Monday, 28 September 2015

The Story - The Day After

The day after
Besides sore legs and some little wounds on my left foot, I am doing fine. Of course by body is a bit tiered but it could have been worse. I want to tell a (short) resume of my Iron Man. Maybe it will be a long story, but maybe I will come with more stories and pictures in a couple of days.

Getting there 
Early morning with the alarm at 05.15 and a small breakfast, it is no use to put your stomach full with bread or muesli on race-day, the carbohydrates should already be stored and a full stomach will only be uncomfortable during the swim. Together with my great support crew (Elise, Masja and Evelien), we went towards the start at 06:00.

Transition zone at check in - blue covers for the night
The day before the race, everyone had to check in his/her bike and special bike and run-bags. So at race day I only needed to give it a short check in the transition zone to see if everything is ok with the bike and to remember ones more where to find my bags and bike. This was also a good moment to visit the toilet for the last time.

Then moving from transition zone to the start, where I put on my wetsuit – against all expectations, it was allowed to wear a wetsuit! The water temperature had dropped to below 24.5 degrees after one rainy day last Wednesday: It was 24.4 degrees. Athletes are allowed to choose for a wetsuit now (above 24.5 it is forbidden because of the risk of heating). For me, it is a now brainer, A wetsuit helps my legs stay a bit high in the water, making me more horizontal and thus faster. Getting out of the wetsuit might take 15 seconds extra in the transition, so not worth thinking of going without. Another feature I implemented was the powergel I took with me under the cap. So I had a quick boost already immediately after the swim during the walk towards the transition tent. Great tip from Bart, one of my swimming partners at D’elft, although he suggested to take it halfway the swim when there was a turning point at the beach.
Transition Zone (at end of race day)

Pre race picture
07:10: Up into the water, getting wet and warm. All muscles awake and loose, this was a short warm up before the race. It is still dark at this moment, which makes it quite unusual to go for a swim, but interesting as well. I was wondered about the large amount of people that did not go into the water before the race.

07:20: We need to move towards the start. The start is organized as a so called “rolling start”. You can choose which group you want to start in, based on the expected swim time. Groups are made on 15 minutes intervals, so <1 hour, between 1 hour and 75 minutes, between 75 minutes and 1.5 hours etc. After the start for the recreational competitors, they will first let the fastest group into the water, followed by the next immediately after. So it is not 2500 people running into the water together, but a continuous flow that takes about 15 minutes to enter the water. Time starts running when passing the start, not at the sound of the horn, so time wise it does not make any difference between where you start. During the IJ-Swim in Amsterdam, I did a 3.8km – with wetsuit – in 1 hour 3 minutes and some seconds while I was not taking the best use of others at the last kilometer back then. So a bit opportunistic maybe, but I decided to join at the back end of the fastest group that aims for a swimming time of within 1 hour.

Start of the professional men
07:30: Start of Men professionals.
About 30 pro-athletes run into the water. The fastest of them will do the swimming around 45 to 50 minutes, do the cycling at an average speed of around 40 km/h (including the ~1400 altitude difference to take) and finish with a marathon time of about 2 hours and 50 minutes. The winner had a total time of 8 hours and 17 minutes… From all professionals that finished their race, I beat 1 Russian athlete.

07:32: Start of Women professionals.
Small group of only 9 women start their race, 7 will finish. Fastest in 9 hours and 24 minutes and the slowest still over 1 hour faster than my time.

07:37: Start of the ~2.500 "age-group" athletes.
My start
Although they organized the start as a rolling start, hundreds of athletes run and dive into the water within minutes! No difficulties to find nice feet to follow – drafting in the water is very beneficial and safes a lot of energy. Swimming went very good, I could relax in the water with a nice long stroke. Of course there were some battles in the water, people that change direction for now reason, people in front of me that suddenly stop for a moment, people from behind that don’t know that and thus try to over-swim. The open water training I did around Utrecht this summer, with Zwemanalyse, together with the open water swim events, has made me confident in not getting stressed out by some struggles and even let it happen and don’t bother too much. If they get you angry you will lose focus and energy on things that won’t contribute to your own speed. 
After 1.2km, we had to come back to take a so called “Australian Exit” this is a very short turning point at the beach, at which a split time is measured. It is quite a strange feeling when you stand up straight and walk/run through the water and over the beach, after being horizontal for about 40 minutes. So Don’t hurry too much here, there is not a lot to gain. Better enjoy the atmosphere and smile to the support crew! My split time was 38:34 after 2.4km.

Return into the water - halfway swimming
Thumbs up for the support crew - halfway swimming

Swimming Result
The second part went good as well. There was a bit more free space around me, although still some little touching and struggling, especially near buoys when people get closer to take the buoy around the correct side. I came out the water with a time of 1:01:34, which is fast for me and I am pretty certain that if we had fought less and I has pushed a little more, a sub one hour time had been possible. But one o one, was great for me especially with the effort I put in.

Find the blue bag
Walking out of the water, taking out the top half of my wetsuit, grabbing the energygel from underneath my cap and have a gentle run towards the transition zone. Find the blue bag with my bike gear, move to the tent, get rid of the rest of my wetsuit and take on my shoes and glasses. Have a small drink from the bottle I put in the bag, and start moving again. At the bike, first put the helmet on, then the number belt around the waist, grab the bike and walk to the end of the transition zone. With 2500 competitors, this was quite a long zone, so I better put in a fast walk.

Thumbs up for the support
Cycling at Mallorca is awesome; the scenery is changing all the time and the roads are going up and down most of the times. So a great 180km course, consisting of a first “flat”  (450hm) southern loop followed by the second northern loop with the large climb (7.7km – 500hm). The wind was north east, almost zero at the start, but getting quite strong during the morning. This means tail wind in the first part, head winds when getting back towards Port d’Alcudia, tail wind again at the road towards the climb that by itself is already inclining very slightly (vals plat) and finishing with a head wind the last 25kms or so.

When getting onto the bike, you are very excited to get cycling and go fast, but the heartrate has won already and is at a rate of 180 without having done one single thing. This is again due to the body’s physics of swimming for a long time and then continues with vertical efforts, even when the swimming part and the transition part where taken relatively easy. There is one thing that you can do to get your heart rate under control: Slowdown in the first 5 kms. Luckily I’d learned this the hard way during the half distance triathlon I did in August in Klazienaveen, so I knew that I really had to start slow and had put my gearing at the small ring. This means that a lot of people passed me at the first part, not so fun!

For me, the cycling went pretty good. I had a nice rhythm a good speed and my effort wasn’t even at the limit I had decided for myself (heart rate of 165). In the second loop, my legs started to hurt a little bit, like I was moving on too large gears. My cadence here at Mallorca is about 5-10 revolutions per minute lower compared to dead flat and steady environment, i.e.: home. I decided that I wouldn’t force my effort because the speeds was already very good and I rather safe some energy and legs for the running instead of going through the pain in the legs, something I usually should do during single cycling events. Analyzing the heartrate of the second loop, one can see that, except for the climb, my heartrate went down to around 140-150 instead of 150-160 I was on during the first loop.

Cycling result
There are a couple of funny things I noticed during the bike part. First of all, there are lots of people on very expensive time trial bikes. This doesn’t mean that they go very fast or that they are good cyclists at all. A few examples: Quite a lot of those people ride very big gearing and low cadence. Some maybe around 65 or 70 revolutions per minute. Maybe they watched Tony Martin too many times. They do have very big legs which they need to ride it like this, but when the road goes up slightly (>1%) they slow down a lot, the just cannot change rhythm or they are too heavily build to get uphill properly. This leads to a lot of overtaking uphill, and when it gets flat again or goes down slightly (<2%), they overpassed me again. Steeper downhill, they just stop pedaling, Maybe afraid or tired, but most of the real downhill parts it is not difficult to go faster than those real big legged guys.

Another thing is that those pancakes have a hard time at corners, especially in downhill sections. They move slowly across roundabouts, and at the large descent in the second loop, they are just damn slow. One example is shown at the photo, in this case not such a bad ass time trailer, but it tells the story. He keeps his knee to the inside – which is nowhere needed or good to do – while his bike is practically straight up.

The last thing I need to tell about is the non-drafting rules during triathlon. One has to keep at least 10m distance measured from the front wheel of the rider in front of him. Otherwise he has to go to the left, speed up and overpass him within 20 seconds. Drafting is simply not allowed. At flat roads, and wind from aside, the 10m. is enough space to have almost no advantage of the rider in front of you. But with a tail wind and/or slightly downhill parts, the speeds are around 45-50 km/h. If you are around that 10m mark you definitely take advantage of the rider in front of you. This leads to quite some overtaking, and counter overtaking – or the so called sling shot movement. Of course you see sometimes small groups or individuals that are too close to each other and not taking any effort to make the distance again or to overpass in 2 minutes instead of 20 seconds, which is blocking other faster riders. It is not fear, and some get caught and will go to the penalty box (5 minutes) or even get disqualified. For the rest, just keep telling yourself that you are doing your own race, so don’t get irritated when you see that kind of things.

I finished my ride after 5:25.19. But it seems to be a little less then 180km. My computer measured 177.6 km. And also the average speed over the last 15km, as mentioned in the results, is not the speed that I had in that part. For details, please check my strava recordings: Strava IronMan Cycling. For the people who'd seen the nice strip of powergels attached to the toptube of my bike (facebook), I ended up having used 10 out of the 11 gels.

Very pretty scenery for cycling!

Find the red bag

Transition 2:
Get off the bike, bike back at his place, to the red bags for my running gear. It was hot, already 25 degrees in the shade, so I put on a cap and used the sunscreen the organization had provided. I also changes socks, so I would have nice, dry, socks that usually are my preferred running socks. This might have been a mistake…

Running with ice cubs under my cap
The running course was dead flat, 4 loops of 9km’s and 6km more in the fifth loop to finish the 42 kms. It was hot, over 30 degrees in the sun. This is challenging of course, keep drinking and keep cooling with sponges and ice. I had saved some energy in the second half of the cycling part and I knew my challenges. I started running easy, just above 5 min/km and decided that going under de 5 min/km would be stupid to aim for because of the situation. But going round with 5.20 per km on average would give me a good pace for a very nice overall end time.

Unfortunately, already after 4km, my left foot hurt as hell. It was warm and swollen and thus squeezed within my shoe. This caused me to run with short steps and not in a nice and loos manner as I am used to do, hurting my muscles more than needed. Anyhow, from km 4 I was struggling and after km 12 I decided to remove the sock from my left foot. This helped a lot but still every round I needed to stop, take my shoe off and cool my left foot with a cold sponge. The first loop of 9km went more or less ok, besides from the left foot. But from that point onwards I was running from aid station to aid station, allowing me to walk along each aid station. There were four of them at the 9km course, and my main goal was to make sure I wouldn’t get caught by the heat.
Last Kilometer

Second loop was the one that I removed the sock. And although I had been fighting to get through I got back a bit of moral and was thinking (or hoping) that if the third round would go the same, I would manage and even within the 11 hours finish time. But during the third loop the struggle got worse, I drank too much, which causes little stomach problems. The moral went down again and I had to really push myself to the end of the third loop.

At that point it was still possible to do within the 11 hours, even when I should become a little slower during the last 1,5 loops to go. But 3kms later the moral was down a lot, I had to walk a bit, started running again, and decided to walk again. The stomach was hurting (in Dutch: zijsteken), and instead of running from aid station to aid station, I went from km to km, with a minute walk at the beginning of each km. End time was not important anymore, it was just surviving and getting to the finish line without stupid things (like collapsing as I saw a few others..). Temperature went down a few degrees, I took another energygel, which I had forgotten to take in the middle part of the marathon, and only used water at the aid stations.

Slowly I progressed to the finish, and after 11:18:27: I can call myself an Iron Man!!

I was relieved, glad, proud and a bit tired. Nine months of endurance training, learning proper swimming and train the running to not get injured by it, all resulted in this achievement. I am very happy with my overall result, there might be a very slightly disappointment about the running, but how I felt during the marathon I am just happy to have finished the race.

Overall Results

After finish photo with the goodies I got from the Elise, Masja and Evelien

This was a challenge that is different from previous long distance things I did. That where bike events and I can put everything out of my body to finish as fast as possible and being exhausted in the end. Now it was more a moderate output for a very long time, which I couldn’t put to the limit during the running because of the problems I had. So it turned out a very mentally game, both moral to continue as well as keeping smart and taking good care of myself.

After the finish I got the medal and the finisher shirt. Looked for the support. Got a massage and free beer (got half a beer), and coke.

After finish foto

Support Crew:
Elise, Masja and Evelien have followed me during the day and made the pictures. They cheered for me at the beginning, half way and in the final stages. And I am so glad that they were with me. Also I was very surprised and pleased by the very large amount of people who followed from the Netherlands (and Australia/New Zealand/Kazakhstan), that is really great! Thanks everyone for all the good luck wishes and the cheers afterwards at watts app, facebook, sms or other means! 

The day after:
My legs hurt and are stiff. My left food has a few abrasions because of the running without sock. No blisters at all! And I feel a bit tired. I had a short night, my body was still very active so it was hard to catch the sleep (is this nice dutch-english or not..?). Overall I’m not feeling that bad at all. Today we went to the fan shop to do some shopping and get the medal graved.

Sorry, this day after story became very long, but it tells more or less my Iron Man racing day. Hopefully I can cheer for one of my friends, colleagues or family members sometime in the future for their sporting achievements. This doesn’t mean that everyone should do an iron man! That would make it less special ;-), and sporting achievements can be made on any level or distance that suits the athlete!

Chears for running

Support crew chilling out

Chears for cycling

The bike, the day after incl the goodies

The running results
Start of the swimming

Sunrise at port d'alcudia beach, people waiting at halfway point


Tuesday, 22 September 2015


Bike is ready to go, thanks Beuk for the wheels! good for the moral.
The promised biweekly update I couldn't keep already from the beginning, but last post now was already over 2 months ago. It turned out that with training, work and some social time as well, writing this blog was the activity that suffered. Now I arrived in Mallorca, with some free time to spare, I will share some stories the coming days.

Yesterday was my first day at Mallorca, after an early flight (05:10) I arrived early at Mallorca as well. After waiting for quite some time for the special luggage (the bike) and a long queue at the car rental, I was set to go to the other side of the Island: Port d’Alcudia.

The weather is very good, around 27 degrees at the moment. Little wind in the morning, but increasing in strength during the afternoon. The forecast for the coming days is good as well, temperature will drop a little, but keeps warm enough.

The plan for this week is to rest as much as possible, to do a little cycling, swimming and running just to keep everything sharp. For me just as important as it is fun to do is cycling the race course to know get familiar with the profile and corners a little bit.

The scenery of the first half of the bike course.
Day 1, in the afternoon the first bike ride to inspect the first loop of the course. Flat is relative here and although I assumed rolling hills, going up and down a bit, it felt harder than expected. Some 6% uphill parts really hit the legs even when it is only for 200-500 meters. Maybe it was also the early flight and lack of sleep that made my heartrate be higher than I would have liked it to be. On the contrary, the second half of the loop was with more tail winds and some running downhill parts. What goes up, must come down and when cycling around 45-50 km/h without hardly any effort for 3 or 4 km’s is very rewarding of course. Strava link:

This morning I started with a little walk (4km’s) from the house to the start venue. Probably this will be my warm up on Saturday as well, as I expect that roads will be very busy so going by car and to be able to park a car will be a nightmare. I did do a little swim in the salt water, just to “taste” the water over here. It is not that nice and although I’ve practiced it (once) at Kijkduin, I still didn’t like it. I will do another swim or two, just to get a bit more just to this taste in the coming days, and for the race: just keep attention to my breathing and simply deal with it. The water is sparkly clear and a lot of fish can be seen close to the cost already.

I will do a short running practice at the end of the afternoon or beginning of the evening, when temperatures have dropped a bit.

If you want to follow my race this Saturday, you can do so by looking at the live results at the Iron Man website, search for my name or startnumber (842):

It should update every now and then when I pass a timing point (about every 30km’s on the bike course, every few km’s at the running course, and at the start and end of each part of the triathlon). There seems to be an app as well, at least in the play store, don’t know if/how it works, but you might give it a try. 

Saturday, 11 July 2015

2.5 Months To Go

Still two and a half months to train and prepare myself for the race. On one hand this sounds like a lot of time, on the other hand it will pass by quickly. The last couple of weeks were mainly focused on cycling and at the moment on running.

Trois Ballons
In the Vosges in France, a race over 219 km. (although the organization speaks about 213km), racing over 7 “official” climbs covering 4300 altitude meters. This is the short description of the race I rode two weeks ago. Together with Beuk, Michiel and Manasse, I went to la Haute Fourche ( in the Vosges in France. This accommodation is hosted by a Dutch ex-pub owner and focused on cyclists. It was a very nice and relaxed place to stay, with proper cyclist’s diners and breakfasts and good ambiance. Definitely recommendable if you ever need a place to stay in that area.

The race, or so called “cyclo-sportive” was held on Saturday, but we arrived already on Wednesday to do some rides in advance. The Vosges is absolutely magnificent for cycling activities with its beautiful nature, easy to ride roads through the valleys and climbs varying from nice and steady (up to 14km long) to short and nasty. So it gives fun for everyone so to say. I lost quite a lot of weight the last couple of months, and this was the first time I really experienced the benefits from this. We did three rides in advance, first day a small round through little Finland. Second day we did a 100+ km ride covering the Ballon D’Alsace, the Plance des Belles Filles the Ballon Servance and les Croix. Especially the final push up to the Plance des Belles Filles, in combination with temperatures of 28 degrees, where quite challenging. Friday was an easy ride at which we took our time to have a cheap but good lunch.

Official Results
Raceday: Waking up with the sound of rain. Bummer, you would think, but rain was likely to stop around 07.00 in the morning and the temperature had dropped significantly. Our host had prepared a good breakfast buffet, available from 05.00 in the morning. Together with Michiel we went to the start early to get a nice spot so we would be able to have a good and fast 220k ride today. For me, the race was great! We took off with speeds of 40-45km/h for the first 20k or so. At the first climb I felt much better compared to two years ago and could climb with some easiness over the steep 19% passages. Rain had stopped but with wet roads we proceeded with careful descents. The next climb, the Ballon D’Alsace, went fine, in the first part a lot of people overtook me. But that stopped after 2km of climbing. The day went on and on, up to the summit of the Grand Ballon. I climbed this one just within 1 hour, which I was quite satisfied about and even better, with a little over 80km to go and around 5 hours of cycling, it might be possible to finish within 8 hours – where the goal initially was set to 9 hours for the gold certificate. So I went off for a fast descent and a place in a good group for the last parts between the climbs. The Col d’Oderen is a very nice running climb and I was bloody fast – in my opinion and overtook a lot of other riders so I had managed my energy over the da very well. Although I was still not at the finish of course and I knew about the last climb, which is not mentioned in the road book, but is very steep and ongoing for 3 times a few 100 meters. Arriving at the beginning of the climb, I was prepared, still I was suffering a lot for about 10 minutes to finish this last hurdle. On the top it was a km of 6 till we were back at the main road to the finish and I had to push everything to keep the wheel of a small but fast group. Then when arrived at the last long stretch of 9km’s almost flat, the speed went up again to around 40-42 km/h. 2 strong riders in the group, 1 semi strong rider and myself took the responsibility for keeping the speed high. The four or five other men could not or where not willing to take over. The result was absolutely great, I finished in a total time of 7.51.and some seconds, with an average driving speed of 28.15km/h.
Strava record for the ride

Nootdorp running ½ marathon - Strava Record
End of June I ran a 21.1km race together with good friend Mark vd Burg. The event was held close by in Nootdorp and the course was through the nice green area between Delft, Pijnacker and Nootdorp. We agreed to start with a speed of around 05.00 min/km to get to a target end time of around 1 hour and 45 minutes. Which for Burg would be quite easy, but he was allowed to accelerate in the second lap (first lap was around 14km, second lap 7km). We had a good pace from the start of km times between 4.50 and 4.55 per km. After 10km we speeded up a little already, and continued this into the second lap. Burg was not running away from me and up until 800m before the finish we kept together. Pace was down to 4.30 per km for the last 4 km’s and with this strong finish I finished in a time of 1 hour, 39 minutes and a couple of seconds. This is a new personal record by over 21 minutes and an indication that pace and endurance for running is good as well. Especially the first 17km’s which we did between 4.55 and 4.40 per km, is very promising for the Iron Man.

Swimming in a pool is good for the technique training but with Ralph as a trainer it is also a very hard training from time to time. Well, swimming is improving and around 1 min 50sec per 100m is quite steady doable (in a 25m. pool). But swimming will be outside in the sea, with a wetsuit. First experiences with that are passed as well, with no idea about speed but with an idea about what it will take to swim the 3.8kms. Moving costs more effort because of the wetsuit, but the legs keep higher in the water as well. Swimming in the Noordzee, with high wind and current is very difficult! Which I experienced with the beach challenge last week. Luckily it is most likely that Mallorca will have quite calm and clear water. At the Kijkduin challenge, the idea was to swim for about 700 to 800m into the sea, and then come back. The course was triangular shaped which would lead to a total distance of around 2km. From the start it was a hard swim with the large waves and salty water. But things increased, with stronger and stronger current resulting in a finish after ~ 50min. I came out of the water some 2kms away from the intentional finish. With me, around half of the competitors stranded over there at the naked beach… Afterwards, the organization came with a news item stating that the current went up to 4 to 6 km/h just after the start, while around 2km/h should be the maximum.


For the coming weeks, I will try to increase my running volume up to 2, to 2,5 hours of training. Week 30 will be cycling the alps and watch the Tour de France to see the real work. Sunday 12th of July a 7km swim in the Rotte (010Swim event) and end of August 2 times a ~4km swim event in Utrecht (Zwemanalyse) and Amsterdam (Ij-swim). On the bike I will work on my TT setup and getting used to cycling in that position. And to combine everything, I subscribed for a 70.3 triathlon end of August in Klazienaveen (70.3 Klazienaveen), so I will do half of the distances I need to do in September in Mallorca. 

Friday, 22 May 2015

Status Update - took a while to write

It has been a while since my previous post, no not a while it just took too damn long!! A two week holiday to Croatia was one reason for the gap between the blogs, another is just the lack of quality time to write a piece of text. This post will simply update on the current status of training. Hopefully not too booring, I promise to deliver some more interesting posts on materials, fitnesstests, numbers etc in the following weeks.

Current status:
People are asking me if I get in shape or if I am ready for the Iron Man. No, at this moment I am not yet “ready”, there are still 4 months left for training and then I will be prepared. However, at this moment I have the feeling that it will become possible to complete the three parts of the event within the time limits that are applied. 
By the way, Croatia is a great country to visit. Not that far from Netherlands, nice old cities and very beautiful lakes and waterfalls. I managed to do one running training over there, although the intention was to go more often. Swimming is great in the sparkling blue sea over there, but it was too cold at this time of the year. 
Meanwhile, more and more preperation events are finding their way into my agenda, more to read about that in this blog at the different sports.

Swimming is mostly about technique for me. Last couple of weeks I was able to train mostly on the Wednesday mornings, with Richard as a trainer walking around. He put the focus a lot on my arm movement: High elbow above the water, and also keep the elbow high under water. This should result in an efficient and straight movement of my arm. Meanwhile, I did around 3.2km of swimming within one hour and 20 minutes of training, this includes rests and drills. My legs are lacking behind in technique, the leg movement is low and not adding a lot of speed or even stability. So there is still a lot to gain because I believe that there is more than enough power available in those legs. At least two test events are in the planning: The swimchallenge beginning of July at Kijkduin, 2.0km swim in the sea. Secondly, end of August I will compete in the Ijswim in Amsterdam, 3.8km in open water. Just before my holiday I bought a nice wetsuit that I will use during these events.
Cycling is still fun to do. There has been a little dip because of the two weeks of rest, which caused sore legs the first 2 rides. But last Thursday I rode the Klimclassic in the Ardennes, together with e.g. Arjan and Twix. This 166km bike ride started in Maastricht and went to the south over some steep hills (>20%). The ride went pretty well, with a nice speed and good feeling in the legs. Next stop will be the Trois Ballons in the Voges in France half June, 220km ride with 4300 altitude meters and the goal is to ride this within 9 hours. A bit of improvement in the endurance part will be needed for this so a couple of long rides on low intensity are planned for the coming weeks.

Running keeps being the bottleneck part, it is improving but the volume of running training is a bit fragile still. Although a 7x12 minutes training resulted in almost 18km of distance shows that the length of training is increasing. Also the 44.22 minutes on a 10k trainingrace some weeks ago was faster than ever before. Both were not at the limit, which is a good thing. But, although I lost 12kg of body weight, my knees, ankles, hips and muscles are sensitive for little pains after such efforts. So I keep on extending training length, but not each outing. I train a bit of speed, but not too much. And the running races are the little tests to run without rests. End of June I will run half a marathon in Usuch a race, hopefully with a steady state race as a result of good training the coming weeks.

Next post will follow a lot sooner, is the intention. That shall be a topic with more facts and numbers. Meanwhile, you can follow pretty much all my activities on Strava.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Cycling – Ronde van Vlaanderen

Cycling will be the basis for me to work on my fitness and make it possible to sport for over 12 hours on one day. With la Marmotte, les Trois Ballons, the Alpenbrevet, the Arlberg Giro, the Claude de  Criquielion, Amstel Gold race and Limburgs Mooiste, I have already a bit of a track record in long distance cycling (tour/cyclo sportive). This year, my cycling goals are riding ‘gold’  on les Trois Ballons (after achieving the silver diploma two years ago); compete in local training races and ride the Ronde van Vlaanderen.

Ronde van Vlaanderen

That event took place last weekend and it is known for the cobble stones on short but steep climbs. This blog will spent a bit on my adventure of last weekend. The “Ronde” starts in Belgium’s Brugge and finishes in Oudenaarde, distance: 239km officially. The first 100km is flat and boring. The weather forecast was ok, with a bit of rain predicted before the start, which was between 07.00-08.00. In turned out to be full raining until around 11.00, with 4 degrees and wet it was very very cold. I did not anticipate on this possibility so my choices in clothing weren’t suitable for this.
Very dirty bike after the race

From the start I was aiming to ride within groups to safe my own energy as much as possible while maintaining a reasonable speed. The course was not that exiting, although hazardous in the rain and with the typical Belgian style roads. i.e.: Cycle stroke at the side can move half a meter to the left or right out of nothing, or even worse, differs around 5 cm in height with the main road. Have seen multiple riders go down on these sudden changes. The route through villages caused delays at traffic lights and therefore large groups are created.

After the first refreshment (60km) I decided to ride more on my own, mainly to increase intensity in order to increase my body temperature a bit. The first part I did with an average heart rate of 128 beats per minute, which is quite low. The higher intensity resulted in about the same speed but less stress and a little more warmth. The route continued into the cobble stone strokes, and hills and I could keep my effort on a good level.

The only hill that I could not do on my bike was the Koppenberg. This 22% steep cobble hill was still wet and dirty, therefore slippery without enough traction on the back wheel. From all people around me, I’ve only seen 1 guy reaching the top on his bike. After this disappointment for me, I had a little dip in my moral and also got over careful on the following cobble streets. But after 15km or so, the strength and confidence came back step by step and I kept that up until the finish. What really helped in this stage was that I kept on passing other cyclists all the time. Not that I was the fastest, there were some people passing me as well, but it boosts you when you feel strong and passing others after 200+ km.
Close look at the dirt...

At the end of the day the figures showed 262km (the extra km’s is for getting numbers, go to the start etc.), with an average speed of 27.36 km/hour, and average heart rate of 137 beats per minute. The total height climbed this day was close to 2.000m. Strava:

Tour or Cyclo

Tour (Toer/toertocht) usually has a time window in which you are allowed to start, like with the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Time is measured sometimes but not always, and a ranking is not made afterwards. So no need to make it a race at any time. Examples of this are the Amstel Gold race, Limburgs Mooiste, Veendendaal Veenendaal, and thus also the Ronde van Vlaanderen.

 A so called “cyclo”, or “cyclo-sportive” is more like a race. All participants start at the same time (or might start in 2 to 4 starting groups). In front of the pack it is really a race, people want to win and speed is very high. More in the back, people might ride a cyclo in the same way as they do with a tour, but most often there are certain time challenges to retrieve a Bronze, Silver of Gold brevet. Most often, cyclo’s are organized on a challenging parkour (hilly/mountainous) and speed and intensity are high. Examples of this are La Marmotte, Les Trois Ballons and Claude de Criquielion.

Evening before Ronde van Vlaanderen - "Biertje op de goede afloop"

Training figures since last post (2015-03-25):

2 swimming trainings, approximately 4kms in total.
1 running training and 1 running race (paasloop Pijnacker), 21km in total.
9 cycling rides, 871km in total.
1 “Inspanningstest” to determine my fitness, power, and heart rate training zones. More on this in another post.

Training goals coming weeks:

With holidays coming up (23rd April till 5th of May), I will take it a little bit more easy on training. Probably 3 runs, and 2 swims, and cycling outings when possible. First training race on the bike still need to be done and a training run (“Trimloop”) at AV40 is planned to be the first 10k nonstop run in my preparations.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Iron Man - What and Why?

For those who do not know exactly what I am up to, I will describe the iron man triathlon in a bit more detail in this post. Also, I will add my personal motivation and challenges on the different aspects, as far as I can think of at this moment.

Triathlon combines swimming, cycling and running and is seen as one of the most challenging sporting events to compete in because of this multi-disciplinary aspect. Many events and many different race lengths exist but the mother of all races consists of approximately 3.8km swim, 180km cycling and 42.195km of running. Approximately, because it is almost impossible to stick to the meter when organizing such an event with large transition zones etc. More information on triathlons in general can be found on the 
triathlon226 website.

Iron Man
Iron Man is a commercial name of a circuit of triathlon events organized worldwide by the World Triathlon Corporation 
Link. But the name also stands for the full distance triathlon. The best known event is held in Hawaii, the location of the first triathlon in 1977, Wikipedia.

3.8km Swimming
The Mallorca IronMan swimming course is located in the bay of Alcudia. Open water swim with a short walk over the beach halfway of the distance. Hopefully with the opportunity to get some energy drink at that point. The fastest swimmers take around 45-50 minutes to complete the course. Swimming is not a sport that I have done a lot (let me skate on ice or row on the water instead), so I expect to take around 1.5 hours for the swimming. Weekly swimming lessons are taken to improve technique and be able to finish the swimming part in the first place.

180km Cycling
The parkour at Mallorca will be windy, as we are on an island and is nearly flat. Only a very small hill in the first half, and a serious climb in the second half of the race - taking up around 500m above sea level. This is the discipline I live in, and should be my basis. Rides up do 10 to 12 hours are not strange for me, so this 180km shouldn't be that big of a problem. At the same time, cycling will be my best way to improve my general fitness.

42.195km Running
Well, a marathon of running.... Running never was my strongest point and I always mention that I was never build for running as I am too heavy for it. So the main goal is to train my body that it will last for the 42kms. Training now for about 2 months, once or twice a week, increasing in duration and intensity, I can only say that running is going better than ever and I almost start to like it. Losing some unnecessary body weight is the other method to increase my chances.

Why do I want this
Completing an Iron Man triathlon is something that is in my head for many years already. Not sure where it comes from, other than it is a physical and mental challenge that takes a lot of training preparation. All aspects I always have enjoyed in my sporting activities. So the primary goal is just to reach the finish line. Speed is not a goal, because my swimming and running is just lacking quality to make time an important outcome, although I will push myself to the limit anyways when I am competing.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Road to Mallorca - introduction

Hi there,

Some called me an idiot, others just thought I was more crazy than they thought I was. I subscribed for the Iron Man triathlon in Mallorca - 26th of September this year. 3.8km swim - while I already drowned after 50m a few months ago. 180km bike ride with 2 small climbs, shouldn't be that big of a problem for me. And finishing with a complete marathon running - a sport I hate/hated because it is so slow and always hurting all kinds of joints and tendons with my 90+ kg.

Well, I started with swimming lessons November last year. Running training started from January this year. And up to now, it seems that there is a fair chance that I could accomplish both disciplines. That's why I decided, with the support of Elise, to subscribe for an Iron Man at the end of this year.

With this blogspot I would like to give everyone who is interested the opportunity to folllow my route to Mallorca. My intention is to post about every two weeks a new blog about what kept me busy in life and training and what progress has been made. This will give some words and feelings to the cold numbers that some of you already follow on the well known Strava app. Hopefully, with every other week, I won't bother you too much and too often with another training story. So if you like, please subscribe and follow me on my journey.