Friday, 17 August 2012

My 2012 triathlon season - Road to Ironman Austria

Having started triathlon in 2011 I was eager to do some more races in 2012. It's no secret that my dream is to complete an Ironman triathlon so my 2012 triathlon season would include some longer races as a learning curve to my ultimate goal.
My objectives for the 2012 triathlon season were to do a good half ironman distance triathlon at the Cowman, in Olney, my ‘A’ race this year and complete a longer distance triathlon, so I found the Waterside Long Distance triathlon in Bradwell, Essex, which is a 2.4k swim, 121km bike ride and a 30k run.
Although I was training for the London marathon during the winter months I also dedicated time on bike and swimming. I joined the newly found Leighton Buzzard Triathlon Club and found the technique drills we did throughout winter very useful, I feel more aware as to what I am doing in the pool and have definitely made good progress in that department.
Looking through my training spreadsheet I can see how consistent I was with my training, basically I trained 6 days a week with the majority of Sundays as my day off, there were lots of 10/11 hours weeks with some weeks peaking at 15 hours, most weeks I did 3 bike sessions, 3 runs, 2 swims and a couple of sessions working my core.
My racing kicked off with an Olympic distance in Gloucestershire where it was my first opportunity to test my first TT bike, the weather wasn't great for a good bike split but I still managed to shave a couple of minutes and an overall 6 minutes off the previous year.
Next up was the Cowman middle distance, if you live in the UK you know that it hasn't been the greatest summer weather, the forecast for the Cowman was relatively ok but the transition area had become a massive bog and as a last minute measure the run course had to be altered as the original course was too muddy. I had been training well so I had high hopes for the race. The swim was great, I felt well in the water and couldn't help noticing people around me taking two strokes while I took one, same speed but I was more efficient, at the end of the swim I had made nearly two minutes from the previous year, so job done.
The bike session was reasonable, to be honest I was expecting more with my new bike but the speed wasn't there although the legs felt fine. The run went superbly well, I was impressed with myself, and ran each lap faster the other and still had some left in the tank for a sprint finish, I clocked 1:27:59 on the run, this time would make a 13.1 PB but with the run course changes it meant it was a shorter distance but a good run nevertheless. In the end every section was a PB including transitions and I improved my overall time by 16min in total, ‘A’ race with an A result. I have been trying going sockless in races without a problem, so my transitions have been faster, I have been clipping the shoes to the bike and using Zoots Tempo for running, these are great as you don't need laces and feel super comfortable but they aren't good for Ironman distance so I was told.
Now there was only one race left on my calendar, I came across this race in a magazine and thought it would sensible to try something like this before an actual Ironman. The training was just a continuation of what I had been doing for Cowman but with longer sessions. Key part of my training this summer was time trials on the bike which I really enjoyed, it's like a midweek mini race and a great way to measure your improvement over the weeks and it also gets you fit. It was a great boost to my confidence getting PBs on 10 mile and 25 mile TTs in the weeks leading up to my longest triathlon ever.
Five weeks went by really quickly and last Sun morning I was lining up to start the Waterside Tri at 7am. I was a bit worried about the organiser's description of a challenging river swim but in actual fact it was a marina and they must have timed it right as there wasn’t a strong current and in the end I enjoyed the salty swimming very much with the boats around us. The forecast for the day was for warm weather and winds of up 15mph, the bike course was reasonably flat with very few inclines, being a loop meant that I rode against and with wind on my back. A bit of discomfort flared up on the last lap of the bike, with back & neck pains, I stretched a bit but tried to stay in that aero position. It was hot by the time the bike section was completed, in transition 2 I opted to put some socks on for comfort and at the first aid station I poured a cup of cold water over my head, back pain and neck pain disappeared by then. It was basically 3 x 6.4 miles loop,  and the first time round I averaged 7:40s min/mile, the speed gradually faded and the second loop was like 8:05s the last loop was even slower, with 2miles to go I think the heat got the better of me and I was glad it was finishing. In the end I averaged 8:19 on the run, not bad although I imagined a bit faster, nevertheless I never felt the urge to walk, I made up two positions on the run so I could say I finished strong or perhaps wobbling less. My finishing time was 7:36:34 and the splits: 2.4k swim 55:59 - T1 01:15 - 121km bike 03:56:10 - T2 01:54 - 30k Run 2:41:14. Nutrition worked well on the day for me, I consumed 750ml of SIS sports drink for heat on the bike during the first hour and I after that I took one High5 Isogel every 25min and about 2.25 litres of water, for the run I used one Isogel every 30min and sipped water at aid station. I also took one Salt Stick every hour from the second hour onwards; I didn't suffer from nausea, cramps or bad patches as such apart from the last two miles of the run. I felt lightheaded after the finish but a glass of flat coke and some muesli bars bits cured it quickly.
The last few weeks I had quite a few people ask me why I would bother doing a 3/4 ironman, I might as well do the full one. In Brazil we say that if you rush your burn your tongue and end up eating uncooked food; I signed up for Ironman Austria for June next year but my journey to get there has already started, completing an Ironman is a big task, I don't want to be standing on the starting line shit scared of the unknown, I want to be at the starting line anxious but know I worked my way up and left no stone untouched, I want to be as prepared as I can be. There is a massive gap between a half and full ironman and doing the Waterside Long Distance triathlon has made that gap a bit closer for me now.
What's next for me then? From Mon I'm taking two weeks off any exercise, I know I'll hate it but my body will appreciate and my family as well, my daughter even told me today I must eat biscuits and ice creams on holiday because all my clothes are falling off. When I return from the family holiday I'll start training to run about 55 miles in Dec from London to my house via The Grand Union Canal, not a race, just something I’d love to do. I'll ditch most speed work and will be spending lots of time on my single speed bike, also at the gym doing weights, obviously will have to do really long slow runs/walk and also continue with swimming classes with my triathlon club. I'll also do some cross country races with my running club, the Leighton Buzzard A.C. With this I hope to improve my endurance and build some stronger legs to help me achieve faster bike times in races. In January I will start base training for IM Austria.

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