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April « 2009 « Tereza Macel's Blog

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Archive for April, 2009

Looking back

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Ok, the heat camp in the Philippines seems like forever ago. The tan, or should I say sunburn from the race in China is fading, and I have not even been at home for a week yet. I am not sure why, but time is not always the same. Sometimes a day is not 24 hours long, and a week seems like a month. Especially when travelling, when you gain time one way, lose time another way and just in general have no clue what day or time it is when you get where ever you are going. I am about to jump on a plane again tomorrow to head out to Wildflower half ironman, and am hoping that the flight goes by in minutes, not hours. So just a little bit of a look back at some pictures and thoughts from the past few adventures, before I head to the next one.

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A post bike ride Slurpee, or two. I can’t even describe how amazing it tasted, after sweating it out on the bike in 35 degrees Celsius for four hours, riding back and forth in Subic bay. It is kind of sad that MacDonald’s, Starbucks and 7-Elevens are all over the world, making it all look so alike. But then again I am also guilty of keeping them in business.

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We must have had way too much energy after a swim to be dancing on the pool bottom. From left to right are LC, me, Donna and Maki. I definitely miss swimming in an outdoor pool, and having some company during the paddlefest swims.
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Ok, just how tough are the TBB athletes? This is Donna, just after IM China, heading from the medical tent to the massage tent, and then finally the food tent. After rocking through a super tough Ironman of course. I managed to avoid the med tent, missed the massage tent, but had no trouble finding the food tent. There was a post on the forum a while back about post ironman food. No watermelon, but the grapes sure were yummy, and after a while the pizza was nice too.

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Speaking of Ironman China, the above is the resort we stayed at. This was the spa building, and yes, we did sleep in the spa. It was a beautiful building, and the rooms were basically treatment rooms, converted into bedrooms, pretty comfy, except for the lack of a door. The sleeping was good, but not as good as Singapore. Singapore has the comfiest firm beds, the most amazing soft comforters and just in general the best sleeping equipment ever. As a sleep connoisseur I highly recommend a trip to Singapore. And speaking of sleep, I am off to bed, so that I can head out to Wildflower tomorrow. It is the “Woodstock” of triathlon, so pretty much guaranteed a fun time, even if I am a little under the weather.

IM China

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

The stories I heard about Ironman China were that it was great course, interesting trip but that last year it was freakishly hot race day because of a typhoon the day before. So this year when a thunderstorm hit Saturday morning we all wondered if the nice warm, pleasant weather we had been having till then would turn on us. Right until race morning the forecasts were all predicting low 30’s, overcast skies and chance of showers. Of course race day turned out much differently.

The swim was held in a river, with a strong current. It was a new course, and so there was some concern about how strong the current was, and how that would affect the swim times and athletes making the swim cut off times. I love a nice challenging swim, but know that often it is the part that can cause athletes and organizers the most stress, so was not surprised when there was a bit of a change to the swim course. Instead of swimming two loops of 1.9 km each about 300 meters of the distance against the current was taken out and replaced by a beach run. So it would be about 1.6 km of swimming, and 300 meters of running each time.

The swim was definitely one the nuttiest ones I have ever done. It was a small race, with a mass start of fewer than 400 athletes but the first bouy was less than 300 meters from the start, and the mix of wetsuit amateurs and non wetsutt swim for us made for a pretty aggressive race. I soon realized that the current was definitely a factor, as we hit the first bouy and it was a struggle to get around it. I have done some swimming in very strong currents before, and also in the pool with a tether, and at times this swim felt like I was back in the pool tied to the starting block, swimming against an immovable object. I am sure everyone was wishing they had paid more attention in geometry or trigonometry or whatever math class so they would know if Johnny swims at a pace A kilometers an hour, and the current is against him at B kilometers an hour how exhausted is he going to be when he gets on his bike. It was very easy to get disoriented on the swim course, and a lot of people ended up swimming a different version of the course, give or take a few bouys. I didn’t feel too great in the swim, but just reminded myself of all the workouts when the warm-up felt miserable, but by mid workout I was flying , and this was warm up for a long training day, so all was on track.

The bike course was on great roads, nice open highway, with no traffic, slight rolling hills and a bit of wind. On each of the two loops there was a really neat section through a small village, with some short steep hills, and lots of cheering kids. By the 50 km mark of the ride I felt great. The day was just starting to heat up, but my legs felt good, and I had to keep reminding myself to not push the bike too hard too soon. The last 20 km of the 180 km ride I had a bit of a tough stretch as I developed a cramp in my side and did not seem to be able to get rid of it. I eased off a bit, tried to make sure I had as much fluid in me as I could for the run and cruised into transition.

It is always fun coming into transition first off the bike, but the downside is that I had no clue how the race was unfolding behind me. It is funny but sometimes being in the race you have less info than spectators on course, and even less than those following online. Within the first few minutes of the run I knew I was in for a very tough one, since the cramp in my side was still there and I could barely shuffle. I eased off, eased off some more, and soon was trying to walk it off. I could see some of the pro men returning from the first out and back section, and they were looking rough. By then it was well over 40 degrees, not a cloud in sight, not a sliver of shade on the course. I walked/jogged my cramp off, and by the 5 kilometer mark could finally start to run with some kind of rhythm. Well, a marathon is a long way, a marathon off a swim and a 180 km bike is even longer, and one in 40+ degree Celsius can feel almost endless. I must admit I suffered a lot, had some very rough stretches, but just tried to keep moving forward. Two women blitzed past me, and although I hung onto Edith who passed me second for a little while I could not hang on for long. The last 6 km were some of the most painful steps ever, by then my hip flexors were cramping very badly, and each step was a like stepping on ice and hoping it would not break underneath. I was so happy to finally see the finish line. And crossing it in third place was even nicer.

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I later found out that forty percent of the athletes were not able to finish the race. The rough swim, the insane heat, and just the overall madness of swimming 3.8 km, biking 180km and then running 42.2 km were too much on that day. To all those that finished, congrats, I hope you were able to pee sooner than I did, 9 hours after the race. And to those that did not finish I hope you also recover well, and have another go at it, even if it is a little nutty.

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Neverending story 2

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

So back to my new crazy roommates. LC is the chef of the house. She is most famous for her monkey pancakes. Erica had taught her how to make crepes, Hungarian style. I can also whip us some crepes, Czech style, and now LC makes them monkey style. I came home from the computer room to see LC huddled over the pan, squishing down a very fluffy pancake. Crepes are usually very thin, but not this one. A few minutes later there she was at the table chewing on her crepe. And chewing, and chewing. She offered me a piece, and soon I was also sitting there chewing, and chewing. It was the chewiest thing I have ever tried. I asked what kind of flour it was from, and she brought out a package of Gluten flour. Super high gluten content, and you only use 2 tablespoons of it mixed with normal flour to make bread. So there was our mystery of chewy pancakes solved. They ended up outside in the backyard, left out for the monkeys. The monkeys seemed to enjoy them, but had trouble getting the residue off their paws afterward, the crepes just kept sticking. And the monkeys have not been back since, so perhaps the monkey crepes were a bit more of a deterrent then it seemed.

Last night LC made a strong culinary comeback with some apple/peach/peanut butter crumble. On her first attempt, under the guidance of yours truly, and with a last minute substitution of peanut butter for normal butter, she wowed the crowd with a very yummy dessert. Even though Felipe mentioned that he prefers cinnamon in his crumble he still seemed to enjoy the TLC crumble.

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Ok, so what do girls do when they have a day off training. Before you fall off your chair and say that team TBB does not do days off, I do think we might have had one or two in the past 2 months. Jocelyn is into getting her hair done at least twice a week it seems, so she took Donna and I to her hair salon in town. Hours later we all came out with highlights, and a bit less hair. Of course Donna had to sit under an alien spaceship contraption with Saran wrap on her hair, which is when I managed to take a picture. I am sure she will pay me back for this one.

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Neverending story 1

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

Hmm, well it has been going well for me here in Subic. I feel like I am getting stronger, and faster, and enjoying the training. So perfect time to leave, with good memories of my first training camp with team TBB. It has been a while since my last blog, and even longer since I arrived here in February. And now it is almost time to leave.

But of course first a few thoughts about the past little while. My original roomies Abi and Lucie both left to race ironman and kick butt. Both had super races, so it gives me lots of positive encouragement heading into my own Ironman next week. I was not originally going to do IM China, but after a late night track session a few weeks ago the Boss decided that I had been training well enough, and suddenly I was on the China start list. Of course that meant heaving to get a Visa to travel there, and sort out some flights. Getting the Visa entailed going into town for some passport photos. I biked into town, showed up in a jersey, sweaty, my hair plastered to my head, probably with bike grease all over since I don’t clean my bike as often as I should. Usually for passport photos there are all sort of rules and guidelines, colour of background, no smiling, your ears must be visible… very strict, it is an official document. So when I got my photo’s 20 minutes later I had to laugh since I barely recognized the person in the photo. It kind of looked like me, but wearing a red blouse with a pointy collar, and black blazer from the 80’s, and the hair was definitely smoothed out. My first digitally retouched photo, I wonder if magazine models even have to get dressed in the morning, or if everything is added after the fact.

The second part of getting the China Visa involved going into Manila, about a 3 hour drive each way, for an interview. So Zack, Keegan, Scott and I spent the entire day sitting in a van, to have a 3 minute interview. The highlight was when Zack tried to find out if we were going to the area in China were the women beach volleyball players train. Yet they still approved our Visa’s and we are allowed to enter the country.

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Scott and a sleepy Zack, staying patient outside the Chinese Embassy in Manilla.

Now back to some stories about Donna and LC, my new roomates. I have some photos of Donna that I will probably be assassinated for posting but I just might take that risk…. in the next installment of the blog…. tomorrow.