Going long. . . The good, the bad and the ugly

                              

Saturday was the big day. . . The day I have been training for over the last 6 months and that I was excited to see what I could achieve given some of the training sessions I had done. I gave myself some time to properly reflect on the race, to try and give a more objective view – so here goes.

Race day!

– alarm goes off at 4.15am – to be honest I was awake already but had slept pretty well, and excited to get up and be getting ready

– normal breakfast of oats, banana and honey plus coffee and I was ready to go

– heading down to the start and final touches to transition – gels on bike, pumping up the tires and generally ensuring everything was ready – atmosphere wasn’t as pumping as other races I have done but kept it relatively calm

– time for a quick warm up beforehand quick good luck pep talk from Barney and Bridget before heading into the pen to get a good position – by this point normal pre race nerves kicking in a little bit, but mainly just wanted to get going!

            

Swim

– managed to get myself near the front and to the right, so whilst the start was pretty hectic being a mass start I probably had it slightly better than people who weren’t able to get into the AWA section

– as the gun went the first part of the swim was quite slow and congested up to the first buoy – the usual battles around the first buoy and then it started to spread out a little bit

– normal load of people not able to swim in a straight line cutting right in front, people swimming into me, people trying to swim over my legs and stop start in some parts of congestion

– first loop felt ok and going into second loop I knew I was on track for doing the swim in around the hour – and managed to find some clear water to get into a rhythm a bit better

– coming out in 1.03 was pretty happy considering some of the argy bargy and was then excited to get on with the rest of the race

The bike

– transition I took fairly slowly, making sure I got everything on right, getting smothered in suncream and mentally thinking about objectives for the bike

– almost immediately I felt like I was in a bit of trouble – I felt nauseous and not at my best – however I just focussed on forcing the gels down and trying to stick to my target power – I was getting overtaken going uphill but was catching people on the flatter sections and downhill (a first!)

– on the approach to fire mountain I had to make my first toilet stop – I was hopeful this would sort me out and I felt much better after this – time to tackle the hills

– the next part of the bike I absolutely loved – I felt great, holding my power felt comfortable and I was constantly overtaking people – the scenery was great and I saw Barney, Bridget and Sean a couple of times

– my favourite part was the descent from Mirador Del Rio until the approach to nazarat, where I hit a bit of a mental block and struggled to hold power and didn’t seem to be going anywhere

– the last 20k was a bit better post another toilet stop (mainly because it’s downhill!) and I was very happy to be coming into t2

      

The run

– heading out of t2 I felt great initially – I was having to slow myself down as running felt easy and I was getting excited to see what I could do

– this lasted all of 2k and then it all started falling apart – my tummy decided that it had had enough and it was going to cause absolute chaos – bring on the next 35k of constantly hunting the next portaloo, some enforced walking, not being able to eat anything and wishing the day was over

– some great support from people urging me on and when my tummy wasn’t shouting at me to stop I felt quite good running, and the last 4K I managed to power on through and hold a good pace

Crossing the line I was mainly overwhelmed with frustration and annoyance that the goal I had been working so hard towards had been ruined by something I really thought I had solved in terms of tummy trouble. Even after a lot of reflection I am not sure what went wrong – I did everything as I had in practice, and couldn’t identify anything obviously that I had done differently or that might have caused the upset stomach. At that point I thought Kona was out of the question as I was so far behind where I was hoping to finish I just assumed I was way down the age group ranks.

By pure luck, turns out I had come 3rd, and the lady in 1st Had already qualified, and Lucy in 2nd didn’t want her spot – so amazingly I managed to claim my Kona slot, which I am over the moon about. It is definitely not in the fashion I was hoping for, and I am nervous about what I can change to ensure the same doesn’t happen out there, but feeling very lucky to have had a bad race and be able to still claim that spot – as they are so competitive now that very few people can say that.

So on reflection. . . .

The Good: 

  • I am officially an Ironman now!
  • Very happy with general fitness and how I felt other than my tummy
  • It is the first time I have led my age group out of the water (and doubt it will happen again!)
  • I was happy to be able to pull through some dark places on the bike
  • My legs felt good on the run even if my tummy didn’t
  • I managed a full marathon on 4 orange halves, coke and water – well done body! And my moving time with the walking was 3.43 – not as bad as it could have been!
  • I am also happy that I managed to mentally keep myself going despite the run being a fairly miserable experience – with a lot of this being down to the amazing support out there!
  • I have completed the toughest Ironman out there. . surely it can only get easier?!
  • I QUALIFIED FOR KONA!!!! (probably the best part of the good!)

The Bad:

  • I don’t know what caused my tummy issues. . .
  • Despite the good it wasn’t the result I wanted, and getting my head around that having worked towards a result so hard for the last 6 months is tough – and I’m not quite there yet

The Ugly:

  • My sincerest apologies to anyone who was anywhere near me on the run. . . enough said!

Thank you everyone for all the support – in particular Barney and Bridget for being my integral support system in the run up to and over Lanzarote weekend – I would have been even slower around that run without you there telling me it was ‘just’ another 13k. . .

Thank you to Orca for the wetsuit and kit (black is a good colour!), Giant St Pauls for the awesome bike – still managed an average bike split despite the 2 toilet stops, ClifBar for the nutrition – just a shame I wasn’t able to take any on the run, Precision Hydration for keeping me hydrated – probably would have needed a drip at the end without your tablets, Lezyne for the tools to get my bike ready, Skechers for the trainers (sorry I wasn’t able to do them justice).

Thank you also everyone who was tracking me and cheering me on remotely – knowing so many people were tracking the race certainly kept me trying to push through the run. . .

Also – thanks to the pros – it was absolutely epic watcing the Brit ladies absolutely smash it – and Lucy Gossage – your words post race really helped me rationalise it all a bit more!

Onwards and upwards as they say!

Ironman Lanzarote – pre race thoughts

Race week is finally here! It seems like a long time ago I signed up to IM Lanza, and it definitely feels like the longest build to a race. So thought I would pen down some thoughts pre race, as post race I may be too broken for a while!

Training:

As mentioned, longest training block (with a couple of races) running up to the big day – a few stats from when I started in earnest for this race mid November

  • 6,389.6km cycling
  • 1 x punctures on the turbo, 3 x punctures out training (pre Giant tubeless tyres)
  • 1,280.2km running
  • 1 x twisted ankle
  • 337.9km swimming
  • 4 x forgotten to take underwear to work due to wearing swim costume (thank God for the Calvin Klein shop!)
  • Av. 17 hours a week training
  • 2 x training camps in Lanzarote
  • 5 x 1kg tubs of peanut butter eaten (would be more but only discovered I liked it in January!)

Kit:

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2017 – the year of the super bike!

  • Being supported by Giant St Paul’s in the form of a beautiful Liv Avow has been amazing
  • The bike rides like a dream and has allowed Richard to put me in a more aero position

 

 

Skechers

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  • Crucial for any triathlete is a great pair of trainers – with wide feet and high arches this is something I have struggled with in the past
  • The cushioning on the Skechers now I have got used to it seems to support my feet well and absorb a fair amount of the impact, and they are so nice and light

 

Orca – wetsuit and kit  IMG_3089img_2955

  • The Alpha is a great wetsuit – lots of flexibility in the arms and doesn’t restrict the legs
  • Hopefully in Lanza I can do it more justice than I did in Gran Canaria!
  • I gave the new race suit a test run at the weekend – it is a proper speed suit but still comfortable – and seems to give right movement for both cycling and running

ClifBar Nutrition & Precision Hydration

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  • A lot of triathletes talk about nutrition and hydration being a whole extra discipline – and I can certainly agree!
  • I have had a fair amount of GI issues in the past, but the Clif nutrition is both tasty and seems to agree with my gut
  • Precision Hydration I have been using for the last few years – and have been cramp free since using it – I love having the more personalised hydration plan and am hoping this will come into its own in the heat of Lanzarote

Lezyne – tools

  • Lezyne have provided some of the best tools to ensure I can keep the awesome bike ticking over nicely
  • In particular their travel track pump is brilliant – light for travelling but works so well removing any hassle at the other end
  • Will also be using their little bike saddle bag to carry all my spares in the race, just in case!

The Team:

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My better half – seems to put up with the tiredness (all the time!), the peanut butter binges, the depression post a bad training session, and my missing his birthday weekend for the second year in a row for a race. . .

 

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The Coach – would not be anywhere near this level of fitness or been able to get myself to this point without a certain Will Clarke

His patience and encouragement has helped me string together a lot of consistent training weeks without getting bored or demotivated

Hoping to do his coaching proud on Saturday!

 

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The Nutritionist – Barney and I have been working with Will Girling since the end of last year – having someone focussing specifically on my nutrition (and trying to tame my sweet tooth) has really helped me fuel better for races and feel better through the whole run without fading

Friends and Family – putting up with me being rubbish at finding the time to see everyone enough, or when I do not being the most talkative! Looking forward to a long family weekend post Ironman, and a friends wedding amongst other things. Hugely appreciate all the support you give – it wouldn’t be possible without that.

So that is my Ironman journey so far – I feel like the fitness is there so now I just have to get out there and enjoy it!