#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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See Trevor Noah make history live in NYC

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If there’s one thing that could trump a trip to NYC, it would be seeing South African comedian Trevor Noah making history in the city I love so much. And Comedy Central is giving a lucky South African, together with his/her partner the opportunity of a lifetime… to see Noah make his debut on one of the most revered shows on television – and as the host of it nogal. On the 28th of September, Noah takes over The Daily Show from the legendary Jon Stewart, and if you’re the chosen one (sit down, it’ll be me haha) you’ll get to witness this incredibly proud and fantastic moment for Noah, his legion of fans and of course the nation.

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah will kick off on Tuesday the 29th and it’ll air every Tuesday through Friday on Comedy Central (DStv channel 122) at 21:00 CAT, just 24 hours after the USA.
To have a chance of winning your way to the Big Apple, head to www.comedycentralafrica.com, and answer an easy question. It really is easy. You must also follow the channel on Twitter @ComedyCentralAF, Instagram at ComedyCentralAF, and like Comedy Central on Facebook at www.facebook.com/comedycentralafrica.  Go people, don’t waste time. This is HUGE!

 

Reflecting on 2014, looking forward to 2015….

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Reflecting on 2014…. lessons and life skills

  • Have a vision board, or take a nice big piece of paper and write down your plans for the year. I did that on the advice of my friends and I’m happy to say I ticked off all but two of the things I wanted to. One is slightly delayed and may become a reality at the end of Jan, let’s see. The other is a work in progress and that will resume in 2015.
  • Empower yourself. If you feel like you aren’t learning, growing or being challenged enough, do something to change that situation. I enrolled to do a nutrition course through the Sports Science Institute of South Africa and it opened me up to a whole new way of thinking and also in terms of my next career path. In addition to the nutrition course I enrolled to do a German course. While I’m not fluent, I am on my way to conversing and hopefully come this time next year things will be quite different when it comes to my international language skills. I haven’t had enough studying though. There will be more and if it helps my earning potential, my job satisfaction and the like, I’m all in 🙂
  • I’ve learned that in order to do the things you love, you need to DO THE THINGS YOU LOVE. It sounds obvious, but how many of you are actually following through? Take a second to think about that and then make a plan of action and DO IT! I work with some amazing people at Cliff Central and at Futurelife and I’m honoured to be associated to such powerful brands. I turned thirty this year, a massive milestone and it’s strange to say, but I love it, despite what many may say. I decided to let go of a lot of crap, keep those nearest and dearest close and to let the rest go. I love New York City, as I’m sure many of you know by now. So I decided to go there for my birthday. It was everything and more and my relationship with that city is very much alive. It will happen, I know it will!
  • Do something to help someone or something. I ran the Old Mutual Two Oceans Half Marathon for the Put Foot Foundation and in doing so, I raised over R12,000.00 for them. I then participated in my second 947 Cycle Challenge and this was done in aid of the amazing Smile Foundation. R20,000.00 is what I raised for them and I couldn’t be more proud to be associated with these two organisations. Their work is incredible and if I can do my bit to change the lives of some of our youngSTARS in SA, I’ll climb Everest or ride and run many more races to do so 🙂

What I look forward to in 2015:

  • More learning
  • More traveling – and blogging, vlogging to accompany it
  • More unradio shows on CliffCentral.com
  • More love
  • More fun
  • More success
  • More personal change and growth
  • More exercise achievements
  • More partnerships with leading health, sports and wellbeing brands
  • More fun, engagement, debates and entertainment with you

I wish you and yours a very happy New Year. May 2015 be more amazing and your best yet! Thank you for making my year what it was. Let’s play again next year!

JVB travels: happy cabin crews… Smile Emirates and Air Canada

As you know, I’ve been doing a fair amount of traveling this month. My trip to Turkey was fantastic. Everything worked out just perfectly, the people were great and it was just such a jol. I then turned thirty and to mark the occasion I decided to spoil myself, by booking a trip to New York City (the place that has completely captured my heart and soul). I also have a dear friend, who is based in Toronto, Canada. So I decided to hop across the border and come and see her… Add another stamp to the passport, another city and country to the ‘traveled to’ list. Blessed beyond words.

I will share a lot more about my experience of both cities in another post – I’m fresh into Toronto and I’m heading back to NYC next week, so more to come. For now that I want to talk about one interesting aspect I’ve noticed along the route of my travels. Air hosts/ hostesses can really make or break your flight experience.

I flew To New York using Emirates, which is hands down one of the best airlines out there. There’s a lot of space in the cabins, the food is good and the in-flight entertainment is fantastic too. After a long stop in Dubai (never again), some five hundred people boarded the A380 en route to NYC. What an amazing plane, gosh but the flight was extremely long. That is inevitable because it’s a transatlantic flight, so one merely has to suck it up, but just be prepared for that folks. I’ve always found the Emirates cabin crew very friendly and accommodating, but on board the A380 they weren’t that nice. In fact, I found one in particular air hostess to be extremely rude and snappy. I asked her for some fruit during the flight and she gave me the “urgh, sigh” sort of expression. Short of her throwing the apple at me, I was a bit astounded by her attitude. She did it to a few other people too and I really wasn’t impressed. I had a similar experience on board my Air Canada flight earlier. And those air hostesses were worse than the Emirates one. Could it be a break down in communication because of the language barrier? Maybe, but bottom line is, they chose to be in the service industry so they must just be strong, put smiles on their dials and make sure they do their job happily. Yes, we all have bad days, but unfortunately the customer service industry employees should always bring their a-game, especially when it comes to flying.

I do still enjoy flying Emirates, but sometimes experiences like this are bad enough to make you change. Hence the reason I don’t actively choose to fly South African Airways anymore. Have you ever had a great/ terrible experience with the airline crews? Who do you rate?

Rio Corre and beyond

Jason von berg at Christ the Redeemer

I’ve been a little quiet since my last blog post, but it has been a little crazy since my last update. So as you know we were here to compete in the Rio Corre 10km run on Sunday. This happened to be my first race outside of South Africa and I can tell you it was a fantastic introduction to the world’s sporting events. Nike never holds back and it’s always a festive, fun and vibey experience. We had an early call time, but that allowed us to take them selfies and absorb all of the pre-race excitement ahead of the race. I must tell you standing at the start was somewhat intimidating though. Obviously there are people who take this really seriously, so all them stretching regimes, psyching themselves up was happening around us… The crazy, loud South Africans. Anyways, we also got ourselves in the zone and then we hit the road.

I have never experienced such incredibly hot and humid conditions, but despite all of that I managed to clock my personal best time, sneaking in just under forty five minutes… Granted it was a flat route, but whatever 🙂 I pushed hard and it clearly worked. I wasn’t the only one who did well. Top SA runner, Gladwin Mzazi won the men’s race in a whopping 28:30, while the Phalula sisters came in second and third respectively. Represent Mzansi, represent. It really was a wonderful experience and I cannot wait to do more (I have my mind set on the NYC 21km next year).

After interviews, prize giving and general hanging out, our much needed showers were in order. I’m sure many were pleased to hear we showered, haha. We then headed through to the Ipanema hippie market, which was just a glorified market really, but it was good to see nonetheless. Ipanema has a really great beach actually. I assume that the surfing is better there, judging by the amount of surfers in the water. And despite the shit weather, people still did some beaching. I guess it’s a Sunday afternoon, so when in a Rio really. Later we headed back to the race area, where there was a free concert featuring some of the local stars. Obviously we got into the VIP area, but it’s always nice being around the crowds and experiencing the true concert experience. So that’s what I did. I don’t understand he language, but the universal language of music resonates with us all and that was good enough for me. Sidebar, the World Cup is going to be incredible next year and if I have a chance,I will definitely be aiming to head back here. The new Nike jersey was revealed at the concert and for this soccer-crazed nation, this was clearly a winner. So book your tickets… I can recommend a good tour guide too 🙂

Yesterday was one of my best days… Again, the weather wasn’t working in our favour, but we went up to Christ the Redeemer anyway and what a special part of the trip that was. I’m not a very religious man at all, but the presence and complete sense of calm I felt up there was amazing. It’s divine to say the least and an experience I will hold dear to me for a long time to come. Plus the views from up there were beautiful, with the city peaking through the clouds and all. The rest of the day was spent shopping and eating… We’ve done a lot of that since we’ve been here, gosh!

And now, here I am sitting on the balcony of my hotel room looking out onto the ocean and reflecting on this awesome experience. It really came at the right time for me, personally and professionally and I’m very grateful for it. I said on Facebook that my love affair with South America would be starting here and that it has. I guess it’s because I see a lot of similarities to the way we are back home; passionate,friendly and alive with possibilities. I also enjoy the new culture, the language and it’s simply awesome. No lies, I’m not overly excited to be heading home just yet, but it must be done and this love affair will continue for many years to come – cannot wait. Thank you Seruscka, Peter, Pippa, Simmy, Claudio, Alexander and the rest of the Nike team for making this #RioCorre experience amazeballs. To my fellow travelers, (Zama, Lebo, Lebohang, Thato, KK, Busi, Gladwin, Laura, Tasha, Xoli, Obet) you guys rock the party. I loved traveling with each and everyone of you.. Thanks for the laughs and memories!

MasterChef SA, Late Nite with Loyiso Gola nominated for Emmys

We love a good story, don’t we? Well as South Africans we can be super proud of two of our television productions. MasterChef South Africa and Late Night with Loyiso Gola have both been nominated for International Emmys. MasterChef was nominated in the Non-Scripted Entertainment category, while Loyiso’s show was nominated in the Comedy category. Fantastic news and rightful nominees they are. MasterChef was shot beautifully. The mix of contestants, the drama that unfolded, the food that was cooked and the show in general was just winning. Loyiso’s show is sharp, intelligent, funny and brilliant. The mix of comedians who have joined Loyiso on screen works so well and the host himself is deserving of an Emmy and more.

On receiving news about the Emmy nomination, Pierre Cloete, M-Net‘s Channel Director, says that the International Emmy nomination for MasterChef South Africa Season 1 is a huge honour: “To have the international benchmark of TV award ceremonies recognize MasterChef South Africa Season 1 with a nomination for Best International Reality Series is not only an honour, but also a huge endorsement to all parties involved. We’d like to congratulate the series producers – Quizzical Pictures and Lucky Bean Media – for creating such a high quality series. We look forward to hearing the results of this prestigious nomination.”

“Late Nite News has become part of our national conversation. It has taught us to laugh at ourselves and see the truth through humour. I see LNN as an extension of our news service at eNCA and value the hard work and dedication from Loyiso Gola, Kagiso Lediga, Tamsin Andersson and the rest of the team.” said Patrick Conroy, eNCA Group Head of News.

Tamsin Andersson, Producer of LNN said that “It’s a great feeling to have this recognition. The LNN team has worked tirelessly and passionately on the show from the beginning and it is humbling and very exciting that the Emmy’s have given us a nod. Thank you to eNCA and e.tv for all the support”.

Big up to both productions. The 41st International Emmy® Awards will be held in New York City on the 25th of November. I WANT TO GO!

Continue reading “MasterChef SA, Late Nite with Loyiso Gola nominated for Emmys”

2013 MTV VJ Search rolls into Durbs

image001If you want to know one thing about it, it’s that I always wanted to be an MTV VJ. I had aspirations of being a VJ on the hugely popular show, TRL… I mean who didn’t want to interview some of the biggest names in the game, live and direct from Times Square in New York City (only the best city in the world might I add). Sadly, the closest I got to that was actually being an audience member back in 2007 and shortly after the MTV pulled the plug on the show.

The dream of working in NYC is still there and maybe it will be more behind the scenes at MTV, but that’s a side note. If you’re young, funky, fresh and fly and you want to work at MTV Base then here is your chance. The music network is once again embarking on its VJ search and you could be the chosen one. Auditions take place in Umhlanga this weekend and if you think you have what it takes to join the likes of Sizwe, Nomuzi Mabena and many others then head on down to Gateway Theatre of Shopping this Saturday. Full press release below: Continue reading “2013 MTV VJ Search rolls into Durbs”