a wetsuit kind of makes it sweet. On the downside, I'm now driving 15min to get there opposite to 4mins from the other pool... that means less sleep.
some more on that to come tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

weekend wrap up

We travelled circa 300km to get some solitude, sun and blue seas and skies. And we got that and more. It was such an awesome weekend.

Saturday was my first incursion into BFR and it wasn’t as great as I expected, but a good try nonetheless. I backed it up with another long run, but this time I was smart and used socks and shoes and ran on the hard sand. It was just neat.

Monday was off, with some serious driving and studying and siesta to do. And then back to normal.

The Xterra world champs were held in Maui the past weekend. I’ve never done one of those, but I know I will, once I start riding MTB’s.

My mate Martin was doing the age group race. Martin kicked is in the 40-44 age group and kicked my ass in Budapest just over a month ago. This time he did another kick ass job and finished 5th in his AG. I wonder where he get’s all the stamina to keep training hard and harder and harder again to do so well to qualify for both world champs and keep performing well. I think his secret is all those chocolate milk cartons he uses on a daily basis, but It’s still to be confirmed.

I also got a programme from the Coach and it looks pretty well thought and not to tiring, which is good and bad, because tiredness is not harmful in the right measures. From tomorrow we’re moving outdoors to a new pool. We also got an extra ½ hour of swimming which will be great.

Summer is in the air, and it’s looking nicer than expected

Keep rocking out there,

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Product review: Barefoot Running

Friday was an ok day after the crap weather of Thursday, early morning swim, coffee and work. it's also quite special because it is the first long weekend of spring, labour weekend. 
that means two things: a. summer is round the corner and b.traffic will be bad going north, south east or west. two million people on the roads going to the beach, the mountains, the lakes or wherever they love going; 
Kayaks, mt.'s, road bikes, surfboards, beach tables, boats and all sorts of summery stuff hangs out of cars. 

We opted to go to Ohope beach, in the the Bay of Plenty, east of the north island. 4 hours of driving and a supergood stop at a cheese factory cum coffees shop. It was a stunning day and the our little unit in the holiday park is just neat. 
So, fed by all the positive vibes from racing on Thursday, a cool friday in town and a mid spring break I decided I'd give it a try to barefoot running (BFR). We had lunch first, and a constitutional siesta. 

So...  at 4.30pm it set off wearing just my running shorts, aiming to get some brown back to my skin and a good 70min workout of BFR in the sand. The beach at Ohope just goes on and on and on, it was a balmy 18 degrees with south easterlies, I was running north-west for the first half hour and it felt like it couldn't get any better than that. I turned around at about 7km and got a bit of head cross wind but nothing to worry. The tide was coming in so I went a bit further up the beach on softer sand. 

Towards the end of the run I started to note my big toes getting a bit itchy, I though it would be the friction with the sand causing some minor trouble. I told myself off for being so fresh about BFR and doing such a long workout with no previous slow start. Then I felt the right calf starting to get tight. But it was only 10 more minutes to get back to the start, so I just sucked it up and kept running. 

When I stopped I checked my plants and there they were, two big blisters the size of a 2 dollar coin, one on my big toe and the other on the ball of each feet.
I went on stretching for 10 mins or so to loosen up the calves and quads and gluteals.

Overall I'd rate BFR 8/10. It is a good change from the weekly routines, in my case it makes me work harder with the lower calf and not that much with the gluteals. I did a few efforts to try it out and my stride is pretty much the same, but it still feels a bit jumpier than shoe running. 

On another note, I found a new bike, but I didn't bring it with me so it has not been tested yet, there will be more to come on that front.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Race report - Pure Blonde swim-run series race I

we are rollin'!!!!
It is true that it could have been a better day, the weather was playing and there were a few showers and chilly winds.
It is also true that the water could have been a bit warmer than the 15 or 16 degrees that we were told on the race briefing
And we could have had a flat non-chop swim.
But racing is racing and you can't choose the conditions, you can only choose the approach. So... yes.. it wasn't a great day to start the season but there was no way I was missing the first ever event of this series. One of the reasons is that I always like to do the first event of a series due to all the goodie bags and so on. The second reason is that the Pure Blonde swim-run series are organized by my coach and supports me on many of my endeavours. There are not many opportunities to give back, and this was a golden one, so there I was.
There wasn't a big field and I don't blame them, it's hard to take on a sea like we did yesterday, and for many this was an unknown event in a beach in the suburbs. Many training buddies and friends of the tri world rocked to the site and the atmosphere was good and relaxed.

Point Chevalier beach is located in the west of the city, and it is known to the kite surfing and windsurfing community because the prevailing winds come fromt he west or south west here in Auckland. There's always going to be a little chop, and that is good, it sorts out the good and bad swimmers and it adds a little uncertainty as you never know where you are going.
We swam 2 500m loops in an anticlockwise direction. The chop was coming shoreward and the re was a swell drifting us to the right. I opted for a short and snappy stroke and went out wide. The trouble was that I went too wide because I lost sight of the buoy on my sighting stroke. Once we turn around the buoy it was all sween and long strectchy stroke took me to shore OK. Starting the second lap there was a lot of people coming to shore from all directions, I opted to go wide again and again I was too wide. I could see my mate Jeremy laughing after seeing me too wide. I tried to catch him before the beach but I got short we went up to transition together.

My mate Jeremy is and Ironman and he did an ironman transition, so I got a good 30 secs advantage out of transition. There was one guy 1 or 1.30 min. ahead of us (a pretty good swimmer) and my other mates Carl and Gordo right after. I settled into a good running pace in a nice suburban course with a false flat and a couple of 90 degrees turn. At the turnaround for the second lap I was able to gauge the distances and there was a chance that I could catch the first runner and I could not be cought by the two behind me. None of that happened. I finished 2nd on the day, 30 secs behind and 1min clear of third.

All in all a very happy day at the races and I even got a spot prize.

Nat was busy somewhere else and wasnt able to make it, so there won't be photos of this one, will try to get some soon.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

no more excuses

I realize that sometimes I am full of them. But it's about time the break from blog-oh-land is over. Interesting things happened between last tuesday and today.
Fatigue caught up with me on Wednesday (my long run day) after the big miles ride. I enforced a day break for Thursday, which turned out OK because there was a bike ride planned but I found myself with no bike.
I had my bike on Trademe for some time and finally got to sell it. Whoever bought it got a very good deal because the old Avanti Quantum was a really good bike with nothing to envy to more famous and expensive models. And I took reasonable care of it.
So I'm bike hunting, I've gone to all the bike shops of the city and the suburbs. I think I may have some more new on that front tomorrow.
We got Nat a new bike as well (we're no longer going to go to the same swim squad so she can't car pull with me any more)
We had the tri club AGM and my mate Gordon was elected president. Gordo and I are fairly new to the sport and fairly new to the club commitee as well, but he's very good networking guy, hard worker and with enough dedication for sports.
Im gonna extend a bit on that topic. for the ones of you that haven't attended an Annual General Meeting, it is quite a formal exercise due to regulatory requirements. One gets the impression to be living in the dark ages, however it is important to have them to check the health of the club. In my opinion we are now 50/50. With many challenges ahead and decisions to be made about what can be done to engage more and more guys to dedicate a bit more time to the club and make us GREAT.
Why should they make us GREAT? because in less than 2 years we'll be the centre of the triathlon world for a week or so. Auckland will be holding the olympic, paralympic, and sprint distance world champs as well as the aquathlon worlds. Even though the event will be managed by the national body and probably a private event managing company there is a chance for us to leave a mark in a lot of people's mind.

On another note, the official start of the season is tomorrow Thursday, the pure blonde swim-run series is gonna be the first race for many of us, but not the only one, there is the Kohi swim series, the traditional stroke and stride and a few others. All of them short events, but really good opportunities to socialize, make an impression, beat your mates and get beaten. I'd love to have a bigger wallet and support all these events, but I may have to content myself with doing a pic and mix for the next three months.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Big ticks

There it was another week and little time for blogging. On the positive side, I managed to keep track of the final races for many, and the comebacks of another few athletes.

In my plate there is still some uni stuff to sort out and that has eaten a rather big chunk of time. There was space for training and I’m back into training mode. There will be no programme for the next couple of weeks, because I prefer it that way, just training and taking every day as it comes.

On the weekend it was time to do long stuff, so I re connected with some old good swimming mates that have done another back to back season of swimming. One of them is training for the swim of his life, a 26km trek joining the north and south islands of New Zealand. When he finishes that he’ll be the older person to have done it at age 60.

I figured he would be starting to do some serious mileage now that the water is a warm 15 degrees. Indeed, when I emailed him on Friday he said he would be doing 3 3km laps. I said I’d commit to go with him on one of them, because the first one was too early for my liking (7am). I ended up going for a second lap and was surprised at how much of a difference it makes to keep swimming in the open water once a week. The second lap left me wanting for more, but there was stuff to do. And another big day ahead.

Sunday was time to cycle, this is the third year in a row that right before the start of all the swim-run, triathlons and other running and swimming races we get together with colleagues, training buddies and other mates and cycle from Auckland to the Coromandel, about 200km.

It is a social thing and the pace is a controlled, we stop at several points for pies and coke, and the only big hills of the ride are at the very end just when we had enough of cycling for the day.

It all ends with a ferry ride to town, and a quiet beer. I made my mind that from now on it will be tied up to the big race @ Kona. I’m not gonna name it yet, but I’ll think of a good way to blend both events in the naming.

The logic would dictate a big running day for Monday, but I am not such a kamikaze as to put a marathon in the mix just for the sake of it. So Monday was back to normal and a moderate/hard week of training ahead.

Congrats to you all racing out there, and keep training!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Between two tides

I wish I had 6 more hours each day. That would allow me to get some extra training, and also some extra “us” and “me” time. The sad true is that there is plenty of catching up that I’ve been doing and I’ve also found myself trapped between two tides.

On the one side there’s 4 to 8 more weeks where I could really benefit of putting big slow-ish miles on the log and working on strengthening my shoulders and core for the harder part of the season after the Xmas break. On the other side, I’m more prone to get sleep-ins and not to take the training sessions too seriously for the rest of the month. This happens naturally and it has happened in the past as well, it’s the body and mind going on a “sleep” mode for a bit to re charge the batteries and start again.

But with a half IM in 5 weeks time, there’s a lot to juggle in trying to get it right while being conscious of not over doing it. It is a fine line and everyday I have to think on my feet to make each session count in a positive way

The first thing is not to do anything anaerobic for the month of October. I’ve used all my “level 5” miles for the term and it will be wise to start collecting some more for when they count (i.e. Nationals). That doesn’t mean that I cannot be one inch below the anaerobic threshold and train in there for the more demanding intervals or strength/endurance sessions.
The second matter is to start the new season diary and keep some content up, which I have been neglecting.

The past week was an adjustment week, I came back to doing two sessions a day for some days but I also took extra days off when needed. The highlight was a 4hr ride on the hills of the waitakere ranges in preparation for our next adventure (this coming Sunday). The start of the season road trip to Coromandel (180km of riding on a Sunday morning and a ferry ride back to Auckland).