Kenny Lah and Me

Reading an article on Slow Twitch web site about Kenny Lah. From the web site

“Ken Glah has won six Ironman events, finished ten times in the top 10 at the Ironman World Championships, and has raced well over 50 Ironman races and countless other triathlons in his career so far. Meet the legendary athlete with the flowing hair.”

“He had 10 Top 10 finishes in Kona spanning from 1986 through 2000, truly amazing.”

I was most interested in the amount of training he does. Asked about what his typical week looks like now versus 10 or 15 years ago he answered.

Ken: Well with my travel business the busiest time of year for me is from mid January until mid July so I am in pretty bad shape when I get back from Europe. After a month of trying to get some training in I can maybe be doing 300 miles (480km) on the bike by mid August, 55 miles (88km) running and 12,000 to 15,000 (19km to 24km) swimming but the quality is not very good until mid September so maybe I get 2 weeks where I feel like things are going well before heading to Hawaii. I am hoping to stay in a bit better shape this year in the spring and early summer so that I can get things going a bit quicker when I get home from the tours to the European Ironman races.

In years past when I was focused just on racing I was doing 500 miles (800km) or so on the bike, 70 plus miles (112km) running, 18,000 to 21,000 meters (28,800 to 33,600 metres) swimming and strength work 2 or 3 times a week for about 5 weeks before I would start my taper for Hawaii. During those big weeks there were some very good quality workouts with rides of 160 miles (256km) at 22 miles an hour (35.2km/h) followed by either a track workout of 4 x 1 mile (1,600m) in 5:20 and a total run of 10 or 12 miles (16 to 19km) or just a straight hard run off the bike of 12 to 17 miles (19 to 27km).

I’m now starting to get it why with my 210km riding, 40km running and 8km swimming a week I am where I am and he is where he is. I suppose another way of looking at is that I’m halfway there.


I am training for Ironman South Africa on 5th April 2009. This blog posting reflects on my experiences in training. I completed the Ironman in 2008 for the first time. I am incredibly social with the goal to finish primarily, have fun and learn. I’m by no means a serious competitor.

Confidence Builder

My long ride on Sunday (yesterday) was as good as last weeks was bad. Great weather, very little wind, and a route which was much more conducive to a long time trial ride (well almost).

We had a 40th on Friday night (we’re in that season with one or two every weekend). I didn’t really drink anything and got a lift home with friends leaving Dee to dance while I rested my legs. I got up at 5.30 and managed to hop into the pool at Constantia Virgin at 6ish for a 4km swim.

It was a great session and something I really like about the Mark Allen programme is that they make the swim workouts interesting. Every one slightly different and really brings out the best in me. Here is the programme that I did:

Warm up 300 swim, 200 kick, 4×50 on 30 sec rest. Main Set 1×1000 swim on 2 min rest, 5×200 on 30 sec rest making sure total time for the set is faster than the 1000 straight, 10×100 on 20 sec rest alternating between rest of 30 sec/15 sec. 200 kick. Warm down 100 easy.

I managed to take 10 seconds off the 5×200 which was a big push in the last set. The exercises are always designed in a way to push harder and faster which is great. I did a gym session after that. Gym consists of 12 exercises to work the muscles that I need to swim, cycle and run and then I do some situps and push ups to finish off.

Saturday night was another 40th which was quieter but I was exhausted by 10.30pm when we left after having filled up on some delicious food. I managed to get out on the bike at 5.30am and headed out towards Somerset West via Voortrekker Road.

Once through the built up area of Bellville / Parow the road is fantastic through Kuils and Elsies River. At Somerset West I took the back road up to Sir Lowry’s Pass village and then crossed the N2 down to Gordon’s Bay, Strand and back onto Voortrekker to head back into town.

I did one short stop after about 4 hours to refill my water bottles and eat some food. I had a craving for something salty so ate a packet of chips and drank half a Lucozade. I normally have Game in my water bottles which I refilled as I had some powder with me.

It was great to get off the bike and stretch. Overall I still felt quite good. Up until four hours I was averaging 30.2km/h which is a good average for me. That average is always keeping my heart rate below 138 which is my ideal fat/carbo burning ratio.

Hours four to five were fine but things did deteriorate in the last hour as I got back onto the Peninsula and did a loop down to Sunrise Circle and back to Wynberg to build up the km’s.

The packet of chips and Lucozade came back to haunt me and I had severe stomach cramps for the last hour and a bit. It was really painful but then probably good training as I’ll be prepared for a little unexpected pain on the big day.

My programme wanted me to do a 6h15 ride and I was wanting to fit 180km’s into that time. I managed to get through 180km in 6h11 which was great. This is a faster time than my Ironman time last year. More than the time though, last year I hadn’t done a ride as long as that ever before so this is a great confidence booster for my training.

This week-end I do a slightly longer run and a shorter ride 5h30 and 30 min run in a brick session.

I am training for Ironman South Africa on 5th April 2009. This blog posting reflects on my experiences in training. I completed the Ironman in 2008 for the first time. I am incredibly social with the goal to finish primarily, have fun and learn. I’m by no means a serious competitor.

Bush Running

This week was a bit different as I was away at a game farm with a client. I only had my running shoes with me so resorted to doing my short, long and one extra run. The short run was a 10km / 50min run which went well on Tuesday morning.

Wednesday afternoon I did 35 mins just to clear my head and stretch my legs after an intense day.

On Thursday morning I woke early and headed out at first light for a 26km 2h20min run. It went well and my recovery wasn’t bad either.

To manage my rehydration, I left some bottles of mineral water outside my hotel room and then did 5 laps of a route through the bush stopping to drink each time. After the run I drank loads of juice and water to rehydrate – I stupidly hadn’t brought any rehydrate powder with me.

It was a bit hilarious when all the liquid starting working through my system. At 11am we had a tea break and I started doing frequent toilet visits. This is quite hard when I’m in the front of the room facilitating a conversation. I eventually made a comment like, “I had far too much tea at teatime” and excused myself.

The runs were great in the bush. In the early morning I had a few standoffs with some Wildebeest (Bison I think they would be called in the US), some Zebra’s and even some Giraffes.

I didn’t get any swims or cycles in but will make up for that on the week-end.

I am training for Ironman South Africa on 5th April 2009. This blog posting reflects on my experiences in training. I completed the Ironman in 2008 for the first time. I am incredibly social with the goal to finish primarily, have fun and learn. I’m by no means a serious competitor.

Nice heart, shame about the legs.

Change of pace today. Spent the morning with Amy and Nina down at the water slide in Muizenberg and had a ball running up steps and sliding down with two very excited little girls. The wind was howling and after an hour or so the wheels fell off when the excitement turned to shivers and we headed home to warm up.

I grabbed my bags and headed out to the airport for a flight to Gauteng for three days of facilitation with a client. I pulled a jacket on and thought how different today would be from yesterday where I spent 5½ hours on my bike followed by a 30 minute run. It’s called a brick session and it’s purpose is to of course make me stronger for the bike but also to get my legs used to the transition from bike to run.

Saturday’s run had been hard and my legs were tired. Part of Dee and my celebration for our 10 year anniversary was to spend Saturday night at the beautiful Vineyard Hotel with their famous Angsana Spa where I had booked us each a full body massage. We had a two very professional young Thai ladies who showed us to our massage room with adjoining tables (see pic).

The massage was a version of a Thai massage which was delightful with the highlight being my back being clicked with both of my masseurs knees while she sat on top of me. Excellent. I grimaced a bit as my legs got a work over and I’m sure they benefited from having the stiffness worked out of them.


Dee very sportingly agreed me to do a ride the next morning which also gave her time to sleep in. Because of the time I needed to do and a lunch date I headed out just after 5am. “You coming back?” the concierge asked suspiciously as I walked past him in my cycling garb while he was doing what concierges do at 5am in the morning. I must have looked like I was doing a runner (or whatever the equivalent is called on a bicycle). I assured him that Dee was in the room and left my car key with him for good measure.

It was dark (sunrise 5.53) and not many people around except for those heading home from parties. These are the most dangerous people on the road for cyclists in Cape Town with a number of cyclist having been seriously injured or killed by drunk or high motorists in the early hours of the morning.

Talk about two realities meeting up. Or maybe not so different. Both the cyclists and the party-goers are out and about giving their body a good work over, both get lots of pleasure from it which in the case of the cyclist partly comes from stopping cycling and enjoying the achievement of a good ride while for the party-goer the enjoyment stops when the hangover starts setting in. Having been in both realities I’ve got to say they both have their place – just don’t drive under the influence.

I won’t bore you with the route I did, you can view it on Google Earth

It was one of those days where my legs were tired from the first peddle stroke. I made my way down to Cape Point via Red Hill and was relieved when I turned and became one of those smug ones who gleefully smile at the late starters still fighting their way into the south easter.

What was encouraging though was that my heart rate stayed within the ranges my programme says I should train in (118 – 138) which means I’m roughly burning half fat / half carbohydrates. It left like my heart was saying peddle faster and harder and my legs were not very willing. I guess this is a good sign as it means that my fitness level is increasing, I just need to increase my strength.

At the point it started occurring to me that my heart was more willing than my legs, I was at a bit of a loss because I really wasn’t feeling like spending hours more on my bike but had to push through the second half of the ride to get the benefit. Unfortunately a willing heart doesn’t help a doubting mind which was starting to wonder why the hell I was getting blown around on a bike when I could be enjoying a leisurely breakfast with Dee at the hotel.

I started zig zagging across the Peninsula looking for ways to make up time. I didn’t actually want to do as many hills as I ended up doing but so be it. I then stretched out the route a little retracing my earlier path and doing a bit of work into the Cape Doctor*. I did also discover an amazing road home coming back the other way. Cycling along at more than 40km/h on Prince George Drive with easy peddle strokes, smooth tar and the wind behind me made me forget how tired my legs were in the last half hour. What a pleasure.

I pulled into my driveway and getting off the bike was, as it always is, both a relief and painful in itself. The first few hundred metres are simply a shuffle to convince my legs that they must go up and down instead of round and round. Once I got into it though I felt pretty good as I did two laps of the green belt next to our house. Towards the end I actually felt like I had bounced back and while I couldn’t exactly run a marathon,

I’m in Pretoria until Thursday night. Something went wrong with my shuttle transfer to the hotel from the airport so it’s given me some time to write this and watch OR Tambo airport in action.

I packed my running shoes and will have to make do with just running and then fit in the rest of my weeks’ schedule when I am back. Next week I’m going to be writing at home most of the week so will be able to work my training around that and the kids lifts to school which is looking very complicated.

* The South East wind in Cape Town is known as the Cape Doctor as it blows away all the pollution and leaves us with incredibly clear skies.

Dale is training for Ironman South Africa on 5th April 2009. This blog posting reflects on his experiences in training. He completed the Ironman in 2008 for the first time.

Phew! That was hard…

Headed out at 6.30 this morning for my long run.

Each week consists of eight sessions. Two swim, two cycle, two run (a
long and a short each) and then two gym sessions.

My run today was a 2h40m which took my down to Danger Beach in False Bay.

There is nothing quite as good as heading out on the road while most
people are still sleeping and seeing the light of a new day just after

The way down to Dangers was comfortable enough. There was a gentle
south easter which made it cool. The hundreds of cyclists who were on
the main road were either grimacing into the wind or looking visibly
smug as they smiled at their opposite numbers who were still making
their way down to Cape Point and the South Peninsula.

At Danger Beach I did a short distance on the soft sand to get my time
to 1h20 and half way.

On the way back my legs did some serious suffering and my right knee
and left thigh were in agony by the time I got home.
The good thing is that a cold bath and some rest and I’m ready to go again

30 Years of the Ironman Triathlon World Championship

A friend lent me “30 Years of the Ironman Triathlon World Championship“, a book by Bob Babbit. The extract below from the forward.

“They run a full marathon, 26 miles (42.2km)?”

“That’s right.”

“They run a full marathon after they swim and they bike?”


“How far do they swim and bike?”

“The swim is about two and a half miles (3.8km) – in the ocean. And the bike is 112 miles (180km).”

“One hundred and twelve miles? That’s crazy!! How did they come up with those distances?”

“It’s what’s available. They do the swim right in front of the Outrigger Canoe Club, out and back. Then they ride around the perimeter of the island.
Then they run the route of the Honolulu Marathon.”

“Are they sure someone can actually do this?”

It seemed like a logical question.

“Believe it or not, it’s already been done. I’m sending you an article from Sports Illustrated. We’re just going to do a report of some kind, because the event takes the whole day.”

Jim Lampley’s phone conversation with his boss Dennis Lewis Coordinating Producer of ABC’s Wide World of Sports in 1980. Jim wasn’t sure he had heard Dennis correctly.

Swimming between Meetings

Busy day today. Besides being Dee and my 10th anniversary I had a bunch of meetings with clients about facilitation and executive coaching work coming up over the next months.

In between the meetings, I slipped in a lekker swim in the dam at Silvermine (top of ou Kaapse Weg).

I swam 3.8km in 1h08 which is in line with what I did last time just before Christmas (a bit disappointing actually as I would like to have done faster).

There is something about swimming at Silvermine. The dam is nestled in the mountain and the water is crystal dark mountain wate. So much better than the water at the Virgin Active which has more parts chlorine than most pools.

To measure my distance I put my Garmin inside a zip lock and slip it inside my swimming cap. If I set a training programme on the Garmin to do 4 laps of 950 metres then I can swim laps and I hear a beep at the end of every lap.

Satellite technology at its best in Africa.

I had to dash after the swim to my next meeting at Knead on the Muizenberg beach front. Great hot chocolate and tapas to put back some of the calories.

I’m back

When I woke up Saturday morning to do the Totalsports my flu took a back seat for the race. While I was racing my body clearly decided it needed to put all energy into the racing and flu would have to wait.

On the drive back from Kleinmond on Saturday afternoon, Dee sent a text to say that Nina, my youngest had been taken out by a stomach bug which turned out to be a gastro flu like thing. Amy proceeded to go down with the same thing and although my symptoms have been mild, I’ve been coughing and feeling dizzy for a couple of days now.

I decided to take it easy on the exercise. This training is always a bit of a balance between pushing my body enough to be making it stronger but not so much that I get sick. I normally get it right and the training programme I follow from Mark Allen is designed around a ‘train smart’ approach rather than a ‘no pain no gain’ approach.

When I took Amy to to the doctor yesterday I asked about training for myself and doc’s advice was to watch my heart rate. If it shoots up then stop otherwise keep going. So this morning I headed out on the road to do a 50 minute run.

Most of my exercise is done at between 118 and 128 heart rate. Really what I’m doing is training my body to be able to go as fast as I possible can for 12 or so hours on the day of the race, while maintaining a heart rate that allows me to keep going rather than bomb out and bonk as it’s called when your body runs out of carbs.

The run went well and besides a bit of coughing my heart rate was good and I managed just over 9km in the time. This evening after supper I climbed on my indoor trainer (road bike on a magnetic resistance wheel which simulates cycling) and did 90 mins. Indoor and without the wind I tend to leave about a litre of sweat under the bike.

Both ride and run went well and tomorrow I’m going to get back in the water and do some gym. This week-end I’ve got fit in a long ride and run amongst Dee and my 10th anniversary which is tomorrow.

Right now some sleep.

Totally Challenged

If difficulty is judged by how exhausted you are after a sporting event then the Totalsports Challenge (see previous post) was right up there with the Half Ironman last year this time. Maybe it has something to do with the time of the year because the full Ironman didn’t even take it out of me as much.

I did underestimate the Totalsports a bit, and then as often happens there is an additional  curved ball somewhere along the way. In this case it was the mountain bike which was one of the tougher ones I’ve ever done. I’ve used stronger language when describing it to friends last night.

It started with my chain wheel nearly falling off as I hit the tar of the main road. This took a few minutes of repair work. Then 2/3km’s from the start we turned onto the dirt and I started climbing which was about 6km’s up, like straight up. It felt like more than Constantiaberg mast but that could just have been that my legs were already a little worn out. I passed quite a few people walking which gave a sense of the difficulty (walking 5km’s into a 25km ride).

At the top my Garmin told me I was about 10km’s in and we started a few undulating hills. I studiply thought that I had done most of the work already and besides some minor climbs we had to be heading down now. Right? Well Right but with a twist, literally.

The downhill was fast, very technical (loose rocks – not stones), big gullys, loose sand and steep, incredibly steep at parts. So I came down quickly, it was bloody scary (I nearly convinced myself to get disk brakes – but not quite). Then we did some great parts through what must have been beautiful countryside if only I wasn’t gasping for breath and hanging on for dear life.

Hit 20km’s and found myself at the bottom of the valley. Must be some clever way out I’m sure. Not. Straight up again for the steepest climb of the day, admittedly not as long, only 1km or so, to get us up above Kleinmond with 4km’s to go. The 9km beach run which I had in my mind to jog with Lisa and cool down at the end of the day had shifted over the last 30 minutes from being “I’m going to enjoy the last stage” to “I’m not sure how I will survive the last stage!”

Hit the change over and Lisa had done her magic. She grabbed my bike and handed me something to drink and some Gu’s while I shed my cycling garb for the beach run which we did bare feet. My sense of humour was stretched to its limit after the bike but it was such a relief to get off and stretch my body out that the first part of the run actually felt quite good.

Lisa and I quickly sussed out that neither of us were going to sprint it and we’d just take it as it came. She had managed to drop my bike onto her leg when she was carrying it down to the paddle stage at Arabella so she had a hole which the medics had treated and she had taped up with some duck tape.

When we had chatted before the event, Lisa has mentioned that the beach run is hard because of the soft sand and camber of the beach. How bad can it be I thought? Well worse actually. High tide, very soft sand, a 20 degree camber and a head wind and on the way out, made the beach quite unplayable really.

We started a little routine which would go something along the lines of being brought to halt by a wave that had washed up to our knees and then one of us saying something like, ‘ok, we’ll just walk to the log and then we’ll run again’.

I had managed to start and stop my Garmin so I didn’t have an idea of distance. All we could see were people running off into the distance but no sign of the turning point. Trevor Ball caught up with us doing a fine effort as an individual and we ran with him until the mirage in the distance actually did turn out to be the halfway flag. We topped up with water and a few Gu’s and then started back which was easier with the wind on our back.

Coming back into the finish as Kleinmond lagoon felt a bit like coming in from a week long ordeal. Billy Harker was just heading out for the ‘beach walk’ as he termed it doing a fantastic solo effort.

We must have looked a lot better than we felt as we ran down the shute (either that or they felt sorry for us) as we got handed an extra goodies bag with the mandatory Mens Health supplement covering how to get six pack abs and learn 15 new sex positions. Well done to Kevin and Cath who beat us solidly in time and we think by one position in the mixed pairs. We’ll watch the Totalsports web site for the final results. It was a great day out.

We came in at about 8 hours 15 mins which we were very happy with. It had been a good say starting with a solid 12km paddle by Lisa at 6 in the morning at Gordons Bay. Despite damaging her rudder in the rather poorly thought out, drag your boat around a flag on the beach at the end of lap one idea, she set us up for a good day. My 1.5km swim felt good, the conditions were perfect and besides a few people zig zagging in the water and an elbow in my mouth was uneventful.

Lisa hopped on the bike and did a sterling effort to Kleinmond riding a fair bit on her own which made it harder. Our transition worked well and she managed to get bike and boat down to the water at Arabella before I got there at the end of the 13km run. What a partner!

She made the right choice in taking a surfski out on the Botriver Lagoon which had got quite windy and choppy by the time she started. She had to fight her rudder a bit and still did a solid 50m by my calcs. for what was billed as a 13km paddle but was probably a little less. I had time to put my legs up after getting myself ready for the mountain bike.

Thanks Lisa for all the organizing and been a fantastic Captain of team Scott-Williams. We do sound a bit like Artic explorers don’t we…. 🙂

Back to training this week for Ironman.

Totalsports Challenge 2009

The Totalsports Challenge consists of seven disciplines, and competitors can enter as individuals or as teams. Teams can consist of seven, three or two members. The Totalsports Challenge begins with a 12km surfski in Gordon’s Bay and a 1.5km swim, followed by a 50km road cycle to Kleinmond, a 13km road run to the Arabella, a 13km K1 canoe paddle on the Botrivier Lagoon, a 25km mountain bike leg back to Kleinmond and a 9km beach run on the Kleinmond Blue Flag Beach to finish.

I’ve not done it before and this year my friend Lisa and I are doing it as a mixed pair. She has done a couple of these before so she comes with the experience and I’m the newbie. While the event looks like fun and I’m looking forward to it, I’ve got an inkling of cold/flu like symptoms – very slight – but worrying. I’ve taken it very easy today (besides the mountain bike in the rain this morning) like having a short sleep over lunch time.

So the event will be fun but what will be even more fun will be the transitions. I think I get it easier than Lisa. She finishes her surfski and while I swim she needs to get ready for her road bike ride after getting her surfski out of the water. I’ll come in from the swim, get the surfski up onto the car, change into my running kit and drive from Gordons Bay to just before Kleinmond.

There I’ll park the car and take over from Lisa. She’ll find the car hopefully and drive past me while I run to just before Arabello Golf Estate. By the time I get there she will have got her K1 canoe into the water and if I’m lucky she may even have my bike ready for me when she returns from her paddle on the Botriver Lagoon. I then head around the Kleinmond Koppie (I’m sure that’s not the right name) on my mountain bike, return to Kleinmond proper and then we both take a jog down the beach for 9km’s.

It should be fun. I’ll keep you posted.