Winter training

We are back in the cold and freezing Netherlands. It is time to ramp up my training again. As all the nice warm weather got left behind in New Zealand, it was back to indoor training.

In short my schedule looks like this:

Monday
Swimming – Regular training with the local club. Mostly focused on technique and shorter intervals (up to 500 mtr’s a time)

Tuesday
Core stability training – More on this in a bit

Wednesday
Swimming – Same as Monday

Thursday
Cycling – Done on my TACX. Depending on the time I have I fit in an interval training or a low heart rate endurance training. To keep it more fun and entertaining I watch TV/movies/series.

Friday
Rest! – Time for friends and anything other then training.

Saturday
Running – In winter mostly endurance runs, lower heart rate zones. Sometimes mixed up with Sunday.

Sunday
Cycling – TACX time, mostly lower heart rate workouts

 

So, the core stability training. At my club the amount of people showing up for running in winter drops quite a lot. To give the training a bit of a mix up they introduced core stability training at a local gym. The setup is pretty straightforward. Circuit training.

The amount of exercises depend a bit on the amount of people. In our case it ranged from 7-12 exercises. Could be anything from push-ups, squats, lunges, core workouts on exercises mats etc.

Then the circuit itself:

1-2 minutes for each exercise, 20-30 seconds rest, then move on to the next. Repeat until you complete 1-2 laps. The intensity of the exercise is all up to you, most of the time it is self limiting. Make sure you have 1-2 trainers walking around, to be sure your form is good throughout the exercise.

The training results you will enjoy in two ways. Long term with a good and stable core, and short term for the next couple of days!

 

Other options can include:

– Going on holiday to warm places. But as I just returned this is not an option for me at the moment.

– Cycling can be done on ATB’s as well.

– Speed skating (ice) instead of swimming

All together proves to be a good schedule for your cross/winter triathlon, or a good preparation for your summer season.

 

Note: Don’t force yourself to stick to your schedule. Be sure to listen to your body and adopt your plans accordingly.

Runaround: Nelson (airport)–New Zealand

The past few months have been quiet around me. I completed Challenge Almere-Amsterdam, my main goal for this season. Sadly I sustained a hamstring injury during the event. The few months that followed consisted mainly of swimming, easy cycling, and running short distances, low pace. December offered some relief. As me and The Girl headed out to New Zealand for 4.5 weeks. All holiday!

We would travel around in a small campervan, crossing both islands. Below is our planned route, and our campervan

 

 

 

Today was the first day I ran since weeks. We did do a lot of hiking through cities and national parks, but I didn’t go out on a run. We just crossed the cook strait with the interislander ferry and Nelson would be our first stop.

At the reception of the motorhome park I picked up a map with hikes in the area. The closest by was the Nelson Airport walkaround. Getting there and around totaled to around 10K, perfect for a nice run to see how my legs would hold up.

After I memorized the map on how to get there, I was off. A few k’s into the run I arrived at the airfield, but no hiking trail to be seen. I came across a local runner and asked him. With his directions I managed to find it, and it was clear to me why I ran passed it. As this is what it looked like:

The first part was mainly on a small path shoved between a fence and bushes. But further on you were out in the open, as on one side there was the airfield. On the other a golf course.

The run turned out to be quite warm. There was barely any wind, despite the airfield being an open area. But with all the distractions around it was manageable. Below is the sign showing airport security has some sense of humour.

 

Around 75% of the lap I was forced to stop. The following picture says it all:

A plane was approaching. But within a few minutes I was off again. The last part was a bit confusing, as all the airfields access roads were crossing, but eventually I was on my way home again.

Overall it was quite a success. Time to lit up the BBQ and relax!

Race Report: Oostermeent Triathlon Huizen (Olympic Distance)

My triathlon career began at this race. You can read all about my first ever triathlon attempt here: http://www.dennismijer.com/?p=99 Two years later, I am back at the same beach. But first things first, preparation!

As this is my first triathlon of the season, I started gathering my stuff the evening before, to be sure I had everything. This saved me the searching for my championchip on race day.

Just before 10 AM my dad and his GF arrived. With the four of us we would head down to the starting area, which is a 30 minute drive from here. Packet pick-up was smooth as a whistle. Even though it was crowded, there was no line. I simply had to tell my bib and show my NTB license (Dutch Triathlon Association). With that I received my packet, containing a swim cap, stickers with my bib to label my bike, of course my bib, and some flyers to promote clothing and gadgets.

I sorted out my stuff, and set up my T2 area. Just like two years ago, T2 would be on the 400mtr track. T1 and the race start was a 3km walk/bike ride to the beach. I was short on time, so I quickly racked my bike, and put on my wetsuit. Even though the water was around 19-20 degrees according to the sign, I, together with around 95% of the competitors in the OD race, opted to put it on. Just as I entered the water for a warm-up swim, the announcer kindly requested everyone to leave the water, and prepare for the start, as we had less then 5 minutes before we were released.

In traditional fashion at this triathlon they played Carmina Burana, to get everyone pumped up. You could literally see everyone getting into their zone, mentally preparing for the 2-3 hours of agony they were going to put themselves through. As the last notes played, the horn sounded, (no cannon this year, as you can be seen here: Huizen 2012 

 

Talking about motivational music!

They say the swim leg of a triathlon is a contact sport. If you doubt this, you should’ve been here. Arms and legs where flying everywhere, tapping your feet, hitting your legs or back, or even kicking your arms and face. No damage was done to me, although I did spot someone’s timing chip flow around within 50 meters of the swim. Besides this there was the occasional weed bush to wrestle through. All together this gave me a hard time on the first lap. The second lap went a bit better, but my time said everything. Around 31 minutes to complete the 1500 meter swim.

Onto the bike it was. In T1 I probably had the best spot you can be in. Here are my paint skills to proof it. The green line represents my bike.
image

This was my first race where I practiced with my shoes on my bike, to put them on while cycling. The first shoe went very well, the second…didn’t. As straight out of T1 we started on a slight incline of the bridge, it made things a bit worst, but eventually I got my shoe on, and was off.

In the bike leg things were going well, I felt really good and my pacing was better then ever (as cycling isn’t exactly my best leg).
Below is a short video impression of the bike leg. (Hint, I am in the video as well, you see me getting passed within the first 6 seconds). I would be cycling a few 100 meters behind him for the remainder of the bike leg).

An hour and 13 minutes later I arrived at the dismount line. However, this line was earlier then a few years ago, surprising me. As I already took my shoes of I was braking hard and tried to swing my right leg over my bike (mistake #1: I never practiced dismounting like this)  to dismount. Now things went quickly, my leg got stuck behind my water bottles (mistake #2), knowing this wasn’t going well, I firmly grabbed my steering wheel, (mistake #3) as I was still breaking, the tightening of my grip == harder breaking. My front wheel decided to lock, launching me in a summersault straight into the bushes. My second official crash in three years. (The first one being in training: Lost & Crashed) A guy behind me rated me a 6 for my first ever summersault, let alone one performed from my bike! I quickly got up, gathered my bike. One of the water bottles got handed to me by the crowd. I picked up my shoe, and off I was. The only proof of this is me running into T2, with a shoe in my hand. As you can see below.

T2 went well. Racked my bike and helmet. Socks and shoes on, and go!

Right from the point I started running, I felt this would be a though run. My legs were burning. In the first K I had the time to assess the damage of my crash. My left elbow had minor skin damage, barely worth mentioning. My right shoulder took a blow, but seemed muscle related, no collarbone issues. The biggest problem was my left thigh. No skin damage, but it was cramping. They changed the course compared to the previous time, but the main part was the same, it was basically a massive figure of 8, so the brick of the run was a straight few k’s.

Below you can see I wasn’t in a happy place.

Things were hurting and my heart rate was off the charts. In the second lap I took a few seconds to let my heart rate drop. Then things went better.

Eventually I finished in 2.33.00. A mere 25 minutes faster then two years ago!

Swim: 00:31:54
Bike: 01:13:46 (01:45:40)
Run: 00:47:21
Total: 02:33:01

Ranking:
AG: 23 / 30,
Overall: 98/170

Satisfied!

Then, it was time for the best part! Feeding Frenzy! They had all sorts of things: Currant buns, bananas, oranges, various types of energy drinks. So I grabbed a couple of each and went to collect my reward. Here I am with part of my loot

With races in The Netherlands it is common to get a finisher t-shirt afterwards. Your bib gets checked when they give it to you, so you can retrieve only one. Here you can see what the finisher shirt looks like:

Thanks for reading, and see you at the next race!

Greece: Votsalakia (Samos) Runaround

Me and The Girl went on holiday to the Greek island Samos. We stayed at a nice apartment with a beautiful ocean view.
Although the holiday was mainly about relaxing, there are still some workouts to be done.

Our place was on a small hill between Votsalakia and MarathoKampos. The goal was a 45 minute run at higher pace. So I opted for a simple one way and back route. Especially since Votsalakia consists of a big main road, as you can see on the map below.

 

The first part is easy, a nice downhill with some hairpin turns. Within the first few 100 meters you would drop around 50 meters. A tough section to top off the training for today when I get back.

 

Not long after you encounter the first structure of the village. This building is not yet completed, but it has a small memorial sign in front of it. In Greece mostly used to indicate fatal accidents on roads. Not sure if the two are related in this case.

On the left side there is a small bay with a beach. A small gravely path leads up to it. A few days later they organized it and put up some beach chairs and parasols.

 

Next up along the road are some fields where locals are growing some fruits and vegetables. Some small houses and supermarkets.
Each house looking better then the other.

 

We are in the low season, and because of the economic difficulties of the country, tourism dropped for this island. Because of this you could see sites like this:

Restaurants or bars not opened yet, or still preparing for the later high season. Others are making the best of it and are open, in expectation of the various tourists (like us) that did show up.

Now we left the major part of the town behind us. Next up is an intersection, which eventually leads up higher in the mountains to the caves where the Pythagoras lived. A famous philosopher and mathematician. Not long after it was time for me to turn around and head back.

Ofcourse I couldn’t stop with taking a selfie at the turn around point.

Calendar 2014

Part of the reason why I started doing triathlon is to work towards one of my bucket list goals. To finish a full distance triathlon. After things didn’t go the way as planned last year, I will use 2014 as a stepping stone towards that goal.

The way I plan to do this is to schedule a 70.3 race towards the end of this year. Up till now, my calendar looks like this:

Januari

– LOKO run 4/6 10KM (12th)

Februari

– LOKO run 5/6 10KM (9th)

March

– LOKO run 6/6 10KM (9th)

– 1KM swim Indoor (17th)

June

– OD Triathlon Huizen (15th)

– 1KM swim outdoor (25th)

– Zeewolde endurance 1/6 triathlon (28th)

August

– Pareltriathlon 1/8 (31st)

September

– Challenge Almere-Amsterdam 70.3 (13th)

Oktober

LOKO run 1/6 (10th)

Throughout the year I might skip or add some events. As you can see their is still a gap between March and June I need to fill. So any suggestions are welcome.

Belgium: Genval Runaround

A few weeks ago me and “The Girl” decided we would go away for a weekend. The choice fell on a nice hotel just southeast of Brussels, Belgium, in a small town called “Genval”, as you could have guessed by the title of this post.

Today that weekend arrived. It promised to be a long day. First off, I still had to work. Quickly after I got home I got packing, being a guy and only a single weekend, this was done in no-time :) Before we knew it, we were off!

Normally, the trip would take around 2.5 hours, but we expected some minor delays, as we would drive through rush hour. We were lucky, and with a minor traffic jam we entered Belgium. This was the point where our luck ran out. Around 15 km’s before we would arrive at the hotel, we struck on a traffic jam. This seemed to be a bad one, but, our navigation simply guided us around it, to eventually decide to direct us back to the same highway we just left. At this point, we got passed by about 6-7 (undercover) police cars, and a few ambulances. While literally crawling, several more police cars passed us. It turned out a big accident occurred, right at the off ramp we had to use. In the end it would take use 2.5 hours to cover the last 12 km’s. Walking to our hotel would’ve been faster.

When we arrived at the hotel, we forgot all about this, as we had a new priority: food! Because of the delay, we missed the dinner schedule, so we went with a perfect sandwich, and a nice glass of wine. Let the weekend begin!

Next morning we woke up, with this astonishing view:

 

Our hotel was on the top of the hill, with the main part of the hotel on a more busier street, right down at the lake. Here we would grab a nice breakfast. Below you can see the hotel from across the lake.

 

After breakfast it was time for my workout. A lap around the lake turns out to be about 2.5 km’s. The Girl has some running experience, but due to injuries this was a long time ago. But, she joined in on the run, we both ran our own pace. I started off with two easy laps, while The Girl went with some lessons from Evy Gruyaert. The next picture shows “The Girl” on the first lap. Lapping her would proof to be a big challenge.

My third lap I went with a higher pace, also because she just finished her second lap, and I didn’t want to make her wait in the colder temperature. Afterwards it was time to turn on the relax mode for the remainder of the weekend. Not before I took some pictures of our hotel:

Included in our trip was a spa, located in the lower part of the hotel. It was quite small, but perfect to recover from the run. That evening we would have a luxurious dinner in the restaurant. Due to a mistake from the hotel, our dinner got upgraded from 4 courses excluding wine, to 5 courses including wine. Perfect! Normally, the more expensive the restaurant, the smaller the dishes, not in this case. We were STUFFED.

The next day would be our final day. We had to leave the room before 11 AM. So we gathered our bags and put them in the car, had breakfast and checked out. BUT, as we knew how to get into the spa from the day before, we knew we didn’t need the room card to enter the spa. So we enjoyed the spa some more, before taking off. Ending a (almost) perfect weekend!test

The “Gear I use” list

As people often ask me what kind of gear they need to do a triathlon or what kind of gear I use. Therefore I decided I would create a list of all my gear. For convenience, I separated it by sport.

General
Tri-suit – Sugoi RPM (black/white)
ID – Road ID Ankle ID. As I often do workouts on my own (bike or run), I always wear this. It contains my personal information, phone numbers to call in case of an emergency, and my blood type.
Garmin Forerunner 310XT – Review by Ray Maker says it all.
Championship Chip – I got this after my first event. You can hire it and turn it in, or keep it and pay the price. Then it will be registered to your name, and you can use it for all your future events. Often you get to keep the Chip strap as well. Be sure to check which timing mechanism is used to see if your chip is eligible.
Reflective SafetyBand – Band I wear around my arm to increase my visibility, as it reflects and had red LED’s.

Swim
Speedo Swim Shorts – My swim shorts look similar to this. I primarily use these indoors.
Swim cap – I bought only one, the cheapest I could find. The only reason being to wear it while swimming outside. As you start doing races, caps naturally accumulate in all colours you can imagine.
Swim Goggles – Speedo swim goggles, but most will do, as long as they fit well. Even used one from the Lost & Found section for a while, after I lost mine.
Pull Buoy – For different technique exercises
Wet suit – My wetsuit is from Orca (I couldn’t find the actual model anymore).
Kickboard – Kickboard used for various technique exercises.

Bike
Cannondale Slice 2011 – Mine is red/white with almost the same configuration as on the link.
Bottle cages – Just behind my saddle is a double bottle cage. I also strapped a small pack to it, containing a tire repair kit.
Pedals – Look pedal system
Helmet – No aero helmet for me. First I need to improve my bike before I will even consider buying an aero helmet.
Shoes –  Using the motto: Beautiful silver isn’t ugly
TACX Flow – My first trainer, without the multiplayer or VR modes. I simply put on a movie and go. Don’t waste your money on things like sweat covers, training mats and the like. Simply use a towel and clean your bike every now and then.

Run
New Balance running shoes – New Balance 1080v3. After testing several shoes in the store, these fit like a glove. Loving them. I had Saucony shoes before, but they stopped shipping to the Netherlands.
Race belt – To attach my bib too. Also has some elastics to stuff gels in. Last sprint race I snapped one of the elastics, so on the lookout for a new one.
Bottle Belt – Mine is similar to this, containing around 600ml of fluid. Also has an zip pocket to put things like your keys, mobile phone or gels.
TightsTights for the bit colder days.
Shirts – Basically if I wear any, I often wear a finisher shirt over my tri-suit. Just like swimcaps, these accumulate naturally as you do more events.
Long-sleeve shirt – Shirt that can be used under jackets, but I primarily use it over my tri-suit on a bit colder days. I might add more as temperature keeps dropping.
Socks – Any type of running socks will do. I tend to use low socks.

Core Workouts
Exercise Ball
– Ball to use for core stability exercises.
Exercise Mat – Explains itself I would say.

Any questions or recommendations are always welcome.

Bikearound: Flevoland – Lost & Crashed

Even though the title gives most of it away, I will start at the  beginning. Today should be a fairly straightforward day. Another bike training, long distance, lower pace. I figured I would do a big lap of: Zeewolde  – Almere – Lelystad – Zeewolde. Below you can see the actual lap I rode.

I live at Zeewolde, the bottom right, and I would bike clockwise towards Almere. From there I would follow along the highway towards lelystad. With the option to cut the lap short and head towards my hometown again. The picture below shows how most of the paths would look like.

This particular picture is taken on a cycling path, about 3/4 on my way towards Almere.

Up till that point, everything was fine. A few kilometres later is when things started to take a turn for the worse. First of all it started with unclear cycling direction signs, which indicate how many km’s and which direction to head to for a certain city.

After I took a right turn to head towards lelystad, I encountered one of the following:
– A dead end. The road simply stopped
– A dead end, but only for cyclists. It was prohibited to continue, as cars would be driving 80-100 km/h on those roads.
– Missing indicators of where to go next, leaving you stuck in a small neighbourhood.
– Indicators pointing in the direction you came from.
– The destination city (in my case Lelystad), disappearing all together from the road signs, instead naming another city (Amsterdam), which is in the opposite direction

I would say this explains the lost part. After backtracking a few times and progressing further through Almere in the right direction, I came across some road works. This involved the cycling path as well. You got redirected around it through some smaller alleyways and cobblestone streets. Normally I have no issue with either of them. However, due to the rainy weather from the past couple of days and the construction works on the road. My tires and the roads where filled with sand. Combined with slippery cobblestones and tight corners…you guess it. I crashed on a tight right hand turn, my bike simply slipped away under me.

As my feet unclicked the second I hit the stones, I got up quickly and gave my bike and me a quick checkup. My bike had no damage, as for myself:

This pic shows my left hand just after I got home and cleaned all the mud off. The entire part going to my thumb would turn a nice dark blue/purple colour, making people wonder if I didn’t bruise/break it.

This picture is while riding towards Lelystad. As you can see, only really minor damage.

In the last few kilometres towards home, I started to notice my hip took quite a hit, but as my tri-suit was perfectly fine, I figured it was just sore. I was wrong
When I went to take a shower the real damage showed. A massive area on my hip got it’s skin taken off. To save everyone’s stomach I won’t show any pictures of it. : )

Something that should have been an easy day became way more eventful then I would have thought.

Next bike/run around posts will be with a happier note! I promise you that!

Race Report: Pareltriathlon 2013

First of all: Today is my birthday! What better way to celebrate then with a triathlon? Indeed, that is what I did. In several ways it was a copy of last year. I gathered my gear and got on my bike to ride to registration/transition to set things up.

There are several differences to note compared to last year:
– The weather was great. nice temperature, bit cloudy, no extreme wind conditions.
– The swim has changed. Instead of a point to point race, they made it into a small loop. Now we started under a bridge, swim around a buoy 250 mtrs away, get back, under the bridge, and make a wide right turn (around 2 more buoys) to exit into T1.
– The bike leg was changed, but now weeks before the race, this had a major impact on the race. This race is a sprint distance, normally being: 500mtr swim, 20km bike, and a 5k run. However, due to construction on the route from last year, we were forced to ride in the other direction. Because of this, the route extended from 20, to 30 km. This was annoying for me, as the bike is my worst part.

With that out of the way, back to preparation. Transition was on a parking area, bigger then last year. However, this was not paved. They placed several construction plates to cover this up and make running barefoot easier, however, these get really slippery when they get  wet, and only extended from the swim into T1. Not from T1 to the bike mounting line. This meant running with your shoes, instead of having them attached to your pedals.

Everything was set, and we gathered under the bridge from the finish start. Up till this point there was still no sign of my supporters, so no pictures up till this point. My swim went great. I managed to swim in a gap between several people.
Below you see me at the end of the swim, just before entering T1

Transition wasn’t so great. Like I always do I instantly grabbed my cap and goggles, and pulled them inside my wetsuit’s sleeve. Because this event had to electronic timing mechanism, officials failed to identify me (as my cap with my number was already in my sleeve), therefore my swim time results in: 0.00. Next to this, I had issues with my racebelt. It got stuck behind something, and when I pulled through, one of the two strings holding my bib snapped off.

While running out of T1 I saw my time: 11.45. As I got on the bike mounting line I and was about to set off, the leading woman got on her bike as well, losing her water bottles in the process. Someone from the crowd was kind enough to pick it up, and run to her to hand it over. The bad part of this? While doing so the kind man ran straight in front of my wheel at the moment I set off, with my feet just clicked tight to my pedals. I managed to evade him and ride into the grassy side of the road. After which the man quickly recovered and pushed me onto speed to chase the women’s leader.

Here is a picture just after this occurred, and I am still messing with my pedals. The women on the left is the women’s leader.

 

My bike went good. I got passed by some, and passed some. Overall I am satisfied, but I do know I still have ways to improve this. Just under an hour I completed the 30K. Unlike T1, T2 went great. As the few people next to me in transition didn’t show up at all, I had lots of space to stash my bike. Before I knew it, I was off, flying.

The run course was a shorter version of last year, just more laps. The setting was still the same, partially paved, partially grass. I passed quite some people during the run, although there was no way to tell if they were in the same lap, or a lap before/behind me. All I knew was that I was sailing through.
A short video of me coming through to enter lap 2.

Overall I was really satisfied with the race. Improvement over all the disciplines. Even through I have only been working with my new trainer for a few months, it is already paying off!.
My times and rank:
Swim: 11.45
Bike: 58.30
Run: 0:24:37
Total: 1:34:52

Overall rank: 25/61

See you next time!

Race Report: 1km open water swim.

Every season my triathlon club has 4 swim competitions. The races are over 4 different distances, indoor and outdoor, to check your improvement. How is this done? Simply said, you race each of the races, and all your time/distances are calculated to one specific distance. This particular race would be the last of the 4 races, but my first.

Around 6.45 PM I went to the starting area to check things out. Without any transitions to set up, it was really relaxing for a change. Slowly more and more people gathered, while I was watching a small zodiac in the distance. Putting the turnaround buoy in the water. As the race would simply be 1 lap. Swim to the buoy 500 meters ahead, turnaround, and swim back.

When more and more people changed in their wetsuit, it turned out their was some confusion around the starting time. Some thought it would be 7pm, others went for 7.15 or even 7.30 pm. Apparently they put up different times on the website, the club magazine etc.
Either way, most of the people already entered the water, including one without a wetsuit. They decided to postpone the start by a 5-10 minutes or so, to give the last people who just arrived the possibility to change and quickly make their way to the start line.

Before we knew it, a small horn sounded, and we were off!
Here is some footage of the start. I am wearing number 6.

The one with the white goggles starting just in front of me would turn out to be the male’s winner. He is too fast for me to keep drafting of him though.
The first few 100 meters I had some troubles getting my breathing down, but eventually things started to even out.
Somewhere halfway I got a bit of a surprise. As their was a small ramp to drive your boat into the water, water got really shallow for a moment, so I was dolphin diving for a bit, gaining some distance.

Before I knew it, I was at the turnaround:

As there weren’t that many people competing, positions were pretty much settled at the time. Personally, I didn’t really care about the positions, as I know the fastest few guys racing, and know I can’t beat them. (The winner would swim 13.24 that day).  So for me it was all about my time. In the pool I would swim around 20 min/km in general.

On the way back I started to enjoy it more. Here you can see the last part and my finish time.

As you can see in the video above, my final time would be noted as 19.10. Not too bad given I expected to swim around 20 minutes. I finished 10/17 in my category. Happy overall, but enough room to improve!