Samuel Johnson (that's him above), a close second to Will Shakespeare as the most celebrated English writer of all time, said this:

Nothing is more unjust, however common, than to charge with hypocrisy him that
expresses zeal for those virtues which he neglects to practice; since he may be
sincerely convinced of the advantages of conquering his passions, without having
yet obtained the victory, as a man may be confident of the advantages of a
voyage, or a journey, without having courage or industry to undertake it, and
may honestly recommend to others, those attempts which he neglects himself.
Knowing what I know now, I realise that I suffer from the affliction of hypocrisy. In trying to lead a puritan life of spartan values and noble endeavours, I have stumbled on the obstacle of a cluttered life and have sent my fellow athletes the worst information of all - misinformation.
This is what I actually I ate on Sunday's Half Ironman:
  • Breakfast:- 2 x hot cross buns, 1 x slice of banana loaf (Natalie's secret recipe), 1 x Energade, 1 x coffee.

  • Bike:- 1 x 1.5 bottle of Engergade, 2 x waters sachets, 1 x Vooma gel, 1 x slice pizza, 1 x Jungle Oats bar, 1 x salt tab.

  • Run:- 1 x Vooma gel, 3 x Coke, 2 x Creme Soda, 1 x handful jelly babies, about 10 x water sachets.
Things I missed out; :- 1 x bowl of oats, smarties/jelly babies, a couple of bottles of Powerade on the bike, peanut butter and honey sandwiches, no bananas.

The wheels started to fall off last week Thursday. Work has begun to ramp up and I skimped on planning for the weekend away at the Vaal dam. My sweet-sweet sister-in-law Lolly did the shopping for my brother Alby and me. Outsourcing your planning is not good especially when most of the information is in your head and when your mind is distracted with too much work. I forgot to tell her to get lots of things and when I did my own packing forgot half of the stuff I said I'd take down for the weekend away. This mismanagement of my affairs resulted in Saturday's lunch comprising, not of a good nutritious carbo-loaded meal, but three hotdogs.
Lesson Learnt #1:- Do your Own Planning.

I thought the Vaal Dam (where we were staying) was alongside the Vaal River (race start). Alas, this was incorrect. The two are 60k's apart separated by a desolate, badly lit and badly sign posted road. We were also sans GPS as this was given to the wives who would reach the race later in the day once the kids had woken up.

Alby's flat car battery at 4.45am was an indication of interesting things to come. Once we managed to start the car going with jumper cables, we relied on my out of scale google printed maps and headed onto the dark roads in search of the Vaal Pukke university.

We stopped off to get ice for the triathlon club cooler box and to get some directions to the start. After heading through a small town, we ended up doing what all good men do when they are lost:- follow cars that look like they're triathletes going to a race. For a while we followed a bakkie (truck) which was bicycle laden. After it turned into a driveway, we cursed and hooked onto the next car we could see. Thankfully this took us to the university.

Lesson learnt #2: Know where you're going

On arriving at the university, the first person I saw was uber-athlete Johan Stemmet. Before we registered, set up our bikes and the club gazebo, I popped over to go and say howsit. Having read the words in his interesting, funny and inspiring blog, he came across as a really solid and honourable guy. In person he far outshines the blogger. He even spent time giving me and Alby a heads up on race conditions and the possible head winds on the bike course. One cool dude who ended up smashing the course to bits and being beaten to silver by a devious athlete involved in the dark art of athletic subterfuge. Read about it here. I doubt that will ever happen to Johan again!
Alby (pictured above after introducing anchovy and caper pizza to the long club ride) is a social bunny. Registration turned into a gathering of who's who in SA triathlon and before we knew it we only had 30 minutes to put our bikes together, set up in transition, set up the gazebo and put on our wetsuits. By the time our bikes and running shoes were ready (having forgotten most of our nutrition in the car) we put on our wetsuits and hightailed it to the car park to collect the gazebo and cooler box. We could here the announcer in the distance giving the race briefing. I told Alby that this would have to replace our usual pre-race warm up. Our forearms were like Popeye's by the time we dropped off the gear and sprinted off to the river.
Lesson Learnt #3: always plan for the unexpected and, if you really must, allow for social time

The race itself went to plan. We had ridden 130k's the day before so we knew our bike legs were pretty mashed up. But we knew that doing a half Ironman distance race on tired legs would be good training for Ironman SA.

The swim in a word:- comfortable. The river was dark and dirty from recent flooding but I gave myself plenty of room at the start and swam wide of the mass start. I settled in behind the second pack and found a pair of feet which took me all the way round.
Swim:- 29.56 (139 HR ave, 155 HR max).

The bike was tough on tired legs. I had zero power on many of the slow inclines and had to spin over the few hills that we encountered. The last 15 k's into a headwind were taxing. I tried to keep the heart rate at 145 but soon realised that even this was a bit rich and settled to a heart rate of about 140. As I had left my spare gels, chocolates, smarties and jelly babies in the car, bonking was likely so I kept a close eye on not redlining the heart into the 160's.
Bike:- 2.43 (33kph, 141 HR ave, 158 HRmax).

My run legs were waiting for me at T2, neatly packed and ready to roll. I have had a few achilles and glute issues of late, but thankfully the race adrenaline masked it all and I ran relatively pain-free the whole run. I negative splitted the run which means my 2nd half of 47.35, was faster than my 1st half of 48.12. I had a few athletes who were ahead of me on the road and left them until the last loop of the 3 x 7k loop course before I made my killer move. I have a rule that no-one other than a pro athlete is allowed to overtake me in the last 5k's of the race. Some dude gave it a go, so I upped my pace and raced shoulder to shoulder with him ala Crowie-Raelert. The downhills are my domain and it was here that I heard the sound of a small detonation which I took to be the implosion of my compatriot's resolve. He faded after that.
Run:- 1.36 (4m33s p.k. average pace; 156HR average; 168 HR max)

My final time was 4.49 (average HR146, HR max 168 - thankfully on the finish line)

All in all a great day out with the family and I was able to run across the line with Jake which was pretty cool. I had a 14 second PB from my race at the inaugural ;o) Clearwater Florida 70.3 World Champs in 2006 which was the last time I did a half Ironman. I think I gained the 14 seconds because this time I didn't have to carry Jake who was only 1 then. Next time I'll carry Ben.

Hopefully this post will be a slight redemption in my attempt to be a man of action and doing what I say, rather than saying what I don't do.

In the constant search of virtue,


  1. you're always be a Spartan in my book R...roar!

  2. Rob
    It was a real honour meeting you Sunday. Wish we could talked more, maybe I'm to blame for you running out of time, chatting to you.

    Forgot to take pic together, after you left I was looking for you to have a photo. Remind me when I see you at IMSA. I am bad when it comes to taking pics, Kim is the one taking photos.

    Please remind me next year to start at your side not close to shore. Was nightmare getting smashed during first 300m towards turnboy.

    Where did you get Pizza on bike?

    Well done on excellent race especially after no taper.


  3. Lilly Rose, You make me feel like I am bulletproof and one dapper individual. You rock!

  4. Johan,
    The pleasure was all mine in meeting you. And trust me you are not to blame for me being late - that'd be my brother. He is renowned for faffing and getting me to do extra non-race stuff (searching for ice at 4am for team drinks!). He feels that we are socially obligated to look out for the team before ourselves. ;o)
    We had some leftover margherita pizza with olives and mushrooms from Nonna Mia (possible sponsor?!) and it was pretty good. Although, I did some research and solids are not as easily absorbed as liquid carbs. But I think I'll risk a small piece for IMSA as my something-special in my goodie bag.
    And a photo is definitely required for next time - I won't forget. Some insipiration for my hyperbaeric chamber (man-cave) where I do my turbo work.
    And stick with me in the swim - I seem to be lucky. Train safe, Rob