Enduroman – the numbers

ESA map

route map

Some of you might be more interested in the numbers around my race on Saturday. I am rather pleased to be placed 11th in my age group and 26th male. full results here

ESA overviewThe swim was 2,5 km which I completed in 52 min. (4 minutes in T1: wetsuit off and to get my head into the game)

ESA altitude

altitude profile. note the big climb and then the three ascents of the run course with the three sandy climbs towards the end of each run lap

The 74 km bike took 4h26 with me keeping the effort pretty constant except for a bit of a surge after WP1 to try and catch a wheel. This was a waste as they rode away from me and I burnt a match. I lost a few places here but made them up in the last third of the route. The longest hill took well over 20 minutes of mostly granny gear! There are some fast sections towards the end where you can make up time. I fueled well on the bike, I consumed 4 X 750ml bottles with 1 scoop each of 32Gi powder in them. I had a total of 3 sticks of Landjaeger (go and ask a German Butcher), 2 hot cross buns, 1 banana, 1 32Gi bar, 1 packet of 32 Gi chews.

I hit T2 with nobody else in sight. I had no idea where anybody else was placed except that they were announcing Stuart who had finished already. My aim was to run each 7 km lap in 45 minutes. I was conservative on the first. the second finished in 82 minutes and I knew that it was race on. I tried to break 2h05 for the run but just did not have enough gears to push hard. I passed a lot of other runners but had no idea if they were in my age group or on which lap they were. I am glad that I biked relatively conservatively so that I had enough in the tank to run well.

Enduroman race report

I was fascinated by road kill. There it was, I had seen the blue gel packet in the same spot twice before and a little further on I would find the orange jelly baby just to my left on a flat rock. Discarded but now a friendly supporter on each of my three laps of the run course. And then he was not there….

I ran on wondering if somebody was desperate enough to pick him up and eat him. I had thought about that often (today and at previous races) in the closing stages of a triathlon. Where the hell was my little friend?

I climbed two of the three sandy hills and almost forgot about him when suddenly next to my left foot he cheered me on. Glowing bright orange in the sun.

I was a few hundred meters from the finish line of Enduroman SA and my race had gone to plan. In fact better than expected.

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seconds before the start

Just over seven hours ago I had to work hard against the cold, black, swallowing too much water. Not enjoying it much. The water temperature was 15*C but it felt colder. The darkness pulled at me while I tried to maintain form and I had to try really hard not just to call it a day. Then the rainbow appeared. Rain left little dimples rainbowon the surface and all became better. I waved at M and friends as we started lap two and then I found my rhythm.

Why are they all still in transition? It seemed like half the field was just standing there taking their time. Getting dressed. So different form the usual rushing madness. And off we rode up the first hill. A few passed me and I knew it would not last long. Over eager on the technical section. Then one of them fell. Frustration has to be held back so early on.

Spectator point one and I was ahead of schedule. Glad to see M and friendly cheers. I burnt a match trying to catch a draft. All in vein as they disappeared into the distance a little while later. A lesson in caution and patience. I ate meat and real food and fueled the machine. Spinning, spinning all the time. The monster hill and I let them go. Down the mudslide and front wheel was tracking well.

Easy down the cobbles and then I started to gain some places.

Pit stops went like clockwork thanks to fantastic support.

Get the speed up on the final approach.

Then Transition two and I heard them announce the winner. I knew I would walk the monster hill. But anything other than that was to be run. I stuck to the plan. Attack the downhill and then push on the sandy bits.

And so it was over. Just like that. Like a dream.

Thanks to organisers: Glyn, Geddan and crew; sponsors: Orca, 32Gi and Oakpics for making this possible. I certainly hope that this will become an annual fixture on the calendar.

The hunger games (return): a race report of sorts – from a while ago

The gun goes off and we dash off like our lives depend on it. The crowd, sipping early morning espresso cocktails cheers. Having placed bets on their favourite twitbook hero. They know more about our bike set ups, training and run splits than we do. Some of us are just here because we are here. With our quirky bikes, little rituals and lucky charms
Some have forgotten life in the journey. Some have made this their journey. Some can’t wait for the finish line. I hope to be ready when it happens. And when it does it is completely left field, unexpected and unplanned for that it takes me by surprise for almost 30km. Figuring out what to do now. The figuring out what happened will take much longer. Days at least if I ever find the answer.
The first sensation I feel when I get off the bike is relief. Running shorts on. Take my top off and then I try to run. Instantly my feet are sore. The cramps are not far off. Coke is all I can stomach and I can not take too much it seems. I run as best I can and try to work this out. Too cautiously at first I guess until I throw caution to the wind and stop at every table to smash the black liquid. More and more. The crowd goes wild in waves and I crave their cheers but I grimace inside and out
(Good luck to all those that are trying to regroup after IM 70,3 and do the final few weeks for the big one at IMSA)
Oh and for a proper race report check this out:

Terra Firma Race Report:

terra firma

One of the iconic multi sport events of the Cape. A must do.

 Outline:

The Terra Firma is all the land based activities of the 7 discipline of the Total Sports Challenge.

50 km Road Bike

13 km Road Run

25 km Mountain Bike

9 km Beach Run

My Race:

We arrive in Gordon’s Bay and the wind is blowing. Not desperate but strong enough for me to think that my sub 5h might not work out. We will have to wait and see how conditions change. Logistics is sorted out and I go for a 10 minute warm up just to feel the legs.

The siren goes off for the start and I find myself in a group of about 8 including HAnlie Booysen and Ann Harrison. I am by no means the most experienced in pack riding so I keep my wits about me for what is going on. I make some mistakes and touch somebody’s wheel. This is definitely something I will need to work on! I feel strong and do my bit of work. I am pleased that I can match the pace and am strong on the hills. 1h24 and we turn sharp right into transition. I have a 6 minute lead over where I thought I would be. Pleased but too early in the game to celebrate.

T1 is madness, Sean Falconer’s words are drowned out as I grab shoes and hand over bike to Roger. I settle into a nice pace for the run. Initially I have to throttle back and I sit on a guys heels and we run at low 4 min kays. There are a couple of teams that pass me but otherwise things seem to be ticking along. I settle into between 4:30 and 5 min pace. We hit the dirt road towards the end of this section and I am looking forward to the MTB. Gloves on while I run and then into T2 with a 55:26 split for 13km. Quite pleased with that too.

I hop on the saddle and cycle out of transition only to be faced by a monster hill. Dismount and push. Then cross the road and up Highlands. Head down and give it what I can. I don’t have the power I thought I would and as Roger said this is where the race starts. I get dropped by a few guys but I do what I can, the turn off gazebo is in the distance. Now onto jeep track and more up! Nothing technical but we follow a trail of oil. Obviously somebody has broken their sump and left a black line up the middle mannetjie. Tony had warned me about the descent so I was cautious and two guys flew past. Glad that I knew about it as consequences of getting it wrong would be nasty. The route is very well marked and I recover a little before the final sting. Grossvater gear is used and then the view to Kleinmond. I love the last km or so into transition. Such fun!

T3 in 1:25. By now I have 15 min in the bag. I feel I might need it as my calves are fried. I am over sugar by now but grab a gel anyway and head out onto the beach. I look for the hardest sand immediately, others run in the soft sand. I manage to hold onto slow 5min pace. Keeping cadence up is all I can concentrate on. The turnaround comes very slowly. I struggle to hold a sub 6 min pace and it drops to below that for a couple of km’s. I see the end and claw back. Finish in 53 min and total time of 4:38 and 11th overall!! See results here.

Very pleased with the outcome!

I sit in the Rehidrat zone for a while and drink the lovely ice cold juice.

What could I improve on:

My nutrition was always going to be tricky with the fast pace and high effort from the start. I stuck to my plan but having a gel so early in the day made me not want to touch anything sweet by the time I hit the beach. I would like to experiment a bit more with 32GI and see if I can use it in a more concentrated form instead of a gel. I think this might stop my stomach turning against sweet things early on.

I was strong on both run sections but I lacked power on the MTB. I would have to train this more and by getting stronger on the road bike. Not to get faster here but to feel fresher!

The beach run is always hard. Practicing this a bit more might help.

Useful info:

* You will need at least one dedicated person to second you. We initially thought that one person could perform that task for two of us but this is not possible. Traffic is busy and parking at transitions is not always super convenient so this puts a bit of pressure on. Get your second to leave Gordon’s Bay BEFORE the race starts to avoid having to drive past all the cyclists.

* The Terra Firma is no easier than a 70,3 event. I spent a similar amount of time on the combined bike as in 70,3. The combined run legs are harder.

* The road run is hot: hydrate and cool yourself down appropriately.

* The atmosphere is very relaxed and certainly more easy going than WTC events, especially in transitions.

You will have a blast! I will certainly be back to see if I can break 4:30!!

Ironman: what I have learnt:

70,3 2013: note mtb shoes and std road helmet

70,3 2013: note std road helmet and mtb shoes

This is my favorite time of year for training. Work stress disappears for a few weeks and you can put in a solid block. Perfect if you are preparing for IMSA on the 6th April 2014

I loved my prep a year ago and thought I would share some insights from my journey. NOW is the time to start planning in earnest!

In no particular order:

* It is ok to give your bike a name. We all do it. And yes “machine” is as good a name as any.

* Get a pro bike set up for your tt bike/bars. It is perfectly good to ride on a road bike with tt bars. A correct set up will be hugely different from a road bike set up. Spend the money on this and do it early so that you can get used to the position and discomfort. I used Ian Waddel of Personal Best

* Discomfort can not be avoided but needs to be managed.

* I have mtb shoes and cleats on my road bike. This means I only need one pair of biking shoes for road and mtb. I get out of the water and put my shoes on and run to my bike in transition. And I don’t look like a complete dork standing around in my cycling shoes 😉

* Work out your nutrition and work out a plan. Then train that plan. On race day be flexible. My plan did not work out as I ate too much concentrated sugar too early on. Even a few gels too early on the bike mess things up. I learnt a hard lesson on the run.

* Going to swim squad once a week is a huge help. I did at least one other session of technique drills and one long swim, preferably open water. (I could not swim three year’s ago. I did a course with Georgie Thomas of Total Immersion. read about that here. I still stand by what I wrote. This is the best way for a non-swimmer to learn. HOWEVER you just don’t get fast continually doing drills and ultimately IM is a race). Viv Williams continues to be a super star.

* Think transitions through and how you are going to manage each of them. Work out what is going to work for you and not what everybody else does. Pack the least amount of stuff into your transition bag! I chose to ride in cycling bibs and changed into running shorts. The added comfort was well worth the few minutes extra changing.

* Ride your bike alone. It is an individual race and should be trained accordingly. I see far too many pelotons of tt bikes out. Really! What is the point?

* Ride with the nutrition that you will have on race day. Ride with your water bottles full – even for shorter rides. You want to know what the bike is really going to feel like with an extra 1,5 kg on board.

* Ride the downhills. Don’t just freewheel. This is where you get free speed. Use it.

* Most important enjoy the training. If you don’t then you won’t do the necessary yards.

I am not doing Ironman in 2014. I want to build my biking base. This is going to be even more important with the route changes in mind. Good luck to all who are getting ready for next year!

Full Disclosure: I continue to use and pay for Ian and Viv’s services. I did not receive any benefit for writing this post.

In search of a hill aka Brain Fry: The Lesotho Ultra Trail 2013

LUTMy brain has finally returned and taken residence rather than gone to a sleepy place for the last few days since the Lesotho Ultra Trail.

I have a certain fascination with hills (probably from my climbing days). The Lesotho Ultra Trail came along promising a brand new event and plenty of hills. I was in!

This trip was more about new experiences than anything else but more of that below.

First I picked up two fellow competitors in Sandton. We look quite out of place squashing duffels into an i10 and generally getting in the way of Gucci clad BUSYness people. (I guess Linda brought here laptop in an attempt to blend in).

We zoot off. Ok we are stuck in traffic for 90 min after which we increase our overall speed, following the guiding star to Bethlehem, and on to the border. At the border Linda is asked if she is also here to run! The countryside is pretty, the hills bigger as the road starts to wind into the valley. We sign in three times. “You can check out any time but you can never leave….”

After gear check we find our various homes for the weekend. Andrew has scored luxury in Adolf’s bunker.

Race briefing and formalities with empty stomachs. But the wait was worth it. We dig into the buffet and catch a few hours of sleep.

At some point I get a lift in a Cayenne. I always wanted to drive in a Porsche, never imagined it would be in Lesotho!

Next morning I have a small breakfast of eggs and greasy potatoes about 1h before the gun goes off. This is going to be more of a mountaineering day than running at full pace so I approach it as such. The tops are under clouds, no problem.

The AJ Calitz Safety Car is out for the first 500m as I joke to those around me that this is the last we will see the front bunch. Little do I know.

Soon the first big climb arrives and I slow to a walk pretty early on. Easy does it. Way too early to push. Revelation number 1: I get my nutrition right.

The mist closes in around us on the ridgeline. I continue at my own pace. As I briefly retrace my steps to find the next marker I see AJ and Ian come towards me. (So they were the voices I heard in the wrong direction.) We navigate together for a few km until we join another group and I drop back.

Descent into heat and sun and to the main checkpoint in the valley, we see it a long way below us. The guys open a big gap on my conservative legs. Dreaded jeeptrack (the only 4km of non single track of the day) then the ridge climb. Crest the wave and after a quick coke, more down. Quads hurting. Still I dare not go 100%. Finally the river and I push as much as I can. I pass Buff® boy and another.

I am pleased to hit the final descent and finish. I have not done much since then, just letting my fried brain and tired body come back. After 6 days of chilling I am psyched to climb on the bike and put in some miles this weekend!

Thanks to Andrew and Linda for sharing this trip!

Thanks to the organising crew and Maliba lodge for a great event.

Thanks to my team I have run my first ultra in 3 years completely pain free! Onwards…

Matroosberg Trail Challenge Sky Marathon 2013

In 2012 I entered the event with the hope of having snow en route but sadly it was cancelled two days before due to too much of the white fluffy stuff. I put it out of my mind until the newly formed South African Skyrunning Association announced its first Sky Marathon to be held at Matroosberg!

To be honest I did have high expectations as the organisers are new kids on the block and this was a pretty ambitious project. Oh well I thought at very least I hope to get to run in a new area and visit Matroosberg for the first time AND get some valuable altitude training for Lesotho Ultra Trail (the second Sky Running event in Southern Africa) later this month!

Wow what a surprise when we hit the course!

The route was well marked, well thought out and tough for my legs that had not raced in 2 years. I loved every minute and truly enjoyed the whole experience. I was also testing the brand new Garmin Virb action camera for Go Multi Magazine and hence I took this opportunity to shoot some footage. (Yes a review will follow shortly!) I hope this gives you some idea of what you missed!