Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Year In Images

Not a review for 2011 but just a cool song to sum up yet another year.

I have picked these 2 You Tube clips put on my facebook from a friend . A little commercial but I like the colour , the images and the sentiment.

The year in pictures from Reuters.

A multimedia showcase of some of 2011's top stories, including Japan's tragic earthquake, the Arab Spring, the demise of Osama bin Laden and Muammar Gaddafi, the shooting rampage in Norway, famine in Somalia and the Royal Wedding. Multimedia editing by Jillian Kitchener.

Happy New Year

I have been on holiday.I have been sleeping lots , reading and just relaxing .It has been a drastic drop off of training but one I think I needed after Busso .

Whilst it is a good time to reflect on the year . my results and performance for 2011 is probably an accurate reflection of the World in 2011.Very turbulent and lacklustre with some near misses. The world seems to be lurching from disaster to disaster and 2012 , the Year of the Dragon which usually heralds a successful year .Iam not so sure.

What is certain from the many economic writers is that 2012 will be a tough year to predict. On top of the uncertainty of the economic future of the world , there are sufficient doomsayers predicting the end of the world according to the Mayan calendar at 21 December 2012 exactly at 11.11am . So much so the Mexican Ambassador to Singapore wrote in to the Singapore Straits Times stating the Mayan academics interpret the Mayan calender as a odometer ticking over into a new cycle not the end of the world.
(see Wikipedia for one interpretation of the Maya_calendar )

If anything the world of nature is one of cycles , we humans try to run and move against this natural order but we never succeed.Be it our body clock or seasons , the reality even our calender is just a reflection of the cycle of seasons .As such it is important to recharge and rest . Even though I do lose some strength and fitness ,it has been necessary for my mental endurance .

What is important is to reflect on the past to plan a successful path for the future. Whilst there is always uncertainty in the world , my view is that the economic and even natural disasters are partly reflected by the globalisation of the world. we are now a nanosecond from every news breaking story and every story is news breaking these days . There can be like overloading training probably overloading the senses . there is only so much the brain can process in a news day .It has become cursory and news bytes with the bare minimum of information .Sadly  we become immune to the content however tragic. The major events of the year , the Japanese Tsunami , the Greek economic crisis , the many famines in Sudan and Africa , the many elections around the world ,the Middle East people movement, all reflect a human face and the resilience of the human race.With the globalisation of the world and democracy true the Internet via you tube , facebook and tweeting comes the overload  of information lots not accurate and irrelevant. I am a recipient of the good and bad of this globalisation. I learn so much but i have to be more discerning .There is the immediate access to news and information personal to myself and friends.

But in the final day of 2011 , I do reflect on the year closing.from my training and races , I can at a glance , identify the highlights.These are

  1. despite the slowest time ,IM Lanzarote was a great adventure and a culmination of a very strong training period
  2. Getting my weight down in the lead up another indication of the need to focus on my weight a lot more
  3. My Singapore 70.3 race despite the swim was a solid effort in the heat.
  4. My city to surf marathon was a good solid effort and a new PB 

The not so great moments are many but I hope  I learn form them.Most important lesson as obvious as it may seem is that most of the training programs are quite similar but for some slight changes in emphasis but no program is really going to make a difference without the right mental approach and desire .Secondly , learning to adapt the program as external factors intrude is vital. 

The new Year is one I approach with more hope . My holiday reading helps, Have a Little Hope by Mitch Albom and Why the west rules for no by In Morris.New York Times Book review In addition the many news stories for 2012 The economist

I hope the many who stumble into this blog have a Happy New Year in 2012.Despite the cliche , the journey has so far been much more exciting than the destination.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

It is Christmas Day. I head into a short break over the next 10 days . I also headed out on my first ride in 2 weeks yesterday. Legs were still sore from the blisters on the sole of the feet . It was a hard ride and I got dropped really early but I wasn't about to try and keep up .There weren't any coffee places open on Christmas Eve in the city as well.Our usual haunts were all closed. I ended back at the city early and had coffee and then rode back home for a total of 73 km . legs were a little tired after the inactivity.

I was glad I did go out and I enjoyed the ride round the river .It was a nice summer day in Perth. There wasn't much traffic about but lots of cyclist around .

I did put out a short tongue in cheek message on facebook :

Wishing all the Important People who are my friends on facebook a very merry Christmas and a Safe and Wonderful New year .I am thankful I survived the cars , loons , drunks , madmen , sharks and the wife (just kidding dear) . I am truly blessed.

The sentiment though is heart felt. Despite the stresses of balancing life and work and training as everyone else has to do , work ,family and training , I am thankful that I was able to train and race this year.

Despite the wet winter and the not so great results , I have had some really awesome days on the bike and in the ocean and pool , and running around Perth.These are the memories and even the bad races , have great lessons to take away and learn from.

Time to kick back and relax and reflect on the year with an eye for 2012.

The top stories from Triathlete Magazine's perspective was :Top Triathlon Stories for 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Purpose and Purposeful

It has been a period of self reflection as I rest and plan for next year . As always , it is the time of the year to reflect on what has happened , could have and hopefully learn some lessons from.

With down time and no training (which is a little extreme) I have managed to attend to other matters . It has certainly helped to be away from training and racing. I am committed to the Busselton Half 2012 and will commence my training in January .
I am undecided as to whether I will be doing 2 Ironman races next year . It may be counter-productive and it will be something I will give serious consideration .

It is time to change routines and do things differently. I also have to take the issue of my diet and nutrition more seriously . Having said that I read a short report on IM Cozumel by bored@work and it was a reflective piece of a 7 time IM racer about priorities, purpose and balance. We all come to a point in life where we must ask ourselves what is more important ?

After 7 Ironman races & the last 3 being a real let down. I decided the problem was all mental.

I needed to find the love of the sport & what I wanted to get out of the sport & why I was really racing IM.

It was so simple I just couldn't see it & needed a break from racing.
I don't want to be the guy that sacrificed everything for a sub 9 /10hr time. I want to be known as they guy who was the best father, husband & friend he could be & still managed to finish an Ironman race. I removed a lot of the things from my life that caused stress - so called friends, car loans, visa cards & stopped wasting money on crap that we really didn't need
Bored@work on IM and Cozumel

I felt the same way but as I have stated before there is no easy way and it is a journey of experience and constant learning.

Lesson 2 : I learnt on the weekend as I went flying on a beautiful Perth afternoon, (I get to do things I don't  normally do when I am not training) As we waited to get up , I watched as my friend went through a checklist in preparation of the flight .There was systematic thoroughness but it was necessary. like all important matters , there is the mundane necessity of routine to derive the benefit. How great the want will determine the execution . The second half of the year has been difficult as my preparation has been sub optimum  as far as putting in the desire and commitment.

Jonathan enjoying the view .17 December 2011

Lesson 3:
Love what you are doing and know why . At IM Cozumel was another unfolding story I stumbled upon reading mailto:bored@work%22s piece. It was about Maria Plummer .There is some vagueness as to whether she had already decided to quit the race or she quit the race to give her bike to a fellow racer who only had 10 miles to ride when he had a flat he could not repair.

She said in an interview:
My self-worth is not determined by a clock or whether I finished," Plummer said. "The look I got from that man when I gave him my bike? There wasn't a shadow of a doubt that I had done the right thing."

Sometimes it is easy to lose sight of what is important and why it is important . Knowing why is probably more critical in Endurance racing as it is the basis of the foundation for the mental strength needed when you ask all those hard questions on the cold dark mornings at training and in the middle of the race.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bits and Pieces

Ironman WA 2011 by Delly Carr
Pictures of ironman WA 2011 by delly carr

Andreas Raelert, 35, Rostock, Germany. Third place overall; 8:11:07  New meaning to sleeping with your bike
(pic Andrew Herrington )
outsideonline Kona special

This whole week I have done nothing . Just allowing my self the rest and letting the body recover from the flu and chest infection. I have been scouring the web for interesting articles and pictures . There was a great collection of pictures by Delly Carr which I have put the link to above. Someone posted the Ironman World Championship link and I have also received the Ironman Lanzarote CD and watched it last night. I think Lanzarote has one of the most scenic cycling courses going. Watching it did inspire me for next year after the rather flat race in Busselton.

Another piece in firstoffthebike is: Building an Injury resistant Body .

Finally i read an excellent piece in the Outside Magazine by Elizabeth Weil on the World championships.

Especially the quote below:
Yet the event is filled with unlikely apostles: mothers of young children, three-limbed amputees, octogenarians, all ticking Kona off their otherwise divergent bucket lists because of a fascination for what’s difficult. Because marathons have been ruined by people who think it’s fine to walk. Because life is too easy and Everest is too far away.
It is a little disturbing reading about the level of commitment by some triathletes in getting to a World Championship and whilst I acknowledge  even in Perth there are many talented athletes and determined athletes I hope one are too blinded in the pursuit of getting to Kona at the expense of everything . It is a challenge , a very worthwhile challenge but it isn't and shouldn't be the only focus in a life at the expense of everything . I have enjoyed the ups and even the downs and I relish the challenge to learn from mistakes and to try and improve but it is in the context of a race against me and with my limitations.

In Lanzarote , a 69 year old Triathlete is interviewed about his ironman Journey and he talks about the triathlon family. He came from a car racing background and contrasted the amazing friendships he has made in triathlon .there is a shared camaraderie not found in too many other sports.

The dream lives but enjoy the journey as well.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Getting back on the Horse

Bouncing back after the Ambulance Ride

There is never any easy process after an Ironman Race .It is especially harder after a disappointing race . I have now had the full effect of the flu and it has added to the tired legs and the painful blisters on both soles of my feet . It has been  quite a different post Ironman feel to Lanzarote and Busselton last year . I had soreness and stiffness but none of the blisters I have copped this year and much greater fatigue than normal and the dreaded flu.

I am carrying more weight though. I did nothing for a whole week as the blisters did make it difficult to walk. I was signed up for the inter-club Championships and up to the day before I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to race.
I have managed to sleep longer but I am still getting up in the morning at 4am so.Old habits are hard to stop. I had my office Christmas dinner the night before the inter-club race and only managed a short 4 hour sleep. I then drove down to Mandurah for the race .I got there really early , before 6am . The race was at 7.30am. Got set up and I forgot my wet suit so I was swimming without one.

It was hard going barefoot with the raw feet . Racing for the first time for Exceed , my new club.

The guys started 15 minutes after the girls and it was relatively calm waters with a slight chop. I swam a15minute 750m race which was about right . I hobbled to transition as it was hard running on the blisters. Got my socks and bike shoes on.This was not a race where I was going to try a fast mount on the bike with the shoes clipped in. I kept my ride as consistent as I could and passed a few cyclist along the way. Finished the bike course of 17.5km in about 33.31 minutes. Got the runners on and did the 5km run in 25minutes exactly.

All the times were down from last year which indicates the state I am in presently. I was four minutes slower despite a good start to the year relative to last year. I finished in 1.13:56 .

Exceed won the Presidents trophy ( Inter-Club Championships). Fastest Tri Club second year in the row.More importantly , Exceed's catering manager  Rob Parry cooked up a storm of food for the exceed athletes. I was just too sick to eat much after the race .Just Coke zero and water. we had 34 athletes and had the best average and we were 700 points away from North Coast who had the biggest field.

It was great seeing everyone out on the course.Not so great being slow.

I think I do have the touch of the IM Blues or the flu and/or just the touch of the burnout / lack of motivation I have felt for a few months is still lingering .

Despite those feelings I did manage to register for Ironman Busselton 2012. I will now take a break and start planning and making some decisions about how I approach next year. It is the OC syndrome ( Obsessive compulsive behaviour)

My racing weight and nutrition  is going to be the major area I will need to focus on .

I did read a short piece how-to-bounce-back-after-a-poor-performance with the penultimate paragraph :

If all else fails, I like to call on the Jamaican bobsled team for their words of wisdom. Look yourself in the mirror and say, “I’m a bad ass runner who don’t take no $#@% from nobody”. Hey, if nothing else you will feel ridiculous saying it and whether you like it or not, you will smile. Go find a mirror and say it NOW. You smiled didn’t you?

I did.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ironman Busselton 2011 Photos

Bike check in Saturday 3 December 2011

Not too many places this active at 4am

Transition at 4.15am

Starting the Bike leg

on the many more laps did I have?

At the end ...everything was hurting
Pictures from finisherpix

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ironman Busselton 2011 Race Report ....Searching for the Promised Land

As I sit at home 2 days after the Busselton Ironman 2011 was done and dusted , it is a different world. It is raining , actually , hailing. It is cold and wet .I now have the full blown symptoms of the flu and a hacking cough .

I finished the race and it was my slowest Busselton time of 12.47. No excuses and as I have blogged , the race is very much a microcosm of life .You can be prepared , train and life is such you will have curved balls thrown.Obviously the better prepared you are the better able you are to face these curved balls.

I reflected on the past year of training and what I learned. As esoteric topics such as Ironman training/racing go and not to get too philosophical , I knew it was always a hard race for me by the nature of my training , my lack of race weight , up and down motivation and difficulties with my asthma .But like most triathletes , come what may you want to be standing on that start line after all those hours of training. I did what I could to get there .A DNF is just not something you want to contemplate or consider after the effort. Better to crawl and have the most miserable day but say I have finished.

That attitude is not necessarily the correct one but it is part of Ironman Folklore. As Courtney Ogden , last years winner with an injury walked the run course in 6 hours and finished in a time of 11.50.Not for anything than the respect to fellow athletes and himself. But I don't think any less for those who did not finish . Any Ironman is tough and Busselton throws up its own demons on the day.

On Friday I got the sniffles. I downed as much flu and panadol tablets and vitamin C. I felt OK but my voice could not hide I had a cold. I did my usual race preparation on Saturday and fortunately Rod Marton had come down to cheer the Exceed athletes . As the family were not coming down I had a spare bed and he was a great help after the race.

It was a 3am wake up. I slept well and set about getting ready . I got to the transition early and whilst it was still dark it was warm suggesting a rather hot day ahead. The water was nice and was at 22C .Got everything set up and with wet suit on chatted to everyone I knew . There is a raw level of anxiety. I am always excited and a little nervous but I have learnt to be comfortable with the nerves and enjoy being in the moment. After the pros started off , I warmed up and felt really good in my wet suit , I literally ran into Rusty Cook , a guy who for the past few Busselton races was next to me in transition before moving up an age group.

A handy triathlete , he went on to finish the race in 11.10 . We chatted for quite a while till suddenly everyone started off . No fanfare and off we went. I tried to draft behind various swimmers and thought I was going fairly well.There was a little swell further out at the end of the jetty .Then came the turnaround and I think I went a little too wide. The swim back I thought was slower and as my Garmin suggest I swam 4.05km in a slow 1.25 . I am not sure why as I felt good and possibly I was not pushing myself and drafting behind slower swimmers . I was  not taking the most efficient route  and my lack of discipline in keeping up my swim training did not help as well. I was clearly not as swim fit as I was in Lanzarote. Lesson learnt . Practise , practice and more practise for someone who is just an average swimmer.

I came out a little disappointed in the time. I had to refocus on the race. Got through transition and out as quickly as I could ...still slow in 5 minutes. Once on the bike I tried to just to get up to speed and start my nutrition. I knew the course and I had my plan. Within 20 minutes I was just not finding any strength and I was really struggling to get in an average speed of 32kph which I had to maintain. I did the first lap in over 1.50hr and after that the second and third laps were slower. I just did not have the strength and worse by the third lap I was cramping a little. It was not for the lack of salt or electrolytes .I had far more salt this year than last year.

I suspect my cold and the diarrhoea I had leading up to the race were indicative of the weakness .The cylinders were just not firing on the day.Not a lot I could do .I had no nutrition issues and kept taking the gels and water at every aid station .In all I had nearly 10-12 bidons of 500ml of water . It was hot and windy but I could not say the condition affected my performance. My general level of health and preparation for the race had more to do with how I was performing on the day. I came off the bike again disappointed with the time . A slow 6.08 hrs. I was also in alot of pain.I had huge blisters on each foot and my quads were just hurting so much . The run was a battle of attrition and survival. There was no chance of salvaging a good result. Every step hurt from the start .To make it worse as I grabbed a drink at Transition I started running down the swim to bike chute. I had to run back and out the correct way . A wasted few minutes . I started off just feeling good to be off the bike but each step hurt and despite the gels and Gatorade and water and coke and salt every hour , 6 km into the run and I was already walking the aid stations and contemplating a walk run regime.On the 2nd lap I was doing just that and by the third and final lap I was walking 2 minutes and running 800m . It was a slow marathon for me . I finished the run in just over 5 hours.

The disappointment was that I really could not control the cold I had and to what extent it influenced my result I do not know. I think it had been a long year with training and that too may hours of training have been counter productive for me.

The pain blurs the recollection , but with the support around the run course , quitting was not an option. For one , I made a commitment to do this race for myself and fund raise. Secondly lots of people were having great races and many others were struggling with their inner demons. I was not alone.

The disappointment is that another Busselton race was over with a less than optimum result. Having said that , as I finished , it was relief .I was struggling and with Rods help got home and my bike out of transition.
After each race , I have these huge negative thoughts about why do you do this. It hurts and I seemed to be going backwards. For everyone , there are setbacks , Giving up is an option. I think at the core I cannot keep doing what I am doing but giving up is not an option. It was not a good day for many reasons and some more that I may not figure out. I am not about to over indulge in too much analysis now.

I can say I am disappointed but I also gained a lot from being out there. Lots of support from the volunteers and friends who cheered as well as the strangers who were out there for 10 over hours. Many first timers who blitzed the course and many friends who had Pb's .

I admit a sense of selfishness in what I do . I want to improve and I want to get to that Promised Land. Invariably we all know where that is for each of us .Whether in careers , sports , love or life.

What I don't know is when and how long it will take me . At the moment it has eluded me . I have spoken about it many times the sweet spot . It is unimportant to others because it is no measure of success for them but everything for me. It is not about beating others . You know when you cross that line and laid it all out and got to that goal you set for yourself and achieved . It may never come and I will not be any less a triathlete but that is the joy of the journey , the planning the execution and hopefully the joy of a result well deserved. For now I enjoy the results of the many who finished what they started and draw from them their strength and inspiration.

I don't usually go to the draw downs where the Kona slots are allocated . I went after breakfast on Monday morning with Rod . Sadly there are never enough slots for the many I know who deserve them and there is always a tinge of envy for those who have got them but they are all deserving winners of these coveted slots. I envy their strength and athleticism .For this is what it is about . From my very myopic view point for 3-4 days of the year , life is about Ironman and about achieving such goals and the Promised Land. I don't worry about work , or life or world affairs.
I had a brief chat with Kate Bevalaqua , last year's winner at the cafe we were having breakfast . She didn't have the race she wanted and she felt it was just more the mental preparation and a long season. Time to have a break and refocus for next year.

It is a wonderful sport and has wonderful inspirational people in it.

I will recover and get better and reset myself for next year.For the many who did achieve their goals , congratulations and well done . For those who did not , don't be disheartened , sometimes , we need adversity and testing outcomes to strengthen our resolve . I would rather TRI than falter and lose all hope at the first hurdle.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Busselton Ironman The quiet before the Big Dance

Just a short update. I drove down on Friday morning and made it into Busselton by 8.45am .I had left Perth at 6.30 am .I had picked up a slight head cold but I don't think it will make a huge difference. I had a short swim on arriving and the water was nice and cold , at least without a wetsuit. I got registered and had a quick stroll round the Ironman store .Not a lot of gear that I would buy.I will get a cap for the run though.

The rest of the day I just rested at the chalets. In the evening there was the carbo loading dinner and the race briefing .This year they had a sought of reception area with everyone getting their meal in a box plate and sitting on the floor to eat .Everyone then was ushered into the main staged area with chairs for Pete Murray and Simon Beaumont to interview the pros and Pete Jacobs who was 2nd at Ironman Kona 2011.The women's Hockey team was in the audience to launch their preparation for the London Olympics.Nothing terribly special and after the usual video clip of last years race , we had the race briefing.No new issues .The main point as always the 12 meter drafting zone.

On Saturday morning , I did my usual 30 minute cycle with efforts and 15 minute run.

It is now just a long wait for a 3am start to the day and a swim start at 5.45am