December 2008

One Down

My first triathlon is under the belt and I chose a real belter to start with. Temperatures were in the high 30’s during the run and it is a miracle that so many people even finished it.

Swim, Bike Run, done.

Allow me to throw in a random idea here. Has anyone ever thought that as this is Africa and our Tri season is in summer, that we should look at having the swim as the last event not the first. Or do them in winter. Just asking.

Anyway, everyone was very friendly and helpful and no one gave me any weird looks because I was the new boy on the block. Probably no one knew or even cared, but I still had that first day at school feeling. Triathlon is a lot like mountain biking in that regard. Everyone greets you and all are welcome to join the brotherhood. Unless you are swimming that is, because then everyone is fair game and you are the mortal enemy. Triathlon swimming etiquette has all the finesse of a porta-potty that’s been dropped out of a plane onto your head.

After the race I was packing away my stuff and found a Nike running cap that doesn’t belong to me in my transition area. Not wishing to create bad karma I handed it in to the organisers. Karma thanked me very kindly about 10 minutes later when I misplaced my Garmin cycle computer/GPS which has never been seen again. If anyone finds a lonely Garmin Edge 305 it belongs to me.

Enough waffling, where am I with IronMan?

    • My accommodation in PE is organised and paid for.
    • My entry has been made and paid for.
    • Wetsuit is paid for.
    • Tri Bike is paid for.
    • My coach is coaching me and paid for. (In her case I have to give her back to Kent afterwards, everything else I get to keep).
    • New running shoes are paid for. I’ll need new ones by January.

Does anyone else see a pattern here. Seriously, it would be cheaper to raise kids than to do IronMan.

Commitment to IM takes many forms. Financially it is almost as painful on the wallet as the physical side of it is on the body. Yet it doesn’t seem to matter. Most nights I’m too tired to lay awake worrying about the expense anyway.

Admittedly I didn’t ‘have’ to buy a Tri Bike (but it’s soooo cool) or pay a coach, but I need this thing to go as smoothly as possible and that’s the best way to do it. I estimate that by the time I’m done I will have invested almost R25k on a 17 hour race. That’s right, 25 chest thumping, howling gorillas. That’s almost as insane as swimming/cycling/running an IronMan.

The biggest investment however has been in my health, and that includes both the physical and mental side of it. I am now so much stronger on both counts than I was in May when this all started.

In those terms I reckon any amount of money I have spent is nothing short of a bargain.

Ironman a Go Go

detest gardening, and just because I’m me, and for no other reason, I appear to have picked the worst piece of ground to embark on my first attempt at growing something outside. Bearing in mind that my garden is huge, this is quite a feat in itself.

Result so far.

I have become a standing joke in my street as my neighbours, plus various family members… now take great pleasure in telling me that they never knew I was into extreme gardening.

Well just for the record, neither did I!

I’ve been wrestling with a palm tree, and the sod thorned me right in the temple. My arms look like a teenage Goth’s cry for help, and my dustbin looks like it’s swallowed a triffid. Goodness knows how Keith Kirsten manages to stay sane.

Still, at least I can forget about it for another year. I finally have an easy care garden (now sans dead cat), that is all gravel and woodchip, with plants being restricted to planters.

IronMan in comparison to gardening should be a doddle.

This Sunday marks a big day in the Chris H IronMan quest. It’s the day of my first Triathlon event ever. (Or ‘Eva’ as the hip kids would say).

I’m feeling pretty upbeat and comfortable about it even though my legs are a mess of stiff muscles thanks to Kent’s track/lunge training on Tuesday night. I’ve done a couple of Duathlons already but never had the pleasure of swimming in the washing machine.

My swim on Monday night was a great confidence booster though, my bike is clean and oiled and my running shoes still have plenty of life left in them. So I’m sitting here like a tightly coiled sponge waiting for the big day to arrive.

Something Has To Go

For a while now I have been trying to work out how to improve my athletic performance. I was concerned that my training didn’t appear to be giving me the huge performance return I was expecting on the time I have invested. As usual I had it all wrong, but just how wrong was a revelation.

I have been looking at what I could lose to make a gain. The obvious first ports of call were body mass and age. Well my age is what it is and can’t be changed. My weight is healthy and very unlikely to drop by more than a kilogram between now and IronMan. So what else is there.

How about losing my mental limitations. Bingo! I had a self imposed glass ceiling that was keeping me back.

My first indication of my mental barrier was on the recent 200km long Double century cycle race. Prior to the event there was a great wailing and gnashing of teeth at the prospect of riding up the dreaded Op De Tradouw Pass. Luckily I didn’t look at a route profile or take note of exactly how long or high the pass is before the event because when we got to the pass I just rode up it. Expecting it to be far harder and longer than it felt, I was amazed to see all the support cars just ahead of me. I was already at the top. Easy Peesy, but how could it be.

It’s very simple really. I have been training like a maniac but not pushing myself to my unknown new limits. For years I have performed at a speed that is comfortable to me, and I have been content to continue operating at that level. What I hadn’t realised until I rode up the Tradouw Pass is that my thresholds have shot upwards and I haven’t been taking advantage if it.

I tried it out in the pool as well. When I started swimming in May, the best I could manage was 2.5kph yet now, armed with no self imposed limitations I can cruise along at 3kph. Last night in our pool session, I overtook people for the first time ever. I even lapped one swimmer. On my mountain bike, instead of spinning out at a super high cadence I use the power in my quads to muscle through short technical sections. And I can run at 11.5kph instead of 10. It is so easy.