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Race Wrap: Challenge Melbourne – Progression…

February 10, 2014

ChallengeNoticed this tweet from someone I have learnt so much from ‏@LisaMindel  – “Good food inspires me daily to fuel my passion. #health #nutrition #fitness #lifestyle. Get inspired!”

Below is a summary of this week’s Parsha Ki Tisa from

The people of Israel are told to each contribute exactly half a shekel of silver to the Sanctuary. Instructions are also given regarding the making of the Sanctuary’s water basin, anointing oil and incense. “Wise-hearted” artisans Betzalel and Aholiav are placed in charge of the Sanctuary’s construction, and the people are once again commanded to keep the Shabbat.

When Moses does not return when expected from Mount Sinai, the people make a golden calf and worship it. G‑d proposes to destroy the errant nation, but Moses intercedes on their behalf. Moses descends from the mountain carrying the tablets of the testimony engraved with the Ten Commandments; seeing the people dancing about their idol, he breaks the tablets, destroys the golden calf, and has the primary culprits put to death. He then returns to G‑d to say: “If You do not forgive them, blot me out from the book that You have written.”

G‑d forgives, but says that the effect of their sin will be felt for many generations. At first G‑d proposes to send His angel along with them, but Moses insists that G‑d Himself accompany His people to the Promised Land.

Moses prepares a new set of tablets and once more ascends the mountain, where G‑d reinscribes the covenant on these second tablets. On the mountain, Moses is also granted a vision of the divine thirteen attributes of mercy. So radiant is Moses’ face upon his return that he must cover it with a veil, which he removes only to speak with G‑d and to teach His laws to the people.

I read a very interesting vort from Rabbi Frand: The pasuk says, [Shmos 35:30]: “And Moshe said to the Children of Israel: Behold Hashem has designated by name – Betzalel son of Uri son of Chur of the Tribe of Yehudah.” (Almost the exact same pasuk appears in Shmos 30:2.) Every construction project needs a project manager – an architect, a general contractor, a person who guarantees to get the job done. That person in the Mishkan construction project was Betzalel son of Uri son of Chur.

In Parshas Vayakhel, Rashi identifies Betzalel’s grandfather Chur as “the son of Miriam“, sister of Moshe. Chazal say that at the time of the building of the Mishkan, Betzalel was only 13 years old.

When the situation looked hopeless, when the prognosis was desperate, Miriam was the ‘go-to person‘. She always had a plan. That was her legacy to her son Chur – do not walk away from a hopeless situation. Do the right thing. Chur did the right thing. He stood up and that action bore fruit – two generations later in his grandson.

Moshe saw that the people felt the task of building a Mishkan was hopeless. They had no experience, they had no talent, and they had no training. “Fear not“, he told them. See that G-d has designated someone who comes from a long line of ancestors who take action and whose actions bear fruit even in situations which look hopeless: Namely, Betzalel son of Uri son of Chur, (son of Miriam — Rashi).

When something is the right thing to do, one does not ask questions, one just does what is right.

The hallmark of the House of Miriam, which is the House of Chur, which is the House of Betzalel. When presented with impossible situations, one just does what one has to do; the best one can do under the circumstances. G-d will take care of the rest.

I just wanted to give a race report on last week’s Challenge Melbourne. Challenge Melbourne was basically an Ironman 70.3 (or ½ Ironman) event, But the good thing was it was in Melbourne so no travel…

My training had gone pretty well. I think I left my BRICK sessions a bit late.

The lead up to the event was a bit nerve racking as very high temps were being predicted – like 39 degrees by 11am! The organisers said the last time they had this was 5 years ago and funny thing – Colin Sacho and I did that event. I remember BONKING on the run. Colin caught me after being way behind on the swim and ride.

In the last few events I have changed my pre race eating which I think worked very well (more later).

I had a very early morning start as could check in and hand in bikes on the morning of the race. No pre-Shabbos plans to be made which was great.

I made sure my bike was more organised (i.e. fitted pump and attached extra tube to my bike) to try reduce my transition times (Larry I had a plan). I also carried my nutrition for the swim (under my wetsuit).

The swim was absolutely magnificent. The water was so calm, beautiful, warm  and longer than 1.9km’s (I did still wear a wetsuit). I think my T1 Transition was pretty good (Larry – What do you think!!). I knew it would heat up on the ride so I added some extra electrolytes for the course. Ride was on our “stomping” ground – Beach Road. I had to do 3 laps of 30km. I think I did a bike PB. With so many people on the course I did everything in my power to avoid drafting and being penalised. Slowing and then racing to get past people was a bit frustrating and some people really ride so badly. I go through the bike with my stomach feeling pretty good. This is always a good sign. I had followed my pre-race nutrition plan. My T2 Transition was also pretty good. I knew that as the run progressed it was going to get much hotter, so I knew I could not go full out. The run was 3 laps of ~7km. I had thought the run would be flat along the beach path, but it zigzagged between 2 paths and included some steep hill, running on soft sand and even some off-road stairs. This made the course pretty “technical” and tough. I could see by my splits that my times slowed at times during the technical parts. I felt pretty good on the run and where possible I worked with others to keep my pace. I also did all I could to try keep cool, including stuffing ice down my shorts and top and putting sponges of cold water down my back. I was very happy with my time. In the conditions we had I was very happy to get a PB. (Hilton Kalhlberg thinks it was Peptides!! I say lots of hard training!).

FamilyThe best part of Challenge Melbourne is that being in Melbourne I had my family at the finish line. There is nothing better than seeing family and friends at an event!

Once again I will jot down some lessons that I learnt from this event:

  1. As I mentioned above “When presented with impossible situations, one just does what one has to do; the best one can do under the circumstances”. Before the race we were offered to do a shorter event. I knew I had trained for a ½ Ironman event and that is what I was going to do. I had to slightly adjust my race plan and nutrition. But that was the CHALLENGE! To get through a tough situation and finish in a respectable time. As a note on the side some friends Larry and Daron did an event in Geelong on Sunday. The temps were also very hot (I think it was over 30 degrees at 6am), but worse there was lots of wind. Both guys stuck it out and finished – Well Done. Conditions looked bad.
  2. These long course triathlons are all very tough, but you need to learn from your mistakes, understand your weakness and try improving. Over the last few years I have been able to improve my times. I think a few things have contributed – Improvement in all disciples, a TT Bike – this definitely helps when you get off the bike, nutrition and working on my running, especially the second half of a run. I know I have a lot to learn and I hope I can still improve, but I am so happy with the ProgressionProgress I have made. Hard work pays off! (I do know that there will be some tough races in the future and my times will be down, but that is all part of the learning curve.)
  3. As everyone knows I have really been trying to follow a much healthy eating routine and I have also being trying to promote this healthy lifestyle. The healthy lifestyle seems to be gaining momentum and I am very happy to see that my kids school has introduced a “Healthy‐Eating Policy”. The school Rabbi, Rabbi Noam Sendor has written about the schools new – “Healthy‐Eating Policy” and he brought down the following torah thought on the topic which I would like to share: Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook[1] states that making a decision in life to eat better and exercise more is the first step in the process of Teshuva (Returning to G-d). According to Rav Kook, there is no realm of our existence that is bereft of an opportunity to serve G-d. It is G-d who created the laws of nature which dictate that poor nutrition and a lack of exercise are detrimental to one’s health. We say that G-d “desires life”—He wants every element of our existence to be vibrant and healthy. And so, if we come to the realization that we should improve upon our ways and commit ourselves to a healthier lifestyle—this is an act of profound religious significance. It is an expression of faith in Hashem as Creator of the world. As part of this process of eating “cleaner” I have been trying to improve on my pre-race nutrition. For Challenge Melbourne I did not carbo-load (rather relying on a reduced excercise load), I built on what I had tried at Shepparton 70.3 last November and followed some of the advice of South African nutritionist Mark Wolff[2] [3] (worth watching his Webinar – see below for You Tube link) – eat a big lunch the day before and a smaller dinner. In the lead up I ate no crap, no “white” based products and drank no Gatorade type drinks to increase my carbohydrate in-take. I ate lots of quinoa, sweet potato and other healthy foods including lots of greens. I did try drinking 2-3 litres of water per day. For my pre-race morning meal I had been practicing eating brown/ rye bread and bananas rather than white bread and jam and felt fine. As with trying to make further progress with my nutrition, my next step is to try and improve on my race nutrition and cut out all the gels, drinks and bars. I have a recipe for gels which I am looking forward to trying to make. As @LisaMindel said to me – “Great Ian Pamensky, so many healthy alternatives! Once you start, you won’t want to go back. Keep it up”.

In the same way I have progressed in my long course triathlons, I want to try make “PROGRESS” in everything that I do, I also know that sticking with this healthy lifestyle is so important for the lives of my family and me. I really love to promote this healthy lifestyle. I noticed the following tip from Michelle Bridges[4] in the Age on Sunday – “The trick isn’t to try lots of different methods and training programs, but rather to simply never stop exercising” .

“Golf is a puzzle without an answer. I’ve played the game for 60 years now & still haven’t the slightest idea.” – Gary Player. I think the same applies to Triathlon!!!

[1] Rav Kook was born in Griva, Latvia in 1865. His father was a student of the Volozhin Yeshiva, the center of ‘mitnagdut,’ whereas his maternal grandfather was a memeber of the Hassidic movement. He entered the Volozhin Yeshiva in 1884, where he became close to the Rosh HaYeshiva, Rav Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin (the Netziv). Already in his youth, he was well-known as a prodigy. At the age of 23, he entered his first rabbinical position. Between 1901 and 1904, he published three articles which anticipate the fully-developed philosophy which he developed in the Land of Israel.

In 1904, he came to the Land of Israel to assume the rabbinical post in Jaffa, which also included responsibility for the new secular Zionist agricultural settlements nearby. His influence on people in different walks of life was already noticeable, as he attempted to introduce Torah and Halakha into the life of the city and the settlements.

The outbreak of the First World War caught him in Europe, and he was forced to remain in London and Switzerland for the remainder of the war. While there, he was involved in the activities which led to the Balfour Declaration. Upon returning, he was appointed the Rav of Jerusalem, and soon after, as first Chief Rabbi of Israel (though the state had not yet been been born). Rav Kook was a man of Halakha in the strictest sense, while at the same time possessing an unusual openness to new ideas. This drew many religious and non­religious people to him, but also led to widespread misunderstanding of his ideas. He wrote prolifically on both Halakha and Jewish Thought, and his books and personality continued to influence many even after his death in Jerusalem in 1935. His authority and influence continue to this day.

[3] The Fitness Freak- Nutrition expert, fitness freak, health guru, wellness motivator, triathlete, physiologist, human being.

[4] As Australia’s #1 health and fitness expert, I’ve changed a nation, helping hundreds of thousands of people lose nearly 2 million pounds!


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  1. Hilton permalink

    Ian, while I jest that it is the peptides, I am in awe of your preparation. The physical training, your eating, your mental strength and the detailed planning when gettng all the things together for the race. And we know that the discipline in the planning and training is translated into fantastic results. Well done! May you continue to achieve your goals and better your times.

  2. Mom permalink

    Well written. Appreciated the strong msg. You deserved your positive results with so much determination & effort you give.

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