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Mathieu O'Halloran's Blog

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Cobb MTB saddle and random MTB stuff!

December 24th, 2012 by Mathieu O'Halloran

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!

BEFORE.

AFTER.

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!

And AWAY!

Merry X-mast and Happy new year =)

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Its The Holiday’s – Lets Eat!

December 17th, 2012 by Mathieu O'Halloran

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 =)

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EXTRI race report.

December 10th, 2012 by Mathieu O'Halloran

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.

Transition.

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…

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Being a player-coach.

December 5th, 2012 by Mathieu O'Halloran

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 ;)

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My Inversion Table 2 years on.

November 26th, 2012 by Mathieu O'Halloran

Hey readers – a couple years back I hurt one of my thoracic vertebrae’s in Phuket and to fix it I used a mixed remedy of heat and hanging upside down on an inversion table, click here to see the blog I posted on my first hanging session!

Below is a new blog about my experiences/opinion on using this table as a regular ambitious triathlete who spends more time than he should sitting in front of a computer…I hope it finds well those who have shared these furious backs pain that I have experienced…

Lumbar compression, scoliosis, bulging disk, herniation, slipped disk, sciatica or simply put in layman’s terms ‘a-dodgy-back’ can all be helped by an inversion table!

As humans go about their day, their interverterbal disks lose blood and gradually get smaller, reducing the space between vertebrae’s. This makes your spine less flexible, slows down circulation and increases the susceptibility to trauma in the midst of brisk or un-expected lateral movement!!!

Even without the trauma, the degeneration of the disk’s, particularly of the Lumbar section of the spine over the years will also cause discomfort by accumulating tightness will most-likely be antagonized by OVER or UNDER use.

Too much lifting or too much sitting?

An inversion table will give instant relief by using gravity in the opposing direction.

This is far from a modern concept, Egyptian’s, Hippocrates and ancient yogis have been report to have use inversion methods to help during antiquity medicine.

A fly yoga session!

LA seems to know a lot about getting that 'edge' out of his body - judging from this picture, hes tense so probably doesn't hang often and his grey hair shows this is a recent picture.

Back problems will affect most humans at one point or another in their lifes – regardless the cause such as trauma, pregnancy, over use, under use, age, genetics, poor posture, ect.

The most common mainstream ’remedy’ for this predicament is core strength…LOL!

This^ will simply increase tension in the Multifidus mucles which runs up-wards along your spinal cord. During trauma, it has the tendency to lock-up as a default to protect the spinal cords aka the ‘highway’ of your system!.

A strong core is not always a pain free core because humans are prone to over reach – the tighter the Multifidus the less flexible the Vertabal Column will be, thus a hernia cause by a sudden motion and/or spinal degeneration maybe imminent.

My passive position against back pain.

Doing it first thing in the morning is a bad idea, by head gets heavy very quick! I put a towel around the ankle guard coz its quite un-comfortable as that the main point of pressure.

My ritual would be 3 X 5 min on the odd days alternating with 10 min strait on the even days. Its intimidating @ first to put all your trust in it, but once your back leaves the back of the table, all the tightness in your spine/hips/hamstrings/vertebrae have no-where to hide and gradually get pulled by gravity!

The default amount of force in the stretching is determined by my body weight and gravity as well to stretching very evenly down both sides of my body! I get a slight head rush, when I have some sinus inflammation, I ca really feel it when I am upside down.

The blood rush to the head can sometimes be un-comfortable, other times it helps with my thinking by allowing me to relax and ultimately, gives me a sensation of euphoria!

After a few minutes hanging, I will do a few twists, butt clenches, round/arch my back with the goal to get some cricks and cracks to come out! The feeling is like no other – the gratification is instant, especially after sitting for a while or after a long MTB ride. The more I get on the table, the higher up my spine the stretching goes!

I have experiment with some rubbing of my Sciatic Nerves while hanging – the tension mixed with the pressure of massaging causes some ‘electricity shots’ to run through my legs! Its always great to feel the Qi doing its thing in my lower body! This will help sciatic compression as its often instigated by sitting for long duration in a poor posture and/or the inflammation of a spinal disk in the Lumbar area!

Some believe that copious hanging will make them taller ;)

Anyway hope you have learned about passive and non-invasive back remedies! this inversion table cost around 200$ and it has paid for itself many times! Now, my low-back is getting tight from sitting and writing this…time to go hang!

Fin.

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X-Terra Putik Pare Report!

November 19th, 2012 by Mathieu O'Halloran

Hey blog readers! This would be my 3rd off road duathlon and 4th ANY duathlon in the past 10 weeks – as always it was exhilarating and challenging in many different dimensions!  I ran through rivers, ran in thick sand for about 4k strait, scaled up a sandy wall, rode uphill for longer than I would have wanted too, ridden through local disney-land, rode withing a few meters of cows and goats, ran thought mud, feel down once, had to walk up a hill once with my bike and went down sketchy downhills!

The race dynamics where like so – my team-mate and mine would start the 10k off road run and 20k off road MTB @ simultaneously – each starting what-ever leg we had agreed upon – then we would meet in transition and could not start the 2nd leg NOR the mud-pit area (last 50m) so how-ever was in transition first could get a short rest before they head out =)

Random —> I actually got T-boned by a motor cycle about 36 hours before the race – my back wheel and rear derailleur had to be replaced – did not get hurt physically but I was shaken and temporarily lots trust in GREEN LIGHTS in the Philippines…But thats a whole blog that will never be posted – simply an adventure I will share over a few brew’s in many years to come about how there traffic accidents are ‘fixed’ in 3rd world country’s – ahahahahahahahaha!

This would be my 3rd X-Terra event this year!

I have been into lots of porta-johns in my life and I they always smell terrible!

Part of the race course in the backdrop?

This Gatorade aid station in the Lahar river was like an Oasis in middle of the desert!

In the first transition with my race-partner Joseph Miller.

Here I am over taking riders on my 2nd time in the Lahar river - cycling in this sand was very very difficult!

Flying dismount off road I prefer to do with bike bike shoes!

You never how deep a puddle is until you jump in feet first!

I did not hear the racce brefing very well but I assumed we had to cross the mud pit hand in hand - turns out we did not have to?

Bro-mance?

FINISH!

Starting an off road race is always intense because your rarely know the course well so @ the finish its always more relieve that you get to rest physically and mentally!

Bike and body wash - the body wash soap was sponsored ;)

These usually do a 69to stand up independently but NOT in MTB'ing?

My plate for my post race brunch.

A traditional experience is always a bonus when racing - Sunrise events made sure of that =)

Filipino's love their meat: Sisig aka PIGFACE - Tocino aka SWEETBREAKFASTPORK - Sausa aka SAUSAGE!!!

It aint breaky in Asia without egg with white rice ahahaha!

We won heaps of give away's like VASELINE MENS products - Alaska Milk products - Timex watch with 1 year warranty - Gatorade towel

REPRESENT!

Our finishers medals ( me and Joyettes) and my trophy where made from *Lahar Flow* which is laval flow - very original idea from the organizers I though as I never had any most race awards made out of rock! This comes from the 1991 MT Pinatubo eruption that shook millions of people's lifes!

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Nuvali Dirt Weekend Double Race Report!

November 12th, 2012 by Mathieu O'Halloran

Hey readers – last weekend I got adventurous and competed in an off road festival here in Nuvali! I was really looking forward to this event particularly because I had gotten a new MTB, a Scott Spark 940 which I got @ a great deal from The Brick Multisport store!

It was a refreshing event that was quite laid back (a bit to much at times) and had a different, more punk/rock crowd of cycling enthusiast which is a nice change from (insert humorous adjective) triathletes – ahahahahahaha!

Up first was the X-Country event where I would compete in the OPEN category which is in between ELITE and AGE GROUP.

It had been quite dry for the past weeks in the Sta. Rosa area. How-ever, the weather gods decided to give us some rain come race morning – followed by some bright sun immediately following the race start. As you can imagine, it was very muddy, sticky and humid!

Just like in a triathlon start EVERYBODY wants to be in good position because its easier to get passed than have to pass while on the trail.

LETS GO WE HAVE ABOUT 1KM ON THE ROAD BEFORE WE ENTER THE TRAILS!!!

I entered the trail in about 20th position and was happy to have not crashed – unlike others. The pace was stiff and I was breathing hard already. I gradually started to cut through the mess in front of me around the slippery up-hills where we had to dis-mount. My ‘high-hoe-silver’ abilities and run fitness allowed me to wiz by small clusters.

This was one of the most entertaining sections - going down a wooden ramp - Joyette told me it was more common to see somebody fall down than make it all the way down on 2 wheels!

@ around the half way point I found myself in no-mans-land and covered in mud. I diligently negotiated the most technical area called ‘the graveyard’ and once in the open field I caught a glimpse of a 5 man group just up ahead!

This is when the first dis-organisation problem arose – there was a section with a few trail options but NO sign, NO tape or NO volunteer to guide us! I followed the group off the trail onto the main road and here came the “putang ina” and “saan yung race course” ?

After a few minutes an official  aboard a motor cycle rolled up out of no-where and directed us back on track.

As we got back into race mode, I got aggressive and ATTACKED  where only 2 of the riders would match my pace over the ondulating terrain that overlooked the beauty of Laguna Bay home of the largest lake in The Philippines!

Now I could see for minutes ahead of me in the open field – I was now convinced I was in control of this race (my first MTB race) but it turned the eventually champion was waaaay ahead!

Not to long after, we where pointed off the MTB trails and into a perimeter road used by Jeepney’s and Tricycles. This made no sense, why not do the MTB race on the MTB trail?

This is where the 2nd disorganization problem would arise – there was large clusters of volunteers @ obvious and self explanatory sections of the course! All of a sudden we got to a 4 way dirt road intersection again with NO sign, NO volunteer and NO tape.

I slowed down and my break way buddies went to the front and I followed. I knew we had to be heading towards the Republ1c Wakepark and ride their perimeter trail but now we where heading in a different direction – I second guessed myself and followed them…

After a few minutes we ended up on a previous section of the perimeter road – now I was pissed. I turned around and ripped it towards the right direction where I rode through a few athletes like they where standing still as i got back-on-track.

AAARRRGGG!!!

Now the finish line was close as we rolled onto the main road – suddenly there was a small group of guys I never seen before right on my wheel as I entered the final trail about 2KM from the finish.

Out of a tunnel and into a shallow river with my game face on!

A few guys right behind me looking to challenge in the final stages of the race!

Out of the river and up the steep hill we jockyed for position and in the final strait I locked out my suspension, but her in the BIG RING and bounced out of the saddle!

Fueled by anger and emotion I won the sprint – once across the line I asked several of the volunteers what was my position they all said the same thing “sorry sir I did not count” to me that meant there was quite a few guys ahead of me.

Dirty, pissed-off and tired.

As riders trickled into the finish chute you could hear all sorts of angry things in Tagalog…Turns out I got 4th OVERALL and was 2nd in the OPEN category (18 seconds behind 1st).

I spent the rest of the day loosening out my body, cleaning my gear for the next day and finishing off training programs for my athletes!

Here I am getting ready on the 2nd day - the race start is only about 15 min from my home so it was a fairly relaxed morning.

The Off Road Duathlon was organized by Thumbie ‘mister T’ Remingo of the Adrenaline Multisport Group so I knew I could expect a good event 8) and when we actually started on time, I knew I could simply go out and hammer!

I recognized a few familiar faces and noticed a few MTBer's where also racing back-to-back - ASTIG!!!

Take your marks!

Chasing while being chased!

I would be challenged by ‘bad boy’ and Robeno, arguably the 2 most talented local duathletes that went through the Philippines Duathlon National team.

I felt heavy from the start, not just because I raced the day before or the wedding I attended on Thursday by also by the fact that I had not trained all that much in the past few weeks since I was busy coaching my scholars during ‘sem-break’.

My goal was to limit the damage on the first run, stay relaxed and make a move on the bike!

I quickly caught and passed Robeno and now had ‘bad boy’ in my scope. I gradually ‘tighten-the-screws’  as we entered the most technical section of the bike. How-ever, suddenly around the half way point of the bike my lower back locked up…

I am no stranger to back pain so I focused to manage it and maintain my 2nd position. Once on the run, I focused on a short/compact stride on the UPS of the undulating terrain and a longer stride on the DOWNS. My body opened up in the final quarter of the run and it turned out to be the best I felt out of both runs!

Re-leaved to finish 2nd!

Top 3 OVERALL - I always wonder how quick I could run if I had a body like them?

Giving a short interview - I always get asked "Is this your first time in the Philippines?" questions during these. But this time I figured she assumed ALASKA refereed to where I was from - not who I represent ;)

The awards actually took a while to start and I still had lots of computer work to do so Joyette got my award on my behalf!

This was one of the highlights for me!

SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT!!!

I was surprised they had a Four Cross event instead of the BMX Cross of which is now an Olympic Sport and in my opinion, an event that suites the Filipino body and mind which could possibly be a sport where a local could bring back an Olympic Medal!

The Dirt weekend also finished off with a big concert that I did not have time to attend…All-in-all it was a great weekend, I meet new people, got new experiences and won a total of 10 000 pesos (~250 US) for both my 2nd places!

If only the OVERALL organizers of this event would manage to ‘cross-the-T’s’ and ‘dot-the-I’s’ this event could have some serious potential for growth as its a beautiful venue with very generous sponsors!

My next event is this Sunday @ The Putik Pare off-road-team-duathlon in Clark Freeport Zone in The Province of Pampanga where ‘Apl.de.ap‘ of The Black Eyed Peas hails from!

For those wondering, putik means mud and pare means friend in Tagalog! So its a ‘muddy-buddy’ event – ahahahaha!

Here are some pics from last year where I teamed up with Joyette – this year I will team up with kuya Noy!

Me carrying Joyette in the mud-pit!

This one needs a funny caption!

This is not a race per say but rather an event that solicitates lots of smiles!

Hope to see ya there!

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Up.To.Date.

November 7th, 2012 by Mathieu O'Halloran

Hey well its been a while since my last blog as I have been ‘flat-out’ busy with my scholars who where on their ‘sem-break’ from school some of them came to live with me! In short, we had a 2 week training camp with The White Rock Half Ironman in the middle =)

I spent the past 26 years looking out for me, myself and I. But since the start of Alaska Team TBB my outlook has had to change. Now, I am responsible for the athletic careers of teenagers and young adults – sometimes I  feel like a big brother and other times, like some bossy triathlon know it all!

While many believe that Filipino’s have some sort of physical/genetic disadvantage in sport – I beg the differ. Name me a sport, and I will probably find you a short, driven and successful athlete who’s spirit outlasted their physicality.

I like to use Muggsy Bogues as an example because Pinoy’s are Basketball crazy!

Filipinos are small, strong and stubborn – they are used to the heat and eating lots of banana’s! Sounds to me like the qualities needed for being successful @ the Ironman Distance.

Anyway, my home turned into a small training camp and I was a coach from 7am to 7pm – then I would get on my computer and coach my TeamTBB Online athletes!

I felt like an age grouper – trying to squeeze bits of training BEFORE and/or AFTER my day as I had to prioritize and put myself 2nd. While I coached their young bodies, I also make sure to coach their young minds. ATTITUDE often is the differ in performance or lack off  in work, life and sport. It can trump genetics, wealth, education and circumstance – sometimes all @ once!

And @ TeamTBB we have our very own outlook about triathlon ;)

Here are some pics:

Race day came, it was Banjo’s (19 years old) 2nd Half Ironman and Dhill’s (21 years old) 2nd triathlon and first Half Ironman. I knew the course quite well, I gave them a few pointers, they rode part of the run and that was it as theres not much else to do when you get to the race site less than 24 hours to the gun start.

The last thing I want is my athletes to depend on being familiar with the race course to feel ready or to have a good race – it will only make then weak once they race overseas. They must learn to take races as they come, improvise and visualize the un-known.

I took responsibility of educating them on nutrition, tactics and wise equipment choices.

They would be taking on a small but experienced field, many of which have done this race multiple times since its start in 2004, making it the longest running Long Distance Triathlon in the Philippines!

The swim was long, the bike course was technical and windy but flat and then run had some nasty hills with some moderate weather!

Dropping off their transition bags moments before the start.

As expected Dhill had a sizable gap out of the water!

The transition was weather proof - important factor when you leave your bike overnight!

Both Scholars stuck to the plan, ride steady, fuel-up and stay patient.

Banjo was 2nd out of the water, 1st off the bike where he would remain until the finish line!

Dhill learned to ride a bike from scratch earlier in June. He rode well on the technical course, was in the top 5 off the bike and ran well until the final 5km where we started to cramp up on the hills...

One of the interesting twist to this race was that their where NO CUPS out on the run course – the race organizer Eric Imperio loves his country and planet so much he gave every athlete a Hydra Pouch for the run!

Watching from the side lines this appeared to be a great idea – I have been to a few events where their where literally carpets of cups/sponges on the ground! While it can work for smaller and well organized races as its a  practical, economical and green concept. How-ever, in a bigger race with more participants, it might be a bit more tricky…

Panalo!

Dhill's races used last a few seconds in the pool - now they last for a few hours out in the open ocean/road. He handled it much better than 99% do in their 2nd triathlon.

They made me a very proud coach!

All in all winning a race or coaching an athlete to win a race are similar. Both need to trust, sacrifice and prepare. And one thing is for sure, supporting triathletes in a race is very tiring!

Both recovered from the race very quickly as they are fit, ate healthy and took the right measure to shake out the race!  I firmly believe that after a successful race, the body and mind are always stronger, given they come down properly with the right training MIX.

Now life is back to normal, the athletes have return to their homes and routine. Joyette is back from a 3 week trip in Hawaii where she competed @ the X-Terra World Championships.

This weekend I will be fulfilling a life long ambition and be competing in a X-Country MTB race! Its part of the Dirt Weekend held in Nuvali (my training grounds) which is composed of 7 cycling centric events! I will be doing the 40km X-Country race on Saturday and then the off road Duathlon on Sunday!

This will promote a tone of domestics sports tourism!

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Rudy Project Challenge Report!

October 7th, 2012 by Mathieu O'Halloran

Hey blog readers – last Sunday,  this race was supposed to be a Triathlon but it was changed into a duathlon last minute as there was some ‘issues’ with the man-made lake at the Republic 1 Wakepark which is in the beautiful area of Nuvali thats only a few minute bike ride from my home!

The race map minus the swim part. The Duathlon distance was a 6k run - 30k bike - 3k run versus the original triathlon that was supposed to be 900m swim - 30k bike - 8k run.

For me the run was the key to this race, as it was quite undulating and would expose any weakness!

The water level of the park was a fraction of what it should have been...

This is however a top notch venue for various sport events!

Admittedly, when I was told it was a duathlon @ 4h45 am I was annoyed, not for myself but for my girl friend Joyette who’s been working on her swim and using this as a tune up event for the X-Terra World Champs in Maui in 3 weeks and one of my scholars, Dhill was ready to do his 2nd ever triathlon!

There was a bit of circumstantial clues that *SOME* of event organizers new of this and simply kept quiet and acted sneaky. The first, was 2 weeks before the race, it was announced that this was a ‘bring your own swim cap’ race! The reason, for recycling and planetary issues? Thats funny, I personally find that a good (silicone) swim cap, is arguably the best ways for triathlon events to get *FREE ADVERTISEMENT* as athlete may use them multiple times per week for months and years of swim training!

The 2nd was, a few national team duathletes appeared on the start list the week of the race – I mean those are athlete who cant swim and would never race a triathlon as well to considering the Asian Duathlon Champs are in Subic Bay at the end of November, training/racing for a triathlon makes no sense at all.

Anyway, at the end of the day, it was the same race course for everybody and the weather god’s where with us as it was a mild, dewy and overcast morning!

Having to adapt with the present circumstance, where my strength (the swim) is taken out and that my weakness (the run) is extended. I could only suck-it-up and look forward to the challenge!

Did I mention this race was draft legal?

I just never understand why some people just start out to freaking FAST only to slow down dramatically?

The run start was fast – I found myself in about 20 place in the first 200m or so as we headed into a downhill before a gradual uphill towards the turn around.

I started out patiently and gradually ran passed a few ‘elrabitos’ and made my way up to the leader who was in fact the top Pinoy duathlete for the past couple years and built like a Kenyan!

BIKE BIKES BIKES!

It took me about 6k but I made it to the very front by the time I had to jump on my bike!

Once on the bike, another local athlete had manage to bridge the gap – so then there where 3.

It was quite clear from the start of the bike (dont let the pic fool you) that my two ridding colleagues where quite content to let me do the work at the front, why not? I was the strongest of the 3!  One of them would take a few short pulls when I signaled and slow down the pace and the other was just no-were to be seen and he was in fact, in my opinion the best runner out of the 3 of us.

So now I had to strategies with myself.

I saw 3 options:

#1 ride hard, hope they hurt and gut-out the run.
#2 try to break away and gain a gap.
#3 ride slow so we all start the 3k run ‘fresh”.

I had been ridding hard/consistent in races all year long and I new it would be very difficult to shake them both! As well to the lure of seeing how fast I could run over the final 3k – it made feel like I was in an ITU race =)

Sure enuff, everybody wants to lead into transition in a draft legal race especially before a 3k where every second counts!

Once I got my almost new ON Cloudracers in my feet, I bounced my way down the gradually downhill in 2nd place with long strides while taking deep breaths.

I could tell that the leader was in over his head – he had a massive shoulder rock and his head was boobing more-and-more each 100m. I gradually reeled his ~50m lead on the uphill and increased the pressure as I passed him by speeding up my turn over and bumping my arms!

Once I reach the turn around, I saw I had a small gap on both of them which meant 1500m to go thats mainly downhill with a short up near the end?

At this point, I had the race in my grip mentally and looking to beat duathletes at their own game and who are 20-30 pounds lighter than me!

I punched the pace down the hill and promised myself I would NOT look back until I get at the top of the last hill which is about 400m from the finish!

I put myself through a world of pain while getting cheered on by friendly and familiar faces! Coming into the finishing stretch, I heard Brett‘s voice tell me to give it my all to the finishing line, regardless if I am 1st – 2nd – 3rd or 33rd.

In insight, I sit here writing this being much more content by winning a duathlon by a few seconds that winning a triathlon by a few minutes! I was challenged until the final moments of this race, where during most local triathlons I do, I basically go-off-the-front and time trial to the finish with a big lead!

Joyette also made it to the top the podium - beating 2 foreigners that are almost the same height as her on the lower steps of the podium!

Later that evening I went and did that elusive swim – but it was slow and easy – just how I like it on Sunday evenings after a solid morning session!

Anyway, I know there was some hard feeling about this race by many participants – I know a few where looking to do their first triathlon, some their first open water triathlon and others, actually flew in from other parts of the country just to do this event!

To me, I believe there where to many heads involved in this event and no actual omnipotent leader who had the last say on everything…

The Rebublic 1 Wakepark has tremendous potential for various outdoor activities that will benefit the park, the organizers and the participants, so I genuinely hope that this experience has not tarnished the possibility of future multi-sport events as it can potentially be a great asset for the local triathlon community where you can get in an open water triathlon without having to sleep over night at the hotel if you live in Manila!

Hopefully, petty politics wont be an issue and ego’s will be put in check as I would really like to see an off-road-triathlon on this venue early in 2013 in preparation for X-Terra Cebu!

CAUSE I JUST GOT A DOUBLE SUSPENSION 29er!!!

See you out on the trails 8)

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Tripalooza & Daniale Icecycle Review.

October 1st, 2012 by Mathieu O'Halloran

The US has Interbike, Europe had Eurobike and The Philippines has Tripalooza!

I was invited to give a talk about my journey as a pro triathlete!

Those who listen thought that its worth hearing, interesting and un-orthodox!

Carlos was a top host! I was really happy to see many people find an interested not only in me, put my team as well to our social project here in the Philippines!

With the gang from Light N Up marketing who are the local distributor of many top brands, including Cervelo and 2XU!

My dream bike!

Warming up on the bike - there was not much resistance so it was an RPM contest - kinda like to rides downhill the fastest!

There was several challenges with draw prizes to be won - here I am pushing as many watts as I can for 1 minutes - I got 2nd place behind a local cyclist!

Anyway, would like to give a shout out to The Brick Multisport Store and SwimBikeRun.ph for being the masterminds behind this. It definitely helps the local triathlon community by checking out and comparing equipment options at a discounted rate as well for up and coming distributors to exhibit their product, events and/or service!

Of wait – I have some more =) I got a bunch of freebies while I was there, the most interesting was the Daniale Ice Cycle pack from Jeremy of Triton Endurance Sports!

As a foreigner in a freaking hot and humid country, I sweat a lot and always look for aircon, fan and/or shade during the day! I mean, just going out and about I start to sweat like a mad-man of which forces me to constantly have a change or clothes, drinking water and/or a towel to wipe myself down!

Incidentally, I was looking on Amazon.com just this past week at cooling vest’s to order online as I felt the need to have one!

As Ige told me – THE POWER OF THE MIND!

Its very light weight and fine material - there are 2 pockets, one of each ice pack. Very very easy to set up and put on!

Here it is fully loaded - with a motivational paragraph and care instructions. As you can see, the shoulder straps are very adjustable!

I was so exited with this product, I used it right away today on my morning trainer ride that are always tortuously hot!

Its sleek and light weight design made it incognito but at the same time very vivid in its purpose of keeping my spine which is the 'highway' of my body's Qi!

The 'hurt box' was a bit more pleasant today, which allow me to focus better on the task at hand: PUNCH MY PEDALS!

All in all its a great products that can help an athletes get the most out of themselves in training, or stay cool before racing and even during a race! Or for me, use it to go around regular errands in the middle of the day because thats siesta time here in The Philippines before the evening rush-hour to get things done, or should I say ‘slow hour’ ahahahaha!

The ice pack stayed cool for my entire 80 min trainer ride, but was fading near the end…I would not use it for running, but I would do the bike leg a hot Olympic or Half Ironman with it over my race suite as I know first hand, how much heat can affect performance…

It doesn’t appear to have any aerodynamic penalty and the weight is very negligible over a flat/rolling course where an athlete stay’s in the aero-position! I just have to try it one with an aero helmet to see if there will be some contact!

Anyway thats it for now - hope you enjoy this blog, next Sunday I am doing this race which allow's me to sleep in my own bed, ride to the race course in the morning and race on my regular training grounds!

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