Other | Employee stories
TBA Group, Delft, The Netherlands
In December 2019 when the TBA Triathlon Team, which is made up of 4 TBA colleagues, started with their preparations for their participation in the September 2020 World Championship, they could have never imagined that a pandemic would thwart their training exercises. In the previous update, the team resorted to creative means to stay on track with their training schedules, managing their private lives and working from home. Just recently it has been made clear that the triathlon competition will continue, albeit in a different way, and the hard decision must be made which 3 final members of the team will be participating in the competition …
Due to the Coronavirus all sporting events I wanted to participate in, are cancelled. That means one must find the motivation elsewhere. Therefore, I set the challenge to exercise at least 15 hours every week. I needed 15 hours a week of exercising to be able to complete. I had to make sure that not a single day went by without exercising by either swimming, cycling or running. I’m proud to say I did just that in the month of May. Arguably the best method is cycling as its easiest to cover many hours, but I needed a few days of double exercising and different activities to reach the weekly 15 hours. Under normal circumstances, it’s a challenge to find the time needed to exercise, but without any social obligations, it became a lot easier. I used the weekends to cover the majority of hours, so if for instance, I had to visit family I combined it with cycling. Delft-Eindhoven (280 km round trip) or Delft-Amersfoort (200 km round trip) are great distances to work on you for your weekly exercising hours.
The runner's triathlon training schedule May
During my over-enthusiastic rowing period in my college years, I learned that for athletes there are 3 pillars which are important in life but you can only manage 2 fully. The 3 pillars in life are work/school, training, and your social life. When rowing, I needed to fully immerse myself in training to get the most out of myself, which resulted in a trade-off between studying and social life. Luckily rowing is a team effort and you can combine your social life a bit with training, and hence, leaving some room for studying. In university, I was able to postpone some courses, but with a full-time job, you can only to invest fully in either sporting or social life (or juggle with these two). Nowadays with the Coronavirus, my social life is reduced to almost zero and by biking to my parents I could combine my decreased social life very well with exercising. So, this is a perfect time to complete the exercising hours for me.
On May 21st I had a small biking get-together with Richard and Manasse to challenge each other in five individual time trials of 6km each. It was definitely fun to race a bit against each other and the track time between me and Manasse was really close. That was just the trigger I needed to really push myself in training. Looking at Manasse’s effort and the increasing red face of Richard, I guess it was very much similar for them.
To conclude this period of training, I participated in a marathon challenge. With a team of 4, we had to complete a whole marathon on June 6th. We all had to run 10.5 km as fast as possible and we were able to select the track by ourselves. I looked for a 10.5 km road downhill, but those are hard to find in the Netherlands. Luckily the (in)famous "Dutch Mountain" (= a very strong wind) was present that day and I found a nice road along a canal, where I could run 10.5 km with a strong tailwind. In such circumstances, personal records are almost guaranteed, but I was happy to get to a new personal best on both the 5 and the 10 km. On June 10th I participated in a 5000 m race on the 400 m track. It was a competition simulation with my training group. We were paced at a speed of 18 km/h by a top runner, and I was able to speed up a bit the last kilometre. I got to a time of 16:26 which was again a personal best. This verified that I’m well on track for getting to a top time at Triathlon competition.
Although there are far worse things happening in this world, the Coronavirus also has had a negative influence on the regular sports events and happenings. In preparation for the cycling part of the triathlon and for the TBA bike off, I had scheduled several events to work on my shape and to get up to speed again. The scheduled events, that I had planned to participate in, were amongst others the "Amstel Gold Race" (240 km), the "Koos Moerenhout Classic" (200 km), training courses on Tuesday evenings at the "Swift" in Leiden (something I had done already more than 10 years ago for the last time) and of course the yearly "11 Dorpentocht" organised by my own biking club in Stompwijk (150 km). Soon after the outbreak of the virus, one event after another got cancelled and with the start of the lockdown, it became clear that all sports event are cancelled at least until the summer. Because training in groups was now no longer allowed, exercising had to be done individually or with one or 2 other cyclists. A bit disappointing but on the other hand in a time trial or during a triathlon, you also have to cycle on your own as well.
The cyclist's new bike for the triathlon
For this reason, I had cycled more than ever before, and I was shaping Triathlon bike richardup nicely. My confidence had even grown with the new bike that I bought this winter.On a national public holiday, we scheduled a workout with the 3 of us (me, Manasse and Sander) at the Willem Alexander Baan (WAB), where we also would have scheduled the TBA bike off the following week to decide whether I or Manasse would participate as the final team member for the triathlon. During this training, it became clear that Manasse is cycling already faster than me. The difference was that big that to my feeling the TBA bike off was no longer needed anymore and for this reason, I decided to step back. This means that the TBA bike off has now a winner without even having to have a battle for the best cyclist to add to the final formation of the team. Congrats to Manasse!
Of course, I wish Manasse and the rest of the team all the best for the upcoming event. In the meantime, I will stay involved with the team. I'll keep training, as cycling is still my biggest hobby, and as I’m still a substitute for the cycling part, should something happen to Manasse. Furthermore, I hope that the event will still take place in September which will also mean that the virus is still under control.
The month of May has passed and we have recently received the news from the organization that the current World championships won’t be a world cup. The world championship is postponed to 2021, but so far, the organization indicates that there will be a race in September!
The swimmer’s outdoor training
Swimming is going steadily, I had some longer outdoor swims and my speed is almost at an acceptable level over 4 km in 75 minutes now, and that wasn’t even at full pull race effort and I was dragging a safety buoy behind me. This gives me confidence that the targeted 60 minutes for 3.8 km is within reach at least when we can draft behind each other. But even on my own, I will be able to come close to the 1-hour target. The swimming pool opened again by the end of May. Doubled up the concentration of chlorine for the extra tickling touch to the nose, but hey, we can swim again. The number of swimmers is limited to 12 only, and no-overtaking allowed. So far, I was rewarded with 1 training in the pool, and without the wetsuit, I had to focus a bit more on my core-stability in the water to keep my legs high up at the surface. Conclusion: Swimming outside in a wetsuit makes you lazy.
My training regime now includes cycling again, I really enjoy being outside and, although I cycled a lot for years, the last 2.5 years my racing bike was almost left untouched. It really is fun to be back outside on the wheels again and I now recognize that I missed it quite a bit. My core-stability training was changed to yoga-like flexibility exercises to keep my back and legs in shape. Working from home and decreased walking make my back vulnerable to little pains.
For June I hope to continue increasing my swimming kilometres and try to do some longer pieces on race pace. When I get some time in the pool, that’s the place to work on my technique. We keep on training, want to know more? Please ask. Want to join? Please join!
After spending all winter training indoors, I’ve left the Pain Cave (see the previous update) and started cycling outside again since April. I am amazed by how well I was able to fool myself to thinking indoor riding was fun. Riding outside for the first time did feel a bit like being a cow, jumping with joy when being released onto the pastures for the first time of the year in spring. And for those who were wondering: No, I didn’t need training wheels to hold my balance.
The cyclist's outdoor training
The big question was how the virtual power would translate to real-life speed and if I was getting close to the 36 km/h target. Weather conditions like temperature and wind have a rather big impact on average speed and can, therefore, make it a bit hard to keep track of progress. This does not mean you should ever complain about headwind though. Because if you cycle fast enough, you will always have a headwind.
Regardless, I’m happy to say, things are looking good! I keep getting better at riding at the targeted pace for long periods of time. There is still some work to be done to hold that speed for 5 hours, however. There is still some time though, and besides training to increase the power, there are also some possibilities to reduce the drag to ‘save’ power.
Although I was pleased with my own progress and was getting increasingly confident that the target would be feasible for me, I wasn’t sure how things were going with my rival, Richard. Maybe he was cycling even a lot faster? Earlier, we had planned to train together regularly and also a time trial over 40 km was planned for April. Obviously, that time trial was cancelled, and we were also not able to train together. On Strava I spied on his activities, but it’s hard to draw a conclusion based on that information.
So, I was quite nervous when we met for the first time, a week before the bike off was planned, to do an interval training together at the location where the bike-off would be held. To my relief, it turned out that my speed was significantly higher. Richard felt that the difference was too big and that the bike-off would not be required anymore. Although he has been training hard the last 6 months, unfortunately, this did not translate to sufficient racing speed. Thank you for inspiring me and pushing me, Richard!
So, all of a sudden, maybe after a bit of an anti-climax, I’m suddenly selected to be the cyclist. My reward: Having to cycle 180 km upcoming September. Yikes!
In November 2019, a brave team of colleagues at the Dutch branch office of TBA Group took up the challenge from a rival team from another company and signed up for the World Championship Triathlon 2020. Our rival team has won the European championship long-distance triathlon for relay teams in 2019. The total time to beat on 12 September 2020 is an impressive 9 hours and 1 second.
The times to beat, achieved in 2019, are:
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