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December « 2012 « Mathieu O'Halloran's Blog


Archive for December, 2012

Cobb MTB saddle and random MTB stuff!

Monday, December 24th, 2012

Hey all – one of my favorite parts of being a pro athlete is the free gear! Just recently I got my a Cobb SHC Dirt saddle in my X-mast stocking!

The major different that caught my attention was the weight difference - The Cobb was around 25% lighter than the stock saddle as well to being much softer!

If you follow this blog, you have noticed I have really gotten into MTB’ing since I got a new Scott Spark 940 in late September. Here in the Philippines road ridding is limited and sketchy where as off road cycling has tones of options, especially in the provincial areas!

Me with Taal Lake in Batangas in the background as I went down and then back up Talisay road - a nasty 8k climb laced with switch-backs!

Since my new MTB is a double suspension, I figured I could go for the lighter and sleeker saddle with less padding versus the Cobb Plus Dirt which would have been my choice *IF* I rode a hard-tail. This also leaves room for an UP-grade down the rode if I chose so.

Clear as day - the Cobb is much thicker @ the nose for greater absorption!

Heres it is when theres no presure on it.

Here it is with pressure - there is some clear 'flex' as it becomes concave, which makes my A$$ very happy ;)

This is always the biggest thing I advise newbie athletes with equipment – get something basic and get the most out of it before UP grading! It will give you more appreciation, better perspective and a wider knowledge  base on various equipment versus getting the ‘cheddar’ gear from the go..Aim to to juxtapose your equipment with your level, upgrade as you get faster instead of buying materialistic compensation….

Now, sorry if I often a few but I HATE STOCK COMPONENTS! Rarely at their any good, durable and in this case COMFORTABLE. This seems to me as modern bizarre trend in the cycling industry, to sell a nice frame built with crap components. Buying a frame only and then building it up is an ‘art’ or hobby for many and somewhat a manifestation of an athletes idealism! BUT its more expensive…

When you ride your bike as much as I do – small details are noticeable.

Before the saddle upgrade I changed around the 80mm stock stem for a 120mm 3T ARX Pro Stem which is arguable the best bang-for-your-buck stem on the market!

A small but significant increase in length!

The only ‘downside’ to a longer stem is that my bars go lower on the steep downhills – the up sides as that I can ‘snake’ around tight corners much better, I can lift my front wheel much better and my body weight is distributed much more evenly across the bike, thus making me much more stable and comfortable!

Look @ that - its makes my bike look much better as well than that short stem!

The first upgrade I did on this bike, was install the Ergon Grips (pictured above)  more specifically the GP3. This was a huge comfort matter for my palms and wrists during longer ride as well to giving me an additional option when I climb out of the saddle to turn my hands inwards and grip the ‘horns’ like I would do on the ‘hoods’ of a road bike!

Considering there is only 5 contact points in mountain bike, versus 7 on a TT bike, its imperative to be comfortable as they support more weight as well to absorb greater jarring from the trail! Lastly, they also prevent my hands from slipping-off sideways due to the ‘horns’ blocking the way!



Now, let me discuss my point of view over various MTB topics =)

26er or 27.5er or 29er?  Well it depends on the course and the size of the rider!

Top 3 athletes @ XC in London Olympics - for men, unless of a VERY VERY technical course, the 26er bikes will become obsolete.

For small women, a 26er is still doable – the 27.5 is optimal and 29er for the bigger/stronger ones ridding over the faster courses.

Ridding a 29er (big wheels) adds whole new dimension of comfort and stability – small objects get ‘eaten’ by the front wheel and is much safer/easier to control on high speed descents!

How-ever, the ‘longer’ bike overall makes it a bit harder to maneuver around tight corners and due to the higher center of gravity, balance is a bit harder to maintain @ slower speeds or when ridding through ruts as well to being A LITTLE BIT harder to accelerate!

Full suspension or hard-tail?  Depends on the course.

If I could, I would do all my training on a full suspension since its heavier and more comfortable, especially on the lower back – if you ride 5-6 times per week (I did in October) the difference is quickly noticeable. As well to being able to pedal over particularly bumpy sections for longer duration’s that would make staying seated on hard-tail incredibly un-comfortable due to the intense vibration or force them to ride out of the saddle, thus using more energy!

Presented with a bike course that has long climbs, I would go for the hard-tail for the lighter weight and less energy wasted in the pedaling motion, especially when out of the saddle. Of course with a Cobb Plus Dirt for the extra padding on the downhills ;)

Lastly, a rear wheel puncture on a hard-tail maybe avoided on a full suspension due to the extra suppleness of the frame between the rider and the tire.

Since I started ridding my new MTB, my confidence, enjoyment and skills have increased dramatically – some sections I used to get off or ride cautiously I now simply ride over LIKE A BOSS! I used to avoid particular lines and swerve (making me unstable) on these bumpy areas, but now I simply ride a strait line over top!

Well I hope you’ve enjoyed and/or learned  a few things – bellow are some random MTB pics!

My busted rear wheel and rear derailleur after getting T bones by a red-light-burning local 2 days before Putik Pare!

Carving the dirt banks @ the local BMX park in Nuvali!

Joyette balancing her ear-to-ear grin on a narrow path between 2 rice fields!

Here I am coming around a corner into a narrow ridge @ Timberland heights!

Doing some step power hill reps!

Coming back down is just as important as going up here in the off road world!

Going UP!


Merry X-mast and Happy new year =)

Its The Holiday’s – Lets Eat!

Monday, December 17th, 2012

Hey readers – eating healthy is rarely something that is ‘switched on’ or ‘switched off’. Its more of a mind-set, a part of you and your attitude. I have said it before and will say it again, dont look @ food thinking “will this make be skinnier or fatter?” but rather “how much energy and protection will this give me?”

When eating, there are several factors that come into play, nutritional density, taste, price and convenience. Funny enuff, the un-healthy foods are the tasty-est, cheapest, more convenient and rarely nutritionally dense.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive, complicated and tasteless.

Earlier this year, TeamTBB teamed up with Ignite Naturals as a nutritional sponsor!

Santa came early this year =)

Nutrition is something thats very personal and often key to performance @ the 1% of many sports, so why the heck make almost 30 endurance athletes from ALL OVER the globe eat the same stuff?

As you read this blog, you will realize how Ignite Naturals are taking the right steps to make their products suitable for anybody and everybody!

A few months ago I wrote —> THIS BLOG <— about my personal favorite smoothie! Now, I’ll go more into detail about the unique individuality and advantages of Ignite Naturals products.

As the Holiday Season arrives, most will be eating more frequently and in larger quantities – HEY LEAVE ME ALONE ITS THE HOLIDAYS EVERYBODY IS EATING JUNK FOOD AS WELL !!!

<Deep breath and cracks knuckles>

As endurance athletes we all need to take in more food than civilians would, so one is just ‘winging-it’ chances are you are taking in MORE UN-HEALTHY products than somebody who is NOT an athlete as their caloric intake will be much less. The clichée, “I eat what I want cause I exercise a lot” can be a dangerous attitude.

Eating to much of the wrong food can cause all sorts of problems much more severe that a ‘bad -race’ or having low energy.

My biggest personal fear is Type 2 Diabetes because like many, I eat a copious amount of various carbo-hydrates since my body craves and needs it. This disease is slowly becoming an Epidemic in modern countries:

Ignite Naturals pre-workout supplement IN Extreme Energy contains a 1:4 carb to protein ratio and the  I.N. Extreme Energy Natural Cocoa pouches have 1.5 grams of carbs to 15g of protein thats a whopping 1:10 carb to protein ratio! And the kicker is, the carbs come from various NATURAL sources – check it out!

Folks, sorry for the bad news but this is only gonna get worst - its estimated that somebody who develops type 2 diabetes will live 10 years LESS than if NOT having it!

In 2007 I was roommates with Vinnie Santana of Ironguides when we did a training camp @ the Borsaen Villa and Spa. Vinnie is a type 1 diabetic, sharing living quarters with him was an eye opener about this disease I knew very little about and my own mediocre, sloppy and gray diet!

Heres a 'lay-mens' visual!

Now another developing epidemic is Gluten Sensitivity. While this is something complicated, that branches out into different predicaments and maybe have several causes, the reality is that if you can eat products Gluten presently without any noticeable effect, it doesn’t mean you will be able to for the rest of your life as it maybe develop later in life!

Ignite Naturals have nutritional supplements that are Gluten free such as all their Re-Load Energy Gels and the I.N. Extreme Energy Natural Cocoa pouches!

Lactose and Gluten free =)

This is Nick and his girl friend Risa (my girl friends sister). Nick is Gluten sensitive and has Celiac Disease. Hes got a few horror stories about when he and his family did not know hes disease...Once when he was a young boy he broke both legs @ the same time, in an accident that would not hurt somebody 'normal'...He's supper meticulous, disciplined and aware of his diet all the while knowing all the tasty food he cannot eat - RESPECT!

Heres another 'lay-mens' visual.

Now, this may not be an Epidemic, but Lactose Intolerance is another global issue that affects many, some of which dont even know it. Drinking another mammal’s milk is not very natural, but due to Lactase Persistence many cultures and/or ethnicity’s can drink milk without any problem – which is great because milk is full of good stuff =)

Take this map with a 'grain-of-salt' but it does give you a basic visual on who/where people maybe @ risk.

As you might have guessed it, Ignite Naturals has lactose free products cause who wants to deal with this bellow in life, training or racing!

Now, with the holiday season just around the corner, heres some tips:

-If your gonna eat some ‘sinfull’ foods try to make sure its home cooked as they ingredients will probably be more wholesome versus ‘take-out food’ which is produced with cheap ingredients and manipulated in ways, like the cooking and preserving thats not very ‘kosher’ ;)  And of course we all know that home cooked food tastes better as theres been more care/time put into it, but also its also more personal to cook for people you know personally.

Heres Joyette in 'the baking zone' as she makes use chocolate oat meal cookies - YES!

OMG!!! Freshly baked cookies with fresh cold Alaska milk =)

-Dont feel the need to eat anything or everything thats put in front of you, its your body and the ‘food-pushers’ may not realize who full/un-comfortable you maybe at that place/time or any health concerns you maybe have. Between feeling good or being quietly polite and force eating, often to politely refuse and feel good physically later on.

-If your gonna indulge, try a new food you never tasted. Seriously, if you know something is un-healthy and already know what it taste like, chose the other option of eating something un-health and new, that way, your not repeating the same mistake ;) As well to tasting something new, which is part of the whole eating experience!

-Portions, yes pretty self-explanatory, especially if you go to an event/party with a buffet style meal!

-Dont MIX your protein’s to much – theres nothing more stressful for the Human Gastrointestinal Track than to try and metabolize copious types of meat @ once, this can lead to constipation and for food particles to get stuck in your Colon. Heres a story, when I first went to Joyette’s house to meet her mom, they served me 5 different types of proteins, tuna/pork/chicken/beef/shrimp all in one meal and of course, it revolved around WHITE RICE – ahahahahaha! Well I though she was trying to impress me, so I tasted them all only to have sore stomach later on…Eventually, I realized this is very typical of Filipino people to eat so much meat!

-Mix your alcohol right and dont drink on an empty stomach. On the rigs when we went to town to party, there was this saying “Beer before liquor – never been sicker but liquor before bear – in the clear” coz we had a 12 hour shift the next day! Basically, drinking liquor first will get you drunk faster, so will deter your from drinking a greater volume later on. How-ever, drinking beer first, may take longer to get a ‘buzz’ so this will compel one to drink or take more shots. And of course, wine is an ‘healthier’ option and so is champagne asthey both have medium amounts of alcohol!

-Try to eat un-healthy just once per day – so if your going to an evening event, do your best to eat a normal, whole-some breaky and lunch so you a least can have that ‘ying’ to your ‘yang’ effect!

-Dont binge either way. Dont under eat nor over eat. Its an easy mistake, not eat much during the day as you know you will feast in the evening, best is to ‘graze’ through the day and then slightly go over in the evening so you can enjoy it fully! Not eating enuff can cause mood-swings or head-aches and only compel you to OVER-eat in the evening.

-Take what you want but eat what you take. Dont waste food, no matter how much there is because to many people go to bed hungry…

Anyway, this blog is getting long – if you read it all the way to this point. Remember, its not because somebody is skinny and exercises a lot that they are necessarily healthy – I have read copious food diary’s from the athletes I coach online and there is a link, more often that not between their personality/attitudes and what they eat!

Happy/safe holidays and take some good nutritional decision, you will thank yourself down the road of life!

2013 here we come =)

EXTRI race report.

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Hey readers – last Saturday I competed in my last race of the 2012 season! It was in fact my 5th off road race in the past 3 months as I rigoursely prepare for X-Terra Cebu next year in Liloan where I had multiple problems on the bike leg earlier this year, see —> here <—

I actually won this race last year! How-ever, Joyette had crashed her MTB 2 weeks before and missed the race so she wanted to get redemption and race it this year!

Modern triathletes are prone to quantify the challenge of a race by the total distance. While it might be a good mistake to do, its not always the case. This race, organized by the Extribe is actually one of the longest running triathlons in the Philippines!

Based out of the beautiful La Luz Beach Resort near San Juan Batangas the 1k swim – 23k MTB and 4k XC run pacts a serious punch! The race start is at 13h30 so you can just imagine the waves coming from the Philippines Sea. The MTB leg has un-fortunately been a victim of progression over the past few years and has a lot, even to much concrete sections, of which incidentally makes it very friendly for the road triathletes who wish to make the jump into off road!

And now comes the 4k run – ahahaha 4k run right? Well this is without a doubt the hardest run course I have ever done in my career! The ‘stair-master’ leads into back-2-back uphills nearing 20% in grade and then loops around so that we can comeback to the finish line running on the edge of the ocean! Well, running in deep/loose sand and over big rocks is quite the challenge when done off the bike, amplified by the mid-day sun and the fact that we are required to run with our bike helmets (due to past accidents) really makes it the hardest run per kilometer I have done!

This event requires true athleticism, superior ’in the moment’ thinking and of course, recruiting explosive/powerful motions to cleanly get over the modulating terrain.

Definitely an event that will help with my efficiency, perception and my speed-endurance for next years Cebu 70.3 (which sold out in 4 days)  especially as I go over Marcelo Fernan Bridge on the bike leg and go over the undulating on the hot run leg.


In brief, I lead from start to finish with the fastest swim/bike/run splits and had a ‘ding-dong’ battle with the lead motor cycle (motor-cross) out in the trails – it was fun and dangerous @ the same time =)

Race results can be found *HERE*

To make things sweeter, Joyette also took won the race and was quite competitive with the men even although she did loss time when she had the urge to go to the bathroom on the run! Good thing she races with a 2 piece tri-suite!

Bellow is my transition, thanks to Ignite Naturals for the pre-race fuel, mid-race fuel and post race fuel! When a race starts AFTER lunch and will require my heart-rate to go up in my throat, what I eat before is very important! Also thanx to ON-Running which allowed my to bounce over the rocks and absorbe the impact on the harsh down hills. And to Spyder for keeping my head and eyes safe!

Even thought this was a small event - no stones where left un-turned for quality!

Now this is a funny one - an MTB with clip-on aerobars and a cock-pit mounted hydration - only in triathlon!

Swim start/exit. transition chute and finish line all in the pristine white sand that is stereotypical of local races!

Top placers @ the awards - there is no other was I would like to spend my Saturday after-noon than doing this!

Last put not least, this event serves as a charity to the local schools here in this area as a HUGE majority of Filipino’s struggle with day-to-day expense and live a ‘hand-2-mouth‘ lifestyle while smaller, but significant groups live more than comfortably and often, have lavish life-styles often thanx to who came before them in their family tree.

Erick Imperio, the race organizer donates a big part of the entry fee to the education of the local ‘nenes’ and ‘totoys’ so that they have a chance to develop just the same as other kids in the Philippines and around the globe.

After the award ceremony, local school teachers where given a stack of fans (its really hot here), a computer and printer which where all purchased with our entry fee's!

While some might be deterred from registering for this event due to the ‘expensive’ entry fee – they ignore or dont care about where the entry fee will go, all the while buying over priced gear or on upgrades, not because its no longer functional, but rather because its out-of-style…

As a foreigner, seeing such polarization in lifestyle is shocking – I owe so much to triathlon and being Canadian gave opportunities and privileges that many will never get to have. Not because their is no money or resources, but because in this modern era, the poor seem to get poorer and the richer seem to get richer.

Not to ‘knock’ anybody in particular as I am also guilty but WE can make a BIG difference with SMALL gestures so that ALL CHILDREN may have a chance at equal developmental, regardless. And lets me honest, the future progression of most developing countries lies not in the small, educated and wealthy minority, but rather in the large masses that do the day-to-day labor that makes society has whole function effectively.

So the more of these ‘Juan-De-La-Cruz’ are educated properly in their youth, the better the WHOLE of society will benefit down the road – that you can all be sure of.

Now, something might be cooking up in trying to get some bikes, various equipment and cycling education to these young children. Because many of them DONT go to school regularly because of distance, or the weather and when they do walk/run/hike to school, they are so hungry,   that they struggle to abosrbe what is tough to them…Or simply spend on public transport which in return nibbles on their overall funds for a better life.

A bike can make such a huge difference in a child life – it make a HUGE difference in mine, it gave me good health, independence, a sense of adventure and the chance to see places I would not see by foot or vehicle.

Here in the Philippines, we can ride bikes 365 days a year – the traffic is getting worst and worst each year so commuting by pedal-bike, and not by jeepney or tri-cycle or decrepit vehicle will help to reduce the amount of space taken on the narrow local/provincial roads and allow an individual to be healthier than those using sedentary public transportation. And finally, carbon emission release of vehicles into the atmosphere is a growing problem that will imminently affect every single one of us or our future ancestors, rich or  poor, healthy or not  and educated or not…

Being a player-coach.

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Hey readers – this is a short spew about something thats been on my mind for a few months already – hope it captivates you!

Triathlon has a copious amount of “player-coaches” and possibly more than any other sport in history!

I am one of them =)

There has been quite a few successful player-coaches in team sports in the past, but recently they have been obsolete…Legendary Basketball player Wilt Chamberlain who once scored 100 points in a single game was one and so was Bill Russell who won 11 NBA Championships is possibly the most successful of them all. Now this one is for my Filipino readers – Robert Jaworski who is arguably the best Filipino basketball players ever was himself also very successful playing-coach.

So why does triathlon have so many of them? Some sports its actually against the rules!

Well, the main reason is the UN-fortunate reality that the money @ the top end of triathlon is quite sparse, this compels many pro’s to find some means to support themselves within the industry. Considering the mentality of many age group triathletes who obsess over numbers, the ‘coach’ with the fastest racing numbers must know what hes doing, right? Just like the buying the bike frame that’s got the fastest wind-tunnel numbers ;)

And then there is a lack of competent triathlon coaches, regardless of their traditional sports education, weekend courses or ridding the wave of a single good athlete, many mainstream coaches appear to struggle to consistently deliver an all encompassing program…

Now, what makes a good player/coach?

It takes superior detachment, regardless of emotion, friendship or current/past results on both sides, the relationship must maintain its integrity and initial “teacher/student” dynamic to be cohesive in the long run.

Time managements and being organized are also key. Regardless if its an virtual or face-to-face relationship, humans are prone to put their personal/family priorities first, before anybody else’s ambitions. So when swim/biking/running towards similar objectives but with different details or to have a juxtaposing plan, prioritizing and individuality are critical or a fault may arise  in the end results on both sides if corners are cut…

A player-coach maybe judged subjectively by his present actions/performances or lack off in competition as they are in a way a ‘role model’ to their pupils where the “do as I say not as I do” quote might cause some cracks in either sides ego…Leading by actions and example, may often be most crisp way to make a point.

Its in the Player-coach’s best interest to have a 2nd set of eyes on their training and coaching. Some sort of mentor or guide can be critical when obstacles make their appearance and assistance with perspective is required. In my experience, many struggling payer-coaches actually coach themselves, rarely look outside for advice and that ends up to be their downfall…

Coach Brett has tough me many things over the years about sport, life and Dr Pepper ? His advice keeps on coming to me as I become more independent!

Training and racing against your own coach or athletes can cause certain conflicts; sure, it might be fun here and there to see your coach work his ass off or giving it to your athletes and show them how it’s done. But ego’s and emotions maybe hard to keep in check, so this might instigate a rivalry or jealousy in the relationship that might cause a shift in control or trust.

And then it can also hinder a player-coach’s observations of particular aspects/weaknesses that their athletes needs to work or eliminate of which is only apparent during a pressure points, but can be hard-pressed to notice is as player-coach is to busy with his own thing…

Heres this for multi-tasking, I am this lady's coach, training partner and lover! Yes, there are some occasional conflicts but being able to share every thing/moment is priceless!

This year I did it all, I raced my athletes, I coached up to 8 athletes in a single race that I was racing, I coached a couple races from the side-lines, I watched workouts from the deck and I went head-to-head with them in training!

5i50 was our first race as a full team this year and was a true test of my leadership abilities, racing fitness and taking the right decisions @ the right time! Definitely an experience that took ALOT out of me!

My Kuya from a different mama is one of the fastest triathletes I have worked with - @ the Batayan Triathlon in 2011 he compelled me to look over my shoulder enuff times to give me a sore neck ;)

Me and Marc earlier this year - we would be 1-2 out of the water and 1st and 3rd on the overall podium!

Being a player-coach will let that athlete to live his dream, allow more time to train/race and mix his passion with his work! I have heard of a few stories of successful men who quit their 6 figure a year income to coach so they could train/race more to live the dream 8)

You can be sure, if your coach is active, he is very much aware of the strain and pain of training/racing – when I watch my athletes in the ‘hurt-box’ I remind them, that I know how they feel, I have been there myself and will go back there soon so might as well make it count by doing your best in the moment!

Versus a coach who hasn’t recently felt the pain/strain of heavy training or fierce competition, this might allow a loss of touch with the necessity and rigors of high performance sports so I believe it be a good idea for ALL sedentary coaches to occasionally get out and ‘refresh’  their athletic spirits!

This year was my heaviest as a player-coach, but ironically it was my most consistent as an athlete! My rationalization is that I FINALLY had financial stability for the first time in years, I felt like I living for more than just myself and last but not least that seeing my athletes grow before my eyes gave me a extra bit more toward fulfillment!

Lastly, most player-coaches I have meet tend to race and coach half assed – only a few have the discipline, maturity and leadership qualities to do both @ a competitive level.

Actually, they might as well be called coaching-players ;)