Ironman FOMO

I have taken the decision to give Ironman South Africa a miss this year. There are a number of reasons for this decision:

1.       I did not have an ideal build up towards the end of last year. Those that have done Ironman know what a commitment it is and although I probably could have gone out there and finished the race, I definitely would not be doing myself justice. This is not the sort of race you do just to have fun, you do Ironman to compete.

2.       I have decided to compete in 36One Mountain bike race on 21 April. As the name suggests this is a 361km Mountain Bike race around the Oudtshoorn area. (http://www.the36one.com/race-info) This has meant that most of my training has been done on the MTB with lots of very long slow rides. This is going to be a sufferfest.

3.       I felt that I needed a change. I have competed in the last 3 Ironman SA events and I felt that it was becoming a bit boring. I need a bit of time to do some other events and have break from the relentless training. In addition to 36One I will also be doing Comrades and then Sky Run 100 in November (http://skyrun.co.za/skyrun-100/ ). This will be the year of outdoor adventure.

I have definitely felt a little FOMO creeping in during the last couple of weeks and even considered picking up a very late entry when they extended the date.  In the end, I’m very glad I chose not to as I’m uncertain whether I would have survived the swim.

My biggest challenge this year will actually be the addition of Baby Average to the family. I’m sure this will be tougher than any event I have done.

 

This year the event will be broadcast live which means I will not be leaving the couch next Sunday. Well done Ironman SA for getting this right.

Good luck to all of my mates doing Ironman Greg Black, Flekser, Becker, Osborne, Mofsowitz and Darren Lang. You are all going to smash it.

Here is a link to my Taper Time article from last year for those competing. Enjoy the taper it is always the best part of the season.

http://www.averageathlete.co.za/blog/2016/3/22/x3hdhjmo69x6i4br3vg4aihrx1axtk

 

 

947 Cycle Challenge 2016 - The Beer Bus

I have raced World Champs (947 Cycle Challenge) for the past couple of years. One thing that I have concluded is that I don’t enjoy road racing and I really, really don’t enjoy racing 947. I find it frantic, you are at full tilt for the entire race and spend all your time trying to avoid ending up in a pile up.  I also find the guys in the front bunches too aggressive. Road cyclist can be massive d#* kheads.

So this year I decided that I was going to do it a little different and try enjoy the race. Our group of friends, ranging in ability, decided that we would “ride for a purpose”.  Although signing up for a charity just wasn’t enough for us, we wanted to do something a little crazy.  We had a chat to our trusted mechanic Josh from Cyclists Workshop to give us some ideas of what we could do. He had a boom box trailer that could be connected to a bike which we could tow behind us for the 94.7 km.  Josh also put us in touch with the Paige Project Charity who he had ridden for in the past. The box we were towing had 4 speakers on the outside and we would also be carrying a  car battery to keep the radio running. In addition to this we had decided to fill a cooler box with a case of ice cold Castle lites to keep us hydrated during the course of the day.

The below video is a compilation of clips and photos taken throughout the day.

 

I can confidently say that we made the right decision. We had the biggest jol out there, all 6 hours and 40 min. The crowds were incredibly supportive and the other competitors seemed to love having us out there pumping the tunes.

The Paige Project is an amazing charity. The Paige Project enables children suffering from Cerebral Palsy that are in need of equipment or therapy to improve their quality of life. David, who is the founder, is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet.

If you would like to contribute to the work that they do then please contact David (thepaigeproject.co.za/contact-us/)  or deposit fund into the following account:

Standard Bank

  • The Paige Project Association
  • Current Acc #: 004761944
  • Bank : Standard Bank
  • Branch : Rosebank
  • Code: 00 4305
  • Reference:  947 – Beer Bus

FNB

  • The Paige Project
  • Cheque Acc #: 62355517106
  • Bank : FNB Bank
  • Branch : Fourways
  • Code: 251655
  • Reference:  947 – Beer Bus

Mercantile Bank – International Transfers

  • The Paige Project
  • Transmission Acc: 4000511211
  • Bank: Mercantile Bank
  • Branch: Sandton
  • Code: 450905
  • SWIFT: LISAZAJJ
  • Reference:  947 – Beer Bus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strava - Facebook for the Fit

I, for one, feel that Facebook has really deteriorated over the last couple of years. My news feed is now overrun by people reposting “memories” of them taking drunk selfies at some party when they were younger and more attractive, sharing articles like “7 habits of successful people” or new moms posting 400 pictures of their child, that to be honest, all look identical.

I will no doubt regret saying this when I have a child and my wife, who is a notorious Facebook photographer, does the exact same thing.

I have moved over to Twitter for most of my news and information and for all social media related content and interaction I now use Strava.

If you are an athlete and have not heard of Strava then you have probably been living in North Korea for the last couple of years. Strava is a website and mobile app used to track athletic activity. In addition to this basic function, it allows you to follow friends and other Strava user’s activity and interact with them. The activities are posted on a news feed that provides data relating to that individual’s activity such as distance, speed, heart rate etc. Strava pulls the data from any sports device such as a Garmin, Sunto, Tom Tom etc but also allows a person to track basic information using the GPS function on their mobile phone through the App

Similar to the Facebook “LIKE” function, you can receive “KUDOS” from other users for your activities and it even allows people to leave comments.  Some of my favorites comments include “why so slow?” or “looks like you hit the wall”.  This  function allows for peer recognition and approval that we humans so deeply yearn for.

There are a few terms that you will need to become accustomed to as a Strava user:

Strava Segment - is a section on a course where you are timed against your previous attempts and, more importantly, the times of other friends and users.

Strava hunting – this is the art of identifying a segment on a course and then attempting to beat other Strava users or your friends at all costs. Although Strava hunting often leads to exhaustion and failure to complete a full session, there is little more satisfying than beating your friends.

 

 

Strava Pressure - Strava can cause great anxiety. If I am going through a period where I am training very little then I try to stay off Strava. The anxiety that it causes me knowing that my friends and peers are training hard while I am sitting on the couch is too much for me to handle. Strava pressure can also cause you to completely overdo it, with the knowledge that people are always watching and judging.

There are a few people that I would strongly suggest you follow:

Lance Armstrong: Although Lance has been stripped of his Tour de France titles he is still claiming it with pride on Strava. I find it very interesting to see what he is getting up to in his retirement.

 

Adrian Ballinger: Adrian is a climber and adventurer. He posts his expeditions on Strava for the world to see. The most notable being an attempt to summit Everest in May this year.

 

 

Ben Hoffman: Winner of Ironman south Africa 2016, Ben logs sessions that prove how incredible these pro triathletes really are. In his build up to Kona (Ironman World Champs) this month there was a day where he biked 252km and then ran 10km at 3.56min/km off the bike.

 

Taylor Swift once wrote, “This is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change.” . Although it may not be a new year, this could be a new beginning and a change from Facebook to Strava can only be a positive one.


So If you still haven’t joined the Strava community then I suggest you sign up ASAP and join the social media world of the athlete.

 

 

 

 

Triathlete Hibernating

Some of you may have noticed that there has been a big gap since my last post.  Don’t worry the Average Athlete is still here, I have just been extraordinarily average over the past couple of months.

Sometimes you need a break

It may not be the case for some of the Elite athletes but this certainly applies to me and most average athletes out there.

I find that after a long season it really helps to take some time off to recharge. This time off is referred to as the “off season” or “drinking season”.

You may ask “why drinking season”? Well, I find that during this “drinking season” there is a negative correlation between the hours I spend training and my ability to consume beers.

Negative correlation is a relationship between two variables in which one variable increases as the other decreases, and vice versa.

And for those readers from my alma mata, Sandringham, who may still not understand this I will explain negative correlation by using a graph.

I work hard on honing my drinking skills during the off season. Like any athlete this requires hard work and dedication. Many hours spent at the bar focusing on endurance and technique. I feel that the off season allows me to break out of my cocoon like the social butterfly that I truly am.

 

Taking some time off allowed me to binge watch some of the better Hulu and Netflix series that I had been missing out on. A few notable finds were Stranger Things, Wayward Pines, and 11.22.63.

Jokes aside, the off season does allow you to spend some much needed time with your partners and family that have supported you throughout the season and have put up with your never ending exhaustion.

When to get started again

Trust me you’ll know… you’ll just know.

My main indicator is normally my weight and when my eating habits deteriorate to this……

 

How to get started again

It’s not always easy getting going again after a long break. The first few weeks are really tough.  I fatigue rapidly on the bike and on the first few runs my lungs feel like they are going to explode and my legs ache for days after.

A few things that I find help a lot:

-          Book an event- Nothing gets you going like a bit of panic training. Something big, (but not too big…don’t be silly) and near enough in the future that it forces you to get your ass into gear.

-          Get a coach or training program –  A lot like Gandalf the Grey guiding Frodo Baggins to Mordor, a good coach or program can give you the structure and motivation you need to find training consistency.  I have started up again with Glen Gore. I enjoy how interactive and encouraging it is working with him.  An alternative is to find a program online or through a platform like training peaks which also allows you to monitor your progress and training load.

-          Find good training partners – It always helps to suffer with a friend. Some sessions are better to do solo but training with friends always helps for those long tedious rides.

 So what’s coming up

-          Joburg to Durban road bike tour with Amashova – 13 to 16 October 2016

-          Rockman X-Tri – One of the best events on the calendar. An Off-road Ultra triathlon. Very tough event especially in December heat – 4 December 2016

-          Durban Ultra Tri – After 20 years, this 70.3 distance event will be returning on 5 March 2017

-          Ironman 2017 – clearly the memory of this year’s pain has dulled enough for me to be ready to commit to 2017 – 2 April 2017

Season Goals

-          Drink less beer – this may be one of the harder goals to achieve.

-          Learn to swim – undoubtedly my weakest discipline. My current approach to the swim is pure survival. As much as I would cherish the opportunity to be saved by Jasmine and Pamela, I have decided that I need to start seeing a swimming coach to find my inner Penny Heyns.

-          The sub 1hr30 half marathon (21km). If all goes to plan training wise I may be able to achieve this on a flat course

I am going to leave you with one of my favourite quotes which has motivated me to get going again.

The hardest thing in this world is to live in it. Be brave. Live.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Baywatch and Comrades

If you follow my blog you will know that I am a big fan of Mitch Buchannon and the masterpiece that was Baywatch.

Yesterday I received some great news, Baywatch will be returning to our screens, this time as a movie.

The cast is headed up by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Although he is no David Hasslehof, Dwayne has proved to be a versatile , talented actor and much like Leo DiCaprio I feel that Dwayne has had to wait far too long for an Oscar. Some of his notable acting performances are Tooth Fairy, G.I Joe: Retaliation and The Game Plan.

On a less serious note, Comrades is this weekend. A lot of experts say that the magic number for comrades is 1,000km. To elaborate, the consensus is that in order to be ready for Comrades you should log 1,000km of running from January to race day. This year I will be going in with my own magic number…. 650km. There is another school of thought that says rather go in under trained and over rested. This is the approach I will be taking....severely under trained.

Fortunately, I will be joined by a few fellow comrades to help me through what is no doubt going to be a very tough day. I will be joined by Matt Kassel, Jonty Sacks and Rowan Horwitz, all looking to try achieve the back to back medal.

Here are a few tips for Comrades first timers and Down Run first timers:

1.       Walk every hill -  Unless you are aiming for a Bill Rowan or Silver it is definitely worth taking a short walk from hill number 1, even just for 30 seconds. Trust me, this will save you down the line. I received this advice at my first comrades and it has stuck with me.

2.       The down run is tough. Don’t expect the down run to be easier than the up run. The first marathon is as tough a marathon as you will ever do and then the last +-30km from fields hill are excruciating.

3.       Don’t sit down. This is a rule that I stick to in endurance events no matter how bad it gets. As soon as you sit down it becomes very tough to get going again. I also avoid the deep heat/voltaran rub areas. Its far better to just keep moving forward.

4.       Enjoy your fellow Comrades and the crowd. At the end of the day you are there to have fun. Chat to the other competitors and engage with the crowd. When you get into the streets of Durban City the streets will be lined with spectators, as sore as you are try give a few high fives as you run by.

To close off I will leave you with some inspiring words to help you through your comrades journey.

 Some people stand in the darkness
Afraid to step into the light,
Some people need to have somebody
With the edge of surrender in sight,

Don't you worry, it's gonna be alright
'Cause I'm always ready,
I wont let you out of my sight

I'll be there,
I'll be ready,
Never your fear,
Now don't you fear,
I'll be there,
Forever and always, I'm always here!

We will be doing a live blog similar to last year which will be posted onto my Twitter feed and Facebook wall. If you would like to follow our progress look out for the posts during the day on @AveAthleteSA 

Here is a video of all the combined clips from last year.

Race Report - Ironman South Africa 2016

It’s hard to describe the feeling you get while standing on Hobie beach waiting for the cannon fire. It’s a combination of fear, excitement and confusion. Fear of the unknown, 226km of unknown. Excitement because after months and months of training you finally have that sand between your toes and it’s time to race and a bit of confusion as to why my training partner Matthew had decided to pee in his wetsuit before getting into the water.

 

The strategy for this year, which I had discussed with Glen, was to have a steady swim, steady bike and then try smash the run. Unfortunately, Ironman is not something you can plan perfectly and sometimes you have to adapt and go with the flow.

 

Swim – 3.8km

 

So I hacked the swim… AGAIN. I probably started off too easy this year. I got into a comfortable rhythm and just followed the crowd.  When I turned at the halfway mark I had already done 2.2km and I had 41min on the clock. I decided to pick up the pace a bit coming back but by this time the swells had picked up and it was getting pretty choppy.

At roughly the 3km mark I felt a sharp stinging sensation on my face and right foot. I had obviously swum into a blue bottle as there were reports of them being on the beach the previous day. It hurt, but what exactly can you do, you’re in the middle of the ocean, you just keep swimming.   

I came out the water feeling pretty fresh but with a time of 1h19. My watch was showing a distance of 4.35km. I later heard that just about everyone had 4.1 - 4.4km recorded for the swim. Not sure if Ironman just got the distance wrong or if the swells and chop pushed people around a lot. I had a good swim to bike transition and now I could relax and start the real race.

 

Bike – 180km

 

It’s always very tough to hold back in the first 30min of the bike while your adrenaline is pumping, but I made a concerted effort to try.

 

My plan was to ride at +-210watts for the full bike course which is 70% of my functional threshold power. I was around this number for the first 30min and then I hit my first speed bump. Literally, not figuratively. I went over a speed bump and the impact loosened my handle bars and tilted them downwards. This knocked my power meter out of sync as it is fixed to the handle bars. I had to physically pull the handle bars back up to get them into the correct position. Every speed bump or bump that I hit thereafter would push the bars down a bit. It meant that the power meter had to continuously recalibrate and so was giving me some crazy readings. I guess this is why it is better to have a hub or crank based meter. I tried to ride to feel as much as I could and when the power meter was functioning I kept things between 60 -75%. The heat started to pick up during the ride but every now and again we would get a cool breeze coming off the ocean which was a relief.

The scenery on this course is pretty spectacular and I tried to take it in as much as possible.

Personally I’ m a big fan of the new course and I don’t feel that it caused more congestion or drafting. The guys around me were pretty good with the drafting rule and there was only one occasion where I saw a referee having to ask cyclists to give space. My opinion is that they should keep the bike course like this. The bike course is probably a bit quicker however it is draining. Due to the flat course you are working all the time and there is not much opportunity to freewheel and recover. I would say that this course is probably 10min faster than the old course for age groupers but didn’t seem to make a big difference for the pros. To put in into perspective, in 2015 the winner Fredrik Van Lierde biked a 4h32 and this year’s winner Ben Hofmann had a 4h29.

 

After the turn on the 2nd lap at about 125km I started to get “hot foot”. Hot foot occurs when there is a large amount of pressure placed on the front ball of the foot. This causes a burning sensation in the front part of your foot and toes. It’s like having a hot iron held against your skin. I loosened the straps on both my shoes which did help a bit with circulation but I would have to just deal with it for the rest of the ride.

 

I was feeling strong in the last 30km of the bike and so pushed a little harder. This is definitely the best bike I have had at Ironman with a time of 5h44m. I was feeling very positive going into T2 (bike to run).

 

Run - 42km

 

I had a good transition but made an error with my nutrition at this point. My nutrition leading up to T2 had been perfect. I had consumed 2 endurashakes (High Carb/High Protein shakes), one at Transition 1 and one at 90km on the bike. The error was that I decided to inhale the endurashake in Transition 2 rather than take it on the run and sip it slowly over the first 15min. This made me feel very nauseous heading out onto the run.

 

And then it got hot!!!!! I’m talking serious heat, like frying an egg on a bonnet hot.  Apparently the temperature hit 33 degrees. The ice cold water sponges were life savers. At every water point I was placing 2 sponges under my top on my chest and would ring 2 over my head to try cool down.

 

I started at a solid pace and managed to run the first 10.5km lap, in 51m54s a pace of 4:57min/km. Although I was still moving at a decent pace I was not comfortable and still felt very nauseous but was hoping to still find a rhythm. This nausea was exacerbated by the smell of deep fried KFC and portable toilets coming from a few spots on the course.

 

Then the muscles started to ache. My quads, lower back and abs started to tighten up. This is when I knew I was in for a tough day. I had entered the “Pain Cave” and there was no way out.

 

I began to adapt my strategy for  survival. I would try hold a sub 5min/km pace and then walk through every water point. The only thing that was keeping me going was knowing it was only a few more Km’s to the next walk, ice cold sponges and coke.

I just kept ticking off the Km’s. The 2nd 10.5km I managed to hold 5.06min/km and came through with a half marathon time of 1h46. Somehow I was still holding it together.

 

Whooah, we’re half way there…..Whooah, Livin’ on a prayer – Bon Jovi

 

At this point my prayers were directed at anyone that would listen.

 

I ran the next 10.5km at 5.18min/km but I was on fumes by this stage. The exhaustion had kicked in. I was onto the last lap and I knew that if I could hold it together I had less than an hour of running left which meant less than an hour of pain left.


I have to apologize to my supporters and my training partners who were out there.  I was in such a dark place that I was barely able to communicate with them. Just know that your words of encouragement did help and if you weren’t there I would have definitely pulled back the pace or walked a lot more.


The last 10 is when you start to count down the Km’s. I like to compare it to my weekly training run, this way I say to myself: “only a 8km Melrose time trial left” or "only a 6km interval set" left and then visualize myself on that run.


Usually I get a spring in my step in the last 4-5km but this year I had nothing left. When I hit that home straight it was pure relief.


I had gone deeper into the pain cave than ever before and I had survived. I finished the marathon in 3h39m42s and a total time of 10h52m07 which was a personal best. I was an Ironman.


Mandy -Lee has been the most incredibly supportive wife. It is not easy being an “Ironman Widow”. You have to put up with early mornings, grumpy moods and  10pm bedtimes.


Seeing her every couple of Km’s on the course made me push through the pain because I didn’t want to disappoint her.


Thank you for being there for me along the way. I truly appreciate the sacrifice you make to allow me to pursue this passion.


My parents also came down to support for the third year in a row and it’s just so special to have them there cheering me on, and having my dad shout my splits to me along the way.


My training partners who were doing their first Ironman all had great days and should be proud.


Matt Kassel – surprised me and I think even himself. He came through in 11h28m. His focus and commitment over the last 6 months is evident from this time.
John Behr – His lead up in the last 6 weeks was far from ideal (we can discuss Behr’s training methods over a beer) but by pure grit and determination he managed to come in just under 13hours which is a great accomplishment.
Adam Flekser – As expected, Flekser smashed the course and even after having stomach issues on the bike still managed a 11h10m which is phenomenal for a first effort.


The volunteers that come out to man the water tables make Ironman South Africa a special race. They work non-stop throughout the day handing out drinks and food with smiles on their faces and provide words of encouragement to athletes in their darkest moments. Thank you for the incredible contribution that you make to the race.


If you have done an Ironman event, whether it's a 5150, 70.3 or full you will know that you don't get better organization in this game. From the expo, to the registrations, right through to the finish; everything just works. That doesn't just happen, it is only achieved by hours of meticulous preparation and hard work. It’s not the cheapest event to participate in but the experience is worth every cent. Well done Paul Wolff on another brilliant event.


So am I going to do it again next year???


Well I’m not entering just yet, but after the memory fades a bit in the next couple of months I’m sure it will seem like a good idea.


The thing that keeps drawing me back is how this race always manages to take you to a place that you never thought you could go. To endure that amount on suffering and still succeed gives one a feeling of accomplishment that nothing can compare to.

 

Words of Wisdom - Ironman South Africa 2016

It's go time! 6 days left and nothing more can be done. Time to sleep, eat and chill.

I’m no pro and with only two Ironman finishes under my belt I certainly can’t claim to be the most experienced athlete, but I have raced in PE twice and I’ve made enough mistakes to know what not to do.

Here are a few words of advice from the Average Athlete.

Bring your credit card to the expo. You may only do one Ironman so make sure you buy enough kit to last a lifetime. How do you know if someone has done an ironman……Don’t worry, you’ll know.

Don’t try anything different on race day. You will get this advice from most pros and coaches and they are 100% correct. I got this wrong in my first Ironman by shoveling down Doritos and Biltong at Transition 2 (Bike to Run). Don't ask why, there was no thought or logic behind this. The first 5km of the run were not pleasant. Moral of the story, stick to what you know.

Whatever you do, don’t stop! There is nothing wrong with a good run walk strategy but try your hardest not to stop and sit down. Sitting down is often the start of  a downward spiral. As Standard Bank say,  “keep moving forward”

Embrace the hurt. It’s not a case of if, it’s a case of when and for how long. I tend to hurt in the last 30km on the bike, first 5km on the run and then patches between 25-35km.  You just need to push through it. Try distracting yourself by humming a song or focus on reaching the next water table. You don’t have to enjoy the pain but accept that it is part of becoming an Ironman.  

Enjoy the Run.  This is the best part of the race. The crowds are great and you will hear them cheering you on by name (it’s on your race number). Feed off the crowds' energy, you will need it.

Take your time on the red carpet.  As you take the final right turn onto the carpet, slow it down. This is what you have been training for. Take it in. don’t forget to point to your number  as you approach the announcers. This will give them the signal to proclaim those glorious words     “JASON…. YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”

Practice your finish line pose.

Yes,  "Blue Steel" works

Or even the "Lightning Bolt"

However, like Matt Kassel, you will more than likely be overwhelmed by emotion and only manage the “Dawson Cry”


Layer up after the race. Make sure you have enough warm kit waiting for you at the finish. The temperature drops rapidly in PE when the sun goes down.  You may want to stick around after you finish to watch your mates come in or have a drink with your supporters so make sure you have a warm jacket and track pants.

Lastly, thank your family for the support. For putting up with the 4.30am wake ups and early bedtimes. They have sacrificed a lot to allow you to chase your dream.

See you at you start!!!

 

 

 

 

TAPER TIME

The taper is my favorite part of the season. 

This was the last big weekend of training. The taper has officially begun.

For those who don’t know, the taper is a period of time prior to a race where an athlete will reduce their volume of training. The taper allows an athlete to recover sufficiently so that they go into a race feeling fresh and ready to smash it.

The length of a taper varies depending on your fitness level and the length of the race you are entering. Your typical full Ironman taper will start three weeks out and the volume will decrease by about ¼ every week leading up to the event. This is not a science and different tapers work for different people. You will still see the pros doing pretty huge millage in the weeks leading up to the race but this is because their bodies are conditioned for the intensity.

I believe in increasing the number of rest days and significantly decreasing the length of all sessions. The last week will be very few sessions and the intensity will be very low.

Here a few words of advice for the first timers going into the taper.

YOU WONT GET ANY FITTER

It’s time to take it easy. You will not get any fitter in the last three weeks leading up to the race. Trying to cram in sessions or distance now will only have a negative impact on your race. The sessions in the last couple of weeks are designed to keep your muscles firing and to keep you out of trouble. If you miss a session here or there don’t stress and definitely do not try to catch up.

RACE STRATEGY

Use this time to reflect on your race strategy. Begin to focus on your nutrition and race plan. Do some research and work out how many calories you need to consume on the different legs. If you haven’t already done it, then the last three weeks is a great time to test out the nutrition you will be using and make 100% sure that it agrees with you.

DON’T OVERINDULGE AND DON’T GET FAT

Take the advice of “Frank the Tank” and just do one

 

Its okay to have a few drinks, burgers and pizzas during this time but don’t overdo it. You don’t want to get fat before the race.  

You may have been able to consume anything you wanted for the last two-three months because you were burning crazy calories but now that you are pulling back the training you also need to pull back the eating.

Trust me guys this comes from experience. I can easily pick up 2-3kgs in the weeks leading up to an event.

ENJOY THE TAPER

Enjoy the later starts, the shorter sessions, the coffee rides and most importantly enjoy the pre- race gees.

You are about to experience the most fulfilling athletic accomplishment of your life.

That red carpet awaits!!!!!!!!

Gear Review - New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v2

There is no denying that red is a power colour.

Tiger Woods drew power from his red shirt on Sundays to dominate world golf for over a decade.

Mitch Buchannon drew power from his red trunks to save the lives of numerous Los Angeles beach goers and sleep with just about all of his female colleagues (and yes, I do realise that this is my second reference to the great Mitch Buchannon, but do you blame me… he is the very epitome of a man).

I have always liked red kit so when I saw the New Balance Fresh Foam Zante, in a combination of red and orange, I was sold.

I slipped them on and it was the perfect fit. The engineered mesh and bootie construction gives a snug, sock-like fit but the toe box still provides enough movement that you don’t feel restricted.

Now was the real test, I had a 72km week planned including a marathon on the Sunday.

Within 100m of my first run in these shoes I couldn’t believe how light they were. I had a new spring in my step.  The full 9km were a smooth ride and I had no foot pain or indication of blisters forming which can often happen when running in a new pair of shoes. I found a few flat pieces where I could raise the tempo and as soon as you pick up the pace these babies just glide.

I have run in racers before and although they are very light and fast, if you don’t weigh 48kg like a Kenyan, you tend to feel every single bump or stone. I found that as soon as you take them past the half marathon mark they really begin to put pressure on your forefoot.

This shoe is the perfect combination. A lightweight racer with enough cushioning for mid to high mileage. I even plan on doing the Comrades in this shoe.

The only way that I can adequately describe how I feel about these shoes is to use the words of the poets from iconic 90s boy band, Savage Garden:

I knew I loved you before I met you
I think I dreamed you into life
I knew I loved you before I met you
I have been waiting all my life

Looks: 4/5 – These are a hot looking pair of shoes. A sleek design and the combo of red and orange is loud enough for my liking. Could do with a few more colour options in South Africa.

Comfort: 5/5 – The Engineered mesh and bootie makes you feel like you’re Tom Cruise sliding around the house in a thick pair of socks.  The toe box gives enough space that you don’t feel restricted but not too much that your toes move around and cause friction.

 

Performance: 5/5 - Fast, fast, fast. These feel and perform like a racer. Lightweight and a real kick coming from the toe when you get them moving.

 

Perfect for a beginner wanting something very comfy to get started with, all the way to a serious runner looking for a fast racing shoe.

I am really blown away by this shoe and I believe New Balance has created something special.

Race Report - Prestige Ultra

Unfortunately, things didn’t quite go as planned on Sunday.

After a decent taper week, I was feeling fresh and ready to race. Prestige ultra was my prep race before Ironman. I was hoping to get a good indication of my fitness from this race.


Prestige is a half ironman distance event. 1.9km swim, 90km bike and a 21 km run. The course is very flat and fast.

The swim was a 2 loop course in the vaal river with a current behind you on the way out and then you turn and fight it on the way back.

The swim went well, I was able to get into a good rhythm early on and stuck to a solid pace. I came out of the water at 32min30sec (this is good for me). My transition was not too bad either and I hit the bike just after 35min.

My plan for the bike was to try and average 230watts normalized power for the 90 km course. This would give me an average of 77% of my FTP (functional threshold power) and hopefully an average pace of over 35km/hour. Things started well and I was able to maintain around 240watts for the first 20km, I probably would have pulled back a bit on the second loop. Unfortunately, this is where my race ended. I hit a rough patch of tar and because I was in the bars I lost control. This pushed me onto the gravel next to the road and the bike slid out under me. The right side of my body hit the tar and my hip took most of the impact.

I got some pretty bad road rash and I'm a bit bruised but nothing is broken and my head is fine…..well relatively speaking, I’ve never been 100% upstairs.

My bikes derailleur was bent, handle bars knocked out of position and front brake badly damaged. I will know the extent of the damage once I send it in this week.

Could I have carried on?…. probably. I would have had to disconnect my front brakes and gear changes would have been a bit of a mess but I think I could have got the bike functioning again. Physically I probably could have pushed on even though my body felt like I had been cleared out by Os du Randt. The thing is, this was not my main race and I took the decision to call it a day and save myself for Ironman.

So I sit here today thinking “what can I learn for this experience?” and the answer is simple. These things happen, it can be disappointing and annoying but in the end of the day you just have to get over it and carry on. It can be an accident, mechanical problems or just a bad day, but we don’t have control over everything and you just have to accept it. You need to put your big boy pants on, “man up” and get on with it. I’ll be back tomorrow for a double session  and to start the last big block before Ironman.

The one positive was that I was able to watch my mates Matt Kassel and Dave Brown compete. Matt had a brilliant day out and he finished in 5h01, a personal best (He would have gone sub 5 if he didn’t transition like a woman getting ready to go out for dinner). Dave also smashed it with a 4h55 and had the second fastest bike split, time to enter a full Dave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gear Review - Compressport tri shorts and trail top

Triathletes are very proud of their sculpted arms from hours spent in the pool. This is why tri suits have always been made without sleeves. Come race day, the sleeveless tri suit gives spectators a clear view of the "gun show".

Okay, this is not completely true, it may also have a bit to do with keeping body temperature down and shoulder flexibility on the swim.

The only problem with sleeveless tri suits during a long course event is sunburn. Your shoulders get scorched and it is very hard to apply sunscreen mid event without missing a few spots.

There has been a move in the last couple of years towards tri kit with sleeves. I have had some savage tri suit burns previously and so I decided I wanted to go with sleeves for my next race kit. The options were limited, it was either HUUB, Orca or Compressport. Based on the price and because I had heard good things, I decided to go for Compressport. I got the triathlon shorts and the trail running top.  I went for the trail running top as opposed to the multisport top because of the zip in the front which allowed me to show off my Mitch Buchannon chest hair when things get hot on the run.


Tri shorts


There is no question that compression slows down muscle damage while exercising and aids recovery. I was very excited to try these shorts. As with all compression gear they were tight and so difficult to get on but that is expected. They offer a lot of support to the quads and are quite long so covered the majority of the upper leg area. The only issue I have with this is the look, although I do understand that they are trying to provide as much support as possible. The fit around the crotch area was a little uncomfortable and I also found a little pinching in the nether regions occasionally while riding but this just required a bit of adjustment and we were good to go. They have placed small rubber dots on the shammy  area which helps you grip the saddle . This allows the wearer to sit right on the edge of the saddle without sliding off. The shammy was thin enough for tri that it doesn’t absorb too much water on the swim but gave enough padding for the bike.

Looks: 3/5 - They are a bit long for my liking (but this is just my preference).  I feel they could mix up the design and colouring a bit to make them more exciting and give a few more options.

Comfort: 4/5 - Lacking some stretch in the crotch area but it's only occasionally that it pinches.

Performance: 5/5 - compression works and Compressport are one of the best when it comes to it. Grip panel under the ass is brilliant and it has a sneaky pocket on the crotch area to stock gels or rolled up socks if you trying to impress the ladies.


Trail running top



The trail running top was pretty much identical to the multi sport top but has a zip, which I preferred. I love this top. It is light, breathes well, fits tightly but is very flexible to allow arm rotation on the swim and looks pretty awesome. This top is a winner.



Looks: 4/5 love the look but they could still do a bit more with the design and colour options.*

Comfort: 5/5 material is stretchy, light and fits like a layer of skin. As good it gets.

Performance: 4/5 brilliant, breathes well so keeps you cool, lots of flexibility in the shoulders. Could do with a small pocket at the back to store gels.


Compressport is available in South Africa through Tifosi cycling www.tifosicycling.co.za and Complete Cyclist Bryanston http://www.complete-cyclist.com


* Compressport have just released their new range and they have come out with better colours and design. There new kit looks great. Maybe i will get it as a birthday present this year... Nudge nudge wink wink. 

Recovery Week – my toughest week yet!

All coaches and pros will agree that recovery is as important as training but for an age group triathlete it is one of the toughest things to perfect.

 

Remember that for most pro triathletes their full time job is triathlon. This means that in a normal day they can afford to include a 2-hour nap, massage, maybe a sauna. They have far more time in the day to fit in the recovery that is so crucial in order to fight off fatigue and convert the hard miles into gains.

 

William Sands, Ph.D., former director of the Recovery Center at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs has a great analogy to explain recovery “You dig the hole, and that’s OK,” says Sands. “But you have to fill the hole and then make a hill to improve your performance. The worst thing you can do is dig a hole and keep on digging. If you don’t rest properly, you can sabotage your training.”

 

Now for an age group triathlete this is far harder because we still have to live our lives. Add work, family and friends into that equation and it becomes much tougher to combine adequate recovery with a 15 hour week of training. That’s why rest days and recovery weeks become so important.

 

I have just come off of a recovery week and it was very tough. Not because of the time, distance or intensity of the training but because you have to force yourself to hold back all the time. You just have to keep reminding yourself that the slow pace and easy intensity is actually benefiting you a lot. Know that a good recovery week will allow you to push yourself even harder in the weeks to come and that’s how you turn that “hill” into a “mountain.

 

Massage for Recovery

 

I am a firm believer in the benefits of massage to help aid recovery. And no I’m not talking about the sort of massage with scented candles where you are unsure whether the Thai person walking across your spine is male or female. I’m talking about sports massage.

For the last 2 years I have been seeing a sports massage therapist on a weekly basis. I believe that this consistent maintenance is the main reason I have managed to stay injury free. The person that I have to thank for this is Roberta Strydom.  If you feel she could help you then give her a call on 074 731 0697.  She has worked with a lot of people I know and we all highly recommend her.

 

Beer for Recovery

I am not going to get into the debate around whether beer is in fact beneficial for recovery.

 

I just really like beer!

 

Average Athlete recommends drinking beer to aid recovery.

 

My beer of choice:

Castle Lite

 




Road to Ironman 2016

 

Some say it is amazing, some say it is crazy. Either way it is part of who I am.

I have decided to do it again. Another year and another Ironman. Three years running (literally).

Join me on my road to Ironman 2016 and let me take you through some of the training, nutrition, hurt and happiness that ensues.

Once again the race will be held in Port Elizabeth but with some changes to the course which should make the race pretty rapid, weather permitting.

Race organizers have decided to cut out a lot of the climbing which made the first 45km of the previous 2 loop bike course really tough. The new bike will take you out and back along the coast which means we should get a tailwind for half of the ride. The run will now be 4 laps instead of 3 and they have removed the nasty university section which was the depression zone. The crowds will now be along most of the route and I can only imagine that the atmosphere is going to be something special.

Fortunately, this year I have a number of friends that will also be competing alongside me. Kassel, Behr and Flekser (You will hear more about these 3 I assure you). This definitely makes those long Saturday rides more bearable. I will also do some of my longer Sunday runs with Kassel and Behr. Unfortunately running with Flekser is not an option because of his Kenyan genes. My training partner from last year Greg will be sorely missed. He made a big error by planning his wedding too close to Ironman this year.

I have started with a new coach, Glen Gore. Glen is a highly respected pro and coach. I have only been following his program for a few weeks but so far I am very impressed. There is a lot of interaction and he seems to build each week’s program based on your current level of fitness, fatigue and with a plan to make people faster.

My goal for IMSA 2016 is to go sub 10.45(35 min faster than last year). With the new course, favorable conditions and the right training it should be possible.

Current fitness level on 22 Jan 2016

Run: 8km TT– 33min

Bike: Functional Threshold Power – 277watts (4.0 watts/kg)

Swim: Embarrassingly slow - 1:44/100m over 1500m

Only 9 weeks to go!!!!!!