1 July 2017 0 Comments

Hopes and Dreams

It has just gone 9 in the evening and I’m looking out of my conservatory window across a windy, misty and rainswept Lune Valley. At this time of the evening in two weeks I’ll be in bed contemplating starting my 6th Ironman and 4th Ironman UK. That’s 6 more than most people will ever do and quite a few less than many people I know.

Hopefully, I’m beginning to understand a little bit better what it takes to get to the start line at one of these things with a decent chance of finishing. I think the first thing I’ve learned is that tapering is overrated. If, like me, you’re not managing to consistently put in 10 hour plus training weeks for months in advance then I find that tapering can be left to the last couple of weeks. Tomorrow I’m planning to do 100 miles on the bike, but I’ll still be looking at doing a 4 hour ride next weekend with a few shorter rides in between. It’s only really in the last week that I’ll back off significantly in terms of total hours, though from now on, apart from tomorrow’s bike ride, I won’t go too deep in terms of intensity. It’ll just be a case of making sure I am doing something everyday at the kind of intensity that I’m looking for on race day.

Overall, I’m reasonably pleased with my preparation. The cycling has gone pretty well. Plenty of hill climbing and some tough days out. I’ve done about 400km more than last year and I’m probably close to riding as well as any year since 2012. When I look on Strava, many of my best segment performances come from that year and I’ve beaten a few of those hill climb times this year. Swimming, too, is feeling good. So far this year I have swum 55,000m which is 3 times as much as my piss poor preparation for last year. I actually don’t think I’ll be much faster, but hopefully it will take a lot less out of me. Only the running has been disappointing. A bout of achilles tendinitis caused me to stop altogether for a few weeks and since starting again I have been careful not to go fast. Any semblance of pace has gone, but I did reasonably well at the Epicman a couple of weeks ago sneaking under 2 hour pace on the run. So, how that will work out on raceday is anyone’s guess.

Here are my splits from last year in Bolton:

  • Swim: ?1:40:16
  • Bike: ?6:58:42
  • Run: ?4:55:37
  • Transition: ?0:20:13
  • Total: ?13:54:48

The swim was around what I expected, bike a little slower than the fairly conservative 6:45 that I hoped for – it was a pretty windy day. And the run was a PB for an Ironman marathon. Transition was fairly slow.

So what are my thoughts for this year?

I would hope that the swim is a little faster. maybe 1:35, and I’m definitely capable of faster on the bike if the weather is kind. Best case would be around 6:30, but a more conservative target of 6:45 would leave something in the tank for the run. I would hope to take a few minutes off transition, too. So, let’s say in a best case scenario, I could be starting the run 40 minutes up on last year. And this is where we hit the big unknown. If I repeated my run performance of 2016 I’d beat my Ironman personal best of 13:36:28 by around 22 minutes and be well under the 13:30 mark. That’s a big if. Given that my run has been the weakest element of my training, it seems likely that beating last year’s run time is unrealistic. Yet, overall, I do feel like a more resilient athlete. Bottom line is I don’t expect to set a new overall PB for me, but I would be disappointed if I didn’t set a PB for the race. That, however, is entirely dependent on the conditions on race day.

There are 93 athletes in the 50-54 age group and next year I’ll be shifting into the 55-59 group – proper old fart territory. Still, I’d like to be in the top half of the results come Sunday evening on July 16th. Whatever your hopes and dreams for Bolton, I hope to see you on the start line on a cool and still July morning! Good luck and race hard.

My race number is 2014 (amazingly, last year my number was 2013!)

Striding up the hill out of Bolton centre

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