Call it what you want, but we are all fighting for relevance in this crazy world. For all of us, we are doing something to mould ourselves into something that makes sense to us because we’ve either:
- seen it personified in a lifestyle
- watched it manifest in a friend or loved one
- been indoctrinated by mainstream media
Every one of us is fighting for our own relevance. It’s why we defend our actions, why we participate in these events and why we eat what we eat. The concept of ‘self’ is so far removed because you will never find the core self – its so wrapped up in years of choices and decisions that the only option is to accept your current self as the original self.
You cannot change that past person but you can change the current. Actions speak louder than words and words are generally about the future, and the past. Actions tend to be present, by my calculations and that is why they are so powerful.
We all have our fears. We all have our doubts. We all have resistance to change. We are all the same in some way. Your relevance is someone elses. These are all important things.
I read a little bit about change this morning and it relates to relevance, because our fight with relevance relates to how we go through change. There are 5 stages to change:
Not yet acknowledging that there is a problematic behavior that needs to be changed. People in this stage tend to defend their current bad habit(s) and do not feel it is a problem. They may be defensive in the face of other people’s efforts to pressure them to quit. They do not focus their attention on quitting and tend not to discuss their bad habit with others. In some addiction circles, this stage is also called “denial.”
Acknowledging that there is a problem, but not yet ready or sure of wanting to make a change. In the contemplation stage people are more aware of the personal consequences of their bad habit, and spend time thinking about their problem. People are on a teeter-totter, weighing the pros and cons of quitting or modifying their behavior. Although they think about the negative aspects of their bad habit and the positives associated with giving it up (or reducing), they may doubt that the long-term benefits associated with quitting will outweigh the short-term costs.
Getting ready to change. In the preparation/determination stage, people have made a commitment to make a change. Their motivation for changing is reflected by statements such as: “I’ve got to do something about this – this is serious. Something has to change. What can I do?” This is sort of a research phase: people are now taking small steps toward change. They are trying to gather information about what they will need to do to change their behavior.
Changing behavior. This is the stage where people believe they have the ability to change their behavior and are actively involved in taking steps to change. This is a stage when people most depend on their own willpower. They are making overt efforts to quit or change the behavior, and are at greatest risk for relapse, so it’s key that they leverage any techniques available to stay motivated.
Maintaining the behavior change. Maintenance involves being able to successfully avoid any temptations to return to the bad habits. The goal of the maintenance stage is to maintain the new status quo. People in this stage tend to remind themselves of how much progress they have made. They remain aware that what they are striving for is personally worthwhile and meaningful. They are patient with themselves and recognize that it often takes a while to let go of old behavior patterns and practice new ones until they are second nature to them. Even though they may have thoughts of returning to their old bad habits, they resist the temptation and stay on track.
Fascinating stuff and as I read it, I mentally went through all the change I am going through at the moment and checked where I was in each process. There are a few that overlap and a few that need to find each other. Either way, fun to know.
When it comes to fear, there are many reasons we don’t go through with the change that is NEEDED, but the biggest one is fear. Here are the major types of fear that are standing in the way of the greatest version of yourself, which is just a few steps away:
Fear of admission.
If you admit you have a problem, then you by default acknowledge that you need to do something about it. Change is hard. Status quo, while often painful and depressing, still may feel easier.
Fear of failure.
Some folks have tried so many times to lose weight, fix their health issues, exercise more—and they consider each attempt a failure, whether they actually made progress or not. Failure is painful—and vowing to try yet again is a scary proposition.
Fear of success. Believe it or not, some people have assigned their illness or health issues as their identity. It’s become a part of who they are—they have MS, they have arthritis, they’re just overweight, and that’s how they’ll always be. And asking someone to lose their identity, even if it’s for the better, is inherently threatening.
Fear of responsibility.
This is perhaps the toughest to work through. People blame “fate” for their illness—it’s genetics, it’s hereditary, it’s their environment. To accept the idea that they could feel better by changing their diet and lifestyle is to accept the fact that their own actions in part could have contributed to their illness or health condition—and accepting that degree of responsibility is incredibly difficult.
Again, I went through the changes going on around me and checked which type of fear might be holding me back. I made a list. Now it’s time to own that list and conquer some fears.
Why – because I am fighting for my own relevance. I am growing up. This requires growth and my relevance changes as I move to having a family, as my athletic goals become lifestyle goals and finally, as my world grows I need to grow.
To the little fish, the pond always seems immense.
The pond is pretty big right now, what with all the distractions the world so beautifully offers us, wrapped in the finest silk promising the greatest rewards for being beautiful, successful and driving the right car. The trick is to find your niche and be a big fish in your own little pond.
In closing, click this link and take a minute to read it. It’s laaaank important: CLICK ME!
It’s that time of the year when I want to find the motivation for the next 12 months. Little clips like this are what motivate me. Today I am aching all over from my first session of rehab for an imbalance that took months to create and likely, months to fix.
A bout of crossfit-type exercise a year ago left my right knee a little right of center. No hassles until I started doing masses of vertical descending for trail running. It showed as Osgood Schlatters, which took me 6 months to work out, and it’s been management of that all year. Through Ironman, I couldn’t run anything but flat roads. In prep for Otter, I had to limit technical downhill running. And since Otter, it’s been management of it to get me through Double Century.
Now the work really begins. Twice a week sessions with the pain cave to realign the muscle, ligament and nerve structures. Strengthening of the core systems and lower back. Re-activation of muscles that have turned off because of the imbalance and recovery of the muscles which have worked overtime because others were switched off.
Just a niggle?
Left alone, it could have kept me out of going full tilt for years to come. Who knows where that could have led to. In the end, I don’t want to know where it could have led to. I want to take responsibility for it, which meant not running for 3 weeks to let it ease up, then starting rehab on it (which mostly involves my patient specialist contorting me into odd positions to re-align my structures while I balance on a bosu ball or on one leg) with the vision to keep the rehab going through the season.
Some things are just not instant-satisfaction or instant-fix. Some thing require pain, sacrifice, work, compromise, toughness, resilience and most of all, it requires the WILL to do all those things.
So often we are sold on the line “it’s just a game” which is such rubbish. It’s not always a game. Just a game implies no attachment to the outcome and no focus going into the experience. Sometimes, its the end of the world and sometimes, success is the only option. Sometimes, its not just a game.
Now again, watch the same words, with some new images, and let it set in.
If you wanted the words to this, to stick up somewhere on a wall, here you are:
6 am and your hand can’t make it to the alarm clock before the voices in your head start telling you that it’s too early, too dark and too cold to get out of bed. Aching muscles lie still in rebellion pretending not to hear your brain commanding them to move. A legion of voices are shouting their unanimous permission for you to hit the snooze button. Go back to dreamland!
But you didn’t ask their opinion. The voice you’ve chosen to listen to is one of defiance! The voice that said there was a reason that you set that alarm in the first place. So sit up. Put your feet on the floor and don’t look back because we’ve got work to do.
Welcome to the grind! For what is each day but a series of conflicts between the right way and the easy way. 10,000 streams span out like a River Delta before you, each one promising the path of least resistance. The thing is you’re headed upstream and when you make that choice, when you decide to turn your back on what’s comfortable, what’s safe and what some would call common sense.
Well that’s Day 1. From there is only gets tougher! So just make sure this is something that you want. Because the easy way out will always be there. Ready to wash you away!
All you have to do is pick up your feet. But you aren’t going to are you? With each step comes the decision to take another. You’re on your way now, but this is no time to dwell on how far you have come. You’re in a fight against an opponent you can’t see, but oh you can feel him on your heels can’t ya. Feel him breathing down your neck. You know what that is? That’s you. Your fears, your doubts, your insecurities all lined up like a firing squad ready to shoot you out of the sky. But don’t lose heart. While they are not easily defeated, they are far from invincible.
Remember, this is the grind, the Battle Royale between you and your mind. Your body and the devil on your shoulders who is telling you that “ This is just a game. This is just a waste of time. Your opponents are stronger than you”. Drown out the voice of uncertainty with the sound of your own heartbeat! Burn away your self doubt with the fire beneath you. Remember what we are fighting for and never forget that momentum is a cruel mistress. She can turn on a dime with the smallest mistake. She is ever searching for the weak place in your armour. That one tiny feeling that you forgot to prepare for. So as long as the devil is hiding the details, the question remains: “Is that all you got? Are you sure?”
When the answer is yes, you’ve done all you can to prepare yourself for battle, then it’s time to go forth and boldly face your enemy. The enemy within! Only now you must take that fight into the open. Into hostile territory.
You are a lion in a field of lions, all hunting the same elusive prey with a desperate starvation that says victory is the only thing that can keep you alive. So believe that voice that says you can run a little faster and you can throw a little harder, and that for you the laws of physics are merely a suggestion. Luck is the last dying wish of those who want to believe that winning can happen by accident. Sweat on the other hand is for those who know it’s a choice. So decide now because destiny waits for no man.
And when your time comes and a thousand different voices are trying to tell you that you’re not ready for it, listen instead to that lone voice of descent, that one voice that says: “you are ready” “you are prepared”. It’s all up to you now!
So rise and shine…
Somewhere up a mountain, we were chatting about nutrition, about balance, about owning houses in opposite continents and what’s important and what not. Kristian and I share many things, many views and many beliefs. We confirm each other’s drive, but we call each other on where we differ.
You can then analyse it further and go to a conversation I had with Andy Gowans about bacterial levels in our systems versus DNA from birth to adulthood, about what changes we can make to our lives to live healthier lives.
Take it further and analyse the marketing rubbish we are fed all day every day about what should make us happy.
Extend your thought patterns and think about modern concepts of time, health, power, money and you can break it all down to be absolute rubbish.
In the end, whatever anyone else believes, is trying for or believes is a goal; you can easily break it down to being bullshit. Everything. Every. Single. Thing.
Then, take it a last step, and all around you, there are people who believe that everything you stand for, everything you fight for, believe in, work towards, live for and would upset others for, is bullshit.
So if happiness surrounding yourself with people who believe like you do, who strive for what you want, because they essentially believe in their vision and you are just justifying it?
So we work with people who make us feel better about ourselves or do you want to work with people who call you on your bullshit, because theirs is better?
If you aren’t head-butting in life with someone who has constructive opinions then perhaps you are filling your life with those who make you feel good, instead of those who make you think about stuff and possibly improve.
Every time you give an opinion, you have the choice to improve someone’s life, not justify your own beliefs. Giving that opinion requires listening before giving the advice because perhaps your advice would change based on what the other person has to say.
Call bullshit when you have a constructive opinion to give. Not when someone’s opinion differs from yours and makes you uncomfortable.
I have been quiet here for weeks now. I have had a big break. From many things but I have also been working really hard at some new things for a few months now. I am proud to be associated with Privateer, which looks amazing and provides great content.
I streamlined my coaching by cutting about 50% of the athletes I was working with. I had to prioritise work and work came first as my work at Craft has led to amazing new opportunities.
Soon, we will expand Craft with something new and there is a third project I am working on too. Urban Ninja was always about evolution and at the moment, the evolution is going on behind the scenes. The growth in the Ironman scene for me personally is done, but there are other stories to be told.
How to throw yourself in the deep end.
How to start something.
How to stop and close something when it’s not working, before it gets out of hand.
The interesting part is if this next evolution will be bullshit to you, or if it will fit your value systems and if I can still give you what you need, because in the end, Urban Ninja was always about giving people what they need, because they couldn’t work it out themselves.
I always tried to cut through the rubbish, stick to the basics and give advice that works not for me, but for a variety of people.
I could break down 1000 articles into one, quite easily and still you wouldn’t listen, instead going against the proven advice because human nature means doing your own thing.
I could write a 16 week training program that would give you a guaranteed PB at any discipline, but you would question it, skip sessions and not work on the most important parts i.e. recovery and nutrition. You’d surf forums and listen to advice out of books like Macca’s about 32 hour normal training weeks, buy a non-vented aero helmet and a disc wheel and forget to learn to pedal the damn bike. You’d try running on your toes in minimal shoes and you’d continuously wonder why the back ¼ of your races are marked with stomach problems.
You’d start too fast, finish too slow and miss your goals. You’d get sick, tired and stress the most important relationships around you, critical support pillars.
That’s because it’s all bullshit, right?
I’m attempting to take the same approach on all current projects. Listen, learn, make the least amount of mistakes, but give enough of a damn to risk it and make some. I am trying to surround myself with those who question by work, my beliefs, my actions and listen to what they have to offer. I am trying to forget the box, believe in myself and learn from the best.
With all that, maybe… just maybe… I have a shot at not surrounding myself with the bullshit that fuels our society. My dad calls it a vigorous debate. It leads to choices. It gives options.
Its immense, and this is the moment.
It’s not about what you create. It’s about how you cope with adversity within creation.
It’s not about what you eat. It’s about making the choice to live a long healthy life.
It’s not about being fit, fast and winning. It’s about relishing in the ability of the body to move with incredible ease, about moving to new places and stimulating the mind to give the headspace you need.
It’s about love.
It’s not about being able to get every person you meet into bed with you.
It’s about respect and the infallible human spirit. Its about change, about choices and certainly, its about you.
Its about stepping outside the vacuum, into the now where you can stop the world for the ellipsis to hit you like a freight train. It’s about losing control in the chaos and being like a Labrador puppy at its first socialization class.
It’s about time we stopped, about time we respected and about time we loved with reckless abandon. It’s about time we let go, risked it all and came out the other side scarred, but smiling.
It’s a new week and that old hum is back in my bones. I can feel it in the fatigue that is present in my legs and my mind which is a little all over the place. My reference points are giving me all the signals that indeed, I am running the razors edge.
I have one more massive week of training volume to get in before I head overseas for a month where the focus is to be relaxed heading into Cent Cols Challenge. All seems to be 100% heading into it as I managed to climb 4300m quite comfortably on the weekend. The other piece of the puzzle is putting together the form to race the Otter just after Cent Cols.
Last year I had a great race at Otter and this year I wanted to prep a little more specifically for it. I did loads of long, open climbs in prep last year and this year I wanted to work on the really tough rock hiking / stair walking that is such a big part of the race. This is a big challenge for me, as I am a rhythm guy and Otter requires something totally different.
The personal challenges to get this right in a short space of time is something I am truly enjoying getting my mind and body around this winter. I have ridden more than previous years, with very specific focus on riding uphill and downhill rather than being able to pedal at 40km/h on a flat road for hours on end. In addition to that I have run 2 x 4hr races in the big mountains and done a lot more rock scrambling in training for my running.
There is no perfect science here to get it right for both in such a short period of time, but there is a way to get close quite reliably and that is my goal. That is a big life lesson. Reliable ways to get really close to your goals exist. How you take it from that safe zone to success or failure is totally up to you, but getting close is reliable and safe. Hitting it out the park is risky and takes a “fair set of swingers”.
This learning curve is tough because it requires failure as well as success, possibly in that order.
Personal challenges are only as life changing as the risk you allow into them. Playing it safe all the time only leads to reasonably great performances. Above average for sure, but not great. Not awesome. Playing with risk is a tricky game when others are invested in your success and when you become a miserable sod after a failure, it means these vested interested parties won’t buy into your future risks. Hence – communication as to how you are racing, what you are trying to achieve and what to do when failure does happen is hugely important.
It’s the start of another week. Are all your vested parties informed on your risks for the week and what happens when they go your way or if they result in failure? Do you have a plan for both occurrences?
Regular readers here will know that when I launched this website, I was very much an Ironman junkie. If you are a new reader, you’ll have noticed the focus on cycling and this has been the progression for me. Throw in the trail running and I would call myself a true multi sport athlete these days.
My love for the road has been something that has really blossomed over the last few years. It did come with the right group to ride with in the morning. It grew with a shared appreciation for the roads themselves and it blossomed with the adventures we began undertaking.
In the last twelve months, I have been searching for a challenge. Not just another Ironman in a different country or a multi sport adventure like O till O. No – I wanted to ride hills, in a foreign country. I am NOT a climber, so this is even more challenging because I am 74kg and not 64kg like most grimpeurs. Also, I wanted to really push the limits, physically (no f-ing surprise here, right?).
I wanted to do it in the style of our Epic Unsupported Tour, but with support ie remote, beautiful routes and a small group of people.
Also, I wanted to #switchbackdope to the max. In fact, I wanted to ride so many of them that I would never look at another one the same way.
Then there is the comparison versus the PRO guys thing. I wanted to ride the same climbs, possibly also 150km into a days’ riding.
My poor better half.
Her: “You’re doing what?”
Me: “A ride through Italy.”
Her: “Will it be hard?”
Me: “A little.”
I try and not scare her too much. She doesn’t like seeing me suffer, which is quite a vibe if you consider how much I like to suffer. I didn’t tell her the following:
- It’s the Double Century, but twice as many hills, for 10 days in a row.
- It’s the Argus, twice, but with 4 times the amount of climbing. For 10 days in a row.
- It’s the Ironman SA Bike Course, but with 9 times the amount of climbing, for 10 days in a row.
I just hope she doesn’t read this.
So what is this stupid stupid tour I found? It’s called Cent Colls Challenge – its hosted by the gents at Rapha Travel – 20 guys, full board and lodging, food, 3 x stops during the day, kiff kit and well, its really hard.
Let’s hit up the scenery first:
Mild views then. Here is a list of the stages, to further improve the contraction ability on your bum.
Stage 1: San Pellegrino Terme to Pieve di Ledro
Stats: 177km ; 3,500M. 11 Cols
Stage 2: Pieve di Ledro to Fiera di Primiero
Stats: 225km ; 4,800M. 9 Cols
Stage 3 : Fiera di Primiero to Tolmezzo
Stats: 202km ; 5,070M. 12 Cols
Stage 4 : Tolmezzo to Cortina d’Ampezzo
Stats: 225km ; 5,800M. 10 Cols
Stage 5 : Cortina to Canazei
Stats: 160km ; 4,800M. 11 Cols
Stage 6 : Canazei to Levico Terme
Stats: 205km ; 5,110M. 12 Cols
Stage 7 ; Levico Terme to Castelvecchio
Stats: 194km ; 5,200M. 15 Cols
Stage 8 : Castelvecchio to Ponte Arche
Stats: 208km ; 5,600M. 14 Cols
Stage 9 : Ponte Arche to Tirano
Stats: 194km ; 5,100M. 5 Cols
Stage 10 : Tirano to San Pellegrino Terme
Stats: 191m ; 4,500M. 5 Cols
Oh, did I forget to mention its 100 cols. 2000 kilometers. Hmmm. Lets check up how the Tour de France matches this year:
I am pretty excited by this for a few reasons. It’s a huge personal challenge – their is no winner. Then there is the prospect of riding through Italy on my bicycle – a bucket list item for me. Having ticked off Kona, O till O, Cape Epic from my list, I wanted to do something on the road. I wanted to ride back roads in a foreign country which is incredibly beautiful and if you look at this video, you may understand why I chose this intense, extreme challenge as my next:
Some of the big challenges for me are 1 hr climbs, repeatedly – we have no 2 hour climbs to practise here. I am having to do them on the mountain bike and next weekend I will be attempting 3 of them in a row, after a big run on the Saturday.
The following weekend, the goal is an all-day ride. 8 hours of it. This is the norm for CCC.
Thereafter I am going to try and ride 6000m vertical in one ride.
So it’s a series of challenges towards the big goal.
Lastly, it’s turned out to be a chance to reunite with one Kristian Manietta – that aussie who came out to SA to ride EUT 2011 with us. We experience life in the same ways and believe many of the same things so it will be a chance to have a companion who I immensely enjoy for evening banter and have a room mate who I know I won’t have to make small talk with, and who speaks decent English.
Soon I’ll share with you which bike I am taking, what gearing, wheels, kit, nutrition, etc as the journey to get these 100% has been pretty cool too. Such a specific event requires pretty specific gear and approach.
Thoughts on value
I found this quote the other day.
Price is a public matter — a negotiation between supply and demand. A thing’s price is set in competition. So the price of a car is determined by how much some people want it, how much they are willing to pay, and how ready the manufacturer is to sell. It’s a public activity: lots of people are involved in the process, but your voice is almost never important in setting the price.
Value, on the other hand, is a personal, ethical and aesthetic judgment — assigned finally by individuals, and founded on their perceptiveness, wisdom and character.
It has really stuck with me for a while now and maybe it’s because I am currently in the middle of starting a new project / venture that focuses quite heavily on where the find the sweet spot between these two. My product is not unique and I am merely trying to do it better than the other guys, so price and value are likely to be two of the biggest success factors in this next chapter.
I have had the same questions with the coaching services I offer – where do clients feel they extract greatest value? I do want them to think about the price, as it’s a reflection on what my time is worth, but I don’t want them to fret it and be psychotic about getting every penny’s worth out of me.
It’s a constant debate and battle for me. So often, price sets the expectation for an entire experience rather than just being a guide towards the value you will derive from the experience, which is surely the more important thing?
Value should be the driver, not price. Value should be the indicative element that determines whether an item is a success or failure.
Lets use a simple example like a veggie garden. In fact, lets use the herb garden on the porch of our 8th story apartment. We have a living ecosystem up there, but one that mostly attracts herb garden killing pests just as they are about to be ready for consumption. For my better half, the value in a plate of fresh rocket outweighs the effort of cleaning said rocket with an organic pest spray then hand washing every rocket leaf in order to serve a truly fresh salad.
You couldn’t pay her for that rocket and there is no price attached to it. It’s the concept and idea that are most important to her.
How many simple things like this are in your life – that are valuable beyond their price or any price that could be made up for them? I am looking for more of those.
Salomon have just launched this incredible new campaign. It’s called Designed for Freedom. Watch the video attached and tell me you aren’t drawn to being outside in these environments.
I could go on and write an entire blog post about the beauty of outside, about being designed to move in these spaces and to explore with reckless abandon. But I won’t. Not today. The video does it complete justice. Watch it twice instead. Plan that next trip.
You are, after all, designed for freedom.
That deep haze that comes from a big effort is just the perfect place to reflect upon where you are and what you are doing. Joberg2c was perfect for this because I was pushed in so many ways while there. Physically, I rode out of my shell on one of the days and pedalled squares coming home. On another physical level, I got dreadfully sick and had to manage that and actually pushed myself to a point of breaking, thankfully stopping just before.
Mentally, I learned that sore legs are just sore legs and you can ignore them quite well with enough practise.
Emotionally, I learned to trust my own pacing and judgement again. Sometimes, the pack does not know best.
Technically, I benefitted immensely from watching the racing lines of an expert – my partner. I am looking forward to applying this new-found skill set to Sani2c in a week’s time.
All these things brought me to a pretty special place sometime on Saturday evening on a flight between Durban and Cape Town. Somewhere along the week a seed was planted and just there, it showed it’s first leaf. I watered it and it wanted to grow so beautifully that I couldn’t help but be lead down a path of creativity, inspiration and hope.
The idea was seeded with a manifesto that included words like integrity, trust, community, playfulness and simplicity. It expanded into excel sheets, rough drawings and a vision. In there somewhere is a business idea which is based on everything that drives me. Clarity ensued and everything seemed to make sense – the numbers, the ideas and even the collaborations that would come out of it.
“Ladies & Gentleman, we have begun out descent. Please switch off all electronic devices…”
Dreams followed and the following morning, I couldn’t shake this feeling. The days’ happenings merely served as confirmations that this was a good path to dream on, to reflect on and to contort the future with. A bounce in my step was visible even to own eyes as I gathered information about this venture. As steam built in the little engine.
Beautiful clarity that comes from fatigue when our only options are clear ones, when the fluff seems to fall away and we are left with fight and flight, yes or no.
Now the process to mould begins, to align the stars and build a sustainable way to bring this idea to light.
A very non-sporty post today, but it’s been a bit of a race report festival here, so in the coming weeks I wanted to talk about more about little lifestyle elements that bring another dimension to us, as athletes.
It’s roughly 4pm and I am heading out the back of the university. I see one of my favourite people in the world ahead of me. He is running tall, proud and having a good day out.
I know I’ve had a good day out. Not a great day, but a solid, good day. I came into this race slightly underprepared, wanting to have the day I have just had and I am happy for the tailwind and the sight of my buddy Andy.
A day of attrition averted I am still running under 5min per km and taking my time at the aid stations rather than trying to push the pace.
I have no idea where I am placed in my age group, but I do know that I paced myself well on the day and that I am going to have a chafe spot in the unholiest of places tomorrow. The mild sting from my shorts a fresh reminder of how rough the coastal road has become in recent years.
I catch Andy and we have a brief chat. I keen pushing as slowing even a little would mean slowing a lot and I want to get to the finish line. As I round the bottom corner, a moment overwhelms me as another person says “Well done Ninja” ; it’s the moment where I am totally humbled, overwhelmed that someone else reads this blog along with the hundreds of other similar mentions I got all day, fueling me onwards. My bottom lip starts to shake a little and as the emotion overwhelms me, I have to wrap my head around it and focus it to strength to take me home.
I give a silent thanks to every person on the route, put my head down and drive towards the finish.
I came to the race with no pressure, no stress. With Kyle Buckingham a year older and into our age group in his final year as an age grouper (well, the rest of the field hopes so but we’ll see) I knew it was game over for the win unless something tragic happened to him. He is the real deal and has put his head down, taken his opportunities and putting in the hours to be a PRO in 2014. I wish him all the luck – he certainly seems to have the mustard.
So my goals were to get through the race in one piece. Last year, I was smashed after the race to a degree I cannot express. This year, I have Joberg2C only 10 days after the Ironman day, so the goal was to race hard, but race smart and not have to “go to the well” as such.
I spoke with my local athletes and they advised a smart racing strategy mainly around the first lap of the ride, where riding too hard would be very easy, leaving many scratching their heads post-race as to where it went wrong…
The swim was uneventful and I got out the water in the front pack, where I wanted to be.
My legs deserted me on the first lap of the bike and I just waited for them to come around as I tried to stay low, pedal smoothly and get through the first lap in under 1:40 missing it with about 50seconds but happy as my legs started coming back and the wind started pushing.
I carried all my nutrition with me this year, mixing as I went, making sure I didn’t lose it or end up without it at any given time. Last year this was one of my key downfalls & once everything was settled on lap 2 of the ride, I was 1:37 and change into the third lap and made sure I held back a little on lap 3 so that I could run smooth.
That soon went out the window as I sat in T2 putting on my shoes when a group of 4 guys in my age group came through. I figured I was in 5th already, so heading out in 9th was just a little too much for me. The animal was woken and I thought to myself that I need to drop them early to show them they had possibly ridden too hard.
I ran the first 5km in 20min, leaving them all behind me and at 10km I went through in 42min, slowing just enough to get back on track. I wanted to run easy and give myself the space to walk the aid stations on lap 3 and keep running under 4:50 per km all the way home.
Again, that plan changed as I caught Bradley Venter at about 12km and he stuck to my feet like peanut butter to a mohair carpet and so we ran for the next 14km as I tried to set a decent pace with a few variations as I tried to let him go. At this point I felt I was still in 5th or 6th in my age group and knew I was on track for 9:15 comfortably without too much pain.
After ignoring it for ages, I had to have the chat with Brad. I needed to pee.
“Bud, I need to pee. How are you going?”
“I’ll pee too.”
And so, at 26km, we stood next to the side of the road and had a pee. I watched him walk about the bush and head back onto the road as my firetruck bladder was still only a third of its way to empty. After what felt like 5minutes I was back on the road and the break in rhythm seemed to affect Bradley as I passed him and never saw him again.
The last lap was my best last lap ever at Ironman South Africa. I was calm, in control and still running sub 5 minutes per km comfortably. I ate quite a few potatoes and avoided the coke. Up and through the varsity without ever walking is a huge success for me and from here; we head to the start of this blog post, to my moment out there.
Thank you to all who were at the finish line when I arrived. Thank you for pretending you believed I would leave the red carpet if you didn’t cheer louder. You cheered.
Across the finish line we went & time to get dressed so that I can spectate a little. My supporters are tired but they put up with my requests. I have no idea of my actual time or where I placed and only once I speak to my parents do I know I ended up 3rd in my age group and that I went 9:16 and change. Both elements are unimportant to me as I am beaming ear to ear with the race and the support and the vibe.
I cheers for about 2 hours until my wheels start coming off. I see friends finishing with smiles and others with grimaces but I cheer mercilessly for all who come by. They are heroes to me. Each has a story like mine, likely better. All I know is how to write it down. For every cheer I got on the day, I want to give out two and I cheer for everyone who comes by. It’s a magical end to my race experience before the wheels come off.
I’m sitting at Bridge Street Brewery, talking smack with friends. We are about four draughts down, each. They started as athletes I coached over the period of months and years, but now, I call them friends. We are teasing each other, laughing at the highs and the lows & celebrating being done with another Ironman. The race doesn’t scare any of these guys any more.
They understand that it has to be a part of their lives, fit in with work, family, love, friends, hobbies & all the rest. They have kids, commitments, challenges and they deal with them with what I can only call panache.
My work here is done. My easiest Ironman ever, but the most rewarding in so many ways.
A big thank you to my sponsors who make it all possible & who support my dreams;
- Rehidrat Sport for the best nutrition out there & the big love over the years.
- Trek Bicycles for the fastest, smoothest bike I have ever ridden.
- Velocity Sports Lab for the continued support & belief in what I am trying to do here.
- Orca for the best kit to carry me from beach to brewery – No chafe is a win!
- 7th Element for the belief in my “system” and supporting our Songo Garden.
- Salomon for kit love. I run a lot of trail in the year and use their hydration packs through all seasons & race days.
- Stor-Age for making my house a little less cluttered, giving me headspace.
- Oakley for protecting my eyes and allowing me to hurt without showing competitors the pain.