Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The glory box and the experience box

For most of us age-groupers it is a given that we will not be chasing podiums in every race we do. However we prepare and target some races for a best possible scenarios such as “I want to be in the top 25%” “I want a top 10 age group finish” or else. If things go right we get what we wanted, and if they’re really OK many of us surprise ourselves and others with a great result. If things go wrong we find plenty of excuses and ways to deal with it.

And we also learn. If I am to classify the races I’ve done I could easily put them on either box. There will be two or three on the glory ones. And a bunch on the experience box. It is certainly an experience to race 10k for the first time and have a stitch the size of my chest and it is a whole new thing to ride a bike with a falling seat. It all tells me something I can improve for next time: be it race preparation or race execution.

Last weekend’s Rotorua half will certainly go in the experience box. It was meant to be a solid race, and on paper I should have had no trouble with race prep or race execution. But I did, and I paid with a sub-par run. Let’s go and see some numbers:

Swim – 28:15 – HRAv 144 HRMx 172

Nothing that you wouldn’t see in other races… a bit of punching here and there but all nice and clean after 500m. I realized I was doing all the work for 6 other people behind me after the 1st lap, so I let them share a bit of the effort for the rest.

Bike 2:40:35 (incl T1 and T2) – HRAv 167 HRMx 173

All of a sudden it started bucketing down like there’s no tomorrow. I got sights on a group of 4 guys ahead of me and would not let them go no matter what. It was testing… but certainly paid off. I was expecting a 2:35:00 or less and I did just that. The rain was a problem for visibility and safety, but I did not realize it would be a problem for later as well.

As a side story, it kept raining for the next 24 hours which was quite a bummer for the post race activities such as pricegiving and trash talking.

Run 1:38:36 – HRAv 155 HRMx 172
I don’t recall how and when, but somewhere after the first couple of k’s I started to feel cold. Not, chilly, not fresh, really cold through the spine and spreading all over the rest of the body. I kept pushing but the ticker would not go any harder. I kept the nutrition regime as per plan and added a few cokes here and there to see if the extra calories would heat me up. Unfortunately they didn’t and although I won’t throw away a sub 1:40 for a half marathon off road run, I was happy it was over. I jumped into the car for a hot bath right after I crossed the line. I was aiming for a 1:25:00 run and to go so much out of the way was a bit hard.
Heat loss by water evaporation takes a lot of energy. I did not feel any signs of it, and I didn’t feel the cold when I was on the bike, but moving onto the run something happened. It will be good to plan for this in case IM is a wet day.

Another one under the belt. That’s 3 years after my first half ironman, and 5 half IM races. Not bad for a beginner. I never quitted and I’ll make sure I never do. These are races to finish.

Now it’s Xmas holiday, so I will enjoy a couple of days off before starting with the schedule for the holiday.

Stay safe

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Inspiring names

I was reading a race report from the Taupo Half ironman and kept thinking that branded races are taking the flare of race naming. From the name of the race I can gather It was a half iron distance triathlon raced in taupo. It could tell me more.

Let's be a bit more clear...the name of a race says a fair bit about it. For example, The Ironman, is quite a descriptive name. But The Half Ironman... mmmm not so much. I mean... it is a full race, why call it half ironman? The alternative of 70.3 is not great either... it is a mere description of the amount of miles you've done, it takes the epic sense away.

Let's draw a parallel, whould you take a train that is called "London/Edingburgh" or would you rather ride "The Flying Scotsman"? I know where I'd put my money.

Naming is not just liking a word to a thing, it is way more than that and race naming should be taken as seriously as race organizing (well... not so much.. but it would be so cool if it happened). The names of the races should be more than a reference to the distance and where it was held... let's hope it gets a bit more creative in the future.

And here's my two cents. I've named the training sessions for my the holiday:



The great stretcher
The gentlemen’s TT
The final crash
the big easy
The parnell 5 K'yer
Santa’s big ride
the hangover cure

Pool Swim
1 hr run
swim squad 5k
150k ride + Run off
1:30 run

Gents TT
Working at SSS
45min run
sea swim


the airporter
the battle of Omaha
The Thorpedo
the west coaster
the top up
The well deserved hike

Ride 3hr + Run off
Trail Run (2.5hr)
Ultra swim (7 to 10km)
180km bike - 45min run off
2:00 run

sea swim

Friday, December 9, 2011

12 Fridays to IM!

I guess this is the time when it should start getting really interesting. In the meantime, I have a half next Saturday (predicted 4:35:00) then a week off (completely off for 4 days and then we'll see) and then nothing until February.

In the spirit of this blog I've entered the sprint nationals in February. Not a wise decision but hopefully a rewarding one. At the end of the day, I enjoy the sport, running, swimming, cycling and racing... don't have a favourite distance or one I hate, they're all different in their good and bad aspects.

12 weeks out of race day I can report that I'm tired. I am finishing a couple of hard weeks and entering a taper period. Coaches' observations are that I've been a bit too much keen on keeping up with the fast boys and I should be taking a step back.

but hey!... it's all learning

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

Race Report – Auckland Triathlon

4:45am – WOW!... that’s early. Good practice for Ironman. Toast+coffee+banana+a double dose of sports drink in a single bottle.

6:00am – Walking into race HQ, liner coming into the harbour, body marking, get T1 and 2 ready. Did I check tyre pressure? Not.

6:30 – hang around sitting for a while, talk to mates, go for a nice warm up.

7:32 – there’s no swim warm up+walk to pontoon, jump in and pray water is OK. Water is OK!

7:35 – We’re off… surprisingly calm on the first two minutes!.... only a 2 punches and someone grabbing my shouder. Try to keep veering left as there’s a strong current. Where’s the buoy?

7:46 – Now swimming into the wharf, current going the other side, but not many others around? Where am I? is it OK to keep swimming this way? Stop. Watch. Go.

7:57 – Out – run – wettie off – sunnies on – take bike – Go.
8:00 – Head wind… what’s my heart doing? – get feet into shoe – get other feet into shoe. DON’T LOOSE SPEED! – Heead wind
8:03 – Hill – hurts – Mate passess me like I’m standing - He should be still behind for at least 10 more km – Am I going that slow?
8:06 – Steep downhill – pass a few – nice sweeping bend – heartrate back to near normal.
8:33 – OK it was only half an hour ago that I was suffering, but this ain’t that bad… keep it up! – Old man goes by – Catch him, pass him
8:48 – Steep hill going up, mate on the side of the road, high five – more cheers from people, hands off the bar and up to the sky – laugh – Go down fast, sweeping bend.
9:09 – bike off, socks on – Need new racing flats – Gel – go
9:11 – this ain’t working, I used to go fast off the bike, where’s the legs?
9:20 – Long straight, 20 people ahead, pass them all, SOON
9:30 – One more lap, go harder this time
9:44 – this is going to be a long sprint, GO
9:48 – I didn’t even know I could sprint for that long… did I go hard enough on the bike?. FINISH.

What a great race it was, the setting, the people, the massive field. I am already looking forward to the world champs next year.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Racing on the weekend

About 1100 weekend warriors and a few very keen athletes will be taking on the Auckland waterfront this weekend. I am one of the lucky ones that got an entry and although I am not that serious about it… it is a race, and a race is always about going from start to finish as fast as possible.

What to expect?

Expect a chilly morning, armwarmers will be a common sight. Expect a bit of trouble in the water. We are not allowed to warm up and there will be the odd diesel smell… nothing too worrying, though. A longer-than-normal bike, the course goes through la col de Shore Rd, and la Col de Bastion point. Both are short and sharp and done in less than 2 minutes…it’ll be good to see how much damage they do to the legs.

Who’s racing?

Pretty much everybody and his dog. The race is a qualifier for next year worlds.

How’s the weather?

No one can answer that about Auckland. There will be sun, and a breeze, then rain, the odd crosswind and then some showers and it will be cloudy.

My bet

2:09:45 – a good swim, a decent bike and an average run

Stay tuned for results

Friday, November 11, 2011

Race Report - Pure blonde series race I

The official start of my racing season. I was not looking forward to Tuesday evening, I told Nat I’d be using a BRAZIL race suit that my mate Ro brought from Beijing World Champs.
The suit is, let’s say, a wee to tight for me. Not quite sure if it is because I’ve grown wider or because it is just not my size, but I managed to wear it with some dignity (note, it is also a bit see through)

(photo coming soon, stay tuned)

Anyway, as for the racing itself, it was good NZ conditions, with choppy seas and grey clouds all over. Nothing too fancy, but nothing too hot either, which is what matters. 1km swim and 4km run. 
The field was small… so I knew it was going to be between three or four of us, coach Dan, a young pro German athlete and a couple of other faces. While I was thinking that the race briefing went on. 
It turns out they had changed the course from a 2 lap triangle to a 2 lap oval kind of shape. I was to pay later for it. 
Men and women started together and 50m in I was in third, behind Dan and ze german. Then I was in second and all of a sudden someone came on my right, he seemed quite strong so I took his feet. We turned around the 250mark and I was on second behind the fast feet. As I was picking the good lines to the beach I saw fast feet and the others keep going straight. I continued on my own and was the first to the beach. When I got up I heard that I was doing it wrong!!!!!!
Yeah!!! Wrong!!!
I swore a bit and saw how the other guys had over 50m advantage over me… I rounded the first buoy in 5th and got off the water in 4th, about 1min behind the leader. On my shoes I went, and tried my best to catch whoever I could. I gained a few seconds on the guy ahead, then passed him and then I could see he back of the second guy. At the turnaround (it’s two 2km laps) I was 40 and 20 seconds behind. I tried for about another 1.2km and the gap was not getting any smaller, so I went to cruise control and finished, 25 seconds behind the leader,  my mate Nick Carter, who was as surprised as everybody else of having won his first race. Congrats to him, he’s worked his a#$ off this winter, and it looks like it’s paying off. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Race Report - Auckland Marathon

As I continue with my tradition of entering races at the last minute, there was no official uncorking of the 2011/2012 racing calendar. Nat, on the other hand, had entered the Auckland Half over six months ago.

10 days out from race day my buddy Marie sent a couple of us an email that there had been people from her corporate team dropping and there were a few openings. We could not change names, but it was a good opportunity to do a marathon from the first time.

Race report
4am - waky waky... porridge, toast, coffee, look after Nat.
5am - meet mates for ride to the start.
5:45am - qeues to the portaloos are too big... better hold on.
Warm up is overrated, better to skip it as well.
6:10am - Start... thinking that it's gonna be over in less than 4 hours.
4km mark - first aid station I need a loo.
8km eat one lolly
11km mark - loo stop and aid station. packs start to form
16km mark - run over the harbour bridge, njoy the view, start chatting with pack-mates. Eat my OSM.
21km mark - I'm 10min ahead of schedule... pack mates reckon we're all good for a 3:15. Lollies
24km mark - headwind for the next 8km... hide behind packmates and do little work... they know it's my first time.
28km mark - COKE!
32km mark - turn to a light tail wind.  Run out of lollies
34km mark - packmates fading, I keep foot on. start passing lots of people
38km mark - stride changes... more coke... tired
40km mark - tri buddy Liz is on aid station, say hello, ask her how was Kona, more coke.
Finish - good form, decent sprint, gutted that I went over the :59. official time 3:11:04.

The good: perfect splits for each half marathon. good form and controlled HR. Tried running with merino top and it works really well.
The bad: it is long and boring : ), change in stride was a bit worrying. should have better nutrition plan.

I'll be stoked if I can do similar time in Taupo on March 3rd.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The triathlete cook

On today's edition I'm sharing this kick ass cookie recipe that I found somewhere.
The good: they have no butter and no flour and they taste just awesome
The bad: they don't last long... only two or three days

What do you need?
1 can of canellini or butter beans (in brine, not in oil or other condiment)
1 cup of shredded coconut
1/2 cup of nuts
1/2 cup of dried fruits
3 spoonfulls of maple syrup
1/2 cup of coffee cryrstals
3 cups of oats
vanilla essence or cinnamon or similar

How do you do them?
mash the beans
add the syrum and sugar and vanilla essence and mix
add the oats and fruits and mix again
add the nuts and mix again

Bake for 15min or until golden


As usual, once you master the basics you can add or take ingredients at your pleasure, my favourite is adding one or two eggs for a bit of protein.

Among the benefits are the good fats and minerals of coconut the good fats and minerals of nuts and the canellini beans. Although these benefits are all good, the main driver for me is that I know for sure what I am eating, because I made it myself.
The second driver is that I also know what I am not eating (a buttery cookie or a highly processed carb bar).

Finally, they are easy on the stomach, I've used them on rides and on tempo runs and so far have had no trouble.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A seamless comeback

It was a nice long break from blogging. But it was just that… the training and rest of the life keep ticking along.

A lot has happened… my mate Ro got a bronze medal at the ITU oly distance world champs in Beijing, France lost the Rugby World cup, a lot of oil from a stranded ship was washed ashore one of my favourite bodyboarding spots and I got officially one year older.

As it is tradition, I celebrated my b-day a few weeks after the event, and had a nice dinner with friends from all over. There was ham on the bone and plenty of red and white and beer.

Training wise it has been quite a long way coming and a few milestones are the completion of my first Marathon and the first sunburn marks from cycling without sunscreen. (silly boy is used to go out at 5am and back before midday, different story when you leave at 9am)

Spring is finally showing in NZ and the season kickstarted with a few cool events, one of them was the Auckland Marathon and half marathon, then there’s the Pure Blonde series nest Tuesday and the Auckland World Cup race on 20 November. I may do the last one, but under someone else’s name because the race organizers are not capable of doing a name transfer.

Which brings me to the first rant,

Why is it so hard for a race organizer to change the name of someone that entered a race to someone else that is doing it on that person’s behalf? It is understandable that they have to comply with health and safety regulations and other admin stuff, but then again, they have taken our money weeks if not months in advanced leaving us with no much choice than giving the money away in case of an unexpected incident. Adidas charges you 25 bucks to change the name of a registered athlete. Auckland doesn’t even allows that. Ironman won’t do it either. Those races can afford to be nasty, but the small guys will keep trying to get away.
Stay tuned for my power cookie recipe!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Big day out

Sunday is the annual club race.

The format is 5km run 20km bike 2.5km run and this year look like we'll be having the weather in our favour.

I am part of the club committee but I have been a bit absent lately, so I will turn up and help here and there, but mostly I'll turn up to see how people make it happen and have another great day at the races.

If you're in Auckland or close by, come along and have a crack... it is really good fun. We hire a car racing track and and do 2.5km loops there. It's one of the few chances of having a super safe environment to bring the flash bikes.

more info on the club's page

Friday, July 29, 2011

What a month! I am a newbie in following the tour on a regular basis. I used to read about it in the Indurain era, but I was brought to it thanks to the big tall Texan guy about 7 or 8 years ago. Anyway, being the most important race in the cycling calendar, there is always the expectation of a great show. And what a great show it was. After a week of withdrawal, I realize that there are many things that kept bouncing in my head. I call them lessons in absence of a better way to describe them.

#1 Patience
There was a certain desperation in the peloton in the two big escapes of the last week (Andy Schleck and Contador) only one man did not panic, and he won the race. It takes a lot of guts to sit on your bike and keep rolling, knowing that the race will be yours in the end. Chapeau to Evans for the patience he showed in those two occasions. When translated into the more mundane world of an amateur triathlete and wannabe ironman, patience is a good thing to have. Specially when the miles start stacking up and there is no race in the calendar for over 20 weeks. One has to have patience that the time will come to use all that fitness in a race. And that all the hard work will eventuate in a great result.

#2 Pride
The way an outside rider from an outsider team drove the peloton while in yellow was a proud display. Voekler rode beyond his ability to keep up with these superstars, and one always like an underdog punching above its weight. It comes to show how sometimes these superstars are not that far away and anyone can achieve extraordinary results with a bit of self confidence.

# Take it on the chin
Literaly, like poor Ten Dam or Johnny Hoogerland. Races can be a real she-dog, but there’s nothing better than going through the finish line. I may not be a pro guy that does this for a living, but I will be betraying those long hours on the saddle or out running if I don’t get to finish just because I’m in pain. I mean….pain is when you get barbed wire in your balls after coming off your bike at 50km plus. A sore knee can’t be that bad.

After reading the above I realize that I am becoming another tri preacher, so I better stop it there.
Anyway, it was just to show that I am alive, although quite quiet due to lack of time.

Keep training, and racing hard.

Monday, July 11, 2011

lots of news

Even though it was a quiet week for me, it was entertaining enough with the news from Le Tour, the crashes, the sprints and winding up all the Cav-hating troups here and there.
What is more, 4 guys ran sub 8 hours iron distance races in the past 8 days. And Chrissie wellington broke her own record yet another time.
This blog is not going to top those news.
Even less in the grey Auckland winter. It's only the last two weeks that the weather got really wintry and the roads are becoming less and less friendly. In the past 4 weeks I went through 6 tubes and 2 tyres (one of them I rode onto for 200m going down a hill at 50km/h). One still has to tick the boxes, so it has been kind of hard.
I've decided to do hill reps on the windtrainer. Out of three times I was on the road I got two accidents, none of which was serious, but still a bit scary. The first one was a car vs. bike, but as I was going up hill I dodged a right turning car and hit it very slowly. The second one is a puncture at speed, where I stayed upright thanks to my great bike handling skills (and a bit of luck again)

The days are getting like 30 seconds longer each day, which sucks, because it doesn't make any difference if you're going for a 1.45 or a 2 hour run. But all in all I've found the rythm of how to organize my training weeks.

For the first time in over two years I had a "hit the wall" week, a combination of stress and fatigue was all too much. I didn't miss a single session, but I was looking forward to Saturday afternoon and a big siesta. I am told that there are points during the IM training where more training is the best way forward. I will try that avenue and seee.

On my TdF I am still quite on track for Cadel Evans. Gessink seemed a bit tired the last two stages. And hopefully Hushov will get back to fight for points instead of trying to keep the YJ.

Enough for today,

happy training to you all

Monday, July 4, 2011

Late tour de France prediction

Mind you, I wrote this on Friday and didn't post it.

Yellow: I am guessing Cadel Evans will have his moment this time around

Green: Thor “world champ” should prevail, he’s got a whole team to support him – no doubt about it

White: Gesink

Polka dot: Andy Schleck

after 2 stages I agree it was a great prediction already... this can only get better

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Controversy in the ETU champs

This is the link to the article, but I’d imagine triathlon forums may be talking about the issue. I haven’t got much time to read them, though.

What happened? If you check the video, it appears that the guy in white is blocking the guy in blue. The guy in white is the Pom boy, the blue boy is Gomez. The blue guy is not doing any visible effort to dodge the obstacle and swim towards the rest of the field, but the video is not great quality.

Gomez was not happy about it, and referees have given him some credit, as the brit was disqualified.

The matters opens the question, though, of where do you draw the line. Races at the elite levels are about medals, points for the athlete, points for the country and a bit of argy-bargy about who’s top dog. Wether the purists like it or not, there's obvious team tactics involved.

Drafting races see many times younger guys sacrificing themselves and working hard for the big boys who can later run a sub 33, which is where you need to be these days. Not many breakaways succeed, and when they do is because someone didn’t pay attention or the race was not that important. Is the drafting part of triathlon becoming more of a team sport and this incident is just one symptom?

So, I ask, where does the line need to be drawn? An athlete is penalized for blocking another athlete. Doesn’t that happen at any race at some point or another?, doesn’t it happen often in a 30 or plus guys bunch riding or running into a 180º turn?.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Updates, TdF and the Ironbunch

The two weeks of stress are finished. I was getting ready for my final exams and I had a “moderate” week in the middle. And plenty at work. The results? I think I ticked all the boxes in rather good shape. The exams will be on an 80 to 90 % (I think); the work stuff is back to semi-normality and training I missed only one session.

The ironbunch is the group of my training buddies who are doing IM next march, they run a group ride at the civilized hour of 8am on the Sundays. And I join them every now and then. The last time was Sunday a week ago, in a horribly wet Auckland winter day. I started my thing after 6am and was at their meeting place by 8.15. It followed with a flat 15km into their ride (by now I was over 3 hours). I decided to peel off at one intersection, and head back to the city. The rest of their circuit was great training, but I had no more spare tubes and no much food.

10 minutes before the city I got another flat. Although I didn’t panic, I was quite unhappy about the prospect of calling Nat to pick me up. I decided to inflate and ride, and then inflate and ride and then inflate and ride until I got to a bike shop 5km up the road. The strategy worked quite well, the only problem was that the shop was closed. Lucky for me, another training mate was just stopped at the lights, and I got a free tube to keep going. When I finished it was 6.15 hours and 5.40 of riding.

I’ve also finished the first block of base prep. for IM, a total of 36 hours of cycling (‘bout 900km) 13 hours of running (close to 150km) and 11 hours (28km) of swimming spread in 3 weeks. The body is OK but I am in serious need of stretching and core stuff… next big thing is to get a membership for a gym running back.

And the TdF is finally here!, only a week to go and a month of joy… pity I don’t have satellite TV to see the full stages.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

nice surprise

Dear Secret Friend
Thank you very very much for the cool book about Le Tour you left on my letterbox yesterday. It certainly made an impression and I am very humbled by your words. I did not know that I was an inspiration for anyone, let alone that I deserved to be recognized with such a cool present.
it's the shape of a bike wheel!

I must add that my wife is not very impressed and I had to face an inquest about who was the “lady friend who left you a book on the letterbox”. It was all clarified when we did a thorough examination of your handwriting and concluded that it is a male. (that seemed to give her some peace). It is now a matter to narrow down the list of people who knows where I live and we’ll get there (remember I work as an investigator and I never miss). Once I find you, I shall invite you with a good ol’ flat white and a muffin at some fancy place. Alternatively, send me and email. I am very thankful, though.

As I was saying, the book is really cool and it’s sitting on my bedside table already. My training programme demanded a 1hour55min run yesterday, and I was coming home thinking to shorten it to 1.30 and be happy. Then the discovery of a present put a bit of a cheer on me and it helped me finish what was on the programme. This time around it was a case of mind over body. We had a hard VO2 set on Monday, and my calves, and hammies were quite sore. I thoughed it and went for the 115min run with a big smile on my face.

I was tired, but the rainbow made it good

Monday, June 13, 2011

Body over mind

Auckland waterfront at dawn in early june
Many have said that endurance sports is a matter of mind over body. I won’t probably argue with that statement, although I must say that sometimes it is a matter of body over mind. A quick example. I’ve been waking up about 6am most days in order to fit in longer rides and be able to have the rest of the day to do other stuff. The sleep hours have steadied up on 7 to 8 hours which is not bad at all. Anyway, back to my example: Woke up on Sunday at 5.45 and it was pouring down quite heavily. I said I’d better wait and see and go in a half hour (usually it takes me 10min from the alarm sound to me being on my bike outside home). Next thing I know it was 8 in the morning! I mean… it didn’t even took an effort to sleep straight 2 hours. I wanted to go out, I’ve already woken up and I was more than ready for it, but I have my body 2minutes and it just fell off to dreamland.

There is no question that my body needed the rest, and there wasn’t even a fight between mind and body, the body just went for it. It’s crazy how sometimes we forget this small lessons. I guess next Saturday I’ll be going to bed earlier, or sleeping a bit more and re-organizing my day in a better way.

Other than that it was an average winter weekend: long ride on the Saturday, long-ish ride on the Sunday. Saturday customary pizza and plenty of coffee, books and time with my other half. (We’re going for 10 years together this week… I call that endurance as well!)

On the run front, today is VO2 set days, and I am feeling more than VO1. We have to meet a very demanding target running for 7.5min. The distance to be run is taken from the infamous cooper’s test, which we did 2 weeks ago. My result? Just over 3500m in 12 minutes. How was I a year ago?

http://a-bigger-race.blogspot.com/2010/05/coopers-test-night.html Here is the answer. Does that mean I’m worst off? Nope, well…I hope so. It means I’m on a different phase of training.

Anyway, enough for today, be safe out there,

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Living the dream

I'm not talking about me here, it's been a miserable three weeks on the weather front. I'm talking about my good mate Reado, who is in Germany racing the northern summer season for a club. Go and see his website http://www.carlread.com/ it's got good photos and updates of sunny Europe. His decision to go and race in Europe is not a light one to do for a 30 odd year old guy, as you have to leave partner, work and other stuff behind, I mean, he's at that stage where he doesnt make a living out of triahtlon, so I take my hat to him for his ballsy move.

As I was saying, it's been a pretty boring couple of three weeks, but that doesn't take away that I've been a good boy. Since my last post there's been a meeting with the coach, a new programme and plenty of hours on the saddle, and the trainers. Swimming has been average, but not to shabby at all. A quick update on the three disciplines:
Swimming: winter is back to basics, and we've done lots of drills at the pool. The good news for me is that over the seasons I've learned to master most of what my hands and arms should do. This year the focus is on the hips, and getting them to coordinate witht he rest of the body in the stroke. It looks like i'm quite stiff out there.
Cycling: hours, hours and more hours. I've made sure I cycle at least 4 times a week for the last 4 weeks. Going to works, small 45 min rides and so on at a low level of exertion. All has gone good with plenty of wet days. (today being the latest examples). I was involved in minor bike vs. car incident, but lucky me, I hit the car instead of the car hitting me, so all in pretty good nick.
Running: I'm quite average on that front, and I am starting to worry. Speed wise I am fine for the time of the year. But the mileage I am running seems to be a bit on the short side for a long distance event. I will consult with coach for some instructions.

So...have a programme, but this time around there's a new dynamic to it. I have a set of requirements for the week, and I can later organize with some discretion. I'm entering into week 3 of the first block of 4, and it's been pretty good. I'm above the number of hours on some, but spot on in the levels of excertion. The programme, the work pressure and sudying for uni exams meant that I'm doing a lot of solo stuff, wich I guess can't hurt as mental preppin for the big IM.

I've taken a few photos, mainly of scenic rides, will upload them soon.

Other than that, I expect to be more regular on keeping the log.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

How to find the time

I never planned this when I started blogging over a year ago. I am not able to find the time to keep this thing going continuously.
However, though, there has been a lot of development over the last two weeks and a bit since my last update.
The first one is that I am back into good training mode. I've also had THE meeting with coach about the future of my training, racing and the big IM experience in 2012. What is to come? A good 10 weeks of nice'n easy, long rides on Saturdays, Sundays, and some serious riding during the week as well... to amount up to 500km later in the season. Am I ready for that? I guess, so... we'll how to see how it is to survive it.

The second one is that a good mate of mine, GEOFF CARTER, made his bigg attempt to cross the cook straight. I talked about Geoff a few posts back. He's been an inspiration and an example for many, although his attempt was not successfull I deeply admire him for his discipline put into the quest.
The guy not only had to wait almost 4 months since his original swimming window, he had to keep swimming in excess of 40km a week for that period.

That kept me thinking on the reasons that we have to do what we do. Not only good mate trying to swim between the two island, anyone waking up at 6 for a jog, or at 5.30 to fit a 2hr ride before work and all other examples of extraordinary moves just to have the joy of finding ourselves doing something we really love. And there are many reasons, but one could say that beside these reasons, there is an element of absurd in repeating the routines again and again to say we "did" it. I argue that we don't "do" it, it "does" us. I am not only fairly spent, but changed as a guy and an athlete after many of the daily sessions, and that is what keeps me coming back!,

Anyway, enough rant for today, hope to post tomorrow!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The long way back

How nice is to get completely disconnected with one’s daily routines, schedules, foods, wake-up times, regimes and general comfort? And do all that and still have an amazing time?

Answer: Really nice, cool as, sweet as, choice, great Amazing!, buenisimo!

This was a good as a holiday as it can get, and even with the odd incursion into sport (a couple of runs and a badly raced race) it was absolute disengagement.

We didn’t need to be 15.000km apart from our home to get all that, but the distance certainly helped, and it’s as much physical as it is mental.

We arrived back two days ago after a 13 hours flight and straight into work and uni. Day 2 was back to the pool at the usual 6am time and a long run chatting with mates. It is a timely comeback as the body is holding well together, but one can tell it is more on the way down to hibernation mode.

I realize now that this is the first proper break since 1 Jan 2010, a good 16 months of back to back training regimes. I could possibly do it again, but only if there is enough at stake in terms of qualifying for world champs in a wonderful location, or competing at a high level.

What is to come?

Back to basics, and a good couple of months of base training, long runs, rides and polishing the freestyle technique and kicks to shave a second or two of my hundred metres times. Gym and core. And all of that on wet winter condition, it does not get any better.

The racing will be cut off for good, I don’t plan to do anything competitive until November, so the adrenaline packs, the killer instinct and the aggression will be saved in the bank for hotter times.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

XC land, and some racing

The first week of holiday was certainly one of the busiest. Between greetings and meetings with friends and loved ones I scooped a few runs, and even managed to ride a good old tractor (with the latest 7 speed shimano tourney) courtesy of one of my friends. One of my findings is that training in the early morning is somewhat of an unknown thing on my homeland.

I´ve been coping with the effects of the new body clock and waking up at the usual 5.30 am even when going to bed at 1.30 after a couple of vinos. Anyway, going out for a run at 6.30 or 7 in the morning I came across only one early morning walker in one of my 4 days out. most people, it seems, like doing the sporty bits in the evening hours.
Me, I prefer the morning. Dawn in the pampas have a different kind of drama when compared to the coastal NZ sunrises. there´s nothing but plain uninterrupted flat land for thousand of kilometers to east, west, north and south.
It was a good week on the weather front and it was my second time training in a mtb. I can´t say I loved it, but it wasn´t bad either. I think that with a better fitted bike (this one was too big and it hurt my back) it will be a great experience. The temperatures are around the 6 to 9 degrees celcius.

my mate guille and I 
What was not part of the holiday was the Duathlon I raced yesterday. It just happened that the provincial duathlon circuit was being raced in my home town. A friend of mine told me and I said why not. It is not often that you can race with home crew, and not very often at all that there is a big race coming to town. The distances were 5km run 20km mtb (rural bike, as there is no mountains around) and 2.5km run. Only tiny problem was that the race was at 11am and I had a family reunion/b-day party starting at 10pm the night before. Luckily I got my priorities right and went to bed at 6am after having had the best 80th birthdays party of my all times and enjoying every bit of the organization that my mum and untie had put so much effort in (my  untie/godmother baked all sort of pastries for a whole week). I woke up happy, and that is very important when you´re going to race for fun.
first out of T1
suffering on the run
As I was the first one up I did little noise and left to register myself for the duathlon. I downed a whole bottle of sports drink to replenish and hydrate, and ate one banana. The body was badly slept, badly stretched and a couple of kilos over race fitness, but I was determined to have a great day out. We started last after the teams and women, and as the race started I knew my running was not going to let me down. The first run was  two laps on an off road circuit, I was in the group of 5 heading the field. After the first 2km a guy surged and I stuck on. After that we hit a head wind section and my legs seemed to be better, I told the guy to draft off me and I tried to make some more distance between us and the second group. He was happy to stay there and I had no problems either. He told me we could work together in the bike and I said we´ll see what my legs have to say about that.
I was first off T1 thanks to not having to change shoes. The second guy cougth me 500m into the bike leg and I stayed with him for 1km or two. Then we hit a headwind and he put 150m on me with no sweat. I was happy tailing for another 5km until I started to note a niggle in what scientifically we know as ass. The niggle became pain by km 6 and I started to slow down big time and stand on my pedals to try and loosen up the area. nothing seemed to work, but I kept going and by the turnaround at 10km I was passed by a group containing 2nd 3rd and 4th, as well as another group right after. It did not go, but I felt better by km15 and managed to stay in touch with the last group passing me. I think I went from 2nd to 12th in that period. The group I rode with for the last 5km contained the first woman, who was waaaay lot better mtbiker than I am. I hit T2 wondering how the big knot of muscles in my gluteus would react to running.

Happily the molesty was not bad and I was running at a decent pace in no time. Unfortunately the damage was already done and I ran out of real estate to try and get any better. I finished a honourable 7th and got given crap by my dear wife, who said that next time I take her out to the races during holiday I better get a podium.
training the day after, 
When I woke up before the race, the bike I was going to use broke, and I had to go and ask for someone else´s at the race venue. It took only 1 minute between the anouncer telling everybody of my case and me getting a new bike for my race. The guy even lubed it and cleaned it for me. That is confirmation that the triathlon fraternity is the same here than it is in all the other places we´ve raced.
going back home in my sister´s bike

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Home Sweet(s) home

What a busy week!,
The day that was (Saturday 2 April) was a great day out. We had amazingly clear skies and no winds, the ride was long and tiring, but a nice thing to do. To top it up, on the way back we saw this

After that I had a week with 2 exams at uni. and after that a 16000km trip to small town Argentina (photos soon). I´ve been now enjoying the hospitality and the two things I miss the most, bread and pastries in all their varieties and combinations

I managed to go out running a couple of times (in two days) and got hold of a bike, so we´ll probably have some fun as well as R&R.

not a lot more happened.... but watch this space http://www.geoffswim.blogspot.com/ as my mate Geoff is getting a step closer to crossing the cook straight!

Friday, April 1, 2011

On yer bikes

In typical valen style, I organized a social bike ride to the Coromandel Peninsula for Saturday morning (190km, give or take a tenner)

this comes on top of revision week for two test at uni, and crazy week at work trying to leave all nice an tidy before a 3 week break from everything.

will have a report and some photos tomorrow night, for now, I am a happy man on a Friday afternoon, waiting for a great day out on the bike,

have a great weekend,

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Pure Blonde Aquathlon series - race 4 RR

Officially the last race of the season for me, the race was doubled as the aquathlon national champs. It appears that aquathlon (run-swim-run) it's becoming as speciality in itself and ITU world champs will require the participants to have run as part of a series in the national federation (well... that's what I heard). 
Being new to aquathlon and with 4 races under my belt, I reckon that the format is pretty good as it does not require a huge time commitment, and it is done and dusted in usually less that 1 hour of excercise. NZ can only cater for a few of these, and the Pure Blonde series is the second one in Auckland. It would be good if it was only one and a bigger field, but that is politics and business, two subjects that I am even more an amateur that mulstisport. 

Anyway, a cr@p weekend and my first 9hours sleep in a very long time. I woke up at 9am feeling tired. the fun thing is that I had NO THING the day prior, other than eat, study and sit around the house. I did a 30min stretching session while on skype with our parents and had a very light brekkie. Nat was driver and photographer and we got there with plenty of time to spare. There was the usual faces and quite a few new ones, that I know are fast guys. I was expecting a bigger field and a lot of hard work, so all good on that front. 

The numbers were slightly up from the other previous races, but not the 150 I had imagined. I went for a warmup run wih my mates Gordo and Reado. Legs felt OK, and after some serious stretching the upper body was firing as well. There was a few changes to the traditional circuit to suit the format (from 3km run to 2.5run this time, and triangle swim istead of box. There was a group of 6 or 7 good runners that I knew would be running pretty much together the whole race. My plan was to stick to them and see if I could pull an extraordinary swim and still be in contention out of the water onto the second run. The first 200m the people at the front was pushing a serious pace, sub 3min km. I made sure I was close but I was not up the front. Then the unexpected happened: there is a 90˚ left turn to go on a clockwise run around a block. The front guys ketp going straight, a few of us doubted but just kind of kept going... but then someone said something and we all realized we've missed the turn. I yelled WRONG WAY!, and turned back. The whole episode was 3 to 5 seconds.

I re entered the course and kept going... I realized I had an advantage of about 10 to 20m to the front guys. After about 20seconds the penny dropped.... this is my chance to go for it!.... I ducked in and went as fast as I could for the next km or so, then the body cought up with me and so did the first of the chasers. I was the first to T1 together with the eventual winner, Liam Scopes with a 10 to 15 seconds advantage (and a HR higher than other times, I must admit). The swimming was tought $hit, I was hiperventilated and dizzy for the first 200m of each of the two laps. I got passed by two or three guys in the 1km swim and I am lucky it was only them. 

Out of the water I got a good T2 and out I was chasing the 3rd runner. I did realize I was being chased too, but didnt pay too much attention to that. Halfway through the first lap I heard the steps of my mate Reado right behind me... the guy in the front was just over 10 ahead, I tagged along him and we passed before the start of the 2nd and final run lap. Reado decided to push the pace a bit more, and I had nothing to respond... I stuck to him for 400m and then the gap just kept growing and growing. And I had a guy 10secs behind me!!... I made sure I was not passed again and finished with a worrying look in my face. 4th overall and 3rd in the Age group (national champs!)

The afternoon followed with prizegiving and I got my bronze medal, and my prizes for the overall series winner for the swim-run and aquathlon series. I even scored the second spot prize of the season, a good box of cereal bars. 

As I was saying, this particular combination of disciplines has a good potential as it is easy to train for, and you can make it as complicated as you want if you're serious about speed. If any of you has a chance do one of them next season, here or abroad, and enjoy it... otherwise is not worth the effort.

keep rocking and pray for some sunshine