Recently I had the ‘opportunity’ to play records in front of a camera (a few cameras in fact) as well as a real crowd in our 2nd home that is Brilliant Corners. Fellow French man and house music royalty Jeremy Underground was on air before me, streaming to literally thousands of listeners.
Luckily Resident Advisor is a much more eclectic and connoisseur affair than Boiler Room’s, and we were both encouraged to dig deep and play records that were not necessarily club based. More like a radio show in fact, but in public and on camera.
I missed a turn…
One thing I get asked repeatedly by a lot of people (namely my mum and my girlfriend) is to explain the motivations behind this triathlon malarkey – when will I stop ? It’s a tough one to answer really as any endurance athlete can find new goals and challenges pretty much ad vitam aeternam. I think though the main reason I am still sweating buckets going nowhere in my living room in order to compete at pro level having now just turned 40 and despite having arguably a better career to focus on (phew, breathe here!), is because I know I still haven’t reached my full potential. And I want to (reach it). As per customary with elite sport, I went through as many highs as lows over the years, but somehow I tend to dwell on those missed opportunities a lot more than on the successes. As a runner I always seemed to get injured while at the peak of my form, and hence never got the times/results I knew I could have had. When I tore my Achilles in the final of the U23 french national championship, 300m for the finish line, that was one injury too many and I stopped my running career right there. I was in the shape of my life that day and fighting for glory and a definite PB when injury stroke again. This was a pivotal time in my life as I then took a 180º turn away from competitive sport, but the feeling of unfinished business never left me.
2016 will forever be remembered as a year to…forget ! Much has been said about the passing of David Mancuso and as far as I’m concerned it felt like losing a family member. I had come to the point where I thought David was immortal (as some people should be, really) and that he would always be around to guide us…well I guess he will, though not physically any more. With David’s passing, I for one have learned about my own mortality all too suddenly, and this came as a shock. I wasn’t prepared – no one was. However, if anything this has reinforced even further our essential need of dancing with friends, as often as can possibly be. Love is the message and music is our way of life, let’s never forget.
As if that wasn’t enough we lost other luminaries like Prince (whose music I will forever be playing and carrying around with me – starting with CREAM at the gong of midnight this past NYE), David Bowie, George Michael, Leonard Cohen, Sharon Jones, and too many more…and that gave us a really shitty year…which became officially one the worst year of my generation as we witnessed the Brexit, Trump and the rise of populism and xenophobia across the world. These times we are living they ain’t easy. Sometimes I wish I could just be transported to that first Loft party on Valentine’s day 1970 on Broadway, NYC, and just stay on that magic carpet ride to eternity…
However we still have a life to live, and we might as well bounce off and fight back…and party more ! In terms of musical output at least, 2016 was a vintage as good as any, be it for new music or quality reissues of timeless music. A lot less edits these days it seems, as people prefer to put out straight reissues, which can only be a good thing. As always I will try to compile my own personal favourites of these last 12 months. There are still many reasons to stay positive and look forward to better days. I’ll start with the best of the best releases, the ones that really were unmissable this year, before listing most of my personal highlights.
For my inner circle of music friends, there isn’t a lot that hasn’t been said about David already, especially since his passing on Monday the 14th of November, but for my ‘triathlon friends’ I thought this little tribute would be much welcome as I believe most wouldn’t even have heard of him.
I won’t do a full biography/music history here, as others are much more qualified and have even done so eloquently already, starting with this exceptional interview of David done by my friend Tim Lawrence, author of the dance music bible Loves Saves the Day (whose title itself comes from an invitation at David’s Loft party in 1970). Rather I will keep these reflections quite personal and link all the relevant tributes along the way.
Barely a month after the Norseman it was time, believe it or not, for some back to back racing. And not just any races. A tough 70.3 followed by an even tougher ironman (rated amongst the 11th hardest in the world by 220 magazine).
I took 9 full days off after Norway, which were necessary both physically and mentally, before putting in a block of 3 weeks of good training. Weymouth and Tenby had always been on the back of my mind and I had planned my DJ diary accordingly. 4 busy party week-ends in a row followed by 2 week-ends of racing where I hoped to be recovered and competitive. Not an easy feat with the constant lack of sleep and feeling of being on recovery mode from the week-end until Wednesday every week. However, as hard as the Norseman was, its run section was either flat or uphill, meaning no descent, much less impact and a somewhat easier muscular recovery as a result, with almost none of the dreaded blown quads and D.O.M.S.
In ironman triathlon world, early September means the start of the new season for WTS, and that the hunt for KPR points towards the next year’s world champs begins once more. All the top athletes who have qualified for Kona in October won’t be racing at this time of the year (except Harry Wiltshire that is) and so the races are more open. My idea behind these 2 races was that the results would give me a good indication of whether I should pursue the Kona dream in 2017 as a pro athlete, or step down as an age grouper come January 2017 and go there as such.
Un résumé de la course en français se trouve ici sur le site de Trimes:
My whole 2016 season has been shaped around this AA race. The preparation started at the beginning of November, when the list of selected athletes was announced. I must have read the race manual at least a dozen times to make sure I was ready come race day with every technical, physical and logistic aspects of this mythical race. That leaves plenty of time (9 months) to have recurring dreams about one of the most renowned and most coveted finish lines in the world of triathlon. The summit of the G.A.U.S.T.A.T.O.P.P.E.N.
Norseman means support team. You don’t race on your own like in a regular triathlon. Nobody will get DQed for outside assistance here. In fact this is compulsory, as the only 2 aid stations are at K25 and K32.5 of the run, some 8 hours + into the race. The team that follows us throughout the day is there to feed us, dress/undress us, calm our nerves, shout at us, encourage us, etc. This is one of the key aspects that makes this race so special. Then of course you have the course (unique and magical nordic landscape, cold fjords, 5 ‘cols’ on the bike for a total elevation of 3360m, and last but not least possibly the hardest run of any iron event with the 12K of Zombie Hill averaging 10% followed by 5K of fell ‘running’ (scrambling really) to reach the finish line, at an altitude of 1883m). Add to this a rather hostile and unpredictable weather, and that gives you a never ending yet unforgettable day out ! + more
On a personal level, Ironman France 2016 will go down a landmark, what with press articles, sudden increase in strava followers, and most importantly a new sponsor with KIWAMI !
Barely a few minutes after crossing the finish line I was on the mic with Mathieu Amielh, whom I knew previously from Triathlete magazine. He has now published a fantastic photo report of IM Nice fror Strava, in which I have a small role 😉
The morning after the race I had completed an interview with the triathlon website bible Trimes, which you can read here (in French).
Finally the good result (2nd French after all) coupled with my good looks (!) landed me a new sponsorship deal with my favorite triathlon brand, Kiwami. Believe me I am not lying, since I’ve been racing (unsponsored !) in Kiwami gear since I first ‘discovered’ the brand @ Embrunman in 2010 !
Very much looking forward to parade my Kiwami ass around as much as I can for the next 2 seasons !
Post Ironman Nice I allowed myself a full week of recovery (by that I mean not training, as I surely wasn’t sleeping much what with a few parties/gigs in a row…), and it seems my body really needed it as I was still limping 5 days after the race – my calves especially took a good beating on the promenade. The first few sessions back I didn’t feel so great, but by the end of the 2nd week I started to feel good again. To feel actually stronger than before the IM, in ALL disciplines (even in the swim, go figure). I even did a couple of PBs on my usual loop on the bike, and some really strong runs. Having now done a dozen ironman or so (and completed 8) I can see a pattern in that after an IM (even a tough/painful one) I start feeling stronger within 2 to 3 weeks later. Not a scoop, this is called overcompensation. All that to say that my plan for xterra France was to decide at the last minute whether or not to take part, but given the fine form it was a no brainer…I booked myself an airbnb in Le Tholy, some 25 min drive from Xonrupt, and off I went.
This was my sixth time in the Vosges since I first came for the inaugural xterra in 2010, having done 4 xterras from 2010 to 2013, and the great Geradmer XL road triathlon in 2010 as well. Why ? Because the races are organised by the Charbonnier family at a high level of professionalism, and because I fell in love with the region (Alsace). One year we had a massive heatwave, but generally rain is expected with mud a gogo. Also this is the toughest xterra on the circuit along with Scanno’s, meaning a perfect training race for Norseman 5 weeks later. Or so I thought…
Being back in Nice, where I have strong familial roots and where I spent most of my childhood’s holiday, I couldn’t help but feel more than a little nervous in the days leading to the ironman. After all this is the race where I had to give up last year 30k into the bike after falling sick the night before the race, following another DNF in 2011 this time 30k into the…run for my first ever ironman, when debilitating cramps had the better of me. This time though I was feeling strong and healthy after 3 solid weeks of training, and rather confident and determined to finish at (almost) all costs. The other goals were to do that under 9 hours with a sub 3 hour marathon. And there was even the dream of a top 10 (which considering the level of the field I kept to myself) !