Friday, April 30, 2010

The day that was

To complete my day and my week I needed to be up to date with the latest workouts so far. The week was pretty busy trying to catch up at work and at training, which made planning a bit stressful.
But I got there in the end. Tomorrow is my day off and I can take it happy that I've ticked all the boxes as a bit more.
We are in week 4 and it was time for a little balance(thanks John for the idea):
Mind:  I am mentally in great shape, no stress interfering with my training and the motivation exists to keep working towards the goal (Did I say I'd be stoked to be in the top 10/20 at worlds?). I think this blog is part of that commitment and a good way to keep myself honest. Bring it on New Zealand winter!

Body: there hasnt' been any hiccup, coping OK with the increased pressure in the shoulder at swimming, the legs are not the fastest ones, but they recover quite well from the strength workouts and bike races. A little belly is growing which keeps me worried but I shall control it.

Soul: the body is there, the mind is there, I am fully there and my dear wife is with me. So I sleep great most nights.

Wallet: thanks to a lot of people that supported me and my mates, and other friends pitching in I'm 100% sure today that I'll be in Budapest only thinking in being the best I can for the race.

Everything is part of a virutuous circle that is moving things upwards, which I am loving today. I will soon start using my heart rate monitor and add some more detail to the workouts log. If I get the technology I think I may even have a direct link!.

Date:  30 Apr
Sport: Swim /// Run
Time: 60min /// 80min
Dist: 2.5 km /// 14.5km
Comment: lotsa drills /// western bays run

A cuppa

I was reading an article about the good and not so good of coffee drinking. Pretty interesting indeed, if you have time go and have a look.

I came through it as part of research I was doing on the effects of drinking coffee at night. According to Nat, it was not very good because it doesn’t allow the body to go into the deep sleep cycles where the good muscle repairing and other performance enhancing tricks happen that allow the body to keep performing. According to me, I go bed and sleep no matter what I ate or drunk before.
But I thought I’d dig deeper to find more solid answers.
Unfortunately, I found none, so I am happy with the findings from the runner’s world article. It suits my argument and that’s that.

But we’ve already introduced coffee replacement drink for the night coffee, it’s the good ole’ malt. I haven’t drunk that beverage for about 18 years. Since I left primary school. Therefore, the aroma of it brought me back to my young days and a story that I thought it’s worth sharing:

My mom is not a morning person, she never was and we don’t like her when she’s been taken off the bed earlier than 9am, ha ha ha (she’ll be translating this and giving me a hard time tomorrow). Anyway, when I was 9 years old I started to go to school in the mornings (8 to 12) and that would last for the next 8 years. So my mum woke up for the first couple of days and taught me how to prepare my breakfast (malt prepared with hot milk, toasts and preserves). From day 3 onwards it was me on my own waking up at 7.20, getting breakfast and on my bike to school.

The tale is on the family history books and many people jokes my mum has no heart. With time, I realize that she was actually teaching me something that I’ve come to deem as one of my strengths, which is the ability and confidence that I can do most stuff by myself. Probably that’s one of the reasons that I decided to come into an individual sport and not a team one to be competitive, who knows.

And it all started with a cup of malt,

So to catch up this is what Thursday brought to me and later today I’ll get Friday’s one
Date: 29Apr.
Sport: Bike /// Run
Time: 60min /// 60 min
Dist: n/a /// 11.5kn
Comment: last lab set, only one more TT to go! /// backyard 10km

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The function report

The day finally arrived and we did our Movie screening last night.
It's been a couple of busy days that saw me off the web. But here's the update.
The idea was to put together something that would help a couple of mates and I raise some dough for the big adventure to worlds and also give something  back to the ones that supported us. The movie night proved to be quite a success and I was stoked to see so much support, it's one of those things that always boost one's morale. And mine today is quite high.
It was a varied audience, with people from all over the place: lots of brits, scots, some french and other europeans, athletes of all kind, friends from work, uni, training and wives and husbands that I hadn't met before. The drinks started rolling and everybody enjoyed themselves while we tried to get as much money off them as we could (some on the spot raffles thanks to generous donations by our coach, Nat and others). After that everyone went to see the movie "the blind side" based on a true story from this american football player.
Today in the morning everybody I met was genuinely happy with the night out, and that is all I needed to hear. Then we did the maths and we got enough to pay our race fees (50 000 HU Florints, which sounds like a lot) and part of the admin fees, so all in all a happy night and a happier morning,
And this was the workout

Date 28 Apr.
Sport: Swim
Time: 60min
Dist: 3.1km 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What I learned about fundraising

I was pretty busy last night with cooking, and being a nice husband to my lovely wife, so there was no post.

Today is the big night. We’re doing our lil’ function to raise funds for our World Champs trip. And I thought I’ll share with you what I have learned during the last couple of weeks:

Be innovative: I think our movie night was spot on on that front, a lot of people was happy to see something different from the sausage sizzles or the like.

Be mindful of timing: the venue was great but timing has come as an issue, a lot of people would have come if the movie was an hour or hour and a half earlier.

Market yourself well: we tick the box on that one, but probably would have done better with another week.

Have a worthy cause: people raise funds for many worthy causes (cancer research and cure, domestic violence awareness, homeless people, kids trips at school and many more) somehow I found that triathlon world champs doesn’t quite fit on that category. HOWEVER been part of the national team quite lifted the profile of things and I’ve received lots of positive vibes from a lot of people.

Which brings me to the one issue in contention here: me doing triathlons is an indulgence, a lifestyle choice that I decide to carry on with. In a sense I feel I am asking people to pay to support those choices. ON THE OTHER HAND, why not? I’m not ripping anyone off, and we’re offering a good night out to a lot of people in exchange for a small fee above what they would have paid for any other night out at the movies. Besides, they get to be part of my jurney, wel… our journey to Budapest and whatever happens there.

I’m putting my body through some pain to get the rewards, not only for me, but for all of those who’ve chosen to help us out.
On another note, here’s yesterday training:
Date: 27 Apr
Sport: cycling
Time: 1hr
Dist: n/a
Comment: last week of labs! 330 watts and counting! 5x5min+3min active recovery

Monday, April 26, 2010

The athlete's best friend

I read a long time ago about the three types of athletes according to Joe Friel ( ) it's a good clasification and I must say I am of the kind that doesn't see a lot of blacks and white but quite a variety of greys. So I woul always place myself somewhere ticking one, two or three of these boxes (I would say a big tick on scientist and a smaller one on artist?). The point of today being, that I asked myself the question wether my lack of rest day on Sat determined my wall hitting experience on Sunday. I don't know the answer, and I don't care a lot.

Recovery is what makes you better, isn't it? training teaches you what will happen come race day, but recovery will allow to step out of bed the next day and do it all over again, and again and again until the body has been tamed to respond to the race demands.
Been on base training means that more often than not I'm not really tired (at least not knocked off) after training and the general perception is that I won't need as much recovery. So I get to go to bed a bit later, have the odd glass of wine, and of course skip rest days. The catch of this is that in actual scientific terms I would probably still need pretty much the same time to recover, the excertion may not have been as intense as a couple of months back, but the lengh of the workout on the amount of workouts do require I take them a bit more seriously.
I'm not trying to say here that I regret my Saturday swim/bike... but if I was to do the bike race on a more serious note I should have taken the rest and recovery day a bit more serious and stuck to the plan.
Other than that my Monday has flown nicely, the legs were feeling the race's hits but the back was fully on one piece. Tickets are selling slow but I am sure we'll be fine in our fundraising event next Wednesday,

Date 26 Apr
Sport: swim /// run
Time: 60min /// 60min
Dist: 2.7km /// 9km
Comment: Drills morning /// back to winter camp, photos next Monday

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Race Report: Gallipoli cup

As promised, one report for each of the club road racing or other race in my training road to Budapest. Today is New Zealand's day of remembrance for all the army corps sent to the big wars. Gallipoli is where they first went to action against the Turks almost 100 years ago.
So, the race was a handicap race and it was my first one of the kind so I didn't have a lot of expectations. The bunch we were was among the first 5 groups, 7 minutes behind the scratch. It was 14 of us so it looked alright, I knew some of the riders and it did look like a good race. The course is a 20km loop with a 1.5km hill in the middle (5 to 7 degrees gradient) , there was some moderate winds that for some reason appeared to be always headwinds.
Out we went on the rolling scenic rough chip roads of the countryside of south Auckland. The pace was ok at about 37/38 km/h, and we got the relay going after the first 2km, I've done it before, but not for such a long time, so I thought to myself, this is gonna be a piece of cake as long as we all play by the rules. And the rule said, we'll be a unit working together and no killing each other up the hill and let the best man win on the last 3km of the race. The top of the hill is a bit before halfway and we all got there together.
And that's where trouble started.... at the bottom of the hill we were three men down, and the pace was starting to go up at intervals. I hung on to it as I thought it's good to get rid of some guys that may be a danger to the bunch when tired later in the race.
We all rode happily for the next lap and by the second time a top of the hill we were less than 5min from scratch, that was good news. Another two guys down at the bottom of the hill and I started to worry because the shifts at the front were getting too frequent and recovery was compromised. (bad planning note: I decided to slack it on Sat and didn't go to the shops to buy some gels and bars. So I just had one muesli bar, a red bull and one bottle of water) I had a few sips of water, half the muesli bar and kept going for the third lap.
On the third hilltop I prayed no one was dropping any time soon, we were 4minutes down. But obviously I was wrong, six of us carried on for the last lap, I was tired by then, but it was only one lap and I HAD to finish. Been the last lap the pace was on and the roadies tacticts of wearing each other out started to play. And then it happened, I didn't see it coming but a big big wall appeared on the road and I hit it hard, we were riding through a village and I dropped from the bunch, stopped on a shop, bought a coke and carried on with no company (the pit stop was only 2 minutes) for the next 15km, a couple of bunches went past me and I recognized some of the guys that had dropped from our, but my legs had had enough.
Towards the end I recover full sense and finished on a good pace.

I't the first time I blow up big time and overall it's a good experience to know where the red line is. I was not using HR monitor or speedo on the bike, so it's all burned somewhere in the brain and it'll ring a bell whenever it's happens again...  I hope. More outcomes on the next post.

Date: 25 Apr
Sport: Cycling
Time: 152min
Dist: 82km
Comment: I'm so proud I finished!... pity I had no chance.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Gear Talk #1

New Zealanders (orginal and adopted ones) pride themselves in a rare qualigy called "kiwi ingenuity" (the ability to device a cheap and homey manner to resolve a mechanical/technological/hydraulic or any other kind of problem) Probably it's a little brother syndrome of the people from a tiny country at the bottom of the world with about 4million people living in it. But it's common to find on the papers on any other news that another piece of "kiwi ingeuity" or "#8 wire" has been a hit in the world stage, the latest one, I think, is a device that may help to save 40% fuel by monitoring pedal strokes on car drivers and it's incidence in oil consumption.

My coach is from old Zealand, but he's been here enough to be considered another kiwi. As I said before, he's been trying to help us get the best possible placing getting into T1, so the emphasis on swim technique over these couple of months. As a kiwi he is, he's introduced the world first MOTHER OF ALL SWIMMING PADDLES. A piece of kiwi ingenuity they are.
The arm paddles, or big paddles (i don't know the official name) are made of EVA foam and they are the size and thickness of a regular kickboard halved vertically. There is a very simple piece of cord at the bottom end where the board is attached to the arm. And a hole 1.5 inches from the top end that allows the thumb to slide and stay secured. (see picture).

Although they look pretty simple, these babies are lethal weapons when used wisely, and I'm told I'm gonna go sub 19min in my next race (yeah... right). But really, doing sets of 200's and then taking them off  is enough, do more and you'll be putting a lot of pressure in your shoulder and then injury is round the corner. So we do no more than 500m with these ones on a given day and after taking them off we feel we can tackle any swim. The only downside is that they slow your tumble turns... not a worry for me as we don't have many in our races.

Today was supossed to be a day off... but it was such a day!, I went to the squads brick session and did a very easy bike and a gentle swim in the sea... I'm trying to swim in the sea at least three times a month between now and October... just to keep in touch.

Date: 24 Apr.
Sport: Swim /// Bike
Time: 45min /// 1hr
Dist: 2.5k? /// 28km
Comment: what a nice day off!

Friday, April 23, 2010

The diary

On the first post I asked myself why to blog, and one of the reasons is that this feels as a continuation of my other log that I have sitting next to me in the office, where I write my training sessions.
Then I realize we also have our family diary with Nat (on its second year going) and and the office diary I carry with me, plus I’ve got my own little one that also carry most days And the pieces of paper that populate pockets and tables.
Reflecting on it, it is a bit over the top to have so many physical supports to store information with all the new technologies available to do it for me, but i guess it's part of who I am and overall I reckon I am good at keeping good records, I am still to find what to do with them. As an exercise I went back to the same date last year and I found:
Nat and Valen's diary: no items for the day or the week.

Training Diary: midday swim 2.8km (3x150 wu + 6x200 as 150easy50 fast 10sec RI + 400 P/PB + 4x100m on 125 + 4x50 + 200 WD.
Office Diary: nothing (it was stolen from my car some time in october) but going through the computer calendar it appeared to be a pretty cruizy day.
In the year between now and then what has changed?

1- I have a goal
2- I am working towards that goal with my more structured programme (hence the base training)
3- I am putting myself out there via this public log and really sweating my butt to get to Hungary.
Am I a better athlete?
Perhaps, but surely I am a bit more orientated towards achieving and therefore the energy is being driven more steadily to that achievement, and I hope that when I do this excercise in a years time I can rely on all those records to build a picture of where I was.

Back to real life, today we had arm paddles again, attached is a photo of them. They are bloody big and they make your tumble turns quite a challenge, but after 200m and taking them off, the feeling is that you are flying through the water... I'll explain them on the next post.

Date: 23 Apr
Sport: swim /// run
Time: 1rh /// 50 min
Dist: 3.6km /// 11.5km

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I'm off the juice

Tomorrow is rubbish collection day, and I found myself dispossing a couple of leftover electrolite/sugar drinks (the powder type) that have gone rock solid.
In the short years I've been doing this I've experimented with differen brands and flavours, and while most times it has been OK, come race day I always got stitch, or upset tummy or something of the like. Unfortunately, though, this is a very personal issue, and I've found that all the litres of ink wasted on literature on the subject are of little help if there is not a concious approach to it. By concious approach I mean a way to monitor and document one's reaction to the different substances tried and their results.
At first I thought my problem to be a core strength problem, but later I learned it's more a combination of that and not eating the right things: on my first half I had: 1 bottle of electrolyte/orange flavoured drink, a bottle of lemon flavoured half protein half carbs drink, a bottle of water, 2 protein bars and 2 gels and I cramped out my tummy even before getting off the bike. On the second one, I had 2 bottles of water and 1 bar, and 1 gel and still cramped out, but it was due to having drunk 1 litre of electrolyte drink in the hour prior to the race start.
So this season I worked out a way that seems to be working for me: I've taken any sweet drinks off my training and racing (until the time comes to make the jump to long distance) and since then I have had no instances of upset stomach:
For training sessions less than 90min long, I have water only,
For training sessions lasting over two hours I take a gel and/or a cereal/protein bar plus water
For training sessions of 4 hours plus, the same thing and a banana.
For races: gels and water are my best friends.

Of course that I do have a good healthy breakfast for the longer sessions, and a lighter option for some others. On nationals I borrowed one electrolyte tablet from one of my buddies and it worked out OK, so I may use them some time again.
Anyway, I thought it was worth to share it, and here's the day for me
Date: 22 Apr
Sport: Cycle
Time: 1hr
Dist: n/a
Comment: I've gone to 330 watts on my lab sets, and I finished them all!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

On swimming

I think I said it before, I got into triathlon via the swim. Strangely enough I found later this is the one discipline that most people struggles with. Today I skipped my morning swim which meant I crunched a midday/afternoon solo session.
And goodness, what a nice session it was. It was  the workouts, it was that marvelous feeling of having most of my body under the water, not hearing anything but my hands breaking the water on each stroke and the rythmic breathing of a good sinc'd stroke. Swimming, on a day like today connects me with my inner self and al lot of good memories of being in a pool during my young years and being in the sea on my NZ years so once I knew it was one of those days I decided to improvise a longer session focussing on something we've been training for the past 3 weeks.
The coach is putting a great deal of effort in gettin all of us to master the most difficult thing in swimming, which is the high elbow catch. For one thing or the other, it is something that I've seen very few people (normal people like me, I mean) succeed. In my particular case, i've tried in the past and the result was a sore shoulder for some time. I think this time I am more willing and eager to get this right, but it's oh-so-difficult to train the brain to coordinate that bit with the whole other lot that swimming involves (nice 30degree entry, good kicking, good rotation, etc), someone said that it may take somewhere around 200 thousand strokes to get it right, which seems quite a lot but achievable nontheless. Anyway, I was feeling so good that I decided to do the full session a high elbow catch session and it worked out OK!
So with a high morale I went back to work and tackled the few things that separated me from freedom, picked up Nat and got home to my next workout (the back yard half marathon) and dinner, oh.. yes... and blogging my 20th post.
Date: 21Apr
Sport: Swim /// Run
Time: 75min /// 90min
Dist: 4km /// 19km
Comment: loved it! /// loved it too!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Are we there yet?

It may be surely not triathlon related, but today I was quite anxious all day, I feel hungry, and nervous like I do some times before big events. Not sure what's the reason as there were no big events coming. But it was a good topic to be raised.
I remeber been very anxious last year for the worlds championship race. The day before was quite a long one and I was quite tired, however I managed to screw up and sleep not more than 6 hours. This year for Nationals I was on my own and slept quite well the nerves probably induced me to over eat a bit, but to my credit I snacked very wisely and healthy.
The pre-race night I remember the most is the one before the Karapiro half. I travelled to lake Karapiro on my own and pitched the tent on the campsite next to the lake. I thought some people from the race would be at the camp, but I was wrong, there was only one other guy and that was that. Overnight I was in bed quite early for my liking (bout 8pm) and after sleeping till some time past 1am I started to hear the possum and other creatures horrible noises!, I almost crapped myself and slept in 10 minutes intervals for the following 4 hours.
The lesson learned: there's always stuff that's gonna put me off focus, I'm on a journey to develop a system to deal with them. Until the perfect pre race night comes, whatch this space, it may be more funny stories!,
After this amazing soup made by my very own hands I think the anxiety is over,
time to check my days' workout:
Date 21 Apr.
Sport: Cycle
Time: 1hr
Dist: n/a
Comment: they raised my wattage on the lab, and the legs responded, I am proud of them!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Triathlon legends #2

We’re back to the indoor pool!, a bit less room, but it’s only 4 minutes drive from home, so I get to sleep more. This week brings: swim/bike/run/gym/road race. Movie tickets are not selling very fast so please please please!!!, give us a hand! : )
This guy came to NZ in a ship, during the era that it was the most common thing to come to NZ in a ship. Aparently he’s also a good footballer among other sporting talents. We met in a tri camp we were doing some two years ago, I was on the way to do my first half and he was on the way back to triathlon, trying to qualify for worlds as a way to celebrate his 60th anniversary. We both achieved our objectives (he did well at worlds and I finished my first half)
He’s also part of the infamous TACT squad and a very handy runner at times. and this is the start of the third season as training pals. Yesterday he accomplished something pretty special, by breaking the 70minutes barrier on a sprint distance tri. It's amazing how at ove sixty years of age he is way lot better than he was back in the early 80's when he did the prehistoric triathlon races.
Ro is also a funny guy, giving us tips on what not to do when doing triathlons, here, for example, is him not taking a 90degree turn (look at the expectator's faces!), ha ha ha… Thanks Ro!
We're also saying goodbye to the Auckland Domain as a training venue for about 6 months, it's getting pretty dark and there is no lighting in one of the City's premier parks.... Shame on you Auckland City Council! Training wise this is what the day brought:
Date: 19 April
Sport: Swim /// Run
Time: 60min /// 60min
Distance: 3.3km /// 8km?
Comment: with the introduction of ARM paddles (photos soon) /// drills and speed

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Giving back and doing less

I heard somewhere that it's always important to know or at least ask yourself what are your going to get out of your workouts. It should be always the case that the answer to the question "I am going to be a better athlete after this workout?" is YES, it doesn't matter the capital letters, at least a tiny yes will do. It wouldn't be wise to do a workout that is not gonna make you better, would it?.
Today I had scheduled 100km plus ride, and also had to do a bit of work for the tri club during the last race of the NZ tri season. The idea is to support the club, as the club does support many of us subsidising part of the run coaching and many other things. When I realized the morning was gone and even though we got great results by recruiting new members and getting to know some that I didn't, I still had the workout to be done and other work commitments that required that I was in a 1/2 hour riding radius of my place in case I was called for an emergency. In those circumstances a ride of 3 to 4 hours was looking pretty unlikely. And it was past lunchtime.
As soon as I started beating myself about it I realized I've done a good thing for the club and although the planning of my day wasn't the best, the ride will go ahead and I would be a better athlete at the end of the day. Out I went to do my ride, and even though it was a bit shorter, I managed to put a bit of intensity on some patches and without being knocked (I have to give my body recovery time between the long bike and tomorrow morning' swim) I got another tick in the box, and indeed I did get something out of the workout, which means I am step closer to be in the best shape for Budapest.
I could have opted to do a make up ride tomorrow and skip the swim, or to have another day off, or to feel bad about the shorter workout. I opted to feel good about what was done, and to ask myself if I was a better athlete. I'm happy to say I am.
Date: 18 Apr
Sport:  Bike
Time: 150min
Dist: approx 55km
Comment: I didn't know I could ride so much so close to home.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Things that don't change

The picture is from another good arentinean artist called D. Paz and illustrates perfectly what is the topic I wanted to raise today. No matter how much assistance we receive in terms of gadgets, the gains in performance are most times results of a change in attitude. I'm pretty young to the sport and as I said before I like many things about it, probably one of the things I like more is the fact that your work ethics pay a dividend, something that sometimes doesn't happen in real life ; ). This season was very particular for me for reasons that are outside the triathlon world, and I raced three races in total, one in November, one in Feb and the Nationals in March.
Chatting with the coach after the race in Nov. I said I had taken the swim easy as I didn't want to be too hyped in the early stages of the bike, I then had an OK bike and run steady but not fast (going gastro, another post is needed for that). I was asked why I had taken it easy during a race, what was the reason for that given that after the race I was off for 6 weeks to get married and a holiday.
After the second race in February (I was on the feet of Cam Brown for the first 100m of the swim) I said to my coach it was a "cruizy" race, this time I was told off, this was my last chance before Nationals and I have cruized?.
I'm not a guy to miss a training session and I love racing, but somehow the spice wasn't there. For nationals, the feeling after the race was a bit different, I knew I couldn't have gone any faster, I just messed up transitions... but that's another story.  Reflecting on what changed between then and now I can say that it was what I was thinking at certain points in the race: on the first two ones I was too worried about the future (it's 90k to bike after the swim, I need to eat to have something on the legs for later, it's two laps like this one, save a little for the second, and things like that), on the third race I was cold, it was a typical wellington morning and all I could think was: "bloody hell, this is cold conditions here, keep going". And as I got onto running I couldn't feel my feet, so I just run like there's no tomorrow until they started to ache.
Moral of the story here, I don't know what I'm gonna think next time I'm racing, but for sure I'll know what to do when thoughts about the future come to mind.
Today was a day off, so here's the workout for yesterday
Date: 17 Apr
Sport: Run
Time: 55mins
Comment: I felt I could to two laps, pitty it was only 1 hour lunch!

Friday, April 16, 2010

It's official

After a bit of planning my mates and I finally got ahead with putting a fundraiser together.
If you're reading this and are in Auckland please come and give us a hand.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A day at the races

Having a read at the posts so far I realized that even though the blog is about a race, there was already one other race that I did not review in full. In the hope of makin this very exciting reading, this is my attempt for a race report on last Saturday's bike race (fun, club, training, not peaked for, but a race is a race):

I've decided I'll be on the C grade on this season... it is probably a slack approach that may change in the future, but I did not want to have an all out 72km to start the season... I know I can stay with the bunch in the grade and as someone said the other day, B grade is flat out 2 hours racing.
So we started with a 1km neutralized start due to a patch of gravel on the road, then it was a left hand turn and the race was on. It was two loops of a 25km course and on the last lap we would take a longer straight and finish up a long steady not very steep hill. My plan was to finish among the top 10 wheels and to gain a bit more of confidence riding elbow to elbow with others. I had a free ride for most of the first lap and tried to improve my downhill skills which are medicre.
At the end of the first lap I thougth the bunch would take the gravel part easy again, but I was WRONG!, got catched off guard, drinking long sips and when I reacted I was 100 metres off, there was three others, but none jumped on my wheel when I started time trialling. Two kms later I was back at the back of the bunch and I knew I had wasted precious carbs, no HR data to look at, so all good, just conserve energy and go hard at the end.
I didn't know the last 5km of the course so I deiced to serve my bit at the front towards the end and slow the bunch for a couple of minutes until someone would take over and guide me. It all worked OK and the guy that took over put the gas down for a bit and a group was formed, 5km to finish, but 1min later no one wanted to do any work, so back to the bunch ride. The end bit is a single hill with 3 steep parts and 2 sections that are OK, someone attacked on the first steep part and a group followed, I was in the group. The bunch started to spread and someone else attacked on the flattish section a smaller group followed and I wasn't, the legs weren't responding, then all of a sudden about 20 guys went past me, and I dug deep and stayed with them, but the feeling was: there's gas for this for two more minutes, you better stay in touch.
So, we came to the next hill and the group I was in started to catch people dropping from the first group.... and someone attacked again, Bummer!, I had no reply. Sat on the saddle and tried to do the last 1.5km steady, I managed to pass a few and get passed by other few.
End of the day: finished in the middle of the bunch.. not bad, but not great either, the lesson learned: Stay cool - know where you are going.

Next report will be in the third person, ha ha.

Today's workout:
Sport: cycle (indoor)
Time: 1hr
Distance: n/a
Comment: I went on a higher wattage for this one, and the legs responded OK! I'm a happy man (after that diner anyone is!)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


If I want to do best in Budapest I have to up my game in transition. On the qualifier race I did terrible, fell on the grass on T1, took too long to get the wetty out and on T2 I just went too slow again. Today was a day of many transitions, and I did not dare to time them, but I will do on a similar occasion. Here's the days transitions and what could have been:
T1: bed to Pool, 25min, I could have skipped the bite of fruit and saved 20secs!, (15min driving)
T2: Pool to work 35min (on the wrong side of the traffic rush hour)
T3: work to post office (I should have gone to post office on T2)
T4: work to bike, 7 minutes (best of the day)
T5: bike to work, 20 minutes (took to much on the shower)
T6: work to home, (could have run home, but didn't organize in advanced)
T7: out to run,  (I shouldnt have read the crap mail)
T8: run to dinner, (shower too, cold, I had to shave coz I forgot in the morning)
T9: dinner to work (I HAD to, no choice there)
T10: work to home (could have worked, from home, but had to pick up Nat, so no issues there)
T11: blog to bed (I should have had a plan of what to write, ha ha ha)
and the three workouts for the day

Date: 14 Apr
Sport: swimm /// bike /// run
Time: 60min /// 60min  /// 95min
Distance: 3.2km  /// 15km  /// 16.4 km
Comment: chilly! /// hill reps /// back to group running and chat, like it!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Train from home?

New tecnologies have changed the way I work, and it's helped a lot in maintaining the work/life balance, that is great, however it's funny how the same does not happen when we talk training. If I'd win the lotto and had a velodrome, a 25m heated pool and a 400m track at my disposal I would still prefer NOT to TRAIN FROM HOME, going out is good, even to a sweaty old gym, even in bad weather. I cannot get my head around to do any training at home (even core strength or yoga). Unfortunately, some times we all have to stay home.
Clouds are looming around Auckland's skies and you can smell rain in the air. It just a matter of hours. Rain equals more indoor training sessions during the week which equals boredom. I'm lucky to go to some organized sessions once a week, but some days I just can't make it and doing them at home has been always a tedious task.
I may have to try to put the tv on or something on the computer that may make it more pallatable. But what a struggle!. So if you are reading this post and have the secret to whithstand more than 1 hour on your indoor trainer please let me know.
as for the workouts, we're still guinea pigging, so here's my lab session (this is top secret stuff)
Date: 13 Apr.
Sport: Bike (trainer)
Time: 1hr
Distance: n/a
Comment: warm up and 5x 5min@310watt-3min@100watt  and then warm down

Monday, April 12, 2010

What's on this week

Swim and run mon/wed/fri and bike the other two days day off on Sat and the week is over, that's the good thing of having the weeks start on the Sunday, it's shorter, easier and you always realize a day after!. There is also some good news about race day and founraisers so watch this space.
It was a bit nippy this morning. We’re still in the plan B pool and it looks like they forgot to turn on the heaters over the weekend. After the first 40 lengths we kind of got going. It doesn’t cease to amaze me what a positive impact a good morning swim has in the day. We drove longer to get to work, and we were a bit hungry but still a huge smile in our faces. That’s is priceless.
I also got a letter from Budapest. I’ve been emailing people from clubs to try and get a home stay, and fingers crossed, I’ve found some helpful hands in there (and in English) who may help with accommodation on the week of the race. hopefully it will all work well for them and for Nat and I.
The workouts:
Date: 12 Apr
Sport: Swim  /// Run
Time: 60min  /// 60min
Distance: 3.2km  /// 'bout 7km
Comment: cold pool,good fun   /// killer core and strength circuit, I'm sore everywhere! I wonder if Bevan Docherty does this kind of stuff.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Good times

Today we were volunteers for a Triwoman race in Duder's beach, about an hour from home. We had to marshal the girls in ant out T2. It was so cool to see so many people giving it a try to the sport in all sort of settings (Mtbs, commuter bikes, bikinis, you name it). All of them with a smile and having fun on yet another great autumn day.
Which brings me to what I left unsaid yesterday. I am in serious need of some gear: bib shorts, long sleeved cycle jersey, bike computer (lost in a race), bottle cages  and running shorts. That is the basics, on a second tier there is a bigger list. I've made do without them over the last seasons but they keep wearing out, and I keep postponing the buys (the Budapest plans require their own budget). I learned today that to do a triathlon you only need a bike, swim googles and a pair of running shorts and you are in. To be competitive you may want to have a road bike, and a wetsuit, and a training plan. To be competitive in a world championship race it appears that you need a whole lot more, and it aches my wallet, so donation are more than welcome.
After marhsalling I rode the scenic coastal ride to Kaiaua with my mate Gordo, while Nat enjoyed the farmers market,

Date: 11 Apr.
Sport: Cycle
Time: 3 hr
Distance: 72km
Comment: I killed it with the pie and the coke after, Bummer!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Awesome Autumn Day

It really was.
One thing about living in the southern hemisphere is that most of us get a disfunctional kind of season if we decide to take on a world championship event like the race in Budapest. First I have to peak for the qualifier race, in my case the National Champs a month ago, and then to the World Champs, six months down the track, which obviously mean that there is very little off season and winter is gonna be interesting!. Back from World (this is October, now) we have a couple of months till the first summer triathlon start and then it all on again.

One other strange thing is that the club road cycling season also goes through de wrong part of daylight saving, so I got to go to my first club race of the year as indicated on my programme. I have raced not many of these and they are always a question mark as how hard it's gonna be as I don't know the courses very well.

Today it was one of those rare Saturdays where I don't have to wake up at any specific time, so we slept in till about 8. Clear blue sky and a the sun shining mildly and giving that horizontal kind of light that only autumn days have. Went racing at midday and had an OK race but run out of legs on the uphill finish, the drawing is from this artist that Nat and I love called Liniers and pretty much illustrates the end of my race today. Back home my bottom is still complaining about the rough chip road, I think I need to go and buy some gear, but more on that topic on tomorrow's post.

Date: 10 Apr.
Sport: Cycling
Time: 1.24
Distance: 52km
Comment: I should have taken my camera, soo cool views!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Triathlon legends #1

Been new to the sport I struggled my way through and learned bits and pieces, if you look for, there's always people willing to help you, and that is called camaraderie. I like the camaraderie in this sport. For the best part of a year I trained in the tri club run squad and later learned that the guy that was running the squads, George H.,  was also coaching some of the athletes in preparation for World Champs. This was two years ago and I had completed a handful of lil' races here and there, but was already hooked.

Later that month I found that one of the girls from the squad was gold medal in her age group in the champs in Canada, so I was stoked I was being coached by a guy that knew his business quite well.
Some time later I approached him and asked if he would coach me and he said yes, since then I believe there's been times he may regret his desicion (ha ha) but I certainly did not. He does most of the planning and I do most of the workouts, and it all works quite well,

It felt quite strange at first to be coached as an adult athlete, I never thougth I would be in this kind of "back to school" position, but over the time i believe i've learnt a lot and hopefully, improved as an athlete, I just hope I don't get beaten by him in the pool or the bike again.
He's also been chosen Coach of the Year last month so I'm afraid the fees will go up soon ; ).
In the end, here's what he got me to do today:

Date: 9 April
Sport: Swimming /// running
Time: 60 minutes /// 50 minutes
Dist: dunno /// 'bout 10k
Comment: top secret workout detailed in the photo /// I ruined this happy couple photo!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The best part of the day

I'm writing this while I'm having my second brekkie of the day, it looks like yesterday was a lot of calories expended and I am starving.
I love breakfast, If it was possible to have 5 brekkies a day I would go for it all the way. Probably because of the combination of flavours, or thanks to coffee, or just that I like mornings.
Over the years I've gone through eras: bread and butter and jam, croissants, cereals, porridge, muesli, fruits always with a coffee on the side. I've settled lately for muesli, banana and yogurt for the first brekkie of the day and peanut butter and honey on multigrain when I have two. I've got a bit of a sweet tooth

Back to the earliest post about the base period, the next five to six weeks will be of a lot of mileage on the pool and the bike and slightly up on the run, mostly on an easy to moderate pace. The idea is to teach the body to burn fat for fuel and optimize the use of the carbs stored in the muscles (which burn at a faster rate and dissappear soon, compromising performance) for the last bits of the race and be able to go hard then and have the last laugh. The bigger the base, they say, the bigger the peak.
I think of this as another kind of holiday and enjoy it a lot as there is not a lot of fatigue and Auckland this time of the year is still a dry city, so the long bike rides and long runs are still quite enjoyable.
and here, my friends, is my little contribution to my own triathlon Glory,

Date: 8 Apr
Sport: Cycle
Time: 65 minutes
Distance: n/a
Comment: on the lab again, next weeks I promise photos

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Turning blue

This is a weird week, with Easter Monday and school holidays, the city seems to be running on a different pace. Monday, Wednesday and Fridays are my swim days, and today was the first swim since last Friday. But the pool we use is closed for maintenance for the week so there was the option of training in an outdoor non heated pool (19degrees celcius, I later found that it was not that hot indeed and people had turned blue after 20 minuntes in the pool while the evil coach sat there and gave orders : ) ) or finding an alternative, I decided for the alternative for many reasons, the most important is some sort of emotional attachment I have towards the good ol' teps. So there I was, at 7.15 ready to do my own thing.

In my first year in NZ I mainly worked, read, explored went to the beach and watched TV (they stil screen Friends here, every weekday at 6) as well as socializing with a lot of newfound friends. After getting bored of that routine I decided to go and trake some swim lessons at the tepid baths to polish a bit my strokes, a few weeks later I joined the teps swim squads and got to know some people there that invited me to swim in the sea, and then someone suggested I should try triathlon and here I am, 3 years later getting ready to kick ass in Budapest. Many of the people I know in new zealand I have indeed met in my swim togs in that 100 and something years old building in the posh part of the city known as viaduct harbour.

And here is the workouts for the day:

Date: 7 Apr.
Sport: AM Swimming /// PM Running
Time: 70minutes /// 75minutes
Distance: 3.8km /// 14.5km
Comment: I didnt turn blue! /// training solo for the 2nd time in the day

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Guinea Piggin’

I’m volunteer for a study that some uni researchers are doing, it is about the incidence of extra oxygen on cycling performace on athletes. During four weeks I have to go into a lab twice a week and do some excercises on the lab bike, some days with an oxygen mask and other days just sweating it on 20km time trial.
There was no reason for me to volunteer, but I thought it would be a good opportunity to get info about what happens while I am racing on my bike. Results will be given to me in due time and It’s supposed to be good information for my coach and me for when we sit down and plan.
Proffessional athletes have this kind of testing done whenever they require and at the top of the line it’s amazing the amount of money that goes into hyper analizing everything in order to obtain better performance. As an amateur athlete it feels miles away.
But in the end I reckon that one basic principle applies. Hours on the bike, or running or swimming and a good programme will make you better. Any shortcut will ultimately bite you in the backside at some point, and that will be the last triathlon.
Back to the big race, I’m on the base period of my programme. In short, the common agreement is that a training programme needs to be periodized and specific. By periodized it basically means that it is not doing the same thing over and over again but building cycles where different aspects are covered. In our case it’s base, strength, endurance and speed. Each of these I will pass through over the next 20odd weeks.
I’m getting close to 300, so here’s what I did today
Date: 6-Apr.
Sport: Cycling
Time: 1hr
Distance: n/a 5x5min efforts + 3min recovery
Comment: I was masked and breathing from a 200 litres bag full of air... good fun to watch

Monday, April 5, 2010

Are you a triathlete?

It feels quite strange telling people: "I am a triathlete" the same way I would say "I am from Argentina" or "I want that T –shirt". Yesterday I was chatting with this gentleman that was doing the same tramp Nat and I were doing and I said the said phrase. The reaction on the other side was normal, but I felt quite not.

So… in what circumstances shall I say that I am a triathlete? Am I entitled to say so even though I don’t do it professionally? What allows me to say that I am indeed one of the triathlete class?

I like the sport pretty much the same way I like other things, like movies, or books or going hiking, but strangely enough I don’t go saying people that I am a moviegoer, or a booklover or a hiker. So, for a start I may have triathlon as part of what defines me (d’oh!) and that may be the case, I don’t know. If that premise is true, then I can say that I am indeed a triathlete, if it is not, It may just be a pose, with its good and bad things.

To be fair, I am not at all worried about this, but thought it would be a good topic to share.

Here’s Quixotte, Triathlon NZ member xxxxx, also member of the Auckland City Tri club, from now on bestowed with the powers to use the word “triathlete” when referring to himself.

We hiked the Tongariro Northern Circuit, a 3 to 4 days tramp that goes around some marvellous places from this marvellous country. When I’m hiking I switch completely off and the mind wanders. You just witnessed a bit of what goes through my head on days like today.

So, on day two of the road to Buda I did
Date: 5-Apr
Sport: Hiking
Time: 5 hours
Dist: 19km
Comment: I had 15 kgs on my back the whole trip!

Starting over

Why blog? Why now? Why me?, well…. I don’t have the answers to these questions. But a few days back it kind of grew in me the need to come back and start this sort of chronicle.

Not that I am new to this, but the publicity (just the fact that this could be read by anyone) of this venture changes things, I think, for good. The idea is to have between 150 and 300 daily words about the campaign, the sport, myself and other things that happen and I hope that it does someone some good (it will to me)

So here I am, Valen, 30, married, triathlete in the dark hours, investigator by day, adopted aucklander and wannabe wellingtonian.

It all officially started yesterday, the first Sunday of April marks the start of my campaign to achieve the best possible placing in the triathlon race to happen in Budapest, on September 12th. It is the Age Group (AG) world championships, which is the reason it’s so important for some of us. It happens once a year on a different place in the world.

I said this trip started yesterday, but in actual facts the trip started the day after the similar race I did last year in the AG world champs in Goldie, Australia and continued by earning qualification in the national champs, in Wellington, last March

So… besides the chat, here’s my training for the day.

Date 4-Apr
Sport Hiking
Time 3hr
Dist 9km
Comment Cross training doesn’t get any better than this