Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Not getting slower (much)

Back to Wimbleball for another go. After last year I had a plan to come back ready to attack the hills and make a deal of the run. In the next 364 days things did not seem to go to plan and I came back to the same hills and had the same thoughts like "why do I do this?" and "Can I stop now?"

Race stats

Swim           28:49
T1                5:33   (armageddon*)
Bike             2:59:16
T2                01:44  (tent to myself)
Run              01:46:47

This roughly equates to what I did last year with bike and swim a bit faster and the run a bit slower.Swim was confident and steady. The T1 experience was hell. At most events I am not in the thick of it coming out of the swim. Because of being in the second wave it was packed and the tent was way to small. This was in keeping with the entire logistics for the event which were frankly appalling and do not bode well for the new WTC led Ironman UK franchise. Still I stayed calm put my kit on got my bike ran to the start line and then....

More Chaos. About 50 bikes with cyclists variably attached trying to mount on a sharp hill.Some pushing bikes some trying to get their feet into shoes some falling into the bushes and me shouting encouragement ;-). Too many bikes not enough thought! still I then put the hammer down for the first lap pulling along a varied contingent of others. My objective being to get out of the midfield pack deter any wannabees and find some riders on about the right pace. seemed to work. Probably went to hard the first lap and had to rein it in a bit for the second lap but still result was OK.

Back into to a lovely quiet T2 and out on the run. Soon new what it was going to be and decided to take it steady. Ticked off the laps and came home in a slow time.

Nice to meet with various trilondoners LFTri folk and other racers and in a better post race environment would have stayed longer. However the whole fiasco of queueing to get in and out meant that I was keen to be out as soon as possible. The recovery tent was mean too. You got a bottle of water some gatorade filth and a hog roast bap. Ur that's is folks. No buffet of nibbles sugary salty stuff tea or coffee. Very poor!

 So what did I learn. That my bike and swim are OK. My running is poor and that the more WTC takes out of a race the less the overall experience. will have to wait for another breakthrough some time else...

Friday, 8 June 2012

Ironman training and the NHS. Alike and not alike

Having a well earned rest with a few days off after doing two days of the Tour of Wessex which is quite simply one of the most enjoyable events I know. The photo above shows myself, Lance and Kris who had agreed at the start of the first day we would take it easy for the first thirty km or so until it we got to Cheddar Gorge.  So a full thirty seconds later I fly off down the road with Kris chasing.  A group of 4 formed and we were soon hammering it. It was exhilarating as we flew past everybody and all thougths of control were left in the vapour trail as we tore across the flatlands towards Glastonbury Tor. The rest of the 2 days and 220 odd miles were not quite so fast but were just as enjoyable inspite of our tear up at the start.

Training appears to be catching up and the familiar tiredness that challenges your resolve to start a session hovers around but the commitment to my goal at IM Switzerland remains. In some ways I am perhaps a bit fresher than last year at the same point but not quite so quick (yet!) so long as I dont think about running.

My plan this year is slowly overcoming the obstacles of illness and work and with under 6 weeks to go I am confident of a performance of sorts but perhaps not the next level I would hope for.

So how is Ironman like the NHS. Well if I look simply at the process of getting fit for an IM and trying to manage services in the NHS there are clear similarities. I know what my goals are in both. I know what sort of time, resources and commitments are required to get the expected results. For those training for an IM should recognise the effort in part of the equation coupled with some specific IM knowledge should get you near the outcome you hope for. Coupled with this is the endless ironman logic that you need to keep going, making adjustments improving you capacity and keeping site of the final goal. Like wise you would expect that if I plan for a certain level of NHS activity, develop the services ability to deliver and improve on their existing quality indicators then again we should be somewhere in the ballpark. Howver this is where the outcomes can vary dramatically. In the IM there will be a race, it will most likely involve the swim run and bike bit and will come in at around 140 miles in total. If you have trained hard and dont have a major catastrophe I find the results will reflect the training.

In the NHS the rules change, constantly. One moment you expect to be paid per case the next you are looking at a block contract. One moment you think that you will not be held responsible if you only undertake the work commissioned the next moment you are told you will be responsibile for targets to achieve all the work regardless of whether you are to be paid for it. It is often a strange mix of "third way" internal markets and what I can only describe as neostalinism where we are expected to deliver no matter what the funding or staffing available. So not really like ironman except perhaps for the constanht challenge and the need to persevere through each and every barrier to success.

Back to training it's a lot simpler