ballesterosdm's blog

22 Dec

Wrapping up a good season

Published by ballesterosdm



I started 2017 with a very simple goal, just training for fun. I had decided not taking part in many races but, as always, in the end, it was just the opposite, I raced more than any other season and it turned out to be my best year since I started my triathlon adventure.

In January the plan was pretty clear, train hard and race my first Mid-Distance triathlon with my brother. In our calendar, the V Desafio Pastor Islas Cies. This was meant to be the one and only race in the season, but as time passed, I became easy to convince to sign up for more and more events. Fortunately, training paid off and this year I beat all my personal bests. Among all races, I would like to highlight the following:

London Triathlon - Olympic Plus distance (1.5 Km swim, 80 Km ride, 10 Km run). After the bad experience I had last year in the Olympic distance, this year I decided to give a try at the Olympic Plus, to use this race to get prepare for the Half Ironman. Unlike last year, I beat some PBs in this one, it was my best Open Water swim to that moment (28:13 @ 1:53), and my best ride as well (2:29 @ 32.12 kph). It was also my best time in the “always-bizarre” London Triathlon running circuit (40:37 @ 4:04).

Dorney Triathlon - Sprint distance (750 m swim, 20 Km bride, 5 Km run)
A very good race with an even better way back home full of adventures and uncertainties. Thanks Gemma for making me do it! From this race I want to highlight that it’s my best time in the distance so far (1h 7m) and my PB at 5 Km run (17:32 @ 3:39), which is surprising because that time is even better than my best time “just running” 5 Km, without stressing my body with swimming and cycling before the run.

5 Km River Ardur Swim (5 Km). No doubts this was the best event I did this season, I enjoyed it as a child. A very good experience and a very good time that I won’t even bother to mention because swimming with the tide makes things much easier.

2 miles Serpentine Swim (3.2 Km Swim). The main reason to participate in this race was taking the first step towards The London Classics. It took me 1h 04m, way slower than I had expected, but it wasn’t bad, earlier this year I would have signed for a time like that without second thoughts (what am I saying!? Earlier this year I hadn’t believed that I would be able to swim 3.2 Km in Open Water and not dying in the attempt!). Fun fact, after the race I was shivering for longer than I was swimming, if you don’t trust me, just have a look at this video.

V Desafío Pastor Ilas Cíes (1.9 Km swim, 90 Km ride, 21 Km run). A very good race full of anecdotes and frustrations. It wasn't only my first Mid-Distance triathlon, it was also the first time I ran a half marathon (not even training I had run the distance before!). We were targeting a very optimistic sub 5h, but in the end it was 5h 11m, that could have probably been less than 5 if not because, as a good newbie travelling with my bike, I didn’t check it properly before the race and I ended up with my rear wheel half-braked (thanks Berto for your support and not giving up on me during my agony!). We ran a very good half marathon, with very good sensations and a time better than we had expected (1h 32m @ 4:23). During the run, we were feeling well and even chatting, which sort of annoyed other participants that were kindly asking us to work a bit harder. It was also my best swimming pace ever (1.9 Km @ 1:47), well, leaving apart the 5 Km swimming with the tide


I have no doubts that, sports-wise, it has been a great year (I can only compare it with the year I got my first Karate dan). Training with people alike with similar goals makes everything simpler and funnier.

What’s next? I don’t know, next season is a mystery. For now, it’s time to rest and wait, because “winter is coming”.

25 Dec


Published by ballesterosdm


thought, sports, sailing

It's been more than 9 years since I started writing in this blog (a few more if we take into account its predecessor). Since then, I have written an entry at least once a year. It's already December, and I have decided to do a brief summary of 2016 not to break that honourable tradition.

I could say that 2016 has been a year of changes.

After ten years training Karate, in January I decided to stop. I'm quite sure that sooner or later I will start again, but the truth is that since I moved to London it's never been the same, I had never felt as involved as I was in Gijón.

Anyway, since I'm a bit of an itchy feet, in January I also decided to start training with Premier Tri, a triathlon club in Southwest London. When I went to the trial session I realized that that was exactly what I was looking for, a very relaxed atmosphere that made me feel at home from day one. Obviously, I have improved a lot (I have already done a few Olympic distance triathlons, and next year I want to do my first half), but the main reasons why I keep training it's just this good atmosphere and the good moments... let's face it, I don't have a great future in triathlons! :D

Changes, because in May the former landlady told us that she needed the flat, so we had to move houses. Truth is that we didn't move far from where we were and we are still in Battersea. We are in a much better place now, but economically it's been also a considerable difference. After 3 and a half years living here, and given the price of renting, it's time to start thinking of buying a property, but with Brexit just around the corner, it's worth waiting and see what happens.

Another recurring topic in this blog is sailing. Although sailing hasn't been one of my priorities in 2016, earlier this year I passed the Marine Radio Short Range Certificate exam, one of the steps I need to get any of the Yatchmaster certificates. Without a doubt, the experience of the year, was crossing the English Channel in a weekend (in total almost 200 nautical miles). You can have a look at the track in and It was a very good experience, but much harder than I had anticipated, specially the outbound leg, where we had rough weather conditions and choppy sea, I have to admit that, for the first time, I felt seasick... but it was a bit weird, instead of feeling it in the boat (as normal people do), I felt it as soon as we stopped in France (can it be called soresick??). Anyway, I was OK, after a couple of hours of sleep on the way back.

Well, more things have happened this year, as for instance my first Mediterranean Cruise, but this is already too long.

See you next time!

15 Aug

My first triathlon

Published by ballesterosdm



Although at that moment it seemed to be quite difficult, almost a year ago I told you that I was thinking about participating in a triathlon. Well, I finally did it... but let's not start this story from the end, many things have happened this year.

On 1st January I run Serpentine New Year's Day 10k. It was quite good, so I decided that it would be a good idea to participate in a half marathon (sadly, this thought was the beginning of my problems). While I was training for the half marathon I hurt my knee, it's been 7 months and I cannot run properly yet, I'm still doing recovery exercises (as you have probably guess, I couldn't do the race).

In the meanwhile, after realizing I wouldn't be able to run for a while, I focused on swimming and cycling. My first, and so far the only one, cycling challenge, was participating with my brother in Orbea Monegros Mountain Bike Half Marathon. The truth is that taking into account that I don't have a mountain bike, and I mainly prepared the race using a static spinning bike, the result was better than expected.

To prepare the swimming bit, apart from going to the pool thrice a week, I trained in Serpentine Lido as well (you know, trying to get used to swimming with my "not suitable for swimming" wetsuit). I also took part of Great Newham London Swim, with a very bad time which helped me to undertand how difficult is to get oriented in the open water and how tough is fighting with other swimmers (fighting as in punching and kicking!!).

Step by step and after visiting the physiotherapist, I prepared the running trying to not stress too much. I had decided to participate in the AJ Bell London Triathlon (apparently, the biggest triathlon in the world). I had decided to run the sprint distance (750m swimming + 20Km cycling + 5Km running). My target was an hour and a half, but even the day before the race I thought it was a too optimistic target. Anyway, once I started, I realized I could do it, in fact, I did it (despite of all problems I faced during the first transition).

I don't know yet whether I'm going to race in another triathlon, but so far I'm happy with the learned lessons:

  • Don't underestimate cycling: on paper it looks like the easiest discipline. After racing in Orbea Monegros, I didn't even prepare cycling for the triathlon... it turned out to be a really bad idea, it was the hardest stage and the one I can improve the most.
  • I should have trained the transitions a bit more.
  • Tri Suits, swimming wetsuits... I guess they help, but they are not required.
  • Swimming in a pool is totally different to open water swimming: the technique is different and orientation is... well, who needs orientation in a swimming pool??
  • He who perseveres, succeeds.
05 Oct

Suunto Ambit 3 Peak

Published by ballesterosdm


gadget, sports

Suunto Ambit 3 Peak Black

It's been a long time since last time I wrote about my new toys, I think it's time.

On August, I started running twice a week during the lunch break with a collegue. After hearing that my brother had improved a lot his cycling performance with a pulsometer, I decided that I "needed" one too. When I was looking for a pulsometer I thought: "what if I buy one with GPS to avoid carrying the phone to track the workout?", and with that idea in mind I looked at the Garmin Forerunner family. Although that would have been enough, I thought: "why should I buy a running watch if there are devices out there that are capable of tracking multiple sports such as swimming or cycling?" (to be honest, I didn't need it, but that's me buying gadgets). With that new idea in mind, I looked at the Garmin Forerunner 910XT. When I was almost sure that that watch was what I needed, I thought: "if I'm buying a watch, would be better to buy one that I can use on a daily basis", and I reach to the Suunto Ambit 2. Reading reviews about the Ambit 2 and being about to buy it, I realized that in less than a month the new Ambit 3 would be available, which is basically the same one but with bluetooth to synch with mobile phones. This time I was totally sure, I registered in Suunto's web page and less than a month after that I received an email notifying that the Ambit 3 was already available for purchasing. Four days later I had it at home. Just in case you want to know, between the Ambit 3 Sport and the Ambit 3 Peak, I chose the Peak edition, because it comes with altimeter and barometer and, who knows, I could need it someday.

I've been using it for running, swimming, trekking and paddle boarding. I have to say that it works really nice (I love it!). GPS reception is awesome and it is very easy to use during the workouts (also as a daily watch). What has amazed me the most is how great it works during indoor swimming, it's capable of detecting properly the swimming style, the distance (based on the pool size and the accelerometers) and the rests. I also love the way it tracks the daily activity and provides live information about the recovery time suggested before exercising again.

If I had to rate it, I would give it 9 out of 10. The only caveat I've seen so far, is the lack of an Android application (at least until next year). Taking into account that nowadays there are more Android devices than IOS', who did have the "great" idea of releasing the watch before releasing the Android app? (most of the settings are done in the web application, therefore having a mobile app it's really nice to avoid plugging the watch to the computer every now and then).

Regarding the web application to track the workouts (moves), I think it's simply great. It's intuitive and it provides a lot of details. So far my profile is public, so you can take a look at my moves for the sake curiosity.

By the way, given that the watch was designed to do triathlon, I'm determied to train and participate in one next year, I have tought about the olímpic format. Who knows, I might be able to achive it.

29 May

A year later

Published by ballesterosdm



I know, I haven't lived a year in London yet, but I left mi former work at Fundación CTIC just a year ago and I really think that this is the proper moment to share some of the things that I have learnt during this time:

  • I remember my last day in CTIC like a sad one, it wasn't easy to say goodbye to 8 and a half years of my life, but I have to admit that I felt better very soon and in a short period of time I was adapted to my new life. Changes are not so difficult as they might look.
  • Friends are neither created nor destroyed they are only transformed. During this time I've realized how difficult is to keep in contact with friends when you are living away. On the one hand because I'm usually quite busy here and on the other hand because the people just carry on with their life, but the thing is that at the end of the day the job is not done. Anyway, in this city is pretty easy to know people and it's amazing how people that I've met for the first time a few months ago seem like if they had been always there.
  • IKEA effect: once you have established your routine (for me things such as, working, training, sailing?) it doesn't matter where you are, you are at home.
  • From the business point of view, I would just said that my eyes have been opened. It's possible to do things in a different and much better way. I can see how things that in Spain were like unmentionable are done here and they work (I could provide some examples, but I don't want to hurt anyone).
  • Talking to people from different cultures and knowing different ways of live (even things that from my point of view should never happen) makes you think in a different way and opens your mind.
  • It's possible to ride a bike in London and keep alive (so far) :P. I'll write later on about biking in London, I think it deserves its own post.

That's all, no more thoughts. I'll keep reporting.

06 Mar

Why do I like working from home?

Published by ballesterosdm



First of all, I would like to explain that I really enjoy the office environment: I like having people around to talk, coffee / tea breaks, foosball.... and being honest, nowadays I wouldn't like to be forced to work from home day after day, I'm sure I would miss the colleagues. However, I actually love being able to work from home whenever I want.

The main reason why I like it, is because the office is usually too noisy and distractions are all around. When I have to be really focus on a task, I feel much more productive working from home. A couple of years ago I started using the pomodoro technique, I don't know if you have tried to apply it in the office... if so, you will be tired of explaining people what it's about and asking them to wait for the proper moment to be served =). Anyway, most of times explanations are pretty useless :(

A few days ago, a collegue sent me a video of Jason Fried talking about this same problem... in fact, this is the main reason for writting this post.

Enjoy it!

25 Dec

Training in London

Published by ballesterosdm


karate, sports

This month (December 2013) I have started training karate in the Budokai, the dojo where Ohta Sensei is giving lessons.

Although I've been training only for a few weeks, the feelings are really good so far. I like how the lessons are scheduled, how the training is conducted and I am feeling really comfortable (maybe because I missed training so much). One of the main reasons why I feel really comfortable when I am training in the dojo is that I can feel the strange "IKEA effect", wherever you were (Gijón, London...) IKEA is always IKEA. Anyway, I have to admit that I miss my sensei (Ricardo) and my training mates a lot.

In the Budokai all the students are registered under the JKA. Since I've never got a degree in the JKA, I am wearing again the white belt and I have to admit that I like it. I remember Ricardo telling us that every time we are training we should do it as if we were still wearing the white belt, I am actually doing it now and I really like it, it's good to start again "from the scratch" and remind the most basic things.

I'll keep on reporting....

01 Sep

Round the World Yacht Thrill

Published by ballesterosdm


sailing, trip

Myself taking the  Clipper 60 helm

24th August, 0500 in the morning, the alarm is beeping, the sun has not raised yet and I have just realized that I will spent more time on the road that the time that I have spent sleeping. Why? Because that was the day that I had scheduled to enjoy the Round the world Yacht Thrill that my former colleagues from CTIC gave me when I left the company.

Destiny: Hamble. According to Google Maps arrive in Hamble from my home will take about 3 hours, I had to be in the Marina at 0930 so lets go. I left my home early, I took the bus to Clapham Junction where I bought the tickets for the train... OK, nothing was going wrong, I was on the train to Southamptom, mission accomplished. What?? I have to pay a supplement because I am in the first class coach!! (ok, I should have read the note in the seat, but it was so comfortable....). More than an hour later I was in Southampton: orange juice, coffee, brownie, 45 minutes waiting, taking another train and 30 minutes after that I was in Hamble thinking "OK, time enough". A bit later, I realized that I had to walk about 3Km along a narrow road to the marina. It took longer than expected, but finally I was there, just in time. Sunscreen, cap and everything was ready to enjoy the day.

In the office, a brief explanation about the experience and the next minute we were walking to the ship, an amazing Clipper 60. I had never sailed in a boat as big as that one. Once in the ship, basic concepts about security and we set the sails. Everything was ready to start.

The first 30 minutes I was a bit confused because everyone was talking too fast and I didn't know the jargon, but a bit later I was used to the environment and I really started to enjoy the experience. It was awesome. Nice weather and the wind speed was about 20 knots. We did a lot of tacks and jibes, took reefs, and we also changed several times the headsails (by the way, it was my first time sailing with the staysail)... I learnt a lot of things and also a new set of words to add to my vocabulary.

I tried to find out a way to start sailing periodically in London, but the truth is that I didn't receive useful information. Anyway, despite of the distance and the boring hours on the train, I would suggest this experience, it was great... now I am trying to do it again with some colleagues.

I am sure you don't want me to write about how I came back to London... you can guess how it was.

Pictures available in: the album that I have created in Google+

01 Aug

Looking for a Dojo in London

Published by ballesterosdm


london, karate, sports

Although I want to wait until September before training Karate again, I have already started to look for a Dojo located close to my house but, I still haven't found one that makes me feel comfortable.

I am sure that will be quite difficult (maybe impossible) to find a sensei like Ricardo, his way of living and understanding karate was what makes me keep training all these years. Anyway, I really hope to find here a Dojo that makes me feel at home ;)

One thing that I realized since I have started with "my pursuit" is that, while in Spain is pretty complicated to find a JKA Dojo, here the offer is huge, and is really easy to find a couple of them in each neighborhood. That is great, but on the other hand, I have also realized that most Dojos here are focused on competition and that is the reason why I haven't chose one yet... I don't like competitions at all and I would like to keep training with the idea of personal improvement =)

Otherwise, a colleague has suggested that I could train Aikido in the Dojo where he trains. I have done Aikido several times and I don't dislike it, but I think that for the moment I will be loyal to Karate.

I will keep on reporting...

06 Jul

First week living and working in London

Published by ballesterosdm



disfrutando del buen tiempo en Battersea Park

It seems like it was just yesterday when I was talking about the change of scenery, but it was almost 2 months ago.

This week I started to work in Cisco. Well, I have not worked a lot because it was an induction / adaptation week, but it was my first week in the office. During this week the feelings with the coleagues, the job and the environment have been great, although I was remembering CTIC from time to time (mainly some people that I miss a lot).

I am also getting use to the life in London. The flat where I am living is very nice (pictures here) and it is located in a great place, very close to a big park (park pictures). Weather these days is also amazing, much better than expected, and I have been told that it was also very nice in June

Along the week, I was finishing with the paperwok, I think that the only task that remains in my TODO list is the GP registration. Regarding my English level... Well, I keep on trying ;)

In summary I would say that this week has been very positive and I hope the same for the next ones... a couple of days ago a colleague told me that 99% of people love London, maybe she was right.

I will keep on reporting...