Wednesday, March 7, 2012

As the saying goes... what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. It was not a nice one to take on the chin when they announced the cancellation of my first ironman race. It was a messy couple of days, there were a few hundred others racing for the first time. And a particular one racing for the last time. A guy who raced every IMNZ race since the beginning.
And it didn’t happen.

But there was the Half the next day, and a race is a race and you have to race it. ‘Nuff said that I was there but my heart was probably pounding somewhere else. In hindsight I should have taken the race waaaay more seriously than I did. Anyway, here’s the report.

Swim: 32:10

Not a flash swim. Got a good start and then started getting a fair bit of traffic to get through, above, aside and over. Slower guys that killed the first 400m and then settled into a snail pace. All in all I batlled through and cruised with a group of about 10 guys from the 1km marker. I got lost at the last turn and swam the last 200m very wide.
A good mate gave an inspiring yell as I got out of the water: “Nice level 1 Swim, mate!”
I swallowed a bit of pride and continued on.
Transition 1: 6:54

We have to run 1km from the lake to the tent, get our things from the bag and move to the bike and leave. It is a minimum of 4 and a half minutes. But it was cold in Taupo, so I went for leg warmers, bike top and wind jacket. I also had my pump in the bag and don’t remember what else. But I know it was a long transition. I did not prep the transition well enough. Even for IM it would have been a bit long

Bike: 2:30:00

The bike course is rolling to start with, then is flat and tailwind and the end is a bit harder with a headwind and a couple of hills to negotiate. I had a troublesome first 10min and then settled into a good pace. In that window of time two guys from the squad passed me. One of them I would catch up later, the other was cougth by the draft busters.
Speaking of drafting: there’s very little to do when you have about 1000 people in a stretch of road of 45km. In the best of circumstances it would allow for 45metres between each one of us. In a more realistic case, and provided that we all leave the swim with a 1sec split you’ll have about 3 or 4m between people. Throw in a mix of abilities and motivations and you have a real hard race to police, self police and penalize. I was part of a 12, 15 strong group after the 10km mark. I did my bit to get away from them and I failed. I did my bit to stay at a respectable distance and many around me did. I did commit to start passing people when they got too comfortable for me. All in all it was a group that would have pedalled the same time as I would in the longer race (5:30:00) though we’ve been more spread out from the swim start.
Anyway, I must say I drafted at times and at times I carried a few on my slipstream. Only when we hit the last 10km and hills and headwind things got really in order.
By then the damage was done.
My nutrition was as planned, although it didn’t work as I had a stomach cramp from halfway on the bike until the end of the run. The plan was: one gel every 30min, 1/3 protein bar every 30min, water, bananas.

The run: 1:33:00
When I said the damage was done I am speaking about myself. I had gone harder than I planned on the bike. But it was intentional, to see how tired I can get and how bad it would be to have stomach cramp and run a decent half marathon.
My heart was not in the race and you can tell by the body language and the wardrobe malcfuntion : )
I went through the motions and finished, getting better by each 5km split, but not too good to avoid getting chicked and bet by a few that I would usually leave behind on other races.

The balance:
It was a bad race, no one else than me to blame for it. On the bright side, I now know what it feels to be doing the race from a pretty dark place. It can only be better from now on, so looking forward to a few more half IM’s and the big race on March 2 2013.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

IMNZ 70.3 on tomorrow

It's gonna be cold, a bit windy and pretty cozy with over 1000 of us on the road. 
But, hey!, it's a race and races are always fun. Stay tuned for the race report and great photos from Nat.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Closed until further notice

Last training session

It's a bit cold in the lake, but we managed to have some fun

Then it was off into the speed machine, winds are not a problem for the deep rims. We finished up with a quick run on the lakeside. Now I'm off to leave the bike at transition, buy a new bottle holder, a couple of warm layers and back to rest. Stay tuned for forecasts (both weather and my race performance)

Thursday, March 1, 2012


There's only one more hour of training to go. Tomorrow (Friday) we'll be getting together with a few Ironrookies and doing a 20-20-20 of each discipline.
We got to Taupo at midday today, just in time for a nice meal @ Body Fuel, a coffee shop popular among visitors and full of triathletes at the time of our stop. 
I made sure I packed everything, Including my wife
The town is buzzing big time.
For those who don't know it. Taupo is a 20.000 people town next to the biggest lake in the middle of NZ's north island. Major holiday spot and very well served.
Anyway, got registration out of the way, visited the expo to spot some bargains and went to our rental to set up and put the feet up.
I am as ready as I can be. There's a few things that are likely to happen
Leaving home with a happy face
Wind - Rain (not showers, rain) - Cold (low 10's C). I have trained in worst than that. Rotorua half was a cold race and I got the best bike split in an half iroman. I am as ready as I will ever be.

A bit more to come later today or tomorrow morning (incl. some photos)
The view from our living room

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Today's inspirational post

Sponsored by Nat.
It was my thitieth birdthay and Nat got me a nice photo collage of me racing. It hang out there next to my bed for a couple of  years and now it's on the dressing room window.
Anyway, I was coming from my bike ride today and got a glimpse of the photos. 
Next minute I am looking at each of them and remembering old races. It is quite amazing that only 4 years ago I was completely ignorant of many of the joys of this game.
That was all i needed to be a happy man, and get even more in race mode.
I'll share parts of the collage.


Bike is in order.

Just need to tick on everything else.

Out for a long ride now.

And house cleaning.

And stretching and core work.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

One thing that I was cautious about is the diet.
The face of dissapointment
The last 4 weeks I've trained in the region of 20 hours, and since last Sunday things went back to 50% of that or less. Although appetite curbs down, it does not so at the same rate as the decrease in exercise.So I made sure I got plenty of veggies in the fridge and chose all snacks carefuly. I even bought light yougurt (which I hate because it's runny).
It has worked allright with the exeption of a fish and chips evening that we couldn't avoid.
One week out from the big day I am happy to see my shape is "race shape" and I don't look as starved as distance runners do. I have a good balance of bony and chunky areas. According to Nat my butt is too big, but can't do anything about it now.
And the good thing is that I cannot change much in the next 7 days.
Training wise I had a dissapointing Thrusday, as I was meant to do a 2000m TT swimming, which I was hoping it would go under certain barrier. And it didn't. I'm not sure if the fact that I didn't wear a wetsuit is much of an excuse, or that it was laps instead of out and back. What I was happy about, tho, is that I still managed to finish a respectable 15th.
Today is day off so it will be all about movies in the park.
Stay safe out there

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The next 10 posts

I aim to have a final countdown. It is not that I am not interested in blogging, but IM training seems to take a fair bit of time of your leisure time.
So, here we are 10 days to race day and most of the last 9 months gone in swims, bikes and runs.
Anxiety is creeping up, two nights ago I and the firs Ironnighmare.
I was in transition and was going through this repetitive tasks and was never making it to the start line. Flashforward to the run and I was being passed by all this randon people while my objective of sub10 was going out. I woke up all sweaty.
Can they run sub 3:15:00?
Tapper week/s
Last week was the last hard week of training and this one and the next are a bit smaller in volume and more generous in the excertion front. What's on the menu?
MON: Swim 1 hr - Run 1.5hr Intervals (a 3:20min/km came out of the blue)
TUE: 2 Hr ride
WED: Swim 1 hr - Run 2hr
THU: ride 1.5 hr - Swim 1hr (2kmTT)
SAT: Brick
SUN: Ride 3 hr (and maybe but maybe not) Swim race 4.2km

Stay tuned, more news tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

OK, finally. An update

It’s about 18 days to race day and it is all pretty much downhill from here. Overall I think it has been a good 8months plus of consistent training. I was browsing through my log and I managed to do in this period, more 100km plus rides than ever before. I also achieved the longest times ever on my bike (7:15:00) or running continuously (3:40:00). Not bad for a rookie.

From a volume perspective I think I ticked all the boxes.

From an intensity point of view it looks like I’ve taken it too easy on myself and I haven’t done many of these rides or runs at averages close to race pace. There are a few environmental factors to take into account (mostly shit weather and lots of hills) but it is still a worry. However it is something that today I cannot control (i.e. There’s no time machine that I can use to change the past) and I won’t lose any sleep due to it.

From a go out to the races point of view, I am so looking forward to March 3. This season has been pretty sparse on the racing front and I almost forgot how good it is to be out there trying to get from A to B as fast as one can. I have gone through the gear, the nutrition, the course and so on a few times in my mind already, but the next two weeks are to get even deeper into in and have every detail picture.

I also raced. 10 days ago there was the National Sprint championships, that I didn’t run but did an oly distance event instead. The Erin Baker Memorial Triathlon in Kinloch.

The swim
Was not good. I mucked around too much at the start and didn’t position myself in close enough to familiar faces or feet that would help me through. I spent a good amount of energy trying to catch those feet, but it didn’t quite work in the end. At 500m I was already a good 40secs down of whre I should be. And I’ve lost the train.

The bike
I was not going to let a crap swim ruin my day, so I hopped on the bike with the idea of keeping a good solid pace and be passed by the least number of people. The course goes up for 10km and then comes down. I was never to go over 85% of my heart rate, according to the coache’s instructions. To my surprise, I was passed by a bunch of 4 or 5 people, but I passed a similar amount of guys through the leg (probably worst swimmers than I that I never see?)

The run
I had free reign on my run, as long as I negative splitted it. It’s 4 laps of an undulating course with elevations in the order of 3 to 5 m overall. I did the first lap in 9:20, the second and third in 9:15 and the last one in 9:04. A good negative split that put me as #12 overall and a vote of confidence to my legs.

As I said at the beginning, I miss being out there racing, so let’s get all that good vibes ready for 3 March.

Stay tuned,

Friday, January 20, 2012

Visiting the dark places

Summer is finally here, and training 6 weeks out of race day is like a triathlete’s paradise: plenty to do, plenty to organize, lots to eat, lots of rest and you can forget about house works for a month or so. I am blessed with the best wife in the world, which makes things even easier. A few days ago I left for a swim, then work, then ride and then we met at the pool for a second swim, chillax and catching up.

On another subject, I often chatted to buddies training for long distance triathlons that every now and then they’ve been to a dark place while training. The reasons were many, the cold, the wind, the climbs, the intensity of the interval, the minimalist rest periods, the pace, the hunger, the thirst.

On 4 years training quite formally (over 8hr week), I’ve experienced most of the above symptoms at some point or another, however I’ve never thought of it as been in a dark place.

But all of a sudden IM training came along and I discovered a new meaning for dark place. It is that point where there are more reasons not to keep going than there are to keep going. Pain, heat, tiredeness, the elements but more importantly, the confidence that we’re more than ready already and changing or skipping one session is OK, and the same for the next day and the following.

This latter is the greatest of the dark places, because you cannot tell you’re there and you think you’re doing the smart thing. It is like radiation. You don’t see it or feel it, but it is there, and is very dangerous indeed. As the famous line from the usual suspects goes: the biggest trick the devil pulled is to convince the world he did not exist.

I had to pull myself out of that one a couple of times over the last month. Having someone with experience to talk, or calling the coach makes a difference, and changes the whole outlook.

More importantly, though, I am keen to hear from you and learn a bit more about this. What’s the darkest places you been in for endurance training?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

gear review - K-Swiss K-Ona

The K-Ona is advertised to be a multi-use shoe and not only a lightweight trainer. I bought them with the idea of using is as a racing shoe for half marathons or more.
The Looks:
the shoes are a nice piece of work, good finishing and a mighty look. They have IRONMAN written on the side, which is not of my liking, but they look quite racey.
The size:
When I bought the shoes I did not know much about how the sizing worked out on KSwiss and I ended up with shoes that are a tad too big. This is not great for two reasons, the first one is that my feet travel .5cm at sone stages, creating the potential for blisters. The second reason is that bigger shoes don't grab my feet as well as the perfect size, and my stride does not benefit fully from that.
The pros:
These shoes are like a feather, wearing them for longer (over 2 hours) runs I noticed the weight not becoming an issue, allowing me to keep good form.
Besides the light weight, they provide a great deal of mid-foot support and the material has gone over 200km of running with minimal wear.
Another test is the ability to go off road, in the few ocasions that I did take the shoes for a light off road run (park, mud, no roots, a bit of gravel) they stood very well.
The Cons:
Sizing-wise the shoes are on the wide side, so if you're like me, with thinner feet, they're not ideal.
The IM branding on the side. I'm not on for free advertising, but the prize was good and I did make a choice based on my wallet.
Even though the shoes were a bit big for me, the seams were a problem on the upper part of my feet, and the couple of runs I did without socks, the result was not great.

So, not an ideal start for K-Swiss and Valentino. The multi-use shoest turned out to be the plan B trainers. However, with time I started to venture more and more miles into them, and the last 3 hours run in the rain I did I did with my KOnas, and they responded. I am a happy customer.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The reset button

The holiday is almost gone, I've been enjoying the not-having-to-work-and-not-having-to-plan mood for the last 10 days and it was great. 

Every now and then I need to reboot and these days have been great at that. It was a rather uneventful Xmas break, but it did the job (I think) of cutting up the long IM training calendar. It would have been great to have the tramping trip done, but the weather gods weren't playing for us this year. In any case, it was all about attitude and I think we had a great one this time around.

Training was aided by a very lazy routine and lots of stretching and keeping a healthy diet (maxed out at 2 glasses of wine). All in all there was a couple of good days and a couple of days were character building sessions. 

The ability to set oneself up again is not as easy as it sounds. There is the peril of going too much off the path and taking a lot to come back (typical holiday piggy out). There is also a matter of timing (can't do too close to a race as re-setting takes a lot of energy). And there's the top 2 inches, re-setting is all about the top 2 inches and if one doesn't have a good network of close allies to talk about stuff, then it may not work at all. 

I then got to explore neuromuscular reset literature on the web, if you haven't done it, here's a sampler, but you can do your own homework. All I have to say is that it did spark a bit of curiosity, to the point that this may be my strategy for IM. I shall carry on reading, and check with coach, but I reckon there's something to it. 

Then it was Resolutions time, and this year I kept it to the minimum. There's three races that matter and they are IM, Sprint Worlds and a half in Argentina. Then it will be a matter of slowly going off road. That's all.

I wish you all a great 2012 and see you at the races