Friday, May 27, 2011

Cheerful Tunes

(Courtesy of MattyO)

Something just clicked with this song and video, I thought I was hilarious - hope it puts a smile on your face too.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Shimano electronic shifting for tri

(Courtresy of Dan Empfield and

There is a misunderstanding held by some that Di2—Shimano's revolutionary electronic shifting system—is wireless. It's not. It's only cableless. Were it wireless, it would require a lot more on-board power and your bike would need a bigger battery than the remarkably small and light one that the Di2 system requires.

So, one thing I hear sometimes from folks is, "If it's not wireless, then what's the point?" What's the big deal if you're just substituting a cable with an electronic wire?

Fair question. The answer, when it comes to triathlon in particular, is, often: Because you can shift from either the pursuit position or the bar ends.

Yes, that's true, and yes, that's nice, but, that's not in my opinion the primary benefit of Shimano's Di2 electronic shifting. The prime benefits are these: Shifting is perfect, every time and—yet more important—the front derailleur never misses a shift and trims itself automatically to normalize for the chain's placement on the rear cluster.

Now, a lot of naysayers might comment that index shifting—introduced by Shimano as a Dura Ace 6-speed product in 1984—by itself makes each shift by definition perfect. As opposed to "friction" shifting, index shifting is like (if you will) frets on a guitar. There is no necessity to know where a note is on a stringed instrument, the fret establishes exactly where the note is. You just have to place your fingers in the general vicinity of the note, just upstream from the fret.

But, if any of you are guitar, banjo, or mandolin players, you know that it's not quite that easy and, in fact, it is possible to mis-shift with an index system.

However, I'll grant you that practice (shifting a bike or playing a guitar, but in this case, let's keep it to shifting) makes perfect or, at least, nearer to perfect.

In the rear of the bike.

It's in the front of the drive train—the front derailleur—that mistakes happen, and if Shimano's electronic shifting simply functioned on the rear of the bike, that shift system would be all hat and no cattle. It's how Di2 functions around that crank that makes it special.

The Build
There are two ways to install Di2 onto a tri/TT bike, as on a road race bike: with the wires internal or external (just as with cabled bikes). But—just as with cabled bikes—there are frames built for internal Di2 wiring. This requires a different wiring harness, and a different battery mount, so, make sure you specify the bike this is going to go on before you make a purchase of a Di2 groupkit.

I installed mine on a Trek Speed Concept 9.9. Trek did an expert job of building a bike that accepts with exceptional ease Di2, and you can follow that link to read about the process of installation.

There are certain bikes in addition to the Speed Concept—Felt's DA as one example—that are built with the idea of an internally-wired Di2 kit. If the bike is not designed, from the ground up, with Di2 in mind, you might have a hard time with an internal route. Specifically, there are wiring junctions and harnesses that would require a pretty large aperture in the frame, and if the frame's not built with this in mind, one ponders whether drilling and cutting ad hoc apertures is indicated.

Otherwise, the wiring runs externally, and Shimano provides tape-like stuff to cover up the wires adjacent to the frame, to smooth the look, enhance the aerodynamics, and keep wires hidden. The advantage to having an external route is that it's easier, I would think, to troubleshoot and fix any wiring problem that might happen in the future.

That said, this is a closed system, completely waterproof, and if you use the "shrink tubes" that encompass and "hug" each wiring connection, connectivity problems will be very rare.

If you install a Di2 group, well, this is no longer bike building. Not in the traditional sense. It's helpful to have associated man skills. Like, if you were an electrician, or an appliance repair person, or a general handyman, I think you'd benefit from the interdisciplinary nature of your work. This is by no means a requirement, just, I'm used to floating through bike builds half-paying attention, on auto pilot. No can do here.

The Battery
It's just like the battery in your cordless drill. You have a charging station for recharging, plugged into a 110v outlet, and when the battery is low you take out off the bike, stick it into the charging station. Ninety minutes later you're charged and ready. There is a junction on the bike with LED lights (next picture just below, which I affixed with 2-sided tape to the Speed Concept's top tube) that tell you if the battery's low. [Simon says: - I don't like this fudge and keep my junction inside the frame. It's a bit fiddly to get out, you can't adjust it as you ride and can't easily see the battery level without making a point of checking but I prefer the clean lines of having it tucked away - guess it's a compromise either way]

The battery life is admirably long—many, many rides—and the shift system doesn't just stop cold if you run your battery entirely down. The front derailleur ceases to shift, but you still have the rear. It should never get to that, because it's easy to check for a battery that has less than 25 percent power. As long as you have more than 25 percent remaining, you have nothing to worry about as long as you're not immediately commencing RAAM.

The basic functions of the two derailleurs are unchanged. There are stlll hi/low limit screws, and the rear derailleur still needs to be adjusted to match the placement of the cluster on the wheel. On a typical cabled bike, you do this by adjusting the cable tension on a barrel adjuster, located at spot on the derailleur where the cable enters.

On a Di2 bike, you have one wiring junction that serves as a master control. You push a button (it's this same junction, pic adjacent, that you use to check battery life), a red light turns on, and this signals you're ready to adjust the rear derailleur. You then press the shift buttons just as you would to shift gears up or down, but the shifters are now programmed to move the derailleur in tiny increments. Move the derailleur up or down until the gnashing noise between the chain and cog disappears. Hit that junction button again, the red light goes off, presto, derailleur is now adjusted.

This is so easy, you can—and I did—perform a derailleur adjustment on the bike, while riding.

If there ever was a Shimano group that deserved to enjoy "gruppo integrity" by its customers, this is the one. And, the Di2 group I hung was entirely Di2/Dura Ace. Retaining integrity means the group is by no means inexpensive. An entire group will cost you between $4500 and $5000 complete. Keep in mind many bikes today—like the Speed Concept—come with their own brakes, so you don't need the brake calipers that come with this Di2 kit. That'll save you some coin.

Di2's absolute necessities are the front and rear derailleurs and shifters (both bar-end and pursuit), wiring kits, battery and charger. The chain, cassette and chainrings, while engineered with Di2 in mind, are not absolute Di2 requirements. None of these appear on Felt's B10, and the Di2 on that bike by all accounts functions fine.

This isn't to say you can slap anything on a Di2-shifted bike and it'll work. As with any bike, bad chainrings are bad chainrings, and the bike won't shift well. Felt made sure, when it spec'd Vision's TriMax crank on its B10, that it also spec'd Vision's best chainrings, so that the shifting was crisp and clean.

Conversely, on the rear it doesn't appear that the cassette even needs to be Shimano. Reports from the field say that SRAM cassettes shift admirably well on a Di2 bike.

The stuff you absolutely, positively need to make a Di2 bike—shifters, both derailleurs, wiring, battery and charger—will cost you between $2500 and $3000. How much of the rest of the bike you want Dura Ace determines how much of the $2000 difference between the bare essentials and complete Dura Ace you want to spend.

Please allow me a backward and sideways digression. What I do not know yet is whether you could leave off the Di2 pursuit position shifters/levers and have the system still function. You'd have an open circuit there—a plug that expects a shifter, but, no shifter for it to plug into.

Not that I think this is a wise idea, but, this shifter is $500 at retail, so, if you really wanted to do Di2 on the cheap, this is one possible omission. Of course, shifting at the pursuit position is supposed to be the big deal for triathletes—this is what makes Di2 so cool for us. Honestly, I rarely use this function, because I'm always in the aero position. I can see where time trialists might use it more often: accelerating out of the saddle from the start, and again after rounding a corner.

But, as a triathlete I don't do that, and I climb almost always while remaining in the aero position. So, I guess this feature is technique-specific. If you climb with hands on the pursuits, then the ability to shift while in the pursuits becomes a more valuable feature.

Di2's Downside?
I don't know what its downside is yet. I don't know what sort of failure rate has been experienced and, by "failure rate", I mean you're just riding along and you push the button and the bike won't shift.

Anecdotally, I haven't heard of a single failure while riding. Not one. And I've asked. I can imagine, thought, that failures can be somewhat problematic on internally routed bikes. You should expect to pay more for a bum wire—both in labor and parts—than a shift cable that went bum on your traditionally shifted bike. There are three wiring kits that makes up the Di2 gruppo and none cost less than $150. I don't know if there's a lifespan and, if so, what it is. (It's certainly longer than the lifespan of a shift cable.)

My mind ran to everything that might happen to a Di2 bike. I'm recharging my battery, I throw my bike in my car and head to my race, forgetting to take the battery out of the charger and replace it on my bike. That would be unfortunate. Just know that you should never leave your battery off the bike except for the brief 90 minutes of charging, because, as noted, this is a closed and waterproof system—but only when everything (battery included) is on the bike. Once you remove the battery, now you've opened this system to the elements.

Also of concern to me is the specter of what might happen during transport to an event, putting the bike in a box for an airplane ride. A wiring junction coming undone. Is this a logical concern? Why am I afraid of this? I don't know. Maybe I'll get over it.

Look, I'm sounding a little panicky, even just listening to myself, and I know it's because Di2 is a paradigm shift (pardon the pun) in how a bike functions. Like anyone who's got two feet firmly planted in tradition, I'm suspicious of new; I'm afraid of new.

As examples...

I remember vividly, in 1984, dismissing the very idea of index shifting. "If you don't know how to shift your bike," I said, "You've got bigger problems than Shimano can ever solve for you."

I said something similar when STI shifting debuted. Likewise the idea of 6 speeds on a cassette—I was perfectly happy with 5 speeds and did not see the need for a 6th. Same when Shimano moved to offer cassettes with 7 speeds. 8 speeds. And so on.

I'm slowly learning my lesson. While Shimano doesn't always recognize other companies' improvements (threadless headsets, and we can argue about chain quicklinks), the fact remains that Shimano's improvements are, always, improvements.

The Future
Ultegra Di2 will at some point debut, though it will not be compatible with Dura Ace Di2—no mixing and matching. But, you can see the trend. Pretty soon we'll have 105 electronic shifting, and some day maybe mechanical shifting will be a thing of the past.

I'm not going to get caught on the wrong side of history this time. Count me in. No more front derailleur trimming, no more chain suck, no more mis-shifts. If the art of shifting will now devolve into simply the art of pushing a button, I'm okay with that.

Di2 is one of Shimano's current strongholds in triathlon; this, and a current hegemony over the mid-price point in cabled systems (Ultegra). SRAM, however, seems to be gaining a strong position in high-end cabled (RED) and they're poised to take some of Shimano's Ultegra biz if and when they get traction on their narrative about Force (a very nice, but still rather anonymous, gruppo positioned to complete with Ultegra).

SRAM does well in tri because it did what Shimano should have, but failed, to do for one decade and maybe two: make a tri-dedicated bar-end shifter and plug-in brake lever. Ironically, Shimano now makes both, and they're both expertly engineered and executed, but, they're both a part of its electronic group.

SRAM will probably continue to eat into Shimano's market share in cabled tri bikes unless Shimano either addresses its lack of an up-to-date cabled bar-end shifter, or unless it brings electronic shifting downstream—and down-priced—so fast that can sidestep a need to make a new cabled bar-end shifter.

Electronic shifting has not ruined cabled shifting for me. I can very happily move from one to the other, just as in my garage are both a stick-shift diesel pick-up and an automatic transmission touring sedan—I drive each, I like each, each has its place.

Still, the way the front derailleur shifts and self-trims is the unexpected surprise and delight of Shimano's Di2. Front derailleur performance is what places this system ahead of any shift system now on the market.

Simon says: -
A usual and excellent article by Dan and he nailed it in most respects. I have to say though that I don't stand up in the pedals anymore and I stay in aero position up the climbs - that's is when I can. I'm pretty strong on the bike but there is always a last steep bit of a climb where you need to sit up and sometimes even stand up to get enough power going through the drive train - sometimes it just makes more sense; and on those rare occasions shifting buttons on the pursuit bars are invaluable and worth every cent.

As for switching between using a Di2 system and regular cable shifts I did agree with Dan that there's a place for both and switching between the two is seemless and harmonious. BUT... that was before I'd put about 5000km into my new Speed Concept and now when I get back on my cable shifting road bike half the time I forget what to push and when and wonder what I'm doing with such ridiculous prehistoric kit. Yes it does make you a bit of a bike snob but honestly when your Di2 becomes part of you then you'll NEVER EVER want to go back to the old block and tackle system.

What starts out as a novelty ends up being an essential bit of kit. The cost is the only real issue but as Dan says, once the Utegra and then 105 Di2s are on the market these systems will become as commonplace as electric windows on cars - weren't they just a luxurious novelty once?

Oh yes, I almost forgot, If you do a lot of gear changing then you're not going to get the 1000 miles out of each battery charge that is promised. I'm a bit anal about keeping my power and cadence constant so I change gear a lot (and the Di2 makes it so easy) but it's rather amusing when everything suddenly stops working!!! Haha, luckily I was only 15km from home and heading back at the time so I ground my way back and was grateful for the lesson. Now I have a recurring monthly reminder on my computer and phone to recharge it.

There's apparently no battery charge "memory" and it can be charged 500 times - that's a lot of riding and great value for money if you ask me.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Nursing Man-Flu

I'm nursing man-flu (a heavy cold). No training this week and off work. I'll be back in a day or two with a vengeance. I needed a break from training anyway. Haha

I avoided the antibiotics so far but not sure that's going to last as it's threatening to move to my lungs. We shall see.

Later Taterz


PS Watched "The Last King of Scotland" from my sick bed yesterday. Great movie (although complete nonsense from a historical point view - they only got one fact right - Idi Amin was the nasty evil dictator of Uganda). Forest Whitaker was a scary mofo as Idi Amin. Forest usually plays cuddly, snuggly teddy bear characters - he was brilliant in this movie, really scary and the real deal.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Aquathlon - in video

The start

Return leg of the swim

The run

The medal and the proud daddy

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ironman (Mt) Korea Course Profile

This just in from Richard Tang, the Ironman Korea (or should I say the Ironman Mt Korea) course profiles. Whahahahahahahahahaha is all I can say, it's gonna be a hillfest from hell. I wouldn't be surprised if the swim wasn't uphill too!

This makes you wonder not only what wheels to take but what bike to take - road or TT??? As for the run it looks like grappling irons may be a prerequisite straight out of T2.

Oh well ay, it's the same for everyone I guess, glad I changed my biking route to the hilly Broga loop last week and from now on my 32k long run will incorporate double hill too.

It's all gonna hurt, even more than usual. *sob sob*



Monday, May 16, 2011

Seb's first multisport event - Aquathlon

Yesterday Seb did his first multi sport event, the Alice Smith Aquathlon. Sid said a while ago that he didn't want to do it and when Sid makes up his mind there's pretty much no changing it. Having said that, when Sid decides he'll try something then he becomes very proficient, very quickly, I've no doubt we'll see his inaugural appearance in the not too distant future.

Seb was totally unfazed by the whole thing, he was amazingly totally cool and calm, no sign of any nerves, unlike Mummy and Daddy! It was a 50m swim and 750m run. The youngest age-group was under 8's so he was competing against mainly 6 and 7 year olds and two of his friends from his year.

The briefing.

Totally relaxed a few minutes before the start.

The whistle went and he was off, no hesitation, he just flew. He didn't swim that straight (a bit like his dad) and neither did the other kids, so there was loads of bumping and crashing (just like a mass Ironman start). It didn't phase him one little bit, he never missed a stroke, kept correcting his line and kept going at a beautifully consistent pace. He was back in no time, changed into his shoes (I was the official shoelace tier-upper, I may have to get him elastic laces if he gets into it).

His running was equally amazing, he's a bit of a surger i.e. goes easy and then surges forward. I was convinced he'd need to walk at some point but he was so focused and just kept on pushing. If any kid came from behind he'd surge forward and even caught some of the older kids that started walking. He never looked like he'd stop once, I was choked up, I don't think I've ever been prouder of him.

Here he is with his well earned finisher's medal. Once again he was totally chilled about what he'd just accomplished - really something to see, did I mention how proud I was?

Here's Seb and Sid together, as predicted Sid felt very left out with all the focus on Seb (deservedly so), I think next time Sid might just think about doing it too, I hope so, Seb had so much fun and so did Mummy and Daddy.

Seb took his medal to school today and told his teacher. She was very impressed and very sweet about it, she even gave him a house point!!!

Things happen for a reason - No they don't!

Some people have said to me that Ironman China being cancelled happened for a reason (I disagree) and then shared their thoughts on some of the positives that have come out of it (of which I greatly appreciate).

I am not a fatalist, nor do I place my faith in some imaginary "super being", I believe that your destiny is in your own hands and you create your own fate. With that said, I feel that good things usually happen to me and that's probably due to the fact that I always think positively and always look for opportunity in every aspect of life even (especially) adversity.

So what good will come out of the cancellation of Ironman China? Below is my list so far (and no doubt I'll quietly add to it).

Firstly though, I was doing my long ride on Saturday, I'd changed it from my fast, flowing, rolling hill Port Dickson course (186k), which was perfect for IMChina, to the hillfest monster of the Broga Loop (195k). I'm assuming Korea will be hilly as it has been in previous years.

As I was reflecting on IMChina, I was already accepting of the cancellation and all the plus points that were going to come out of it. But then it struck me, I wasn't as fit or down to weight for IMChina as I had been for IMMY last year, I'm in pretty good shape but not where I should be or where I'd promised myself I would be.

I thought to myself, I would have paid a lot of money for 5 extra weeks training, in fact if you'd have asked me exactly how many more weeks I need I would have said 4 if everything went well but 5 weeks as there are inevitable setbacks. Eureka, WTC, the local organisers or the Chinese government had just gifted me a dream scenario - now all I have to do is deliver on the training and race day will take care of itself.

So, to the list: -
  1. 5 extra weeks to train (seriously needed)

  2. 5 extra weeks to get to, or at least close to, my target weight (super important now it's likely to be hilly, this also helps me for IMLP as that is hilly too)

  3. There will be an extra 25 Kona qualifying slots awarded to IMKorea (now 75 instead of 50).

  4. I get my IMChina entry fee back in full (easily offsetting my no-refundable flight & visa costs)

  5. I hadn't paid anything yet for the hotel in China

  6. I get a free entry to IMKorea

  7. Hotels are cheaper at IMKorea than IMChina

  8. I've never been to Korea

  9. China had cancelled the swim, I'd have gone but it just wouldn't have been the same

  10. My goal is to qualify for Kona, if I'd done it in China without the swim there would have always been a question mark (in my own mind at least)

  11. I have an important business EGM that I was going to miss in Singapore - now I can go.

  12. I'm doing IMLake Placid - it was 8 weeks after IMChina, I had no idea how to handle the training for that, now it is just 3 weeks after IMKorea so it's rest, no long stuff and training just to maintain fitness - EASY!

  13. My performance is drastically compromised when a race is longer than 3 hours and the temperature gets over 30C - IMChina's weather is extremely unpredictable, it may have been cool but it may have been super hot also. IMKorea looks far more stable and is likely to be high 20's. I'll take the predictability any day.

  14. I can drink coffee again (until the start of June at least haha).

  15. My inevitable return to drinking, eating pizzas and ice-cream is delayed at least another 5 weeks - I'm taking this as a positive as it means I'll be in better shape for IMLP.

  16. I'm feeling really good about things again; I felt I'd let myself down in the build up to China - too many broken promises to myself.
So as you can see I'm really psyched about this.

I do feel for the people that were just starting their taper and were 100% ready for China though (except those in my age-group - sorry people, now you're screwed - Bring it on! haha)

Friday, May 13, 2011


World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) announced today that the 2011 Ironman China and Ironman 70.3 China races, set to take place on May 29 in Jixian, Tianjin, have been cancelled. After the cancellation of the swim portion of the race earlier in the week and the resulting change to a bike-run format, WTC was informed that Tianjin Sports Bureau (TSB) could not obtain the required sanctions from the China Triathlon Sports Association (CTSA) to conduct the event.

"Events in China require an appropriate sports body to act as the co-organizer," said Murphy Reinschreiber, managing director of the Asia Pacific region for WTC. "While we have had nothing but positive experiences in working with China's sports authorities in the past, TSB simply failed to provide all of the documentation necessary for CTSA to process the sanction."

WTC is offering a full refund of entry fees to all athletes who were scheduled to compete at Ironman China and Ironman 70.3 China. Additionally, all athletes will be offered a complimentary race entry into any of the 2011 Ironman and Ironman 70.3 races listed below.​

PowerBar Ironman 70.3 Switzerland
Ironman 70.3 Boise
Ironman 70.3 Italy
K-Swiss Ironman 70.3 Kansas
Ironman France
Ironman 70.3 Korea Jeju
Ironman Korea Jeju
Ironman 70.3 Muncie
Ironman Switzerland
Amica Ironman 70.3 Rhode Island
Ironman 70.3 Racine
Ironman Regensburg
Finanzgruppe/Naspa Ironman 70.3 Wiesbaden European Championship
Whirlpool Ironman 70.3 Steelhead
Ford Ironman Louisville


"We were shocked by the news today that Ironman China and Ironman 70.3 China would need to be cancelled, especially since we were unaware that this might be the result when we decided to cancel the swim earlier this week," said Steve Meckfessel, chief operations officer for WTC. "We want all athletes who committed the time and training to participate in these events to still get their chance to compete later this season." 

To ensure that Asia-Pacific athletes are represented at the 2011 World Championship events, WTC is allocating the age group qualifying slots from Ironman China and Ironman 70.3 China to other races in the region. Ironman Korea Jeju, scheduled for July 3, 2011, is receiving 25 Ford Ironman World Championship slots, giving it a total of 75, and Ironman 70.3 Korea Jeju is receiving 10 slots for the Ironman World Championship 70.3. Additionally, the 2011 Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 Philippines, set to take place on August 14 in Camarines Sur, Philippines, will receive 30 slots for the Ford Ironman World Championship.

Athletes will receive their entry fee refund within three to four weeks and an e-mail on May 16, 2011 with information regarding race registration for one of the complimentary events. In the coming days, athletes will also receive information on cancelled hotel and travel arrangements. In the meantime, all questions may be directed to

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Endurance Athletes

(By Urban Ninja - check out his website here. Simon says: he's a coach and judging by this he seems to know what he's talking about and communicates it well too).

Over the years, I have tried to learn as fast as possible what it takes to get to the top while working a normal day and dealing with normal stress like the amateur guy I am. I want to race among the middle pro’s and beat all the other guys with jobs. So what does it take? How do you get there?

Go out and read what the best guys are doing. Doc Gowans taught me how to do that – that man absorbed more knowledge on Ironman racing in the time he was a serious age grouper than most of you will in your lifetime and it worked. I learned so much from him and read all the books he read, all the forums and websites. Be studious… like the 8th dwarf.

1. Consistency:
Doing the work every day. I have found that my body and my mind work best with an average of two hours of training per day. I make sure my workout time is treated as high priority for every day, twice a day in heavy load periods. Essentially, its a meeting with yourself to better yourself. Make sure you arrive on time.

2. Be a Geek:
Work on your aero position, your running form, your swim style. Try different shoes, saddles, socks, creams and eye wear. Make sure you have what works best for you. The most expensive might not be the best for your riding style, your foot strike or your body type. Make sure you are geeky about saving seconds. When you add all those seconds up, over the years, it becomes more than just a few minutes.

3. Recovery:
If you analyze your hours in a day, a very small percentage is for actual training. Your primary focus should be on what you can do to recover stronger, better and faster. Eat like it’s your job. Sleep like it is your religion and find the little things that give you an edge on recovery: hot tub, ART, massage, compression, ice baths, mongolian rugby midgets running back and forth over your quads, etc.

4. Eat like a Champion:
When I look at the diets of the guys and girls around me at races, those at the front are eating for their wins. They cut out the processed stuff when it counts and sure, they indulge, but not like you do. Real food only: veggies, nuts, meats, etc. James Cunnama taught me to never take my body to depletion and this especially counts with what you eat. You are what you eat. Your body is your vehicle, feed it the best quality fuel.

5. Compromise a little each day for gains in the long run:
Could you add 30min a day and keep your weekend rides to 5 hours instead of 7, risking injury and illness? I try and forgo a bit of time every day to not have to ride ALL day on the weekend and run for 3h30, risking injury. Find the biggest volume you can do in the week and reduce the weekend “cramming of miles” as a starting point.

6. Hire the best:
Buy your idol a beer and pick his mind. Find a professor in applied movement online in a forum and hound them for the right answers. Having a training plan from a guy is great but you will need to do more than that. I make the effort to hang with the pro guys because I learn from them far more than they will allude to. I am not a threat to them and neither are you. They are the pinnacle. When it comes to a coach, choose someone who works within these 7 habits.

7. Push that envelope:
From time to time, you need to throw it all out the window and go big. I prefer bike camps, as they limit the risk of injury, but you need to go way beyond for a week to get through the ordeal. We learn from ordeal because our central governor is broken and keeps us in the comfort zone. Get out that comfort zone and push that envelope. DO IT, but in limited quantities that leave you exhausted but not depleted, fatigued but not injured.


Super simple, right?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What a ferkin disgrace - Ironman China cancels the swim

Ironman China announced today that the swim portion of the event, set to take place on May 29 in Jixian, Tianjin, has been cancelled. The decision affects both the Ironman 70.3 and Ironman races, scheduled to debut in and around the Yu Bridge Reservoir. Both races will be conducted as bike-run duathlons, as would occur if the cancellation was due to weather or other natural causes.

The freshwater reservoir where the swim was scheduled to take place has been closed due to the impact of a major water works program implemented by city government. Ironman’s local operating partner, the Tianjin Sports Bureau, was only recently informed of this closure. Jixian was vetted as an Ironman venue a year ago by Ironman, the Tianjin Triathlon Association and the Tianjin Sports Bureau, and all necessary approvals were obtained at the time.

Ironman is offering a full refund of entry fees to athletes wishing to withdraw from the event. For the athletes who remain committed to race, Ironman is bulking up their chances of qualifying for the 2011 Ford Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i, on Oct. 8, by adding 10 more qualifying slots to the original 50. The same amount of qualifying slots has also been added for the 2011 Ironman World Championship 70.3 in Lake Las Vegas, Nevada, in Sept.

“Event planning was proceeding normally until 10 days ago,” said Murphy Reinschreiber, World Triathlon Corporation’s managing director for the Asia-Pacific region. “While we did everything possible to maintain access to the reservoir and look for alternative swim venues, we ran out of options and appeals and have had to accept the city’s decision. Despite this setback, we remain committed to providing a high-quality race and travel experience.”

The races will be conducted with athletes starting time-trial style on their bikes at five second intervals. The start and transition area will be moved to a conveniently located park in Jixian. The Ironman finish line will close 14:30 after the last starter or at midnight—whichever is comes first. The Ironman70.3 finish line closure and bike cut-offs for both races will also be adjusted. Athletes will still get to experience racing in beautiful rural China. Modified maps and rules will be posted on the event website as soon as they are available.

Simon says: -
Obviously I'm torn between being "bought off" with 10 extra slots, not losing time on the swim to help qualifying for Kona and the fact that I won't feel great if I do make it by qualifying in a duathlon. Not only that, it's just not cricket! I'm better at duathlons than triathlons but I'm sorry du's just don't have the romance of tri's. I feel cheated and let down.

They say they'll give full refunds but will they refund our hotels and flights? I doubt it. What about all the pain sweat and tears that we've shed over the last few months? Will they refund those?

I certainly don't blame Ironman (for a change in this particular instance). If a country and more particularly a province/city was looking to sabotage its reputation and credibility on the International stage then this is the perfect example. What a complete bunch of bureaucratic dooshbags! Well done China, Jixian and Tianjin Province, what a spectacular fail!

Monday, May 09, 2011

One Liner from Ezer

Here's a one liner for u:

q: What's scarier than to find blood in your urine?
a: Simon Cross' training plan!


Simon says: - Haha, I thought that this was very funny although my training plan is usually blown out of proportion, honestly it's not that crazy.

Ironman China Training

I generally don't do training posts...because...well...quite honestly they're usually as boring as [CHOOSE ONE] school, politicians, preachers(of any religion), going for a walk, watching paint dry or piano lessons. With one exception and only one exception, that's Bryan Payne who even seems to make putting his compression gear on interesting (he has a gift, drinks watered down beer but has a gift).

So what's different about this post? Well, it was an epic weekend's work out (Saturday - 186k/21k bike/run brick, Sunday 32k run), it was super hot and I was peeing blood like no tomorrow. If it had only been two out of three of these factors I wouldn't have bothered but it seems worth it under the circumstances with IMChina so close.

On Saturday I did my usually ride of 186k rolling hills, two short drinks stops and the rest of the time in the aero position giving it heaps. Richard Tang joined me which was great, it's always nice to have someone else along to suffer too.

The ride was fairly uneventful other than the fact that when the sun came up it was a little scary. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and the usual haze that keeps the sun abated for the first couple of hours wasn't there. It was gonna be SUPER HOT unless we got lucky.

We didn't get lucky and I was wearing my race tri top exposing my shoulders and part of my back (I usually wear a bike Jersey). I was gonna end up in hospital at this rate as I'd forgotten to put block on. But then I did get lucky. At drink stop one, as luck would have it, Carmen turned up and had a bottle of sunblock. Disaster averted. THANKS CARMEN.

By the time we got back it was 40.3 Celsius, probably the hottest Saturday this year and almost no clouds. Unsurprisingly, my heart rate was much higher at 121bpm compared to last week's 107bpm for the same ride and we were 11 minutes slower.

We piled into some ice water, took a bit of a breather and then headed out for our brick run with the sun still beating down relentlessly. I convinced Richard to run bigger loops than last week but by 12.5k he'd had enough (trust me, this guy is tough as nails and a fantastic runner but he's also smart). I continued and knocked out 21k at a pace of 5:20mpk including 3 drink stops. Totally stoked by that and this was my second brick ride/run of the week where I'd knocked out a half marathon after the bike. Not to mention the crazy temperature.

But then the trouble started. I peed on the last loop of the run and noticed some blood in my urine. I've never had that before. After I'd loaded up on water and cooled down a bit I peed again and this time it looked like mostly blood and not much urine - oo ere! I wondered whether to worry Shilpa with it but I knew she'd be rightfully upset if I didn't. She was cool but then went and Googled it and came back and asked me if there was any pain when I peed.

No pain, "Oh!" she said..."Pain and you've probably got a urinary infection"..."No pain and it might be cancer"! NICE!!!

That was reassuring! In fact there are other explanations such as Kidney Disease or simply Runners Hematuria. The latter being irritation of the bladder caused by the constant jarring of the running action and dehydration.

By the end of the day my urine was clear and all was good. I decided to do my run in the morning and although 32k was scheduled I decided to run 11k and then check my urine and bail if there was any blood.

It was clear and I was relieved (haha pun intended). I was running with Sam, Julie, Richard (he was having his revenge for the day before and running circles round me) and Emer (not sure about spelling). Emer is a doctor and a sport addict by the sounds of it, she's super chatty and super nice, I hope she joins us again.

I was proudly telling the group of my previous day's problem when she suggested that it could be quite serious and end up in Renal Failure. NICE ONE! That stopped me in my tracks, literally for a moment or two. I was then scared enough to visit the hospital for a check up this morning.

We had a good steady run back but I was hurting bad by 18k and with the urine issue and the long brick run the day before I was full of excuses to call it a day at 21k. BUT...I had forgotten Richard who'd zoomed off ahead. He was sitting by my car quietly waiting for me to get back to start the last 11k!!! BUGGER!

So off we set, pain, misery, dark moments, regret, more pain, more misery, probably a bit of sobbing...blah blah blah and less than an hour later we were back. 32k in the bag and off home quick as you like for Mother's Day.

I went for a pee, with not just a little trepidation and apprehension... sure enough more blood, albeit less than the day before. Once again all was clear by the afternoon.

I went to get my Chinese Visa today. I had to apply in person on Friday and go for an "interview" today. The interview lasted 30 seconds and could have easily been done when I first applied. Now I have go back on Wednesday to collect my passport and visa. How bureaucratically stupid is this? I don't know if they think everyone going to China haven't got better things to do but come on guys, you want people to do business with you? You want people to come and spend money with you? This annoyance will certainly add weight to future decisions on business and touristy visits to China.

After the Embassy visit I went to the hospital to get checked up. Three hours later I'd had my urine tested and there was not even a trace of blood cells which was encouraging. I'd also had a CT Scan of my kidney's and bladder. The doctor seemed pretty convinced that I had Kidney Stones somewhere in my system. The CT scan gave me the all clear too. I have an appointment with a Urologist tomorrow for a second opinion and hopefully we'll eliminate the Kidney Disease and Bladder Cancer too.

(Both Shilpa and my business partner Ian were a little more concerned than they should be when I told them I'd been referred to a Neurologist, as it turns out I'm just a little illiterate rather than needing my brain looked at haha)

Friday, May 06, 2011

Some wicked one-liners

(Courtesy of Nick Flynn)

A mate of mine recently admitted to being addicted to brake fluid.
When I quizzed him on it he reckoned he could stop any time.

I went to the cemetery yesterday to lay some flowers on a grave. As I was standing there I noticed four pall-bearers walking about with a coffin. Three hours later and they're still walking about with it.
I thought to myself, these blokes have lost the plot!!

I was at a cash-point yesterday when a little old lady asked if I could check her balance.
Not being one to disappoint I pushed the old dear over.

A new middle east crisis erupted last night as Dubai Television was refused permission to broadcast 'The Flintstones'.
A spokesman for the channel said....'A claim was made that people in Dubai would not
understand the humour, but we know for a fact that people in Abu Dhabi Do.'

My son's been asking me for a pet spider for his birthday, so I went to our local pet shop and they were £70!!!
Blow that, I thought, I can get one cheaper off the web.

Statistically, 6 out of 7 dwarfs are not happy.

My wife was hinting about what she wanted for our upcoming anniversary.
She said, 'I want something waterproof and shiny that goes from 0 to 150 in about 3 seconds.'
I bought her bathroom scales.

Saw my mate outside the Doctor's today looking really worried. "What's the matter?" I asked. "I've got the big C,"he said. "What, cancer?"
"No, dyslexia."

I start a new job in Seoul next week. I thought it was a good Korea move.

I got some new aftershave today that smells like breadcrumbs.
The birds love it!

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has announced that he intends to make it more difficult to claim benefits.
From next week, all the forms will be printed only in English.

I was driving this morning when I saw an RAC van parked up. The driver was sobbing uncontrollably and looked very miserable.
I thought to myself 'that guy's heading for a breakdown'.

On holiday recently in Spain I saw a sign that said 'English speaking Doctor'
I thought, 'What a good idea, why don't we have them in our country?'

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Ironman China - the story continued...

I haven't blogged for a while but I do intend to start posting stuff more regularly, even if they're just funnies. Also I've added a couple of self-indulgent pictures to try to help motivate myself. The bike is from IMMY last year and the run from the Malakoff Duathlon series in 2006. No reason other than I like both of them.

Anyways, I haven't been terribly motivated to blog, train consistently or do anything else really. I'm still in a bit of a funk. To try to get myself out of it I had a look at the competitor list for Ironman China. I thought I'd better check to see if the two Japanese guys that beat me in 70.3 Singapore were going.

The good news is they're not registered but then I made a terrible mistake, I checked out everyone else. I did the same thing for Ironman Langkawi last year and then a bunch of Frenchies turned up at the last minute and whooped me.

A couple of hours later I'd established that eleven competitors registered for China in the 45-49 category had qualified for Kona last year!!!! ELEVEN! That's flippin insane. I'm telling you those over-achieving 1962-1966 baby boomers are a pain in the a$$.

So rather than spurring me on and enthusing me, it really gave me a kick in the teeth. Don't get me wrong I haven't given up but with my start/stop training and my start/stop mojo (or lack thereof) I just didn't need to see that.

HOWEVER, the fact is I usually pull great races out of the bag more times than not. My training may be far from perfect but certainly in Olympic Distance and 70.3's I almost always overachieve. Add that to the fact that an Ironman is an Ironman and much can go wrong for many people plus my secret weapon DENIAL then I shall be toeing the start line with my overinflated ego and confidence in tact. I'll always bet on myself, regardless of the odds.

But then I believe it was me that said "YOU CAN'T BLUFF AN IRONMAN LIKE YOU CAN AN OLYMPIC DISTANCE RACE". Time has pretty much run out now, I have 4 weeks left, 2 of hardcore training and 2 of quality tapering. The 2 weeks of the hardcore stuff is where I can mix the potions for the magic to happen but the stressful 2 weeks of tapering are the most dangerous where self-sabotage driven by stress can scuttle even the best laid plans.

I guess you have to know the murky depths of the inner me to truly understand what I'm on about here but I suspect that any PFG Ironmen (previous fat guys) will get a hint of what I'm wittering on about.

So there you go, an update, no longer a cry for help, no need for positive comments or kicks up the butt. What is there, is there and I'll make the magic happen and keep the self-sabotage at bay OR I won't. Either way it's down to me and there ain't no place or time to hide anymore.

So to the facts: -

My swimming is a little better, somewhere closer to my best than to my worst!!! I'm not sure what that really means but I think it means that in a nice buoyant wetsuit I shouldn't lose that much time.

My bike is unbelievable, I'm knocking out 180+k rides in 30-40C heat at a faster pace than I have ever done before without even trying. Averaging 35-36kph and heart rate down to under 110. It must be the bike.

My run is really not looking pretty though, I'm overweight and no sign of being able to drop anymore (stress = eating too much for me, "Then, don't eat you idiot" I hear you say but believe me it's difficult to control. At least being off pizzas, ice-cream and alcohol is helping to keep it stable. run a descent marathon after the swim and the bike you have to be down to weight...AND I'M NOT!...Mmmmm!

To qualify for Kona I'm expecting to have to hit a time of sub 10hrs. That's what I shall aim for and if I can conjure up the magic over the next four weeks then there's an outside shot.

After China, there's IMLP. That was always my fall back position but I know well that the first Ironman of the year is almost always the strongest. BUT...? If it doesn't happen in China then...? Well, that's another soul searching blog or two... and it would take a monumental change of attitude. So let's do China first.

One thing's for sure, the next 12 weeks are going to be interesting, I'm going to be going to shadowy places deep inside myself that are scary, dark and miserable but somehow that's starting to excite me, getting reacquainted with one's own frailties, weaknesses and inner limits exposes your soul. The beauty of it is that no one else will see the full extent of it but myself, the journey will make me stronger, it will make me faster and if the usual pattern is followed it will make me appreciate the true brilliance of life even more.