Sunday, December 18, 2011

"E118" or "Shiv S-Works" for 2012?

Some of you may have read my post where I mentioned I was getting a Planet X for my next bike. Well, I changed my mind and I will start building my new bike from one of these two frames. Please leave me your comments with your preference and the reason behind it.  I have done plenty of research but am really torn between these and as of today I do not know which frame I will buy.  Please comment and "give me the light"!

ARGON 18 E118


Decisions, decisions....

Saturday, December 17, 2011

So many news!!

Well, where do I start? It definitely has been a while since I last blogged about my training and my goal to become an Ironman, but many things have taken my attention off training and I will use a few lines to go through them quickly.

  1. First and most importantly, my wife is expecting our third baby! Yeayyyy!!! I really am over the moon with this, specially as it was not least I was not expecting it! Thats right, it was a surprise to me, but all planned by my wife! I had been begging her for a third baby for over a year but she has been completely ignoring me or even completely shutting me down whenever we talk about it. Anyway, without going into many details, she stopped birth control back in May and we have been trying since then without me knowing! As I was away on a business trip I get an email from my wife with a photo of the pregnancy test and a lovely message congratulating me. It was the best present EVER.
  2. Second, my business partner and I finally completed the MBO and we are now majority shareholders of our business.  We had the backing of a private equity firm and we are now in full control of the company.  This is a great feeling of accomplishment... now we just gotta work harder and make money! :)
  3. And last but not least, my wife and I decided to move to......Cape Town, South Africa! Thats right we area heading down to Africa, the mother land!  This decision came about for two reasons really. First, it makes sense for me professionally to be closer to my clients, and secondly, it will provide better quality of life for my family.

My first half Ironman distance race - Registration Complete

Now back to my training and triathlon! I have signed up for my first half Ironman as you can see on the race schedule on the right hand side of the blog.  It will hopefully be racing the Half Challenge Barcelona in May.  I say hopefully since you never know if you will get to the date in good enough health and injury free to compete.  I picked Barcelona as it is the hometown of my wife and we have many friends and family who, hopefully, will turn up to support me!

My first Ironman distance race - Options Open
Ok, so my options are open and I'm really not sure where to do it! I am planning on moving to Cape Town in October/November 2012 so the race has to be before then, and it must be in Europe for ease of access and affordability.  My options are: 
Everyone I talk to sys I need to go to Zurich, but there are a few issues with that. First, my wife will have recently arrived from giving birth in Spain one month prior and she is not to keen on travelling again with the baby. I may be able to sell it to her if I say we can do a road trip there. But also, a key factor to consider are the costs. Whether I fly or drive there it wil be at least £1000 in flights for 5, then accomodation, then meals, sighteeing, bla bla bla! It will easily pass the £2000 and Im not too keen on spending that much on a race.

Option 2, IMUK is up in Bolton.  Not the most attractive place to visit but hey.. it is an IM race! I think my wife would accept this one easier than the previous option, but again, Bolton is not the most attractive place to visit and the atmosphere is nothing like Zurich would potentially be. This one is still an option but it's really option 3 Im seriously considering now.

Option 3, Challenge Henley, is an hour's drive from where I live and it will cost me the fuel, family meals for one day, and thats about it! It is supposed to be a lovely place to spend a few days with the family so this would go down well with my wife and the kids. It would be great to start with an IM sanctioned race but hey, its the distance that matters, isn't it? Plus, I can always do IM South Africa in April the following year since I'll be living there (hopefully).

Buff... that was a lot of news! Anyway, now that I'm back in training mode I will endeavour to blog more often and hopefully will be stopping by your blogs to comment as well. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

21 Km Run / 5:06 pace

I know it has been a long time since I last wrote on my blog but it has been very hectic at work and I have just not had the energy to train, let alone to come here and write about my lack of training.  I did 15Km on Monday an that was it this week...nothing more.  This run felt great though. It was a good run at a good pace. Hope to be here more often.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Week Off - Family Vacation Photos

This week was off from training, or at least partially off! We went on a cruise with the NCL Epic ship from Barcelona to various ports in the Mediterranean and we absolutely loved it.  It was partially off because my wife and I squeezed in 5 workout session on the ship's amazing gym in order to not get too rusty by the time we'd get back to the UK to our normal schedule.  Here are some photos and a video:

My wife finishing a workout at the gym on the cruise

Boarding the NCL EPIC cruise
This was on our way to Soller in the island of Mallorca

Playing in the ship's pool with my oldest daughter
My wife and I ready for dinner

The Vieira family in Florence, Italy

Sitting in Ponte Vecchio, Florence

After dinner, we hit the dancefloor

The three ladies in my life...Alexia, Sonia and Sofia :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Race Report - 220 Triathlon Evening Series

Sprint Triathlon - 750 Swim, 20Km Bike, 5Km Run

Today I had my last triathlon before the week off with my wife and daughter on the cruise.  It was an afternoon triathlon and it was great in the sense that the sun was not on our face the whole way.  On a negative note, the cross winds were massive on the bike leg and it really slowed everyone down.  

It was a small event so not much to say really.  I took it as a practice session and I ended up getting a PB, wooo hooo!! Hurray! Nothing to brag about, but hey, a minute is a minute!

As soon as I arrived I registered and entered the transition area to rack my bike. I got there at 5:45pm and had no time to take proper photos of the event, so apologies for the lack of visual content. As I enter the transition area I set up my bike and I see the first wave go to the Swim Entry area.  It was a small wave so I was expecting mine to be the same (about 80 people or so).  And so it was, my wave was about the same number of people and I was happy as that meant not too many punches on the massive swim start.
Transition was small compared with other events.
We get to the edge of the water to get our briefing and off we go to the start.  There were a few brave souls with no wet suit and one guy even swam with no wet suit and no goggles! Anyway, My swim, as always, was the slowest of all three and where I got the worst overall and age group result.


Transition was crap, but at least I was under the 3:00 mark.  It was a short run from the swim to the transition area.


The bike leg was a bit tougher than I had expected, but I suppose my legs were still a bit tired from the 105Km from a few days ago.  Nevertheless, I went for it hard right out of T1 and was going to push it all the way, or at least my legs failed me.  Happily they didn't and I was able to push hard.  Like I said at the start, cross winds were tough to battle with but luckily I am now getting really low on my aero bars which made my life much easier.  I must have passed about 20 people and only got passed by 4 guys with pretty cool bikes.  The cherry on the top for the bike leg was me passing a guy with an Argon18 bike and another one with a Specialized Expert, one of my two options for my next bike (along with the Planet X Exocet). Soon the bike leg was over and it was time for T2.


T2 was smooth and quick. Best T2 time ever.


The run was a two lap out and back course along the lake.  I had a bit of cramping on my left calf but I shook it off before too long.  I only got passed by a guy wearing full Ironman gear so I was not too upset about that (I assumed he had done a few Ironmans).

I must have passed about 10 people and soon it was over.


Now im going to take some time off and go on a cruise with my wife and daughters.  Im sure there will be some running and riding on the ship, but I will do my best to spend more time in the pool than in the gym.

Here are some standings compared to my age group and to the whole pool or participants.

LEG             TIME                MALE AGE GROUP                 OVERALL
Swim           18m:00s                      18/34                                      140/202
Bike             36m:38s                      15/34                                       74/202
Run              22m:12s                      15/34                                      61/202

Saturday, August 20, 2011

105Kms Ride - Redhill, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge, East Grinstead, Crawley, Redhill

Hell of a ride today.  It really was 105Kms but I stopped my forerunner watch after stopping for some more drinks, but either way, it was my longest ride ever.
I woke up at about 8ish and had a bit of breakfast as I knew it was going to be a loooong ride.  Tights on, helmet on and off went. It was a hilly ride but I already made my mind up on not training on flat courses anymore.  

Not much to say here really other than it was a great ride.  I stopped three times to get more Lucozade.  Getting to Crawley my aerobars came loose as I was holding them and I lost control of the bike so I fell to the grass on my side at about 40Km/h.  Nothing broken and no blood... just a loose aerobar on my hand.

Good thing I had my tool kit under the saddle and I was quickly able to get it on.  I had about 20Kms to go to get home. Last ride before my next race.

I tried a a new  iPhone App for my phone today and I loved it.  Cyclemeter gives you plenty of details about your ride and automatically synchs with various social media accounts.  Not only that, but it talks your friends comments while you are riding. Pretty cool!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Great Sunday Ride - 72Kms

Great ride today. I took the day off yesterday as I was not feeling too well and really just wanted to stay home and do a bit of washing up and cleaning.  Today I had two options, I could do the fartlek run (today's workout) or do the long 2h:45m ride (yesterday's workout).  I decided to do the long ride early, and hopefully I will be able to do the fartlek run later on today.  Now it's time for a nice bowl of pasta for lunch!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

London Triathlon '11 - Race Report

What an amazing event this was. Let's forget about my results and experience for a moment so I can tell you a bit about the event itself in order for you to visualize it for a second.

There were about 14,000 participants, that means 14,000 participants AND bikes at Transition.

If each of these participants brought along an average of 2 supporters that means 28,000 supporters throughout the course.  The Management and organization of this event was 5 stars and I am sure each and every one of my fellow participants will agree with me.  The Expo area was superb with great stores having large stands, tempting each and every one of us to pull out those credit cards and... damn it, I pulled mine out!

Congratulations to Challenge World and Sir Richard Branson's team.


I arrived at the Excel Exhibition Center with plenty of time to spare since the bike had already been racked already racked the day before.  I then spent a bit of time wondering around the Expo and watching some of the previous waves.  I couldn't believe it when I heard the briefing on one of the waves and the race coordinator said that particular wave had 365 participants! That was just mad! I was starting to get a bit scared of the swim just hearing what that guy was saying, so I thought I better get on with my warming up!

Massive wave of leaving before ours.

I headed out to transition and IT WAS PACKED! There was barely any space for me to squeeze in my towel and shoes, but transition always leads to good conversation with your fellow "neighbours" so thats what we all did...we chatted about the course, wind conditions and temperature.  Soon enough a marshal came around ushering us to the Swim Assembly where, this time, the race coordinator told our wave we were 404 participants. I have been in triathlons that dont have that many people in the whole event, let alone in one wave!!  Anyway, After a couple of GI Joe and Spartacus type yells led by the coordinator, we get our endorphins and adrenaline levels up and head out to the water in two internal waves as we were too many to leave at the same time.  We get in the water and the quicker swimmers go ahead on the first of our waves, and I stand behind to go on the second one. My plan was to not run out of breath too quick so I was planning on stopping for a 20 second breather every 40 strokes or so. 

Over 14,000 bikes in Transition

The horn goes off and off we go.  I was expecting lots of slaps, kicks and elbows as with every mass start, but I was pleasantly surprised with the low number of hits I got (and gave).  I was feeling really good during the swim and just kept on going without feeling the need to stop for a breather.  I really  surprised myself as I only stopped three times and they were all because I was either climbing over someone (not literally, come on!) or because I could feel someone on my legs.  I seriously could not believe it as I stopped counting strokes when I got to over 350 without stopping for some air.  This may not be anything special for most triathletes, but swimming is my weakest discipline and I was really overwhelmed with my performance. It must have been the adrenaline.

Swim exit, struggling to get the wetsuit off
On a negative side, well, VERY negative side, my wedding band got knocked off my finger during the mayhem of the very first strokes.  Not only that, but my lucky bracelet which my oldest daughter Sofia made for me at school also got knocked off my wrist :( I have a lot of sucking up to do for this...and my wife will also need an explanation :(

Official Swim Time: 37m:00s

I get up the ramp as quick as I could, got some help form one of the marshals on getting my wetsuit off and got up to transition as quick as I could, but not quick enough :(

Official T1 Time: 05m:36s

I hit the bike and I knew I was gonna see many TT bikes go by me, but I was not going to let that ruin my day.  It was supposed to be a nice and flat course, or pretty flat at least I had been told.  And so it was, but there were a couple of rolling hills into and out of some London tunnels and the uphills made me slow down. I won't complain too much about this as I am a victim of my own mistakes since I train mostly on flat courses around my house in Surrey, but not anymore! I vow to no longer train on pancake courses, and, instead, I will hit the lovely Surrey hills to get these old legs into better shape. This was the first race I did using the aero bars, even though I have had them for over a year. Yeah, I know...don't ask! I suppose it took me this long to feel confident enough to fully hit the road with them.

My legs felt OK for most of the bike course but I really did feel them on the few hills out of the tunnels.  Also, to make things worst, I ran out of my drinks (2 bottles) at during my bike leg so I suppose I wanted to save myself before my body started dehydrating over the ride.

Official Bike Tike: 1h:06m:48s

T2 was quick and smooth. Got the gels down my throat, shoes off, shoes on and hit the road.

Official T2 Time: 02m:23s

As I hit the road for the 10km I felt good and my legs were reacting appropriately.  I must say, ever since I got the compression guards I have not had cramps once, so Im not sure if thats just my form improving or these 2XU calf guards are really this good.  Check them out if you can.

The run course was absolutely crowded which, if anything, was the only negative point about the event. It was really hard to pass people and, at time, even dangerous to do so. Nonetheless, as I mentioned in the initial paragraph, the atmosphere was second to none! Thousands of people made the course really easy to go through and marshals and volunteers were great with all their support throughout.

The first two laps were easy enough but my legs started complaining towards the middle of the third lap. With all the people on the course it was even hard concentrating on any particular runner as a target to chase and catch.  I was passed by an age grouper with the GB kit on and I wanted to just stay with him for as long as possible, but that only lasted half a lap.  The fourth and final lap was the toughest one but I was able to keep it together to the end.

This picture realy captures the sheer number of participants on the course
As soon as I had the Excel center in sight I tried to speed up and pass a few more people before I entered the hall.  As soon as I entered I got a bit of a rush and sprinted all the way to the finish line. I was dead tired but the rush held me up, and the ice the marshals handed out at the finish line was great, believe me.

My time was 2h:39m:31s


OVERALL:   570/1397    MALE AGE GROUP OPEN   - TOP 40%
SWIM :         1020/1397  MALE AGE GROUP OPEN   - BOTTOM  27%
BIKE :           626/1397    MALE AGE GROUP OPEN   - TOP 44%
RUN:            334/1397   MALE AGE GROUP OPEN   - TOP 24%

I will be back for more in 2012 :)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

London Triathlon Day 1

The London triathlon today started at the Excel Exhibition Center in London hosting 14,000 participants of all ages and levels.  I am competing on the Olympic Open category and my wave is tomorrow but I had to go and rack my bike on Transition today so I took some photos to share with you guys.  The atmosphere was unbelievable!! If you remember a few weeks ago I posted my Barcelona race report where I said it was the best event I have ever been to! Well, It just got surpassed by the London Triathlon.  Enjoy the photos and wish me luck as I race tomorrow! :)

There were of two of these sections for the thousands of participants
Maxifuel giving away free energy and recovery shakes

That's where I will be tomorrow after the race. Already booked it

That's me. My first race without my wife and daughters :(

It was absolutely packed throughout the day

This was the first guy out of the swim on one of the waves

One of the waves starting. Ever 10 minutes there was a new wave

Spectators providing a great atmosphere

Thursday, July 28, 2011

London Triathlon Motivation Videos

Browsing my typical triathlon sites and forums I came across these videos which I just had to share! 

Stan stays focused and motivated while on his bike.  Know no limits!

See Stan dive in head first to his swim training from the comfort of his own kitchen.

Stan gets all sugared up and caffeine crazy in the name of research.

lipping out of a wetsuit when you're up against the clock isn't an easy business. So when's best to shed the suit? Stan takes on the challenge to reveal the sporting truth.

I'm not sure I'm quite keen on following his training style but hey...whatever works for you! Good to you all at the London Triathlon or any other races you may be doing soon.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Race Report - Polar Series Barcelona

It took me a couple of days to get my last race report out so I figured I would get this one done while everything is still fresh on my mind, however, I must say I did not have 5 days in mind when I first started typing this report.  I have been waiting for the official photos to come out and the sorry company who covered the event was not able to categorize them by bib number! Really, really disappointing!

I must start by saying that this was probably my favourite event ever.  As you can imagine, just the sheer beauty of the city of Barcelona makes it tough to beat, and then bring on the atmosphere, great camaraderie and the excellent organisation, I would give this event a 9/10, just cuz I wanted more free stuff! :) Anyway, alarm goes off at 5:15 and I get up, re-check my race day checklist, load the car and I head off to the Olympic Port of Barcelona by myself as Sonia and the girls would turn up a bit later.

I got there at about 6am, with 15mins to spare till transition opens, and I decide to go for a quick ride along the coast to loosen up the muscles.  Shortly after, when I got back from my ride, the crowd was starting to gather at both the transition entrance and at the "wardrobe" station.

As I go towards the transition entrance they send me back because no backpacks are allowed in the transition zone! "Hold on.. you guys just gave me this bag at registration"! Anyway, I then realised what the "wardrobe" station was for so I headed there, took the essential out and put the rest away.  I sent a quick sms to Sonia to let her know what wave I was on and what colour my swimming cap was so she could spot me, or at least my wave! No pink cap this time...go greens! This was supposed to be a 750m Swim but they had to shorten it due to the strong currents and it ended up being a 650m swim. Some of us didn't mind it too much!

Once I set up in transition I head down to the beach and start my stretches and watch how the pros and the Elites go at it on the first wave! DAMN they are fast, I thought! These Spanish buggers can do two things really well: Swim and ride a bike!  As I am stretching I see my mother in law looking at the swimmers obviously looking for me so I head their way to get a bit of family love before I shit my pants on the mass start!  I get my love, photos taken, kiss from my chicks (wife and two daughters), and off I went.  I decided to get in the water and feel how cold it was before the actual start, and it was great and cristal clear.

Me and my oldest daughter Sofia who gave me a big good luck kiss before I took off.
My wave must have been at least 300 people, and it was a completely new experience for me. We were all lined up at the beach behind a few marshals and two poles with a tape across them.  As soon as the beach was crowded with our wave a few of the guys up front started chanting "Vamos, Joder... con dos huevos, venga, venga, venga" pumping everyone up and we all started clapping and cheering as well "Vamos, Vamos, vamos". Im telling you, the adrenaline could be felt in the air and we were ready to hit those waves.  "Bring it on" I heard an expat yelling and I was like "Oh shit...who said that" looking for the fellow English speaker with a green cap on., but amongst a crowd of 300 there was no way I could find him.
This is the only photo of me on the event site :(
A few more yells, the gun went off, and the stampede begun: run, jump in the water, punch, elbow, kick, knee, elbow, dunk, gulp (thats me swallowing water) etc, etc.  It was mayhem. Crazy, adrenaline stacked mayhem.  I must have swallowed 1L of water, no joke, with all the punches and elbows I got, but surprisingly enough, the first straight to the buoy was easier than I thought, and then shit happened!! What happens when 300 swimmers want to turn left at a single buoy? Traffic Jam and punch, elbow, kick, punch, elbow, dunk, gulp (thats me swallowing more water...again) etc, etc.  At the traffic jam we could hear spanish swearing and guys telling everyone to hurry the fuck up so we could move on towards the shore, which we eventually did. Typical Spanish, but I love it!! :)

I get off the water and I see my wife, my daughters and my in-laws waving and yelling my name! It was a great feeling which helped me go up the steep slope to T1. As we reach the top of the slope I hear a guy talking to me, in Spanish, and he asks me if I am Cuban.  I tell him no, Im from Angola, and he says "it doesn't matter, we are like brothers"!! WTF... Im trying to race here man!... I obviously didn't tell him that but thats what I thought! I smiled, wished him luck and got on my bike.
OFFICIAL T1 3m:57s

Me after the race as I was visiting the race expo
The bike leg was great as it was on the road parallel to the beach, on closed traffic! Ohh, the feeling of freedom on this particular road was great, specially on such a beautiful day with hundreds of bikes on this main road.  Fantastic.  The bike leg was a two lap loop and I must have passed about 100 people, no joke.  There were many mountain bikes, few TT bikes, and many regular road bikes so passing 100 bikes in really nothing to be too proud of.  I was passed by 2 guys at the beginning of lap one, and then by a group of about 8 people on the middle of lap 2. As I near the end of my bike leg, I see and hear my wife and daughters shouting my name close to transition.  Once again, I notice I had caught up to the Cuban guy and he yells out "HERMANO", which means brother in Spanish, and I was like "heyyy". This guys is gonna haunt me for the rest of the race, I thought!

Shoes off, gel swallowed, running shoes on, cap on, off I go!
OFFICIAL T2 Time 2m:32s

"Almost over, almost there" is what most up uf think at this point of the race, but again, the venue, the atmosphere, the people cheering made it so easy to just keep going. It was an absolute breeze to run these 5km and, really, not much to say here.  As I reach the last 100m you can hear the DJ yelling everyone's name and shouting out in Spanish motivating people to keep pushing for the last few meters.

I cross the line and, this time, I see Sonia, Alexia and Sofia! My princesses and my queen. Nothing better to finish off the race.

If you are reading this blog and ever considered doing a sprint race while on vacation in Spain, you have to do this one.  I know I keep repeating myself but it was very well organised, great atmosphere, and the course was nice and flat.

As always my swim was my weak spot.  from my post race analysis, which the event website gives you with full details, this is where I place on each of the legs:

Swim: 1538/1800
Bike:    760/1800
Run:     517/1800

Pretty self explanatory and it reads "your swimming sucks Miguel". Oh well, I know my weaknesses and I am working on them, I promise I am.  Next challenge is the London Triathlon in two weeks and I am really pumped about it.  My first Olympic distance triathlon and, apparently, the largest triathlon in the world with over 20,000 participants. I can expect plenty of punches and elbows on that mass start.

OVERAL TIME 1h:14m:33s

I want to thank Fabio and Sophie for coming to show their support at my race.  Fabio is an ex student of mine from my PE teacher days here in Barcelona.  We have kept in touch through his University years and both him and his girlfriend, Sophie, came by to cheer me on. Thanks guys!

Also, I want to thank Inma for coming and saying hello.  I hadn't seen Inma in 9 years and it was great seeing her at the end of the race.  Gracias guapa.
Me, Inma and my wife. I hadn't seen Inma in 9 years
As I was saying goodbye to Inma I see my Cuban hermano again.  This time I did pay a bit more attention to him and we chatted about a few of the upcoming races here in Spain.  It was his first triathlon so I could relate to his excitement.  He ended up being a nice chap so I thought I'd mention him on my blog. Good going hermano!