Last week my training didn't start until Thursday when I rode 60 miles and ran 4 miles. I had planned longer but a wee bit of IBS put more than a spanner in the works on several occasions. On Friday I ran 7 miles before my normal squad swim session and on Saturday there was an early (for me) 70 mile bike ride before returning to watch the mighty Villa beat Chelsea 2-1 in the football. The week was rounded off on Sunday with an 'interesting' run session resulting in dog injury. The run started with a club track session of 5 x 2000m which was followed by a 16 mile run from Fremington Quay where I dropped the car off before running home and collecting Rosie pup & Shelly (on her bike) and running back to Frmington where we had some nosh. The day got interesting when Rosie decided that she wanted to visit the estuary which was at low tide. Rather than go round to the banked side of the quay she opted for the quickest route possible............ straight down the wall onto the rocks below. She's fine of course but came away from it with a gaping big hole in her knee. There's Shelly & Me in panic mode and Rosie is running around as if it's fun. Crazy mutt!!! So that was it. A 12 hour training week, but with only 4 days of training. Something similar will happen this week, hopefully without any Doggy Base-jumping this time.
I thought it was about time I disclosed The Master Plan for Ironman Florida.
I'm sure it will all go horribly wrong as normal, but here's how it plays out in my mind.
For the rest of this week I'll train as normal just keeping my bike rides around 60 miles (max 80 miles) and then once the weekend is over I'll try to train all the way through next week, working hard but for a lot less time/distance. I've a 2hr massage booked on Thursday which could possibly be the end of my training week depending on how things turn out.
The weekend before the race will be a travel-fest as we make the trips over to Wolverhampton then Heathrow on Saturday before flying to Atlanta on Sunday and driving from Atlanta to Panama City Beach on Monday (although I'm sure I can sneak a couple of training sessions in somewhere).
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will be spent doing all the normal Ironman Competitor/Tourist things that everybody else does. I'll be getting to a few of the Gatorade swims, knocking out a couple of 20-30mile bike rides along with a couple of runs along the beach. There's nothing final, I'll just see how each day pans out. I'll be making sure I'm at the Pancake Breakfast that the local church puts on in the Ironman Village the day before the race too, that's awesome. On Friday I'll no doubt be out and about rather than lying down with my feet up all day, I just can't waste a days holiday like that.
So onto race day, the day where everybody gets super serious, the day when everybody is 'in the zone', I'll be the one walking around wondering what all the fuss is about. I will however be checking my tyres as soon as I get to the transition area. Last year my valve got stuck and with no time to change I rode the whole bike course with around 50psi in my rear tyre. I'll get numbered up, drag my wetsuit on and saunter down to the beach, if any nerves are going to appear this is when they'll show up. There's never been a problem though since my first Ironman in Austria when I walked into the start pen and totally bottled it.
The Swim - is just the swim. There will be no warm up, it's a long day I don't want to use any more energy than necessary. The swim IS just the warm up for the bike and run. Ideally I'll have the swim and T1 done inside the hour, the plan is not to kill myself though so if I have a nice cruise around and get out of the water in an 60-65mins then so be it, it's hardly going to break the race.
The Bike - is where the fun starts, where I'm at my weakest (normally) and where I feel the most pressure. Because I'm one of the better swimmers I'll be out on the bike fairly quickly, but then I'll go backwards, backwards and backwards some more. This is where you realise that very few people can actually RACE an Ironman, for the rest of us it's an excersise in pacing. It's hard to resist the temptation to speed up when you know you can and it's harder still not to draft when the inevitable peleton catch me up around half way. The aim though this year is to sit around 120bpm (125bpm max) for the whole ride. I'm feeling more comfortable than ever when I'm on my Tri-bars and I've done more 'solid' 60-80 mile rides than ever before. I also feel that my nutrition plan is much better than previous years (that's not hard to do). The biggest limiting factor to most of my training rides has been the mental torture of being out so long, hopefully with so many people around and with my race head on (if I can find it) there will be no problem. As for time? Well, my 3 previous attempts have all seen me out of T2 between 5:10 - 5:20 from my T1 exit, everything says that I SHOULD be faster, but after blowing on the run in previous years I'm dropping my planned HR. 5:10 should be a realistic target but I'll be aiming for a 5:30 bike split which would be my slowest yet but if it means I can run off the bike than it's worth it. Any quicker than 5:30 will be a bonus.
The Run - Oh Dear!!!! This is where it falls apart time and time and time again. No matter how I feel when I get off the bike it always goes badly wrong here, which is really hard to take when you're used to the run being one of your strengths. In 2004 I spent the whole run course coughing my guts up and was only 15secs off a dreaded 5hr time. We think it was down to a bit of 'flight lurgy' as Shelly had been ill during the week, but it may have just been the first time I really suffered with my persistant cough that my doctor has simply given up on. My DNF in 2005 was simply down to the run my sole aim in that race was to nail the 3rd discipline and when I blew up after 10 miles I simply threw the towel in. The only real thing I remember from last year was that my feet felt as though they were on fire. I'd put socks on in T1 and seemingly put them on along with half of the beach, the bike of course was fine but as soon as I was out running it was like sandpaper. I did of course have my normal cramp sessions which I noticed when I stopped and tried to clean my feet off, it took me 10mins to get my shoes back on because I was cramping all the time.
This year 'hopefully' will be much better. Individually all the elements are fine, there's no reason why I can't swim under 1hr, bike around 5:10 and run below 3:20. That'll be spot on 9hrs 30mins then, lovely. I'll see you in 11hrs AGAIN!!
Ooops, it's Friday now. Once again it's taken me half a week to write a blog post, hope it's taken less time to read it.