#AVonVoyage to Dubai

Last Thursday I hopped on board an Emirates plane en route to Dubai in the UAE. I had a bit of a scare at the airport, with my exit permit not being issued in time, but luckily after several frantic calls all before 5 am, I managed to get it. The mission for the trip? Well firstly, to complete the Standard Charted Dubai Marathon… My first real marathon, really. The last marathon I did was in April when I participated in my first IRONMAN event. Yip, that was my first marathon. What a way to introduce yourself to marathon running, huh?

The last time I was in Dubai was in 2012. I had no expectations when I got there, and so my time there was a lot more than I ever imagined it would be. The city was vibey, fun and my friends looked after me real good. It was enough for me to start looking at any working opportunities there. It wasn’t meant to be, but now being based in Doha, Qatar, it’s a lot easier to visit the city. So upon my return to the city, I was absolutely blown away by how much it has changed. For one, it’s a lot ‘taller’. There are so many more buildings, so many skyscrapers. The Dubai Canal is a new addition to the city, and the Metro is fully functional too. This city is truly world class, and they aren’t playing games when it comes to proving how much they want to be considered as such.

I headed off to the race registration. Now usually you find a big expo with loads of stalls and brands showing off all their latest trends and products. So I was a bit taken aback by the lack of exhibitors there. In fact, I was disappointed because I was hoping to get myself a new pair of running shoes there. I mean, in my head there’s no better place than the number one hub for runners, right? Alas, it is what it is and the one good thing is that I didn’t have to stand in too long a queue, which is always a bonus. All wrapped up, all registered and now officially ‘poeping’ myself, I headed off to my hotel. If you’re ever looking for a central place to stay, I would definitely recommend the Metropolitan Hotel. It’s newly refurbished, it’s a short walk from the FGB Station and it’s very affordable too. The room was comfy and it’s close to the Burj Al Arab…. So it comes highly recommended. It worked very well for me too because it was about 3kms from the start and finish of the race. There’s also a really nice grocery store down the road (it sells biltong). PLUS if you’re South African, there’s a Mugg & Bean in the centre too… A little taste of home never hurt. Gosh, was that necessary. I vowed to get myself a banana muffin after the race, but that didn’t happen this time around. So I’ll just have to go back I guess 😉

On race morning, I got up early, enjoyed my High Protein Futurelife and then headed to the start. It was supposed to be pretty chilly, but to be honest the humidity kept it quite warm. Perfect for running really. After checking in my bag, I made my way to the start – EEEEEEEEEK! I’ve come this far, the only thing left to do now is to run. And that I did. I managed to find my rhythm quickly and I slowed my pace down too. Sidebar, I recently did a 21km training in Doha and I managed to do it in 1:38, which is my fastest. Granted it’s flat here and the weather is perfect. I didn’t expect to keep that pace for the marathon. In fact, I knew I had to slow down, and that’s what I did. I found a group of runners from Dubai, who were running a really nice pace, and so I hooked onto their bus and ran with them. At around 19kms, I need to use the little boy’s rooms, and so by the time I was done (like literally 2minutes), they were gone. I tried to catch up, but they’d upped their pace and I couldn’t keep up. I kept it steady, though and found another group to run with. At around 30kms in, the wheels started coming off. I think I’d pushed a little too hard. That coupled with old running shoes and too little distance training in the build up. It was possibly the longest 12kms of my life. I battled through, but I came out on top and managed to sneak in a time of 3:48… Super stoked about that one, seeing as though my marathon time in Ironman was a long 4:50.

A few lessons learned on the run:

– Don’t drink too much

– Get your nutrition right. All I wanted were some baby potatoes (my mum will be happy)

– Slow it down in the beginning, and pick it up for the last 10kms

– Do more longer, slower distance training in the build up

– Make sure your running shoes are conducive to running long distances like this

– Have fun

If you have any tips, please feel free to share with me too.

I really did enjoy the experience and I’m keen to do more marathons now… I’m a global runner and I love this ish. Between running, swimming, cycling and a combination of all three in the form of triathlon, expect more travel and race reports from me. I’m longing to go to Ironman South Africa, but it’s looking unlikely. New York City Triathlon in July is definitely on the cards – entry was paid for last year and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. Plus it’s New York City… My home away from home 🙂 As for the city of Dubai. Well, I do love thee. The pulse, the people, the forward-thinking types, the infrastructure, the cleanliness, the services, Dubai stays winning. I’ll be back there soon, but first we prep for ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi 2017 in March.


The #NewSunCity is coming

Do you remember the entertainment centre at the Sun City Resort ? It used to be the hub of a lot of activity. There was a casino in the centre many years ago. It then became the centre of all things fun, and the are was filled with restaurants and pubs, a movie theatre and retailers alike. I remember spending many an evening after the Miss South Africa pageants or SAMAs, standing in the Nandos queues to get some well-earned dinner after a busy working evening. Sometimes when the work was done and we felt like letting our hair down, we’d head to the clubs there for a couple of bevvies.

MiWay Sun City Ultra_ Jason Von Berg

But even before the clubbing days, I remember the arcade games, the hippos and crocodile games that used to keep me company for hours on end. In short, the entertainment centre was exactly that, and it appealed to young, old, the hungry and the party animals 🙂

Well, it hasn’t been around for a few months now and that’s because it’s getting a major facelift. This is part of the resort’s overall revamp, which should be wrapped up and ready to be revealed later this year. I went through to Sun City recently for the MiWay Sun City Ultra. So because I’m curious, I managed to get a sneak peek at what’s going down as far as the #NewSunCity is concerned. Check out some of the pics below.

I think this new entertainment centre is going to be quite something. It’ll still have that iconic Sun City look and feel, but just newer, fresher and a lot more modern. For one, the skylight in the centre is going to be incredible. No more artificial lighting during the day, but rather the natural rays from the sun will beam its pretty self into the centre. The restaurants, movies, retailers will all return. The Sun City Superbowl remains, which is great news. There are going to be some awesome new additions in the form of the ‘Walk of Fame’. I was told about this last year, but to see where it is going to go and how it will roll out is really exciting. I’m pretty damn broody at the moment, no lies. Seeing how they’re catering for the kiddies makes me even more ready for little VB’s, but while I wait for that stage of life, I think I might just bring out my inner child again. The new designs include a ten-pin bowling area, right next to the magic centre. So you can imagine how much of a jol the young and old are going to have there.

From a corporate perspective, the first floor will have a lot of conferencing facilities. Work hard, then play hard and boy is there a lot of playing to be done. The shebeen restaurant, the amphitheatre for some acoustic music sessions, the Valley of the Waves, the golfing… It’s all there, so it’s actually great for a team building or conference venue. I asked the team if they’d experienced a drop in reservations or visitors since the plans for the revamp were initiated. Not at all. In fact, they were at capacity from a reservations perspective was concerned, and the resort was buzzing with tourists and day visitors. I guess the warm weather and close proximity to Jozi and Pretoria helps a lot too. It’s also perfect for the whole family. This time, I stayed at the Vacation Club, which is perfect for the family or for a bunch of mates.

I hadn’t been to Sun City in a couple of months, and to see how much work they’d done in that time is incredible. The chances are the next time I head up there will be for the unveiling of the #NewSunCity and I cannot wait. Fun City… Obviously, I’ll probably do another triathlon while I’m there too, haha. Stay tuned, more on this to follow.


My first 70.3 Half Iron Man – Buffalo City


At the weekend I participated in what was the most grueling but rewarding sporting event and challenge I’ve ever entered. East London played host to this, the eighth Standard Bank 70.3 Half Iron Man, in which some 3000 athletes participated. I was one of them, and I got the medal to prove it. The distances are anything but easy:

1,9km swim in the sea
90km cycle
21km run

So off my mom I went on Thursday down to “Slummies”. After a long drive, I decided I needed to stretch the legs so I headed to the Virgin Active for a short 5km run. What’s nice about this gym is that your run on the treadmill looks on to the sea. What’s not so nice and is that sea was choppy, rough and what I deemed unfit to swim in. I remember saying to my mom that there was actually no way we would be able to swim in that. It was way to rough and the race organizers said as much in the race briefing the next day. Luckily for us, the wind changed direction and so the conditions weren’t as bad on Friday. I’d say my strongest discipline is definitely swimming, but sea swimming is completely different to swimming in a pool or in a dam. The closest I’ve come to Sunday’s conditions was in 2013, when I participated in Midmar Mile and still it didn’t match up.

On Friday, everything became very real. I had to register early in the morning and then headed off for a practice swim. The process of getting registered is really quick. The volunteers know exactly what is going on and they’re very friendly too, which is great for someone who is an “Iron Virgin” and somewhat nervous *raises hand. As the day progressed and the city filled up with athletes, I got quieter and quieter. The race briefing that night was fantastic. I must say Paul Kaye, the MC at most of these events is on point. He’s funny, informative and entertaining. He also doesn’t beat around the bush. He made sure to tell everyone that this is one of two of the most difficult 70.3s in the world… Boy would I learn the hard way 😉 they showed us a highlights reel from last year’s event and I couldn’t help but feel quite emotional. The fact that I got to this point was big for me. Knowing that in less than 48 hours, I would become one of those athletes to have successfully completed the race was huge.

The next morning I did a longer swim and I really started to feel more comfortable with the water and what my game plan would be. We then killed some time before heading to transition, where it really really got really real. Goodness, the nerves! Bikes, bags, nutrition, making sure everything was in check… I did what I had to and then I moved on. Ain’t nobody got time for hanging around there 😉 As you can imagine, dinner and bed happened quite early, as the next day would be an early start and a long ass day. 1:30 and my dear body clock woke me up, thinking, panicky… The works. Luckily I dosed off for a bit, before my alarm went off at 4:15. I made my Futurelife High Protein smoothie, packed my bottled and headed off to the start. I felt a sense of calm knowing the weather looked good and that the initially worries of us not swimming had now faded, so one last bike check and final prep done, I headed down to the beach. I was clam and ready to go… Seven months of hard work had come down to this.

My swim was amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever felt stronger in an open water swim like that. I made up a lot of time there, thank goodness because come the bike leg of the race I would definitely need it. To say the bike route was difficult is an understatement. It was brutal, horrible and for someone who isn’t fond of cycling at the best of times, I can honestly say I hated it. I won’t even try and sugarcoat this for you. It was kak. The wind wasn’t helping and I have never felt more uncomfortable than I did for those long, hilly 90kms. I also finished my two bottles by 45 kms, and I polished off another three bottles of water along the road. Thank goodness for those volunteers and thank goodness for the supporters too. When the going gets tough… Well you put you mental strength forward and you fucking put foot and go. That’s what I did. At 72kms I had no sense of humor and by 86 I was officially over that ride, but I persisted and once I got into transition, I regrouped, took a minute (9 more like it) and got ready for the run.

The run is usually pretty good for me, but I dropped twenty minutes on my usual time, which I guess is to be expected. I walked a fair amount, but when I ran, I ran hard. The last five kilometers were my best, in terms of timing partly because an elderly gentleman was pushing me to get it done with him. And we did just that. I was not comfortable and I was fucktardely exhausted but we did it and I thank him for that. It’s moments like this why I do this stuff… The camaraderie and motivation you get from people along the route is incredible and superb.

I finished the race in 6:33, which isn’t too bad for a first attempt. I lay down on the grass, with all my fellow ‘wounded’ soldiers… It honestly looked like a war zone, but the sense of achievement was just the best. I was extremely happy, but the reality of what I’d just done hadn’t and still hasn’t quite sunk in yet. It’ll get there I’m sure.

It’s not like I won the race, but I’m still extremely grateful to so many people for all their love, support and encouragement in the last seven or so months. The amount of training I out in was a lot, but that was matched with an equal amount of patience and understanding from friends and family too. So thank you. You know who you are 😉 To my mom, my biggest supporter and number one fan, I can’t thank you enough. You drove the long drive with me, both to East London and to the point of me getting my medal and I love and thank you so much for that. It really means the world to me!

Things I learned during this experience:
– Be disciplined. If you’re entering, make sure you really want to do this and make sure you put in the hours in the water, on the road cycling and running. Don’t think it’s just an easy thing you can do with no training.
– Follow a training programme or get a coach. I trained mostly by myself, which isn’t great. You need the support of your fellow athletes and coach and this is something I would highly recommend. I’ll be doing this, as I embark on my next 70.3 chapter
– Do as many open water swims as you can, and try squeeze in some sea swimming too. It will put your mind at ease.
– if you’re doing the Buffalo City triathlon, get on your bikes and do a whole lot of hill training. It’ll help you… A lot! Bricks sessions too. I’m a strong runner, but clearly I didn’t do enough of those sessions because I was flat after the cycle.
– This may sound odd, but check your socks. Make sure they’re able to withstand the long cycle and run. If not, pack another pair into your run bag and change them when you’re putting your running shoes on. I had the biggest blister on my left foot and to say it was uncomfortable would be an understatement.
– I battled with my hydration on the course. Mostly because it was hot, but this is something I’m going to do some research on because I believe I wasn’t the only one who struggled with this. I’ll get back those interested in this aspect of racing.
– Closely linked to this, make sure you do your homework with regards to nutrition. You need to figure out what works for you in advance, so that come race day you’re ready to happy with what you need. My Nutritionist advised me to have provitas with bovril in my bike, run transition. I realized on Saturday evening that I’d left them at home, so salty cracks it was. Pity I only had two because these helped immensely and that’s because my body was craving salt.
– I would also suggest that you get your transitions right. I’m useless in this regard because I faff. If you’re reading this and you’re the opposite to me, please share your tips… Suggestions very welcome.
– Lastly, smile!!! It’s a tough day out, but when the supporters along the route cheer you on, smile and engage with them… They want you to get this incredible journey done, just as much as you do. You’ve done the hard work, you’ve earned the right to smile even when your legs are burning and you’ve lost your sense of humor. You’re awesome… Own it!


A news update from me

If you know me, you’re a follower of this blog or on some of the other social media platforms, you’ll know I’m into all things pertaining to music, entertainment and lifestyle. It’s an industry I’ve been in for over seven years now and throughout those years I’ve been afforded many incredible opportunities to travel, interview some of the biggest names in the game and to cover many high profile events. It has been great, hard work (contrary to what many might believe) but awesome nonetheless.

My hours are very irregular and an 8-5 quite simply doesn’t apply to me, but it’s the game I chose and I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly. However, in the last two years my priorities have shifted somewhat. Going to every single event you’re asked to attend is impossible and sleep has become a luxury. I’ve also realised that as I get older, I need to take care of me. So I’ve traded all night parties for early morning runs, swims and even cycles. I eat better, I try and avoid the cocktail food at the events and I try and squeeze in as much sleep as I possibly can. In other words I’ve finally found the balance I’ve been longing for.

Recently, I’ve become more interested in triathlons, fitness and nutrition. I’ve invested in some expensive gear, showing how committed I am to testing myself. I recently bought a Suunto Ambit watch, which I’m using more and more now and learning too. I invested in a wetsuit for them triathlons and my Nike running shoes are being put to the test a lot too. “Witness the fitness” huh? Talk about a complete shift, but it’s all for the best I tell you. I realised that I’m getting wiser and so my body is changing. I therefore have become more aware of what’s good to eat and what isn’t It’s interesting how these things go.

I’ve also been a consumer of a brand called FUTURELIFE for quite some time now. It’s delicious and from what I gather, the sporting industry approves too. As long as I’ve been a consumer, I’ve become a follower too and to see how this brand has grown which has been great. A couple of weeks ago I saw an interesting tweet that made me interact with the brand more so than what I usually do.  Little did I know that this interaction would lead to a little partnership, which in turn has lead to this…  This week I was invited to be a lifestyle ambassador for the brand, and I couldn’t be happier.

As I mentioned, nutrition is a field I’ve become very interested in and so to work with a brand that is arguably at the forefront of all things healthy, is a natural fit. Look, I’m no professional athlete. I’m an average Joe, who works long hours, exercises when I can and eats normal quantities and food groups like you.  I participate in many events and outdoor activities across a variety of disciplines. I’ll be sharing my FUTURELIFE journey with you for the next couple of months, trying their new products, speaking to those responsible for ensuring their smart nutrition for life payoff line is exactly that. And who knows, I might even grab some interview time with some of the other ambassadors. I hope through this journey, you too will learn a thing or two. Sharing is caring J


Serving two purposes: entertainment and fitness

If you’re a follower of my blog, you’ll know that I’m a follower, lover and avid producer of entertainment, music and lifestyle content. However, a lot of you might not know that recently I’ve invested a lot of my time and energy into all things fitness; triathlons, long distance swimming, road and trail running and to a lesser degree cycling. I guess the wiser you get, the more your priorities change and this is my new space.

So from now on this will be a balancing act of entertainment content and my drive to stay fit and healthy 😉

21.1km Deloitte Pretoria Marathon

Now yesterday I participated in yet another road run. I’ve competed in several races before, doing a 10km here, a 5km there but I needed to pick it up a bit. So I signed up for a 21.1km Deloitte Pretoria Marathon yesterday. Runners had the options of participating in the 10km, the 21.1km or the 42.2km run, which many of them used for the Comrades Marathon. Living in Johannesburg meant that I had to get up really early. When I got to the venue, it was packed. Go figure. The race started at 6am (yawn) and off we went. It was a little challenging maneuvering around the masses (being a fast runner and all, lol), but in retrospect it was a blessing. I didn’t know much about how to pace myself and this offered the perfect solution.

Although it was a grade 4 race; a pretty difficult one, the route was fantastic. It was a mixed bag of rolling hills, gradual downhills and can I just say the burbs of Pretoria are but pretty. I surprised myself by running at a very steady pace the whole way. I completed my first 10km in 54minutes and managed to finish the race in 1h54. Again, this being my first 21 I didn’t know if that was a good time or not, but apparently it wasn’t bad at all. Stoked.

In time, I’ll get more technical with pace, fitness, recovery etc, but that will come with experience and understanding fitness better. Next week I’m tackling another triathlon. More on that in the week, but next up on this site are the Academy Awards. Live blog, updates and more to follow.