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Archive for April, 2009

Changing the Seasons

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

If there was one power I have always wished to have, it is the power to change the seasons. I hate winter! This past week, the changing of the seasons occured in more than one sense in South Africa….

On Monday, it was summer at 26 deg, on Tuesday I was suddenly huddled under a duvet, shivering and very grumpy – winter arrived, the wind was howling and the temperature was an icy 18 deg! I am the first to admit that the thought of being cold terrifies me, probably due to my overprotective mother insisting that I take a jersey everywhere, not go out with wet hair and make sure that I put shoes on – in Africa!

The start of winter, for me, always brings on a state of denial. I refuse to bring out all my winter gear from the rear of the closet, for fear of admitting that winter has indeed arrived, so I take out just one long-sleeve as a ‘temporary’ measure against an equally ‘temporary’ wind chill. I go out, freeze, and have to spend 20 minutes under a hot shower :-( . Then you get the folks who say, ‘If you dress accordingly you won’t feel a thing’. This has never worked for me, I fill an entire washing machine with one ride’s worth of clothes and something was still cold? Yes, you got it! I am a complete cold weather grump and there is very little that will cheer me up other than a 10th mug of hot chocolate….. Roll on Swiss summer!!!

This week saw another significant change here in SA, it was our national election week! Wednesday was a great day! It was declared a special holiday for everyone to vote (and for Triathletes to ride their bikes in the middle of the day with very little traffic ;-) . Below is a picture of my special hero, Nelson Mandela, who at the age of 92 still has a smile on his face and is happy to greet the common people:

ZAF-NELSON-MANDEL

People turned out in their droves to vote, we queued for hours, chatted and laughed while waiting looking at clearly enthusiastic supporters:

SAFRICA-ELECTION-MANDELA-ANC-RALLY

The election was once again won by the ruling party, the ANC, and this guy on the poster will be our new President:

anc1

So, Mr Zuma, I hope that you will recognise that AIDS does exist, jobs need to be created for the 40% unemployed and that there is indeed a crisis in Zimbabwe…

Seasons change but so must attitudes.

Bean has a street name!

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

koll_rd2

It was one of those rides. Post-big-race, easy, relaxed and mostly stress free. Last week I went out with a couple of friends for a “fun” ride around the southern suburbs of Johannesburg. While riding I was discussing how the weather is now firmly turned to Autumn and the air has gotten alot thinner and drier….. so yes, South Africans also discuss the weather and how we are going to survive the 3 months of Winter here???

Anyhow, my topic for this blog is not actually “The Weather”, but rather a very important discovery that I made on an otherwise very unimportant ride…

The Bean discovered a street that is named after her!!!! (At least I like to think it was!). I had to bring the entire group of people that I was with to a screeching holt and beg someone to take a picture (Everyone in Jo’burg rides with a state of the art camera cell phone and stun gun!). I do have to admit that the whole process had to be undertaken rather quickly as “Koll Rd” is indeed in a rather dodgy area with strange people lurking with broken beer bottles in hand…

koll_street1

Two out of three at IM SA

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

This year a number of changes affected my attitude going into IM SA, most of which were the direct result of Brett’s coaching and the wonderful athletes on the team. No longer was I afraid of getting my head kicked in by all the foreign pros who have loads more experience than I have, but rather welcomed them to try their best because I was going to do my best…

I have to thank the people who baled me out, and helped me financially to get to the race when I had not a cent left to get to the race – Frikkie Smit (eternal supporter of my efforts) who contributed towards my accomodation expenses; my Mom, the pensioner who gave me the accumulated e-bucks on her credit card to trade for an airticket and the Italian stallion Giovanni Del Castello (who raced his own PB by one hour!) who drove me around and made me laugh the whole weekend, and treated me to two decent dinners that I wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise. This little success is dedicated to you, and my friend Cordulla Moller who is still semi-comatose in an Australian hospital and unable to challenge me…

Race day lived up to the promise of being a hot one (the first time ever!), I knew this would work in my favour as 30deg after training in the even hotter and more humid Philippines was rather mild. Often, in such cases, it is the athlete who is better acclimitised rather than the one who is stronger that does the best. There were some big names on the starter plate, but I knew that if I just concentrated on my own game that some of them would be up for the taking by the time we got to the run!

    Swim

: Went pretty crap actually, despite having a good start and not being thumped around too much! The water was rather choppy for a non sea swimmer like me, I am much more used to the brown murky waters of Homestead lake in Benoni where the scary Barbel fish lurks. Very quickly I was gagging from sea sickness and just the salty taste was making it worse. I ended up feeling very green from the movement and petrol fumes eminating from the boats, and so ended up exiting the water a good 3 minutes slower than the previous year even though I had been feeling stronger in the pool…

    Bike

I started off the bike feeling pretty good and rode the whole first lap with Jaqui Gordon from the US, and was rather pleased. I then had to make the decision of stopping to get my bottles in special needs or going on and trying to stay with the “pack”. I decided to stop, thinking that on a warm day like this I needed to get the right fluids in, but I think that in hindsight it was a slight error, I am sure that I could have survived on water and the nutrition that I had, and in so doing, get a better bike split. I went through a bit of a bad patch on lap 2, but luckily by lap 3 I was feeling strong again, but, unfortunately, I was stuck on my own….

    Run:

The run started off well, and for the whole first lap I was feeling very strong, making up ground and catching up some places. It was very motivating having the “Leading SA Woman” mountain bike with me, although sometimes people did confuse me with Lucie (same kit, blonde hair etc…) and think that I was actually leading the whole race!!!! Well, at least it gave me a sense of what it will feel like one day!!!! Unfortunately, I started to suffer a bit with fluid intake, I was thirsty but my body refused to absorb any more, and although I managed to keep running consistantly, my gut felt as though it would explode and I was getting annoying side stitches. Eventually, at the 34km mark, without warning, I had to vomit, right there in the middle of the road (how embarrassing!!!). After that, and two km’s down the road, I felt much better! I do, however, regret that on my finishers picture I resemble a whiter shade of pale…

So, I achieved two out of the three goals that I had set myself – 1st South African and top five position. The Sub-10hrs did not happen, but I was at least satisfied knowing that I had done the best I could on the day! Thanks to all who encouraged me and trained with me, the podium is coming!!!

The tapeworm, a weird rash and the flasher!

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

The Bean has never felt this chilled the day before a race, this does not mean that I have been free from “Bean” moments….

    The Tapeworm

Since my arrival here in PE on Thursday I am convinced that I have contracted a tapeworm. I seem completely unable to stop myself from eating and snacking! It feels as though I am hungry ALL the time. I somehow wonder if my body is not going into some sort of calorific preparation in anticipation of the race?

    A weird rash

For the past three days I have been experiencing a very weird rash, which resembles a mass of mosquito bites. It seems to strike most viciously first thing in the morning (my whole body is covered and itches like crazy), then seems to calm down a bit during the day, and then after a hot shower it seems to flare up a bit again? I think it is some sort of mystery allergy but have no idea what? In any case I think the only way it will affect my race is by scaring the competition with potential contamination!

    The flasher

This morning I headed out early to do my last quick run (FYI my legs felt like they had rockets in them!). I was on my 10min return leg on an out-and-back route when I slowed down for a stop sign. I checked left and then right. As I looked to my right there was this guy facing the wall of a corner house. He turned to face me, which is when I got such a fright I almost jumped – the dude was facing me with no pants on and said “I am feeling so good today…”! I thought of replying “Me too!” but my words left me and I thought I would rather demonstrate by running the last kilometre in sub-3min! Freaky!!!! For some reason I can’t get the horrible image out of my head????

The Bean may still have her moments, but this time she is ready to race!!!!!