Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The best laid plans and of mice and men..

.. Gang aft agley, An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain.

Just about sums up where I am heading into Ironman UK. A cold took hold last weds and by Saturday I was under its spell. I forced myself out for a 40 min run and then retired hurt for the next 2 days to the sofa. Plans to keep the training rolling were shelved. Out of 7 days I drew 4 blanks and those day I did train were pretty useless. The last two days have seen a recovery and I have done a few simple sessions to try and kickstart my body.

So what for the race. With the virus clearing I think I might run into some form but I am not certain of this. I think degree of conservatism in this race is called for. Unlike IMA I am not chasing any PBs (besides it is not the race for this). I also think I cannot afford to throw myself into the race and hang on, At probably an hour longer I need to think more about racing and nutrition. With this in mind I will start out conservatively on the bike and look to build into the laps. Riding without having seen the course before I will aim to be smooth rather than hurried on the first lap. I will wait til the third lap to see if I can push and hope to finish having completed my nutrition goals and with enough in the tank to run a solid 3:30 marathon.

Times here look slow, IM lanza slow which means I should expect to add at least an hour to my IMA time so my goal is to go 10:30, anything more will be a bonus.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011


So I am roughly halfway between IM Austria and IM Bolton. After exceeding all my expectations at Klagenfurt I have found the motivation to go on towards Bolton with a bit of confidence in my step. I have managed to gently ease my way back into training post Klagenfurt with some gentle swims and bike rides and now 2 runs. The fatigue seems to be easing and my legs are coming back.

Having read around doing Ironmans only 4 weeks apart and having done ironman races 6 weeks apart on two occasions I have clear ideas around how I want to approach this period. Given that I am a the subject of my own training trial I thought I should go with my hunches which is as follows.

Week 1 saw me do 4 and a half hours of exercise capped at a HR of 130 (in fact anything that felt like exertion). This week I have started to build my workload and plan some specific sets including hill sessions on the bike and some speed work on the runs (since I figure I can bank on the endurance from the ironman marathon just done). Next week should see me hit a build week of around 18 hrs (from Sunday to Friday) and then I will be into a short one week taper.

Will it work? I dont know but I feel confident for having a plan, I will listen to my body and the fatigue that is inevitably there and we will see what happens. The balance between fitness and fatigue will be different for the next race and I will be trading a bit more fatigue against a bit more fitness. If I get it right then I think this could be my best performance if I get it wrong then I will learn from this and try something different next time. Lets go Bolton.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Sleepless in Klagenfurt- a race report

It is 3.30 in the morning Monday about 13 hrs after finishing IM Austria here in Klagenfurt. My legs are extremely sore and I have got sunburn in some interesting places in spite of using my reliable (sic?) P20 sun protection. Unable to sleep I have plenty of time to share my race experience from yesterday.

The build up to the race has been pretty solid. A bike crash about 5 weeks ago was a slight hiatus which saw a few weeks where training was uncomfortable due to a cracked rib or two but otherwise the buld has been good. Two weeks back I did UK 70.3 which is a tough course and saw me worried about recovering in time for this race... but by the beginning of last week with a short taper I started to feel good.

Race day had all the usual shennanigans including the never ending queues for a toilet in the hour before race start. Into the water went 2800 racers and as ever there was no way they could hold the athletes back and with a boom of the cannon (well maybe cause i could not here it) we were off.

I had decided to go in the middle and fight for my space and try and get pulled along in the melee. I guess it worked. at the first turn (after about1.2 km) thee was a massive squeeze as we all converged on a buoy and I was literall lifted out the water!! Better up then down I thought. You then swim across and then back up a canal. Sighting was tricky and I guess I veered all over the place. The last km is up a canal which is always fun and finally I was sprinting for the swim exit.

SWIM 59.54 a new pb.

Transition this year was a 400m run away. Smoothly through transition and I was off. I settled into a groove and rode within myself. I know this course well it being my third time here and new to save my efforts for the second half. plenty of bikes whizzing past but I was happy with my pace. There was an additonal 400m stretch with a dead turn to account for the new sited transition. The first time round this I managed to overcook it and ended up in the soft verge and then the ditch. No harm done but for some dented pride and a valuable 30 seconds or so. I laughed and a fellow Brit said it looked really funny but promised to keep it to himself.

the only other experience form the first lap of note was having an improptu shower from Mario some t@sser who thought it woud be Ok to empty his bladder on a downhill with me only about 20 metres behind. I shared a few anglosaxon words with him!

Second lap and I was ready to work. With a headwind and it being quite flat there was quite a bit of bunching. that said I worked farily in a paceline and more often than not was pushing past at the front. There was some blatant drafting going on and unlike others I saw a number of racers get time penalties given. The second lap I managed to get round the corner without mishap. I had this pleasant period where on mostt of the steady up hill sections (as opposed to the sharper climbs) I was picking of riders constantly. This was a new experience for me in Iroman (and one I like!) although the bunches would then come back to you on the gentle downhills that followed.

I faded a bit in the last 20 km but concentrated on tapping out a steady rhythm and was soon back into T2. I had no idea what my bike split was as my computer had failed.. which probably helped as I had no real conception of how fast I had gone!

BIKE 4.53.22

and out onto the run. My first mile split was a sub 7! I also had a massive stitch which lasted about 3 miles and I think is related to my bike crash as it was on the same side. For the first 30 mins theere were a number of runners who went steaming past, which is normal for me, but after a while they stopped. I was now doing some solid 7.40 splits which felt good and my body was telling me to go faster. My brain said you have never sustained this sort of pace and if you think you can go faster then wait til mile 20! So I settled in and tried to keep it consistent. At about mile ten I saw Steven coming in the opposite direction. Now Steven is much faster than me and I assumed he must have had a mechanical on his bike or something as I had never been this close (and still had no idea how fast I was going). At this point I though a sub 9.50 was about wher I was at!

By halfway I was catching and passing plenty including some who had gone off to fast. This a new experience for me in an ironman! The pain was starting to turn up a notch but I focused on getting the gels down and drinking. Mile 17 and bang my righ hamstring cramped like I had been shot. No reason why, it just did. I spent about a minute stretching and trying to run. I could not, I stretched again and watched as all the racers I had overtaken went past. I started walking, then stretched then walked. A gentle jog broke out. The niggle was there but I was able to keep going. I paced myself of a slower runner for about half a mile, then he felt too slow. I started to push again, no more hamster niggles. My legs started to feel stiff and tired but I only had a quarter of the run left to do.

At the last trunaround I had the pleasure of passing the incontinent Mario, which I enjoyed greatly. By the last 2km I was done, the wheels came off and even though it was only 2km I had nothing left. This was a new experience as nearly always in the past I have always been able to dig out a bit of a grandstand finish! I think I was passed by about 10 others in the last 2K!!

I ran along the front before the turn into the finishers chute. My name was called out. Then I saw the time. The only thing I could think was it was wrong!!

RUN 3.24.05

RACETIME 9.24.55

Unreal. I had done PBs for every stage. My bike was 10 mins faster than ever before and my run a full 15 minute PB!

Any other year that would see me at Kona. This year you will need to be around 9 hrs dead to get a slot. The 40-44 was also as fast as the 35-39s. Why does my generation race so fast?