#AVonVoyage to Abu Dhabi – A Maxi Triathlon weekend

Last weekend, I participated in my first ITU World Triathlon Series race in the awesome city of Abu Dhabi. I’m unable to race Ironman South Africa this year, so I thought a Maxi triathlon in the region would suffice. In case you don’t know, a Maxi consists of:

– 1500 meter swim
– 80 kilometre cycle
– 20-kilometer run

This and 70.3 is a great distance for me. I’m able to find my groove, and I know how to pace myself accordingly. When it comes to Olympic distances, I tend to push hard on the swim and the first bit of the cycle. So I get a lot slower towards the end of the race. That’s going to change, though, as I build up to the New York City Triathlon in July (WOOOOHOOOO). Back to Abu Dhabi though.

I arrived in the UAE on Thursday evening. I had a bit of drama with the Etihad Airways ground staff in Doha. They wouldn’t let me take my bike bag and a checked piece of luggage on, even though the agent who works for the airline and who booked my package assured me that everything had been arranged especially for us triathletes. Alas after a bit of annoyance and a broken piece of hand luggage later, I got through. When I arrived in Abu Dhabi, I caught one of the cabs waiting outside the airport… A nice little (not so little) Mercedes-Benz took me to the Centro Al Manhal By Rotana.

Sidebar, nice comfortable accommodation on Yas Island if you’re looking for somewhere to stay. It’s close to the Marina, the racetrack, the mall, Ferrari World. It’s perfect!

On Friday, after a bit of breakfast with a friend who came through from Dubai (45minutes or so), I headed off to registration. It was smooth, a breeze. The one weird thing is that the race briefing was held on the grandstands… Standard really, but there was no shade, and for athletes who are supposed to be keeping hydrated and resting, this seemed a bit off. It was about 28 degrees, so it was hot. First world problems, blah blah, but that was one observation. The one thing that saved the briefing was the ever entertaining and awesome announce, Paul Kaye. It’s weird; I almost feel at home when he’s on the circuit giving us our briefings and throwing in some quips and funnies along the way.

True to the pre-race routine, I checked the old bike, packed the bags, got the bottles ready and hit up a restaurant in the mall for some chicken protein boet. I always say I’ll have an early night, but inevitably land up having a late one, and then I don’t sleep properly for fear of missing the alarm, etc. So by 3 am, I was up and at it. I gave up coffee and chocolate for Lent, so a cuppa tea was on hand to wake me up, lol. My other race must-have is my FUTURELIFE High Protein, trusty and now old faithful ☺

Once everything was sorted in bike-check and transition, I headed off to the swim start. It’s quite a walk from where the bikes were, so if you’re doing the race next year, give yourself enough time to get there. The race was supposed to kick off at 7 am, but due to some delays on the cycle route, they delayed it until 7:30. One gent, who was clearly very anxious, was getting rather frustrated, tried to get me involved in his frustration meets anxious tendency, and I was like BYE! I’m one of those characters who gets really quiet. I’m singing songs in my head and analysing the water conditions. I guess you can say I ‘Zen’ myself, haha.

We finally got going, and so did my swimming muscles it would appear. I haven’t been able to swim properly because believe it or not; it has been pretty cold in Doha. It wasn’t ideal because I love my swimming and I usually do pretty well here, so I was a little worried about that. It turns out muscle memory is a winner – I climbed out the 1500m swim, some 22 minutes later. I believe I was fourth out the water too, so I was pleased, to say the least. That success didn’t last long though because of the cycle, once again, was weak for me. I don’t know why but I just can’t get it right. I think it has a lot to do with bike positioning and the fact that I don’t have tribars. I need some cycling assistance, so if anyone is keen to help a brother out with some tips and guidance, holler!

The cycle route was interesting. We got to ride around the Yas Marina Island Circuit, which is quite technical and isn’t short on turns. We cycled around the outskirts of the circuit and through Yas Island too. So at least there was some reprieve too. The Maxi athletes had to do four loops, while the Olympic racers did two. We were all on the track at the same time at one point, which could’ve gone horribly wrong, but luckily for most, it seemed okay. My suggestion to organisers would be to relook the cycle. It’s just a little too boring for the Maxi I feel. I managed to do the distance in 2:31, which isn’t bad, but still, I need to put a lot more work into it to make the cycle count. The run was grand, and thank goodness for good weather conditions. If the sun was baking down on us, I think I would’ve battled a lot more. The run was a double loop of ten kilometres each. At about 11 km in, I stopped to grab some coke and an orange. I walked a bit, then ran and then walked again. A fellow racer, probably in his early sixties came running past me and said there is no way I am to walk. It’s funny, because this always seems to happen to me, and it’s always the ‘wiser’ gents. So I carried on, and he was hot on my heels, so I just carried on knowing he would curse me if I walked again haha. I managed to finish the race in 4:34, which I think is good? I haven’t done the distance before, but I’m pretty happy with that performance.

I enjoyed the race. I thought it was fun, tough but good. I love pushing myself too. So perhaps that why I felt so shattered afterwards? There’s always a lot of room for improvement, and I’m ready to keep moving forward. I wish I were doing Ironman South Africa on the 2nd of April, but alas this year it isn’t meant to be ☹

Gallery: #AVonVoyage to Abu Dhabi

We didn’t have a lot of time to explore the city too much, but post race, and a delicious burger later, myself and a few tri club friends decided to head off to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque… It’s one of THE most raved about Mosques in the region, so we had to check it out. What a marvellous piece of architecture, culture and a beautiful, calming place. It was busy, full of people from all over the world. It’s a place you need to visit if you’re in Abu Dhabi. As I said, time was limited, but next time I’m keen to hit up the theme parks, and also see more of the city, the souqs and eat more local food. Hopefully, that will be sooner rather than later.

Stay tuned for #AVonVoyage to Oman, and more races, coming soon. Who knows where to next after that? Well besides Dubai this weekend 😉

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Witness the fitness and get your Discovery points again

Good news exercisers, you can now earn the Discovery Vitality points you deserve… again. The company will once again make changes to its points system, following what I believe to be a massive outcry from the public. I wrote a post on Facebook shortly after Ironman because I felt like I got the raw end of the stick when it came to the points. Some got 300 points for doing the race because they owned a Garmin device (I own a Suunto), but others like me got nothing, zilch, zero… 12:39 hours out there, doing one of the most challenging races on the circuit and I got no points.  Not ideal, I’ve had my moan and I offered some constructive feedback, proposed some solutions, which I’m glad I did. I may not be invited to attend their events anymore, but that’s okay because things seemed to have changed. See the email details received below:

Dear Jason

Helping you reach your personal health goals is hugely important to us and we value that you’ve chosen to partner with Vitality on your wellness journey.

From Saturday, 20 August 2016 we will be adding more ways to earn Vitality fitness points. These enhancements are based on our analysis of the member experience as well as member feedback we have received over the past few months. Our upcoming updates aim to positively challenge and motivate you to further engage in Vitality Active Rewards. We saw that certain changes we made earlier this year frustrated some members, and we are truly sorry for this.

What you can expect from Saturday, 20 August 2016:

  • You’ll be able to earn points by taking part in any timed and verified race event locally or internationally in the disciplines of cycling, walking/running, swimming and major multisport events in line with our fitness points table.
  • For members who are just starting out, we’re re-introducing the popular 50 points category for tracking 5 000 steps a day.
  • There will be a new heart rate points category for workouts between 60 and 69% and between 70 and 79% of age-related maximum heart rate.
  • We’ve got a new Endurance and High Performance category to enable points earning for longer duration workouts.
  • The weekly maximum goal will be lowered to 900 points (from 1 200) for all Vitality Active Rewards members (excluding those in the new Endurance and High Performance category). The weekly maximum goal will remain 600 points for at-risk members with certain chronic conditions, health concerns during pregnancy, or members aged 65+ with risk factors.

These changes will mean a more personalised fitness experience for you while staying true to the evolving science that guides our programme and highlights our commitment to encouraging safe ways to exercise.

To inspire you towards your own fitness personal bests, we’re proud to announce that Discovery Vitality is the Official Wellness Partner of the SA Olympic Team. Don’t forget to tune in for the 2016 Rio Olympics from Friday, 5 August to support our Vitality ambassador, Chad le Closand the rest of the team as they GO for GOLD.

Enjoy this month’s newsletter!

Dr Shrey Viranna
CEO Discovery Vitality

Well done to the Discovery Vitality team. This is a prime example of listening to your base, your clients and making the necessary changes to align with the public’s demands – all while ensuring your business interests are being met too. Now go get active, get moving, be healthy and earn them points. When you reach your goal or the next level, you can treat yourself to a trip locally or internationally 😉

The 2015 Gauteng SANSUI Summer Cup tomorrow

SANSUI Summer Cup

Tomorrow Joburg’s most prestigious and oldest horseracing event takes place at the Turffontein Racecourse. I’m talking about the Gauteng SANSUI Summer Cup and tomorrow I break my GSSC virginity 😉 I’ll be wearing an awesome #MoreJozi suit by designer extraordinaire, Diaan Daniels, which I’m super excited about. The who’s who will be there too, which is equally as exciting and it’s the perfect way to wrap up 2015 – there are other events on the go, but this is the last big one. To be honest, I’m relieved because I’m WELL tired, but a little bit of fun in the sun and at the races never hurt anybody.

As far as entertainment goes, there’s a helluva lot on the cards for tomorrow. For one the musical lineup is insanely good:

  • Goodluck
  • Goldfish
  • Muzart
  • Mi Casa
  • Cassper Nyovest
  • Vin Deysel (947)

My friend Dineo Moeketsi is once again the ambassador for this prestigious event. I’ve seen her slay at the media launch of the event. She then slayed at the Barrier Draw, so tomorrow is going to be a big day for the star. Can’t wait to see her – and the other fashionistas (not that I get fashion but you know what I mean).

There’s this charity dash with some of SA’s biggest celebs including my friend and wonderful co-host on Cliffcentral.com, Jennifer Su. Others on the lineup include Top Billing’s Jon Boynton-Lee, his lover Jay Anstey, TV personalities Kgomotso Christopher, Danilo Acquisto, Hayley Watters, Stacey Holland, Nicole Flint, Tamerine Jardine, Stevie French, Theo Jantjies, rugby stars Robbie Coetzee and Courtnall Skosan too. They’ll all be running in the Racing. It’s A Rush Celebrity Charity Dash in aid of the SOS Children’s Villages of South Africa – a whopping R800 000 will be donated to them after the race. Incredible!

There’s also a mo-kini sprint in the evening, where some 40 dudes will be running in pink mankini costumes – it’s siff, but apparently a draw card for many 😉 A couple of beverages throughout the day are bound to get those daring souls onto the race track!

It’s going to be a great day out and I’m really looking forward to it. If you’re coming, let’s meet up… otherwise I’ll see you on the socials #SANSUISummerCup vibes.

Summer season in full swing – #ItsYourSport with adidas

On Saturday, I watched the Springboks take on the All Blacks at Twickenham… Well, I was supporting from my couch, but you know what I mean. The All Blacks were first up to sing their national anthem, and it was very obvious that sports brand adidas was their number one choice for their iconic jerseys.

I’m a big supporter of the Springboks and unlike many others, I’ll support them through thick and thin, through the ups and the downs. Unfortunately, we lost out of a spot in the final, but hey, I’m so proud of the boys. And while I will continue to support them throughout, I have to side with the All Blacks when it comes to their choice in training kit. I’ve been using the adidas Climachill for quite some time now. I love the technology used in the gear. For starters, it’s light, which is important when you’re training. The shirts also contain these aluminium spheres in the back of the shirt that take the heat and moisture out of the shirt, which helps keep me cool and dries the shirt faster. Sounds like a bit of a weird concept, and you do get a bit of a shock when you first put it on, but it’s actually a really cool and unique addition to the brand’s training shirts.

Besides the All Blacks and the awesomeness that is me (kidding) the brand recently launched its new campaign, It’s Your Sport range, in which they’ve called on some of SA’s most raved about stars to test out the gear via functional training. They enlisted the help of Springbok/Stormers rugby player Siya Kolisi, TV presenter Lunga Shabalala, fitness models Trevor Lagerway and Nicolene Mostert as well as South African swimming star, Jessica Ashleigh Cooper. You can see their videos here.

With this being an incredibly busy period for me, in terms of training, racing and triathlon season in full swing, it’s good to put the gear to the test. In the last few days I’ve done:

 

Wednesday: 1-hour run and a 3km swim

Thursday: 1-hour spin, 4km run and 30 minutes strength training

Friday: 2.5km swim

Saturday: 2:30 cycle out in the Cradle of Humankind, 20-minute run

Sunday: 1hr30 run

 

As you can see, it’s pretty full on and there’s a lot of cardio going on. So I’m using the Climachill gear a lot and it’s perfect for the cardio and strength training. Gosh, if I had to do some training with the shirt on in the pool, to kind of simulate the feeling of the wetsuit ahead of next weekend’s triathlon, it would probably hold its own. Let’s see, maybe I’ll try it this week 😉 You can follow my program by checking out the hashtags, #ItsYourSport #adidasTraining.

 

What gear do you use? Let me know what works best for you. I have some goodies to give away in the coming week, so stay tuned.

#AVonVoyage to Durban for Tsogo Sun Amashova race

A few years ago if you’d asked me to do 106 kilometres on a bicycle, I would’ve laughed in your face and thrown the duvet over my head in defiance. Things change, however, and now I do triathlons, run half marathons (still only half yes), I swim long distances, I ride both road and mountain bikes… and I do long distances at that. Is it hard? For sure. Do I love it? Couldn’t be happier. Health is wealth and I’ve been afforded so many incredible opportunities (Futurelife, Ride4Smiles, traveling to Brazil with Nike, joBerg2C and #NissanMagic) as a result of such a lifestyle change. It’s a blessing to travel, see the country (world) and keep healthy while doing it.

So at the weekend, I set myself another challenge… the Tsogo Sun Amashova Durban Classic cycle, in which I would attempt 106 kilometres, from Pietermaritzburg to Durban. Tick! It was a challenge, to say the least, but I absolutely loved it. I’ll definitely do it again and hopefully improve even more on my time, which, by the way, came as a shock. Sea level is the business! I had a great weekend with friends, but old and new and Durban is just what the soul needed. #TsogoShova 2016? It’s on!

Countdown to #TsogoShova

31

It’s early on a Monday morning, a beautiful day in Johannesburg really. I’ve been at the office for almost an hour and it’s actually nice having a quiet start to the day, sifting through mails and planning the week ahead. In planning the week, I took note of the dates, standard practice really. It just actually made me realize that I’m just 12 days away from completing my longest cycling race yet. The Tsogo Sun Amashova Durban Classic takes place on the 18th of October in KZN. I, along with many others, will be leaving the Pietermaritzburg City Hall in the early hours of Sunday the 18th and making my way down to Durban. The total distance? 106 kilometres – the longest I’ve ever done. Some aren’t as crazy as us 106-ers, so they’ve opted for the 65 and 35km respectively.

Tsogo Sun has once again come on board as the headline sponsor, and clearly it’s resonating well with participants and families alike, as over 10 000 entries have already been received. “The Amashova has been going for 29 years – but the headline sponsorship by Tsogo Sun has given it a new lease on life, adding activities and appeal to the event and attracting the attention of riders from elsewhere in the country and even from Europe,” says Noëleen Bruton, Director of Marketing Group of Tsogo Sun. “We are  proud to be associated with this  fantastic KwaZulu-Natal tradition – and we anticipate pulling out all the stops to ensure that all our Amashova guests experience a brilliant weekend away.”

If you haven’t booked your accommodation yet or you’re still contemplating entering, it isn’t too late. Check out these package deals below;

Tsogo Sun Amashova_hotel package special offers

If you’re not based in KZN, or you live inland, it’s a good excuse to have a weekend away and these prices are perfect for that. My heart skips a little beat when I think about this. I think it’s going to be a big challenge for me, physically and mentally, but I’m game. Anyone else doing it?

More info on the race visit: www.shova.co.za

For further information on Tsogo Sun accommodation etc, visit tsogosun.com.

Twitter: @TsogoSun

Facebook/TsogoSun

Watch SuperSport’s “Our Hearts Are In It” promo

The countdown to the Rugby World Cup is on and judging by some of the pre-WC games, we’re in for a treat. You may know me as an entertainment and lifestyle blogger, who has now become a triathlete, a keen fan of the outdoors and nutrition, but what you might now know is that I was a rugby player too. I played A-team, B-team, C-team and 6ths – that’s how well it went as I got older, haha, but I did love it. Saturdays at King Edwards was always a fun time.

So now as we make our way towards this year’s World Cup in England, loads of activations, experiences and of course marketing campaigns have popped up. This one has to be my favourite so far. It’s a promo by the world-class SuperSport and their promo is entitled “Our Hearts Are In It”. There is very little dialogue, but the use of visuals of former greats like Francois Pienaar, Breyton Pulse and Chester Williams, together with the likes of PJ Powers, Trevor Noah and Minister Fikile Mbalula make for a very powerful message. Check it out:

#goosies