Time for a last “full” blog post before the big day….
One of the truisms about Ironman is that it is often harder getting to the start line than the finish! That may seem rather bizarre given the length and difficulty of the event, but when you stop and think about exactly how many hours of training you put into the preparation to race, you soon realise the huge potential for injury in the months of effort leading up to the big day!
Personally I’ve been incredibly lucky to arrive in race week relatively unscathed. I feel I have a small case of Peroneal Tendinitis in both feet, which is an overuse injury (so highly likely!), but which will not hold me back provided I can overcome the pain on Sunday, which I am certain I can! Some of this is indeed luck, but this has been more than complimented by good preparation, good recovery, sports massage and proper nutrition.
After several weeks of training over for over 20 hours each, the “peak” of training occurred when I hit Coach Andy’s “Big Day” on Friday 14th August, which involved over 8 hours of training spread over the whole day with 90 minute rest periods between the 3.5Km swim, the 5 hour cycle and the 2 hour run. This was quite tough but not too bad and gave me a good idea of what is to come, and especially the wind and rain, which has been a pretty constant feature of almost every bike ride I’ve been on! The weather looks like it will probably be just as bad in Tenby this weekend, so at least I shall be properly prepared!
Now in the last phase of training, I have already done two and a half weeks of taper training which is of course comparatively easy, totalling no more than about 2 hours per day. The toughest part however has been to try to get my body properly adjusted to the timings of the event. This has meant for the past few weeks I have been getting up at 4.15am and eating breakfast, and then training as close to 7am as possible. The result is that I need to be in bed by 8pm and I’m living a life more or less alone without my wife who of course keeps “normal” hours! Coupled with my abstinence from alcohol for a month to ensure my body is correctly hydrated and recovered, I have really destroyed our social life recently! We did manage to celebrate Alex’s 30th with the family although my situation required us to leave earlier than we might have. That said, the bonus for B, Mam and Dad was that they could have a little tipple since I was driving!!!
There have been some unintended side consequences of my participation in the Ironman which I am quite pleased about. These include family members trying gluten free recipes and deriving some benefits and encouraging others to have a go at multi-sport events like triathlons, train using a heart-rate monitor or improve their swimming. I think I am most happy about all of this because it feels a little more like I am less selfish in the whole process and have actually helped others out rather than simply hindering them all year!!
So with just 5 days remaining, lists prepared of all the kit I need to take, what and when I need to eat and a race plan, I can now share with you my ambitions for the weekend. Naturally, nothing can be set in stone, things can change as conditions dictate, as my body reacts to the new strain I place upon it, and equipment malfunctions (hopefully not!). BUT (and it is a HUGE but!), all being well, this is how I would like Sunday to go….
Swim….1hr 20 mins (starting just behind the pros and best swimmers about 2 or 3 minutes after 7am)
Bike…. 7hrs 30 mins, but most importantly keeping my HR in zones 1 and 2, only occasionally entering zone 3 on the larger hills and toward the back end of the ride.
Hopefully therefore, with transitions included, I’d like to think I could be heading out on the run at about 4pm (9hours after the starting gun). Running is my best discipline out of the 3 and I’ve been feeling pretty good and calm in training at the slower pace, even over the longer distances. I am therefore pretty positive that I could well manage to bang out a sub-4hr marathon to finish and complete the whole event in just under 13 hours, when it will hopefully still be light!
Realistically, this is the first time I will (hopefully!) have covered such a distance and I’m not sure how my body will cope. Also, it is far better to head out at a slower pace and heart rate and guarantee the finish, rather than going off too strong and blowing up before the end and maybe failing to cross the line. The ultimate goal is to get the medal and finish within the cut-off time of course, anything faster and I will be happier and happier! And even if I know I have trained and am capable of achieving sub-13 hours, it is probably more realistic to expect between 13 and 14 hours so I am not under so much pressure and can try to enjoy the occasion!
If the predicted wind and rain does however materialise, this plan could all change! The wind could mean more waves in the sea (beware of sea-sickness from yourself and those around you!!) as well as requiring greater force to push against on the bike. Equally, wet wheel rims decrease the effectiveness of the brakes, increasing stopping distances and slowing the bike leg considerably (not to mention increasing the risk of potential injury from skidding!). Overall, whilst these thoughts are clearly and understandably preoccupying my waking moments, I can do little to change anything right now and what will be, will be! I just have to deal with whatever is thrown my way and get that medal!!
So, with just four days left to go, that summarises the current state of play! I may try to post mini-updates from Friday when we arrive in Tenby so you can join me in my heightened state of nervousness, but for now, it’s time to get ready for the latest training session of the taper…..