Thursday, March 31, 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Nexus Sprint Triathlon

The Nexus race was organised by a group of the International schools in and around KL. Its primary focus is to introduce and involve the kids in triathlons. The categories started from the under 7's up to the Open Division.

I entered as I'd like Seb and Sid to have a crack at this race next year (if they want to I hasten to add). We got there early to see the younger kids doing their stuff. I have to say they were amazing. I think I could have held off the under 7yo category in the pool but would have been fairly and squarely beaten by the under 9's. Seeing the kids nut it out round the last 500m of the school playing field was as inspiring for me as watching any pro race or seeing competitors come down an Ironman finish chute.

The open category didn't kick off until almost noon, it was piping hot to say the least. One of the reasons I'd entered was because I'd seen Damian Baynes, Mark Firth, Neil Smith and Mark Williams had all registered. As it turned out they all pulled out for one reason or another. So I started the swim with Ezer and the top Malaysian Juniors. I got well and truly got spanked over the 400m swim. The three juniors were long gone by the time Ezer and I dragged ourselves out the pool.

Onto the bike and the chase was on. Soon after the start I took a wrong turning and had to stop dead and come back - I really didn't enjoy that. At the end of the first lap I caught two of the youngsters up and sat on their tails for a k or so until there was a slight uphill and nice open road. I gave Gladys' pedals a little tickle and I was off. Fortunately they reacted too late and I was soon bearing down on Ricky (well known for his formidable swimming prowess). Dropped him too and now it was a case of trying to put enough time between me and them to avoid the little racing snakes zooming past me on the run.

I came into T2 far too fast and ended up with one shoe off and one on. What a twazzock!!! Took the shoe off (with a little too much swearing with the amount of kids spectating - oops sorry!) and off onto the run. Marcus (one of the teachers, organisers and competitors) told me that the run course was undulating and due to the distance (5k) and heat might prove to be challenging for some of the competitors. (I just reread the course description and it says the run "will be both Challenging and rewarding" haha). As it turned out the first kilometre was flat and then a sharp left hand turn and WHAM, it was the north face of the Eiger!!! I thought the Lake Kenyir Tri was ridiculously steep but this was mental.

I focused on not damaging my Achilles any more than they were (an almost impossible task considering the gradient) and kept the strides short and the cadence as high as was possible with such steep "cliff faces"! I was nicely on the way back when I saw the trio of juniors, they weren't going to catch me so the pressure was off. The last descent back onto the main road was even more mental than the climbs. Falling over was a real concern and the juniors told me later that they made a pact between the three of them to walk down it. Clearly I wasn't that bright and ran down (in a fashion).

Back down the main road, I cheered on everyone on the way out on the run, it was so cool to see so many different kinds of people giving this race a crack. Everyone seemed to be loving it which was great. Round the playing field and down the home straight high-fiving Sebastian and Siddhart along the way (the absolute highpoint of the day).

The boys came up to me later and Sid said "Dad, did you really come first? Or not really?" Haha what do I have to do to impress these little fellas?

At the prize-giving I got the trophy for "1st Place - Boys Open" Haha. I did feel a bit out of place and was a bit embarrassed to find that my "rivals" had all pulled out of the race. The juniors kept me honest though (Alex 2nd and Ricky 3rd) and if they can get their cycling skills close to their swimming skills they're going to be amazing.

So a great day, great fun, I think Sid and Seb got a good idea of what it's all about especially as they saw kids not much older than them doing it. Hopefully I'll be cheering them on next year.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Marathon Des Sables - What are they up to now?

Simon says: - Blimey, and I thought I'd been active. Check out this email update from one of my tent buddies at Marathon Des Sables. He did the race again in 2010 and check out his tattoo, it beats an Ironman M-dot tat any day!


Good to hear from you again. Glad you are well. What are you up to? Are you still racing tri’s? How’re the kids?

The story of my life since we did the MdS in 2006 has been like this. I enjoyed the event so much that when I got back I was determined to try it again. I tried to get in the following years but it was not until 2010 that I could get a place. Being four years older, and consequently slower, I decided not to just fly there like before but to make more of a trip of it and cycle to the start. I met up with a couple of mates and we decided that we would make a tri of it and raise loads of money for charities. We intended to kayak to France from Jersey, cycle through France, Spain and Morocco to Ouarzazate and then do the MdS. We were supported on the cycle by my Land Rover which was equipped for the trip and carried all our clothes, energy foods and drinks, spares as well as giving us somewhere to sleep if we could not find an hotel for the night. In fact we managed to find accommodation every night without too much trouble.

We had three drivers, my eldest daughter from St Malo to Biaritz, my sister from there to Gibraltar and then a guy from Jersey to do the Morocco leg. It all went superbly well and we all had great fun. It was really cold to begin with as it was March but once we were half way through Spain we were in Tee shirts and having a great time. The three countries offered very different experiences and doing this gave me no comparison with 2006.

Unfortunately I developed a bad knee during training for this one and although I went for investigations before I went, I had to do it all with a bad knee as surgery before would not have left me time to train and then compete. I had an operation on the knee in October last year. I gave it six months after the MdS but it was not getting better so I arranged to go to the London knee clinic at the London Bridge Hospital and had it sorted. It was only keyhole surgery and I was out and about the following day and back in Jersey the day after that. It still is not totally right and I have not played squash or ru n since. I miss that but I always said that if my body, or any part of it started to pack up, I would stop whatever it was causing the trouble. Well that is starting to happen and so I will stick to my word.

As the cycling didn’t do my knee any harm, I am now planning to do another bike ride with a friend of mine who I have run with for about twenty years. He is a teacher and is retiring in September this year. He wants to mark his retirement with something memorable and so we have come up with doing a ‘circle of the Mediterranean.’ Starting from Jersey and going through France to Italy, doing the whole length of Italy including Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily. We then plan to cross to Africa and travel along the north coast, (this will depend on the political situation at the time as to which countries we can go to). Once in Morocco we plan to go down the east side through Fez, over the Atlas mountains and then across to Marrakesh and up the coast, returning through Spain and France again. This will be in the Spring of 2012. The trip in 2012 will be unsupported as we plan to be away for about ten to twelve weeks or more. This means that everything we need, will be on our bikes including tents, sleeping bags, tools, spares, clothes etc. That’s a long way in the future at the moment but keeps me thinking and planning.

Apart from that, I am off to Nepal for three weeks on 9th April this year on a JOAC (Jersey Overseas Aid Commission) project to build two classrooms on to an existing school. This type of work is right up my street and I am looking forwards very much to going now. We have done loads of fund raising for the trip and have now got just over £25,000. There will be twelve going, some because they are teachers and want to build links between the students there and those here. Some because they are involved in local charities and have got us a lot of the funds, and then some because of their building skills. We fly there and back to maximize the amount of time we can work.

So, apart from that, I am working hard with what little work there is around in the recession. I only want to do about thirty weeks a year and take the rest of the time off to do my travels and this sometimes makes continuity of work difficult. I will not do the MdS again. Although it was great to have done the toughest and now the longest, (250 km.) the feeling of achievement on the finish line was not the same as the first time. I learnt a lot from the second as well as the first and would do things differently again if I did do it another time. If my knee was better I might, but I don’t want to get to the state of needing a knee replacement and I know several people who have had that done.

Let me know what you are up to. Are you still into triathlons, running, swimming and biking. There is another guy from Jersey who has got into the MdS in 2012, so the waiting list must be a bit smaller now. Probably because they keep hiking the price up as it is so popular.

All the best for now.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Seb and Sid do cabaret

On Sunday afternoon Shilpa and I went to see Seb and Sid perform in their piano class concert. It was quite short but sooo cute. Not sure the boys will be performing with the London Philharmonic Orchestra yet but they've got more chance than their dad, that's for sure.

Terribly sad news

On Sunday news started filtering through of a bike accident that resulted in the death of Yeoh Phee Keong (PK). PK was cycling on the Mex Hwy and was hit from behind by a car.

Many of us ride that same route week in week out, it could have been any one of us. Until now I'd considered this road one of the safest in Malaysia.

My deepest sympathies and condolences go out to PK's family, this is indeed a tragic and deeply saddening loss.

Having been involved in a similar accident that could have also ended my life (I "luckily" got away with four fractured vertebrae) I feel compelled to say that it would be easy for us all to say enough is enough, stay off the roads and ride our trainers in the safety of our own homes or even give up altogether. However, I doubt that is what PK would have wanted, we know that what we do has risks attached but so do many things in life including obesity and being sedentary. I summed up my thoughts at the end of a reflective blog post about my accident in 2006 . In short, we can't wrap ourselves up in cocoon's nor can we do this for our beloved family members. This is not the way to LIVE life.

Of course this doesn't bring back PK but I will say this, I'd wager that that PK lived a life more fulfilled, more complete and happier than the majority of the world who choose to be spectators rather than participators. RIP Yeoh Phee Keong our thoughts are with you

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Japanese Phenomena

(Courtesy of the Nikkei Weekly and "Mohan the Great")

Having just been well and truly beaten by a couple of Japanese triathletes at the recent 70.3 Singapore Half Ironman and with my old friend Iwata-san breathing down my neck in fourth place, I thought I'd dig out this article sent to me by Mohan the Great. It relates to the Japanese and Marathons rather than triathlons or the more topical disasters of recent days but a very interesting read I thought.

Japan has been in the news so much recently with the horrors of the earthquake, resulting tsunami and nuclear catastrophe it makes you wonder what makes these amazing people tick. I don't profess to understand the Japanese but those that I have met I do like very much and without doubt they are a nation and a people that deserve huge respect. They've certainly earned it over the last few weeks in the way they have coped.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ironman 70.3 Singapore

So phase 2 of the trifecta - my attempt to qualify for the three key Triathlon World Championships. Xterra Maui is in the bag after Xterra Philippines two weeks ago, now it was time for the 70.3 Worlds in Las Vegas. The qualifying race of choice was Singapore and of the three events I was most confident about this one.

That was until I saw the entries. It was madness, people had flown in from every part of the known galaxy. I couldn't believe the amount of Europeans, Australians and Kiwi's and the biggest surprise of all was the Japanese contingent, it was phenomenal to see them considering the current devastation in parts of Japan. Even my old friend Iwata-san turned up. So cool.

It looked like there would be two slots in my age-group so I was going to have to have a good race to qualify.

The Swim 44mins55secs
I checked out the water and swam about 500m to warm up. Checked out the current and noted it was a severe left to right flow. So I decided to start to the left, aim left and get swept down to the mark. With almost 200 in my age-group it was important to start well. All went to plan for the first lap although swimming against the current and into the sun was a struggle.

The second lap was OK until I turned towards the shore and despite my knowledge of currents (sailing used to be my principle sport), I still got constantly swept into the rope marking the course - I was so angry with myself but still couldn't adapt sufficiently. Time was lost and together with a kick in the goggles that almost sucked out my left eye I didn't enjoy the last quarter of the swim one little bit.

T1 - 2mins39 secs
The run from the beach to T1 was about 500m, not a problem but longer than normal. Race number on, sunnies on, helmet on and I was away, I felt that it was pretty quick and certainly no mistakes so couldn't have made it any quicker.

BIKE 2hrs13mins54secs
Hello baby! Here I come! Hello Gladys actually, this was the first time I'd raced my new Trek Speed Concept and I was anticipating big things from her. My heart rate was about 10 beats per minute higher than I wanted it to be but this was a 70.3 rather than an Ironman so I gently tried to persuade it down and didn't worry about it too much. My power output was about 250(whatever the units are) but this is all new to me as I'd only used the power meter properly once before and averaged about 192 then. I had anticipated a goal of between 210 and 220. Interestingly the final number was exactly 220. Not sure whether that's good, bad or indifferent but the key is that these are numbers to use as reference points. I suspect that for an Ironman I should be aiming for 210 but time will tell.

As the first lap unfolded I knew I was going fast. I went past Disco Dave fairly early on but I was head down and ar$e up, trying to get in the zone so I missed him until I heard him yelling "Go Simon Go" and then some less savoury sounding encouragement where I think he was screaming at the cheating buggers on my tail.

One guy I caught up kept drafting me and then surging massively to get in front of me. I chuckled a little as it was clear he wasn't going to be able to keep this up. At one point he made a rotating gesture, meaning to take turns at the front. He was trying to formalise his cheating! Cheeky bugger. Every time he surged ahead I pulled well to the right to avoid his draft. As expected, half a lap later he disappeared.

I saw Terry Walsh on the course so many times and he didn't miss cheering me once, awesome Terry, thanks buddy, it was really inspiring to hear you yelling me on.

I was drinking well and taking my gels regularly which I'd promised myself to focus on. This race although important was really just preparation for Ironman China, so reinforcing things like good nutritional habits was a vital part of the exercise.

I loved the course, it was flat and fast and although it had 9 180 degree u-turns I still averaged over 40kph for the 90kms. I was very happy with that. 40.33kph to be precise.

I was pretty unhappy about how much drafting went on especially as the organisers had promised to completely eradicate it. I had about 10 people off my tail. I let them all go past at one point to make sure none of them were in my age-group. There weren't so I took to the front again and managed to drop all but about 4 of them by the end.

T2 1min15sec
Now this I was very happy with. I rarely waste time with socks for races but for a half Ironman the last thing I wanted was a half marathon with my shoes wearing holes in my feet. So socks it was and clearly I wasted very little time.

RUN 1hr37mins45secs
I was running on my limit right from the off but feeling pretty good about it. It was hot but not as crazy hot as it can be in Singapore. However, a guy in my age-group came storming past me with a camelbak on. Oh well I thought, embarrassing to be beaten by a camelbak wearer but he was going too fast for me. 3k later I caught him and never saw him again.

I was slowly drawing in two guys who left transition with me (two of the drafters). I caught them at about 5k but then they just latched onto my heels. We were going at a nice pace and passed a couple of pros (probably on their last lap I hasten to add). One of them was standing by the side throwing up, while the other muttered something (in good humour) about age groupers passing him and this not being the way it was supposed to be. 3k later and I was bonking, with the two guys on my heels meant I was either going too fast or my mind was weak and I was being psyched out. So I tried to play smart and stopped at the next drinks station, grabbed loads to drink an then tucked in 100m behind them.

Lap 1 was eventually done, blimey, that was a long way. A few guys recognised me and cheered me, that was so awesome, I didn't even know anyone from KL were spectating and to spot me and cheer was such a HUGE lift. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. Also Terry was now at the run course and cheering me every chance he got. I'm not sure how much people cheering realise they're helping, specially when people like me have a blank expression and can barely acknowledge them but let me tell you IT IS MASSIVE! I do always try to acknowledge, smile and say something back UNLESS... I am really hurting and digging deep just to stay in it. That's where I was now!!!!

I so so so wanted to stop and walk, I hadn't tapered for the race (part of the plan), I wasn't fit enough for this sort of effort, I wasn't even close to being down to race weight etc etc, these points were all true but so what, I was the one that chose to be here, this was about China, this was about re-experiencing the pain (sorry, extreme discomfort, we don't use the word pain) lots of negative thoughts and lots of positives to try to reinforce. Every few metres was now a mental and physical battle, I just had to keep "resetting" my mind. But how many times could I do that until it broke? Bad question to ask, don't ask that question, I chastised myself for the 100th time, focus, refocus, reset, refocus...

I caught one of the drafters and left him behind. The other one was long gone. It was just a matter of time now, the finish was coming to me, soon I'd be turning right into the finish chute. And there it was, a quick look behind, didn't want to spoil the day by being pipped to the post. All clear. OK now look strong for the cameras, time to pretend how easy it was hahahaha.

I hung out with Jacob, Jean Pierre and Mark from Team Supersonic Biscuit at the finish. Jean Pierre had run past me as an impressive speed, he did the half marathon in 1hr15mins (his PB is 61mins), I was grabbing a drink at the time and thought "Oh no he thinks I'm walking" haha my ego is at work even then. They were stoked to have finished in 2nd place after Jabob and Mark's solid swim and bike and then JP's awesome run.

Shilpa messengered me that I was 3rd. I must admit, I was disappointed. I'd had a good race, my swim and run hadn't been as good as I'd have liked but I still thought I'd done enough to win. As it turns out the 1st place guy was 8mins30secs ahead of me, so you can't argue with that and the 2nd place guy was a minute and a half ahead and I never saw him, so fair enough. I thought I might get a chance of a roll down spot for the Worlds but realised I didn't have my wallet so set off on a mad dash to the hotel on the bike. I was soon lost and after trying for ages failed to flag a taxi down. In the end I managed to call one on the phone and he picked me up from the middle of nowhere.

I showered, packed, paid the bill and checked out in 9 minutes and was back at the race by 4:30pm. Disco Dave announced that I had qualified as my age-group was so big there were three spots, he then said with a big smile but you are 4 minutes too late! OMG! He then had a little chuckle and introduced me to David Cheam. Neither Dave nor I had ever met David before but he knew Lydia and had volunteered (with a bit of encouragement from Dave) to pay for my Worlds spot. HOW COOL IS THAT? What a great bloke, thank you David, there aren't many people in the world that would pay several hundred dollars on behalf of a total stranger.

All said and done, what a great weekend. Mission accomplished and Ironman 70.3 Worlds in Las Vegas here I come. Having said that, this pales into insignificance compared to my principle goal this year of qualifying for the Ironman Worlds in Kona. I took a lot away from this race, I need to triple my focus in my running and swimming and I need to get down to my goal race weight. Clearly I'm a long way from where I need to be, IMChina will expose any weakness and magnify it tenfold. But then this race was all about a reference check, I just need to respond to the knowledge gained. As my buddy Rocky so eloquently put it "I hope you eventually catch the bus that you are training so hard to run for". Haha, yes baby, I'm gonna catch that bus for sure.

PS The guy on the left is our age-group winner - does he look like he's only 25 years old or what?!!! Fast and looks young, lucky son of a... I guess I'll just have to be content with being comments needed, I know, I know.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

WTC Announces Hiatus for Malaysian Events

World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), owners and operators of the Ironman and 70.3 event brands, announced earlier this month that it will not host any races in Malaysia during 2011. WTC is currently seeking new partners and venues that will improve the quality and production of events within the country and hopes to introduce new races in 2012.

“Malaysians have shown tremendous enthusiasm for Ironman events for more than a decade and we appreciate their continued support,” said Murphy Reinschreiber, WTC’s managing director of Asia-Pacific. “We hoped to produce at least one event in 2011, but circumstances beyond our control require that we wait until at least 2012. Our decision is not a reflection of the support we’ve received from athletes, local communities, sponsors or the government. We are talking to potential partners and inspecting innovative courses to offer improved events in the future.”

The Fresh Air Fund need volunteer host families

THE FRESH AIR FUND, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer vacations to more than 1.7 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877. Nearly 10,000 New York City children enjoy free Fresh Air Fund programs annually. In 2010, close to 5,000 children visited volunteer host families in suburbs and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada. 3,000 children also attended five Fresh Air camps on a 2,300-acre site in Fishkill, New York. The Fund’s year-round camping program serves an additional 2,000 young people each year.

Simon says: - The Fresh Air Fund is current in need of volunteers host families for this year's programme. If you think you'd be interested please click on the banner above and take a look. KIDS DESERVE FRESH AIR TOO!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What a difference less than 3 months makes

(Photos courtesy of Malakoff and Tey)

What a difference less than three months makes. Here's a photo of a rather rotund (82.5kg), unhappy looking, struggler of a runner (sans MOJO) at the Malakoff 12k on the 19th of December 2010 and another taken on Sunday 13th March 2011 at the Bareno Bukit Jalil Half Marathon (72kg).

Both are near the end of the race and the latter one you can see not only am I enjoying myself but I'm oozing MOJO. I ran another 8km on top of the race too just for good measure.

(Check out the legs on both pictures - hahahaha)

Ahhhhhh! Life is good again.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tsunami Video - Brings home the power & devastation

I started watching this thinking "Yeah I get it, water, debris, OK now cars floating down the streets. Oo, trucks too, oh goodness now ships in the streets, OMFG the houses are moving!"

Imagine this in your home town! What a terrible nightmare.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Xterra Philippines - Race Report

I had great reservations about going to Xterra Philippines; my principle goal this year is to qualify for Ironman Kona and get that monkey off my back, especially as I came so close last year. I've had foot tendon problems in my right ankle for the past few years and I also had Achilles Tendinitis in my left foot. The last thing I wanted was to aggravate them in an off road race.

However, not being the smartest guy in the world I entered anyway, bought a super fandango sexy bike (aka "Baby") the week before the race and set about trying to learn how to ride it.

My friend Lydia very kindly took me off-road a couple of times and gave me a crash course (literally) in what I needed to do. I did Xterra in Malaysia 2 years ago on Shilpa's "shopping" bike. I worked on the same principle, 2 practice rides and then the race. I came 2nd there and survived so Xterra Philippines would be my 6th mountain bike ride and the plan was to qualify again but most importantly not hurt myself.

Getting to Cebu was a pain, I had to fly via Singapore and it meant a 4am departure from the house. As it turned out it was all hassle free and I arrived in good shape. I met up with Disco Dave and Lydia the next day and headed out on the bus to the start/finish area to checkout the bike course and check the bikes into transition. It was an hour through nightmare traffic - not fun at all.

When we got there we headed out to where the course was (although it hadn't been marked yet which was annoying). We got lost within about 5 minutes and pretty much gave up. What we did do however was visit the "graveyard", this was an area near the finish where the course got seriously technical, somewhat dangerous and for any non-mountain bikers like me seriously scary. It was a loop of about 600m with a very steep descent at the start and a very steep ascent at the finish. We had to do it twice as the course was two laps.

What made it super scary was that it was a single track across what they called "crushed coral", think razorblade sharp volcanic looking rock and you're starting to get the picture. I didn't think anyone could ride down it and of course riding up the ascent was out of the question - or was it? My naivety showing through, the pros were riding it like it was a 3 lane hwy AND riding all the way up to the top - it seemed to defy logic and physics. Dave then demonstrated how to do it several times and Lydia was pretty damn impressive too. I on the other hand carried my bike down, across anything that represented danger (most of it) and up the other side. I did the graveyard twice and it was already aggravating my feet so I called it a day.

I was just about to head out for a run when I noticed something not quite right with the gears, upon closer inspection the outer gear cable housing had sheared. I had no spares and neither did the race mechanic duh!!! So in the searing heat it was a case of stripping it down, cutting the outer cable a little shorter and re threading the cable, a job made difficuly due to internal frame routing - not an easy job in a workshop with no pressure - but my biggest challenge was to keep the mechanic away from it, especially as he cut the end of the cable before I could stop him, after a few more snips in the re-threading process the cable was close to being useless. To cut a long story short, he got the message (eventually), left me to it and I managed to get the thing working again with about 1cm of cable spare!!!

The long ride back to town on the bus was abandoned (no bus) and we hitched a lift in the back of a pick up truck. As time had gotten away from us we hung out at the welcome dinner venue in our smelly kit. Having been to 100's of these things before I knew not to expect much and when I saw the cultural dancers outside you could hear an audible groan eminate from my lips. However I take it back, the show was magnificant, really really professional, about 80 dancers and quite honesty I would have paid to go an watch it. Very impressed. The lady Govoner was there and the local lady Senator who not only did the race but also qualified for Maui.

Race morning was another 4am start and we arrived at the venue in good time. First thing's first and I headed to the portaloos to have another "sit-down". You are not going to believe this but the organisers actually provided toilet attendants who directed you to vacant loos, handed you toilet paper as you went in and gave you hand sanitiser when you came out - HOW COOL IS THAT?

So, to the race, it was a deep water start and as is my want I warmed up for about 500m first and then positioned myself behind the pros. I figured others would be intimidated by them and within seconds they'd be long gone (I had no illusions about that) and the water ahead would be clear. The gun went and it was exactly as I predicted. The swim went great, on the second lap a couple of guys were drafting off me and later we switched and I drafted off them. As it turned out these were my two biggest rivals in my age-group.

SWIM - 1500m - 28mins36secs

I decided to put socks on in T1, I wouldn't dream of it in a normal triathlon but I didn't want to take any risks in an off-road race (also my bike shoes were new).

T1 - 1min27secs

The course wasn't too technical for the most part and when it was I just got off and ran. It was a two lap course and I soon caught loads of people (a reflection of my poor swimming skills not my magical MTB skills). I missed a couple of technical turns and sudden unexpected inclines but on the whole I thought I did OK. I improved measurably on the second lap - a steep learning curve!

BIKE - 32k - 1hr35mins13secs

Anything flat, uphill or extreme uphill I caught people due to my strong biking fitness. Downhill and technical sections I lost loads of course. I lost about 6 minutes to one of the guys in our age-group on the bike and finished right behind the other (these were the two guys I swam with).

T2 - 46secs

Then it was onto the run, I hadn't nailed myself on the bike as I would have done in a on-road tri so once running it felt pretty easy. As usual I picked up a high cadence and before I knew it was passing people left right and centre. The run was a hoot, hundreds of kids on the course waving flags of all nationalities (including one group with the Union Flag), they were really into it, BRILLIANT. About 3k into the run I saw Sam Gardner on his way to victory, a fellow Brit and an altogether nice guy.

We ran through a wild turkey farm, down super steep steps, across rickety pontoons and on long long bamboo bridges, it was soooo cool. I passed a couple of the women pros and then I saw him, the guy leading my age-group. He was running pretty well but judging by the speed I was catching him it wasn't going to be a fight to the death which I was pleased about. I went past and passed on some encouragement but at the same time dug deep just in case he got any silly ideas and tried to make a race of it.

We were then sent to the ocean with about 3k left, we had about 800m beach run and then had to wade through the ocean for about 150m along a sea wall - very cool (albeit the water looked decidedly rancid). As I ran along the beach I saw the leading amateur competitor ahead of me, I was confident he wasn't in my age-group and although chasing him down was a remote possibility I decided to cruise the last 2k to the finish.

RUN - 10k - 44mins21secs

I came across the line with a huge smile on my face and totally within myself, which is a nice change, generally at the end of a Olympic distance race I spend a good half an hour collapsed on the concrete about 3 steps over the finish line haha.

TOTAL TIME - 2:50:25 (1st 45-49, 2nd amateur, 10th overall)

I congratulated the guy that was 1st amateur, he was in the age-group below me, I checked my result and as I'd hoped I'd won my age-group. Massages had been laid on by the organisers so I went and grabbed one before any lines started forming - it was lovelly, just what the doctor ordered.

Disco Dave came in a little later followed by Lydia shortly afterwards. They checked their results and WOW, a dream come true, both of them had also won their age-groups and we were all going to the Xterra World Championships in Maui.

As Dave said, you couldn't have written a better script. This was truly a great weekend, the race didn't have the number of competitors that it deserved but I suspect that next year it will massively increase in numbers, if not sold out. The organisers didn't take any short cuts or cut costs that I could see and they are totally committed to the race for the long-term. There's a few things they need to get sorted out but nothing that detracted from a brilliant weekend.

If you ride a mountain bike (or like me, would like to be able to ride one), then I strongly recommend it next year. Xterra is the most fun you will ever have in a triathlon EVER.

Two weeks after this race I have Ironman 70.3 Singapore, I'd like to try to qualify for the 70.3 World Champs in Las Vegas too. However, getting to the Ironman Worlds in Kona is my focus, so Singapore is a good tune up race and will enable me to judge where my training is currently.

I've dropped 10.5kg (23lbs) since Xmas, so all is on track there, only another 5kg to go. My Achiiles seems to be heeling despite Xterra and I'm enjoying the feeling of Ironman fitness again (albeit still a long way to go). I've started really ramping training up, 18+k swimming, 400+k biking and 80k+ running every week, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right?! Haha

Together with my new tri bike (aka "Gladys") it's gonna be a fun ride (pun intended). Can I qualify for the three jewels of triathlon World Championships in one year? We shall see, one down and two to go.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

It is a Trek Speed Concept - Haha

So there we have it. Like many I've been dreaming of a Speed Concept for sometime, don't get me wrong I loved my TTX SSL 9.9 (Black Beauty) and she was pimped up to the gills with Tula aerobars, Xlab Carbon Wing bottle mount, carbon/ti pedals, San Marco saddle and she was fast as they come but I coveted a Speed Concept just too much. I decided to go with the personalised paint job via Trek's Project One programme, I intend this to be my bike for many years to come (but we shall see). I rode it yesterday, an 84k ride that I use as part of my Ironman build up, I've done this ride many times before and yesterday was the fastest every a minute, without trying (although there's always going to be a bit of a boost on a new bike - placebo effect). All in all I couldn't be happier.

I'm loving the aerobox at the back. Tidies things up a lot with tools and spares nicely hidden away in there. Not to mention the sneaky way Trek have used the box to increase the aero advantage but within the UCI rules. Nice one Trek. Cervelo also did it on the P4 with their aero bottle of course (it's just a pity that the P4 is so ugly - haha)

With Trek's Project One you can opt to have your bike personalised with a name, I went for my pseudonym TriTwins which seemed appropriate, none contentious and no biggie if I sell the bike at some point in the future.

I'd committed to myself that if I was going to spend this sort of money on the ultimate bike then there would be no compromises. Therefore, I went with the electronic gear set with Shimano's Dura-ace Di2. Every time I change gear I chuckle to myself, it's just so mad to have electric gears on a bike. I have to say though that they save a slit second every shift and NEVER miss a gear or skip/scrape between gears. This has got to save time on the course, maybe only a minute over an Ironman but if you're trying to qualify then that makes a significant difference.

Not only that but don't you just hate hearing gears scraping and missing? There are few people that I ride with who's gears are always perfectly true. This is usually due to cable outers and inners getting too old and sticking slightly, usually people blame the bike shop who set the gears up but chances are the cables and outers need changing. I used to change mine 2 or 3 times a year but now I NEVER have to - there aren't any, just wires to send the signal from the bar buttons to the motor on the derailleurs.

More on the no compromise front, I bought the horribly expensive SRM power meter, I've been told by triathletes that I greatly respect that I'm missing a piece of the puzzle by not using a power meter.

I think I've done pretty well without one (and beat the power meter boys on the bike in Ironman last year). However, that's doesn't mean I don't believe in their preachings and contrary to popular opinion I'm not looking to go faster (my Ironman time is already around 5hrs and below) but I am looking to maximise efficiency.

I ride based on heart rate and cadence (I NEVER EVER look at speed). If you've trained enough, tapered and not sick on the day, then if you follow your predetermined heart rate and cadence the speed will look after itself. HOWEVER, this is not as scientific as it might be as there are always peaks and troughs in your effort. My plan is to use the power meter to reduce the magnitude of the peaks and troughs, effectively flatten out the effort with as consistent a power transfer as possible. My hope is that this will leave me less dehydrated and tired and in better shape to deal with the marathon - we shall see.

Looking from the cockpit the SRM head unit and the Di2 buttons, both on the aerobars and the brake levers - a real luxury if you're climbing and out of the aero position. Very Cool.

One note regarding Black Beauty, I had intended to sell her (or keep her as a back up bike if no one wanted her). However, when I turned up to collect the Speed Concept aka Gladys the shop had a shock for me. I'd asked them to try to identify a clicking noise around the bottom bracket. I'd replaced the BB set with a new Dura-ace one, replace the bearings in the pedals but it was still there and even getting worse - I wondered whether it was the chain, the chain rings or maybe the cassette. As it turned out it was MUCH MUCH worse. The chain stays were barely hanging on to the frame near the bottom bracket. I can only guess that where the metal joins the carbon the metal corroded and caused a weak point. There probably wasn't more than a few months left in the old girl so I was really lucky - had I not changed to Gladys then Black Beauty might have collapsed on me during IMChina.

Anyway, the upside (I hope) is that Trek will honour their lifetime guarantee and replace the frame with a new TTX SSL 9.9 or maybe even a Speed Concept. Either way, it's gonna be a great back up bike or else someone is gonna be a very proud owner of an amazing "second hand" bike. I'll keep you posted.