Sunday, February 28, 2010

Party (and New Running Shoes) Time

Yesterday was my sisters 30th Birthday Party and it was a fancy dress party. One thing about me and my younger sister, we are just the opposite. She is the artist, musician, happy go lucky type and I am structured, everything must run according to a schedule type of person.

I will never have a fancy dress party for my birthday, just to extreme for me. But as it was her party and I didn't want to spoil it for her I decided to dress up as something. Up to Thursday I had no clue what to wear and almost everyone was on my case as what I am going to wear. First I told my sister I am coming as a Triathlete but she wasn't impressed. Then it was a choice between my Kick boxing outfit I bought in Thailand some years ago or the Egypt traditional wear I got in Cairo on a previous trip.

The kick boxing outfit was a bit to bold for me as I had to go topless and the Egypt uniform was going to be a bit hot. I then suddenly remembered about the traditional German hat I bought at the German Beer fest in Munich three years ago and then it was set, I was going as a German. Also, I will have an excuse to drink a beer or two, something I haven't done in six weeks. The last beer I had was mid January and this morning I definitely felt the four beers I had last night (and it was normal size beers not four large jugs).

Kim went as a school girl and a lot of people did not recognise her at first and it felt a bit strange taking a school girl home last night after the party (ha ha)

DJ went as a Tennis player.

My mother going as a old Chinese lady and my elder sister dressed up as Fred Flintstones wife. My sister came all the way from Polokwane for the party and we really appreciated it.

Heloise and Gerhard

Me and Heloise, she is ten years younger than me and it really feels like my other daughter seeing that she stays in a flat on our premises.

Yesterday morning I left the house at 5h30 am to finish my 6hr+ ride in time before the party starts and one can definitely see and feel that summer is busy moving along and winter is on it's way. It was really chilly and I had three layers of clothing on when I started which I could luckily give to Kim when she brought my bottles and drove the last 2h30 hours behind me.

I met the guys from the local cycling club at 6am and did the first three hours with them before they headed back to Witbank and I turned back to do another lap towards Bronhorstspruit. It was nice going out with the club and you just feel a bit safer if you are not riding on your own.

There was a very strong Easter blowing which meant that coming back home I was riding right into a head wind. I was struggling really hard just to keep the speed up and the cadence high. During the ride I didn't appreciate the wind but after my ride I was glad as I haven't had real windy conditions this year during training. Always good to train in those conditions, come race day you're not surprised if it is a windy day.

During my long run today I really struggled and my Newtons are now gone. With my first pair I did 434km and could feel that they don't have the same feeling as when they were new. Now with my second pair after today's run I clocked 606km with them.

I was suppose to do a 3hr long run but every joint in my legs were hurting and after two hours my feet really started to pain. I stopped at 2h24 and decided to call it a day. One thing I strongly believe in is to have fun when you train even if the training session is hard. During today's run I wasn't having fun and was scared of injuring myself as I could feel the shoes were gone. I could also see that my pace was dropping off and after every 10 minute interval the distance running was decreasing.

Every time my feet were hitting the ground it was hurting. I wanted to buy a new pair of shoes last week but as the potential new sponsor is a shoe company I didn't want to buy shoes last week. I will probably know this week if I was successful with my sponsorship and will use "little bit of all sorts" of shoes in my cupboard next week.

Next Sunday is race time again and it is longer than an Olympic distance race but shorter than a Half Ironman. The race is held at Midmar dam, about 5 hours drive from Witbank. We are making it a family weekend and will spend the weekend in a chalet at the dam. I am not tapering this week and will stick to my schedule of training and see this race as a training weekend rather than a race.

The race will consist of a 1.8km swim, 60km bike and a 15km run. Seeing that I am going to miss a 6h30 bike session this weekend I am planning to do the 60km bike course on Saturday when we arrive, this will give me some extra mileage on the bike.

Yesterday's Training:

Bike: 6h07, 171.6km, 125bpm, 4883kcal, 236 watts ave.

Today's Training:

Run: 2h24, 28km, 5:08min/km, 134bpm, 2169kcal,
Below is a video clip Kim took on long ride yesterday. Struggeling against a strong head wind and going uphill was a bit amusing to Kim it seems. Even turned up the volume on Radio, when song was playing "I'm the eagle, your the wind"

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bob's your Uncle

Here is the silver medal I won this past weekend at the National Long Distance Triathlon Champs and in between all the writing is some pictures Kim took this morning during sunrise.

Not long ago I listened to a podcast where Bobby McGee talked about the run/walk technique and how it can improve your running time. It basically says you must never run more than 10 minutes at a time and then have a brisk walk of 1 minute. He however explained that you can start your marathon by walking 30 seconds during the first hour, 45 seconds during the second hour and then walk 1 minute from the third hour but keep your running at 10 minutes maximum. Here's the link if you want to listen to that podcast click on archive at the top and it is episode #170

The important thing is to walk at a fast pace and don't slow down completely. As he explained if you look at the upper body you shouldn't notice a difference between the run and the walk intervals, the upper body must keep it's running form.

Using this technique also helps you to break down the marathon in 10 minute intervals and you just focus on the next ten minutes. I must say this works as you don't have this huge number in your head where you know you must run 21 or 42 kilometers but only 10 minutes at a time.

Now there will be people that says it works for them and others will says it's not for them and them you will get a lot of people that are too scared to try it.

I decided I will give it a go and I must admit at first I was not too sure if it was the right thing to do but I was determined to give it a go and not give up as I will then never know if it works or not. During training I kept the walking intervals at 1 minute.

As time progressed my running pace was at the same level as when I ran non stop, my heart rate was lower and I wasn't that tired after my long runs meaning I could recover faster.

During Ironman70.3 in January I ran 10 minutes and walked 1 minute but after the race I realized that the 1 minute walking intervals was too long for a half marathon. I then decided to cut the walk intervals down to 30 seconds during my training.

During this past weekends Half Ironman I decided to use the technique again and see if there is an improvement. Well I had my fastest ever half marathon and my body felt good. According to the official results I did the run leg in 1h28:03 but according to my watch I finished in 1h26:57.

race results at

I think the transition times were included as the race results don't have a separate time for transition. Below is a breakdown of the 15 laps it took me to complete the run leg. During the last run interval I was just short of the finish line and decided to keep running until the end, that's why the last interval is not 10 minutes but 13:26 minutes.

If you are not into numbers or technical stuff you don't have to read further and can stop here, as all the numbers below is a little to much for some people.

O' and before I forget, wish me luck please. I spoke to a person today and he asked me to send him my sports resume as he might be interested in sponsoring me. I just met the person by chance but maybe I can have my first and only sponsor very soon:-)) Now I just need to compile a resume and make it look professional, not like my average work of art on the PC.

Lap/ Lap Time/ HR Avg/ Distance/ Cadence/ Stride Length
1) 10:00.0/ 154/ 2.417/ 93/ 119

2) 00:30.4/ 152/ 0.08/ 79/ 93

3) 09:58.9 / 156/ 2.556/ 93/ 127

4) 00:29.9/ 154/ 0.077 /78/ 96

5) 10:01.3/ 157/ 2.643/ 92/ 131

6) 00:30.4/ 158/ 0.076/ 75/ 93

7) 09:59.6/ 157/ 2.445/ 91/ 123

8) 00:29.3/ 151/ 0.077/ 80/ 93

9) 10:02.2/ 156/ 2.445/ 91/ 123

10) 00:29.7/ 153/ 0.073/ 74/ 94

11) 10:00.6/ 155/ 2.485/ 92/ 124

12) 00:29.5/ 156/ 0.074/ 77/ 88

13) 09:59.4/ 154/ 2.381/ 91/ 120

14) 00:29.6/ 151/ 0.07/ 75/ 86

15) 13:26.8/ 154/ 3.185/ 91/ 123

Tot 1h26:57/ 155/ 21.084/ 84.8/ 108.9

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Day in Numbers and Pictures

Yesterday was a perfect day in more than one way. It was my Mother and my Sister's birthday and I had an awesome Half Ironman. My mother turned 67 and my sister had the big 30 number to celebrate.

The day started very early at 2h30am when the alarm clock went off. The venue is a 2 hour drive from our home and it was an early 7am race start. I still had to register so we left at 3h30 to be there just before six, giving me enough time to register and getting everything ready for the race.

The swim venue is just one I don't like as it is in the Vaal River and people in South Africa will know, the Vaal river is not the cleanest river in SA. Last year I had a DNF at this race as I couldn't cope with the mass start in a dirty river and almost drown.( )
This year wasn't much better but I survived the swim. The river had a very strong current of all the rain we had during the past two weeks. I've realized yesterday why I don't swim that well in the Vaal river. There is basically half a meter visibility and you can't see under water making it impossible to not swim over, against or across someone. Just as I had some rhythm going I would bump into someone or swim right into someones swinging arm.

My swim time was a disappointed 38:36, much slower than my usual 34 odd minutes. With the mass start and congested swim someone also bumped into my watch on my arm, stopping my watch timer. This confused me as I only started it again when I got out of the water but could only work on bike and run time.

The race was suppose to start at 7am but they started late so I couldn't work on time of the day as I didn't know what time we started exactly.

The bike was good up to the turn around point with no wind and at times a tail wind. At the turn around my average speed was just under 40km/h. Coming back was a different story with the wind picking up a bit. My out lap was 1h10 and inn lap a 1h16. As I said in the past the only good thing about being a slow swimmer is you get to chase down a lot of people. At the turnaround I was laying 45th and at the end of the bike I was in position 32 overall.

The run was good, it was three loops of 7km and each 7km loop was an out and back affair. The nice thing about this is you run past the finish line three times and it does not get as boring as a one loop course. The bad thing is you can only track your position on the first lap and then you don't know who's on there first, second or third loop.

I was determined to stick to the 10 minute/ 30 seconds run/walk strategy although I was tempted to keep on running after 10 minutes as I was really going well. I stuck to the strategy and finished in 1h28, a new PB for me on a 21.1km run.

As we approached the finish I saw a guy running next to me but he only had one wristband on his arm, which we received at the turnaround. When I came to the finish shoot I though he will go right to do another lap and I will go left towards the finish. He turned left and was also finishing, I tried catching him but I was just too slow.

After the finish I saw he had one wristband of cloth, which they gave out and a rubber wristband which was also given to athletes. I didn't see the rubber wristband as it was under the cloth armband. I was so upset when I found out he was in my age group and I finished 2 seconds behind him in Third place.

I was even more pissed off when at prize giving they only gave prize money to the first two athletes in the 40+ category. Missing R600 by 2 seconds!!!!

This is what 2 seconds look like, on my way to finish line and just can't catch the guy in front of me (the one between the Asics flags)
The event also doubled as the National Long Distance Triathlon Championships and the athlete that came first was not registered with Triathlon SA, so that moved me up into 2nd place in the National Championships.

If I don't qualify at IMSA for Kona I now have a back door open, representing South Africa to go to the Long Distance World Championships which is on August 1 in Germany.
Think it is probably the most important lesson I've ever learned since doing Triathlons, always take a toilet paper roll with you to a race. With all the dirty river water and nutrition during the race I had to go to the toilet before we started our two hour journey back home. And yes, there was no toilet paper left in the restrooms after the race. I was a very popular guy in the restrooms with my toilet paper roll.

After prize giving we headed back to Witbank and I had a quick shower and we were ready to go celebrate my Mother and Sister's birthday but first we gave them there presents.

We had a good laugh when we gave my mothers present to her. For the past year or two she's been telling us that she wants to buy herself a laptop but it's just to expensive for her.

We decided to buy her a laptop for her birthday but we wrapped the Internet connection package and a security cable separately and gave her that first with the laptop out of sight. When we gave her the first "present" I told her it was a hands free cell phone kit for her car and it works through the radio that's why it has the Sim card. I also told her that the security cable was a new security device with which she can lock her car's steering wheel and the gear lever.

She really looked confused and said I must just install it for her as it is something new to her and she never heard of it before. That's when Kim could not keep a straight face and started laughing. I then went to fetch the laptop and she was without words.

We then went to the restaurant and it was so nice not having to rush to do something else. We arrived at the restaurant just after 5pm and only left just before nine. We had such a great time and laughed a lot.
With my sister being 10 years younger than me I told her that when she was born I used to stop at the Hospital after school with my bicycle and would first visit her and my mother on my way home. She could not believe it but my mother confirmed it, we have a special bond with my little sister being almost like a daughter to me.

When we came back I helped my mother setting up her laptop but could not finish as I was just to tired and said I will finish it tonight.
DJ enjoying a pancake for desert.

I will post a proper race report this week and also more about my run/walk strategy that seems to be working very well.
Prestige Half Ironman
Swim: 38:36
Bike: 2h26:23
Run: 1h28:04
Total: 4h33:03

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Running out of Tubes

Doing my Pre Race training sessions today was a real mission. After work I stopped by the gym to do an easy 500 meter swim with 5x10 seconds pick ups. As I arrived at the gym the whole pool, all five lanes were occupied by children playing in the pool.

I can't understand why can't management not tell them not to play in the pool or at least play in one lane. As I prepared to get into the pool I saw that these children are not going to move over so I just got into one lane and started swimming.

At first I thought I was lucky as the children moved to another lane but that was just the way the played. It wasn't long before they were back in the lane I used and I stopped and asked them to please play in the other lanes and give me this one to swim in.

After about 5 laps they were in my lane again and I had to slow down to give the little guy a chance to moved out of the way. On my way back he was in front of me again and that's when I decided to give him some Ironman race swimming mass start therapy.

I just kept swimming and swam right over him pushing him down and that was the end of anyone in my lane again. I could hear they weren't happy with me as I got out of the pool but hey I did asked nicely on more than one occasion. If you don't want to listen you must learn the hard way, boy.

My frustration did not stop there. When I got home I decided to do my 30 minute bike ride on the trainer as I also had to do 5x10 seconds sprints and cycling in town, this would have been difficult. After only 6 minutes I got a flat on the trainer? I changed the tyre and after another 4 minutes I got another flat.

It took me more than a hour to complete the bike session as I had to clean everything after the first puncture as the tube had some slime in it. After the second puncture I had to look for a decent tube as I didn't want to use one of my race tubes.

This is what happen when you have a flat on a Computrainer, the watt reading goes haywire. 2036 watts as a maximum, with that number I can give some professional bikers a run for there money.

Luckily the 15 minute run after the bike went OK with no problem. I then started getting everything ready for tomorrow, and as I wiped the dirt off my bike I noticed the rear wheel was flat again.

I got another tube and as I fitted it the valve was leaking and as soon as I pumped it and release the pump nozzle it was deflating. I changed the tyre and the new one also had a faulty valve. I was now on the edge of being Norman Stadler at Ironman Worlds three years ago but I don't have a sponsored bike so I couldn't throw it like he did.

Looking at the third tube after I finished and it was my own fault as I damaged the tube while being in a hurry fitting it to finish the bike session.

One lesson learned today is to check my spare tubes regularly and stock up. Luckily I had enough spares but I am now on the limit regarding spare tubes. Three flats and two with faulty valve, going through five tubes in one day, more than what I used the whole of last year.

Hopefully I am now done with flats as I am very lean on spare tubes for tomorrow's race. I only have two, so if something happen before the race there might be a chance that I will race without spare tubes.

Eventually after a whole afternoon of practise to change tyres everything is now ready for tomorrow. We are leaving at 4am to be at the race at 6am as the race starts at 7am and I still need to register. It is only me and Kim going, DJ is staying home with my mother.

Tomorrow is also my mother and sister's birthdays so when we get back from the race tomorrow afternoon we will have two birthdays to celebrate.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Everything's OK, sort of

After some tests, doctor visits and some more procedures I am glad to say that my mother is fine, well sort of.

The big scare was the possibility of breast cancer but after tests they confirmed that it is not breast cancer. We were expecting the worst as she is not a youngster anymore (turning 67 on Sunday) but she is an amazing strong women and told us that what happen must happen and she's prepared.

With all the test results cleared, we are all relieved and thankful that she is fine.

I said there were three health issues we were concerned about in one of my previous posts. The second issue was the fact that she's a diabetic and when they tested her they found that taking tablets doesn't help anymore. She now has to use an insulin injection everyday.

There is nothing she can do about it and she is busy getting the hang of it, testing her sugar level everyday and giving herself an injection.

The third issue we will only have the result by mid March. Don't know exactly how to put it but according to the doctor she may have some heart disease. I think it's Cardiac Arrhythmia(irregular heart beat) which may be the result of her having high blood pressure for some time. They made an appointment for her to see the Cardiologist on the 11th of March. I am not 100% sure on what exactly is wrong but I will be able to provide a clear answer after her visit to the specialist.

This can be a serious issue but she said she is not going to stress about it in the same way as the breast cancer test and whatever the Cardiologist say and decide she will handle it when she gets there. Hopefully the test will also come out fine.

I guess one can look at it one way and say this ain't looking good or look at it the other way and say she is just doing fine and we're glad she's alive and can enjoy everyday with us.

I've read some article from Ben Greenfield, a well known Triathlon Coach about Carbo loading and your eating habits/ consumption during the last week leading up to your race. In short it basically say to start the Monday before the race with 50% of your diet consisting of Carbohydrates and having more Protein.

You then up your Carbo intake by between 5 and 10% per day, ending the Saturday before the race on a 80% carbo intake for that day. He also gives examples of what to eat when and how much.

I've never done any formal Carbo loading before a big race and has never followed a formulated eating plan before a race. Usually I just eat whatever I want leading up to a race and then having some pasta/pizza the night before the race. I will write a more detailed post next week on what I ate, when and how much and if it made a difference.

Will see how this idea/ experiment unfolds and if it will make any difference come Sunday. Luckily I still have some time and races to experiment with before Ironman South Africa in April. This Sunday I am also going to stick with the run/walk technique, only difference is this weekend I'm walking 30 seconds after every 10 minutes of running instead of 1 minute.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Believe in Yourself

Yesterday we went to Pretoria, about a hours drive from Witbank to attend DJ's first dance competition. She started taking dance lessons middle last year and although she was nervous she was excited to do her first competition.

During the competition my memory flashed 30+ years back when my father took me to my first wrestling match. I can remember how nervous I was seeing all those competitors and not knowing what to do or expect.

DJ's dream is to become a professional dancer and open her own dance school. Being a straight A student we encourage her to go and study further to qualify and have a "normal"( traditional) career but she is adamant to become a dancer.

Maybe that will change later in her life when she start with high school but for now she is so committed and focused on dancing. She is really working hard and it just showed again that through hard work and believing in yourself you can achieve so much.

She participated in two items, Freestyle and Slow dance and reached the final in both of them. In the freestyle she came fourth in the final and in the slow dance she finished third in the final. One can see that the Ballet she took for a few years helped her during her slow dance routines.

Her coach came to me and said that it is a really excellent achievement to reach the final during your first competition never mind two finals. He was also very surprised that she achieved a third and fourth place.

DJ was disappointed with her results as she is like her father a sore/bad loser but I told her the following story about myself and my wrestling career. I started doing wrestling when I was 6 years old and I was so determined to become a champion that I did everything possible to become one. It was not easy and for the first three years of my wrestling career I lost EVERY match I wrestled.

I was so nervous that my father would tell me that I need to stop doing this as I was not good at it but he did not as he believed in me. During my fourth year of wrestling I won my FIRST match and it was just something a wanted so bad for so long that I wasn't going to go back and lose again.

In grade 5 I became provincial champion (guess it is called state champion in the US) in my age group and this continued as I moved up the age and weight division. When I left school I was provincial champion for eight consecutive years, a record that still stands. I also became national champion in Wrestling and was elected for my country.

This story is in no way something I tell to boost my image but an great example about some achievements that would never have been achieved if I didn't believe in myself and quit doing wrestling when I lost every single match for the first three years of my wrestling career. From this: Losing matches and just getting a small trophy for participation

To this: National Champion.

And doing this through endless hours of training.

Yesterday was just another example that anything is possible if you want it that bad. DJ is so determined and I know she will achieve so much more with her dancing, but most importantly is she is enjoying it and want to dance and with our support and believing in her she will become a great dancer. This is not something we as parents force her to do but something she chose to do because she loves dancing.

On the Ironman training side things are looking good and this coming weekend will be a good test to see if my fitness has improve and if it has by what margin when I participate in the Prestige Half Ironman which also doubles as the South African Long Course Championships. I guess I can't do any worse than last year as it was my first DNF in my Triathlon career when I inhaled water during the swim and couldn't complete the race.

Yesterday I could manage a sub 5min/km during my long run even with the 10 minute run/30 seconds walk technique. I had to cut the run short by 20 minutes to be in Pretoria on time but I am happy with my running and feel that this is one discipline where I can see some improvement.

Here is some picture during my long bike session today. Sharing the road with some cattle on my way to Bronkhorstspruit. There was a strong eastern wind making riding really hard on the bike today.

Kim brought me my extra bottle after three hours and followed me again for the remainder of the 5h25 ride.

Here's some pictures she took while I was riding. Guess it can become a bit boring following me at 30 odd km/h

The road not the widest there is with no emergency lane.

Advantage of Kim following me is that I don't have to look back to see which car wants to drive me off the road and they have to pass her leaving some space when they pass me.

Heading back to Witbank

Almost at the Steel factory.

Just had to post this picture of Eddy, looking down at me from the stairs and fascinated by the camera.

Stemmet not a very familiar surname in South Africa. Was surprised seeing this truck on the highway. Not family and don't know the guy. At least I can now use "family" when I want to move one day.

Today's Training:
Bike: 5h25, 163km, 135bpm, 4817kcal,
Run: 25 minutes, 5.2km, 4:57min/km, 140bpm, 397kcal

Weeks Training:
Swim: 3h52, 10km
Bike: 7h54, 246.1km
Run: 4h46, 57.8km
Gym: 1 session, 1h09
Total: 17h44, 313.9km, 13021kcal

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Thanks Kim

What was suppose to be a 5h30 bike session was reduced by a hour due to some lightning and rain. In the photo above you can't really see the lightning and rain but the sky was white and the lightning just came out of nowhere.

After Church this morning I jumped on my bike and started my long bike session. It was a real sunny day and I was looking forward to getting some sun on the skin and not doing my bike session on the trainer.

O, the swim session this morning did not happen, it was just me and the opening hours of the gym. They open Sunday at 7am ( I thought 6am) and there was no way that I would have been done swimming and be in time for Church. Not that it really bothered me as it was an easy recovery swim scheduled for today.

Back at the cycling, I arranged with Kim to bring me my water bottles at 2pm to replace the empty ones after 3 hours. She arrived on time as I was busy with my second loop towards Bronkhorstspruit ( a town 50-60km from Witbank, depending on where you stay) and as I was changing bottles she looked at all the cars flashing by on a single lane road with no emergency lane.
Kim arriving with my hydration when it was still sunny.

I am used to cycling on that road ( Witbank to Bronkhorstspruit) but today was very busy and scary. Kim told me that she got so frightened when she was approaching me as she saw a car passing me at a very high speed and not moving out when it passed me, less than a meter space. I said to her that's normal when you cycle alone. When you cycle in a group the cars give you some space, guess they feel that there's more than one witness if something happen but when you cycle alone they just feel nothing for you.

She said there is no way she is going to let me cycle on my own again on that road and said she will follow me and drive behind me for the duration of my session. I said it 's OK I am fine but she insisted. Thinking back now I am so glad she offered.

When we approached the road that leads to the steel factory on our way back to Witbank I stopped and told her that, that part of road is very quite and she can go home I am OK. What I didn't see was the thunderstorm approaching us. She said she will carry on driving behind me in case I need some help.

I was cycling for another 20 minutes or so and was heading right into the storm. The rain didn't bother me but the lightning was all over and it became really scary. Having all the heart rate monitors and bike computers I was convinced that I am a mobile lightning attraction unit.

As I looked back to see where Kim was she flashed the car lights and showed me I must pull over. She said that it's better to stop cycling as the lightning is getting worse.

Me the very thankful passenger on our way back home.
As I was talking to her lightning struck not far from us with this massive loud noise. That changed my mind and I loaded the bike in the car. Funny enough as we drove into town there was no rain or lightning. For one moment I thought of getting out and do the last twenty minutes home but it was in town and wouldn't really be that productive with all the stop and go's at the traffic lights.

I am so glad and happy that Kim made the decision to follow me, Thanks Kim I love you.

Had to take a picture of DJ as she fell asleep in front of the TV last night.

Today's Training:

Bike: 4h31, 134.2km, 128bpm, 3698kcal,

Weeks Totals:
Swim: 5km
Bike: 249.2km
Run: 60.3km
Gym: 2 sessions

Total: 17h18, 314.5km, 12914kcal ( crappy week due to work and family missed 4 training sessions)