Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Hawaii’

Young Bull and the Old Bull

“De 15 van Wassenaar” was my last preparation race before the ITU Half-Distance European Championship in Peguera – Mallorca (Oct 18th, 2014). As the name suggests it is a 15km run, the only running race organized in our town. I had done a rather mad workout 3 days before (14x1000m with 90 sec intervals) and my legs were telling me that racing on Sunday was not the idea of the Century. Fast forward. 15:15 on Sunday, perfect weather conditions, 320 athletes lining up and booom! I had posted myself in the first block (ETA 1:00 – 1:10) and start in the first group of 15 athletes.

I assess the field and quickly put my “Macca” hat on (see previous post). I spot a fast looking guy (I will call him “El Greko”) and ask him what is his expected time. He tells me “1 hour”. I answer “hmmm…”. Shortly after this, 4 runners take off at a 3:40 pace. I let them go as I know I could not hold at this pace for 15km. My pace is nonetheless around 3:50 to make sure I do not lose eyesight. El Greko is also clearly pacing himself and backs off. I am staying behind him in 6th position.

3rd Km of the run in 6h position

KM3: the distance between the first 4 stabilizes to 25 seconds.

KM4: 2 of the 4 are starting to struggle and loose contact with the lead. 1st internal maniacal laugh.

Km5, El Greko slows down slightly and I overtake but he stays on my heels, soon after we both overtake the struggling runners paying a high price for overpacing so early. So I am now in 3rd after 5km!!! not bad at all for the oldest runner in the leading group with shot legs. My HR tells me I could catch, but I do not need to as we are now gaining 1-2 seconds every 300m or so.

KM6: what’s that? a new runner comes from the back and starts running by my side. He is clearly panting from the catch-up effort. I take a deep breath and speak to him in a calm matter of fact way: “we will have caught up on the lead in 3 km…”. 2nd internal maniacal laugh.

Km7: the young runner that had caught up falls back. El Greko overtakes him as well but is not keeping up with me anymore. I am now chasing the first 2 runners alone.

Km9: As predicted, without increasing the pace, or just slightly, I am on the heels of a tall, slim runner in his mid-20’s and another runner in his forties. The older runner is just hanging in there by a thread.

Km10: I therefore force the pace and go for the first time “in the red” just to see what will happen, the older runner (or should I say my peer as I was probably as old) loses contact. It is the beginning of the end for him (he will end up in 5th or 6th place).

Taking the lead ater 10km

I am in the lead!!!!

Km11: The young runner stays on my heels…hm…smart…so I slow down a bit. He seems happy about this and run alongside.

 

Km12: Mother Trucker! the young buck takes off like a bullet!!! I feel tricked, getting a taste of my own medicine. Was he running so easy? I try to follow him, my watch says 3:30…no way I can hold this, so I back off and go back to a 3:50 pace. I lose quickly 30 meters on him. At the same time, I decide that the guy was bluffing. Not only was the gap not growing but I also felt that he would have taken off much earlier, if it had been so easy for him. And then a small miracle, a female supporter on the side of the street shouts to me in English: “CATCH HIM”. She is right!

12th km of the run, the young buck accelerates and passes

Km13: I catch him! and my mind projects immediately pictures of Andy Raelert catching up on Chris McCormack at the end of the marathon of the Ironman 2009 in Hawaii. Andy does not  make the pass… in the end he loses in the last mile.

Image

I will not make the same mistake and plough on accelerating for the final 2 KM.

KM15: I run the last one in 3:45, looking back, making sure he is not making a last surge on the final meters. No, he is 80 meters behind. The final straight line, my friends are here, both daughters are here completely surprised to see me just behind the lead motor bike announcing the first runner in the finish chute. I relax in the last meters, soak it all in, smile and get my first win at a running race. Time: 1:00:12. It is a small local race, but a race nonetheless. After the finish line I turn around, wave and clap to the (huge) crowd (of 250) totally happy. A few minutes later I am on the podium with my daughter and a crown on top of my head like they do for the winners in Hawaii… A good omen?

PodiumA few minutes later…my wife crosses the finish line exhausted but with a huge smile. The kids are filled with pride and happiness. What more can I wish for? Life is sweet.

On the podium my wife!
2 hours and a few Grimbergen beers later. The prize ceremony. Daddy gets the trophy and is handed the mike by the super friendly organiser Bernard Menken …oops, what should I say. I have immediately pictures of Roger Federer always polite thanking the great crowd and the ball boys so I try to do the same: “Thank you to the organisers, the volunteers, great race, etc…” but in the end, I cannot help it “..and you…young runners….train harder”.

Prize Ceremony

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

I waited (and trained) for that day since December 20th, day of my registration for the Lavaman. This triathlon is the second biggest tri event on the Big Island after the Ironman World championship. It is an Olympic distance and happens every year at the end of March. Chris McCormack describes it as follows in his last entry of his blog (April 2nd) “It is a tough, windy bike course and a super hot and difficult run. The entire bike course takes in the most difficult section of the bike course at the Ironman World Championships, and the run is mostly off road and through the thick Lava flows. It really reminds me of some of the early races I did in my career, when these ingredients seemed to be a prerequisite of a triathlon” . 1020 athletes coming mostly from Hawaii and the West Coast of Canada and the USA were gathered for this event. Chris McCormack, 2 times IM world champion was also at the starting line. The race starts at the Waikoloa Beach Resort onthe west coast and the bike course is a segment of the World Championship on the famous Queen K. Highway.

This race was for me the big test whether I had trained enough and done enough rehabilitation after the accident on June 8th the previous year. It would tell me, whether I was ready to train for longer distance and be able to be on the starting line of the Ironman of Frankfurt later this year.

I thought the race would be hard, but it turned out that it was getting there that cost me most energy. My family and I are currently staying on Kauai and I had to take 2 planes (via Honolulu) to get there. The first plane had 4 hours delay, the second was cancelled and the company had lost my reservation…In the end, I just made it in time to retrieve my starting packet, to put my bike together and to test it before sunset. I nonetheless could go early to bed and have a surprisingly good night sleep.

I wake up at 5:00 AM and take a short breakfast in bed. The weirdest thing after taking a shower is to put sunscreen when it is still pitch dark outside. I do that nonetheless, because I know that today’s forecast is 30 degrees, low wind and 86% humidity. I get out of my hotel room, the sun greets me and I take a picture of it in return. Coming to the transition zone, most of the athletes are already there… loud house music is blaring through big loudspeakers and a commentator repeats with eagerness the do’s and dont’s of the day. I get myself ready in the transition zone, get body marked with the No480 and walk slowly to the start at the A-Bay, a beautiful little cove. I enter the water at 07:10 and swim 4o0m to warm-up the shoulders. At 7:36 I start in the 3rd waves (that are Male Athletes 40 and Oooolder). I don’t pace myself. Feeling strong I aggressively make my way to the front of the pack. The real good swimmers are ahead and I can keep a good pace (around 15:30 per km) for the entire 1500 with the pack. I exit the water after 23:20′ and make a 300m dash to the transition zone. The enter of T1 comes at 15:24. I exit 1:31 later to start the bike. At this time, my position is in the  first 75 or 80 athletes. The bike leg starts very well with a 37kmh for the first 8km and suddenly the wind changes. Everyone gets it strong in the face for the next 12km. The average speed drops to less than 32kmh and legs are sore. The mid-point turn comes at the right moment. From then on, it is tail wind and I finish the bike leg in 1 hour 11 minutes, which is above 34kmh avg. I run through transition very fast. So fast that I forget my helmet and have to return to deposit it next to the bike. In the end it is 1:41 in T2. The first 500m run go well and suddenly stomach cramps are coming. Strong ones. I immediately know that it comes from a new sports drink I had during the bike. I work through these cramps for the next 3km. It is hot, I cannot breathe regularly. I am smiling thinking that my knee would hurt, but no, it is my stomach that slows me down. I finally find my rhythm after 5k and start running at a 4:45 pace between km 6 and 8.5. The last mile: it is not hard surface but all lava stones and broken corals. Worse, the last 400m are in soft sand but at this point I see the 2 athletes in front of me pick up the pace and I decide to hang on, which I can and do until the finish line. 20 meters before the finish line, I raise my arms, fist closed, throat thightened. It is a great liberating moment. At this point the total time does not matter anymore. It is the knowledge that my knee held the shock of the race, it is the knowledge that I can race again, that my sports days are not over. I do the run in 50:12′.

Time overall is 2:30’10”. Position 122 out of 1020. Chris McCormack wins the race for the 2nd consecutive year.

The Lavaman triathlon is the best organised and most scenic tri-event I have done. Compare to Europe, I found many athletes very relaxed ready to enjoy the race. The quota of female athletes was incredible, something I have never seen in Europe. All in all, this triathlon is maybe not worth the trip from Europe, but it is a must do, if you are around in March in Hawaii.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

Our trip round the world 2009-2010

Our trip round the world 2009-2010

We are leaving behind Vienna next Monday, the 24th of August…for good. One more week of stress. The movers are coming on Wednesday to pack around 60 cubic meters of material and transport it to our temporary home base in the French Jura. We have been very busy planning and preparing our next moves as a family on a sabbatical. The plan stands now, the tickets are paid, alea jacta est.  And our first station will be Leukerbad, a village in the Swiss mountains (Wallis) well known for its thermal baths. We will spend the entire month of September there mainly for rehabilitation purposes. I hope by the end of the month to be able to walk normally and even ride my bike again!

The real adventure starts on September 26th though! We travel back to Geneva and take the plane to our first Asian destination: HONG KONG! 2 weeks during which Isa will improve her Wing Chun skills with a local master, Manon et Zoe will discover Disneyland and I will be swallowing Dim Sums 24/7.

The next leg of our trip, planned on the 11th of October, is BALI & LOMBOK Islands where we will spend 2 months. I can’t wait to see again the rice paddies, the temples, the beaches and the Balinese. I can’t wait to eat every day Nasi Goreng with a Bintang Beer either!

We will leave Indonesia for SINGAPORE on December 10th. We will stay there only a few days, mainly to replenish our bags: SHOPPING BONANZA!!!

From SINGAPORE we fly to the Oceanian Continent; first Brisbane and Sunshine Beach before moving on to Wellington, the Malborough Sounds and the South Island of NEW ZEALAND.

The next leg and one of the most exiting one is HAWAII! from February 16th to March 25th we will discover the Big Island and Kauai. The best about it is that we will do this with Isa’s sister and her family who will fly from Maryland to see us for 2-3 weeks! I am also looking forward to this destination, as I hope to be competing in my first triathlon after a year of pause due to this knee injury. There are triathlons organised nearly evey week there!

We will then fly to Denver where an RV should be waiting for us. We will pack everything inside and discover the national parks, (at least) Zion, Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountains, Yellowstone and Glacier. We don’t know yet, if we will travel through Canada or not, it will depend on our mood. Destination is Maryland, Chesapeake Bay, Before flying some times in June back to Zurich.

Three, two, one…

Read Full Post »