Monday, April 23, 2007

Tr(i)aining for my first Triathlon

Now the swim leg of my first upcoming Triathalon should be easy, that is if I had been a good boy at Sunday School done all the right things and had God as my father. Because Saturday week will see me lining up on the Shores of the Sea of Galilee to compete in my first triathlon, now JC could just run the swim leg being that it is in the plaace where legend has it he walked on water.

But I am no saint and short of a miraculous appirition of the Virgin Mark in sweat on the back of my tri suit, I doubt that I will ever walk on water. So Saturday morning I headed up for a tri training session with fellow Tri'ers, Andrea and Margret.

Not that we got off to a flying start after loading the bikes onto the back of armored car, i started to drive away but somehow managed to roll backwards into the car behind me, luckily there was no damage to the bikes and since it was dark and 4:30 in the morning, the car behind me might of picked up a typical Israeli car park scratch.

The Sea of Galilee is about an hour and half North of my place and we arrived just after dawn, managed to find a coffee shop open to help pacify my nerves and also a clean toliet. Anyone who has ever trained for any morning sporting event like running or triathalons knows what I mean about the necessity of a toilet, I mean we even have cryptic codes to assess who of us has been and we all get jealous if another person has suceeded whilst you have managed only.

The aim of the training day was to do the three disciplines on the course, so at 7.30 we lined up on the shores of the Galilee and took the plunge. It was about 250m out and back to a buoy, now swimming in open water has now concern for me as it beats the black line fever you get swimming in a pool. Margret and Andrea managed it but still do not seem happy in the open water, so hopefully they will relax and be able to enjoy the swim.

Out of the water and get the bikes ready, split into three groups depending on whether you are doing the Half Ironman, Olympic or Sprint distances. I am opting for the Olympic distance as much as I am tempted to go for the Half Ironman, the thought of riding 90km then running a half marathon is just a bit to daunting as my training is not up to that level yet and it would as they say be a long day at the office.

The Olympic distance are 1500m swim, 40 km bike ride and a 10km run.

The Coach let our group know that we would be riding for a while to get warmed up then do two 20km time trials as in race preparation on the actual course. The warmup is always much easier as you ride in a group and can draft meaning that you are only expending about 30% of the effort to ride at that speed alone, for those doubters it really does make a massive difference to be in a peloton.

The time trials are a different out there alone no drafting so you are really working hard an example is that in the peloton my heart rate sat around 90 - 100 bpm, out on the time trial i was never below 130 bpm.

I pushed hard and managed a negative split for the second half of the time trial, Margret had a puncture which sucked and Andrea somehow has a bike that weighs more than she does and was still suffering from the effects of the cold water from the swim and when I passed her on the way back she had more coats and tops hanging off her than a trolley lady in East LA.

Running after biking is one of the hardest things to do as all of a sudden you are using totally different muscles in the same limbs and the first few strides feel like your legs are going around not in front of you. But we all pushed out for a solid thirty minute run covered 6km's which given that it was my first true brick session was more than happy with what we had all done.

As a post note, Sunday night we decided to get together for a while and practise fixing punctures, yes in the training schedule we now have fixing punctures, decided not wear my heart rate monitor for that session.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Race with the Marzipan Elvis

We often remember races for things other than the run and this was the case last Friday when we ran the oldest race in Israel around Mt Tavoor in the North. This is the oldest race in Israel being run over the last 55 year, which in age terms and length of history of a nation makes this run one of the most famous in the country.

Of course being Israel it was a complete and utter mess at the begining with access being granted to the car park only after a screaming match with a policeman with me waving and flashing my Press card and pointing to the TV signs all over my car as I explained that I was there to film the event, conviently dressed in running clothes along with my friends Chaim, Judith an Rachel.

Of course they then placed the bib collection down a hill about a km away, it was just all going wrong from the gitgo and for the first time in a long time I actually considered packing it in and just going home. I had to run back up the hill drop clothes off and run back to the start covered in sweat with my pace racing, only to have to stand around and wait in mud for the next twenty minutes as someone figured out where the actual starting line was and that we all were facing the wrong way.

The run itself is a classic ballbreaker with the first three km's being straight up the mountain that you can see in the background of the photo. Following my Ultras back in Australia I soon realised that I was in for a tough race as I was walking (along with everyone else after the first half km) I am normally a good hill runner but this was tough but at least on a road rather than the mud trail we started on.

You know trhe feeling of trying to scrape off the mud from the souls of your trainers as you try to reduce the weight on your feet back down to a manufacturers level.

Now we finally got to the high pointand descended down thru an Israeli Arab village of no beauty or value whatsoever, but then there is the irony of running past a mosque in the middle of Israel.

We now looped back along thru the fields at the base of the mountain once again slipping and sliding thru mud puddles with a quick Hwy downhill before the final small uphill and to the finishing line.

I wish I could figure out my time but the organisers site is all in hebrew, I think I did the 11km in 1:01 and some change so given the conditions and proximity to the ultras I was happy with my time. The others all came in within a few minutes of each other around 15 minutes later.

So what has this to do with "Marzipan Elvis" well the area is known for its Almonds the source of Marzipan and after the race we headed down to a restaurant for a coffee which by chance is also the home of the "Marzipan Museum" all you have ever wanted to know about marzipan is here. But in pride of place behind a protective pane of glass there was a life size model of Elvis (not the slim Elvis) made from Marzipan.

So for some races it is almost funny that you remember not the sweat pain and agony of running to your maximum but hey the Marzipan Elvis "priceless".

Run Strong