On Sunday 12th July I will be competing/taking-part in my first Ironman distance race. It consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride (with no drafting allowed) and a 26.2 mile run (marathon distance to the uneducated!). I had never planned on doing an Ironman, in-fact the first I’d ever thought of doing a triathlon was in October 2006 when at the Bushy Park Time Trial (now Bushy parkrun) I had a short conversation with fellow runner Stuart (who was training for his first Ironman)….
Stuart: can you swim?
Me: yes, a bit.
Stuart: do you own a bike?
Me: yes, a mountain bike.
Stuart: good, then you can do triathlon then…
So, we’re now just under three years since then and I’ve done a few short distance ‘sprint’ races, a handful of middle-distance (half Ironman) races and am just about ready for the big one.
After getting a London Marathon place for April this year towards the back end of 2008 my plan was to get my long runs going well and then to just tick over with my running for the first six months of this year. After some injury issues following a run in Wimbledon Common in September my running was haphazard until March of this year. At that point I stepped up the running to get me into shape for the London Marathon.
Whilst my ankle was sorting itself out for running, the early part of this year I started cycling longer distances, with 55-60 mile rides during January/February (in some very cold and wet weather as well). At the same time I was made redundant from my job so this gave me more time to train! (that’s one way of turning a negative into a positive I guess). I’ve continued the long bike rides as this is (from what I’ve read) the most important thing in Ironman. If you can get off of the bike feeling ‘fresh’ (in relative terms I hope) for the marathon, then you’re doing good.
Come April and I tapered a little for the London Marathon. I had a great first marathon race and finished in under 3 hours 20 minutes. Thankfully I was able to recover very quickly and was back running within a week. The running and cycling continued together with regular(ish) trips to the local swimming pool.
In May I braved the local lake to get going with open water swim training. I much prefer this to the pool as each ‘length’ of the lake I swim in is about 650 metres, compared with 25 in the pool. Its much easier to just get your head down and get on with it in the lake – at least for me. Naturally the cycling and running continued, and after a couple of weeks of running ‘rest’ I was back into marathon training mode yet again!
At the start of May I cycled my first ‘100 miler.’ This is a bit of a physiological barrier and is only a handful (and a bit!) short of full Ironman distance. I’ve done a total of seven rides of over 100 miles – the best of which was one in early June when I averaged just under 18.5 miles per hour throughout. To get a six hour Ironman bike split I’ll need to do this (and a little more) next week.
Swimming has been going well, and for the last couple of months I’ve swum just under 3 miles at a time twice a week. Running-wise I’ve completed three 20+ mile runs which is good.
So what training plan did I follow? None. I just did the following – swim a bit, run a bit, bike a lot. Perhaps if I ever do one of these crazy things again I’ll be more structured, but for this time it seems to have worked well.
The past couple of weeks I’ve been tapering, or reducing training volume in order to get me to the start line in good form and ready to race. I’m eating all the time which probably isn’t the best as I’m doing less training but as Sharon says, I could do with a bit of fat on my body.
I’m now ready to get the bike packed into its bike box, my gear is being put aside for packing and I’m not yet nervous. I’m sure that’ll change come next Saturday evening…