Monday, March 29, 2010

Things are looking better

Things are looking better on the training front and it is amazing what a difference it makes when I have some structured training in my life again.

I could manage more training this week than the last two weeks together and my running just keep on improving by the session. Something I am very pleased with, if I can just maintain my running form during Ironman as this is where you can gain or loose a lot of places.

Sunday after Church I did my 2h40 long run and from the start I just found a good rhythm. It was a hot day and with no cloud in sight when I started, the sweat was soon streaming off me. My run route was a 5km out, 3 laps of 7km and a 6.5km back. I prefer this route and depending on the length of my run I can decide how many 7km loops I am doing.

What was amazing was halfway through my first lap the clouds started to build and soon it was spitting with rain. The funny thing was that during one section of the loop it was raining and at the other end of the loop it was blazing hot sunny weather.

It was quite something running into the rain and then out of it again with every loop I did. At the end I could maintain a 5min/km pace, the pace I want to run at Ironman. Another interesting thing was that my body is so conditioned and used to the run/walk thing that without looking at my watch I just sense that 10 minutes are almost up and without exception, if I look at my watch during all the laps it will be between 9-9:30 minutes, just about time to start walking again.

After my run and getting refreshed we had a family BBQ and as Kim said this may be our last BBQ before winter arrives. We used to BBQ a lot but lately we've been doing it only once a month or so. The winter is fast approaching and all the signs are there. The Oak tree in our yard has started to shed it's leafs last week and next to the road the Cosmos plants/flowers are appearing everywhere and me getting home in the dark after work(yikes).

This year we've decided to do a road trip down to Port Elizabeth for Ironman and won't be flying. During the last week almost everything is also being video taped. Not that we are busy with some project but DJ wants to get everything on film. We've never done this before and one can take so much more with you when you drive.

With the Soccer world cup during June in SA, the airlines have become very strict with baggage allowance and penalize you even if you are only just over the limit. Something that was not the case in the past. Having Four ladies and me with all my bike gear traveling we will definitely be way over the limit without even taking everything we want.

I bought DJ a video camera as the one we have is still an old model working with tapes and one of our digital cameras has a video feature but the quality is not great. As you can imagine she is now practising all day long and video tape any and everything, even herself acting and dancing to prepare for our "road trip" down to PE.

Will post some of the clips but need to warn you it is still very shaky and far from YouTube quality.

Below is a picture of a piece of land we own in Springs, where I work. I bought it almost two years ago and it is in an enclosed security area. It is a new development and consist of about 16 one hectare stands and most of them have houses on it already. Our initial plan was to build a house on it when we move to Springs but seeing that we are only planning to move two years from now and that there are only 4 or 5 stands left which haven't been build on, we decided to put it in the market and will sell it if we get a good offer.

I go to the "complex" once a month to just go and check if everything is still OK, not that something can go wrong as it has 24 hour security and there is nothing on it that can get stolen but one never knows if someone has occupied your land without your knowing. Maybe it's just an excuse for me to get away from work and have a few quite minutes on this empty piece of land with nothing disturbing me.

Sunday's long Run

2h40, 32.5km, 2573kcal, 4:59min/km, 139bpm heart rate, cadence 88, temp: ave 28c, max 35c,

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Good Time to start Running Barefoot(Almost)

This week I was so close to start running barefoot or that's how it felt. As mentioned earlier my running shoes had enough and while I waited to hear from the sponsorship I was running in all the different shoes I had in the past that had some kilometers left on them. My runs this week have been painful to say the least and I was worried about Sunday's long run with no new shoes.

Before I left for Argentina it became obvious that the sponsorship, which was from K-Swiss shoes was not gonna happen. When the person, who is the area manager don't answer his phone, don't return my calls after I left voice messages and even don't respond to emails you know you did not succeed it getting it. Just need to train and race harder and with better results some sponsor will eventually come up.

I was really pissed off not because I didn't get the sponsor but because the guy didn't phone back or let me know what's happening. Being in the motor trade, it is all about customer service but this guy won't last a day in the motor trade. In one of my voice mails I even said I want to buy the shoes if he can just contact me, no reply.

Eventually I phone the national distributor in South Africa and they gave me the name of a Triathlon store where I can buy K-Swiss shoes from.

Then my next nightmare started. The owner of the store was so frustrated with K-Swiss as he's been waiting for shipment of the shoes for more than two weeks. I kept phoning him daily but no luck.

I then decided stuff K-Swiss, the area manager is useless, the head office can't supply and this from a brand that's just been launched in South Africa. I can tell you now they won't make it and will be one of those companies that will come and go very quickly if they don't get their act together.

You may ask why K-Swiss, well I saw the reviews and thought I'll give it a try. One thing about me I always try new stuff and then use the ones that works for me.

I phoned the store where I bought my Newtons from and wanted them to ship me a pair overnight. Next nightmare, no stock of Newtons in South Africa and they are waiting for their next shipment which they say will arrive within two weeks.

My next option was to go back to Asics but Nimbus are to heavy and I did try DS Trainers before but they don't work for me, I just can't run with them.

I tried one more time and phoned the store to see if they received their shipment and WOW it just arrived. Friday morning early I drove through and bought a pair of K-Swiss shoes. Not want I wanted to do, as in principle I won't support the brand due to the service I received but I had no option.

Friday night I did my easy 40 minute run with then and I could immediately feel the heel support that the Newtons don't have. Amazing how your body and feet can't adapt to a shoe as I've been running with Newtons now for almost a year. The shoe is not bad but it is not the same as what I'm used to.

I will use them in the meantime until the Newton shipment arrive and will get a pair of Newtons which will be my racing shoe for Ironman.

Well their you have it, a long story but my shoe issue is something of the past and I feel better getting it off my chest the way I feel about K-Swiss.

Training this week has been super, amazing that being back into a routine can make such a big difference. I only missed one session which was an easy bike spin on Tuesday night (not a critical session) due to my sister's fiance's birthday. I had a school meeting after work and then we had some coffee and cake with them. We left at 9pm and I could have done the session but I had my long swim session Wednesday morning and didn't want to be tired for that.

The legs are also slowly coming back on the bike. After Sunday's 4 hour bike ride, Monday's 4 hour bike ride, my speed session on Thursday and today's 5h30 bike ride I see some light and some watts at the end of the tunnel.

Today on my bike ride I saw this Donkey cart and the guy was selling Watermelons at the side of the road. You only see people still using this way of transport way out from the city. It was really strange seeing him not far from the Steel Factory, close to town.

Luckily I also had a spare PowerTap bracket set and could fix the head unit bracket before I did my ride today.

I had to start my bike ride before 6am as I had a massage booked today at 12pm. I can feel my leg muscles are getting stiffer by the day and needed a massage desperately. I will have them more often until Ironman. It was so brutal and sore and I could feel that I haven't had one in ages but my legs felt good after it.

Will see how they feel during tomorrow's long run.

The weeks training so far:

Swim: 3h37, 10km

Bike:10h22, 310.2km

Run: 3h00, 34.8km

Gym: 1h43, 2 sessions

Total: 18h44. Will get close to 23 hours for the week after my long run and moderate swim tomorrow.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Today reality struck and although I knew some weeks ago that due to work I won't get all my training done, I realized today that IMSA is not going to be what I wanted or planned.

Maybe it was the public holiday today with all the spare time that made me think about IMSA. When I started with my 20 week training program I had one goal and that was to qualify for Kona again.

Later on I added another four goals but the main goal was to qualify. I guess if you've been there and done it you know what's it all about and as I said on previous occasions one can't describe that feeling to someone, you have to experience it yourself.

Training went according to plan but lately it's gone pear shape. With all the work commitments and add to that the three Half Ironman's I did, the training hours just ain't there.

Last year for IMSA I did two HIM and for Kona I did nothing and could feel it on race day, the lack of race readiness. Doing three HIM's this year was too many. One is a must and two is the maximum but doing three I neglected my long training sessions on weekends. And then I had to recover on the Monday and even on some Tuesday's which meant those session also went out the door.

The only way to have a successful Ironman is to put in the hours, there is no shortcut. You can't go to or to a triathlon store and buy a sub 10hour or sub11 hour Ironman finishers package, you need to train.

I've compared my training log from the past two Ironman's with the current one and although I've clocked the same kilometers I've done way less hours of training, especially the long ones. With only five weeks left of which two are taper weeks I just ran out of time to have my preparation 100%

During yesterdays ride I could also feel that the legs aren't there during the long ride and that just confirmed the way I see IMSA this year. At least the running is better than last year but swimming and cycling is going to be a real challenge this year.

For now I am still going to keep on training and will still aim for that magical sub 10 hour finished which is very unlikely but qualifying for Kona is not going to happen.

This morning I went out with the cycling club on my 4 hour ride and I must say I feel so much safer riding in a bunch than on my own. Yes Kim do bring out my bottles when I'm at the halfway mark and drive behind me from there onwards but that first few hours are always scary.

It was very misty today and cold, well at last for me. Some guys were riding in short sleeve shirts but I had three layers on. I hate the cold and would much rather ride in 40c heat than in 20c.

Close to the end of the ride my PowerTap's head unit came loose as I was riding over some bumpy road and as I saw it flying across the road, I thought it was gone. It eventually ended up in the bush next to the road and I was really surprised that it was still working with only a minor scratch. At first I thought the bracket was broken but I could clipped it in again.

About 5km from home it jumped off again and I was really lucky as two cars drove past and missed it by centimeters. I picked it up and it was still working, that's when I decided to put it in my pocket and will use some cable ties to secure it to the handlebar before my next ride.

One thing I can say about the PowerTap unit is that it is very strong, Wow thought I was in for a few buck replacing it after today's ride.

Today's Training:

Bike: 3h52, 115.6km, 124bpm, 3043kcal,

Swim: 1h03. 3km.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

VW launch at Sun City

This weekend was the launch of the new VW entry level car into the South African market and it was held at Sun City. It's a resort about 1.5 hours from Pretoria. Sun City was the brain child of Sol Kerzner who's also responsible for Atlantis and many other resorts.

The launch was spectacular and was anything but entry level. We stayed in the Palace of the Lost City, one of the four accommodation options one have if you stay at Sun City. The Palace is the most exclusive and one night will set you back R5500 ($735) for the standard room with the luxury rooms going for R39500 ($5260) a night.

Before me and Kim left on Thursday afternoon I quickly did my Bike speed session with the main set consisting of 2 sets of 3x1 minutes all out and 1x9minutes as hard as possible. My legs were feeling the session on our 2.5 hour drive to Sun City as Witbank is about a hour from Pretoria.

When we arrive we checked in and had dinner with the co-director and his wife of our company. It was nice having a meal and not talking shop for a change.

The next morning I first had to attend a business meeting early and didn't do my run session. Being an easy run on a Friday I thought I'll do it in the afternoon before the official launch and concert that was planned. As it turned out I couldn't do any training on Friday.

After the business meeting it was the annual awards ceremony and one of our salesmen from our Benoni branch won the award as the best salesperson of the year, which is based on total sales.

The evening was the launch of the VW Polo Vivo and the it was in the form of a concert featuring Kelly Clarkson, Westlife, The Parlotones, Freshly Ground and some South African bands. VW South Africa invited 6000 customers to attend the launch.
As a VW dealer we had VIP access and there were a separated area where we were entertained before and after the show. The whole evening was just mind blowing with the car eventually coming down from the roof when it was introduced.

Of all the bands I enjoyed the Parlotones the most and they were just awesome. They are a South African band but there music is just world class. They are on their way to tour the UK and is also one of the bands that will play at the Soccer World Cup opening concert along with the Black Eyed Peas. The crowd enjoyed Kelly a lot but it is not my type of music.

Me and Kim at the concert.
Kim and Kahn, the lead singer of the Parlotones at the after party. We had such fun and only got into bed at 4am. The first time in I don't know how many years that I stayed awake until such ridiculous time.
Below is some pictures of the Palace, it is one of those hotels you can't describe and the class and service is well worth the money.

A view from the top of the hotels tower over the Sun City resort complete with a sea that generates waves. The lake at the end is where we swam during a Triathlon race which is held every year at Sun City.

If I had access to a swimming pool this size in my back yard I can definitely improve my swimming

The dining hall where breakfast was served.

The breakfast was just unbelievable with anything you can think of to eat. You can even request food that's not on display if you feel like having something else for breakfast.
Started my breakfast with some Oysters and then some Salmon

And ending it off with a waffle after all the other stuff.

Some more pictures of the outside area at the swimming pool.

One Tortoise meeting another Tortoise (Skillie) at the swimming pool

The entrance to the Hotel

Leaving Sun City, VW had several signage boards across the road for some kilometers
Now all the launches and get aways are over and I have 5 weeks of serious training before Ironman South Africa.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Running in Buenos Aires

Thought I'll post some pictures about my Sunday morning run in Buenos Aires before we flew back to South Africa last week. All my runs were in the dark and this was the only opportunity I had to run in daylight and I decided to take the camera along to snap some Pictures.

The Hotel we stayed in was about four blocks away from their main avenue, the Avenue of July 9 which was named after their idependence day. It is the widest avenue in the world, even wider than the Champs-Elysees in Paris but definately not in the same caliber as the Champs-Elysees. Very untidy and as you will read below it's the local suburb of the homeless

It's maybe the widest in the world but definately not the longest and I was at the end before I knew it. Below is the Opera house being renovated and will open end of March.

Then I saw this guy sleeping under some plastic sheet on July 9 avenue. Thought it was a once off but soon realized that this was going to be a heartbreak run as it was the "local suburb" of the homeless
The name plaque
Some Statues all along the avenue

Another statue with some cravity on the wall, guess you get that everywhere.

This was my first real shock as most homeless people I ran past were adults. This family was living on July 9 avenue and while the mother and father was still sleeping the little guy was playing and keeping himself busy. There were plenty of homeless people living here and I saw more and more children, so sad.

No matter where in the world you are, you will always run past a McDonalds if you do a run no matter in which country you are.

Some more statues and plaques.

Gues it's all the Assholes staying in this Hotel. Hope it wasn't given the name after the Falkland Isle war against the British. One thing that the Argetines are not scared to say and are quite vocal about it, is the way the feel about the British. Even our tour guide who was hosting an international group had a lot to say---> very unprofessional.

Some more statues on the pavement of the avenue.

This family even had a chair and their "house" was made of any scrap material, mainly plastic and cardboard.

One of the local Taxi's. It was close to this Taxi that I saw something that spoil my whole run. I was already upset about all the street children but I saw a mother still sleeping or passed out with a baby of no more than 3 months old laying next to her on the side walk. The shelter was just a piece of cardboard. I wanted to take a photo but some other homeless guy was standing next to them which appeared to be his home. He looked very aggressive and was looking at me as if I was crazy running around this time of the morning.

One of the squires along the way.

A playground for children, not very nice with no grass at all.

Done with July 9 avenue and on my way back to hotel running past Florida street. A street full of shops with no cars allowed. Just shop after shop.

The street in which our hotel is.

Running towards another squire.
Someone put up some banners protesting against something.

Another statue
The other side of Florida street heading away from our hotel

Eventually I only ran 1h30 instead of 2h00 manly because I was upset about all the homeless and was running out of road. I didn't want to get loss or ran into some dodgy streets.
I only realized how blessed I am to run in my hometown.