Voting and Running in Sao Paulo

Australia held an extraordinary federal election on 2 July. Citizens on the electoral roll could participate at overseas voting centres prior to election day. Brazil had two centres: Brasilia’s Embassy and São Paulo’s Consulate-General. With a terrible federal government in power, I ensured I exercised my democratic right by visiting São Paulo during the late June early voting period.

Although many tourists enter South America via São Paulo, the continent’s largest city is not a major tourist attraction. Despite this, I enjoy the city and, besides voting, also caught up with fellow runner and Pearl Jam fan, Cleide.

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Union protesters on São Paulo’s main Paulista Avenue had the volume cranked up Continue reading

The 2015 Mandurah Half Ironman Swim

Today I completed the 1.9 kilometre Mandurah half ironman swim and, hence, reached my goal to become an efficient swimmer.

I originally intended to finish all three race legs. In early October I re-evaluated the situation. Considering interrupted preparation including trips to Malaysia, Melbourne and Adelaide, preparing for South America, packing up the house and my life, and the flight to Brazil two days later, I decided to only attempt the swim. This aligned with my swimming goal and was far more manageable.

Yesterday afternoon I drove an hour south of Perth to Mandurah foreshore for the surprisingly efficient registration process. After checking in my bike (I didn’t want to risk disqualification) I travelled to nearby Wannanup where Bernice, Gerry and Nick kindly hosted me.

This morning the 4:45 alarm rang. As the transition area closed at 5:45, early access was critical. The 700+ bikes on racks made an impressive sight. The pros placed their expensive machines on a special red-carpeted line.

Mandurah half ironman bikes

Mandurah half ironman bikes in the transition area

The professional men began their open water swim at 6 am followed by the pro women and then various age groups of amateur men and women. Each wave wore colour-coded swim caps and my navy-capped wave was one of the last, starting at 7:01.

The water was murky and I took time to get into rhythm. I felt best in the middle 60%. I didn’t experience much carnage, only the odd bump. One woman who bumped into me said she thought I was a buoy and I immediately replied I am 😀

The picturesque swim course goes around canals and, about half way in, under a bridge. The finishing stairs appearing in the distance were a welcome sight and minutes later I was out of the water and running to the transition area. I’m uncertain what time the swim took (~50 minutes I guess) but I made it!

Final Air Yoga Stretch

While visiting the Gili Islands I undertook some intensive yoga classes and when I returned to Perth I wanted to continue with the stretching.

Unsure which classes to take, I then remembered former Toastmaster (and occasional Cirque du Soleil physiotherapist) Trevor had started Air Yoga. Choice made, I purchased the 20 lesson pass and for the past six months I have been hanging around at Air Yoga’s Leederville studio.

Hanging Around Air Yoga

I took Beginner Air Yoga classes first to adapt to the hammock and learn the basic moves including how to go upside down. Besides inversions, the hammocks are used for stretching in many different positions both from in the hammock and from on the floor.

The exercises were tough and I always looked forward to the final relaxation position, lying in the hammock.

Air Yoga is great for flexibility and core body strength. The yoga classes complemented my triathlon training and served my tight running legs well.

In the six months I improved my Air Yoga movements substantially. Although Friday was my last Air Yoga session in Perth, I intend to continue similar exercises in South America.

Seven Years of Running

Running race medals

Some of my race finisher medals

This morning I ran the 2015 Fremantle Half Marathon, my final stand-alone running race for the foreseeable future.

Excluding Little Athletics in childhood, I only started running in June 2008. After struggling at first, running became easier with practise. Looking back, I’m surprised at how fast I improved. In September 2008 I finished my first big event, the 12 km City to Bay in 1:01:13, just over 5 minutes per kilometre.

Almost from the beginning, my main aim was to complete the 2010 Istanbul Marathon. The race was a great excuse to return to Turkey, a country I had lived in for six years. I completed two marathons: Istanbul and the preceding 2010 Perth Marathon.

Aya Sophia after the Istanbul MarathonAya Sophia after the Istanbul Marathon

Standing in front of Hagia Sophia after finishing the 2010 Istanbul Marathon

Training for a marathon (42.2 km) requires major dedication and lifestyle changes, something, after the Istanbul Marathon, I was not prepared to repeat. Half marathons are far more manageable and the City to Surf, Perth and Fremantle half marathons were my primary running goals most years.

2014 City to Surf Half Marathon Start

At the start of the 2014 City to Surf Half Marathon

I had intended to finish running following the 2010 Istanbul Marathon but I found the activity too enjoyable and a great way to stay fit.

As much as I would love to bring my running gear to South America in November, I will be travelling very light so extra shoes, clothes and equipment won’t pass the grade.

No doubt I will run races again but when that will be I cannot tell.

2014 Swan River Run

The look of determination near the end of the 2014 Swan River Run 14 km – no onesie-wearer was going to beat me!

PS: I had fun this morning at my final stand-alone race but it was not a personal best. I ‘hit the wall’ and walked most of the last 5 km, finishing in 2:01:00. Running 17 km two days earlier and a warm, sunny second half no doubt contributed to this performance.

Two months to go in my Half Ironman Quest

On the 8th of November I will participate in the Mandurah Half Ironman. A half ironman is a triathlon which consists of the following legs in order:

  1. Swim: 1.9 kilometres
  2. Bike: 90 kilometres
  3. Run: 21.1 kilometres (half marathon distance)

Swim

My primary motivation for entering the half ironman was to learn to swim efficiently, something I’ve desired for a long time.

In May, to understand how to improve my technique, I took a coaching lesson from Sally Scaffidi of Swim Smooth. Sally videoed my stroke and her post-swim advice, recommending stroke-specific training drills.

For the last 3 months I have swum laps in my local aquatic centre’s outdoor 50 metre pool up to 6 times a week. On most occasions I rewarded myself with a sauna and spa for slogging it out and drinking chlorinated water in the winter weather.

My stroke has improved massively although I still have a fair way to go. Last week Sally gave me a follow-up coaching lesson. My primary element to correct is bending my elbow in the ‘pull’ instead of using a straight arm. Other improvements required are looking further forward instead of directly below and lifting my head out slightly when breathing instead of a long way. To assist with my drills, I have a pull-buoy, fins and hand paddles.

Going forward, after more training sessions in the pool, I will focus on swimming in the sea using a triathlon wetsuit to mimic race conditions. The wetsuit and the sea water will improve buoyancy and the wetsuit will also reduce drag. The sea also provides variable conditions with waves, currents and creatures.

Bike

Last week I revisited Andrew Budge of Trysport to fit the aero bars and other parts ordered at his request and adjust the bike to suit my dimensions. This week I set up my CycleOps Fluid 2 bike trainer in the lounge room and undertook my first cycle session assisted by the awesomeness of the Pearl Jam Twenty 3-Disc Deluxe Edition DVD. I’m less concerned about the bike part of the triathlon as long as I put in the training hours.

Run

Having completed 3 half marathons this year, one may think I’m ready for this leg of the triathlon. However, this is not the case. Running immediately after a bike ride is very different to running independently and is requires specific practise.

A bike ride followed by a run is called a ‘brick’ session and these are extremely important when training for a triathlon. My peak training aim is a 3 hour bike ride followed by a 1.5 to 2 hour run.

Fantastic fitness will be a positive side-effect of the triathlon training and I’m looking forward to that. Two months to go!