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Posts Tagged ‘Family Friendly’

Saturday October 18th, 12:00, Paguera-Mallorca.

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My last Half-Distance (1.9 Swim, 90 Bike, 21.1 Run) was in Cologne early September 2013. I decided then to take a break for half a year. I am not sure I would recommend it. I lost a lot of endurance, muscular mass and gained weight on top of feeling less happy with my life. Getting back at it had not been easy either with some injuries and bike crashes. So, October 16th in Mallorca was for me a symbol of coming back and I was race hungry.

My goal time was 4:45. I crossed the finish line in 5:15. Sometimes, things do not go to plan…This race has been humbling.

But first things first. A late start, on a cracking day. Sunny, hot, no wind, no waves, warm water, no wet suit. Perfect! The gun goes off. A good beach start, with nearly 50m of dolphin jumps exactly as trained. Perfect! The water: ridiculously clear. This is not racing, this is snorkeling! Perfect! I swim relatively easy as usual and get out after 1.9km  in 35.12. This is 1 minute slower than expected. But within the time plan. A quick casual high five with my daughter (while leaving the German competition behind 🙂 and a dash to transition.1395158_10153238453411679_1849690160603102546_n

Summary: A good start in the race overall. I exit in 32nd place with 60 other competitor in the category M40-44.

A very long transition (literally – the transition zone was 285m and the way to it around 400m) where unbelievable bikes were racked. And on to a tough technical course in the heat (29 degrees). I knew this would not go well as I had scored an auto-goal in the transition zone before the race even started.

My special pump for the discwheel (Lezyne and usually reliable) shoots off the valves after 5 bar of pressure. No way to put anymore air. Going into the race with a half-inflated wheel is not only going to cost me a few minutes but also increase the risk of sliding in the curves or worse getting the tyre out of its rim.

ROOKIE MISTAKE NUMBER ONE: CHECK ALL YOUR MATERIAL BEFORE THE RACE.

The first 15km feel like a nightmare, out of breath, heart rate constantly in the red while being passed by competitors, my mind set on the wheel issue. Am I going to make it?  The mindset thankfully changes in the first long descent. Cool air, time to hydrate, heart rate going down. I will get this distance done, this is the European Championship and I wear for the first time the Swiss jersey in an official ITU/ETU. Mantra Number 4: Get to the finish line, no matter what (or quit only on a stretcher)20x30-CHPC1713

KM25: What is this noise in my front fork? Oh no! the front tire is rubbing against the top of the fork!!!. I stop quickly to check for dirt stuck between the tire and the fork…nothing really. I get on the bike again and the tire keeps rubbing. Darn, what is going on today! – I will find out after the race that the mechanic (former pro cyclist) who serviced my bike before the race had mounted the rear tyre in the front. So the thin narrow tyre was in the back (bad for grip) and the thick large tyre was in the front, hence rubbing against the fork.

ROOKIE MISTAKE NUMBER TWO: SEE ROOKIE MISTAKE NUMBER ONE. Norman Stadler would confirm this (the famous “too much glue” episode).

20x30-CHPE0502Deflating the front tyre is out of question. I cannot ride a bike with front and back tyre deflated: this would be suicide in fast curves and downhills. I am telling myself that friction will cease once the “excess” rubber will be rubbed of the tyre (which happened in the second hour of the bike race).

KM30: Confusion between traffic, police & volunteers. All agitating arms. Me and 2 other cyclistS take a right turn, right into the party city of Magaluff. Once in traffic, we knew FOR SURE we had taken a wrong turn and lost a few precious minutes. Not a great bike leg so far… (especially when I took a wrong turn again at km 65 after a police man indicated to the athlete in front of me to take a deviation, I followed him but it turned out the cyclist was not a competitor and diligently taken out of the race road….)

ROOKIE MISTAKE NUMBER THREE: GO FOR A RECO RIDE PRIOR TO RACE DAY.

20x30-CHPD2166The worst mistake comes at km 50, just after the second long climb when I was sure to have taken 3 bottles at the aid station: 1 water, 1 coke and 1 iso-drink. I shower myself with the water, throw the bottle away, want to grab the iso bottle in the back, fumble for a few seconds, look back… the bottle cage is empty!!!! and the coke bottle in the front has max 2.5dl. … this is what I would have for the next 25km… a huge rookie mistake that nearly costed my to bonk completely on the run afterwards (I bonked but not completely)

ROOKE MISTAKE NUMBER FOUR: FOCUS ON YOUR NUTRITION PLAN.

The last mistake…and it starts to be embarrassing, is related to the tail of my aero helmet. It can be opened for better airflow in the heat or closed to retain warmth when cold. Guess what? yes, indeed the lid under the tail of the helmet was closed. My aero helmet had also become a pressure cooker.

ROOKE MISTAKE NUMBER FIVE: SEE ROOKIE MISTAKE NUMBER ONE.

Having said all that, I was still very happy with my bike fitness on this 860m elevation course. Most inclines were not more than 3% so it was like riding in the wind. Total distance on my Garmin Edge 90.2km in 2:44 against a planned time of 2:35. So I was now 11 minutes behind my time plan + 3 minutes due to long transition time. Goal time was now out of the window. BUT glad also that no major technical issues happened, it could have gone horribly wrong with that rubbing front tire and a deflated back tire in descends.

Again 600m of transition before starting a long, long half-marathon

The course was not only 22km long it also was very hot AND it had 250m elevation! What a hard course for everyone. The stupid mistake with the closed aero helmet had as consequence that I overheated and I now looked like an overcooked lobster. (A supporting friend said he had never seen me glowing like that…) I did not have much in the tank, cramped, etc..but got it through and was very happy to finish this EU-Championship as an official Swiss Age Grouper. I passed Nicki, my racing buddy for this ETU on the 3rd loop of the race and she was having a ball. We chatted for a bit, I was then sure she was going to have a great finish and although I was tempted to slow down and talk for a bit more I pushed myself back in that 5-ish min/km shuffle of mine. There was nothing more I could do. I finished with my worst half-marathon time ever in 1:49 (- but believe it or not it was the 16th fastest run split in my age group, crazy!!!). I ended overall 22nd out of 57 in my Age Group. 183rd  out of 880 overall (+ 100 who did not finish on that day! obviously I was not the only one with issues). 20x30-CHPG0835

I had never raced with such a density of good athletes!!! Many racked bikes of had a World Championship- Kona-Hawaii sticker on, or Mt-Tremblant (half distance world championship) bottles, bags etc…so happy to have been part of it all. Challenge organised a great race and this whole Championship in this small town with the heat felt like a”Mini-Kona”.

I take away many learnings and as a total fan of Challenge races. But the biggest learning for me is finally understanding what Chris McCormack  had said in an interview last year in Challenge Roth, Germany. He said “as many Age Groupers are not racing for the podium the only thing that counts for them is to beat their PR. They are therefore entering flat, fast courses and shy away from the challenges triathlon offers. Ironman-WTC has recognised this and is planning more and more standard flat races across the world. As an ambassador of Challenge and course advisor I hope we can avoid to do the same as Ironman”. In my case, I felt so happy and proud of myself despite my 2nd worst time at the half distance in 8 races. I found it very rewarding to cross the finishline. This is what triathlon is about, get to the finish line, no matter what. Loved it here and hope to be back in the coming years.20x30-CHPF0341

Cheers everyone and go race.
You can find the full results here
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In December 1997, I wrote from Gulu, Uganda (while I was still working for the International Committee of the Red Cross)  to a friend, that we should take a year off  in 1998, buy an RV and cross the USofA and Canada while training for triathlon. In the end, it did not happen. I left alone for a year in South East Asia and he joined me for a month in Bali. 13 years later: Another Dream Comes True. I am riding a time trial down the US255 direction the Great Sand Dunes Nat. Park in Colorado and Isabel is driving ahead with the RV!

This cruise with the RV is the last episode of our trip around the world. It takes us from Denver, CO  to Vancouver BC, via New Mexico, Arizona, South Utah, Wyoming, Montana & Washington.

We are all excited and fear this episode with the RV. On one hand it gives us unmatched flexibility and children have always the same home where ever we are. On the other hand, although we have rented a 10 meter long rig with slide-out, it still is nothing more than a sophisticated shoebox.

After 10 days riding this monster, we have learned the following: RVing is a great way to understand what we, as a family, consume daily in terms of Propane for heating, Gas for cooking & Driving and Water for Washing (all kind) and Dumping (all kind). RVing is a great way to build a hands-on knowledge of sewage and waste management. (A small note here on waste management; there is one thing you do not want: a leaking sewage hose…Well, I have now that one sorted). RVing is also a great way to keep things tidy at their right place. RVing is therefore great, right? Well, it is great as long as all those things do not start to go on your nerves.

Our first joint crisis comes after 8 days. Shoebox Fever! Very, very luckily we make contact at the same time with a wonderful French-European-American family in Taos. Their boundless hospitality and generosity gives us a unique opportunity to breathe outside the RV and discover the “Not-For-Tourists-Taos”.

So far so good. we have now crossed the cold, snowy but utterly beautiful Colorado and its famous Rockies and are relaxing in “springful” Taos, New Mexico. So far, so good…

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We spent the first 2.5 weeks in a vacation rental at the end of the road on the North Shores of Kauai: Wainiha. It rained 18 out of 19 days. I will therefore not spent too much effort describing the toilet-bowl-with-continuous-flushing in which we lived.

Fortunately, we had booked a pavilion on a farm in the community of Anahola, a large indigenous homestead. We immediately liked it. The back is “protected” (in the Feng Shui lingo 🙂 by a nice row of exotic fruit trees (lemon, grapefruit). There is a large well-maintained open garden in the front with two giant palm trees. Further away the ocean. The house itself is a traditional but artsy Hawaiian home. The kitchen is well designed and we feel immediately like doing some creative cooking. The vibes of the living room are very good and calming.

There are many things to see on Kaua’i but we felt so well that we often prefer to spend the day at home. One of the favorite morning activities is to go pick some ripe juicy pink grapefruit and do about 2 liters of juice for breakfast.Another activity is to go in the garden and play with the hose. Manon and Zoé often spend the morning with Ramona (our new travel companion, new post coming up) doing handcrafts. They also put their running shoes on a go for a short jog with me around the property. But the biggest highlight is preparing and celebrating Easter!

Instead of going out, we invite sometime a friends of ours for a good dinner and some late night chat in the living room.

And there is Sissy, the owner’s dog. A very affectionate sheep dog that would play with kids and come to me regularly to check, if I have some left overs to give.

We spend 3 weeks in the quiet haven and it is very difficult to leave it behind us. Here some impressions of our stay there. I highly recommend this place for every one who wants to get away from the commercial side of Hawaii and its vacation condos.

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We land on Kaua’i On March 3rd and drive to Hanalei, our place of residence for the coming 5 weeks. We knew we could get some rain on the “Green Isle” but we did not that we would be getting downpours 18 out of the first 19 days. Least to say that it lowered slightly the fun level. We actually became downright cranky.  The two things that gave us joy was a great yoga centre and the opportunity to get better at surfing. At first Isa and I thought we really were too old for that sport.  But when the only thing you can actually do outside without getting bothered by the rain is surfing then you start just doing that. And that’s what we did. We were wise enough to take at first lessons with an instructor. The attempts to learn by ourselves in Australia were frustrating enough not to make the same mistake twice.

Hanalei Bay is known as being one of the 10 most beautiful beach in the world. That did not strike home during the first two weeks as we could actually barely see the Bay due to low clouds and yes…you guessed it….rain. This beautiful beach is not only shaped into a perfect circle, it also provides very regular waves of all sizes. You therefore meet local stars as well as professionals next to first timers. Surfing is the life in Hanalei and we soon got the hang of it. The person that left us all in awe though was Manon. Courageous enough to go out with Chris, the Instructor and standing alone on the board after only a few attempts. A few days later, Zoe accepted to be lifted on a long board too, but stayed on her belly while riding gentle waves. After Isa and I had emptied the battery of the Nikon taking pictures of our little loved ones on the board, we also went in turn and could soon celebrate some success.

It is now the 4th week of our stay in Kauai and we now love this beach above all others around the island. When the sunshine, it is the most incredible beach we have ever seen. It will be, yet again, difficult to leave this place for a new destination.

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The only reason we left Wanaka and New Zealand was the planned family reunion on February 17th on the Big Island in Hawaii. We had planned this in August last year already! 2 weeks of vacation with Isa’s sister and her family as the only fixed point during our year around the world. It took us 3 days to get the from the South of New Zealand. No need to mention that M. & Z. were quite disoriented, confused and cranky for the first few days.

The Big Island is something like Lanzarote at first sight, just bigger. But after a while one discovers that it has  multiple climate zone and that it encapsulates all climate and geographies of an entire continent. Deep waters, high mountains, green pasture with huge ranches, lava fields, lush sub-tropical forest, lush English rainy regions, etc…

The best for me was of course to be on THE triathlon Island, the place where the Ironman World championship takes place every year. Not necessary to mention that I assembled my TT-bike on the first day to hit the mythical Queen K. already on the second day! What a feeling to ride on this highway where all the best triathletes in the world have sweated their guts out.  I feel very motivated, all the more that I will be competing in the Lavaman Triathlon on March 28th on the very same road. It will be my first race since May 2009.

Apart from Training and Sightseeing, we spend most of the time at the pools of the vacation resort. It is the best family friendly pools I have seen, with small beaches for kids, 4 different water slides for kids and adults, hot pools, pools with Dolphins, protect natural lagoon, etc, etc… amazing. Perfect to spend 2 weeks with the family with 4 young children. The other great thing at the resort is the BBQ place. We have already used it a couple of times to sear delicious american steaks and others treats. Will I lose any weight during this period? I think I have trained 12 hours this week and increased my belly buoy by an inch!

Anyway, that’s part of family meets. You talk, you eat you drink and you start all over again….and you celebrate birthdays! That’s right we took advantage of this reunion to anticipate Zoé’s 3rd birthday…but that is a different story.

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As it was rather difficult to gather a big party to celebrate my anniversary, my wish was to go to a place so uncommon I would remember it for the rest of my life. So we packed our 7 things and left Wanaka for Glenorchy (50km from Queenstown), but not after having had a little birthday ceremony that included a wicked chocolate cake, a birthday salad 🙂 and the unwrapping of lovely gifts (including a beautiful butterfly kite that I of course lost in the trees some days later). The beauty of the trip was exactly the opposite to the horrible mood our 2 adored terrorists displayed in the car. I cannot remember taking a more scenic road.

Once arrived to Glenorchy, we bought some bubbly drink, found some peach nectar and had a few Bellini’s together with Heidi, the tenant of a souvenir shop. We discussed with her the art of surviving parenthood as well as the best place to spend the night in the area. Kinloch Lodge, at the tip of Lake Wakatipu. That’s where we should spend the night. 40min of dirt road later, we arrive to this 19th century lodge. Friendly staff helps us pre-order dinner and we are just in time to drink another glass of Red Wine with the sun setting on the opposite side of the Lake. The meal is very, very good. More than anything we expected.

The next day, we cross the lake back to Glenorchy and had a 2 hours beautiful walk before heading home via Queenstown, where we stop for a while to enjoy the trendy beach and cold clear water of the Lake Wakapitu.

Rating for Kinlock Lodge:

Value: ***

Location: ****

Food: ****

Athmosphere : *****

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We have chosen to give to our kids some sort of education in each country were we stayed. In Leukerbad we sent them to the Kindergarten at the Villa Champignon, in Bali to the Holistic Bilingual “Pelangi” school. In Australia we sent them to intensive swimming school at the Noosa Aquatic Centre. Manon went to the Flying Fish class and Zoé to the Goldfish class. The instructors were just great, singing, having fun, playing with plastic Doris and Nemos and teaching the kids the basics of swimming. They never focused on technique, just on movements in the water that would give them a fighting chance against drowning. It is not an exaggeration to say that the last 3 weeks, our kids spent 2-4 hours playing in the water every day. They love the water, they feel confident in it, I cannot imagine bringing them back to a place where they cannot go in the water whenever they want. I can also hardly imagine now an activity more suited for the development of the child than swimming. I knew that I loved to swim as a kid, but I discover now as a parent how important that element is to my children. Both Manon & Zoe can pick up objects that are 1m underwater. Zoé can stay about 10 second underwater. I hear in the background: are you pushing them to become swimmers? No, I just enjoy see them play and learn to dive, to float, to go underwater and I want to give them access to water, always.

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