The Big FiveO – Progress update


I set out to become faster at 50 than 30 around two years ago. Now I feel an obligation to report back on status. Last week was the Big Day and I have now officially passed over to the “death half of life”, as one of my friends encouragingly describes the transition from 49 to 50. 

When I saw one of the photos from Trapaniman a few weeks ago (rigth) I saw some similarities to a pix from Ironman Lanzarote 1997 (left). 

To structure the update into something that makes sense and minimizes the risk of incoherent, unwrought nonsense – I have tried to summarize my findings below.

Swim: As a birthday present to myself I started the day with a 3,450meter open water swim in Alcudia bay. Freestyle, some back and not really pushing – did it in around 55 min with some of the 100rds in 1;15 pace. Ok, I was using my ORCA Predator wetsuit which basically is so fast it’s like swimming with a outboard motor attached to your rear. Anyway, swimming it seems, I’m as fast now (or as slow – depending on your point of reference) as I was 20 years ago. If I train swimming 2-3 days a week I can do 55min IM swim. If I train 4-5 days probably around 50min again.   

Bike: Never trained or raced with power meters and all the tools that we have today so it’s hard to compare current values to past values other than race times and distance. I’m tracking somewhere around 4,500km year to date, much less that I’d like, but outdoor season just started so I will catch up. As I do much more high intensity indoors now than before – total kilometers will be less.   

Trapaniman half IM bike landed at a 2;35 bike split doesn’t say much as it was a mad 4 x through downtown with the worst road conditions imaginable on open roads, but as it’s all I got, so perhaps 5:00-5:20 on the IM distance? Should gain a few minutes if I put on a pair of race-wheels, instead of trainer-wheels, in the next race.

Run: Feels good and have been putting in decent km’s this year around 850km year to date. As I have built a solid base over the past two years, there has been no injuries even after shifting over to more high intensity training this spring. Never focused much on splits and zones in the past so very little to compare with, but my first ever 5km run test landed around 18:30 and my 1km repeats are in the 3:20-3:30 range.

Trapaniman half IM run landed at 1;34 which I think is ok for an old-non-tapered-man. Don’t know, but that could probably put me at around a 3;15-3;30 IM marathon? Who knows – ”anything is possible” – I might slip on a banana peel or have the run of my life. 

Revised target: 9:12 is my PB from 1996 in Roth. 9:30 seems possible, 9;15 not unachievable so my target for the season is 8;59 – why not?

As I recently chose to be coached by Uperform.dk – I’m not as sure about what times I can expect in races. We have changed a lot in my program and so far I am really pleasantly surprised of how quick I have made huge improvements.      

Race venue and time of year – To Be Done. Most likely not Laponia as planned due to the ”airline negligence broke my bike situation”. Maybe Mastricht, Vischy, Podersdorf or Almere.  

Other reflections: The best thing and the real bonus is that my happiness is not depending on if I make <9hrs or not, my life would not change if I did. I would not make more money so I could buy things I don’t want or need. My self-perception would not change. My kids would not love me more. My wife couldn’t care less if I did 8;45 or 14;45 (just be pissed-off too have to wait). In fact, it might be hard to imagine, but the world as we know it would actually remain pretty much unchanged independently of what finishing times I do (or anyone else for that matter).      

In the process of this little project I have found my way to real joy and peace-of-mind though training and racing again. I have come to realize more and more that my first well-defined (traditional) goals in hours and minutes have matured into goals of how I like to feel and live for the rest of my life.

 

Conclusion: We are all different and chose different paths in life – and it’s all good!

Some work to be able to live.

Some live to work with a purpose and something that makes a differance.

Some don’t even think about why they do what… 

Some train to….

…. race and make money

…..look fit and flex their muscles  

…. race to beat others

…. race to beat themselves(up)

…..race so they can justify all the fun training 

I’m sure there are hundreds of combinations, for me the last example works best with regards to training …race so I can justify all the fun training. 

There is no contradiction between fun and results, rather the opposite, I train harder and more disciplined than most I’ve ever met and I race like if the devil is chasing me – because I love it. I don’t check the watch for time anymore when I race. I only look at it for information on heartrate and speed, to make sure I’m in the right zone (and don’t blow-up). But I dissconnect my results from my emotions and don’t beat myself up.

Perhaps I will not be faster at 50 than at 30 – perhaps I will. Independent of which; the journey has physically and mentaly brought me back to a happier self that I thought I lost, I really apprechiate that and finishing times are now just numbers!    

I realize that this became a long post and appreciate you taking the time to read it. Hope that it gave you something to think about and/or laugh at and perhaps even be inspired by.

 

In a few years I will compare photos of my old self again – hopefully it will take another 20 years before I run as the older version of my ”potential future self” (right). But it really dosn’t matter – as long as I am having fun!

I bid you farewell and wish you a happy and safe training and racing!

// Juan Pelota

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Nutrition – Sport Drink Test


20 years ago I was asked by the Magazine Café to do energy drink test. I forced myself to drink 8 different kinds of sports drinks during training. Some of them where really difficult to get down and even more challanging to KEEP down without an explosive ”return”.

It’s good for mankind that some of those energy drinks are gone…. 

After the test I stayed away from sports drinks for quite a few years. Just the thought of the sticky, acid fluid made me nauseous. I don’t know how many races I have had stomach problems in, if it’s due to acid sports drinks or not, I don’t know, but one thing is sure – when you are racing at 85-90% of your max, it’s more difficult to keep energy and electrolyte levels in balance and you need something more than water.     

As I have committed to try new things to improve performance (at my senior age) I have decided to give energy drinks another chance. In races in Belgium and Germany they used Isostar when I was racing in the nineties and I remember that it worked ok, so I contacted them and got my hands on some samples to try out in training and racing.

For the past months I have been experimenting with the product range and have found what works and noticed following benefits: 

  1. Increased ability to maintain high heart-rate at the end of long sessions (> 3-4hrs)
  2. Reduced recovery time – less fatigue and better ability to reload for afternoon/evening session.
  3. Ability to train and race without solid foods (bars).

The Isostar product range is very large but for my specific purpose and need, I have narrowed my consumption and this article down to what I find useful.

Bellow is a short overview of what and why:

Powertabs:

Energy tabs that dissolves in water. A lot of electrolytes but not so much carbohydrates – good for up to 90min high intensity workouts or before a race to top up the electrolytes in your system.

 

Hydrate & Perform:

Powder that you mix with water. Provides electrolytes and carbohydrates – good for the 60-120 min sessions. They have a version for sensitive stomachs with neutral taste, I have been using the normal lemon or orange and even if I have a sensitive stomach I have had no problems with that.

 

Long Distance Energy:

Powder that you mix with water. Provides mainly carbohydrates – good for the over 90 min sessions. Can be mixed really strong without sticky taste, which is really strange as this contains the most carbohydrates it should be the one that is the most sticky – but it’s rather the other way around – this one tastes like water even when mixed strong! (up to 79g of carbohydrates per 500 ml water). 

 

High Energy Actifood (energy gel):

90g of gel with essential vitamins. Tastes like baby food fruit, which is really quite all right compared to the traditional gels (read GLUE) that you get on most races.

Larger container that is easier to open and close than the GLUE version you bite off (and find that you either bit off too much – you get the content on your body rather than in your mouth or too little – end up trying again and end up with the content in your face, hand or on your chest…..    

 

High Energy Fruit Boost:

Small sweets (like gummy bears) but with vitamins and caffeine – easy to eat on the bike leg as long as you have unwrapped them before the race.

Energy Shot:

Perfect to have in the transition area after the bike and take when you start the run. 6cl of vitamins carbohydrates, caffeine, ginseng and guarana.   

Reload – After Sport:

Good recovery drink direct after hard sessions. Contains carbohydrates as well as protein (20%). I use this if I have done a hard morning session and also have an afternoon session that I need to get ready for.

High Protein 90:

Protein powder with slower absorption for the night after a long hard day….

Another positive aspect is that you can now get Isostar at Apotea at really good prices and don’t have to run around looking for it.

I am sure that there are many other good products on the market that have also evolved since my 1996 horror experience but I am surprised that some of the brands still manufacture energy drinks that can strip paint off your bike, bars that can’t be opened with one hand (or eaten with a heart-rate over 135bpm) and work like fast drying cement between your teeth.

Hope that this can article can help you to create your own training and racing nutrition plan so you can reach your best performance and have great racing experiance.    

Safe training!

Trapaniman 113 – Urban Adventure Racing


First race of the season is completed and it was a fantastic experience – quite different to what you would consider a well-organized race, rather a magical experience to survive and tell stories about.

Trapaniman113 half ironman was arranged for the 5th year. Since the start it has been moved from Trapani to the north west peninsula of Sicily and the town San Vito Lo Capo. A dream beach resort with cristal clear water and a beautiful beach. 

Pietro – the organizer – looking out over the race start beach.

Training leading up to the race:

I had signed up for the race already in January as a few of my friends at SPIF had heard about it and had booked travel and accommodation. My training had kind of stagnated after Christmas even if I was putting in between 15-20 hours per week.

My good friend and former coach Jean Moureau has retired from coaching and as our club SPIF have signed a partnership agreement with Uperfrom I thought – ”It’s time to try something new!” and did what every coach hates, told them that I was racing in a few weeks and that they need to get me in shape and get me fast – in a hurry.

The program I received from Teresa was quite low in volume compared to my normal weeks but when I started to read the intervals (and they were many) I realized that this is either going to kill me or make me fast.

Basically I only had one week of testing and a couple of training weeks leading up to the race and I was very unsure how it would turn out given the fact that I was still doing really hard intervals just 3 days before the race.

Pre-race meeting:

As you would expect the pre-race was all in Italian. When they realized that there were a few international athletes in the audience, they quickly made an adjustment to the program, found someone in the restaurant where the pre-race meeting was held that could speak English and carried on. Unfortunately the Pizza Chef that spoke English had no experience of triathlons – but did his best and translated the most important information.

Fortunately there was a really nice Dutch guy who helped us get the main points, I later realized that it was Chris Brands a professional triathlete who later finished third overall in the race.   

Race day:

The wind was really hard and half the transition area almost flew off the beach.

Gun went off 30-40min later than scheduled and we were all happy for that as most of us where freezing really bad after the long wait. I kept to myself on the left in the field for the full lap and did not have too much problems and got out of the water in top 10.

Great to swim in cristal clear water

Bike was quite hilly course with heavy wind and many parts of bad asphalt and the occasional dogs running out and chasing you to make sure that you did not go slow…. 

Total chaos with cars everywhere as the roads where open and slow bikers doing the sprint at the same time as the half. Not too bad as it were not so many participants (200-300).

Run was through town, along the beach walk that was not closed and full of people walking their dogs, kids and eating ice-cream – completely surprised every time one of those crazy people in superman suite ran passed and jumped over their dog. After the first 1,5 km on the run we got out of town and had a turning point at the lighthouse.

Wind basically blew out the transition area 

The water, gels, and bars that we were supposed to get twice on the bike loop and run loop – well, logistics is not really the thing in Italy. At least we got water every loop.

I was really happy that I had decided to carry my own energy and didn’t have problem with dehydration. During the past 3 months I have been trying out Isostar products as I often have stomach problems in races and this was the first time that I could race only on liquids (sports drink and gels) and no bars and feel 100% the whole way.

 

”Small esspresso to go please” 

No drop in energy or heart rate and no pain in stomach. I used their Powertabs the day before the race to load up on electrolytes and the Long Distance Energy drink in the strongest mix – which gives you 79g of carbohydrates in 500ml.

This race was more of a test race and I didn’t pay attention to my overall place or time so I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that I won my age group (50-55 this year) and that I placed 13th overall with a time of around 4:32. With some more training and a proper taper the goal to get down to a low 9 hr Ironman might be achievable.   

Really surprised that there were so many current and former professional triathletes in start field even if there was no pro-class or price money.  In many ways the relaxed atmosphere is the beauty of this event and this is what brought many of the international athletes and pros to the race. Everyone I spoke to said that they loved the event for it’s family feeling, crazy organization and complete absence of corporate greed and profit focus. 

Pietro arranges this race because he loves triathlons, I say – Bellisimo, Bravo!

 

It’s All About The Bike!


When I was racing in the nineties our bikes were quite different from today. Carbon was just starting to come around, but everyone was suspicious and we thought that it was more fragile than the rigid aluminium and iron frames we were riding.

Our bikes back then where stiff as nails in every direction – and as comfortable as sitting on a percussion drill going full throttle. In Speedos… Fortunately, a lot has happened since the nineties with design and materials.

At the time, I was proud to ride a comparatively cheap, heavy ass rig in Hawaii, coming out of the water in 250th place and finishing the bike in 50th place and cheering everyone on (who had nice bikes) with a “nice bike, man!” as I past them. My back often hurt so bad after the bike leg that my run was a disaster.

A few years before I decided to take my “extensive break”, a multiple Canadian Road Champion and Olympian by the name of Gervais Rioux retired from cycling and purchased a small bike shop on St-Laurent street in Montreal, Canada.

Gervais Rioux in action

Like many former cyclists Gervais wanted to stay in the sport he loved and the story could have ended there – in the bike shop. But Gervais had bigger ambitions and by recruiting and developing a great team around himself he freed up time to take on the real challenge – to design and develop the optimal bike – a bike that would have the perfect balance between stiffness, light weight but still be comfortable.

He founded ARGON18. That was a few years back and since then ARGON18 has become one of the fastest growing brands in cycling. ARGON18 now has a team in Tour the France as well as Ironman legends like Craig “Crowie” Alexander as ambassadors in triathlon.

Even with this phenomenal success ARGON18 keeps the small shop feeling with excellent service, customer contact and avoids the anonymity and bureaucracy that typically thrive in large multi-national companies. 

I came in contact with ARGON18 last year when I rode the E-118NEXT. The top time trial/triathlon UCI approved model. It amazed me from the first ride – it was comfort without compromise in stiffness and an extreme responsiveness from the frame. 

Ironman Mallorca 2015 

In 2016 ARGON18 brought out a new series of pure triathlon bikes (non UCI approved).

At first I didn’t really see any reason to upgrade as I was extremely happy with my E-118NEXT that was barely broken in (and still have not gone fast in a race) but there was a couple of things on the new range of bikes that really caught my interest:

  • Simplified adjustment of brakes and easier to use wider rims and tires.
  • Integrated hydration system (I have launched enough bottles into orbit in my career using different bolt on hydration systems to appreciate that a manufacturer takes this seriously….).
  • Triathlon adapted geometry 78°.

How could anyone resist the e-119tri+ ? 

Last week the E-119Tri+ was delivered to Cykloteket and I went in to get it set up by Jonte, who also made the fitting on the E-118Next last year. Every measurement was copied from the previous fitting except an additional centimeter that was reduced in drop to save the lower back a little. 

The bike felt very much like the E-118 on the fitting trainer, as I was not really pushing any gears at the fitting. I did not really get any feeling of power distribution and responsiveness of the frame at this point in time.

Getting set up at Cykloteket by Jonte

The first ride on a home trainer (20” @w-up, 20” @L4, 20” @L3, 20” @c-down) is where the first real positive surprises occurred:

  • I preferred/felt more comfortable in the aero position than the upright position.
  • Power was significant higher at every level without higher heart rate.        

This weekend I took it out for the first time. I headed out for an easy 30km adjustment ride (in +4°, light rain and gravel still on the roads – it’s as much as you want to do on your new triathlon bike outdoors this time of the year). 

I ended up riding 80km and unwillingly returned home with a big smile on my face

Happy as a 10 year old.

I have no clue how this bike can be so different given that it’s from the same manufacturer, with the same measurements, but it’s an amazing difference:

  • Aero position feels like the more comfortable position – which makes no sense and has never happened to me before.
  • My hips feels more open and less restrained so I can produce more power.
  • The seat post angle makes me more “compact” without crunching and reduces the stretch I used to experience to reach aero bars – I have more of a 90° angle between torso and upper arms in the aero position. 
  • Adjustments and fine-tuning was exceptionally easy to make (even for a “all thumbs guy” like me). 

Maybe it’s the one-centimeter reduction in drop – but I doubt that that small change would make such a big difference.  

So far I have only found one disadvantage and that is that you have to remove 3 screws to get to the connection box to charge the Di2 battery – but I can live with that given that you only need to charge the battery once or twice every season.

Now I don’t have time to write more about this amazing bike – have to get on it and train harder than every before. I don’t want to be the guy on the nicest bike getting passed by people in the races yelling “nice bike, man”….

Stay safe on the roads!

Chuck Norris of Triathlon – Jean Moureau


There is a Swedish saying ”många är kallade men få är utvalda” – roughly it means, ”many hear a calling but few are chosen”. I have had the privilege to meet many of the Legendary Ironman Triathletes over the years who are extremely hard training, talented and dedicated and whom selflessly share their experience and knowledge. Among these top triathletes there is one that is exceptional for so many reasons, one that I see as “a chosen one” – I like to tell you about one of my best friends Jean Moureau, the original “Muscles from Brussels” – the Chuck Norris of Triathlon

Jean defies the stereotype view of the triathlon sport and triathlete in so many aspects and is an inspiration for any athlete – in many ways.  

Body composition:

If we start with the physical aspects – he really doesn’t have a triathlete’s skinny body composition, he doesn’t act as a triathlete measuring everything he does, eats and he has no real background in endurance sports but rather sprint sports (and windsurfing) – but through shear decisiveness, power and passion he managed to raise to the top and to place 8:th over all in Ironman Hawaii twice in his career (1994 & 1996).

Jean was the guy who was always tested for doping as he was built more like Tarzan than a long distance runner. When I asked him if he never tried to loose muscle/weight to get faster on the run leg he said – “why should I, I can still run a 2;57 Marathon in Hawaii – it’s not too bad”.

Before triathlon Jean did some track & field for a few years and had a severe accident on the hurdles, so severe that the whole hamstring was ripped into two pieces. This injury has created a scar in the muscle that is bulging out and shortening the hamstring. This compromises Jean’s running (gate) severely and puts an uneven load on the knees. Once I asked Jean how many Ironman he has done with that injury and he said, “I have no clue how many Ironman races I have done – I know I have done Hawaii eight times, but I never kept count of the total number of Ironman Races I have done”.

Training ethics:

While all other pros worked very little or not at all, Jean always had a full time job as an accountant and managed to work 40hr/week and train close to 40hr/week. Starting to train together with Jean was a hard awakening for me who had trained decent with 10-12hrs per week only to find that my weekly program previous to getting to know Jean was now what I was supposed to do every weekend. I could withstand that for 3 years – Jean had this weekly routine for more than 15 years.

The standard program for every weekend was:

Saturday:

Swim 4,000m

Bike 140-160km

Run 6-10km

Sunday:

Bike 100km Intervals

Run 24-30km (good pace)

Classic Jean Moureau Expressions:

  • “53 -11,12,13 are the gears you use – the rest is for decoration.”

At the Lanzarote Ironman 1997, Jean had some problems with his gears and rode the whole 180km on the big ring and ended up fourth overall. In the TV clips from the race you see Jean standing pushing the big plate in every image he is present in.

  • “The day before a race I only drink one beer, or two”.

Coming from Sweden with a complete different culture with regards to having a beer after training was a positive experience. After most swim sessions we would meet up in the cafeteria and have a few beers before going home or going for a run.   

  • “When I sleep I sleep”.

One year when a whole group of athletes from Europe shared an apartment in Hawaii there was a sick child that cried all night in the apartment just underneath us. We didn’t get any sleep the night before the race – but Jean did.

  • “Stress doesn’t exist, it’s an emotion that we create”.

Jean chose not to get stressed up about anything, anywhere at anytime. He has arrived to race starts without running shoes, water bottles, cycling shoes, etc, etc, just to laugh when he realizes it and solve the issue in one way or the other without loosing his temper or race focus.   

  • “I don’t really train anymore, I only swim 3-4 times per week, run 3 times 15km and ride twice per week with the pro-cycling team at Bouval”.

Retiring from the sport means different things to different people. Jean still trains more than most “elite age-groupers” and I am sure that he would easily do 8:30 again now at the age of 53 – if he would race again. 

  • “I’m the most tested triathlete in Ironman – it doesn’t matter if I am 8th or 15th – they always test me”.

Jean trained and raced clean but has the genetics of a race horse. In the Ironman races they typically always test #1-2 and then pick a random person among the pro’s – and it was always Jean that had to take the random test. 

Jean is an amazing person for the sport in Belgium and is now coaching kids and adults in NATO triathlon club in the evenings and still working full time during daytime as an accountant.

Hopefully, he will come back and race Hawaii one more time in 2023 when he turns 60 and I look forward to, once again, race together and to run in Speedos down Alli Drive speaking German in the week leading up to the race. We need to make sure that the Americans continue to think that it’s the Germans that visually pollute their vacation in Kona – it’s a tradition!

Hang Loose!

Caught Red Handed – ARGON18 Gallium Pro


After a very positive experiance with the Argon18 E-118 last year I decided not only to upgrade to the new triathlon bike E-119+ this year but also get the Krypton XRoad to be able to put on some fat tires on and ride the rough winter roads.

All this was well planned and the bikes are on their way. Then something not planned happened – I was offereed to buy a Gallium Pro from last year – used only one season by the Scandinavian ARGON18 Team. 

What could I do? – how could I resist? The Gallium Pro arrived today and while unpacking my wife comes home for lunch (which I did not expect) and finds me in the bedroom unpacking.

Oopss…. How do I explain that there are two more on the way and that you really need to have three bikes (at least). 

Anyone needs a Pinarello Dogma 60.1 only 5 years old? It’s a great bike – don’t get me wrong, but after trying out ARGON18 I really don’t need other bikes. Or perhaps I should keep it as a spare…at the country house….just in case…. 

Some keep their bikes in the basement, some on the street – I like to keep them close and safe (thank you AnnCatrine for being a understanding wife 😉

Happy riding and remember that there is always room for one more Argon18!

// The bike collector