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Meeting the St. Bernards

July 26th, 2009 by carolinekoll

So on the very occasion that we have an afternoon off from training, I like to go out, see and learn something new in the environment that I find myself. This week I managed to round up some fellow dog lovers and persuaded the Wongstar and Coco to join me in a visit to the home of the famous St. Bernard dogs, nearby in the town of Martigny.

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The museum was interesting (I am that kind that reads everything!), and obviously, the contact with the dogs was really what I was after! Last Sunday, in fact, one of the dogs appeared on the podium with Alberto Contador at the Tour de France!

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In the past, these clever animals were originally used to guide pilgrims (who used to travel from Rome through the treacherous mountains into France) to shelters known as “Hospices”. As a result of the deep snow, it was often difficult for these people to find their way, so guides known as “Marroniers” would send out the dogs to search for these pilgrims and guide them to safety and shelter. The Hospices themselves were a great idea, welcoming travellers, at no charge, regardless of wealth or religion, and it was even considered a privilege to host pilgrims! At the end of their stay, the pilgrims would leave behind a small gift/donation. Regardless of its value, the “gifts” would then be considered sacred and either used or stored in the Hospice. Seemingly, the St. Bernard Hospice (named after Saint Bernard), was the first to use the dogs for this purpose, and so came about the breed name.

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In later times, the St. Bernard dogs were used to trace people lost in the mountains, especially after snow storms. They would only lead their guides to people buried in snow, but did not dig people out (like I and many others think), because of the possibility of the snow caving inwards. However, there is truth in the fact that they carried small wooden barrels around their necks, containing Brandy (incidently, there is a famous distillery in Martigny), which was consumed by the mal-fated victims of the climate and perilous terrain, to regain core temperature.

Nowadays, the dogs are still trained at the centre, but more for shows. Rescues are now no longer performed by the St. Bernards, apparently because their weight exceeds 35kg, and other breeds such as the Labrador have proved more agile and practical in weight for helicopter rescues. Interestingly, the St. Bernards were also once used as the marketing image for “Milka” chocolate, which now has the less stoic “cow” as its symbol.

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Similarly, no great athlete is ever unbeatable…

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Bean’s Ironman France

July 5th, 2009 by carolinekoll

Racing Ironman France in Nice taught me a bit and enchanted me at the same time. I knew the course was going to be the hardest I have ever done, and not particularly suited to someone used to the flats of Benoni, South Africa.

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Racing in France has always had special significance to me, particularly as I am half French. I get to speak to the locals in the language that I was taught by Mom and get to experience a culture I am distantly familiar with.

I headed off to Nice with Scott D who was doing his first Ironman (baptism of fire I would say!!). We were generously hosted by two members of the Nice Triathlon Club. My host, Ludovic took us to their club swim practice, where Scott and I were allowed to do our thing in the FAST lane which was rather a change for the both of us!

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The next day, my host, Ludovic, kindly offered to take us on parts of the bike course for the race and even allowed us to take the bikes so that we could ride down some of the descents. What a beautiful course! A couple of nasty climbs, but nothing harder than the Swiss mountains where we have been training.

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Saturday came all too quickly, and despite being in a holiday heaven, we had to get into race mode with the usual bike check in and hope like hell I haven’t forgotten anything??? It was clearly the biggest transition I have EVER seen – 2800 participants – thank goodness the Pro’s got the 1st and 2nd racks, otherwise I am sure that I would have needed a GPS to find my bike!

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As many of the Nice Triathlon Club members volunteer at the race, it was a pleasure to meet the Club President, Jean Jacques who was really one of our biggest fans on the day!

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Race day.
Perfect conditions! This was unbelievable especially as Abi was racing with us, and has so far managed to take her English weather with her to every race she has done so far this year! The swim was daunting, with all 2800 athletes starting together – aaaarrrrgggghhhh! Luckily, Scott and I came up with a legal plan which saw us largely untouched with a clean start! I came out the water with the first few girls which was a good thing because I then did the usual Bean thing and momentarily could not locate bike bag number 40 amongst the 2800 options!

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Got off to a good start on the bike, but then slowly got passed by the stronger bikers which I sort of expected but hoped would not happen! Ludovic had mentioned a classic ‘Niceois’ French word to me, “Mounta Cala”, and I quickly came to understand it’s definition! Everything in the surrounds of Nice goes up or down! There were some monster 39×25 climbs out there, but the course was never boring, and I especially came to enjoy the crazy descents, racing the frenchies and trying my best to make up some time! Yeeeeee Haaaaaa.
Soon enough, actually, quite a big longer than your normal IM ride, we were back on the Promenade Des Anglais, one of the most exclusive stretches of beach front in the world. The run is a flat 4 loop course along the Promenade. Easy, I thought. I started running and suddenly realised the effect of the “mounta cal” on the bike, my legs felt like mashed potato and I had a weird cramp in my left shoulder which would not leave me for the entire run! Thankfully, My legs started to come right about half way through the run (actually, about where I saw my pal Mark Spencer, a Benoni boy who was down there on holiday and made the effort to come and cheer on a Benoni girl! Thanks Mark!). I made up some ground and caught a few of the girls, but realised without a strong bike, I wouldn’t stand a chance! I must thank the guys from Compress Sport who probably saved my race with their compression calf sleeves – the dreaded calf tear injury came back to haunt me in the days before the race, and two days before I could hardly run! They held my calf together so well that I ran the whole way without even thinking of the slightest pain!) Had a good day at the office but finished 13th. It’s a strange and insignificant number, but only serves to inspire me to come back again next year, have a good day, and get a better number!

Merci boucoup a Ludovic, Sebastien, Jean Jaques et tout les membres du Triathlon Club de Nice, vous etres un club dans un million! Je revient l’annee prochaine pour faire la perf’ de l’annee!

Oh by the way…

At the Compress Sport stand the next day, with winner Marcel Zamora, ex- world champ Olivier Marceau, me, Abi (who finished 4th) and Scott (14th, and now an Ironman!)

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An excellent discovery in Nice – Fenocchio Ice Cream – they even had a beer variety!!

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The Chariault Family – the best hosts in Southern France!

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Bean makes strange and inspiring discoveries in Switzerland

June 24th, 2009 by carolinekoll

So the Bean left Africa to get away from the misery that is winter. Funny, what is winter in Africa is summer in the Alps of Switzerland…
For those that are aquainted, they are well aware that the Bean has a serious allergy to cold and is likely to dress up as the Michelin man just to eat an ice-cream! Well, wanting to pack “light” and demonstrate to the Wongstar as to how it should be done, I went minimalistic when it came to warm clothes – I mean you shouldn’t need more than a light fleece in a Swiss summer would you?? As I have come to realise, it is cold most of the time in the Swiss mountains, so my wardrobe is mostly limited to my track pants, one pair of tights and “the fleece”. As for training clothes, I had resorted to using newspaper barriers and sandwich bags on my feet!

 

Luckily, Swiss athlete Nicola has taken pity on me and my roommate LC (from the Philippines) and sent us a big box of WARM training clothes with instructions as to how to install the shoe covers! Thank you Nicola… we will lend you some flip-flops when you come and visit us!

So, some of the strange and amazing discoveries that I have made in Switzerland so far:

The Trolley:
When I first arrived I got on a two carriage “chocolate and cream” (as the Boss calls it), it was all cute going through the town, until I realised that we were going to go up the mountain (a 80% gradient it seemed…) in it! I clung to my seat for fear that we might roll backwards! On closer inspection I noticed that it is a major engineering feat – it actually works on a series of interlinking grips, and it hooks its way up the mountain – amazing!!!

trolley

Snow:

Given that South Africans never see snow, this was a big one for me! I mentioned to Erika on a run the other day that I just had to make contact with the stuff that adorns our Christmas cards. On this particular day, it was rather warm and all of a sudden, Erika points at some grey stuff, that I thought was concrete stuck to the slope, and says “That is snow!!” Well, the Bean was amazed at how it could still be there and it was well over the 25deg mark? I also realised that you cannot walk on frozen snow with Avia Bolts and so I skied 30cm!! Erika assured me that it was very poor quality, but Bean was in AWE!!

Freebies:

Found this one very amusing – one of the neighbours had this outside his house – a pile of perfectly good (and new!) sports equipment outside his house with the sign “help yourself!” . This would not last 1 minute in South Africa! I was tempted to take a pair of ski’s that still had the price tags on them…

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The Horse Shoe:

Ok, I have a sentimental streak, but I always think it there is no harm in hanging on to serendipitous finds – who knows what charms they carry? So, when I tripped over a horse shoe while running the trail with Scott, I insisted there and then that it could bring me some luck and I was keeping it! I must tell you that a horseshoe (covered in cow poo and mud) is quite a weighty object to carry for 6k in your hand! I have now cleaned it up nicely, and I am sure there is significance, given that the Boss used to train horses!

horse_shoe

The Large Hairy Animal:

Missing my usual contact with my animals, I went on an exploratory run to find what furry friends Switzerland beholds. I found this guy just down the road – not sure exactly what he is, but he was massive, very hairy and was eating grass. So, all I can say is that he is a very muscular vegetarian??

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Rivella:

This is a fantastic Swiss drink that I have when I don’t need the Red Ambulance (Coke). No one can explain as to EXACTLY what it is made from, but the best explanation is that it is made from milk serum?!? It really tastes like any great cold drink, has bubbles and is apparently quite good for you!

rivella

Ovaltine Spread:

Being a hard core Nutella fan, I was a bit reluctant when Swiss Nicola pointed out this one in the supermarket. It is pure heaven! It is like Nutella but has delicious Ovaltine crunchy thingies in it that make it just that much more delectable. I try to spread it on toast, but generally I just eat it out the jar!

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Living in a cloud:

When I open my balcony door in the mornings, I often feel like I am living in a cloud! Life is for dreaming, experiencing and doing what you want. When people tell you that your dreams are nothing more than living on a cloud, look up because that’s where I am!

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Beans first 70.3 – Rapperswil Switzerland

June 14th, 2009 by carolinekoll

Thank you host family Helbling!
Thank you host family Helbling!

Well, I have been in Switzerland for just over a whirlwind week now, and I had a number of new experiences already! The most significant was competing in my very first half Ironman! True, I tried one earlier in the year and was unable to start the run because of that stupid accident I had the week before, so as you can imagine I was keen to get my first one under the belt! It is quite odd that I have never done a half, but have done 6 Ironman races to date! The reason is simply opportunity, as in fact we only have one race on the whole of the African Continent….
Last Saturday morning, I left for Lake Zurich (Rapperswil Jona) with Erika who generously offered me a ride to the race. The weather was less than lovely for this African, who has been wearing her whole wardrobe (as much as a 20kg luggage allowance allows), for the past week! Rain and cold are definitely not race conditions that I am accustomed to…
The race venue, despite being under dark menacing clouds was lovely – the picture post card of Switzerland. I was totally amazed at the stands at the race expo – I have never seen such a choice of race gear and was just itching to flex that credit card! I settled on some Powerbars that were on special for 1 Swiss Franc – a bargain for someone bearing South African Rand power. Then it was off to the race briefing, which turned out to be more amusing than one would think, when it was discovered that we had all indeed received the incorrect swim caps – it was like a game of Bingo when the athlete was matched up with the correct swim cap! Lucky Erika ended up with the fastest male swimmer’s cap, and she wasn’t keen on giving it up! While listening to the details of the course, I was a bit peckish, so started snacking on one of my discounted bars. It was only once I had gobbled up the whole thing that I realised that it was a special edition – double caffeine! Oh boy! For someone that never even drinks coffee this was serious business, I was going to be wired the whole night!
I headed off to my homestay – the Helbling family, to whom I owe a huge thank you for welcoming me into their home and the lovely chocolate (How did they know????). They ensured that I had a quiet and comfortable room in which to prepare for the race..
Well, that night, once I had drifted off to la-la land (eventually), the caffeine bar came back with a vengeance – I woke up sweating from a terrible nightmare! It is every triathlete’s worst dream – I am standing at the swim start, when I suddenly notice that I am the only one not wearing a wetsuit! In a panic, I am shouting at everyone to please wait, and hold the start while I run back up to transition to get my wetsuit! Needless to say I am left standing on the beach…
After waking up every hour after that for fear of being “late”, it is finally time to go down to the race start. Not raining, Bean is a happy triathlete! Got there super early, so had plenty of time to put on my Blue Seventy wetsuit (I think I was the first person to have their wetsuit on!). It was announced that the water temperature was 15degrees! That is the record coldest water I have ever swum in! I decided to warm up on land and retain as much body heat until I had to get in. It was glacial, from the start of the swim I just could not catch my breath, and this was to have plagued me for the entire swim. I would have done well to get a Blue Seventy hoodie – I NOW know what those are for!

 

The bike course was a stunning, double loop over varied terrain. Once my legs had warmed up a bit on the second lap, I was thoroughly enjoying the climbs, and managed to pass a few people.
The sun came out just in time for the run and so did my happy legs! Having no one close enough to catch on the run I just ran as hard as I could, trying to pass as many of the guys as I could. The run course was one of te most fun I have ever done – alot of off-road paths, lots of turns, cobbles and the highlight – a huge flight of stairs with a great band playing at the top!
I finished in 9th place, not a great performance at all, but some European race experience, and of course, my first half Ironman!
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Breaking the Doc’s record – Part 1

May 21st, 2009 by carolinekoll

This week I got the proverbial “Bean in my bonnet” and decided to have a go at the Doc’s long standing squad record on the track. I am not one who is very verbal about the goals that I set myself, mainly because I keep them for my inner competitor. Strangely, it is often the crazy little challenges, said in passing, or decided on the spur of the moment that appeal to me the most. Take for instance, the race to the only open check out at the supermarket, or spotting the last parking space in a lot – every situation has a potential competition attached to it….

Yesterday, I don’t know what it is that inspired me, but I thought, ‘It’s time to give the record a try…’ So, on a less than magnificent day (it was was windy and a chilly 17 degrees), I headed out to the deserted track. I prepared well for the assault – 3 bottles of Gummi Bear juice, some gels in case of a potential bonk, some dry clothes for the victory ceremony after and a chocolate as a reward…

I did a quick 3 lap warm up (didn’t want to tire myself out too much before…) and then with the sounds of “Chariots of Fire” in my head, I began running. The time goal was reasonable – in fact, I thought ‘How hard can that be? When I was in high school I could run that in….” It was more the quantity that seemed to be the challenge – one hundred and five, ok, one hundred and six if I was to become the new record holder. By my own admissions, I am rather mathematically challenged, and without Wongstar to ask for calculations, I had to do the theoretical sums as to how long this was going to take me. The whole morning it seemed…

So with no audience, apart from two stadium grounds keepers basking in the Winter sun, looking at the grass grow, it was just me. Despite the very dry thin air, I hardly noticed the first ten intervals, the times were good – 3 seconds slower than what the Doc said, but I figured there could be an adjustment for the altitude – at 1650m above sea level one does suck for air a bit! When I do things like this (ok, I have never done THIS before!), I like to make things tough. I don’t use Ipod, I want to see if my brain can handle the task and the monotony. I reward myself with Gummi juice only when I have completed a certain number of intervals, and I try and break the task into little groups.

I reached twenty. Shew…. is that all? Why are my lungs and legs burning already? This is SUPPOSED to be quite easy isn’t it?

Twenty five. Ok, good job, basically a quarter done! Get a nice drink of bottle 1 of Gummi Bear juice. Am sure that is going to help and I am going to feel great any second now…

Thirty. The ground keepers are yawning, contemplating whether they have the energy to make morning tea.

Forty. Oh boy! I don’t want to admit it, but my legs are starting to feel like tree stumps AND I am breathing hard – this can’t happen when I still have 66 to go!!!!

Forty Five. Ok, still managing, but need help. More Gummi Bear juice

Forty Eight. Oh sh_t! We have drop off and just ran 5 seconds slower.
Forty Nine. 5 seconds slower again! But I really pushed harder on that one???

Fifty Two. Broken. I need help…. go and sit in the sun and watch the grass grow. Two bottles of Gummi Bear juice still fully loaded. No celebration. No reward.

I failed. For now.
Part 2 coming soon, updates to follow and maybe a pic of the grounds keepers!

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Riding on the wild side…

May 15th, 2009 by carolinekoll

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Lately, I have sought out a new training ride, away from traffic, pollution and noise that is Johannesburg…

With training partners being scarce at this time of year, I decided to venture out to greener pastures and add some excitement to my training routes. I have found a wonderful nature reserve, 38km from where I live, and yes, I have to load the bike in the car and drive there, but it is like Eden close to home! This week I headed out there for three hours of bliss on a bike – there is only one road that goes the whole way around the reserve and there are no short cuts. The best part is, there are no cars (ok maybe one or two slow moving ones on the weekend), no criminals and I can be completely assured riding on my own!

So, there I was, straining on the uphills, whizzing down the hills and then hitting the winding bit, when all of a sudden I saw a movement from the corner of my eye – a zebra! Clearly, I was a foreign presence and when I looked up I had startled a whole herd – I literally slammed on brakes to avoid colliding with these beautiful creatures. The entire herd charged across the road in front of me! It was an exhilerating spectacle, they were so close I could smell them, sense their panic and feel the vibration of the mass of thundering hooves… Ah! Only in Africa!

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Bean running moment….

May 9th, 2009 by carolinekoll

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Bean running moments happen often. I have narrowly missed being hit by golf balls, tripped more times than I can remember and found a fish lying in my path when there is no fish source in the vicinity apart from the local supermarket?

With the onset of the chillier weather, and no races on the go, I have had Blogger’s Block and cannot bring myself to write something unless it has some sort of meaning or entertainment value. I have been pondering a topic all week, when something happened this morning, which made me think this was a ‘Bean’ moment that did not happen TO ME, but I would remember as a highlight in my training run memory. For those who may not understand the concept of a ‘Bean’ moment, simply watch an episode of British comedic genius Rowen Atkinson in ‘Mr.Bean’…

For my Saturday morning run, I usually drive out to meet my two friends Arthur and Russell in a hilly part of Johannesburg, as the town where I live is rather flat and mundane. Both guys are very accomplished Comrades Marathon runner’s (that crazy 90k run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg they do here every year), and needless to say, all I usually manage to say to them is “Good Morning” – gasp for 1h30/2h – and then “Thanks for the run” … The rest of the time, I try to distract myself from the strain of keeping up, by listening to the most entertaining conversations about football (I believe the team to support is Liverpool???) , their wives (all good I assure!) and the latest car models!

This morning we headed out in the dark, as usual, at 5am (quiet bliss time in Jo’burg!). We were running on probably what is the only easy section of the whole run, and I thought I might just have enough breath to blurt out a sentence about — Uh-oh! Massive big pothole in front of feet, going to fast to stop in time, sandwiched between Russell and the pavement, am gonna have to stretch extended leg a bit beyond the comfort zone of my hamstring….stretcchhh! Whew! made it over, Bean did an incredible evasive move, hamstring still intact! Russell and Arth say, laughing at my blindness, “Oh, didn’t you see the giant crater in front of you????”. No. Clearly, I did not, but no crash landing – amazing!!!!

A little further down the road, we have to cross another road, this time, on high alert, I spot a river flowing down the road – I warn the guys, “Watch out, that’s a burst sewage pipe!”. Proud of myself, I get them to SLOW down. I decide to go to the right, with Russell just ahead, in order to step over the narrowest flow of grey water and make it over dry. Now I see Russell, (who does not have the longest legs in the world) attempting to cross at a point that is a little to wide for his step…

He steps straight into the drain from which the ‘Dwang’ is eminating – ANKLE DEEP! Now Russell is a VERY neat, very tidy, kind of guy who ALWAYS has pristine shoes and matching clothes! The look of horror on his face was priceless! I cracked up and laughed so hard the tears were streaming from my eyes. “So, Russell…” I ask “Did you not see the big drain that you just stepped into?” I was glowing with a ‘Bean” moment of revenge. Apparently, the pale colour made him think that he was stepping onto the concrete lid of the drain? This is HIS story. Shame, despite my very cruel rolls of laughter, I was kind enough to point out the loo paper hanging off the end of the shoe! He was fuming with disgust, now having to run on a chilly morning, with a wet, squelchy, contaminated shoe all the way home! Everytime his foot landed and the shoe squished I could not help but burst out with laughter.

Moral of the story? Never laugh AT the Bean, revenge may just be around the corner…

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Changing the Seasons

April 25th, 2009 by carolinekoll

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:

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

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

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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.

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Bean has a street name!

April 16th, 2009 by carolinekoll

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

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Two out of three at IM SA

April 7th, 2009 by carolinekoll

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!!!

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