Friday, December 30, 2011

For Folks back home - This is Dallas

Dallas skyline

Finally coming around after some long hours in the air. 44 hours to be exact. For the most part the flight was a daze as I drifted in and out of restless dozing. I left South Africa on Tuesday morning and arrived in Dallas early Thursday morning South African time. My blood shot eyes had a story to tell and my mental fatigue was expressed throughout the outlining silhouette of my body. Woke up yesterday morning feeling rested but with a scratchy throat. I took a full day off to recover, ran some quick errands at the local Walmart, I was only there to get a quick list of things done however you cant but stop yourself from wondering around aimlessly looking at the variety of items on display. My new home is the perfect nest to start my training and today ill attempt to get unpacked. The weather is somewhat warmer than I expected but maintains a contrast far off from the high 30deg C I was enjoying back in SA.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Possible Race schedule for 2012

Here are some races that I will look to do in the new 2012 season. Miami FL is definitely on the cards and of course with my new residential address in Texas I will have to fly the flag high and support all the local TX races... If my performance rewards me and I am invited to the end of year World Championships then I will make it priority to get there. Some dates are close together because I will evaluate performance closer the time and decide on the race dates which will suit me.

3/11/12                XTERRA Miami  FL, USA                   
4/1/12                   XTERRA Camp Eagle        TX, USA                                                  
5/5/12                   XTERRA EPIC – Rustman               LA, USA                  
5/6/12                   XTERRA Gator Terra       LA, USA                                  
5/20/12                XTERRA Last Stand          MI, USA                                 
6/9/12                   XTERRA Moab  UT, USA                 
6/17/12                XTERRA Muleshoe          TX, USA                                  
6/23/12                XTERRA Mexico Championship  Mexico                    
7/8/12                  XTERRA Magnolia Hill      TX, USA                                  
7/15/12                XTERRA Brazil Championship       Brazil       
7/28/12                XTERRA Sky High             NY, USA                                                 
8/4/12                   XTERRA Snow Valley      CA, USA                                                 
8/19/12                XTERRA Wild Ride            ID, USA                   
8/25/12                XTERRA Lake Tahoe       NV, USA                 
9/2/12                   XTERRA Canada Championship  Canada   
9/22/12                XTERRA USA Championship
10/28/12              Xterra World Championships

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mantis and Moon

Made from a variety of  bottle caps,This design behind the door to the bathroom

Nothing organic in the local store.

Two weeks ago Myself and Jean-Michell (colleague from work) embarked on a journey down the South Coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal to visit a group of friends at a backpackers - Mantis and Moon. I packed a small backpack (no pun intended) with the bare necessities, one pair of baggies (swim trunks), slops (flip flops), definitely a tooth brush and the inevitable training equipment! Needless to say that the minimalist approach was certainly the way forward.  The lethargic state you cant help but get yourself into once you see this place was enough to make the clock stand still.There is so much to do but the tranquility of the place binds you into lazing around, taking naps in hammocks and staring out to sea while catching a ray or two on the sun decks. A great place for recovery after a big training block.

One of the many hammocks hanging about the place.
The arsenal of surf boards for a morning wave.

On Saturday morning the decision to take the first swim session off the point was not ranked as one of the top brain waves iv had. Beside the huge facade of water smashing against the rocks there was also an underestimated rip current sweeping anything in its path out to sea. Due to the nature of the rock point the giant swell produced some huge rights, barreling vigorously across the the ocean floor and producing some great surf. It almost seemed a crime that I was only entering to do a swim session. Never the less I made my way across the clam infested rocks and to the jump point. Clawing the rocks every time a wave broke and bracing for their impact whilst waiting for the perfect opportunity when eventually the set would die down and I could take a gap to take the plunge.The ocean floor seemed peaceful in contrast to the surface. Occasionally spotting some sand sharks, sea turtles and some smaller fish. I spent a decent amount of time with my head down. A swim session that was planned at an hour soon became a two hour battle! Way beyond back line relatively close to the shark nets where the Indian ocean current spat me out I began the long swim home. Arriving on the battered coast line some 2hours later from when I started the swim. Slightly frustrated and hungry like an animal I made my way back for a brunch.

The local resident parrot- Bongo

Proudly South African

The chill deck
The entertainment area

DaRe_DeVil Charity run

On Friday the 28th I took part in a Charity run In Durban Central aimed at raising funds for males with prostate and Testicular Cancer. A charity event that made complete and utter sense to me as a Triathlete and a definite feeling of responsibility to take part.
Some mates and I at the finish.
A crazy statistic like one in twenty four males have Prostrate Cancer be that diagnosed or not. Besides running the streets of Durban in peak hour traffic in only one garment of clothing it was reassuring to know I had done something in my minimal capacity towards a great cause. The stories of lost ones due to this disease is on going and we all need to take a stand. We all know of someone with Cancer or perhaps your relationship runs deeper so support the cause where ever you are. For any further Info check out the link Dare DeVil Run
I was branded with daREDevil

All the gentlemen before the start getting use to the bare minimal. I for one included, although now having run the streets I am rocking my Speedo when ever possible, be it public beaches or public pools! Perhaps also an incentive to get rid on my cycling tan.
the irony of this symbol
Had a good chat with this guy before the race, he had paired up with an office colleague and both were running in honor of a lost friend.
Even male dogs were represented
I funny sight seeing this pooch at the start with a representative Speedo as he pranced around, doing it for the furry guys.
posterous photo
Dwayne and I at the finish

The Youtube Video

Sunday, October 30, 2011

During this Interim

To begin telling you why I haven't posted to my blog in a few months would be a difficult onset, but I will try anyway. Perhaps its due to numerous changes and re structuring in my life. Some changes now that will determine a greater outcome later. I have learnt some amazing lessons in the previous months. Of which some include new business partnerships, old friendships ended and new ones started. The realization that you will travel through various journeys in life and interact with hundreds if not thousands of people and the truth is- you wont get on with all of them. The fact is people come from all walks of life and have contrasting experiences to yours, its not a crime not to like someone for what ever values they possess. Changes can also occur over time with people that you thought you knew. Friends which you have known for ages may change for the worse, greed and a hunger for material objects, whatever their drive in life dont be afraid to break way. You will see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Having said all that its back to my dream. A dream for now but in the last 7 months I have made the hugest gain yet. I seem to go through life in an unorthodox manner but somehow I come out on top. A week ago I heard notification that my visa application to emigrate to the USA had been approved. In the next few weeks I will be joining my better half In Dallas, TX. Setting up camp in a new country is daunting but I am well equipped because I have a core group of people who believe in me and my dream! To race and train while surrounding yourself by positive people is the surely the hardest emotional challenge an athlete can face.

Training on the other hand has also been somewhat of a learning curve this year. Finding a new running coach in the middle of this year was a great attribute to my performance. I had my running time down to 3:20 per km, but having not done the foundation training to support such performance was soon to create a downward spiral. Fatigue had set in and recovery became harder and harder with each surge in performance. As well as going about it with the header of my blog "First with the head, then with the heart" it was not enough, my passion and eagerness to keep performing got the better of me and each training session, recovered or not became about thinking with my heart. The want for more performance was addictive. Although mind over matter was certainly a factor in my sub conscious it was more the heart that did the talking.

A Friday morning when I woke, I felt as if a truck had continually been rolling over me . I remember sleeping all day, waking up for dinner and going straight back to bed. Saturday rolled around and my urgency and drive was gone. I had nothing left. My tank was empty and my mind was craving for something else. It was at that point the decision to take time off was a wise one.

Time off has been fun and relaxing, everything it should have been but now its back to business, I am currently in the tail end of a life guard course and come Saturday morning i should have another qualification to my name. My SPA lifeguard sea rescue. Its been amazing to have used this opportunity to do some cross training and maintain some fitness level because from next week Monday i start my new program for the 2012 US season. Im excited, enthusiastic and full of energy. Lets do this. One Life!

Here are some photographs of my activities in the last few months, good and bad.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My brain MRI scan and further testing

Getting into the MRI scanner

Until someone finally markets a portable, helmet-sized MRI scanner - and, yes, there are people trying to do just that - picking the brain of a sports person in situ is going to be a long time coming.
The main hiccup is that in most sports activities, even the non-contact ones, the head bobs and sways around too much. On the other hand, an MRI scan of the brain requires that a subject's head remains near motionless.
The technological hurdle seems insurmountable, then. Or so you would think. Recently Eduardo Fontes, a doctoral student from the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in São Paulo, Brazil, spent some weeks at the Medical Research Council/UCT Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine (ESSM) overcoming this snag.

After first hearing of the work of Professor Tim Noakes, ESSM director, on the relation between the brain and sports performance and how (and which) cerebral areas control exercise, Fontes was keen to travel to Cape Town to work with Noakes. And he came prepared.

In the hopes of taking a brain scan of a cyclist performing at peak, Fontes and his father, a mechanical engineer in Brazil, had put their heads together. They designed and built a makeshift contraption that allowed a cyclist to lie flat on his back, head kept stock-still in a helmet fixed to the bed of the scanner, while still being able to pump furiously at a set of pedals connected to a cycling ergometer.

Click here to see the video
The machine would allow the researchers to take an MRI scan of the cyclist completing a standard if punishing VO2 max (aka maximal oxygen consumption) test. This test measures the maximum amount of oxygen that a person's body can transport and utilise during a bout of exercise where intensity is gradually increased over time.

To get cyclists used to the head restraints and the sensation of cycling while supine, all this within the claustrophobic confines of an MRI scanner, Fontes called on the help of Charles Harris, chief technical officer in UCT's Department of Human Biology. In his workshop Harris constructed a mock-up of the MRI bed and scanner, and made sure the final cycling apparatus was scanner-friendly (no metal bits, for example).
Fontes ran the full tests and scans with seven well-trained, competitive cyclists. It took the cyclists a session or two to get used to the unusual set-up of the simulator, Fontes admits. "The first impression when they see it is, oh man, I won't make this. But after we improved their comfort - their head and their positioning - they're fine."

The prep work with the cyclists on the simulator - including full VO2 max tests - took place at the ESSM facilities at the Sports Science Instittue of South Africa in Newlands, while the MRI scans were done at the Cape Universities Brain Imaging Centre on Stellenbosch University's Tygerberg campus.
The project is breaking ground for the study of the brain during physical activity, and sets the tone for a string of possible new intervention studies to follow-up on this pilot work, explains ESSM collaborator and postdoctoral fellow Dr Elske Schabort.

"Because of the difficulty of the project, technique, equipment and methodology, limited information is available in this area of exercise science research," says Schabort, "and therefore the opportunity to be among the first to initiate such novel investigations, will allow great progress in our work to try and understand and describe the involvement of brain and central nervous system during exercise and performance regulation."

Now back in Brazil, Fontes is making a start on the analysis of the data. Firstly he and a team of international collaborators at ESSM and UNICAMP will calculate the specific demands of the atypical cycling position, and then cross-check that with what they find on the scans. The first results should be out early next year, says Fontes.

But the very early findings, at least, suggest that the results from the simulator and MRI scans were very evenly matched, confirmation that the simulator did its job. Now comes the brain-teasing stuff.

My brain scan ....