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) !
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In early March I was in the best shape I’ve been at that time of the year. To validate all the hard labor I took part of the Mudman duathlon, which I hadn’t done since 2009 (then my first ever duathlon) when I finished 2nd behind a certain Sam Gardner. I remember not being able to walk for a couple days afterwards. Up and down and up and down and repeat ad infinitum; nothing technical just a hard and honest race. The preps for Norseman started here. After a prudent start I slowly but surely ran past everyone and entered T1 with a 15sec lead, feeling easy. After 3/4 of the bike I was 1:30 ahead and just had to cruise home. Then somehow a rock (I believe, as this all happended underwater – yes we had to ride (and run) knee deep for about 100m each lap) hit my rear mech which got caught in the wheel and destroyed as a result. Frame got cracked too. Game over that was. + more
In March 2014 I moved in a new flat , and ALL my records got mixed up in the process. What seemed like a disaster at the time actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as once I decided to listen each and every one of them I got quickly addicted to rediscover my collection. I was literally digging in my own house. It took me about 18 months to go through everything, filing every record on the shelves and in the discogs database (6007 and counting), getting rid of a few hundreds (only keeping the ones I love 100%), and more often than not taking a trip down memory lane.
Obviously though, in the midst of all that, it’s not like I stopped buying new music…au contraire! Discogs tells me I’ve acquired 269 (!) new records this year, meaning records that were released in 2015 (old or new, whatever format)! If I were to add all the second hand records I also bought on top of that while digging and do a bit of math, I believe I would come up to a scary amount of ££$$€€¥¥ spent exclusively on wax…a number which I’d rather not know to be honest! The vinyl junkie is indeed an addict – but a healthy one bien sûr.
The (very last minute) idea behind ironman Malaysia was to make one last use of my 2015 pro license, and depending on the result to decide afterwards whether to pursue the Kona dream and KPR race in 2016. Or not.
Obviously having never been to Malaysia the prospect of 10 days in the tropics in the middle of November was also a big bonus, and with my mum coming along it really was a no brainer. The big unknowns were my fitness level (what with 2 weeks off post xterra Japan in September then 1 week off sick in October and barely any running due to a micro tear in my left calf) and my ability to race long in extremely hot and humid conditions.
Here we are, finally, after years of procrastination and a couple of false starts: the first Beauty & the Beat release has landed, just in time to help celebrate the 10th year anniversary of the party. The track “Balafon Jam” by our mates Soundspecies has been a firm favourite since its release on a Boglewaltz comp a few years back, but sadly was never released on vinyl.
After asking John Talabot for a remix a couple years ago, and having him agreeing but not failing to deliver, we’ve asked ‘man of the moment’ Wolf Müller to step in…and that turned out to be the right move indeed. The resulting remix is a belter of a tune, deep, tribal, cosmic, a perfect match to the ethos of the party.
When I first heard a year ago about a new location for xterra Japan, I had the perfect excuse to plan another extended visit to one of my favorite destinations in the world. This was my 6th trip in the country in 4 years, and despite an embarrassing lack of progress in Japanese, I do feel like I have a second home here. And once again the trip lived up to and even beyond my expectations.
After spending the first half of the year preparing for and racing on the IM circuit, it was a welcome relief to be back on fat tyres and playing up and down muddy trails. I must have ridden my mtb 4 times max since Maui 10 months prior but I knew I had the fitness after a decent result at IM Kalmar.
In 2012 the race was in Marunuma, in the Gunma prefecture just a few hours outside of Tokyo, and it felt as remote as can be, with even a bear attack to add authenticity. This year it took place in and around Lake Kanayama, about 3 hours drive from Sapporo, Hokkaido. It didn’t look as stunning nor as remote as Marunuma, but still we had a nice enough background to play with. + more
The idea of a 30K ‘trail run’ the day after Xterra Japan didn’t seem too crazy initially (after all, running the marathon at ironman Sweden 2 weeks prior never felt that painful, and the recovery even less so), and despite a 5am start (why??), once I finished the xterra in one piece, I didn’t think twice before entering the race. I was eager to get a last run in before a 2 week hiatus in terms of training, and also to have a last good taste of nature before heading to the metropolis.
I went there with my Saucony Virrata, a light road racer that is, not in any way designed for any kind off road action…but I thought I’d be fine since the terrain was mostly dry…Also on the start line I found myself rather out of place, not only for being the only non Asian, but also for being by far the most evidently unprepared – no camel back, no sticks, no long sleeves, etc. All I had to save me was compression calf guards and a couple of salt tablets and Powerbar shots in my pocket.
Off we went and straight up the steepest slope that was (we’re in a ski resort here, why make things complicated?); we ran about 3 minutes tops and then we were all walking (well, scrambling) until a (majestic!) dear came out of the fog to tell us we’d reached the first summit. I took the lead as I assumed (go figure!) I’d be faster than anyone downhill, but by the time we’d reached the bottom again I was in 5th and not comfortable. We stayed in a group of 6 for about an hour and a half until we hit another vertical ascent and I decided to ‘attack’. As we were all walking up a 30% slope this was easily the slowest surge I have ever done (!), but still I got to the top in first and enjoyed all the cheers from the (many) tourists who’d risen almost as early as us (but instead of putting on the running shoes had opted for the gondola to take them to the summit – and enjoy the ‘unkai’ (sea of clouds) that forms every morning in the valley before disappearing).
6 weeks after the huge deception of a DNF in Nice, I could finally toe a start line again and put that race in the past. Here I was in Kalmar, Sweden, roughly half way between Stockholm and Copenhagen, an unknown part of the world for me, with a vague expectation of a top 5, a sub 9 h and a sub 3 h…Finish at the very least!
I enrolled my dad for the journey to one of the most civilised countries on the planet, one that seems to live on berries, mushrooms, salmon and alcohol. At 6-7 euros a beer, this is not exactly the cheapest place around, but luckily we didn’t come here to get drunk.
That should have been the big one. My A race for 2015, for which I had various goals like a top 10, a sub 9:15 and a sub 3:00 marathon. Totally doable after a decent IM Lanzarote 5 weeks prior, and being in the shape of my life in between these 2 races. But on race day I was empty… + more