Day 1: Fujairah
1st IM: 13:01h
Day 2: Ras Al Khaiman
2nd IM: 12:36h
Day 3: Umm Al Qwain
3rd IM: 13:22h
Day 4: Ajman
4th IM: 13:44h
Day 5: Sharjah
5th IM: 13:52h
Day 6: Dubai
6th IM: 14:08h
Day 7: Abu Dhabi
7th IM: 14:44hOn day 7, the last day of naseba7 …
As I was getting off the bike to begin my last marathon of the week, Mario said to me with a big nervous grin on his face:
To be honest…
many times over the past 9 months … I wondered to myself whether I would be able to complete 7 ironman triathlons in 7 days.
The theme of this adventure is like most things in life: “…but I have to make it happen.”
Since I started training for this challenge I faced several setbacks … I had to have surgery on both my knees and recently, I had a semi-major bike accident which was mentally and physically, like a big kick in the groin.
The Gulf News helped me make naseba7 happen …
9 months ago, Gulf News started to do a monthly column/interview with updates on how my training/challenge was coming along.
Thus, each month, no matter what shape I was in – or how bad my knee’s hurt, I would be interviewed.
After the first two page article they did on this challenge — there was no turning back…
Even during the challenge, Rania would call and they would pass me the phone as I ran …to give her live updates.
My coach and close friend— Mario Huys .. 46 time IM finisher (45 of his IMs under 10 hours), world record holder and first person to break 20 hours in a double ironman
(2 consecutive ironman’s both under 10 hours) … the coach of several ironman champions, as well as 4 different world champions…
To ensure I succeeded in this challenge, Mario trained with me every single day over the summer ….
Mario is 52 years old…
He not only trained with me 6 or 7 days a week, but he kicked my ass every single day we trained together.
Mario would have easily completed naseba7.
Two weeks before the race began, Mario had me gain 3-5 kilo (about 10lbs) to ensure I had enough reserves on my body.
Therefore, when the challenge started I was a bit heavier than I had trained, and I could feel my stomach on my thighs as I rode in the TT position on the bike that first ironman in Fujairah.
The first day was fun, and went by quickly. I naively, wanted to go fast, but the course was the toughest out of the 7 because of the mountains and the climbs I had to do on the bike.
A film crew with us the entire week to make a documentary.
Being constantly, nearly non stop filmed helped me stay focused.
After I completed the first ironman, we drove to Ras Al Khaiman.
An american friend and his wife came all the way from Nairobi, Kenya to the UAE to support me on the challenge.
Thank you Mac and Ashley for your friendship and support.
The 2nd Ironman was much better than the first because the course was much easier — flat and there was not much wind.
After it was over, we jumped into the car and went to the next destination to prepare for the following day.
Each night, Bob would already be at the hotel preparing my dinner as I was finishing the marathon.
When I finished, all I did was get in the car and travel to the hotel, walk in my room, eat dinner and then try to sleep.
Day 3 was my favourite of the week.
Umm al Qwainn is a small, beautiful Emirate. The police were very friendly, and took great care of me.
The course was flat and easy, and several people came out to support.
Once the challenge began, I got into a zone and focused on one day at a time, and never considered failing.
The 4th day – Ajman was my least favourite of the week. The roads were horrific. I am amazed that I didn’t get a flat tire.
Also, I am surprised I didn’t break my Mavic rims/wheels because several times I rode into deep pot holes in the road.
I would be staring at the road a few feet in front of me traveling 30km/h and suddenly I would hit a pot hole … this happened many times. I had to sit up for a large portion of the ride, but the wind made this difficult. Ajman bike course was hell.
After the bike, my marathon was through the city of Ajman … and the run course, seemed to last forever.
Sharjha was the 5th day … and the one Emirate I was the most concerned about because of its congestion of cars and people, but Matej and Mario designed a safe, easy – boring course.
A majority of that 180 km bike course was something like 14 laps around the university…
and then I had to run around the exact same loop several times. It was boring, but safe and convenient.
I had to hammer the last 5 km on the run to ensure I broke 14 hours … and I finished at 13:52.
I am proud to say that the first 5 ironman were each under 14 hours.
(The length of each course had been officiated and confirmed to be iron-distnace/IM distance by a representative of the Abu Dhabi sports council)
After Sharjah – Mario, Bob and I drove to my home. I live on the Palm in Dubai so the drive took less than 30 minutes.
We had dinner around 11pm, and I went to bed at mid-night.
By the 6th day, I had basically become numb to everything and my memory is cloudy.
Over the week, especially from day 3, Mario had me eat constantly throughout the day.
I had chocolate chip cookies, turkey sandwiches, nutella sandwiches, snickers bars, peeroton bars, pasta, lemon meringue pie from Bateel …. I ate very often. I would eat while cycling or running, but I would never stop to eat.
The 6th ironman took place in Dubai.
There was a lot of media at the swim, but the entire day is a big blur.
Our police escort ensured we were safe.
Matej and Mario designed an easy, but boring bike course.
When I got to the end of the bike course where I was scheduled to finish there was nothing there – no changing tent and none of the team – no finishing line, nothing. The police and Romain were lost??
I was dead tired, and my head was floating somewhere…
I turned my bike around, the police escort rode off in another direction, Romain was on my Harley leading me … he went the opposite direction of the police and I followed him.
4km later, we came across the finish line which had been moved because the police told the team to move it for safety reasons.
I rode 4km more …. So day 6th I did 184 km bike.
Several people from our naseba dubai office were there cheering for me, but I was very tired and angry because of the extra 4km’s.
Like a baby, I threw my helmet when I finished and shouted at the crew for getting me lost.
I quickly changed and started my run.
The Dubai marathon portion of that day was an easy 10km out and back twice … and then the rest of the run finished at my office in Dubai.
Romain had a big smile on his face as I was just about to finish the marathon….he told me in his thick French accent, “for safety…this run has been lengthened by about 500 meters…so its longer than a marathon by 500 meters.”
so the Dubai ironman day I rode 4km extra on the bike and then ran 500 meters more on the marathon.
4km seems like nothing, but at the end of your 6th consecutive 180km bike ride it’s a long time…
500 meters doesn’t sound like much, but at the end of a marathon after you have already done 5 other marathons over the week … 500 meters is a lifetime.
The finish of the 6th day was great because the office had a party and greeted me … I finished directly in front of our office.
My only real memory of the finish and this evening is laying on the floor in Sophie’s office getting the “Repuls” treatment and having my leg massaged by Dr. Schmdit.
30 minutes or so after I finished, Mario, Bob and I rushed off (and drove 90 minutes) to Abu Dhabi to check in the hotel, eat and get ready for the last ironman of the week.
Throughout the week, I focused on one day at time.
I never thought about the finish.
To be honest, I have only cloudy memories after day 1.
It’s all a big blur.
The 7th and final day was like being spanked by God.
The wind was crazy.
My swim was a mess because of the rough seas, similar to my English channel experience.
Before the swim began – we watched Danny, the guy who was in charge of the kayak get hammered by the waves. He flipped over and got washed around in the rough seas as he tried to go out. (I was too tired to laugh)
I finished with my slowest swim time ever of any IM distance swims I have done … 1:07 (all other swim had been under an hour)
The bike course was absolute misery…again, because of the strong wind.
Abu Dhabi municipality have been great, supportive partners.
They organized with the police, Matej and Mario to have me ride my bike by each major iconic building in Abu Dhabi … and then ride around the famous Yas Island for a majority of the bike.
Matej and Mario designed my bike course with their wishes in mind.
The police escorts in Abu Dhabi were very helpful, but the wind made this day miserable.
After day 3… probably the biggest problem, and pain in the ass (literally) was the chaffing along my inner thighs.
(from sitting on the bike for 6+ hours a day for 7 days straight)
By day 5, ingrown hairs along my inner thighs started to consume me…
Sitting on the bike was like sitting on needles.
“Painful” doesn’t begin to describe the sensation.
The last day was obviously, the most painful … not just in muscular pain, but the ingrown hairs in my inner thighs.
I have only a cloudy memory of finishing the bike and changing for the run …
Each transition throughout the week was strictly time managed by Mario. 10 minutes or less!
As I started my last marathon, I met an old teammate of mine from Cal Swimming, Par Lindstrom whom I have not seen since 1994.
Par works in Abu Dhabi and had heard about my challenge and came to cheer me on during the marathon.
It was a big surprise.
He rode in a golf cart with Romain right in front of me for the first 20km. (thank you Par!)
… I have only a foggy memory of the run.
Again, Matej and Mario had designed an ideal run course. Perfect. I ran along the sea on the corniche … and many people came to cheer for me which made the run tough, but fun.
When Romain told me “only 5 km left,” I picked up my pace … and the last 2,000-3,000 meters I ran at 13.8 km p/h.
Earlier, I had run by the finish area and heard two large screens playing various videos of mine talking about naseba7….
The entire Dubai office was there to greet me along with 2,000+ people… so I got renewed energy.
It was a cool experience.
I hammered the last portion of the marathon and ran faster than I think I have ever run in a marathon.
The last few hundred meters were completely surrounded by people cheering for me.
It was like running through a tunnel … incredible support.
Stupidly, I sprinted through the finish line … so I don’t have a cool finishers photo! Damn.
15 minutes after finishing, I got called on a stage which had been created next to the finish line.
I received an award from the Abu Dhabi Municipality and the Minister of Youth and Sport of the UAE.
I gave a speech, but to be honest, I do not remember much of that moment or my speech.
Although I ate constantly throughout the week, I still lost 9 kilo (20lbs) maybe a little bit more.
I slept very poorly the entire week, often getting less than 3 hours of sleep (I had a very tough time sleeping)
My memory of the week is blurred and not clear, like it was just a dream.
The days following the challenge are a distance memory.
I slept for 2 days straight…which I don’t really remember being in bed for 2 days straight!
3 days after naseba7, I attended my daughters 8th birthday party, but I don’t remember much, almost nothing of the party.
Today is 13 days after the challenge finished, and I just started to feel good again.
Anyone reading this blog who thinks they cannot do something…
Think about naseba7 and what we achieved.
Mario Huys is the ultimate coach. Mario coaches some of the top professional triathletes, as well as normal people like me.
If you are considering to train for your first ironman, or even to run a marathon … I suggest you contact Mario to coach you.
Mario coached me to swim the english channel so he is a proven great coach for any athletic activity.
Mario is coaching Sophie to run her first marathon (Sophie has never run in her entire life) and I am amazed at how well she is doing.
Thank you to my sponsors:
I used extensively/exclusively, Austrian based Peeroton nutritional supplements and products.
I got introduced to Peeroton while training in Austria, and I liked their products so much that I contacted the CEO of the company to offer to promote them at naseba7.
My being able to finish 7 iron-distance triathlons in 7 consecutive days has a lot to do with the nutritional support I got from Peeroton.
I did not use ice on my knees or legs during the week.
Instead I used a new technology from “Repuls” — a cold red light treatment.
Incredible how well this product works.
Dr. Schmidt from Repuls was with me the entire week and gave me great support – thank you Dr. Schmidt.
Crazy to think … I did 7 ironman in 7 days, but never had to use ice on my body.
Thank you LOOK cycles for the ultimate triathlon bike.
Raphael from LOOK came all the way from France to Dubai for the week to support me!
Mavic supplied the ultimate rims/wheels and bike shoes … light, and tough .
2XU provided me with great compression gear.
Day 4 of the challenge, my calfs were very sore … so I wore for the first time the compression socks – and they work.
I have recommended them to all my friends.
I ran in PUMA Faas500 … once I switched to this shoe, my knee’s did not hurt like they did before.
I am also grateful to the Coca Cola company who provided us with water, coke, and other Coca Cola related products.
Probike in Dubai gave me great support leading up to/and during the challenge. Anyone in Dubai looking to buy a bike or related products or even just to get service you have to visit Probike.
Special thanks and appreciation to Andy Collier and Simon Wrenn who took off an entire week of their lives to ensure they crewed for me.
And to think it all started a couple years ago when these two british cocks took the piss out me…thank you.
A special thanks to my triathlon club – the Pirate Ship of Fools… aka “Pirates” and to all the Pirates who sent me messages of support.
Thank you Tom (LT) for always taking care great care of me.
Arthur and Sheryl Zhang who came all the way from China to support me at the finish.
Dr Yusef has took great care of me over the year
Rania from Gulf News – I will miss our monthly interviews! Thank you for your interest and support.
Matej and Romain – great job.
I would like to especially thank the love of my life — Sophie.
Sophie not only puts up with my adventurous life style, but has alway encouraged and supported me to go after my goals no matter how crazy they might be.
Although we are far far far from the summit of the mountain we have chosen to climb together … there is NO WAY I would have ever been able to achieve or experience what I have these past 11 years without Sophie.
Thank you TEAM NASEBA for supporting me to make this happen – especially, Nic, Fabien, Berry, Thijs and Joost.
Lastly — consider this:
“naseba” is from the Japanese idiomatic expression: “naseba naru” …
english translation: “when there is a will, there is a way.”
“naseba” can literally be translated: “if you make it become…”
Never forget … a goal means nothing if you do not go out and do everything possible to make that goal happen.