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June « 2009 « James Cunnama’s Blog

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Archive for June, 2009

Wierd sighting around Leysin…

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

The last few days there have been some wierd things around Leysin, aside from Docs spies, which are everywhere and really not that unusual…
Yesterday we saw a one-eyed creature form the Amazon, but then realized it was just Felipe who had kissed the tarmac! (get well soon!).
Today whilst riding we saw a flying tree. Actually it was hanging from a helicopter, but what they were doing with it is beyond me. It seems they were moving many of them up the valley (although there seemed to be plenty of them up there already ;) ). Perhaps that is how they discard felled trees here – its probably cheaper than paying someone a Swiss salary to move them… ;)
Then while I was running through town this afternoon and I came upon a herd of Llama’s, or Alpaca’s… I can’t tell which, mostly because I have no idea what the difference is …if there even is one?! Anyway, three of the things were being led by people, like dogs on leashes, and the other 10 or so were just running amok around the streets. They didn’t like the South African running up behind them though, so all except the restrained ones started jogging along the road ahead of me at roughly my pace (Yes, I was jogging – Doc’s orders). After a while they decided this was no fun and turned to face their quarry. Whoa! …These things spit don’t they?! …I stoped jogging. I may be top of the food chain, but respect for other creatures is something you are bred with in Africa! Especially mothers with young, as was the case. I walked slowly past them as they stared me down, then I picked up the pace and headed for home. And I thought only Africa had herds of animals causing traffic disruption!

Perhaps the wierdest thing I have seen though, is the temperature on the thermometer! It makes you wonder… why to the geese ever fly back North?! ;D

PS. Pics of all the above would have been great… But, according to Murphy’s Law, great pics only happen when you don’t have a camera handy! I’m gonna have to keep my camera on me permanently from now on…

Challenge Germany

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009
TeamTBB testing out the blueseventy suits the day before the race (we didn't just play on the slides...)

TeamTBB testing out the blueseventy suits the day before the race - we didn't just play on the slides, we also swam... ;)

This past weekend Rebekah and myself headed up the road for a Challenge event for the second time in a week. This race, held in Kraichgua, Germany, was not far from last week’s Challenge France event and this time we were joined in our adventure by Keegan, with Lisbeth coming up a bit later.

The weather was pretty much opposite of the week before, with sunny, warm conditions but the rest of the event was quite similar (with the same professional presentation by the Challenge guys).

The event itself started in a lake which was, thankfully, a lot warmer than last weekend. Our wave had a few more people in it this week too, which made the start more interesting. There was a lot of creeping at the start, and we were all about 50m past the line by the time the gun went. (At least I heard the gun, most pro’s told me after that they never heard it – cos they were already swimming!!! Next time I may also be swimming – if you can’t beat them…)

Out the water and onto the bikes, about two minutes down on the leaders (again) and it was time to see how the legs felt 7 days after a hard half. As I exited transition I was next to Keegan, with Rebekah a few metres ahead and Lisbeth just behind… Everyone must have thought we were all working together in the swim, but I actually had no idea where they were in the swim!

I got into my rhthym on the bike in the first 15km, which was about the only flat section on the ride. I was already passing a few guys and was overtaken by one or two (including Thomas Hellreigel), but I felt okay and made sure I was eating and drinking according the plan. I saw Chris McCormack with a punture on the first hill, and that was his race done. After about 50km a group of 3 caught up to me, including Luke Dragstra and Stefan Liebetrau. We stayed together until the final 10km when Stefan and myself moved ahead a bit.

I had a really fast T2 time (2nd fastest of the day!) which must be because Rebekah convinced me not to wear socks, and headed out on the run in 11th place, 5mins behind 2nd place. (First place, home-town boy Sebastian Kienle, was 13mins ahead by now after a monster bike leg, and not even worth thinking about.) I was feeling good and started winding it up. Macca was standing road-side now and watching the race with all the passion of a true fan, and he shouted to me that I was looking better than anyone and must keep pushing. Before the end of the first lap (7km) I had already pulled in about 5 places and over 2mins on 2nd place, and was still feeling good. Again I passed Macca and this time he shouted, ‘If you keep pushing you will get 2nd place!’. Good to know. And even better to have a World Champ shouting encouragement to you. Thanks mate!

Needless to say, I kept pushing. At the start of the final lap I caught and passed 3rd place, confusing the lead mountain bikers enough to bring a smile to my face. With about 5km to go I caught 2nd place, Raynard Tissink. He was not enjoying his day, but had the energy to compliment my run and hold on for 4th. Well done for sticking it out on a tough day, Ray.

I finished in 2nd place in 4h02:17 and the fastest run-split of the day (by almost 3min30!) in 1h12:45. It was my first race in the new Avia Avi-Bolt II’s and, well, my run split speaks for itself…

Congrats to teammates, Rebekah and Lisbeth, getting nice one-two for TeamTBB in the ladies race. And to Keegan, for finishing after a bad day in the office. TeamTBB seems to have good results all over the globe this weekend, so well done to all the team members who raced and recorded good results. If we weren’t before, TeamTBB is on the radar!

Three weeks until Ironman Austria in Klagenfurt and I can’t wait! Stay tuned…

Challenge France

Monday, June 8th, 2009

challenge-france-005

This past weekend was Challenge France, the first time I have raced a Challenge event, or an event in France for that matter… By all accounts it was a great event, and I look forward to doing many more Challenges!

Rebekah and I travelled to the race only the day before, wanting to fit in our full weeks work before heading up to end the weeks training with a race. The race site was a little over 4hrs drive away in a small town called Nederbronn les Bains near the France-Germany border.
We arrived and realized the swim start and 1st transition were about 25km from the village and expo and spent a hectic afternoon running around trying to get everything organised and check in our bikes. We eventually got to our chalet and met Lucie late that evening and were thankful the race only started at 11am the next morning – the French like to sleep in on Sundays apparently.

We awoke race morning to miserable weather. It was pouring with rain and the car’s thermometer said the temp was only 13C. Brrrrr! After a relaxed morning, compared to most early race mornings, we drove to the race start and organised our stuff in transition. The rain was coming and going, but was never far away and there was no doubt that it was going to be a wet day.

I opted not to check the water temperature with a ‘warm-up’ swim, knowing that it would leave me anything but warm, and rather stayed dry until the last moment. Unfortunately it was a water start, which meant bobbing in cold (14-15C) water for a while anyway. Luckily they didn’t hold us too long and the race was underway…

I got into my rhythm quickly and the cold didn’t seem to bother me much. I found some feet pretty quickly and the arms felt good so I knew it would be a decent swim. I had someones feet to swim on until about halfway when they were pulled away by a passing swimmer who was too strong for me.
Out of the water I was about 2mins behind the leaders was happy with what was a very good swim by my current standards (which are being raised every day here!).

Onto the bike and cold was going to be an issue. I chose to wear my long compression tights under my suit in order to keep my legs warm, as they don’t perform well when cold, and don’t warm up once cold! It was a good decision as my legs warmed up quickly after the cold swim and I got into a strong and comfortable tempo. The roads were wet and caution was necessary on the twisty route through forests and small towns, (as the Challenge CEO found out when his motorbike lift crashed – get well soon, Felix!).
I was riding well and feeling strong, but was not risking a fall and my whole season with it. I caught a few athletes early on and then from about 15km to after 60km I didn’t see a soul. There were times when I worried that I had lost the route! At 60km I caught three guys and some tactics were called for: Do I just keep my pace and effort level and cruise past them, risking pulling them through behind me, or sit 20m’s off the back for the final 30km and let them pace me while I conserve my run legs…?
I opted for the middle ground. Once I was near them I could tell that their pace was slower than mine (obviously – I had caught them) so I eased up and decided to take a little breather. I felt great, but took it easy and ate and drank and gave myself until the 70km mark to judge how my legs were before I was allowed to go past them. When the 70km mark came a few km’s later I was still feeling good and powered up the legs again. I passed them decisively, not wanting them to sit on my wheel, and a few minutes later I glanced back and they were out of sight. I gained another position in the final kilometers, but at this point I had no idea where I was lying or how far back – French updates from spectators were Greek to me!

I started the run in 7th place I think, although I didn’t know this until I was halfway through the run when a familiar South African accent gave me my position and split to the next athlete – thanks Natalie Tissink! I was running strong and feeling great so just kept pushing the pace. The run route was 2 laps and mostly off-road. It climbed up into the forests for the first half, and then descended for most of the 2nd half. It was my kind of run course and I loved every minute of it, despite the thick mud in places and sucking for air up the steep hills.

With about 3km to go I passed 4th place and finished in that position with a run time of about 1h15. Chris McCormack had won in 3h50, with Olivier Marceau 2nd and Raynard Tissink 3rd, 3mins ahead of me. Having forgotten to start my watch in the frigid water I didn’t know it until hours later, but I had broken 4 hours by a few seconds, a half-IM PB by almost 15mins!

Post-race was as hectic as pre-race as I was whisked off for drug-testing, where they asked for ID… Seriously?! I don’t usually race with my passport in my pocket! I gave the sample then hurried off to get my passport from our accommodation.
Starting the race late is great in the morning, but leaves little time after the race. By the time they presented the awards at 7pm I still hadn’t sat down, or even got my bike out of transition! We had orders from the boss to get home that night though, so it was another couple of hours of packing – three bikes, a bike case and all of the girls luggage (they don’t pack light!) doesn’t just slide into a car – and then we hit the road at about 9pm. At least I was sitting down at last…

Congrats to Rebekah, winning the women’s race, and Lucie for her 4th place. Next weekend I will probably be heading north again for another Challenge race, this time in Germany…