Countdown to Ironman: Race week

8 03 2017

This is my third Ironman event in Taupo and I love the buzz of arriving.

The swim course buoys are laid out. The lamppost banners are up. Ironman is everywhere.

I remember arriving in Taupo last year when I volunteered at Ironman and looking at those swim buoys. The image daunted me.

“I can never swim that far” I said. In awe of every one of my squad mates who was attempting the event the next day.

How different a year makes. It didn’t daunt me. It excited me!

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I got to Taupo on Wednesday lunchtime. There was a 30 minute run on the plan and I had a massage booked at 3pm. So I got the run out of the way and then headed to my night’s accommodation to check in and get a shower before my massage – which was bliss! Just what I needed after a five-hour car drive.

The following morning called for a short swim and bike. Wanting to get it out of the way before the first-timers seminar that was listed in the athlete guide at 9am, our trusty crew gathered at the yacht club at 7am. Nothing like practicing a race day start.

The lake was perfect. Oh how we hoped for this on race day.

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We got the swim and bike done easily and then all headed into the Great Lake Centre for the seminar. And we waited. And waited. While all the time the regular rolling race briefing played on the screen. We even asked a few people who said it was on. It soon became obvious it wasn’t and the contradicting information on the website, which showed the seminar on the next day, was actually right.

It left us plenty of time to wander round the expo though and my training buddy and I managed to get some twinning done! Buying the same cycle tops (well, they were only $20!).

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We then went different ways as some wanted to register early while I wanted to wait a little longer. I still had to check out of last night’s accommodation and check in to my home for the next few days.

After lunch, and a chat with those who had already checked in, I headed over to the registration tent to get that ticked off. There was still a large queue but I joined it anyway.

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After what seemed like an age and crawling forwards ever-so-slowly, I was finally called forward and asked my name. This was it. I was signing in for Ironman.

It all gets really real when that athlete wristband gets taped around your arm.

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The lovely volunteer at check in asked where in the UK I was from. When I told, she replied, as many Brits do, with “Manchestoh” in a faux-Manc accent. I had a giggle as it was so unexpected and out of context in NZ.

As I left to go and get weighed (yes, weighed – I’m coming to that), a voice behind was calling “excuse me!” I looked round convinced it wasn’t aimed at me, but a bearded chap was looking right at me and starting to talk.

I walked over and he asked if he’d heard right and that I was from Manchester. Yes, I replied. So of course, he then asked where. “Middleton” I said. “Really? I’m from Oldham!”

If you don’t know it, they are neighbouring towns and I was actually born in Oldham. Not only that, he was from the town that sits between Middleton and Oldham.

Small world.

The weigh in is part of the health and safety process as you also get weighed immediately after the finish line. This is to ensure that you’re not severely dehydrated, which can happen if you get things wrong, and extreme weight loss is a key sign. I hadn’t weighed myself in months, but I knew I wasn’t light. I was still a bit disappointed at the numbers, but I put it to the back of my mind. It was purely a benchmark for Saturday night.

The rest of the day was pretty chilled and we went to the athlete welcome function. A pretty simple affair but helped with the build up.

Friday saw our final “tune up” swim (in another perfect lake)/bike/run and coffee done. Some went off to the first timers seminar. I decided not to. Not being arrogant, but I didn’t think I could learn or know any more about the event. I’d volunteered last year so seen it all. I wasn’t feeling nervous so didn’t need help with that. I was in the zone!

A restful day followed with some hot pools, lunch, hubby arriving and setting up by bike. I wanted to change my tyres from training to race tyres. My carbon race wheels are difficult to get tyres off, and even my male friend couldn’t do it! Eventually I got there though and just prayed for no punctures on race day. I’ve had a couple in training so was wondering if I’d used them all up.

Then it was down to transition to rack the bike. Are house was so close to town that we could walk down. I was given my personal volunteer transition “tour guide” to show me the ropes. But again, because I’d volunteered last year, I knew how it worked. The one thing I wanted to do was walk through the transition entry gantry so I could see which row by bags would be on and work out a “sighting point” to make it easy to aim for.

Bike racked. Transition bags dropped. Timing chip in hand. All that was left to do was have dinner and relax.

And hope for a good night’s sleep.

Tomorrow was game day.

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Countdown to Ironman: 1 week to go

28 02 2017

Taper time

Everyone reacts differently when it comes to the taper. There’s those who get ill (it happened to me in the taper to my first half), those who’ll experience doubts, those who get emotional, those who just want to sleep, and those who relish the reduced structure and intensity.

I definitely fell into the last camp for most of the first week of taper.

Training has been going well. I’ve exceeded my expectations in many areas. I haven’t struggled through the bulk. And I’ve had an awesome training buddy to help keep me honest.

That always helps!

I felt on top of the world.

I headed out for my final big swim. It was scheduled for the Saturday, along with a decent ride and run off the bike. But I had other plans for the afternoon, so I went out on a glorious Friday evening in the harbour.

I was on my own, so a little nervous. But the good weather meant the beach was busy and the water was occupied with a number of vessels – both man powered and diesel.

I headed out to make my way towards the lighthouse and then I knew I’d have to do at least a couple of laps of the fountain to get close to my 4km goal. I took very few breaks. Being on my own meant I could go at my own pace and really simulate a race situation.

Minus the 1200-odd other swimmers starting at the same time.

After my second lap of the fountain I checked my watch and I’d made 3.8kms. That made it my longest swim in the open water. The swim back into shore added almost another 100m to the total, making just shy of 3.9kms.

And the pace was comparable to what I’d swum in the Taupo 70.3 back in December. It made me so happy and cemented the earlier confidence I’d been feeling. I was stoked. It made me so happy.

I deserved an ice cream after that!

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When I got home I was suddenly overcome with emotion. I was feeling so proud, yet had no one to share it with. My husband was away for the weekend. I wasn’t training with my buddies on Saturday morning.

But it was more than that.

A couple of months ago I committed to raising money for the Cancer Society to give my Ironman more purpose. To make it more than just about a medal. And a towel.

Last week, one of my best friends at school lost her battle with cancer. It threw me a little bit. I hadn’t seen her for many years, but we’d been in touch. She was a wonderful person who I shared many of my formative years with.

It makes 4th March more meaningful.

Andrea. This one’s for you.





Countdown to Ironman: 2 weeks to go

21 02 2017

The hay is in the barn.

That’s it. The last big week of training is in the bag.

Coach emailed us all to tell us that we won’t get any fitter or faster now. It’s all about maintaining what we’ve already got.

And let’s face it, we’ve come such a long way. Literally and metaphorically.

The training plan featured one of our favourites – two runs in a day! The first one is an hour and hilly. I had an early flight to catch so I didn’t quite do the full hour, but I did some good elevation so I was happy with my 46 minutes.

The idea is to fatigue the legs and then get some recovery during the day before heading out for a longer endurance run. I guess the goal is to build stamina by running on fatigued legs. Because let’s face it. That’s gonna be happening on the day!

Summer had arrived in Wellington when I did the morning run, and then I did my evening run in Auckland as I was up there for work. It was sod’s law that when summer arrived in Wellington, I got drenched up north. It was bucketing down! But again. You don’t know what the day will be like, so you’ve got to go out in all weather.

I also used different shoes. I’ve been mostly training in Asics Cumulus, which I used for my morning run. A couple of weeks ago when I’d done the previous 2-run-day, they’d got drenched in the morning so I had to use my trusty pair of Hoka One One Clifton 3. Man, the endurance run felt good in those! Hoka shoes aren’t for everyone, but I love running in them. So I adopted the same approach for the second 2-run-day. And it had the same effect.

The week ended with another 180km ride, an opportunity to test out the nutrition plan again. But it also gave me the chance to try out my new race wheels, ready for the day. I only went out with the back one on as the front can be a bit more fickle in wind. My training buddy described my bike as a mullet – all party at the back! But I like the way the tyres match my bike!

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My main source of nutrition is Perpetuem which has worked really well for me this season.

Given we’re out on course for so long, my preference is to use the nutrition available on course, mainly so I don’t have to carry it all. I’ve been using Clif Bars in training, which are handed out, so that’s another tick. But I don’t really like the Clif gels.

I recently put in an order with Wiggle so decided to get some of their gels. I used them in my first half ironman and the helped me overcome a poor nutrition decision on the day. So I knew they’d be good for me.

My plan was to alternate Perp, bars and gels, saving the gels for the latter part of the ride, and taking it all on my watch alarm every 10 minutes.

With my trusty training buddy, we headed out on a route taking us from Featherston to just beyond Eketahuna and back again. We had no idea what the elevation profile was as we were supposed to try and get similar to Taupo.

Heading out it felt like there was a bit of a headwind, but nothing shocking, just enough to keep us honest!

Our main hope was to achieve the 180kms target in 7 hours. At our recent training camp I’d managed 7 hours 13 and Christina had got just under 7. We knew it could be done.

And we rocked it!

After turning round at 90kms and 3 hours 26 minutes, we were on track. We knew the wind would be a little more behind us, but we weren’t quite sure how much climbing there would be. We’d had some rolling hills so we knew there would be some.

I also took a No Doz for the first time at the turnaround. Caffeine has a proven effect on performance so I wanted to see if it helped. I drink heaps of coffee so it wasn’t like I felt an instant rush or anything, but I felt strong and didn’t fade.

The nutrition plan seemed to be working. We were flying.

Just after we passed through Greytown there was a sign saying Featherston was only another 11kms to go. My husband then appeared. I’d texted earlier to ask him to bring a spare inner tube and CO2 gas as I’d used up mine within an hour of the start after riding over a piece of glass. We were almost done, but I appreciated the effort and it gave me a little more peace of mind.

He mentioned he thought we’d have been pretty much done by then. But I looked at my watch – we were at 6 hours and 2 minutes with 10kms left to go. That was bloody good going!

I finished in 6 hours 21 minutes riding time. Not including a couple of toilet and water stops. On the day there won’t be a need to stop for water as that will all be on course. But I don’t actually intend to pee on the bike! I know some do, but it’s not my thing! Plus stopping for toilet breaks will give me the chance to stretch a little.

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We didn’t quite achieve the same elevation as we will at Ironman, but the terrain wasn’t dissimilar. So it was a pretty good simulation in all.

Even after a hefty week of training, the ride felt great. It was a huge confidence boost as we head into the taper.

Bring it on Ironman. I’m ready for you!

Stats this week

Swim distance: 5903m

Bike distance: 242kms

Run distance: 37.4kms

Total duration: 17 hours 16 minutes





Countdown to Ironman: 6 weeks to go

25 01 2017

Practice makes perfect.

Didn’t your mum always tell you that?

Nothing is truer in endurance triathlon.

I liken this sport to a jigsaw puzzle. You’re trying to create a complete picture that is your race. Only there are several different pieces that might fit into a particular space and you have to try a few, or maybe all of them, until you find the one that fits.

Those pieces are things like pacing, nutrition, processes, clothing, gear, and even things like when and where to apply Vaseline (so other members of my training squad told me).

And there’s no other way to figure this lot out than to practice. In a realistic situation.

Bring on Ironman training camp in Taupo.

This weekend saw us basically complete about 80-90% of the course – not on one day – we’ll save that pleasure for race day.

Normally the camp schedule sees you complete one Ironman distance (apart from the full run) on each day. So swim 3.8kms in the Lake on the Saturday, backed up with a shorter bike. Then complete the full 180km bike course on the Sunday, backed up with a short run off the bike to test the legs. Then a 3-hour run completes the torture, erm, I mean training!

But the 2017 NZ summer chucked in a weather bomb on the Sunday making the bike a bit of a gamble.

Not wanting to take that risk, Coach switched things around to have us completing the bike straight after the Saturday swim.

Personally I found it was incredibly useful to do this as it genuinely simulated race morning. So I got up, had the breakfast I’m thinking of having, and then got to have the first go at my race plan “jigsaw”.

The swim start is 7am in the beautiful lake. So that’s what we did. The plan was to complete the distance and then hop straight on the bike for the full course.

It was a beautiful morning out on Lake Taupo. The sun was just rising and the water was flat calm – conditions we’re hopeful for on the day itself. The swim was a bit trickier than it will be on the day as there were no course markers, making sighting, and therefore swimming straight, a bit harder. It also meant we had no idea when to turn around so we had to keep checking our watches.

As it happened I didn’t do a bad job and when I got back to the finish, I was only about 80m short of the full 3.8kms. And I was stoked with the time. It was at the faster end of my expectations, so with a mass swim start on the day, I should be able to easily replicate that, and possibly go even faster with a good draft.

The “transition” was fairly swift and it was time to hit the road to Reporoa for the first of two loops.

I knew that this needed to be paced well. My legs were fresh and I felt good, but there’s a looooong way to go and I needed some reserves for the second lap. We had some company on course with two other training squads also out for a practice ride so there was some good banter and encouragement. It was great practice for when people pass you on the day and maintaining your own race and pace plan. It’s all too easy to be competitive against others, but they may have a different plan – and strengths – to you. So whether or not you think you shouldn’t let that person beat you, you have to let them go.

I got lots of practice at that.

I’d been hoping for a 7-hour-ish ride time, and at the half way point was bang on track at 3 hours 30 minutes. My husband had travelled up with the squad to provide some support, so when we got back into Taupo at the end of lap one, he was there as an “aid station” and also gave us some practice at thinking about our “special needs”.

During the actual race, at the start of the second lap you get a chance to pick up some additional items, or apply some things you may or may not have needed at the start. It’s kind of a contingency bag. So we had to think about what we might need in that on the day and left it with him.

Then it was back to Reporoa for lap 2.

We knew the wind was going to pick up as the day wore on, and that the direction would be favourable for a tailwind “home”. Which is good because that’s mostly uphill.

But where there’s a tailwind, there’s got to be a headwind too. And boy was there ever.

We’d faced a headwind in the same direction in the half. But you knew that we only had one lap to do. This time we’d already done 90kms and had to save some for the uphill, even with a tailwind, back.

And not only that. If we wanted to truly simulate race day, we had to be thinking that we still had a marathon to do at the end of it. So we still couldn’t (or at least shouldn’t) be putting in too much power and leave something in reserve for that run.

We needed to have some serious words with ourselves to get through it! And the main thing was knowing that the tailwind was yet to come. But that mental toughness is something we need to prepare for the day and have strategies for coming out the other side.

Total bike time ended up at 7 hours 13 minutes. That headwind took its toll as the return leg was pretty much equal to the first time around.

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With the big swim and bike behind us, that left Sunday as a recovery and race planning day. So an early morning relaxed swim and soak in the hot pools afforded us some much needed movement the next day. Although not many of us were enthusiastic about getting back in the bike saddle having spent several hours in it the day before. But Coach ran a short spin session on the indoor trainer to get the blood flowing again.

And then it was massage time. Oh hell, yes please!

With the extra, unanticipated recovery day in the middle, Monday’s long run was always going to be done on fresher legs than on the day. So this added the extra challenge of maintaining a pace that’s achievable when you’re tired, not running how you feel.

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In the two half ironmans I’ve done. I’ve got off the bike and run way faster than planned because I felt alright, which resulted in rapid fade towards the end. So for this run, it was all about slow and steady. I was aiming for a pace between 6:40 and 7:00 per km, using a run/walk strategy. With an alarm set on my watch for every 15 minutes, I inserted walk breaks at that time. In addition to walking the “aid stations” laid out by my husband and Coach.

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The key thing to this strategy is still to walk even when you feel you don’t need to, hence the alarm on the watch. It gives the body some recovery time which results in a better performance overall and delays fatigue.

In the scheduled three hours I completed one full lap and two thirds of the second lap, achieving 26kms at a pace of 6:54 per km. Just like the end of the bike on the Saturday, I didn’t treat the finish to this run as the finish I felt I could do. I maintained the same pace to the end, knowing that I’d have another 16kms to run on the day.

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So the overall takeaways from the weekend were confidence and a few learnings. Confidence I can do the distance. And learnings to help me get there stronger.

Records this week

Longest swim/longest open water swim: 3722m

Longest ride (distance): 178kms

Longest ride (duration): 7 hours 13 minutes

Longest run (distance): 26kms

Longest run (duration): 2 hours 59 minutes

Training stats for the week

Swim: 6597m

Bike: 202km (plus one Group Ride class)

Run: 40.4kms

Total duration: 18 hours 20 minutes

(stats include Monday 23 Jan to cover training camp)





Countdown to Ironman: 7 weeks to go

16 01 2017

I’m training to go slower.

I know, I know. That sentence seems to go against everything you think is right with preparing for a race.

Usually, you train to go faster. But for Ironman, I’m going to say I’m training to go better.

It’s such a big event that, for your first one especially, there’s no point having a time goal. I can tell you what I think I’m capable of doing it in, but I’m not interested in beating a time.

I want to finish. End of story.

So that means I need to pace myself to leave enough in my legs for the run at the end. After all, I’ve never even run a marathon. Let alone run one after a 3.8km swim and a 180km bike ride.

This week saw the second longest run of our training plan. It’s a great opportunity to practice what you plan to do on race day. Knowing I’m going to be coming into this on tired legs, I’ll be adopting a run/walk strategy. This involves setting certain times to run for, and then walking a little. And no matter how you feel, you walk.

I know that my strategy will be to walk all the aid stations. At about 2.5kms apart, the run in between will take approx. 15 mins, maybe a little more. So in training I’ve set an alarm on my watch to go off every 15 mins, at which point I slow down, take a breather and walk for a minute.

It’s pretty hard for the first walk break when you’re in training because you’re fresher than you will be on the day, even with the fatigue from the rest of your training. So your head tells you that you can keep going. But on race day I won’t be ignoring an aid station, even the first one, so I force myself to walk.

It’s good for the mind, the body, and the soul.

So despite the run being much slower than I’d normally pace myself, I’m probably keeping my form better – a friend said she saw me as I was heading towards home and that I looked strong and in good form still.

This is important as it shows there’s still something left in the tank, and I’m still running efficiently. I won’t be using up more energy than I need to.

Making it happen – no excuses

We have a phrase in our squad – no excuses. It doesn’t matter what the weather, or if you’ve had a bad day at work, the training still has to happen somehow. Or you risk making it hard for yourself on the day.

Fitting in all the training this week ahs been a challenge . I was travelling for two days with work so moved a couple of workouts around to fit that. I knew a bike on Wednesday would be tricky so decided to do it first thing Tuesday morning before I went away.

The weekend’s weather was a bit hit and miss. With a long ride scheduled for Sunday, but with a forecast for a really windy day, some of us switched our days round and went for the big bike on Saturday instead. This did leave tired legs for the bike hill reps on Sunday, but we weren’t out in the rubbish weather for too long. And rubbish it was. I encountered headwinds, crosswinds and tailwinds, all on one rep! Character-building is one way of putting it.

And the day the long run was planned was living up to Windy Wellington standards. But hey, what’s an extra bit of resistance training? What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Right?

Getting these sessions done, making them happen, are big achievements, not just physically but mentally. Making those Training Peaks boxes go green are so satisfying. But also completing them in less-than-ideal conditions brings extra pride!

 

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A nice morning for a BRICK (not!)

 

Dealing with mechanicals

It’s fair to say I’ve been pretty lucky with my lack of “mechanicals” during all my time riding over the last 18 months. So I was probably due my share. They just all happened to come in the same week.

As I mentioned, I chose to do my midweek bike on Tuesday morning before setting off on a work trip. As I neared home, I heard a loud metallic “ping”. I had no clue what it was and wondered if it was a loose stone just hitting my wheel.

I continued towards home, knowing that the stiff headwind would be a challenge as I approached the last hill to my house, but as I rounded the corner to face the northerly, it felt like it was harder than it should have been. So I stopped. On inspection, my rear wheel was rubbing against the frame. I couldn’t work out why. I tried to reset the wheel but couldn’t get it straight.

Luckily a group ride was passing and they stopped to offer a hand. It’s kind of law in cycling that if you see someone on the side of the road, you check they’re OK. The first guy couldn’t work out what was wrong either. It wasn’t until another joined the inspection that he spotted the problem.

One of my spokes had snapped. Completely in half. The spokes are installed to such a tension that one snapping easily buckles the wheel. And this is why it was rubbing the frame.

 

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First broken spoke

 

I couldn’t get the wheel booked in to be repaired until after the weekend, so I borrowed a wheel from my husband’s TT bike so I could still train on my own TT. We were 5 hours 10 minutes into our long ride when I pointed out some glass on the road to my fellow riders. Literally two seconds later I got a puncture. On my borrowed wheel.

I’ve had plenty of practice changing tyres in workshops and at home, but this was my first roadside fix. My two companions enjoyed the unintended rest stop while I, quite swiftly I’m proud to say, got the tyre changed. I think I spent more time looking for what caused the puncture than actually changing it!

It was only my second time using a CO2 canister to inflate my tyre, so with some trepidation I set it up, expecting a cartoon-like inflation. In reality it was much more underwhelming but it’s such a great time and energy saver to have those things handy.

About 10 minutes was all it took and we were back on the road!

Records this week

Longest ride (distance): 133.6lms

Longest ride (duration): 5 hours 22 minutes

First roadside tyre change

First broken spoke.

Training stats for the week

Bike: 183kms (plus a Group Ride spin class)

Swim: 7950m

Run: 36.8kms

Total time: 17 hours 38 minutes

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Countdown to Ironman: 8 weeks to go

7 01 2017

This week is a recovery week.

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That may sound like bliss with lots of nothing, but I still had a total of 11.5 hours of training in my plan. Not counting the two Group Power classes I was scheduled to teach.

Recovery weeks are vital to reducing the training load a little and allowing your muscles (and mind) some time to get over the fatigue it’s been through, and is about to go through in the coming weeks.

Our plans seem to work on a 3 or 4 week cycle of harder training followed by a recovery week. Given the success Coach seems to have at this game, I’m pretty confident he’s got the recipe right.

In the build up to the half, I wasn’t very good at taking rest days. Sometimes it was hard to fit everything in to the planned days, so I’d often swim on a rest day. I find this is the least stressful activity and is mostly upper body, leaving your legs alone a bit. But there’s always the mental aspect of motivating yourself to go. And I’m sure there is an element of fatigue that is still there.

The week started with New Year. Not so much “new me” as I don’t think I have time for resolutions right now. Except maybe to get more sleep.

Yeah. I’m not very good at that one!

But one thing I am going to resolve to doing better is respecting rest days.

One thing Coach has drummed home is that fatigue is there, whether you can feel it or not. Sometimes it’s deep down making it barely noticeable.

So while you might feel fresh as a daisy and ready for that extra workout (after all, the more you do, the better you’ll perform, right?), in actual fact, you might be doing more harm than good by adding to the fatigue.

It also means you get to sleep in a little later. This morning my alarm was set for 7am.

Yep.

On a weekday.

An alarm starting with 7!!

Aside from the rude awakening from Mother Earth at a little after midnight, that meant I had a good 7.5 hours sleep.

During recovery weeks I also grant myself a bit more leeway with the workouts if I’m not feeling it. Wednesday morning’s swim wasn’t going well. I felt fatigued and that my form was all off. I had 2400m scheduled but managed 1550m before calling it quits.

Something is better than nothing. Even if your Training Peaks goes amber instead of green.

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But it’s also better mentally.

There’s nothing worse than forcing yourself to complete a workout that isn’t going well. It gets the mind playing games with you.

“Am I really up for this?”

“But will I even get out of the swim?”

“How will I manage 3.8kms if I can’t even do 2.4?”

I know I can do it. Just look at Monday when I managed 3.2kms. OK, so I haven’t done the full distance yet, but I know I can do another 600ms. Because I know how to pace myself.

One bad workout doesn’t wreck your whole plan. When the mind plays games, how you fight back is key at times like this.

Time to put up the defensive block and counter attack.

And I will win.





Getting to the start line

22 12 2016

While this is only my second half ironman, it’s amazing how different it was planning this year’s race compared to last year.

I knew I could do it. I’ve done it before. I know what my body is capable of now.

But that also meant it was a bit more of a challenge planning my goals for the event.

I’ve got a time recorded now. I know what I’ve done it in before. But I was a bit loathe to put any time goals in writing.

It’s such a long event, and with three disciplines to complete, so much can happen that’s beyond your control.

The Boss always encourages us to think about what elements of each section will make it a success for us. And not to make it about the time.

A couple of weeks out from the event, as I was starting to think all of this through and write it down, every athlete’s worst nightmare happened.

I picked up an injury.

It was my last long run before the event so it wasn’t a fast one. It was slow and steady with regular walk breaks thrown in.

But a niggle flared up in my right knee.

I felt it last year in a milder form so I knew it was likely to be ITB friction syndrome. It’s a common overuse injury in runners and I knew it could certainly impact that element of my race.

So while not completely ruling me out, my physio ordered me to take a break from running before Taupo 70.3. But it did put my goal-setting into perspective.

Given the amount of training you have to do for any endurance event, getting to the start line has to be goal number one.

Your body undergoes so much stress during those hours of training that injuries are often unavoidable. But the goal is to avoid those that are severe enough to prevent you from taking part altogether.

So goal number one of my race plan was that.

Starting.

Goal number two was finishing.

Anything on top of that is a bonus.

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