D-Day is getting close
I cannot believe that just short of 11 months ago I qualified for Iron Man, Kona. I thought that was a big build up and a huge crescendo – it was. The build up to Kona however has been bigger than I could have imagined. Everyone who knows anything about triathlon cannot help themselves from giving advice, stories of experiences, words of encouragement and admiration, and just simply passing on strength and well wishes. It is an amazing thing to have experienced – and I consider myself extremely fortunate to be living this dream.
I have been to World Champs in the Olympic distance and Long distance and raced at Challenge Roth (voted many times over as the best triathlon in the world and probably most supported from a spectator number point of view), but still nothing compares to the attention one gets when telling a fellow triathlete you are training for Kona, Hawaii. It is only now that I am so close to actually doing to race that I realise how big it is and how people view this event.
I have promised myself that I am not going to let the occasion get the better of me – generally races don’t – I just get very excited and love the moment. I am however going to “chase my own best” – words from our own Chad le Clos.
Consistency in training
So I am on the road travelling for work for 2 days again and last night I went to bed feeling terrible that I had eaten too much and not trained. 2 days no training is going to destroy my race. NOT! For those of us that have ‘normal’ lives – actually fitting the triathlon part of the life in there probably makes us abnormal , but we have jobs and families and other responsibilities so having some forced days off is part of preparing for a race – even at 16 days out from the biggest race of my life – Ironman Kona.
Inside or outside
So what do you prefer – swimming in the local gym pool or getting out to a lake, dam or the ocean? Admittedly the local gym pool is more accessible for most of us, unless you live right next to the ocean. Then there are the obvious differences like the water generally being cleaner in a pool and a black line directing you in the pool. I would still have to say, that if you can get over the fear of swimming in open water – it is a far better experience. If you are relatively swimming fit, the open water swim actually becomes therapeutic – I suppose there is something about being close to nature.
Most open water swims will have some form of natural beauty surrounding you and what can be better than to have the sun on your face every time you turn to take a breath. Ever tried swimming when it is raining – that adds a whole different perspective. If its a heavy Highveld thunderstorm, then it can get abit scary as the drops splashing off the water mean you can see only 2-3 metres ahead of you. However if its a light rain, it makes for an awesome experience. Today I swam 3.8km’s at Cradle Moon Game farm (previously Heia Safari), and it ended my weekend and training week perfectly.
Triathlon is about experiences – my goal is to race as many different races as possible as each race brings something different. Whether it’s the water, the bike course or the run course, every race can bring a new challenge or a never to be repeated experience.
Go out and enjoy what nature has to offer!
Not sure what your view is on preparation but I prefer to leave nothing to chance. Triathlon involves three sports and travelling literally to the other side of the globe requires some decent preparation. Not much needed for the swim as it certainly won’t be wetsuit legal, and the run doesn’t require that much either (the new Nike Air Pegasus were purchased at the beginning of the year already), but with the bike we all know it’s not that easy.
Not that Hawaii is a third world country where finding bike spares or buying nutrition or clothes would be difficult, but in my case nothing is ever easy to get as nothing is ‘normal’ – size 14 shoes, XL bike frame etc.
Triathlon like life
So with all the frustration around my knee injury and then my hamstring pain that have hindered my running since the beginning of the year and then getting flu twice in August – I have had my fair share of a mental & physical roller coaster in the lead up to Kona.
My coach Lucie, told me in her wisdom that triathlon is like life – it sometimes throws us unwanted or unplanned curveballs. That’s no lie. At a time when my cycling is stronger than ever and my swimming form feels great, I am probably in the worst running shape I have been in, in a couple of years. A total of 250 km’s of running since I was allowed to start running again in May.
Hard work – 30 Days to go!
So after a tough session this morning on the indoor trainer and a long day at the office I am sitting here not knowing what to write about in my next blog – after all tomorrow I am into the 20s days to go! Cannot believe I am so close.
Then I remembered a saying that I heard for the first time a few years ago while chatting to Roland Schoeman, Olympic Gold Medallist and an awesome guy, judging from the couple of hours I spent with him. “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”. He mentioned that it is was up on a wall at the University in the USA where he spent many hours training. I had to think about it for a while before it sunk in.
Soon afterwards I wrote it down on a piece of paper and then transferred it to my diary. I then saw it again recently at the Sports Science Lab (SSL) in Pretoria run by Neil DuPLessis – an incredible sports scientist who has helped me with 2 fairly serious injuries.
I reckon, that I live by this. I am not particularly talented – I was 4th Team rugby captain at high school and tried my hand at just about any sport on offer from tennis to squash to cricket to action cricket, athletics to volleyball to swimming to bmx’ing to canoeing to water skiing and throw in some golf. Not often did I achieve anything amazing, but I loved every minute of being outdoors and exerting myself in some way.
Then I fell in love triathlon – WOW have I worked hard at this sport and enjoyed the journey immensely. Note I said journey, and not every single session or moment. The other day I was so far over y limit on my indoor trainer that I thought I was going to throw up. I didn’t, but I know that hard work will pay off in Kona.
Nothing in life comes easy – work hard and you can beat those talented individuals out there!
Balance? Bull dust! 32 days to go
That question that we all grapple with – is there a perfect balance between work, family, friends and triathlon?
I am not even going to call it ‘health’ because when you hit the Iron Man distance there is NO balance and its not for health reasons.
As my wife Sharon once said – “Iron Man is a cult”.
Triathletes mind set 200km mark
Its psychological I suppose and anyone who cycles will know what I mean. Even the pros do it – I remember riding with Jan Ullrich in Stellenbosch, SA back in Dec 2014 and we ended a ride just short of 100km and as we arrived back at the hotel he was spinning his front wheel to ensure the clock clicks over to 100km’s.
I’m certainly feeling good now that I have done the 200km’s, better than what I would have felt if I had done 198km’s !
So people keep asking me how I manage to spend so many hours on my indoor trainer? The answer is simple I suppose – time and results! When it comes to my indoor trainer I have literally spent hundreds of hours in my ‘man cave’ , ‘torture chamber’, home gym – call it what you want. It was even part of the plans of our brand new house that Sharon & I designed at Monaghan Farm. It wasn’t me that pushed for the training room – Sharon said it must be part of the plans. Thank you my darling!
Amazing how a big goal like Iron Man Kona can create an emotional roller coaster. As mentioned previously, I have had my fair share, in fact more than my fair share, of injuries during my build up and unfortunately the neural hamstring strain is not going away. I envisaged having my biggest training week ever this week – around 24 hours. That was thrown off course on Monday evening after a 10km run were my hamstring flared up to the point I could hardly walk on Tuesday morning.
Tuesday night was a huge low point for me – I was ready to pack it all in and give up on the Kona dream. I literally cried myself to sleep wondering if it has all been worth it. In desperation I turned to something I have never tried – Chinese therapy:
Where Trifactri athletes get to tell their side of the Swim, Bike and Run