Well after a solid few weeks of training (i.e. not a lot, no serious training for a week, no running for 2 weeks, and only a couple of sessions in the saddle) and having been battling a chest infection in the week leading up as well, I found myself on the way to the Tour Of The Peaks cycle race. I think it’s safe to say I wasn’t exactly in the best shape! The forecast did not exactly look good, with some torrential rain due to pass over us bang in the middle of the ride, and winds forecast to be comparable to the Tour of the Pennines. So all looking good then! But it was a century ride, a chance for a bit of fun, and meet some of the guys from the 220 Forum and BCTTT.
A group of 4 of us set off at just after half 8 and had a bit of a chat until the first hill where I took off and dropped them (mistake no 1). In all fairness with the standard gearing on my bike, and not having a compact crank (mistake no 2) I couldn’t really go much slower for my cadence but I should have kept the power down. Originally the plan had been to do it in around 6 hours, which I thought was reasonable, though maybe give or take half an hour or so due to the illness. I did the Manchester 100 in around 5.20 last a year ago off 2 weeks training, so figured with improved fitness and a few hills, 6 hours should be a good target. How wrong I was! And lets just say ‘a few hills’ was probably the same understatement as saying my Ironman was ‘quite a long day’! Anyway, within the first couple of k, we hit an uphill bit and it never seemed to end, a sign of things to come. At the first descent I stopped at the top to take off my arm warmers underneath my jersey as then proceeded on the descent only for a few seconds later to meet a group of cyclists waving and saying slow down. Ramming on the brakes, I could see why, there were just bodies and bikes everywhere. I saw a couple of broken wrists, a couple of broken collar bones, a guy just flat out unconscious who looked like he had gone head first into a wall and I later heard he had been airlifted to hospital with serious neck injuries, and the guy on his wheel had gone over the wall, bike and all, and had had a nasty landing in the field, which needed an ambulance. It was not pleasant, but there were lots of cyclists attending, on the phone, warning other cyclists, clearing parts of bikes, and I would have just been in the way, so I continued on, though heavily on the brakes. We then hit a town, and after a short detour through a car park after missing a turning, started on the Cat and Fiddle. I’ve done this climb many times, and it is a fantastic climb so just settled into a good pace and rode up it, overtaking a fair few. I had been hoping to find a group and sit in a pack, taking my turns at the front and have a good group ride for most of the course, but with the dangerous descents and no one my pace on the climbs, it looked like it was going to be a solo ride.
I was feeling pretty good, and getting lots of nutrition on, and then 30k in, changing gear on a descent my front derailleur twisted around somehow and jammed in my crank. This was an immediate stop and out with the tool kit trying to fix it. I managed to loosen it and straighten in up, but without a stand and pliers, there was no way I could get enough tension in the cable. But it seemed to shift ok, even if a little hesitant. It would do. Back on the bike and immediately I heard grinding like my chain was rubbing against the front mech. So off the bike again and I couldn’t see anything wrong. I tried everything, but I couldn’t replicate it pedalling with my hands holding the bike up. It seemed fine so I had to carry on, doing god knows what damage to my chain, crank and front mech. I still haven’t worked out what it is, and I wonder how much the grinding was slowing me down. It certainly felt like I had my brakes on at points! Anyway, I was still feeling ok, even though this was nearly 2 hours in now, right up until Winnats Pass. This climb is an absolute killer. Even at the start, it didn’t look particularly steep that bit, but I was already in the smallest gear, thinking I had blown or my brake was on. But there was a couple of guys who I was sat behind who said “wow 8mph already” so I knew it wasn’t just me. Then the climb proceeds up and up getting steeper and steeper. As soon we got to the main section I was out of the saddle, all my zips open, heart rate skyrocketing, grinding away trying to wrench myself up it. I was overtaking loads of people who had given up and were walking it, but I persisted (mistake no 3), I eventually made it, with my heart rate hitting 213 bpm!!! Will be interesting to see my HR data for this. Having absolutely beasted myself up the climb, my legs were GONE! I coasted down the hill and then the wind picked up. I reached the first aid station, feeling quite tired, but not too bad. I refilled my bottles, had a bar and then set off again. Mistake no 4 was not taking any solids on offer at this point, and had dire consequences towards the end. I continued on and gradually got more tired, but at about 80k I found a small pack and tagged along with them, pulling me up the hills for a while, seeing if I could hang on to the 2nd aid station. I ended up 2nd man in the line, then the lead guy slowed down, and I thought that was my cue to take over and pull the pack at about 95k, so I went to the front, carried on for a bit, then turned around and they had all dropped back to eat and chat! Having had this gone, my legs just gave way and that was pretty much the end of the ride for me. We then hit a massive climb, which isn’t one of the main climbs, but was a killer. When I saw my speed drop below 6kph, and with nothing in my legs, and my lower back killing me, I decided to walk. It was a humbling experience, with me not being a quitter. But I needed it to finish the ride. I dragged myself to the 2nd aid station and just piled the food in. At this point my legs were gone and I needed food. After getting back on the bike, it was into the wind, and uphill and my legs had nothing left. I tried eating more, but never got my 2nd wave of energy. Eventually we reached Holme Moss, and I managed to get to about a k from the summit until the wind got to me. I was climbing quicker than everyone, but this was only because of my gear selection. I didn’t have an easier gear, and turning the pedals any slower would mean me falling off, so I stopped and walked to the top:
At least it looks like I was having a good time!
After getting over this, it was just a case of getting to the finish. Every incline felt massive, and I ate all my emergency food but never got my energy back. However I made it to the end, and was rather happy to finish! Total time was 8 hours of cycling, and I was clocked at 8.42 including all my food stops, mechanical and loo breaks. I even managed a run afterwards and didn’t feel too bad! For some reasons, 8 hours in the saddle seems to have fixed my foot almost completely…
- I went off too hard, my pacing was non existent and I had a big drop. On a course like this it is difficult and I’m sure my current form, illness, mechanical, lack of time on the bike all played their part, but I would not have bonked so soon without my pacing.
- For a course like that, I need a compact crank. I am a small athlete, and don’t have a particularly big power output. There is no way I can ride a 53/39 crank over a course like that. A compact crank is definitely on the shopping list! My next big purchase will also be a power meter, which will also help with my pacing, so this may be 2 birds with 1 stone. However, I need some money first…
- Going up the climbs too hard – yes I can’t have really gone any slower, but I should have swallowed my pride and walked earlier. Going up the cat and fiddle at a high pace was the start of the downfall
- My nutrition was way off, ok at the start, but I didn’t take on enough calories. Add this too going too hard and you get the state I was in.
Effect of the Paleo Diet
An interesting question would be to look at how much my lack of carbs in my diet affected my ride, after all I don’t usually run out of energy that quickly. However, I think this was more to do with my current fitness, and lack of time on the bike. It is also the first long, serious bike ride since my Ironman, and I haven’t gotten used to spending long hours in the saddle and feeding properly. This will come during my bike block over Christmas.
Well the main positive from this ride was the fact that I can still spend this amount of time in the saddle, even if it didn’t go that well (though with the wind and the course, I may have been putting out an ok power throughout). I was only an hour behind the leader, so it can’t have been that bad! The other positive was my foot. It had not really healed over the 2 weeks since I did it, and I still couldn’t walk properly in the morning. 8 and a half hours in the saddle and in bike shoes seems to have fixed this!
Training over the last couple of weeks hasn’t been great, especially with my injury. I have lost motivation and fitness as my previous post stated. As my foot is now healed, I am going to build up my training again. But only in the running, trying to get 6 runs a week. Being the off season, and obviously not being mentally recharged I am going to let the other 2 sports tick over and just train when I feel like it for each block until I am itching to train again. I am sticking with being fully Paleo now in all my meals, though now I am back in fairly decent shape, treats are back in if I want them! Just a bit of a break until full training starts again. I am off to Russia next week for a few days, so will probably put up a non-training post with lots of pictures, and then its the Preston 10 mile race. All I want from this is a solid run. Losing 2-3 weeks of run training isn’t going to put me in a good position, but it should be good fun.
Well as I sit here comtemplating on all the training I am missing, I thought why not blog about it! It’s been a while afterall…
As you can tell from the title, I am not exactly having the best pre season so far. First of all, at the start of last week I stood on something in my room, which I think was an upturned plug (I didnt pay much attention at the time) and hurt my foot. Nothing major happened, just a small strain I think. However, with my usual sensible mindset I decided it would be a good idea to go for an hour and a quarter run the day after with one of my training partners who I am training up for the Preston 10 mile road race. Felt fine for 20 mins and then the muscles protecting my foot got tired and I was in a lot of pain! Consequently I still can’t walk properly and have done a 10 min run since to try it out. It is taking a long time to heal this, mainly as you can’t really get much rest as no matter what you do, you have to walk. But it is slowly getting there.
The other problem I have is I have gotten ill, for the 2nd time in a month and I think it is the same bug, certainly the same symptons. The reason for this I suspect was that I had possibly a bit too indulgent weekend with not enough sleep and a far too large binge on sweets at a party. I am rather hoping it is not a chest infection, but with the symptons and the recurrance it could be possible. Having asthma I think I may have to nip to the GP in the next week or so for my Swine Flu vaccine, so can ask him them. So I am off training for the moment in an attempt to recover quickly, and sticking to my diet to give myself the best chances. Slight problem in that I have the Tour of the Peaks, over 100 miles now of cyclling in the Peak District, on Saturday, which means I need to recover quickly!
There are a few positives from this however (though I am scraping the barrel a bit!):
- If I am going to get ill and injured, at least its at the same time at not seperately so I don’t miss even more training
- It explains why I have been feeling so flat recently, especially in my long ride at the weekend when my legs have just been refusing to fire
- It is the off-season, so not the end of the world missing a week of training or so
So when I am finally recovered, I will need to rewrite my training program. I am going to keep my runs short, and try and get some interval work in there. I have been doing a lot of runs at easy pace lately, mainly whilst I switch my technique, but as that is getting there, I need to inject some pace, because at the moment I have none! Whilst in the run block, I will keep my formula of 6 runs, 2 bikes, 2 swims and 2 weights a week. Oweing to me getting a tattoo (yes I am following the norm and having an M-dot tattoo done) I will be out of the pool for another week or so after the 10 mile race, so will continue my running for another week, or have a transitional week depending on how I feel. One thing I have noticed when I actually was training and running 6 times a week, was how my knees felt. Usualy I always have a few niggles in my knees, especially when doing lots of running, and in all honesty I haven’t been doing my knee exercises as much as I should. But I have had absolutely no problems from then! I think the reasons for this are partly actually doing some exercises, even if not enough, recovering properly from last major training (my IM), and my diet. With the Paleo diet I am getting enough protein in my diet, and I suspect that all my stabilisers and muscles can actually recover and repair themselves properly, saving my ligaments! So that is certainly good news. Another massive improvement from the diet is muscle strength, muscle strength in my jaw that is! Boy do you have to chew a lot!
I have alse finally got round to starting yoga, and it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. It is very easy stuff (well theoretically) so nothing too complex and I can get most of the poses, though I do need to work on my flexibility. Given that the room was full of middle-aged woman who look like they do it every other day, giving this 21 year old man with shaved legs dodgy looks as they wondered what on earth he was doing here, I was pleased that I could do all the poses and was more flexible than a few of them. I also found some muscles that were incredibly tight, most notably my lats, and it seems to have helped my neck a lot, so a trip to the doctors may not be required. Finally, I have found a new massage place, conveniently based in the gym which offer an hours sports massage for under 20 quid! I may need to ask for a loyalty card…
Anyhoo, that is all for now, hopefully next time I will be writing about settling back into training and how my running seems to be coming together… unless things take a turn for the worse, so fingers crossed!
Well after an interesting 2009, I have learnt a lot and I’m going to take that into 2010. The main focus of the year in Ironman Switzerland. I want to put in a good solid performance there, and one of my goals of the season is to go sub-11 there, which with some decent training and everything planned, should be easily possible. The other season goal, on the other end of the spectrum is to go sub-1 hour at a sprint, possibly at Fleetwood as it is a quick course and given the shape I was in when I did my 1hr 3 this year, should be easily doable. A sub-hour will also give me a top 10 place overall, the final season goal. Go top-10 at a race.
The objectives of the year, which are going to help me achieve my season goals are:
- Do a training camp
- Run after every long ride
- Join Masters Swim Group
- Start Yoga
More on these later.
The first thing I will look at for next year (mainly as it is the easiest), is my equipment for all 3 sports. In terms of swimming and cycling, I think I am pretty much set. My wetsuit is pretty suited to my needs, and won’t need upgrading for another couple of years when I can actually swim properly.
As much as I would love another bike, and am seriously considering a Specialized Transition, I don’t think I can justify it. Yes it will make me a hell of a lot faster overall (better bike position – more aero, more power and easier to run off the bike, and a better bike – more aero, stiffer etc) and would be lovely for a bit of bike porn, but I would be really scraping the barrel to get the bike I want so I am going to wait another year or two. My bike is great, and I have some awesome wheels and it has the potential for a 5-5:30 ride with proper training. So unless I a) win a bike, or b) win the lottery, I am sticking with my bike. As with everything I go (especially related to triathlon), there won’t be much holding back (to a degree) when I build my bike. Current thoughts are the S-Works transition, which I’ll build myself, with SRAM Red, Zipp Disc and 808 combo, and zipp bars with the RZR shifters for a bit of bling! So I will need to save for that! As nice as a P4/Shiv/anything in that price range, there will be no way I can afford it! But at the moment, I will get much more benefit from spending that kind of money on training.
The one area where I probably will change my kit is running. Recently I have noticed that when I concentrate on my running technique I tend to shift more to mid-foot landing, run a lot lighter and a lot quicker. Given the problem I’ve had with my shins, and my glass knees, this seems like a sensible transition. So recently I have been trying to shift to mid-foot running, with some interesting results. It is a strange change, as you really shorten your stride length, pick you cadence up and land under your body. The results were 2 mins off my 30 min loop, and a lower HR. Admittedly part of this was lack of form for the first run, but not all of it. Although my RPE was quite a bit higher, my HR says I’m working less, so this will even out as I get used to the style. But what has this got to do with equipment! Well, my trainers are coming to the end of their life, and I am considering some Newtons. These will help the shift and are supposed to be pretty comfortable and very different, so I think I will buy some and test them over winter.
I’ll try and make this a bit shorter! My diet has changed dramatically over the last month or so, as I have completed the switch to Paleo. All in all, I am feeling great from it! I think I recover quicker, I am certainly losing weight (especially in my wallet!) and generally feel good. I do need to make my meals a bit more interesting, a fillet of meat/fish and salad just don’t cut it for lunch for me! I need to dig the cook books out and make some sauces! So for the moment, I am going to continue, trying to increase my veg intake as I tolerate it more (I really don’t like my veg!), and try and have as many meals close to exercise to have the excuse of having lots of carbs, which I still miss, especially on light training days when I don’t have any ‘traditional’ carbs!
Now the big one, my training. Originally the plan was to use Joe Friel’s Training Bible, and follow that completely. However, I have been listening to the entire back catalogue of IM Talk (only about a third of the way through!) and have picked up some interesting ideas from them, so for this year, I am going to try some stuff out and mix everything around. Although I was originally planning to put all my plan online, this is taking longer to get together than I thought, and to make look nice! So it will go up in segments! With only one A race next year, planning is a bit easier. So the general outline is from now until the end of January, I am going to do 3 single-sport specific blocks.
So am I know a week in to my run-specific block. I will be running 6 times a week, and just have a couple of swims, bikes, a yoga session and easy weights thrown in. There is a steady progression and increase in load, right up until start of November when I am off to Russia for a few days, so this will be my easy week before my last week of a bit of speed work/taper which culminates in the Preston 10 Mile Road Race on 15th November, where I am hoping to post a decent time. I also happen to have the Tour of the Peaks 96 mile cycle race in a couple of weeks to add a bit of fun in my run block… Not sure how sensible that one is! The focus of this block is to improve my efficiency, form and speed. My endurance is pretty solid, so I won’t be doing too many long runs.
After the 10 miler, I move to a swim block, where I am going to build up to 6 swims a week, with lots and lots of focus on my technique, which is terrible! So I am going to have lots of video analysis, coaching, lessons when I can fit it in, and try and sort out my tumble turns, my breathing, and speed. Hopefully after this block, I will be back to as good as I was before my crash, and hopefully a bit more! I am going to have some work done in an endless pool at TriCentral and some lessons in Fleetwood. I also need to find a Masters Group, as this is the thing that really makes a difference.
That will last until mid December, when I switch to a bike block, where I want to log some serious miles. The good thing is this coincides with the Christmas holiday, so I have some time of work to spend long hours on my bike. The aim of this block is to improve my overall power, which is good generally but I can’t sustain it too much, and to improve my endurance, so I can hold a higher power, for longer and so I can run better off the bike with fresher legs. After every ride over 2 hours I will do at least a short run off the bike, with the odd hour run thrown in. This block will last til the end of January when I go on my first camp of the year. This is a week in Lanzarote with Man Tri, and should be good fun.
I am still undecided on what to do after this, I will have a bit of down time after the camp to recover fully, and then will probably move into another swim block, and switch back to 6 swims a week if I find this works. I will also probably do some speed sessions and sprint tris for a bit of fun to pick up my speed. At 20 weeks out from IMCH, I will start my IM speicifc build up, working on combining all 3 sports and building my endurance. The focus for the disciplines, the swim will focus on technique, the bike on volume, and the run on frequency. As part of my final build, I am planning on doing an Easter training camp with Pyrenees Multisport which is a mini-Epic Camp, which if you know about those, they are tough! This should provide my final push into my build up and set me up in decent shape for my Ironman.
The other area I am improving this year is my injury prevention. With my given record I really need to work on this! To do this I am going to be doing lots of weights, yoga and massage. The weights won’t be too heavy, mainly working on my stabilisers and endurance. Yoga is great for flexibility, relaxing and injury prevention and should be a nice change from usual training. Massage is always good, and in an ideal world I would have it every day, but it is expensive! (So if there are any single ladies out there who are good with their hands…..!) Lots of self massage should help, but when I really start to get stiff, especially when I am doing lots of bike volume, I am going to have to relent and get the knots worked out. Generally, I am going to want one proper massage at least once a month.
All in all it looks like a very exciting year! It should be a year to push me and test me, and barring any potholes(!), it should be a very good year.
I know, I know it’s only October, but I thought I’d ‘do a supermarket’ and bring out stuff that shouldn’t make an appearance until December (last month I saw advent calendars in the shops, Christmas is 4 months away for christ’s sake!) Anyway, the season has come to an end for me, and having had a couple of weeks of indulgence and no training (excluding the sprint tri and Tour of the Pennines during this!) to relax, it is time to look back on the year, the highs and the lows, and see what I can take into next year.
This year was all about Ironman UK. Splitting up with my long term girlfriend and getting a secured job for 2009/10 last December, meant that from January I embarked on the journey to becoming an Ironman, and ploughed everything I had into it, and with little to distract me, it meant I could pretty much concentrate on this 100% and fit my degree in around my training. (In hindsight, I do NOT recommend this, it can turn out badly without enough luck to pull off your exams!)
I was using Don Fink’s Be Ironfit 30 week training plan. Although this started off rather easy, it soon ramped up. All I wanted was a structured plan, because although I originally had the idea of putting my own one together, I didn’t know enough about the sport, and about myself, to be able to do this. The good thing about the plan is that there is room for manoeuvre, so with my knee problems (the first of many!) hitting me in Week 2 from an old rowing injury that had come back to haunt me, the plan gave me room to catch up on the hours and ramp up the running by more than the recommended 10% once my physio had fixed that first bout of problems. It took me til Week 12 to fully catch up and then I managed to settle down into good solid training. Another good benefit of this plan is the regular structure, with all the sessions happening on the same day each week. With lectures, this made planning easy and got me into a regular routine.
Unfortunately, this is also one of the downfalls of the program. 30 weeks is a long time to concentrate on one training plan, doing the same training each for day of the week, every week. It can become a bit monotonous. Also it has 2 races planned in for the entire plan, an OD and a Half, which for someone who lives to race, was certainly difficult to adjust to, coming from rowing, where we tended to race every other weekend. The final downside I saw to the program was the amount of swimming in it. Admittedly the training plan is designed for the time constrained athlete in a full time job, who can only do 1 main session a day, so the weekend is usually taken up by your long ride/brick, then your long run. But for 10 weeks I was doing 5k a week, and really noticed the difference in the swim session on a Thursday, fresh enough to train, but I could remember how to swim, compared to the Tuesday, which after a 5 day week took me a good k to get into the set.
However, overall, I felt that the plan was a good one, and I really benfited from a consistant, structured approach to training, with my fitness improving massively as I continued. This is something that I will take into next year, as you really notice the difference compared to training as you feel.
However, having made massive gains in my fitness, life got put into perspective after my Crash where among other injuries I fractured my collarbone and nearly killed myself. The weeks following my crash, leading up to my Ironman was where I learnt the most about myself, and after recovering from the shock of it after a couple of weeks, reality set in and I went through some really difficult times. Having finished my year at uni, training was my life and having that taken away was tough. Coupled with the fact that I came to the realisation that I probably should have been six feet under certainly makes you look at things. As well as the whole host of personal issues it makes you confront, it really made me take a good long look at myself and my approach to my training.
Firstly I had become obsessed by the numbers and logging my hours. I would make sure that every session was at least as long as it told me it should be in the book, even if it meant coming home from a run loop, only to turn around and run for another couple of minutes as I had finished that one early. I would really beat myself up if I missed a session and I was getting dangersouly closed to overtrained, and was dragging myself out of bed in the mornings, even though looking back it would have been more beneficial to sleep, and I became too engrossed in my training. The crash was the best thing that happened to me as it allowed me to wrestle myself out of the hole I had dug for myself and made me a whole lot more mentally stronger.
Obviously it set me back in terms of fitness. Physiologically, a few days after my crash, having had a few days off for the first time in months meant I was in the best shape of my life. The same was true physically, with me being at an almost ideal race weight and with very little fat on me, which I consequently piled on post-crash (and post-Ironman!). It was now a race to get fit again for my Ironman, and despite all the doctors telling me it wasnt going to happen, I got to the start line.
Looking back, I could have managed my recovery better. The first week was ideal, where all I did was sleep, eat properly and drink lots of milk! 14 hours sleep a day really helps recovery and I was back on the turbo in 6 days, though could have probably dragged myself on it a day before or so. But due to moving house, I didnt have access to a turbo for a while. I could start running again after about 4 weeks or so, and did one run which was fine. However, I didnt do nearly enough running after that, and this would have greatly helped my marathon. Also as a consequence of starting work, once I could start swimming again (after less the 5 weeks! Much to the shock of my doctors!) I didn’t get round to finding the local pool for a while, just out of sheer laziness, another bad move. I did an OD tri 6 weeks after my fracture to test my shoulder and fitness, and this was 3 weeks before my IM. This was a very good idea and I did surprisingly well, all things considering! This did however, put the problem of my big weekend (a half marathon on the fri, followed by a 180k bike on the sun) only 2 weeks before. This was not a good idea as I don’t think I truly recovered from this in time for my IM, but mentally the benefits were huge, and I think I would do it again if I could go back.
The one last thing I did completely wrong, was keeping up my knee exercises after my crash. I am convinced that my tear in my knee was due to this, and something I have certainly learnt from!
Anyway, I reached the start line on 2nd August 2009, and I became an Ironman!
This really was the highlight of the year, and everything anyone has told you about the emotion of crossing that finish line is true. For me it was a mixture of joy, excitement, amazement, and sheer relief. Thankfully the damage I did to my knee during the event was only muscular (I tore a muscle in the back of my knee 90k into the bike…) and some swelling.
Since then I have had some down time, some unstructured training, a ridiculously windy Tour of the Pennines (and I mean just plain, stupid, try 5kph flat out on the flats, the most scared I’ve ever been, I can’t remember my crash…) and Fleetwood Tri where I came 15th overall and if there had been a M20-24 category I would have won! That was a surprise!
So what have I learnt this year? Well, to start with I am one stubborn bastard! I love to prove doctors wrong and always refuse to accept anything other than what I believe. Also I have no pain barrier, which I discovered during my IM with my knee! Finally I have built up a very good endurance base, with even 9 weeks out of proper training I still managed to complete my IM. This was the main aim of the season and I am so happy to have finished this.
Sorry this is such a long post! Only finished Part 1! Part 2, a look ahead to next season and the plan for the coming year.
It’s been a while! All thoughts of having lots of free time during freshers week to write some blog posts, put my training plan together (finally!) never seemed to happen… so it is going to be a busy couple of weeks!
Anyhoo, Fleetwood Triathlon. Although I registered the day before and had everything packed and layed out before I went to bed, my preperation was not exactly what you would call good… A wek of going out, not sleeping much, eating junk food, drinking far too much, 2 training sessions and travelling all took their toll, and I spent the night before waking up every half hour having to have a drink as I had a thumping headache and a throat like sandpaper. When I finally did get up I wasn’t feeling too bad, legs were a little tired but felt ok. I was marshalling pool-side for the first hour before and then set up all my kit, but stupidly ran out of time for a warm up, and also a reluctance to walk out the main exits of transition in case I set my timing chip off! How much difference it would have made, I’m not sure, as we were stood around at the start for 20 minutes waiting to go off. I still think a short easy ride on my bike would have loosened my legs up, so next time this is something I will definitely have to do.
With so many people at different times in the swim, the wave implementation collapsed, and to be honest I think the way they did it was a lot better, otherwise there would have been a much longer wait. Basically we lined up, sort of in our waves and then every time a lane was empty, 3 of us would be taken to the lane and set off with 10 seconds gap. I however, somehow ended up in the next wave, so when trying to decide on our order of setting off, discovering the other 2 had a 6 min time and a 6.20, there was me with my 6.40! But we set off, and I felt pretty good. I think my 2 piece was certainly dragging me down, its not designed for a pool swim, its supposed to be worn underneath a wetsuit, and having to pause for 10s to let the first guy overtake, this would have slowed me down a bit but nothing majorly. I did discover that I was keeping up fine with the 6 min swimmer who had just overtaken me until we hit the turns. He tumbled turned, I did my basic turn and when I had pushed off again, he was gone. I need to sort my tumble turns out! I exited the swim at about 6.40, so bang on my estimated time, but I reckon without the pause, my old tri-suit and pushing a bit harder I could have gone under 6.20.
T1 was a bit slow as I struggled to get my helmet on, fiddling about with the straps, and decided to run up the hill after the mount line, though this was better than falling over as I tried to push off. I set off on the bike, and as soon as I allowed my HR to settle, we hit the turn. After the turn my legs were cooked! They felt sluggish and I was struggling to keep it above 30kph. I soon discovered this was due to a slightly ridiculous wind that seemed to be Kona-like in that at the turn around when you came back, you still seemed to have it. But in the opposite direction I was holding 43kph with the wind, so it wasn’t too bad. I still would have preferred no wind and a constant pace. I was being overtaken a few times, but everyone was in full aero get up, with aero helmets, tt bikes and disc wheels. In the end, my bike was just under 34 minutes. Not bad, though I know I can do 32 mins, and probably closer to 30 on race day without wind, illness and a hangover! However, looking at the results, only 1 person broke half an hour, and I wasn’t far off the majority of the people ahead of me, with a bike split of 17th overall.
T2 was a bit better than T1, though I still need to practise dismounting while on the move, it will save me valuable seconds. Once out on the run, I pushed hard, knowing from my testing (which I still need to write about!) that this is the best method for me. My HR was fairly high (I was averaging 179 throughout) and I carried on pushing. Once I had some feeling back in my legs, I concentrated on keeping a good posture and a quick cadence. My cadence was quick, but I wasn’t going far with each stride. Something to work on over the winter. Though I had only done 1 run in the week and a half before the race. I came in with a run time of 20:39, which to be honest I was surprised about. This put me mid 30s for my run split, which all things considering isnt too bad! Though I really need to be going around 19 mins for a solid performance. I crossed the finishing line with a time of 1:03:22, which looking at it now is agonisingly close to the hour, which I had not expected before! This was only 8 minutes off the winner, who I am sure was very quick. As it was, I was 15th overall, and 6th in the category of adult males! This was a surprise and I am very pleased with this. I know I couldnt have gone much quicker, and certainly not below the hour. I am never going to be right up there concentrating on Ironman distance races, but I should certainly being going under the hour and this would have put me top 10 overall. Thats a goal for next season then!
All in all though, a thoroughbly enjoyable race! And depending on logistics next year I would like to go back and break the hour!