Monday, October 22, 2012

The Great Chocolate Bar

Race briefing in the Sun

Anabel Luxford after the race with me

It was a good weekend especially when I  won the official Great chocolate Bar.

Rob had booked a house for the weekend of the race which was just a few minutes from the start. We had 2 rooms so when there was a request to host a professional triathlete who needed  a bed at Mandurah ,  Rob volunteered. It turned out well as we got to chat with Anabel Luxford , a former ITU triathlete now stepping up to half Ironman racing.

The night before the race , Rob joked that the winner in the house would get the chocolate bar the owner had left on the table as a welcome to us.

Unfortunately , Rob was ill with a bug on the morning and couldn't race .Anabel got a puncture and pulled out .  I won by default .

Trizone piece on Annabel from 2011  ( Her website is down at present as it got hacked into)
Interview with Anabel Luxford

It was a better prize having the opportunity to spend some time talking about triathlons and racing with a very experienced triathlete. As we said in our sport the professionals are probably very approachable and welcoming and great fun to be with .That was a far better prize and reward for finishing the race.

Mandurah 70.3

Pictures of the Mandurah 70.3 Inaugural Half Ironman .All Pictures with permission from Dennis Tan who was roving photographer for the day .

Every race is an interesting experience. It is mixed with the expectation versus the reality of results.

Mandurah 70.3 was the inaugural event at Mandurah and I didn't really approach the race with the exact detail of preparation it deserved. Partly as it was a full training week and it was a training race. But having said that it always helps to check out the course and make sure all the equipment is working and there are no unforeseen issues arising.

The race itself was  great .I enjoyed having an easy Saturday catching up with Rob and we had the opportunity to host a Professional triathlete,  Anabel Luxford. It was enjoyable talking to her and learning about the life of a Triathlete who raced at an elite level in ITU races for aboout 10 years.

She was stepping up to the Half Ironman distance and this was her first race.

It was a fast race for the professionals with Tim Berkel winning in 3.39.59.  Berkel, Hauschidt conquer the inaugural Mandurah 70.3

In terms of preparation ,  had my training bike which was fine and got it checked in on the Saturday before the race, attended the race briefing and registered . On the day itself the swim was in the Mandurah canals. I was in the second last wave and it was a long wait. I found the swim difficult only in that I had very little open water swim time since Busselton and found it difficult . I would have mini panic attacks and have to breast stroke for a minute to get comfortable. The tightness of the wetsuit didn't help. Sighting was another problem .I eventually got comfortable and managed to finish in 36mins which was about where I am with my swim experience . It was a fast swim as there was a bit of a current to assist.

The transition was good and I took about 3 minutes.There are areas I can improve and work on. The bike leg was a little of a struggle .I had a good first leg with a split of 1.23 but faded badly in the second with a 1.30 One of my slower bike times but again reflects where I am fitness wise at the moment. I had some issues on the bike losing my straw for my aero bottle just after transition so I had to adapt and used one bottle of electrolyte from the aid station and water which I took at each aid station after taking a drink of the Gatorade concentrate in my other bottle. i did have a few stomach issues but nothing serious given I was hoping that I had enough water to dilute the concentrate as it went down my tract. I had  jelly beans and snakes as well and I think I got the nutrition about right despite the set back. I had 4 gels on the bike and 2 on the run with coke  and water. I didn't have any cramping The run was a little undulating and hot but nothing too difficult. I just had tired legs and could not maintain my Marathon pace. I finished with a 2.05 which was 15 minutes slower than my run leg in a half.

HH : MM : SS
HH : MM : SS
HH : MM : SS
Finish Time
HH : MM : SS

Over all I am satisfied with the outcome. It would have been nice to finish at about 5.20 but I just don't have the speed on the bike at the moment.It seems with 30 Kona slots up for grabs next year it will be an attractive event for many hopefuls. I just enjoyed the chance to be able to finish the race without too many issues.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pre Race Week : Mandurah 70.3

Monday . It starts with the best intentions but I never manage to start the week well.I skipped my swim and in the end with a busy day I only managed a run in the evening. It was slow and easy for 1hour covering just under 10km.

Tuesday ,always a big training day with a 90 minute all out session and riding to and from Nedlands. I started a few minutes late and there were Exceed cyclist out on the course. The rest started at six am and after the turn around in the circuit they passed me and I managed to jump on Julianna, Michelle ,  & Katy and just hung in there .I wasn't strong enough to take a turn but I managed to hang in there which several weeks ago was not possible. The legs were strangely feeling quite good (possibly as the previous day was not as taxing) They were going hard for 30 minutes and then they slowed so I continued on and got passed again on my 3rd lap and again I stuck to them till they finished and I went on for a further 10 minutes to finish my 90 minute session.

In the evening we gathered at Yokine park for the run training .Ross had the session on grass much harder . Did a 3km warm up then some exercises and the set was 2km at threshold , 2 x 1km at threshold and 5 x 400m at threshold with a minutes rest and 30 Sec rest for the 400m set.Finished with a cool down of over 2km for a total of 12km.

On Wednesday , I was tired but got to swim practice and had a fairly light session.We did a 500m warm up and then 6 x 250m at threshold , threshold and medium pace.Finished the session with a 300m cool down .

I was going to ride on Wednesday evening even though it was not on the programme but at Kings Park as I was riding , my front derailleur bent and broke my chain. That ended the session and the bike is at the work shop getting fixed .The bike mechanic at the Specialized Store in the city couldn't understand how it could happen. I was having some problem on Tuesday morning and the gear wasn't as smooth so possibly it may be the alignment and I should have had it serviced sooner. I think it will be an expensive lesson  but better now than on race day and so I will have to use my training bike for Sunday's race.
Thursday is always a tough day with training. I was up early at 4.30 am and it was a 2 hour session with 90 minutes of 10 minute threshold efforts and 5 minute recovery x 6. The rest of the group not doing IM were there at 6 am for a brick session. I felt good and the legs were not too sore. It was then breakfast in the city.In the afternoon I did a 1 hour treadmill session and then a few hours later ( I split my long run as I just did not have the time to do the whole session) I ran the further hour with a 40 minute set at marathon pace .

That was a hard session with 40 minutes for each hour at Marathon pace. Managed just under 21 km but the legs were again holding up. I did fall asleep at 9.30 pm .Just too tired after 4 hours of training

Friday .Managed to get to swimming and did a good session of 500m warm up 200 m medley and the 13 x 100 m at various paces with 200 easy after the first 800m.Cool down was just 200m .Total 2.4km .the rest of the day was just work and no training this evening .

I was supposed to do a  6 hour ride tomorrow but as I am doing Mandurah 70.3 on Sunday I was spared the Saturday training session. Thanks Ross .Unlike other coaching programmes , this doesn't set out to kill you .

Heading to Mandurah for the race tomorrow .

Friday, October 19, 2012

Easy Week

Easy week is always a relief but isn't so easy.

I had a good rest on Sunday and so on Monday I had my usual sleep in.No swimming. I ran on the treadmill in the afternoon for 1.15 went back to finish off some work and then ran for a further 30 minutes to make my 1.45 session with 40 minutes at marathon pace. I ran a total of 18.5 km  with the 40 minutes at 5.23 about correct Marathon pace for me.

Tuesday.I had an easy ride round the river.I got to Nedlands a little late and had to ride round by myself .It was enjoyable and  at least there was no hard session.In the evening  I had interval running and did a 3km warm up and a  2 x 1km , 2 x 800m . 2 x 600 , 2 x 400m and 2 x 200m fast and the rest were  at about  threshold pace. Did a 3 km cool down for a total of 12km .

Wednesday morning , I just had a swim session with a total of 2.7km .We did a 800m , 700m and 600 session after the warm up and I only managed a 100 m cool down. Unfortunately after the swim i was rubbing my eyes and scratched my cornea , it mean no training for the next few days and a doctors visit and could not even do anything in the was pretty painful. I did manage an easy ride on Sunday to Cottesloe and that was the week gone.

It did allow me the luxury of resting and watching the lead up to the World Championships on Sunday morning .

IronMan World Championships 2012

It would be remiss not to write about the Race which planted if not galvanized and germinated the idea of this blog and the journey I am on.

Simply , Kona is the mecca of Ironman racing.

Each year I watch and follow the race with a mixture of great enjoyment and a tinge of jealousy . If I am honest , I wonder how do the invitees and the 200 lottery winners get there . Am I not deserving , have I not sweated blood for the honour. And the reality is No. For there are many who are deserving and many who do not make it. Luck will always play a role as will ability and capacity to win a spot. I sadly will never reach those rarefied levels but a lottery place is within reach one day. Till then I would prefer not to be a spectator but a participant.

But as the race unfolds with the interest of friends racing and the professional field with my favourites , there are many lessons learnt . Kona continues to throw up stories after each race. The tragic , the unbelievable and the truly heroic.

It is a long hard day like any Ironman race, just more so for the fact getting back there may be near impossible for the majority.

Lessons that I take away watching from a distance.

Believe in Yourself
I have seen what can be achieved and even triathletes from my town can be World Champions.

Mark Allen said to me a few years ago at the Kona after party ‘All you need is confidence.’ It’s one thing to know you’ve done the training and another to have done all the training and have done really well. So those two races at the end of last year allowed me to actually believe I can do it at every Ironman I race.
         Leanda cave

Be prepared /Anything can Happen

Any thing and everything can and will happen. Life isn't perfect and neither is the race. learning to adapt is probably the strongest suite of great athletes.

Learn from others

Scott Rigsby's 5 key steps to achieving the unthinkable The Riddle of the Ironman

Experience Matters
With experience comes knowledge and the ability to cope.
 All competitions – and even training sessions – are opportunities for learning. That’s part of the reason we encourage athletes to stick it out and finish races even when they face adversity or are far off their goal paces. There’s certainly a time when athletes need to stop to preserve their health and safety, but when it’s just a not-so-great day there’s a lot you can learn about yourself and about your perseverance by staying in the race. Those lessons will help you out in the future.By Lindsay Hyman Carmichael training Systems
Have a Goal and chase it
Races are determined not only by the physical ability of the individual but the mental preparation and desire. having a goal and remaining on song is so vital.

Embrace the Suck

As Macca said in his book , that is what it is all about , conquering demons in your head and facing them squarely .

If I can distill the energy and the desire and talent that flows in Kona in race week , it will make a  powerful potion . I may not have all the answers and may not be racing Kona but it is still a magical Never Never land where dreams can come true. In the mean time it remains the Mecca for the devoted waiting for the ticket to make that pilgrimage.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The New Status Symbol


As I was trolling around the web , I came across an article :


These days if you're looking for cachet, you'd better be willing to swim, bike, and run for it. By Simon Dumen

Chances are you've been there: a dinner party where you get stuck sitting next to a lawyer who has nothing to say about the law—but won't shut up about Chamois Butt'r cream and the wonders of his triathlon ladder workout. 

More subtly than, say, whipping out the keys to his Bugatti, a certain sort of image-conscious striver makes the distinction clear: Prestige comes with being an athletic triple threat.

I am not sure it is. I recall cycling was the new golf in the corporate world and I know lots of professional types into cycling but sadly I can count the number of colleagues or acquaintances I know ( outside my social group of triathlete friends) who  have done a triathlon.

It still seems a fringe activity. Sure the Corporate BRW Triathlon has grown and  as everyone in Australia and possible the USA knows , Triathlon has become more popular. The USA Triathlon membership is now at 150000 ( USAT membership demographics ) Triathlon Australia has 12,000 members and 180 affiliated clubs .Races sell out and  it just seems more crowded at races. But is it a Status Symbol ?I am not so sure. I certainly stumbled into triathlon and got the buzz from finishing my first race , overweight and slow and scared but exhilarated at finishing.

It seems if it is the new Status Symbol ,it seems a lot of effort and pain for a Status symbol especially if you don't enjoy it or get it .

in a more recent piece in the Wall street Journal , Mr Alex Stubb , Minister for European affairs and foreign trade of Finland and a self-described "multi sport fanatic was featured and described the sport as:
"Triathlon is the new Harley-Davidson of middle-aged men like myself. Instead of leather, we're getting into Lycra,"
How A Diplomatic Finn Trains For A Triathlon by Frances Robinson (WSJ)

That is probably a more  apt description of the sport. 

I have been to the extremes of the training cycles and speak with some authority , if you don't enjoy the training you aren't going to last because there is a fair bit needed with 3 disciplines and it does suck if you don't improve. Whilst  Chrissie Wellingtons was at the apex of the sport she decided to have a break:
One of the reasons I felt I needed to take a break from full time training and racing, was that I felt I had lost a bit of the love. Instead of feeling like I wanted to ride my bike, I felt I ‘had’ to ride my bike. Instead of wanting to go out and power up a hill, I felt I ‘had’ to power up a hill. It is a subtle, but important distinction. Sport had become incredibly ‘structured’. I was obsessed with the minutiae: accounting for every second, every calorie, every breath, every repeat, every rest interval, every wobbly single leg squat. I wasn’t even seeing the scenery, hearing the birds, or chatting to my friends. And I sweated the small stuff … the really small stuff that I wouldn’t have given a thought to when I first started. What tyres are faster? What depth rims on my wheels? What pedals are best? Is someone else using go-faster drinks bottles? How many vents does my helmet have? What colour should my laces be? Is my rear hydration system floppy or aero?

Chrissie Wellington - Stripping Down

There are days and weeks when  I have had the same feelings . It effects us all especially if you are working and have a family and  other commitments . It all gets too much and that's when the fun is gone. I have had to readjust and re calibrate to rediscover what it is that is fun and enjoyable and why I still love the sport. As they say ...." Too Much Of A Good Thing....".  If only I had taken up Stamp collecting .

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Triathlon Culture


Culture (Latin: cultura, lit. "cultivation")[1] is a modern concept based on a term first used in classical antiquity by the Roman orator, Cicero: "cultura animi". The term "culture" appeared first in its current sense in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, to connote a process of cultivation or improvement, as in agriculture or horticulture. In the 19th century, the term developed to refer first to the betterment or refinement of the individual, especially through education, and then to the fulfillment of national aspirations or ideals. In the mid-19th century, some scientists used the term "culture" to refer to a universal human capacity. For the German nonpositivist sociologist Georg Simmel, culture referred to "the cultivation of individuals through the agency of external forms which have been objectified in the course of history".[2]


The triathlete is now a fast growing and readily recognized but diverse group of people. Still not so large it is a mainstream sport but what it lacks in popular sports culture it makes up with a core of dedication that will rival the religious jihadist .As Crowie says in the video clip it is dominated by Type A people so much so that if they were told if you eat 20 jellybeans you will go faster , lots will do it. Pure stupidity or unquestioning search for improvement.

The Triathlon culture is out there in the community , a group of like minded individuals who seem to embrace a complete lifestyle with a unique language and dress code. No different to the Amish . 

To some it borders on obsessive and extreme behaviour but no different to your ardent train or plane enthusiast or AFL Footy supporter . We thrive in the collective of our ideas and shared values. Sometimes it is ridiculous and sometimes very country or regional centric with the speedo issue the butt of ribbing in Kona each year with many Europeans walking around in speedo's which has launched the underpants run in Kona.

Tattoos are another reasonable sub group in the Triathlon Culture. IM is one of a handful of Brands on skin.It shows the depth and commitment of the following to Ironman a large subset of the Triathlon Culture. I haven't see Coke or Pepsi on any one's skin yet.

And yet for all the compulsiveness that seems to exude in this sport , it is for a lack of a better word , probably better to be in this culture mix of swim , bike and run then any other . Sure at the the extreme end , Ironman racing ,  it takes its toll on the body and literary shaves cells from your heart tissue , but it beats being a couch potato .

It transcends all ages . With the World Ironman Championship next weekend , there will be the usual  celebration of the many and especially the masters such as Theo Carroll at age 68 .Not quite the oldest but still as inspiring ( Preparing for her 7th Ironman .By Billy Cox Herald- Tribune)

I for one admit I am in this small but growing group of  Lycra wearing athletes .

Getting back into the Swing

Sunday Morning Sorrento beach

This week started out with great weather and a public Holiday .

Exceed were swimming at Sorento at 8 am .I decided to do my run .Got out at 7am and it was hard.I did get warmed up and started a block of 40minutes at Marathon pace after the first 2 easy kilometres. It was hard going but managed to keep the pace at about 5.20 minutes per kilometre. I then had a 6 -8 minute break and did the second block of 40 minutes .The first 3kms were good but I then started to tire and struggle.main reason no fluids and carbohydrates.I was really struggling .Silly mistake to think I could do a 2 hours run without any energy or fluids. I managed to find a tap in the Park and struggled on but with no food after 1hr 20 minutes I just had to struggle and finish the run. I had two stops and then ran slowly back home.Did 20.5km in 2 hours.

Tuesday , I had 1.5 hrs hard at Nedlands. I was out there just after 5.30 which meant a 4.30 start  from home to the Office and then riding out to Nedlands.  Claire and Ruari were just starting out and overtook me and we did a lap before  the main Exceed group were starting out.I managed 4 and a bit laps in the 1.5 hours and rode for just over 2 hours. Definite improvement but still fair way behind from my 2010/11 fitness.  In the evening , I had run training and Ross was back . Good to have a coach back to talk to. I did a 3km warm up and then 2km , 2 x 1km at threshold and 4 x 400m fast.Cool down was a further 2.5km . That made for a long day and very tired legs.

Wednesday , up early again for swim training. 700m warm up and then 3 x600m at medium , sub threshold and medium. I tagged behind Glenda and managed the session .The left arm was still weak and makes for an awkward stroke. Finished off with 200m Cool down .Total 2700m.

In the evening , I had work so I did my bike session at Kings Park in the late afternoon . It was overcast and there was a slight drizzle. It was hill repeats for 1 hour with a warm up and cool down for a total of 1.12. A couple of cyclist were sprinting up the incline making my efforts look pretty weak. It was a relatively good location to do hill repeats with the whole city skyline as a view .One of the better work out locations .

Thursday: Another , early start , getting to the office and then riding out to Nedlands.It was a brick session. i started out before the main pack and I did a lap of Nedlands circuit and a 2km run followed by another circuit ( about 10km ) and then a 2km run. the second run leg was hard . My throat was tickling and I kept coughing to the point of dry retching which made running hard. it was a hard session .

In the evening , had a 50 minute easy slow run .My legs did not thank me.

Friday : I made it . Morning swim was a 500m warm up and then 300m threshold , 500m medium , 300m threshold , 500m medium and 300m threshold with a 300m cool down with 200m kick. A total of 2.7km.

Saturday : A late start at 6.10am and it was a little chilly and the wind was getting up a bit. I had my usual Hills ride of 5 hours . There were 2 groups of cyclist at the start and they passed me pretty quick till Darlington Road when I rode passed them as they waited for stragglers. The wind was pretty hard in the hills especially whilst trying to climb .I Did not see a cyclist again till Mundaring Weir Road . As I climbed up to Kalamunda I caught 3 cyclist a guy and 2 girls and managed to pass them , a first for me before they caught up just as we reached Kalamunda. I had a short stop at the petrol station and got a chocolate Bar , not exactly nutrition but just needed it. Then rode the loop at Pickering Brook before climbing Mundaring Weir Road again . Coming down from Kalamunda is always fun with cars whizzing by as I sped down at 60 kph. I had a tail wind on the home stretch and that helped. i ran off the bike for 35 minutes and it was hot .

Sunday was a rest day but I was meaning on doing a swim at Sorrento . With the rain decided to skip it .Did make it for Yoga though.


Part of the series of videos in the lead up to KONA. I am not including all of them but the ones that I find helpful and useful.

I enjoy the comments from the pros about the strength needed to do an Ironman  .It is mainly mental and even for me building the engine needed does come down to the mental capacity to put in the hours to build that capacity.

Whilst it is not the best of years particularly since Busselton 2011 , it does help to have small victories and to keep trying. Unfortunately with the pull from work commitments being significant this year the mental capacity to absorb the training work load has suffered somewhat. I see the year as a recovery year but it is heart warming to know even the best have set backs from time to time.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


The counter point to pressure is weightlessness , a complete freedom , ease ,  What a joy .

Each day I am under work and the general pressure of life. It is no greater or less than my friends in their jobs or in their daily lives. How we cope with it is the decisive question. Extremes of either end is never good. We need some stress in our lives and we need some peace . Getting  the balance right is the hard task . I envy some of the lifestyles of my friends and yet I chose to take on the life I have and the responsibility and the task. With it I learn to live with that pressure and learn to cope.

It is interesting how everyone deals with pressure and how over time we learn or can learn to adapt. I read a recent piece on triathlete magazine website on Crowie. In 2002 he was as the article describes:

 In one of Alexander’s first races for the team, Escape from Alcatraz, Vatterott watched uneasily as his new athlete was tagged early on with a drafting penalty.
“He refused to pull over for the official,” Vatterott says, describing how Alexander road-raged all the way into T2. “He was like a rabid dog.”
An image of Alexander unraveling into a tantrum doesn’t square with today’s image of the obsessively methodical and supremely consistent champion we have come to know over the past six years.
The Game Face of Crowie

He has certainly come far and has learnt to have that inner control and direct that energy in a positive way .

The difference between real life and racing is that unless you are a professional Triathlete  , all that occurs is you just don't fulfill your true potential. It doesn't happen at every race but there is always the next race and we move on . With life the ripples go further and there is really only one race , one life.