September 2008

Smile And Wave

For a guy who was born in 1959, the concept of visualising my sports performance prior to an event seems more than a little odd to me. It’s all so new age. In the context of me competing in IronMan ‘09, visualisation means mentally placing myself at various places on the route and in my mind’s eye producing a stellar performance on the day. I tried it, and let me tell you it doesn’t work. It’s possible that my mind may be faulty.

The whole visualisation experience was so unnerving I had to have a bit of a lie-down and a cup of tea afterwards. In the swim I was stung by a jellyfish, 160 km into the cycle I ran over a stray dog and was left fending for her six little puppies and all of the feed stations on the run were manned by cloned version of my coach wielding big whips and shouting ‘hurry up my boy , I’m tired and want to go to bed’. Imagination is a terrible thing.

Back in the real world, I discovered a secret that actually works. Smiling.

On heritage day we went for a ride from Tokai to Cape Point. All went well until we reached Glencairn when the mother of all rain storms hit us. Most people would have ducked into the nearest bus stop or coffee shop to wait it out. Not our lot. On no, we just carried on riding into the ever growing murk. After 5 minutes I had to take off my cycling glasses as they were so covered in road muck I was riding blind and a serious danger to pedestrians. I was as soggy as an otters arse and my feet were numb from the cold. (Snow was still visible on the mountain tops across the bay). It was so cold that I even had an ice cream headache from the wind chill.

And that’s when I discovered smiling. And laughing. I waved at passing motorists. I smiled at them at traffic lights and I laughed out loud at the insanity of it all. Before I realised it we were already at Cape Point and ready to turn around. This, in theory, was to be the point where the ride got better, as the wind would now be behind us. Except that nobody told the wind, which remained resolutely in our faces.

There is a reason that Nature is female. Mother nature is a typical woman. Mostly insane and often vindictive. When I was a child living in Wales my mother would send me outside to play in waist deep snow because ‘the fresh air will do you good’. Of course, it didn’t, it just made me miserable and cold. Not half as miserable as her though, because usually 9 Months after I was turfed out into the arctic wastelands she would produce another little brother or sister for me.

It took me 40 years to work out what she was up to. If I had only been born 30 years later I would have been given a games console and left to my own devices, rather than being freeze frozen in deepest Wales and that would have been no preparation for IronMan training at all.

Thanks, Mum.

Herding Cats

I am now five Months into my IronMan training and it is not uncommon at this stage of the training schedule for a lot of athletes who want to do IM to drop out, as the sheer amount of work and time that has to be invested becomes a reality. I have solved the problem by adding more events to my schedule. More events equals more determination.

Next year will see me tackling the Total Sports Challenge in January (2 man team), Sani2C in March, IronMan in April and lastly, X-Terra Grabouw two weeks later. Bring it on. I am working on the principle that TSC and Sani2C will be good training for IronMan. I hope I’m correct. Turning 50 is going to be memorable. And expensive. The entry fee for Sani2C alone is R6450.00, and we still have to get to Natal and back.

At our Tuesday training session this week we did something different. Track training. After a 20 min warm up run in the forest we started the track session by doing kick drills with our legs while running behind Claire who was demonstrating how we should be doing them. Well, that was the plan. However, behind her was a bunch of fully grown men who were performing tribal war dances, improvisational dance and pretending to drive stock cars around the track. And of course being men, the conversation was inevitably ribald and involved ‘equipment’. It must have been like trying to herd tom cats in a strip club for poor Claire.

Her revenge was very sweet when she hauled her next bag of tricks out of her training hat. We had to do 4 x 1 km sprint repeats at 4min 50sec / km with 2-minute breaks in between. The fast guys had to do 6 x 3min 50 seconds per km. On a soft grass track. I’m glad I’m not at big school yet.

After the sprint session, we were subjected to squats and lunges and this part was conducted by coach number 2, Kent Horner. Anyone who has read a local running/cycling/multisport magazine recently will have seen a photo of Kent ‘world class Tri-athlete’ featured in the USN adverts. Now I know Kent, and he is a first class bloke, but I mostly read these magazines while perched on the loo, and it’s hard for a chap to concentrate on the job at hand with Kent staring at you from page 3. It’s doubly hard to even sit down now, having had him turn my legs into a palsied mush of stiff muscles with his training.

Suffice to say that next time us guys will all be listening to and obeying Claire because while I don’t speak for the others in the group, I personally could hardly walk after Kent had finished with us. Two days later and it still hurts to sit. You too can suffer with us at

The Spring Is Sprung

Thanks to the miracle fingers of Benita De Witt my ITB injury is gone and my injuries are a (no doubt temporary) thing of the past. My mother once told me that you don’t appreciate good health until you are sick. How right she was. Mind you I didn’t appreciate sticky peanut butter until I met a Khoisan who wouldn’t shut up. (Don’t make me explain it).

Anyway, my training is ramping back up as we head towards summer, the spring is sprung, the grass needs mowing and love is no doubt firmly in midair. Last Saturday dawned unusually bright and sunny, if a little cold, so in celebration I dragged my body out of bed for an early morning ride with the friendly folk from City Cycling Club in Cape Town.

Meeting up just 2 km’s from my house we set off on a glorious ride through the Waterfront and around the coast into Camps Bay and then up to the top of Suikerbossie. The company as always was superb and the scenery sublime. This is what sport should be all about. Out in the sun, feeling on top of the world and having a fantastic time. I really must make the effort to join City Cycling Club. They are a fun crowd, always welcome non club members on their rides, and have cool club kit.

By the time I got back home I’d only managed to clock up a meager 65 km’s so I changed to my mountain bike as my primary weapon of choice and then it was off to the farm to join my wife who had already been training there for an hour or so. Shock, horror!! The woman has become a beast on a mountain bike. On one downhill eroded section she totally blitzed me, taking almost a minute out of me over 2 km’s. The only common factor is the training of Ms Claire Kinsley who refuses point blank to take bribes to give the missus bad training advise. If anyone sees a mad flying Hungarian on a new MTB, it’s my wife. Stand well back.

Two more hours, and 35 km’s on the dirt bike later, the morning training was over. A shower and lunch saw me ready for the afternoon’s 1.5km swim at the local gym, which sailed by (the swim not the gym, it had stopped raining by then).  Swimming is becoming much easier but my elbows ache. Can you get swimmers elbow?

IronMan training is every bit as time consuming as everybody has said it would be. On any one day I will be doing a combination of early morning swims, late night runs or indoor trainer sessions and it is only the prospect of warmer days ahead that is keeping me motivated. I can’t wait for the sun to go down late enough for me to safely do a 3 hour ride after work, or to run in the hills without stumbling off a cliff in the dark. Never have I so looked forward to summer.

Tonight I ride home from work and then ride back in tomorrow morning. If you see a cold, windswept cyclist on a mountain bike battling into the South Easter around the Pinelands/Thornton area, give me a wave.