Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Best 9 hours of the week

My week started with a 9 hour trip down to Upington to deliver a Caravelle bus to Russell Nugent, a super fast Ironman athlete who's also been to Kona before.

Lucky for me DJ joined me on the trip and it was just great as we had so much time to just talk and have fun. At times she would plug in her Ipod but not for long before she sees something next to the road and will ask me or tell me something about it.
She also took the video camera along and I still need to see if any of the odd 25 video clips is blog material.

It was the first time for me and obviously for her that we visited Upington and also drove through that part of our Country and she was just amazed by all the small town she didn't even know exists. DJ really enjoyed the town name, Sannieshof. When she first saw the sign she thought it was a joke and was laughing her but off.
We also had a great laugh at one of the road works stop and go areas. We were the last car and the worker handed me a flag and asked me to just hand it to the worker on the other side a few kilometers further. He will then know the last car has past. DJ had all the joke about the flag, from keeping it and just drive on to playing and waving it.
Some pictures of our road trip:

The initial plan for me was that I would drive down on my own, until Sunday afternoon. After the soccer world cup match we were talking about the week ahead and my trip to Upington on Monday.

Without even thinking DJ said she wants to come along. I explained to her how far it is but apparently the 900 kilometers didn't bother her. We had such a great laugh when she made the following remark: "It's not everyday that one can visit Upington you know"

I said to her if her mother say yes, she can come. Kim agreed and within 10 minutes I booked her a ticket to fly back with me after we delivered the Bus and it was done.

Monday was an early start for us at 3am, and we were on the road at 4am to be in Upington at 1pm.

We arrived 30 minutes later than planned but I was happy as we had a lot of road works to deal with, which slowed us down.

We met Russel and his family and had lunch with them before me and Russell went to his Business (his an optometrist) to do some business while DJ was entertained my Russell's three daughters.

That evening we flew back at 5:30 and was back in Johannesburg at 6:30. The dealership brought me a car to the airport and we only had another hour to drive back to Witbank.

I was really surprised that DJ was awake the entire day but about half an hour before we reached home she just became very silent and when I looked again she was gone.

She was so excited about the whole trip and even told me in the plane when we flew back that she thinks we must move to Upington. I think having three friends to play with the whole afternoon influenced her decision a bit and with school holidays being extra long this year due to the World Cup I think she also misses her school friends.
When we flew back we realized we took all these pictures but forgot to take one of Upington, ah well next time.

Training wise I couldn't train Monday but the rest of the week I am back to normal and the hours are slowly building up again to Ironman level, currently I only manage between 6 and 8 hours a week but all of them are very specific and qualty hours.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A week of Late Nights, a Spaceship and a Robbery

This week was a bit of a hectic week as it's Financial year end for our business at the end of June and getting everything done and still trying to trade as usual can be a challenge.

On Monday I heard on the radio that some spaceship will be visible to South Africans between 6:25 and 6:29 during the evening. I arrived back from work just after six and told Kim about it. We stood outside and was looking up in the sky like two people that's not all right up there.

I think the neighbors thought we have taken some narcotics, or maybe they thought we need to look down if we are searching for something, not up in the sky.

Lucky for us it is winter and it was already dark outside. Then just out of nowhere this bright star appeared from the sky and was moving very fast across the sky over our house. It didn't rise from the horizon or disappeared over the horizon. It just appeared out of nowhere and after three or so minutes it just disappeared in front of our eyes.

It was such an amazing thing to see.

Added later: Maybe my description in English wasn't exactly how I wanted to say it. It was actually the International Space Station (ISS) that passed over and not a Spaceship. After reading my post and the comment by Bryan I realized Spaceship sounds a bit ET like.

With all the World Cup soccer I am really losing out on sleep. The games during the evening starts at 8:30pm and finish at about 10:15. That is way past my bed time and I either fall asleep during the post match interviews or I miss a minute or two during the second half.

But it is just so amazing to watch all these games especially now that we are entering the last 16 stage. It is almost time tonight for USA vs Ghana. I am supporting Germany during the world cup but tonight I will support the USA.

I am even wearing my USA triathlon track suit which I swopped during World Duathlon Championship in 2007 when it was held in Hungary with some guy after the event at the post race party. I can't remember the guys name but he left his airline boarding ticket inside one of the pockets. I did put the ticket somewhere, must just have a look.

On Thursday one of my sales guys went to the bank to withdraw some money from his account and it was a big amount. As he came out of the bank some lady distracted him by asking him for the time and before he knew it they shoved him in a car and drove off, just like movies.

The bank is in the same street not far from out dealership. They were three and drove with him to an abandoned area and robbed him of his money and all his personal stuff, even his glasses. After the whole incident he got some help and the people brought him back to the dealership.

I was really shocked at this whole incident as the man is in his 60's and the way they treated and threatened him was really shocking. They threatened him all the time to slit his throat while they were busy robbing him.

I was really shocked and the whole Thursday night I was just thinking about this whole episode. Even during my training I could only think about it.

Friday during the day I went with him and a police inspector to the scene and I must say I would have either collapsed or pissed myself if it was me. The area where they took him was next to a railway track and they walked with him into the veld for more than 200 meters before they tied his hands and feet together and forced him down on the ground before they robbed him.

He also admit that when they forced him so deep into the veld he thought they were going to kill him. After we finished with the inspector at the scene we stopped by the lady at the shop which helped him get back to the dealership and gave her a big bunch of flowers. She is one of our clients and was just as upset as it happened less than a kilometer from her shop.

Training wise I had a recovery week after last weekends race with Friday and Tomorrow being rest days. Since Sunday's race my left Achilles muscle was a bit tight but I have expected some different muscles being sore as I am not used to off road racing, luckily I recovered well during the week.

Today was the first day where I did a longer training session with a 1h30 run. Most of this weeks training was less than a hour per session. Next week it is back to normal with some heavy training sessions waiting for me.

Thursday''s Training:
Bike: 1h20, 46km, 144bpm. (power intervals)

Today's Training:
Run: 1h30, 18.5km, (endurance session)
Bike: 45 minutes, 24km, 124bpm (recovery session)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fathers Day, my way

Today was Fathers Day and everybody celebrate it differently. Some have family gatherings, others go out for Lunch or Dinner, well I celebrated it by going out and doing an Off Road Duathlon.

When the alarm went off this morning at 5am I was questioning my decision. Waking up so early on one of the few days I can sleep late wasn't nice. The event was just under two hours drive and we got going just before 7am. Before we left home DJ gave me a Fathers Day present, picture above. It was a box of chocolate Nutties, a scrap booking thing of me and her and a card with some touching words inside.

Funny that the card she chose was of a Chimpanzee on the cover and the medal I received today had a Baboon on it. I do get the message, haha

DJ and Kim came along which was, I guess their Fathers Day present to me. Showing me what they will do for me, getting up on a Sunday morning at 5am, Thanks Girls.

This was only going to be my second off road Duathlon and the first one in more than four years. I am not big on Mountain Biking and thus Off Road Duathlon/Triathlon races. The reason is I don't like falling and the odds are much bigger on a Mountain Bike than on my TT bike.

The running wasn't my concern but the Mountain Biking got me a little nervous. It was a 5km run a 20km Mountain bike and then a 2.5km run again.

For this time of the year/season the distance was just perfect, just enough to get you tired but not long enough to kill you.

The run started of well and I managed to do the first 5km run in just over 19 minutes. I was happy when I saw the time, seeing that it was off road and I was running with my normal road running shoes. I was slipping a lot especially on the loose gravel
I still wanted to buy me some Trial running shoes but never got to it and when I woke up to do it Wednesday during the public holiday I knew it was too late. Running your first race in brand new shoes, off road- not a good idea.
I managed to end the first run leg in second place overall but knew that I won't be able to maintain that position on the bike.

Within the first 5km the first guy passed me and by the 10km mark I was in 5th place. I could maintain my distance to the 4th place guy. It was a YoYo effect, as I would catch him on the dirt roads but as soon as we hit the technical part of the course he will pull away.

Eventually we came in side by side into T2 as the last 2km of the bike was a very fast dirt road without any hills or turns and I could reel him inn.

Transition times in off road racing is much slower than in road Tri's. I eventually got going on the second run and could feel immediately that I won't maintain a sub 4min/km pace on this run.

I did manage to do the second 2.5km run in just over 11 minutes.
Overall I'm happy with my result and with the day but I won't change Ironman racing for Off Road racing soon. Not my type of thing. I finished first in my age group and fifth overall, I even received R400 prize money for my 1st place.

When we arrived home, the day training/racing wise wasn't over. I still had a 1h30 recovery ride to do. It was a low heart rate, low watts ride on the Computrainer just to get rid of the Lactic Acid in my legs. All part of my new program with CTS.

Was the first time ever I did a recovery ride after a race, usually my recovery after a race is some Food and Beer.

Mini Man Off Road Duathlon result
5km run: 19:05
20km bike: 48:22
2.5km run: 11:16
Total: 1h19
1st in age group 40-49
4th overall Individual
5th Overall, including teams

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What an experience!

World Cup soccer is now in full swing and despite all the reports from some journalist abroad, that the tournament is going to be a disaster and South Africa aren't ready to host it, Everything is going just well.

We attended the match on Monday between Netherland (Kim's team) and Denmark at Soccer City. It was just unbelievable and the stadium is amazing. As good as it look from the outside it is even better inside.

One thing that immediately caught my eye was how clean everything is inside, from the stands to the toilets, and everybody was in such a good spirit, no pushing, shoving and aggressive behaviour.

On our way to the match and DJ giving it her all on the Vuvuzela.

The game started at 13h30 and we left Witbank just after 9am. We arrived at the stadium at 11am and was inside at 12pm. There was some traffic and parking issues but nothing serious.

Some South African supporter with his head gear.

DJ was just amazed by all the people and the size of Soccer City. She just could not stop staring at all the supporters that dress up in their countries colours. The atmosphere is just amazing and I can't describe it.

Our seats weren't the best as we sat right behind the goal posts and only six rows from the front making it a bit difficult to follow the game when it was played across the pitch. Luckily they had two big TV screens on which we could follow. Kim thought I chose the seats but it gets allocated to you when I applied for the tickets.

One thing FIFA also make sure of is that it will cost a South African citizen a LOT if you want to get drunk during a match. Soft drinks cost R15($2) a bottle but Beer is R30 (about $4) a bottle. And then it is also Budweiser, not my favourite. Why aren't Coors or Stella the official beer sponsor?

Zakumi the official mascot.

Even the industrial tower was wrapped with a World Cup Soccer Logo.

Lot of photos being taken during each match.

And still blowing.

One Happy and satisfied family on our way home.

Getting home wasn't as bad as everyone describes. We took the Park and Walk option instead of the Park and Ride option where they transport you with buses to the stadium. We parked about a kilometer from the stadium and walking towards the stadium was great fun.

It took us about and hour to get out of the stadium and onto the highway and well clear of any traffic, which I think isn't that bad considering there were just over 83 000 people attending.

Training wise I am having an easier week as I am doing a Duathlon on Sunday. It is not a major race and is a sprint distance event. Just something to keep me busy.

My coach did get back to me regarding my position on the bike after she studied the video. On her advice I moved my seat 1cm back and 1cm up for a start. I could not believe what a difference such a small adjustment makes when I did my power interval session this afternoon.

I could manage the same power as end of last week but at a much lesser intensity. I am also pedaling much "smoother". I am super excited about the progress coming on the bike.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Can you Feel It?

Finally it's here, World Cup Soccer. One could feel the vibe and how everything is building up this past week.

I must warn you this is one of my unusual longer posts but I have so much to share and are so excited about a lot of things.

First of all I need to share this post by Raoul de Jongh, a great triathlete who is going to Kona again. He won his age group and below is a post he written regarding the soccer world cup and what South Africa is all about, Brilliant. http://www.urban-ninja.co.za/index.php/2010/06/dear-world-cup-visitors/

He also left a comment on one of the post I wrote, "Who's your coaching Daddy" and is also worth reading. http://tri-stemmet.blogspot.com/2010/05/whos-your-coaching-daddy.html

On Friday before the game there was even an informal World Cup Parade down the main street of Springs (town in which I work). Everybody went crazy and was just having fun.
Below are two of my staff members who joined the parade as it moved past our dealership and blowing the "famous" Vuvuzela during the parade.

The opening concert on Thursday night was good but I was expecting more, especially from the Black Eyed Peas and the Parlotones as they only performed for a short period but I guess that's how an opening concert is, it's not a specific artist's concert and they must cater for everyone.I did however enjoyed the mobile "Keganators", picture above. They made sure I wasn't thirsty for the first half of the concert before they ran dry. Lot of thirsty people at the concert.

Yesterday we were at a dance competition in which DJ participated. I am so proud of her. She only started dancing competitions beginning of the year and is really doing well. They have four categories in which you participate: Beginner, Novice, Intermediate and Champion, which is in Triathlon terms the "Elite" section. They award points for the top six dancers who reach the final at each competition, and as you accumulate points you move up to then next level.

It took DJ only 4 events to gather enough points to move up to the Novice level in both the Freestyle and Slow dance disciplines. Yesterday she participated in this category for the first time and achieved an amazing 4th place out of 27 competitors in the slow dance section.

Even in the Freestyle section she reached the semi final before being eliminated, also a great achievement

Her performance in the semi-final was one of those where every move were just perfect. I can't dance to save my life but if I can compare it to Triathlons, it was one where your swim, bike, run and transition during the race just worked out perfectly. Pity you are not allowed to video the children when they perform??

Took this picture of an airport worker sleeping when I did IMSA70.3 in East London during January. Hope he "Can Feel it" by now.

Training was difficult this week with all the World Cup activities and everybody trying to squeeze a last minute meeting in before the World Cup begins. I missed two session during the week, one due to a meeting and the other due to the concert.

I also missed Saturday's Brick session but did it Today. It was a great session up to the point where I got two punctures right after each other and a 3h30 brick ( 2h30 bike, 1hr run) turned into a 2h30 brick (1h30 bike, 1hr run). I could maintain 37km/h on the IM New Zealand Computrainer course and a 4:30min/km during the 1 hour run. Tomorrow is a rest day and it suits me just fine as we are going to watch the match between Netherland and Denmark. Going to be just awesome!

My training plan with CTS is still going great and I am so happy with the program and the service. During one of the bike specific sessions during the week, I realized for the first time that I am losing power during the bike when I bike above 240 watts for long periods. Not having professional bike fitters or Retul around my bike position is a three year trail and error exercise.

That's the advantage of having a coach, Powermeter and Computrainer. Coach asked me to send her some pictures and video to see if we can see where the problem lies. Super excited to see if we can tweak it a bit the get some more watts out of these legs.

This is the "famous" Vuvuzela which irritates a lot of people but has been part of our soccer culture for so long and the noise doesn't even bother me.

Here's a short video especially for Bryan, where Yours Truly demonstrate the Vuvuzela