Sunday, August 30, 2009

Everything's Coming Together, I Think

Before I talk Ironman, here's Dejone's Peppermint Crisp Tart she made today. When I arrived back home after my long bike she and Kim already had a piece. She now has here own mixing spoon as reward and apparently a Quiche is the next dish on her "training course"

Every second weekend I alter my long bike and long run as I feel I need to go to the dealership on Saturday's and when I am back in Witbank there is not enough time to do my long bike. This weekend was one of those and I did my long run on Saturday and today( Sunday) was Long Bike day.

I thought I'll take the camera along today, to take some pictures of my bike route and all the things that happen along the way, but as it is today was not a very eventful day.

Above is a pic of the commercial department of the dealership I worked at for almost seventeen years before taking up the challenge of going Independent. This department is about 5km from the main branch and all the commercial vehicles are being handled here. Needless to say this branch is in one of the Industrial areas of Witbank
Losing one of my water bottles 30 minutes into my ride, not good news!

This is the entrance to the Steel Factory. I always try and see how fast I can reach the plant without chasing my heart beat over the limit for the day, but traffic and wind play a big role in this challenge.

This is the guy who raised his hand when they gave away a drum of Purple paint, nice touch my friend.

With all the veld fires going, it looks like Witbank's got its own "Lava fields"

Getting to Bronkhortspruit, a town about 60km from Witbank and turning right here towards Groblersdal. The guy in the vehicle was going in circles at the intersection. He then stopped me and ask directions to the towns dam, about 5km away. He was obviously not from here as he was totally lost. People going to the dam, summer must be very close.

This truck was heading right at me and as soon as I took out the camera and started taking pictures of him he suddenly swerved out. Maybe I must start taking pictures of these Mother Truckers who always try and shave your handle bar before passing you, and send it to the company owners?

Don't know what it is with this hill but I always see people stopping and walking to the top. Don't know if there is something special at the top?
Kim bringing my replacement bottles. Today our timing was spot on!

Ahh, a Guinness after my long ride. Kim bought me one yesterday as my "reward" for my long bike today. So Nice.

I had a great week of training and I think everything is coming together. It is only four weeks before we fly to Hawaii, and six weeks before the Big day.

My running has really improved in comparison to my previous IM training and I can now keep a 4:45 min/km pace comfortably on my long runs without my heart rate going over the limit.

I'm running with my Newtons again without any problems. They are so comfortable and light, the Zoot's just had "Blisters" written all over them. Hopefully I can keep it injury free until race day with the Newtons. The good news is Tri Travel, the company who is organising the tour in Hawaii got a sponsor from Newton whereby every athlete is getting a pair of Newtons. Now I don't need to buy a new pair before Kona.

I am also happy with my swim. My time hasn't improved a lot but with the new technique I don't get that tired as before, hopefully that can help on the bike.

The bike is still one area I need to improve at and a lot of hard work lays ahead in the next four weeks. Don't know why but it feels if the biking is not there yet and I'm lacking speed, and with the bike being my strong discipline where I gain a lot of time I need to work hard at it. Maybe it is the Gym work that's hampering the speed but then I should feel it on the run as well which I'm not?

Weeks training:
Swim: 12.8 km
Bike: 237.6 km
Run: 71.8 km
Gym: 2 sessions
Total: 20h54, 322.2 km, 13939 kCal.

August month totals:
Swim: 45.3 km
Bike: 1256.8 km
Run: 292 km
Gym: 9 sessions
Totals: 92 hours, 1594.1 km, 68702 kCal

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Changing Seasons

Yesterday om my long bike ride I could see and also feel that Winter is almost gone and one of these days Summer will be here. The August winds are always a sign that summer is coming and did I feel it on the bike. The usual easterly wind made way for a strong wind from the Northwest.

With all the veld fires going the land is one big black field but it is amazing how the new greens appears, without any rain. I also saw the first snake on the road since summer has gone. Don't know if his is just a bit pro-active or because of the veld fires which chased him out of the veld.

Getting back to the notorious August winds. I cycled for three and a half hours into the wind and had to work really hard before turning around and heading back home. Because of this I drank more fluids that usual and then the big OH NO, I ran out of fluids. I asked Kim to bring my replacement bottles after four hours but with me going further than last week she only arrived after four and a half hours. I should have taken into consideration that she will not meet me at the same spot that last week.

When I got my bottles I was without liquid for almost an hour. This is the first time in a very long time that I bonked, and boy did I forget how bad it can be. I drank more than usual to try and recover but it was to late. For the next hour I was down and out on the bicycle. My speed dropped from 30+ to 20km/h and that was with a tail wind. After struggling for a hour my energy eventually came back but I could not push as hard as usual during the last hour.

A picture above of the notorious red cool bag that arrived late.

On more than one occasion I wanted to phone Kim to turn around and come pick me up. Luckily I pushed through and survived the 7 hour bike ride. I was aiming for 220km but could only manage 197km.

On today's long run my energy was back but I was still dehydrated as I had to refill my fuel belt twice at the joggers tap, usually I only refill once on a two hour run and I kept being thirsty. Although very thirsty I could manage to keep my pace and did 27.5km in 2h10 with my average heart rate at 140bpm.

The picture right at the top is Dejone busy baking a chocolate cake. She is really becoming good at baking. There is so many different cakes and tarts that she can bake. My mother is her "baking" teacher and she even made DJ her own recipe book. She is even giving DJ awards for every milestone she achieve, apparently she is close to getting her own mixing spoon if she can make a peppermint tart all by herself this coming weekend.

Only bad thing is all the cakes and tarts are not good for my weight, but I try to control myself but it is not easy.

With my mother being a teacher before she retired and then had two home industries before she sold them and now baking from home, DJ has an excellent tutor.
It is such an advantage having my mother living in her flat on our premises and helping DJ with her school work and baking lessons.

I need to take Dejone back to the British embassy tomorrow as they could not verify her fingerprints for her UK visa. Don't know why a 10 year old's fingerprints are so important, as for the US visa they didn't even take her fingerprints. Applying for our UK visas are way more difficult than the US ones? We are only traveling via the UK because of the no bike charge on Virgin Atlantic, but taking into consideration the visa application fees, traveling to Pretoria twice and all the hassle with the visas, flying direct to the US and paying for my bike is now working out almost the same as flying via the UK????

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Shoe Story

The last thing I wanted was shoe trouble 8 weeks before Kona but it's something I just have to deal with. I used to run with Asics Nimbus shoes since I can remember, using them for training and racing but last year I started using Zoots for racing up to half IM's.

After IM this year I decided to start using Zoot shoes that has a bit more cushioning for my training runs. The Zoot trainers was just not the same as the Zoot racers and they were giving me blisters from day one. Just as I was about to go back to Asics, Newton running shoes were introduced in South Africa and with all the positive feedback from runners I decided to go for Newtons.

I like the shoe and has done just short of 350 km with my first pair, without any trouble but as of two weeks ago I started having foot issues. As soon as I get close to one and a half hours on my long run I will get a pain on the top of my right foot. This didn't bother me too much as it wasn't that sore and it will come and go depending on the road profile. But last week I started getting a pain in my lower calve muscle of my right leg when I run. First I thought it was just all the training that over stressed the muscles but it only happens when I run and I could even feel the pain when I walk.

Yesterday when I was doing my long run I could only manage one and a half hours of the three hour run as it was hurting badly. I have seen some runners complain about the Newtons and some have even Achilles tendon problems. I am not too sure if it is my Achilles as it never bothered me but I will see how the weeks is going and maybe go see my sports doctor at the University of Pretoria's Sport Institute. She is specializing in sport injuries and she has operated on my ITB and Knee in the past with great success.

Now I have to decide if I am going to go back to my Asics, which has almost reached their mileage or must I use my Zoot racers, which is not giving me blisters for the mean time while I see if my calve muscle gets any better. I don't want to change shoes now and it does not solve the problem.

Apart from the running the rest of the training was good. I only missed one swim session due to a meeting and I just could not fit it into another day.

This weeks training:
Swim: 10.5 km
Bike: 335,5 km
Run: 54 km
Gym: 2 sessions
Total: 21h35, 13 sessions, 400km, 16646 kcal.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Playing Dodgebottle

This morning while doing my 3 hour bike session it was a case of dodging beer bottles everywhere. And it was broken beer bottles and there were plenty. I guess the people really enjoyed Women's Day yesterday. Luckily I did my bike ride early this morning and I can just guess what the streets will look like this afternoon, broken beer bottles and drunk drivers. That is not cycle friendly.

I can't believe I didn't get a puncture as I had to ride over glass on more than one occasion to avoid being hit by a car. I've never seen so many broken beer bottles in a while, think the people really enjoyed the celebrations. With today being a public holiday it was nice having some free time and not waking up at 4am.

After some time my new P4 has finally got a name and it is Matilda. My mother came up with the name and I think it fits the bike perfectly.

When I was just over 2 years old our family went to Cape Town on holiday. That is a 1600km journey from our hometown. My father decided to stop in a small town called Bethlehem at a road house to get some hamburgers for the family. Those days you didn't get children's menus and my father also ordered a hamburger for me and my sister(4 years).

My father was not a patient person by nature and he went to the counter to order instead of waiting for a waiter. The burgers weren't coming quickly enough so he would go to the roadhouse counter and asked the overweight lady, who did not move from the chair she was sitting on, "Are the burgers ready". The lady would then without moving shout at the lady who was working in the kitchen, "Matilda are the burgers ready". Then Matilda would shout back , "No not yet".

My father, according to my mother would go back to the lady every ten minutes and every time the same story, word by word.
This carried on for more than a hour and by then my father was so frustrated but could not leave as me and my sister was now crying for something to eat. Just to add, Bethlehem is a very small town and not close to other towns, all on its own.

My mother say, eventually close to one and a half hours later Matilda emerged from the Road House, bigger than the lady who was manning the till and as black as the night with our burgers.

For those who read my blog frequently will know that I waited more than nine months for my P4 after paying the deposit and looking at the bike with only the P4 sticker on it, this pitch black bike is quite striking. Therefore I think the name suits the bike perfectly. May me and Matilda have hours of fun and pain while we train for IM's.

I can just imaging my Dad getting all worked up at this roadhouse waiting for Matilda to make four hamburgers.

I decided not to do my swim training yesterday. When I went to the Gym( Hometown) the swimming pool was 15c and I am not going to swim while the temperature is that low, maybe in summer but not in winter. Doing a few laps is OK but not 4km and I don't want to get sick again.

Yesterday's Training:
Run: 2h40, 32.6km, 139 bpm, 4:54m/km, 2498 kcal.

Today's Training:
Bike: 3h04, 92.1km, 128 bpm, 30 km/h2515 kcal.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Cervelo P4 Report

Well for what's it worth here is my thoughts on the new Cervelo P4. I am not a pro cyclist or testing bikes for a living and can only compare it with the Cervelo P3 that I had for three years. I have done just under 900km with the bike.
To begin with the bike is definitely faster than the P3. What amazed me was that it is handling windy conditions better than the P3, especially cross winds. It has a better feel and you can feel the wind cutting through the P4 and not pushing it around. When reaching speeds of 35km+ you start appreciate the aerodynamics and it is at higher speeds that you definitely build momentum and maintain the high speed without pushing as hard as the P3.
What also amazed me was that it is a "softer" ride than the P3. It is not as hard and when you get rougher road conditions it is much more gentle on the body. Handling is similar to the P3 and if needed you can change direction quite quickly without loosing control.
Before I get into the detail of the specifics parts of the P4 the picture above is what I will hopefully use during IM South Africa next year, as disc wheels are allowed and with a Zipp 808 front as the course is not that hilly. Below is the "Kona" edition with a Zipp 808 rear and a Zipp 404 front.
I have ask Marco at Cycle Tech to fit my "bento box" while they do the cabling as the cables enters the frame at the top and not as the P3 at the side. They made small holes in the bag and routed the cables through it, that way it can still be at the same place where I am used to it. At first I did tried it tied to the seat post but it is to difficult to reach for my gels and my legs were chafing against it.
The new Zipp Chrono crank is awesome and I opted for the 54/42 combination. One thing to get used to is I've been riding Q-Rings for three years and now I am back using standard rings.
The water bottle fits very tight into its holder and with the bottle having special grooves to interlocks with the cage it can be difficult to put the bottle back especially if your are doing high speed. I have noticed that when you use the bottle you need to make sure it returns to its original shape after you squeezed it otherwise you won't get it back into the holder.
The rear brakes is very neatly tucked away under the frame but it is not as effective as the rear brakes of the P3. It slows you down but not very quickly. you need to use the front brake if you want to slow down quickly.
I have kept my USE1 handle bars and they are a real pleasure, very aero but also very effective.
I have changed the group set and are using Sram Red where the P3 was fitted with Shimano Dura Ace. Must say I enjoy the Sram shifters and they feel more robust than the Shimano shifters. Especially the front derailleur is shifting better and it has a more direct feel than the Shimano shifter. Coming to the wheels, I have decided to go back to clinchers. I sold my Zipp 1080's tubbies and Marco swop my Zipp 404 tubby for a clincher. It takes longer to change a clincher but I've seen at IMSA this year that it takes a lot of space to carry spare tubbies. I want to finish a race and would rather carry more tubes than to stand next to the road without a tubby.

The seat post is one area where Cervelo can improve. The post does not fit that tightly into the frame and the seat post clamp that needs to be tightened to keep the seat post secure is not effective. They say you can tighten it to 7NM but it keeps slipping down when you ride. Cervelo gave me another seat post as they say not all seat posts are exactly the same size but the new one was actually smaller than the old one. I had to apply Carbon paste to the post before I fitted it and for now it is holding.

Now here's my verdict.
The Pros:
A faster bike
Smoother ride
Handling windy conditions better
The Cons:
The rear brake is not effective
Putting the water bottle back at high speed can be a problem
The seat post clamp needs to be improved.
The P4 is a very delicate bike and I believe it is not as robust/ durable as the P3. If you are a sponsored triathlete and have the option the use the P4 only for races that is fine but I believe that doing your training and racing on the P4 it won't last as long as the P3. I think it is the same as with cell phones these days, the more gadgets and features the phone have the better change for it to break.
One must handle it very gentle and although it is an improvement on the P3, I think the P3 is more suitable for age group triathletes who wants a bike to train , race and travel with and don't want to worry about all the delicate things that can go wrong.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Pap en Vleis

Today's brick session was "pap en vleis", no other words describes it better.

Let me explain.

The staple food of the African people in South Africa is "Pap" as we know it. It is maize meal which is then use to make porridge. Together with this they will have a sauce and meat. The Afrikaans word for meat is "vleis".

When there is a job to do and it is really hard work, you will hear the African people say "This is pap en vleis". By that they mean that to do the job you would have to had your "pap en vleis" to be able to do the job or as some have told me it could have the meaning that you will get your reward when the hard work is done.

They won't use this phrase for anything but only if the task is really hard work.

Now to get back to my "brick" session today and why I say it was "pap en vleis". For the last four weeks I could not get over four and a half hours of biking when I do my long rides after having bronchitis and on the schedule today was a 5.5 hour bike and a 30 minute run.

Now to most Ironman Triathletes that does not sound like much but it was hard. I am currently in the power phase of my weight training which means I am lifting heavier weights at lower reps instead of the usual 12-15 reps per set. Add to that a very strong wind today and jumping from a 4.5 hour bike ride to a 6 hour brick session and you have a killer of a session.

Finishing these session is what makes me smile on the day of an IM. It is not easy and it is really hard but to push through helps a lot to make it less painful during an IM. It is easy to spot those people on the day of an IM who did not do their "pap en vleis", when they start free feeling at 120km during the bike leg or start the 42.2km marathon walking.

Training for the week has been good and luckily the health is good and the motivation is still at 100%. Tomorrow is my long run (2h40) and a 4km swim.

Only 9 weeks until Kona.

Week's training up to Saturday:
Swim: 8km.
Bike: 307 km
Run: 42.5 km
Gym: 2 sessions
Total: 18h28, 357km, 14575 kcal.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Spirit is High

Being healthy again is such a blessing, I am so thankful. The week was so hectic and before I realized it is already weekend.

The staff at the dealership asked me if they can all wear our national rugby jersey (Springbok) on Saturday as we play against New Zealand in a Tri-nations match. Last weekend South Africa won against NZ and hopefully they can do it again.

I was a bit reluctant to wear my jersey but eventually decided the wear it. I have a thing with wearing the team or player I supports gear. Every time I wear my supporters gear my team will loose. It all started way back when I was still a Formula 1 fanatic and supported Ferrari and Michael Schumacher. I had the whole outfit from Ferrari shoes to pants, shirt, cap and bag, everything. The first race me and Kim attended was the US grandprix in Indianapolis. That was the only race that Michael Schumacher won while we saw him life but I was not wearing my kit as it was raining and cold.

After the US we attended seven Grand Prix races from Monaco, Germany to Brazil in a span of 6 years and never could Ferrari or MS win when we attended. Since then I don't wear the person or team that I supports gear.

Being back into full training I need to look at my weight again. With the Bronchitis and not being able to train I gain 3 kilograms. Does not sound like a lot my I sure feel it on the bike and the run. Why is it that when you are sick people think that you will get better sooner when they keep giving you treats and extra food. Having my birthday this week also didn't help with the "weight loss program". Hopefully I can get into the same eating habits I followed when I was preparing for IMSA.

Getting back to being healthy again, it is such a blessing. With some of my friends and work colleagues being sick at this moment I know the feeling and I am really thankful that I am healthy and can train 100%. One forget so easily while you are healthy and training that it is a real blessing to be able to train without anything hindering you.

So far for the week my training is spot on and I only missed one bike session due to my birthday but celebrating my birthday with my family was awesome and I don't mind missing one session for that.

Last nights swim session was a milestone in my short swimming career. Since I attended the swim clinic and changed my stroke I can really feel a difference. I am working hard on maintaining the correct form and last night I did 100m sprints with 10s rests and could manage all between 1:34 and 1:137. I know that does not sound fast for experienced swimmers but if you consider I was doing 1:50 to 1:55 not long ago I am really happy with my swim progress

This morning long run also went really well and I could manage 5min/km pace for the whole 2h20. Finished doing 28km.