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Archive for March, 2010

70.3 Race report: Closer and closer…

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

img_2540_1Second. Again. Sigh!

I guess I can’t help but be happy with second, especially when racing against the line-up that was on the start in Singapore this weekend. And there is no shame finishing second to the 2-time and reigning IM World Champ either. But it is my fourth time being runner-up in the last 10 months. Always the bridesmaid… (Not that I ever want to be a bride! ;) )

IM 70.3 Singapore was a bit of a last-minute decision for me. I was already in the area in Krabi training, and my 30-day visa was about to expire, so if I left the country and returned it would be renewed. On top of that, my training was going great, it was a short flight to Singapore and teamTBB could put me up in their apartment in the city. Nothing to lose, really. Don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner.

So I found myself on the start line with a great field of Pro’s and looking forward to a good test of the legs. I had a decent start, apart from dodging the physically challenged athletes who started directly in front of us (WTF?!). But soon, as usual, I had dropped off the front pack. I found some feet and stayed there. It turned out they were Jan’s feet and it was the start of a long day for him (but he would finish – good job Jan!). The rest of the swim was uneventful – a few jellyfish tingles, a kick in the face around a bouy and a few smacks on the head from Caroline swimming next to me! Thanks. Not.

Out the water I was two minutes down on the leaders. As usual. I started the bike with Chris Legh and it was obvious he was planning to catch the leaders by his tempo. I felt it was a little fast, but let him do the pacing to the 15km turn. We then alternated pacing (and finding a line through the throngs of age-groupers) until we were 60km in, but the lead group was not much closer. As usual. At the start of the final lap I had to make a decision – give it all on the bike and gamble an implosion on the run to catch the group and start the run with the big boys, or stay where I am run my way into the top 5 for (almost) sure. I gambled. All or nothing. I hammered the next 15km and at the final turn the group was close. My legs were feeling it and I had a few cramps, but caught the group with about 10km to go. This would be my first time off the bike with the leaders. And the fastest bike split too! (It was also my first race on the new Cervelo P4. Coincidence? I think not. ;) ) Lets hope the legs aren’t too toasted for the run…

Transition was a mess. The racks collapsed. Bikes everywhere. Running shoes nowhere. I was at the back of the group so got the worst of it, but came out transition not far off the leaders, but down in 8th place. Immediately I started picking guys off and soon I was tie for third with Aaron Farlow. We passed Chris Legh in 2nd, and seemed to be catching Crowie but it was getting hot and tough! And my Avia’s were drenched due the steeple-chase-like puddles we had to run through (more than 10cm deep, seriously!).

I hung on, and closed to within 25sec of Crowie at one point, which seems really close when you write it, but isn’t that close when you look at him in the distance (it’s well over 100m at that pace!). I kept the pressure on, telling myself he could cramp or blow, but World Champions don’t do that often, so I had to settle for second. Again.

I’ll take it though. My gamble on the bike paid off, and brought with it a lot of confidence going forward.  And I’m getting closer and closer to that first big win every race… which brings to mind my next race in 4 weeks at home… ;)

Thanks to everyone for the awesome support and messages this weekend, especially to the team at The Bike Boutique in Singapore. And to those who woke up at 2am in SA to track the race (Lex and Mom) – don’t worry, the next race is closer to home!

Well done also to my team-mates: Caroline for winning (again), Steve for toughing out 5th and Jan for finishing his first 70.3.

Onwards and upwards…

Camp Goggles

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Okay, so all guys are aware of the effect alcohol has on their judgement when it comes to the girls around them. In fact it is common knowledge the world over. Beer makes girls look better. A phenomenon known as ‘beer goggles’.

anonymous-beer-helping-ugly-peopleAt camp, we do not regularly partake in beer however. Well, maybe one or two occasionally, but not enough to… lets say affect our vision. However, having been at multiple camps now, and witnessed first hand the phases the single guys go through as camp progresses, I feel it is time to address and give a name to a new phenomenon – Camp Goggles.

Now our camps are generally held far from the madding crowd, and for good reason. It is hard to focus on hard training when surrounded by all the distractions of modern life. And so we find ourselves secluded in remote places such as Subic Bay, Krabi or Leysin. And the effect this has on the single guys is interesting to watch.

Camps starts out as it always does – the sudden increase in volume, intensity and frequency of training sessions smashes the enthusiasm out of even the most energetic of social butterfly’s. But, a week or two of adjustment to the demands and a transformation begins.

It starts innocently enough – we’ll be riding along, or walking the mall and something will catch the boys eye. Comments will follow about how there are more pretty girls here than there were in (insert previous camp’s name here). Not long after, there will be talk of ‘doing something’ on our day off, and grand plans, which almost always amount to nothing, will be hatched of such things as Karaoke, bars, beaches and, of course, girls. This is where the ‘not single’ guys raise their eyebrows and think, ‘Sure, sure… all talk…’. But we encourage the boys in the hope of some great camp stories to be rehashed for years to come.

A week or two more of pretty-much zero social activity and things get more entertaining. This is when the first signs of camp goggles emerge. Now these are not like our blueseventy goggles. You can’t tell when a guy is wearing them just by looking at him. But if you watch carefully it’s obvious.

First, he will see a girl and turn and look at his mates with a, ’Yeah? She’s hot, right?’ questioning look on his face. No buddy. No.

Then, as it gets worse, he will stop questioning and start trusting his own judgement. This when he will simply state, with no question, that the girl in the shop was HOT! A good mate knows to simply smile and nod at this point.

Before: at the start of camp

Before: at the start of camp

Stage three is where a video camera should always be at the ready: He suddenly gets this excited-schoolboy look on his face and tears off on his bike after some pretty young lady on a scooter who just smiled at him! (Note: Everyone in Thailand smiles at you!) And when he comes slowly back to the group with a slightly ashamed and worried look on his face, you know he has a bad case of camp goggles as he explains that the pretty girl on the scooter was actually a middle-aged lady-boy!

There is no cure for camp goggles. You might think that waking up one morning with a lady-boy/prostitute/chew-off-arm-rather-than-wake-her-ugly-girl (or combination of the three) would be an instant cure. But I’ve seen it before, and sure enough he will be off after that tight-ass, smooth-haired lady-boy bearing scooter in the very next ride…

After: The same ladies a few weeks into camp

After: The same ladies a few weeks into camp

(Disclaimer: No actual person/s were portrayed in this story. It is purely for entertainment purposes and James Cunnama, teamTBB and its employee’s take no responsibility for any failed relationships as a result of this blog! ;) )

Chicken Island and the Sea Urchin incident

Monday, March 8th, 2010

krabi-055Yesterday we were treated by Alex  and Ellen to a very special Thailand experience. After our long run in the morning we all headed to Ao Nang beach where we boarded a long boat and headed out to Chicken Island a few kilometres off the coast. As always it seems, the weather was great for a day at the beach. We landed at Chicken Island and had a great lunch and the small (and only) restaurant on the island. A few of us went snorkelling (without snorkels) and explored the coral reef around the island. It may be important to note now, that there were thousands of sea urchins on the sea-bed, but I was wary of them and giving them a wide berth…

After chilling on the beach a bit and playing some ball games, we hopped back on the boat and headed out a bit were we fed the fish. It was amazing to see the feeding frenzy created by a piece of bread! Thousand of little green and black fish swarm around bread, regardless of whether it is floating, in your hand, or in Jan’s swimsuit… ;) Sometimes they miss the bread and nibble your hand, but their bites are not very effective at tearing through your skin.

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Evil little buggers!

As I swam around the group of team mates and frenzied fish to get back to the boat, I kicked downward and it suddenly felt like I was being bitten by the fish again, only this time it was REALLY sore! It took about half a second to figure out what I had done, and I didn’t need to even look down. I had moved over big rock and so suddenly the sea-bed was shallower than before, and I had kicked a sea urchin! After carefully avoiding them all day, they had gotten me!

The pain was pretty intense, and I must admit I was a little worried for a while. But the boat driver was only mildly amused and not worried, and the pain started easing pretty soon. He dug in his bag for what I hoped was some kind of pain relieving cream or something, but no such luck – he instead gave Alex a bucket and said, ‘You pee, then he stick foot in.’ Really?! Sigh! …If it’ll help.

After all the girls averted their eyes, Alex did his best to fill the bucket, but he must have been dehydrated! The boatman then offered his services and did a better job. Thai pee may be better for Thai urchins anyway… I stuck my foot in the warm liquid, and it did help some…

We headed back through choppy seas and everyone got drenched on the open boat. Alex, Jan, Scott and I then borrowed a resort pool and I relaxed there and soaked my foot while the other boys had underwater swimming competitions across the pool. Scott lost, even to Alex(!) so the beers were on him. After that we had a great dinner at a restaurant overlooking Ao Nang beach. It was a really great day and evening with a fantastic group of people. Thanks Alex!

My foot is not doing too bad now. A little swollen and still has about 10 little spines in it,  but the internet says that they will dissolve or be ejected, so I am soaking my foot to keep the skin soft. Other than that, a few precautions against infection and I’m sure I’ll live, and may even be able to keep my foot…

Boat ride to Chicken Island

Boat ride to Chicken Island

Sunset over Ao Nang beach

Sunset over Ao Nang beach