Sunday, February 20, 2011

Are you the real deal or a little wuss?

Check this out. It's is a photo of Malaysian sprinter 'Awang' crossing the finish line at the World Cup Keirin final. He got back up and pedaled on following a crash which took out 5 riders. By getting back up - he crossed the line for Bronze medal.

Ok, now have a closer look at his leg...

Yes, that is the real deal...

I bet he never whinges about being tired, or having a sore back, or blisters on his toes! Can you imagine the kind of self-talk that would have been going on between his ears? The voice saying "you have a bit of wood through your leg, there is no way you can get on a bike", "GET AN AMBULANCE!" and "AAAHHHH!!!". But he had the power of the mind to tell that little voice to nick off, to tell himself he CAN get back on the bike and spin away to the end. Incredible!

Here is the race itself. You don't see much but if you look closely it does explain why the splinter went in his leg from behind...

Anyway, the moral of the story is 'get up and get over it'. Or something equally whimsical.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dear Scott...

Dear Scott,

I am writing this letter to say thank-you. Thank-you for giving me hope that I am going to live a rich and fulfilling life. You see, growing up in the factory with the other young kids we would share stories about our dreams for the future. I always said that I wanted to go places. Fast. Faster than the other kids. And they all laughed at me. "Zoot" they said, "you are dreaming". Well I say, now who is laughing! It is me that will be succeeding at the speed of light (ok, maybe that is an exaggeration). What is no stretch of the truth though is the fact that I am going to go places, very quickly, and step forward continuously until I have out-paced everyone else! And it is all thanks to you, Scott. You are my savior, my mentor, my sole-mate and we will run side-by-side (sort of) to great victories! I look forward to our (fast) times together.

Yours truly,

Your new shoes

Bribie done and dusted

The big day finally arrived. The racing flats (shoes) were dusted off, bike tyres pumped up and the bag packed. All ready for action. A bit of drizzly rain met us on the drive up, but the closer we got to Bribie the more sunshine started to peer out from behind the clouds. Ahh Bribie... after a few years of racing there it really feels like a well worn pair of shoes - comfortable, familiar and reliable. It's always a great event (other than the race results taking FOREVER to get posted on the internet). I had plenty of time to set my space up in transition, and I must say I felt more aware and mindful of the day than I ever had. Time to check out the other punters, to have a laugh with some of the guys I race against and have come to know (one of them was putting spoke-a-dokes on his mates bike - cheeky bugger!) and time to just soak it all up. It was going to be a great day!

I had time to bump in to mum and Adz before it all started, which was great. Being wave 11 meant a big of standing around killing time, but there were some other Reddog guys and gals there so we gasbagged. Before I knew it I was in the water and racing! Got off to a pretty good start, although was hammered around the first buoy - 83 odd people heading for the same point after 60m or so, a slight traffic jam! Once I found some open space though I got into a nice rhythm and was out of the water in 5th - I think all this swimming training is finally starting to pay off!

A quick burst of running into transition, helmet and sunnies on and I was off onto the bike course. The first time I relax completely in a race is when I am on the bike, feet into the shoes and into a nice pedaling rhythm. A guy that I was toeing the swim start line with, and got onto dry land almost simultaneously with, had made it out of transition before me and was about 150m down the road by the time I was into my cycling shoes. I put in a nice burst of speed and caught him by the first round-a-bout. A nice "toot toot" pull of the truck horn arm action as I passed him for good measure (he laughed) and I was off. The ride is a 3 lap 10k course, and I killed it for the first 2. I dialled in my short distance race pace and kept the pedal down. Bribie tends to get a bit congested with other racers, but rather than get frustrated I used it to prompt spurts of pace as I cut past people before or after turns. A check of my watch after the race showed a 39khr average, which is good. I'd love to get it to 40k by Mooloolaba. Fingers crossed hey? Fastest bike split by nearly 2 minutes and in the lead.

I eased off a bit towards the end of the ride, say the last 1k or so, but increased my cadence (pedal speed) to promote faster leg movement when I jumped off and started running. Into transition, bike racked and not many other bikes racked so I knew things were looking good. Out of transition pretty quick and focused on getting the blood in the ol' legs ready for running. I try to focus on key technique stuff early on - run tall, relax the arms and high heels - to get it all happening. Plus I have learnt to not rush it and not to stress when the legs feel tired - I know that it is only a matter of time before the ride is a distant memory and the legs are dialled into the run. The run felt ok, I kept focusing on the next turn around, next key spot rather than think of it as 8k's. I didn't take on any water at the aid stations but used it to rinse my mouth and pour over my head. It took about 5 - 6k's before I felt strong. The last 2k's I was able to put the pedal down and give it full-tilt boogie to the end. Second fastest run split in my category (by 4 seconds) and winner by nearly 2 minutes. Very nice!

This win feels different to other good results I have had. I put in a great strategy in this race, pushed it at the right times, pulled it back in a bit at the right times, and generally paced it well all-round. I felt strong and it is great to see the training is working, you know? I was 5th fastest overall for the day as well, and managed to beat a number of the Open males so "yee haa" to me!

No rest for the wicked - I have booked in for next weekend to do the QLD Sprint Distance Championships. Checking out the winning times from last year I think I should crack the top 10. It'll be great to lay it on the line again. Key things to remember after Bribie - relax. Just look after my own square meter and race my race. Trust my instincts and remember that I can run off a hard ride even when my quads are killing me on the bike!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Popped the Cherry - And It Was GOOD!

This morning I took my new stead out on its maiden voyage, and I've gotta say, it excelled itself! It felt fast, reacted well when I wanted it to move, stiff yet uber comfortable (which will come in handy on the long training rides), and it looks great to boot!

The low down: it is a Time NXR Instinct. Time is a french brand, one of the few brands in the world who manufacture their own bikes in their country (rather than get places like Taiwan to build them) and put a lifetime warranty on the frame. It is running the same groupset (gears) as my Colnago, but a 3-year advance version so to me it's like running the higher level gearing anyway! I have kept some of the best parts of my previous bike, the wheels and saddle, so in a way it is the best of both worlds. Imagine if you could do that with your new girlfriend - take the good stuff from your previous one and meld them into the new one... I think that is when problems start though, right? When you try to make the new person like the old person? Aahhh, the sweet simplicity of bikes. They never complain or take it personally if you put a new bottom (or saddle/seat) or legs (wheels) on them.

On another note...

My first race of the year is tomorrow. My first race since Busso on 05/12/10, my first 'short distance' race since who knows when! It's going to be interesting. While a calf injury a few weekends ago put a damper on my running sessions (I went a week with no running) I have put in some good bike sessions (135k last Saturday) and some extra swimming (4 sessions this week). The lead up this week has also been pretty good - a few hard bike sessions on my race bike to practice race-pace (and above) and a not-so-bad run on Tuesday morning (though I couldn't keep up with the fast guys on the last few sets of 800m - buggers!). With a great massage on Wednesday night as well, I think I am as ready to rock n' roll as I could be. I'm nervous, but in a good way. It's going to be fun to get out there and see where I sit on the hierarchy at the moment. All this time in training, how does the end product compare - I will know tomorrow!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Good-bye old friend...

3 years. Longer than most relationships. That's how long my Colnago CLX has been part of my life. We have been through a lot together. My entire first season of triathlons. The gruelling hours on the saddle leading up to the Busso Ironman. More hours than I could count (actually, that's a lie; my other friend, my Garmin 310XT watch, keeps a very accurate record of hours in the saddle - 173 hrs 21 mins and 59 seconds in the training block leading up to Ironman WA). Rain, hail (once), and shine, she was always reliable and up for the task at hand. No problems. At all. After each service she ran (technically she rode) like a dream. How do I show my gratitude? I'm trading up. Selfish, right? Like an aging wrinkly billionaire looking for his next 20 year old... Sounds terrible when I put it like that.

Maybe a better way to look at it is to take the Michael Jordan angle - the Colnago is at the top of her game, so it's an ideal opportunity to retire. Enjoy the fame from the sidelines. Soak up some rays on a Maui beach. Ok, so looking at it that way makes me feel a little better.

Even test riding some new steads made me feel like I was cheating. My wife tells me that is an unhealthy way to look at it - it is a bike, an inanimate object. Phooey! It has a distinct personality - reliable, strong, courageous, inspiring, supportive, funny. It is like a best friend, except I spend more time with it than I do my friends!

So why - why am I looking for a new stead? For the same reason I am sad about saying good-bye. Another big year of training looms. Mooloolaba. Cairns Ironman. Maybe the Aus team for Beijing. Noosa. Busso Ironman. Another big year of hours on the bike. I don't want our relationship to end up like a sour marriage - too much time together so we lose sight of the things we love in each other. It's the best time to step away. And to find a new sexy stead to ride.