Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Corniche Abu Dhabi

One great thing about travlling for work is the places you do get to train in. Currently in Abu Dhabi in the UAE [United Arab Emirates]. a city like so many here in the Gulf that is growing beyond anyones wildest imagination. Where hotels try to figure out whether they a seven or six stars, and this is no joke. The Emirates Palace here in Abu Dhabi, is in fact a palace used by the Royal family, it is so large that it takes twenty minutes by golf buggy from one side to the other side, and it is so vast that taking your breath away is almost an oxymoron.
Anyway i am not staying there a more modest four star in town just near the corniche or espalnde, where I ran this morning in the heat, full credit to the woman I saw running this morning fully covered up with head scarf and only here trainers showing as i ran past sweating wearing only a pair if running shorts, luckily the modesty police missed me, must be my speed LOL
Abu Dhabi

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Munich Marathon 2007

There is one feeling every athlete should experience in his or her lifetime. Finishing a marathon by running into an Olympic Stadium. The sensation of entering the tunnel of the Munich Olympic stadium where the darkness opens up with each step to revel where legends have run.

The lap around the track to finish line should be longer just so that you can enjoy the moment, for just a few minutes more.

The morning of the marathon was cold with the temperature in the single digits and the Olympic Village clouded with mist. Instead of one plastic bag to keep warm I opted for two as Chaim and I walked down to the start.

I always laugh when I think that I spend more time wondering and procrastinating about what to wear on marathon compared to how much time I spend getting ready to go out. What to wear shorts or running tights, singlet or long sleeve shirt? I opted for tights and singlet, wanting to keep my legs warm in the cool seemed the best option. Chaim decided on shorts and forgot the golden rule of “shorts and marathoning”. If you have never chafed once in training then the Chafing God will rear its ugly head, which it did.

One good thing I did find at the expo during number pick up was band aids specifically designed for the male nipple. There is nothing worse than finishing a race thinking you are looking trim taunt and athletic, to only look down and see two blood trails down the front of your singlet, as if a wide mouthed vampire has bitten your chest.

We decided to opt for the Galloway walk run method for the race. As I had not gone further than 28km’s in training and wanted to make sure that I did not injure myself in preparation for Ironman Austria next year.

Much has been written and discussed as to the walk run method; we opted for 9 minutes running followed by 1-minute walk. I ha done this in Tiberius earlier in the year and was amazed at my recovery post that race. It does work provided you do it from the start the theory being that you change the muscle groups and this allows you to run faster longer and avoid the wall.

The course of the Marathon is one of the most scenic and flat I have run to date, the English Garden is more renowned for where the locals like to go and walk around in their birthday suites whenever the weather is pleasant, luckily the cold morning meant that we did not have to avert our focus. Thru leafy suburbs and in to the city center where architecture is measured in multiple centuries, from there you enter the University and theatre area, magnificent buildings that you pass in a slow blur, focusing more on the feet ahead of you. Finally it was onto the loop back to the stadium.

Being Munich, home of the Oktoberfest what would a marathon be without a beer station instead of a water station. Somehow they have managed to make a non-alcoholic beer taste very good and at 39 km’s it was time to stop and enjoy the moment.

We have all heard and read about lists of things to do in life, from a hundred places to visit to a hundred books you need to read. If I was to start a list of things that every runner must do. Then add you must run and finish a marathon on an Olympic stadium, and Munich gives you that thrill. A feeling that I will never ever forget crossing the line with my friend Chaim, our arms raised in victory ... in an Olympic stadium.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Swim Drafting & Rocket Science

Walking onto the beach, for the Endure Group Open Water swim, I was first shocked by how the weather has changed and that for the first time this season, the sand was cool under the feet. But more to my dismay I watched Coach Max swim towards Egypt towing the buoys to mark the swim course this morning.

I am the first to admit that my swimming is my weakest leg of training and since I have trouble getting to the pool for training due to the conflict with work hours. My training has been limited to only Open Water Swimming Sessions. So the dread of black lane fever is not a problem I suffer from, more the curse of the managing to maintain a straight course from Buoy A to B, as opposed to my normal course which I describe as pretzel course.

Max assembled us on the beach and once again, like last week we were going to delve into the realm of "Drafting". At this point I would add that Rocket Science is simpler try reading this background paper which I found on Google -


Now that the science has been proven, how would this affect me.

What the science does not explain is how to avoid being hit in the face by another swimmer coming at you from the other direction, how every time I lost the bubbles of the feet in front of me I felt no real difference for the first ten sets of the workout.

But if there is one thing I have learnt is, to have faith in your coach and on the final solo lap I for the first time kept up with the feet in front of me and for one minute I actually felt the effects of drafting. It made me swim a little harder than I was used too but at the same time the water ... well it felt a little easier.

Our last sets saw us swim together as a pack, ala Tri racing and yes again tucking into the washing machine, perhaps this drafting thing is not rocket science. But then again contact swimming is a swim not for the feint hearted.

If you get have given up trying to read the article about drafting here is the conclusion -

The present study indicated that the optimal drafting swimming distance was at 0 or 50 cm behind a leader reducing by 11–38% the metabolic response of the draftee. At the 100- and 150-cm distances, the gain was still important with reductions in the metabolic responses of between 8% and 31%. In lateral drafting at 100 cm beside another swimmer, the optimal distance was at 50 and 100 cm behind, when drafter’s head was approximately at hip level of the leader. The drag benefit was only a third of that when drafting directly behind the lead
swimmer. Drafting was always behind or lateral to a passively towed lead swimmer. Further investigation is required to determine
whether the benefits of drafting behind or beside a streamlined lead swimmer are likely to be a conservative estimate of the benefit from drafting behind an active stroking and kicking lead swimmer.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Sdot Yam - Olympic Triathlon Race Report

Saturday 29th Sept 2007

There are many reasons to look back on Saturady and reflect on my performance, but above all it is good to reflect that you gave it all and know deep in your heart and soul. It was the best I have ever performed, well apart from the swim. Which after progressing so well has stalled and it is back to the basics to get it focused agagin and ready for Ironman Austria in 287 days.

Swim Leg

Talk about the famed washing machine, I felt like a sock trying to find its partner in a front loader. From the git go is was chaotic, punched kicked clawed on swam over no matter where I tried to go there was someone else heading there faster and stronger. Try as I might to keep the freestyle going I was in fact going so slowly that I thought for a minute that I was swimming backwards despite my arms going forwards and by the time I was two thirds of the way to the first buoy I realised that unless I went back to breaststroke I was going to lose to much ground [or water as in this case] for me to make up the time and have a competitive time.

Thus it was back to the curse of the breaststroke but also i immediately started catching others and passing the slower freestylers, so I knew that it was a matter of pushing hard. Many people consider breaststroke as a easy out, but when you put the hammer down and do it aggressively it is a powerful stroke.

Exiting the water after the first loop my heart rate was a solid 143, and my focus was to swim the next two buoys breaststroke again before switching back to freestyle for the last leg back to the beach.

Exiting the water in 30:47 (85th out of 129 in my Age Group) I knew that everything was back on track and my worst discipline was over, but at the same time the discipline that I want to improve the most. Up to transition and out as fast as possible. I am even starting to figure out how to cut and shave seconds in transition, often not the big things but small simple things, or as one might put it, "Do not set up a supermarket, when the corner store is all you need".

Bike Leg

The bottom line was that i really felt that for the first time in my short life as a Triathlete I hammered out a discipline to the best of my ability to the point that I moved from 85th to finish in 46th place in my age group. It was an out and back course no loops just the hwy closed in one direction , a fast rolling course with no major climbs , the only problem is that on this type of road you always feel that you are going forever upwards as there is no relief or chance to rest and free wheel down.

Then add the dreaded "No Drafting" rule , as one might say I enjoy the pace and commitments of being surrounded by other triathletes wanting to push a little bit harder in the paceline. But alas this was a heads down you are on your own. Now having spent the last few weeks watching Ironman Videos your mind conjures up images barreling down the Queen K at Kona, when reality was, I was pushing myself harder than I have ever done on the bike, but I was on the Hwy 2 going North on the Southbound lane to Haifa, and not Hawi.

On the out leg as I passed a rider he asked me whch direction I thought the wind was coming from and a thought crossed my mind that someone the other day at the Group Track Session had mentioned the headwinds.

The first half of the Bike I did in 34:17 (20km's) and as I went around the mark and crossed the timing mat, the headwind hit hard , nothing but to push harder and try to maintain my cadeance and speed. I worked with two others keeping draft distance as best as I could and tried to take in food and drink my bottle of Nuun. Battling the headwind I completed the second half in 40:43 and was out again in 2:41 for the run.

Run Leg

10km's around the Kibbutz , two loops thru sand and past cow sheds, the heat was now well up into the 30's and heat coming back off the lone stretch of the course that was sand was tough. As they say at the water stops if they were selling I was buying tring to get as much of the cold water that i could get off each volunteer and tip it over my head in an attempt to keep cool. I drank sports drink and water at each station and kept well hydrated. In fact my nutrition plan for the whole was spot on as at no stage did I feel empty in fact my energy level on the final run back on the second loop was as good as I had felt apart from being exhausted from keeping my heart rates in the 140's plus for the past two and half hours.

First Loop 5km/ 25:34 Second Loop / 25:24.

Finishing in 66th place out of 129 for all triathletes over 40 and in my age group 45-49 20th out of 33 . My best placing ever and a new PB time of 2:40:19 . My last Olympic had been a drafting race 2:41:25, so whilst the time difference may not have been as good as I had felt, the difference of the draft and a paceline cannot be underestimated.

And a final thought for everyone of us, those silly check lists we use in our first tri and then think we do not need too use then again, well guess who turned up and did not have his Association timing chip, well put it this way I am 50 shekels ($12) poorer for having to rent one at the race, guess what I downloaded again this morning a whole new checklist.

Tri'ing Harder