Walter Pennekamp hadn’t cycled for 30 years when he decided to do a long course triathlon as a challenge. Just one was his plan, and then he went sub 10 and someone whispered a word in his ear “Kona”. Triathlon is addictive they say…
I heard people say that Triathlon is addictive. Hard to believe when you start from scratch…
“Another 14K. Last round.”
My legs are really hurting.
“I did well the first 2 rounds. Think pace frequency!”
But my hamstrings are close to cramp.
“Why did I take that Energy drink at T2. Stupid.”
My stomach is aching. Everything is aching.
my coach Frank Heldoorn says.
“Hay don’t slow down on your pace!”
I look at him. He looks back and says;
“Welcome to hell and good luck on the last stretch!”
Off he is.
There is Ian, my 10 year old. He joins me for the last 4K.
“Come on daddy, you can catch that guy”
“I can hardly keep up with Ian, let alone catch anything or anyone.”
We both cross the finish; 9h53’. Sub 10 hours, who’d have thought that! Emotions get hold of me. A dream comes through; to finish a long distance triathlon. 28 weeks, 375 hours of training, supported by my family and coach. It is Aug 27, 2011 and this result is beyond my wildest dreams.
Yes, I could run and yes, 30 years ago I could ride a bike. And No, I couldn’t swim. I like challenges and the long distance triathlon would be a one off challenge. At the start of 2011 I was already late entering for most IM challenges in Europe. If it was going to be a one off, I wanted to do a special one, like the Norseman. In the end, I entered a Long Distance triathlon around the corner for me: Almere. Thank god I didn’t go for the Norseman as my first one. It would have been my last.
Training started in February. Not only the swimming was completely new to me. I also had to reinvent running. The focus was pace frequency. A completely different ball game which has let me to this day free of injuries. In May 2011 I did my first ever triathlon. Medium distance (3-81-20). As a complete novice I enjoyed every single minute of the 4h56’. I learned a lot. Especially about the mass water start and also how the transition area’s worked. Where to pre-position what.
In July I finally got my TT bike (after 14 weeks!!). What a difference. Our family holidays were built around my training sessions. Which meant early rides, runs and swims in the Dordogne and the Alps. This really helped building up strength for the flat course in Almere.
Disastrous Race Test
A week before the real thing I did an 8 hour 30’ training session as planned. 1 hour open water swim, 5 hour 30 on the bike and a 2 hour run. I was in bits. Completely wrecked. Huge alarm bells went off. Can I do it? Can I finish a long distance triathlon?
Frank asked me for my nutrition during that training session and concluded I drank too little and asked me for my nutrition plan for the race next weekend. I didn’t have a plan! We put a nutrition plan together. A simple plan and I decided to add an energy drink at T2. I didn’t tell my coach. Wrong move.
After Almere, Frank said that with this result I could qualify for Hawaii.
“That was never the plan Frank. And by the way, it is too hot down there.”
My wife, Sas, thought it would be a great idea to go to Hawaii and Frank reply was;
“just loose some weight and you will cope better”.
He planted a seed. I really started to enjoy the training and I saw massive rooms for improvement. To have an audacious goal is inspiring and would surely help my training sessions in the dark, rain and when I feel tired.
Goal Setting for Triathlon Success
Here is the plan;
Now I find my self focused on qualifying and participating for Kona 2014. That is the year I will turn 50 and it will give me time to massively improve on my swimming.
This is how it looks in my day to day life;
This year I focus on competing in the Embrunman. Next year Lanzarote and hopefully qualify.
Last year I trained 560 hours (average 11h40’/week): covered running, spend on the bike and swam .
Week 34 was the Almere long distance triathlon (3,8 – 180 – 42,2)
This year, until now, I am at 12hr30’/week. Started the year with three broken ribs and clavicle. Took 10 weeks to recover.
The event I am training for this year is the Embrunman in week 33.
Man, this is going to be a though one, and YES Triathlon is addictive!!