Sunday, January 27, 2013

Moving On

Watching the Fireworks on Australia Day Perth

After a relatively easy week , this week has been a jolt to reality. There isn't a really easy plan . I am just managing to do enough to survive an Ironman race.

I had Sunday off and on Monday did my easy run at Lunch time with the temperature in the 30s C . It was warm but not bad. .I ran easy and did 9km .In the evening it was a swim session with 2.4km and the main set was 10 x 200m at various pace. I feel a lot better with the swim and my left arm.I did a 1/2 hour session in the gym to strengthen my arm and some core work so the legs were a little sore.

Tuesday , I skipped the morning session ,I was just tired. I did my run session in the evening.It was warm and after the 3km warm up we did some exercises and then 10 x 500m at different paces. It was a hard session on the grass. I did another 2.5km cool down for about 11km in total.

Wednesday , I swam in the evening and also did a 1.10 session on the bike doing hill repeats in Yokine.It was boring and a relatively short climb about 2-3 minutes so I did lots of it.

Thursday , the Exceed group had a brick session so there was just Mal and me doing efforts around Nedlands. It was 6 x 10minute efforts and 5 minutes easy. I saw and waved to Kate Bevilaqua who was just coming back to her car after having swum in the river.She was at the far end of the loop I was doing.

It was a slowish session in comparison to my capacity but it was a start. I at least finished the session .
 In the evening I had my long run and it was extremely windy along the river and still warm. I had a 2 hour run , my legs were just sore and I was not looking forward to running . But it was a necessity if I am to get through the race. I now only have one speed . Slow . I started off just trying to get through the first hour. I only had water at the 2.5km and 12 km mark .For the first hour the wind was a headwind and it made running pretty tough. The run back was better but the legs were hurting.My heart rate never really went up and I was glad to have finished be it a slow 17km . Friday was a recovery day. I swam in the evening .It was a relatively easy session .500m warm up with breast and backstroke thrown in , 300m of drills with some dog paddles and sculling sets and the main set was 200m fast , 100m easy and 50 fast and 50 at threshold x 3 .Lane one didn't finish the set and we all did some racing side by side I left early having done 2km .

On Saturday , it was a ride round the river as the alternate to a 150km ride. I rode down to the narrows and started with the Club. Got dropped at Cottesloe and even though there was a group of club riders at Point Walter , I never quite could hang on to them so I was on my own for most of the ride. I was just slow. I rode back into the city and the usual coffee shop was closed. I rode back home the long way round the river and did about 95km .The legs were just too sore to run off the bike . The rest of the week was just recovering from a hard ride and Thursdays session.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Happy Australia Day 2013

Australia Day Fireworks

Today is Australia Day .For many its just another Saturday and a long weekend with a public Holiday on Monday .

Other than my Saturday ride which was a hard one given my level of fitness at the moment , my usual Australia Day celebration in recent years have been doing a Triathlon .The Point Walter Triathlon which is a classic for the hilly ride and the swim in the river.It was with fear I approached it in 2007 but I must say it was a different and unique experience celebrating the Day racing. In more recent years I have given it a miss keeping to a rigid program aimed at an event I was preparing for .

Today was no different and the roads seemed a lot quieter as I came into the city with small pockets of people gathering for vantage spots for the Australia Day Fireworks . I had got dropped by the main club group as expected and struggled .i was sore from my ride /run session on Thursday and the quads were hurting.In addition I had no nutrition as I am trying to drop weight as quickly as possible. so the body was really feeling it today.As I just languished after the ride recovering , I watched Clive James Speech to the Canberra press gallery in 2003. if anything Clive James is a great entertainer and wordsmith.his insights into many subjects entertaining and breathtaking in depth but he is without a doubt an Australian and despite 40 years of living in the UK , a great admirer probably to the degree of being jingoistic about his love of Australia.

So what does it mean. For one in 2013 , I think it is a time to reflect .If anything Australia for lack of a more used term a Lucky country for those who live here.Possibly not always recognising the fact. It had the luck of the location and the resources but also the foresight to have institutions that work possibly not perfect all the time .a democratic government and stable government despite what we read in the news papers. A policy of multiculturalism that has been in existence for 40 plus years and has definitely made life here richer for it .

In my little microcosm of life this is reflected in the diversity of members in the club and the people I come across at work and at play.

It is a tribute to the combination of luck and good policy that Australia is what it is . It is a reflection of what is possible when tolerance is the norm .Where "fair Go " does mean something. There is also a warning , it is easy to shatter the success quickly with strife and extreme views within groups. Something we all have to guard against .There will always be racist and intolerant people about .The sad reality is the Australia of the next generation is shaped today and inculcating these values will provide for a richer country . The young Australian of the year 2013 is an example of this great diversity and where the majority continues to stand up for what is good and decent will triumph all that is negative about the world and will make for an  Australia always punching above its weight limit :

ASHLEY HALL: Now that story that you're talking about involves coming to Australia as a refugee from Afghanistan in 1999. So far you've generally avoided commenting on the politics around asylum seekers. That will be a bit harder now that you've been named Young Australian Of The Year, don't you think?

AKRAM AZIMI: Not necessarily. I'm still the same Akram I was before, and although my background has shaped who I am, it's not a defining feature. You know, there is so much else to me: I'm about to become a common law trained lawyer, I'm an anthropologist, I'm a human biologist, I'm a son, I'm a brother.

There is so much more to me than just this one aspect, and I'm not really one of those political people, I don't particularly like confrontation. And for me, all I can go by is my very personal experiences of Australia, which is a country of the most generous, welcoming people I've ever met. The kind of people who, when they find that your house is empty, would happily give you their furniture so you can actually have a dining table.

That's been my experience of Australia.

ASHLEY HALL: Young Australian of the Year, Akram Azimi.
( Taken from ABC AM Program )

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Back to training

From the Wellsphere Website

I am back and recovered from my bout of flu.I have started back training .Not easy especially getting back into riding.

The week started with an easy run for an hour and then swim session .On Tuesday , a90 minute hard session at Nedlands whilst everyone had a ride round the river. I was OK for the first 2 laps but  soon I was struggling , lots of riders were out and about. It was a 5 am start and I had all up about 2.15 hr on the bike. The only other Exceed riders were Katy and Michelle who passed me about an hour into the ride. I could not jump onto their back wheel. I was just toast by then. Rode about 63km and the legs hurt. In the evening we had intervals at Yokine reserve .I had a 2km warm up and then 4 x 400m at interval pace and then 3 x 800m at threshold and then 400 x 4 at interval but by then I was rapidly slowing and wilting with the heat and humidity.

Wednesday was just swim training and the legs were really hurting. I skipped Thursdays training and just needed to rest the sore legs. Friday I did my swim training. Unfortunately Saturday was a bit f a disaster. i started out to ride in the hills but had a puncture and broke my left cleat.Ended up doing very little in the end as I limped home.

I am hoping with 6 weeks to go , I can put in a few more consistent efforts or it is going to be a bit of a slog in march.

At this point it is a lot easier to be discussing and reading about Lance then training . Such is the life of a triathlete , the Training is not an optional choice but an unfortunate necessity .

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Don't cross the Line (Part 2)

The man who almost fooled the world: Lance Armstrong was disqualified from all his Tour de France results since August 1998 for using and distributing performance-enhancing drugs and was banned from professional cycling for life. Source: AFP Picture from herald Sun article

David commented on the journey and the toll it took.:

To say the last few years were stressful would be an understatement. The financial uncertainties were a stress I had to deal with. At times, I was at a complete loss at how to balance pushing for the truth yet trying to maintain my place in cycling.
BUT right now, in this cafe off the M25, I feel no joy at Pat McQuaid's volte-face over USADA and Armstrong.
Somebody once said that fate is the thing you meet on the road you took to avoid fate. Oddly, today should have been the 30th birthday of our son John, killed on his bicycle 17 years ago.
The thing about the Armstrong scandal was that, even in 1999, the year of his first victory, you didn't need to be Woodward or Bernstein to get it. On the afternoon the American delivered his first great performance in the Alps, the stage to Sestriere, many journalists in the salle de presse laughed at the ease with which Armstrong ascended.
He climbed with the nonchalance of the well doped.
And now on this day, as I sit in this cafe, Armstrong has finally gone down: 22 October, John's birthday.
I ring Betsy, in whose slipstream I have travelled for almost 10 years.
I tell her it's John's birthday and, though she's far away in Michigan,
I can feel her sadness. "It's his birthday," she says in a whisper. "This is his little gift to you."
It's a nice thought.
The story does not end as Lance is about to give Oprah an interview and there are civil actions on the horizon to claw back some of the monies he has received including the bonuses paid by the insurance company SCA ( SCA Promotions demands that Armstrong return $12 million in bonus earnings )

There is sympathy for Lance who many regard the best cyclist in the world .But for all his prowess on the bike and for that matter as a great Triathlete,  I don't think you can be great if you cheated even if the excuse is everyone else did it. That is unfortunately where character in the pressured world of professional sports determines what we are all made of. It is similar to breaching the 12 metre drafting rule because everyone  does it. Can we be true to the sport and the rules .Well for an amateur it probably is easier .There is no money or livelihood at stake.But even in the amateur world of triathlon there is some doubt . The need , the desire to win drives some to cut corners. Sadly EPO and steroids use has it dangers . There have been several deaths in the past 20 years in cycling linked to EPO and steroid use. Is it worth it . In the cold stark light of day , obviously not.

What the book reveals , there were many who did question and did stand up and make a stand . Walsh speaks of  Christophe Bason , a professional cyclist in 1999 who spoke about doping in cycling and who was shunned by his own team mates and attacked by Lance .Walsh thought how could you be anti Bason and anti doping at the same time ...that was the defining moment for Walsh on Lance.

I came across an article written by Jonathan Veulters , Lances team mate on the US Postal Team and Garmin team manager ....Crossing the Line and written in 1999 and republished recently on Cycle Sport online. It now all makes sense. we all cross the line but maybe if there is anything to be learnt in sport , is we really shouldn't and there is and never should be a blurring of the line.

Don't cross the Line (part1)

The tainted US Postal Service team leader Lance Armstrong (third from right) framed by his teammates as the pack rides during the second stage of the Tour de France cycling race in 2004. Source: AP From the article in the Herald Sun

I have had a break of a month and return to take the plunge back into training .

During the break , I had time to read lots and whilst I have commented that social media has been both good and bad in that the commentary by all on everything has been instantaneous I have taken a cautious approach to commenting (not that I have a huge readership) But the Lance phenomenon has and is relevant in so far that he started out a triathlete and was on the threshold of racing Kona when USADA published its findings in October 2012.

I had the opportunity to read David Walsh (Interview with David Walsh ) book The seven deadly Sins about his investigation of Lance Armstrong over the past 13 years . ( see Article in the Herald Sun on David and the Book)

It was riveting for the amount of information that was available even from 1999 and yet the majority of the world and the cycling community were oblivious to the extent of drug use or chose to bury their heads . Walsh comments on suspicions he had and how he could no longer turn a blind eye .he wrote a piece following lance's first TDF win which questioned that win and drew for the next 10 years the spite and vitriolic comment from the Lance camp against him .Lance even had a nickname for Walsh ..." the troll ".

David states in the interview in the Sun Herald article:
THE reason I was able to keep reporting the Armstrong story was enough people cared about the truth. They spoke to me on and off the record. Exactly one week before Christmas Day in 2003, I sat with Jonathan Vaughters at a table in a Denver restaurant and he told me how riders were now micro-dosing EPO and how easily they were beating the new test. 

Walsh co wrote L.A. Confidentiel in 2004 but it was only published in French . British Libel laws made it impossible to publish the book and by and large the English reading public never knew.Most papers were not prepared to publish extracts for fear of a defamation action.Actually Lance sued the Sunday Times and the matter was settled with Lance getting 300,000 pounds and a further 300,000 pounds in cost. At present , the Sunday Times is pursuing the recovery of the settlement and interest.

The impression from reading the book is that it was a tremendously stressful period of uncertainty , legal action and some degree of being ostracised by some of the cycling journalist . Davis also lost his love and innocence of the love for cycling and the TDF . It was the dark swirling mess of doping and winning at all cost that sullied the pure romance of these modern day warriors putting everything on the line day after day on the Tour . The book was a parade of characters that were more bizarre than fiction . There was the management that surrounded Lance and , the legal might and no doubt the infamous Dr Ferrari . All played a part . Ultimately what unraveled was Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis coming forward . That sealed it for Lance .

Last swim In Singapore

Swimming in the Lagoon at Sentosa
The Beach and lagoon at Sunrise

Getting Ready

Whilst they swam I rested recovering from the flu
Belated pictures of my last swim at the Lagoon before heading home last Sunday. It was great to catch up but having had the flu I was struggling and decided not to keep swimming. I had another week back after the trip recovering with no activity as I coughed  the congestion out of my lungs. Hopefully that is the last of a lingering injury and illness 2012 for me .