Road to recovery and staying sane

You could tell me anything and I will do it, if it helps with getting back racing again. This is a triathlete crutch. You can tell them anything to enhance their performance and they will try it.

It’s early in the race season and I am still have a broken 3rd metatarsal. On the road to recovery from the injury I am trying everything.

I upt my input of calcium, magnesium and bit d3. I drink a protein shake daily. I wear a storm trooper boot to stabilize it. Surprisingly I started yoga.

It was always on my mind. I know my flexibility is really bad. I felt embarrassed doing my flexibility test in the vitality fitness assessment. I just never got around it.

Now I started with yoga and I am surprised how cool it is. It’s brikam yoga, which is hot. It reminded me getting of the plane in Mexico in 2009 after a cold European winter and I went. “This is where I feel at home. Hot and humid” love it.

I do feel how it will help with getting a bit more flexibility in my body. I also enjoy getting some of the toxins out of my body, but then again I sweat enough doing cardio. I also enjoy feeling as cool and chilled as a surfer dude … It just relaxes me. I am pretty hyper and the last couple of days I was just on a different station.

So a few more classes lets see if I can strike better poses

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Need a new goal and name change

So Ironman Klagenfurt is done and dusted. The aura is fading and a new goal for next year should come in the next few weeks. Don’t know where to start with that one.

Any suggestions?

One I have is to gun for a top 10 position in my age group at the Africa champs 5150 in November. I hope I will be on form for that one after recovering from my injury.

There is also the elusive sub 3 marathon I still want to work towards. Only need to shave of a few minutes from current PB.

What ever it is I will need to come up with a new name for the site!

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The mystery behind the broken toe ….

Yesterday I finally went to the Doctor. I took an appointment at the Rosebank Center for Sport Medicine and Orthopedics. What a great place. Physios running around and lots of Sport Memorabilia hanging of the wall. I felt at home.

I went to see the Doc and tried to explain to him why my foot is hurting. He probably thought I am a big joke, not knowing when and where it happened. His initial diagnosis looking at it was a broken toe. If it was I would have felt it much more and I was still convinced it is something like Tendinitis or worst Tendinosis. He recommended X-ray, obviously, and luckily they had it in the building. A scan was made and I anticipated the verdict ….

Looking at it quickly on his PC I did not see anything at all. It all looked in place. As soon as we magnified into the toe we saw a nice little clean fracture in the bone.


The verdict is out. I just swam 1.5k, cycled 40k and ran 5k with a broken toe. What is the mystery is still where, when and how it happened. I do have a few theories.

Base theory: I was suffering pain in the foot the week before. It could have been a stress fracture already at that time. I thought it would go away and did not pay too much attention to it.  The treadmill run on Thursday before D-day was ok and did not hurt too much. So I went into the race with it.  What next and here the options start.

Theory 1: Warm-up swim

I did the warm up swim in freezing water. I felt my feet being ice blocks. Getting in and getting out was not easy and it was a bit rocky. I did remember stepping funny on a big rock. But not registered anything. Probably because feet were frozen and excitement high.

Theory 2: T1 Transition

I came out of the water being happy. I nailed a good time and I felt awesome. Obviously the adrenalin was pumping and I was looking forward to the bike. At the exit it was a bit dramatic for some athletes and the warning was to swim until you feel the ramp. I exit fine, but I could have stepped wrongly there somewhere …. The bike was okay. The cycle shoes offer good support and I did not feel anything. Plus the adrenalin was pumping high in the veins.

Theory 3: Flying dismount

Entering the T2 zone I did a nice flying dismount from my bike unto the road. Bare feet of course with shoes still clipped in. That is quite a lot of pressure that hits your sole and landing on the left foot might have caused a stress fracture to turn into a nice proper fracture.  This is were I started feeling the pain, but then of course I entered the run and that is a lot banging on the feet.

So the options are plenty where something could have gone wrong and I wont break my head trying to dissect it anymore. The result is a clean fracture at the start of my toe, not the end parts that one can wiggle about. Unfortunately no tapping together toes and see how you can motor through the training. For the next 4 – 6 week I need to wear a Moon boot/Aircast. Looks cool. I just need two to balance it out, but that will classify me as weird.

4 weeks rest which in my mind currently is – 2 weeks complete rest of my foot and no intense exercise on it. I went for a swim this morning and I can pull buoy and drag my feet without it being pain full. I will focus the next week on strength training. Will do some heavy weights and try and manage some cardio to keep the weight down and the fitness up.

After 2 weeks I will start cycling / spinning again. Get the legs pumping without putting too much pressure on the foot. I am investigating Agua jogging.  I will look like a pensioner with the flotation belt. If I stay long enough in the pool my skin will adjust and get all wrinkly too.

Tri rock is the 22nd September and I was looking forward to that one. I wonder if I can still do it. I was looking forward to the ocean swim. Maybe I should turn it into a duathlon. Swim and Bike and do an optional run. It will  be an ego wrecking DNF, but at least it will be intentional. But I will get the experience in the ocean swim that I am longing for.

If by some miracle I am strong I might just nail the run ……. but more important is rest and recovery (two words that I hear and don’t understand the meaning off)

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A breakthrough followed by a DNF at 5150 Bela-Bela

Yesterday was the 5150 Bela Bela race. It’s a non drafting Olympic distance race. 1.5km swim, 40k bike and 10k ride.

There was a big build up to the race. The entire Troi club worked in the training hours together. Swimming, biking and running. We all became close as we shared the sweat and glories together.

Bela-bela would have been my first short triathlon and I was looking forward to gunning it a bit. The goal was also to sort out my swim and I spend lots of hours in the pool with the team and Tracy whipping our butts.

And it paid off. All my previous open water swims were a bit choppy and too much breaststroke oriented. I can do the mileage in crawl in a pool but out in the open it all changes. The pool sessions were good. Shorter distances, but much more continuous swimming and much less hanging around the edge for oxygen.

It was a wetsuit swim. I did a nice little warm up. I had to get the ice bricks from my feet and I had to get the heart rate down after the cold shock. The start was good and then the best happened. I got a nice rhythm, I got a nice pace. My sighting was good. I actually swam 1.54k which means I hit the course on track. I did a 25 min swim. Which I am really happy about. I swam crawl the entire time. Yay!!!!! I beat the open water shock and awe affect and I can now go out and just do it.

The bike was uneventful. A strong head wind and climb out of bela bela and nice down hill with wind pushing you to 70km/h on the way back and repeat.

I hit the T2 zone. Got a bit lost. Own fault for not scouting out the area properly before. But then my feet hit the ground running. My left foot started hurting on the front and top of the bridge. In good old words of Mo “motor through it and deal with it” I thought it would go away. That it only is a bit of transition issues. My form started to go off. I thought, pick up the pace and bite on your cheeks it will go away. After 3k the shuffle turned into walking. I still refused to give up. The course presented lots of opportunities for it, with loops were I could stop the race and shortcut back to base.

At 5k I decided to avoid any further damage and pain, I should rather pull out. A big mind game. I never had a DNF and it does not come easy to make the decision.

I did have a BT on the swim, although I was bummed about the DNF. I do see the positive. It was not my A race this season. This will be tri-rock. But my swim is awesome now and I loved it.

The atmosphere was also great with some of our team members hitting the top 10 in their age group. Well done Mo and Mike. Also Gill did her 1st tri, 1st brick and 1st 10k run. What a rock star. Dinner was served at the good old family restaurant called Spur and we did feel like a family.

So what is next. Ice, kineseo and maybe a doctor next week. Need to get the inflammation down. It looks like tendinitis in the foot. Hope it’s not chronic. I will have to back off the running for a few weeks. I hope it won’t have a negative affect on tri rock preparations. Will keep cardio up with biking and lots of swimming and do more gym work.

Fingers crossed that it will blow over quickly.

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Solving the constant hunger and avoid sleeping under my desk

Reading and research helps a lot. Except if you are so tired at night that you can not focus on the pages. But I have taken some steps to heart, reading comments from the pro athletes and researching some dietary recommendations for triathletes.

I used to have a major fatigue problem. Especially after doing a big session in the pool. It also lead to having an unsolvable hunger and I had to devour a huge quantity of food just to see the end of the day. Sometimes the space between my desk and the floor looked inviting and I wished I brought a duvet to work. Reminds of George in Seinfeld though …..

George sleeping under desk

The last couple of times I experimented with what I read and what the pro’s do. I used to go swimming or running on an empty stomach. I thought I still had enough energy left from last night to keep me going. I read dietary needs of a pro per day in interviews and all of them have something small to eat, before they even start. “Time to try it too”

Was this the missing formula to the recipe of a successful day. I do think so and have tried it now for a couple of months. I will have a small breakfast before I leave for my swim session. A bowl of muesli with some banana on top. After the swim I will still have a bagel to top up the carbs. Doing this has been a revelation and a break through. I don’t suffer constant fatigue from the training and I also don’t have a raging hunger.

Small things that have a huge impact on the entire day …..


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A smooth and emotional event – Ironman Austria race report

Firstly I would like to dedicated this event to my parents. Doing something like this shows you the fighting spirit we as Switala’s have. My mom is currently beating cancer and my endurance on the course is something I have from her and i know she can beat and endure chemo. My dad is soon turning 60 and his support and love for us all is showing and his encouragement is felt. It is good to be back closer to the family again after many years oversea and I enjoy every moment with them.

Finally the day arrived. I was full of excitement and can’t wait to hear the famous words being announced. “Thomas …. You are an Ironman”

The journey to the race and the execution of it came to the pinnacle on the 30th June 2013 in Klagenfurt Austria. It was a day that was a emotional roller coaster and it had all the elements of emotions compacted into one day and one event.

The night before I had calmness. I set 3 alarms; iPhone, iPad and a cheap travel alarm. Experienced in early morning races has taught me well. Get a good night rest and don’t let a stupid thing like “will my alarm go off bother you” I relaxed went through the entire event in my head, with my eyes closed and fell asleep.

4am arrived and all reliable alarms woke me up. I ate my standard oats and honey and went for a 10 minute jog. The best thing ever and I will do it before any event in the future. It does not take away any effort, but it does raise your core temperature and increases your pulse. This avoids a major shock to the system when plunging into the water. Relaxed I packed my stuff and woke up my buddy Tim to take me to the event.

I checked all my bags, fitted my bottles and nutrition. Scouted the entire area and headed to the swim start. I met up with Matthias. Got into my wetsuit and felt the excitement rising. Getting onto the beach for the land start with 3000 athletes was awesome and boom went the cannon.

The swim start was scary as hell. Fear was definitely an emotion. There was hitting and kicking and plain chaos. I did not get into a good rhythm. A lot of one sided breathing on nearly every stroke. I did plenty of breast stroke trying to sight. I also kept my distance from the buoy not to get caught up in the turmoil. But I did add an extra 100m to my swim according to my watch. Swimming down the canal was cool. Great motivation, but muddy and busy. I was ecstatic to be pulled out. For me the main worry over and I was mentally fist pumping, especially after overshooting my goal time of 1:10 by only two minutes. The best is, I know I can improve here with more confidence and open water experience.

The bike ride I can describe short and sweet and will put it all in one word. “WOW”. Now for the extended version. The bike ride was absolutely fantastic. The course was really fast. I was hitting the numbers I was hoping for and even doing fast on the downhills. I kept my cadence nice and high and backed down on the power to prepare for the unknown. There where 3 nice climbs with one that sometimes did not feel it will end. Plus you had to do it twice. I did the 1st lap really fast. Still need to download and look at the results. 2nd lap was slower and I did feel the fatigue getting into my legs a bit. One mistake I did, which was not major was my nutrition. I had saltpills packed, they just never ended on the bike. Not a major issue, but I think a saltstick dispenser is needed to avoid problems in the future. In the end I did a 5:44 bike. Well under 6hours and 14minutes over my goal time.

I also kept following my distance on my garmin. I did not expect the 180km to end so soon. Somehow I had 176 on my watch and suddenly I only had 10meters to get out of my shoes and made it with 1mm to spare on the redline. I ran into T2 with feet that suddenly hurt like hell. My foot bridge and sole was in pain and the next emotion was being worried. “I can not run with these feet, what is happening”. In T2 I stretch my feet, put my socks and shoes on. Saw my bike saltpills bag and did a Homer Simpson “Doh”. I cut out the thought of pain and ran with the mindset “my running legs will come to me, get the blood flowing and hammer it through”

Eventually it did happen. My feet stopped hurting, my running form was fantastic, my pace was good, hips where forward and body posture straight. I was getting into a 5:20 pace and I felt great. I saw Tim, Alma and little Yael a couple of times which just encouraged me to push harder. The crowed and atmosphere was absolutely amazing. I felt great and did a good 1:39 half marathon. And then I hit km 28. I just took some saltpills, had a gel and drank stuff from the aid stations. All the crap to put it lightly was adding up. I tried to calm down and muster it through, but km 30 came and so did all the stuff in my stomach. I did encourage it a bit by sticking my finger down my mouth. Not a dumb move to be honest. I felt better and only sticker to Pepsi and water melons. I did slow down significantly the last bit and walked quite a bit. But when I reached km 38 I decided to open the taps and do a strong finish. At a point I was nailing a 4:38 pace right to the finish line. Putting in all the effort just made the last stretch so much more memorable. I came down then chute, high fived the Morianz family and enjoyed the moment.

I heard the crowed’s encouragement. The announcers calling your name and ran towards the end. I did a 360 degree jump and realized I had to make myself presentable for the finisher photo. With the words being called out. “Thomas …. You are an …. Ironman”


In the end I did a 4:14 marathon. A bit slow. I was aiming for a 3:20-3:40. But there is always a next time. Final result was 11:23:33. Very happy and proud for a first Ironman. When is the next …….

I did go back to the hotel then for a shower and some shut eye. At 21:00 we went back and the atmosphere was absolutely amazing to encourage and see all the last athletes finishing. The last person came in with still 3 minutes on the clock. Which meant no one was cut off at the final. How awesome is that. What an amazing event and I will definitely do this one again in the future.

Lessons to take back

Pack saltstick better
Be more prepared for the open water. Pool sessions are great, but experience with mass starts and turmoil is better
Find a more acceptable nutrition plan
Longer brick exercises

3 alarms
No fiber a few days before race = no cramps in stomach
Jog in the morning = a winner
Hit the numbers in your bike well
Good running form
Wait for your cycling legs they will come
Discomfort after cycling will go away
Enjoy each leg for what it is. Don’t worry about running when biking
Enjoy the moment
Go to the finisher party to encourage the fighters coming in on the last hour
Search for the next race

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Checked-in and ready on an awesome spot

Checked-in and ready for tomorrow. Plus I have an awesome spot for transition bags and bike stand. Right at the edge. Number 1051.

Today started with an early swim. Registration and briefing. I late brunch consisting of pasta and and an early dinner, consisting of pasta.

Tomorrow will be an early start at 4am, with breakfast, warmup run and off we go

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Lots of oxygen

Did a quick run on my old route in Vienna. A nice 6k run around the ring. Doing this I just realised what a big effect the altitude has. Joburg being 1500-1600m above sea level is a great place to build lung capacity. Plus you have all the hills in Bryanston.

Being back in flat Vienna at low altitude is awesome and the race will be too.

Can’t wait two more nights to go!

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Nutrition plan plus 10 600kJ

Currently the nutrition plan is in its works. I have with me plus 10 600kJ that needs to be consumed


Day before plan
I will start with a huge breakfast. Bacon, eggs etc No Fiber.
Followed by huge pasta lunch later the afternoon
Light dinner to sleep well
Carbo load mixture

Race day
Early up for breakfast. Oats honey and easy to digest banana with a nice cup of coffee. Oh and peanutbutter
Before the race starts a cherry flavoured gel with some diluted energy drink
After swim another cherry flavoured hydro gel

On the bike
Caffeinated energy mix in one bottle. Isomix in the other and water in the third and bladder on bike
Hydrate as quickly as possible. Pee on the bike if needed. If the pros do it then so should I. 🙂
3 x powerbars for bike
3 x caffeinated energy gel
4 x energy gels
6 x salt sticks
1 bag jelly babies as a reward

On the run
2x energy bars
5x energy gels
1 bag jelly babies
4 x salt sticks

Protein shake
2x protein bar
And whatever I feel like eating in excess

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Hitting the airport gym

I had mixed feeling when I 1 st read about airport gyms. I had more a disbelieve they exist. But true and behold they are out there. Dubai, LA, San Fran, Zurich, Munich etc and they are awesome.
I did a long stop over in Dubai and went out searching for it. Normally they are affiliated with the airport hotel and you don’t need to leave security.

The Dubai gym is small, but has the vitals. Not popular so please don’t tell more people, we don’t want them crowded. Afterwards I had a nice, shower, shave and toothbrush. Perfect to refresh after an overnight 8 hour flight.

I fueled up then at the Jacks with a huge burger and some red wine and ready to head on

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