Sunday, 29 June 2008

The 49th week....

Note: Apparently our hotel in Frankfurt has high-speed Internet access and we're really hoping to write a daily blog from this Tuesday through to next Monday and the awards ceremony so check in during the week for updates.

On the 15th of July 2007 I wrote my first ever post on this blog and here we are nearly twelve months later on the verge of completing our 50 week journey! I can't believe how quickly the time has gone, what was once a seemingly never ending list of the most challenging training sessions and race goals of my life is now safely banked and ready to be 'cashed-in' next weekend. The title of this blog (50 Weeks to Kona) refers to the fact that from its inception we had 50 weeks before hitting the start line at Ironman Germany and our next opportunity to qualify for the World Ironman Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Forty-nine weeks later with 98% of the journey complete things really couldn't have gone any better and for the third year running I find myself in the fortunate position of moving in to race week confident that I'm as well prepared as any of the 2000+ athletes. My only slight doubt has been an inability to re-create my pool form in open water, having received a brand spanking Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit from the guys at Total Fitness Nottingham on Friday however, and flying round a couple of laps of Otley reservoir this morning, I'm confident of hitting my sub-60 target for next weekend's swim and setting myself up for a great race. With all my training sessions done now's probably a good time to quickly review how each discipline has gone and take a look at my race day goals....

Swim (target - 60 minutes for swim and T1)
Over the last 31 weeks I've covered around 15,000 lengths (375km) of Virgin Active Pool averaging 80 more lengths per week than last year. Although I decided against the mile pb attempt this week, preferring to go easy on my arms, I'm still over a minute ahead of my mile time against this time last year and 20 seconds ahead of my 400 time. I've completed around six or seven straight 5k swims (none last year) and this week went through Ironman distance in 1:02:02 on my way to a comfortable 1:21 for the 200 lengths. Chuck in a wetsuit, a significant draft off a few hundred athletes and a little more effort and something around 57-58 minutes sounds reasonable.

Bike (target - Five hours for bike and T2)
I've actually averaged less miles per week than last year but with 400 more miles in the bank (3,700 v 3,300) due to the longer training period (32 weeks v 24 weeks) I'm confident of a great endurance base. On top of this I've done a couple more centuries this year and have looked for the most challenging long rides available, two of which stand out... the Etape Du Dales was 112 of the most physically challenging riding I've ever done, being dragged round by ex pro mountain-biker Rob Thackray for six hours and 39 minutes of near maximal effort I not only beat my target for the session by over 20 minutes but gave my legs a far bigger test than the German 112 will provide... secondly, our 106 mile / 20 mile brick session where I rode through 100 miles in under 4:30 and completed the 106 in 4:45 (including stops) at an average heart rate of 136. At an average speed of 22.3 miles per hour it was almost bang on five hour pace for 112 and made going sub-five on the bike on the 6th of July a realistic prospect.

Run (target - 3:25 for run and any deficit from the other two disciplines)
Although my speed over the shorter distances hasn't improved on last year, with over 1000 running miles in the bank (compared to 630 for IMCH), a half marathon pb in January 1:20:01 and a very comfortable 2:49 at the London marathon my endurance over the longer distances has never been better. Triathlon is all about running off the bike though... going back to the Etape Du Dales, getting off the bike with the most battered legs I've ever had I managed ten very hilly miles in 77 minutes which at a little faster than target Ironman pace felt good... secondly, coming off the 106 miles of our mega-brick, on a very hot day, I covered 20.32 badly paced miles in 2:40 which at 7:53 per mile was close enough to the required 7:49s to suggest that had I not gone off way too quick (note to self for race day) I might have finished a little stronger... and finally my 1:28 for the half marathon at this month's UK70.3 is all the evidence I need to convince me that 3.25 or under is possible for the mdot marathon. Averaging 6:49 per mile over one of the most challenging 13.1 miles in triathlon felt comfortable and with 60 seconds a mile to play with in seven days time I'm looking forward to hitting the run.

So that's it... all that's left is to look after the various logistics of race-week and commit to a race strategy designed to bring me home in the top thirteen 30-34 male athletes in the European Ironman championships... whether I achieve that goal or not is almost irrelevant however, I've given my absolute best to complete the journey and regardless of the destination it's been worth every single heartbeat... but with over 5,000 miles on the clock I don't intend to back off over the final 140.6 ;)

The subject of today's photo is our good friend Jessica KJ and on Saturday evening she topped up my already overflowing levels of motivation! During the day she'd taken her First Dan Black Belt Taekwondo grading and at the moment this picture was taken had just found out that not only had she passed but she'd been awarded 'honours' as the outstanding student (amongst a talented group of peers). I could write about this experience all day as it was truly one of the most inspirational events I have ever witnessed but what really stood out for me was the rose... Successful black belt students are given a rose by their instructor, which they are then required to present to the person who has supported them the most and has been there through the highs and lows of their three and a half year journey. This recognition that in order to achieve 'personal excellence' requires the support and faith of others reminded me just how important my friends and family have been throughout my own journey and how not only could I not have travelled this path without them, I wouldn't have wanted to.

See you in a couple of days,

T x


Anonymous said...

Its been an amazing journey, and I feel so privalegaged to have enjoyeyd every post of it! The guys at work are going to be so dissappointed that the blog has finished - no more Monday sarnie taking in the T&H blog spot. Good luck to you both, an amazing journey that might have an even more amazing end. You are both a massive inspiration to my training - don't let me down! Good luck in Klag, we will be watching you on ironmanlive so no letting up now! You are amazing people whether you qualify or not - our hearts go out to you both. Good luck fo Kona. Die Trying.

Jevon said...

You know I'll be with you every step of the way. I know you can do it. You know you can do it. As you say... it just comes down to 'how much do you want it'. Be safe this week and load up the mental revolver so you're not firing blanks on Sunday.

Tom said...

don't worry mate... this is far from the end of the road!

If we qualify for Kona then we'll definitely keep the blog going until then (October) and if not then (like you) we've already entered Lanzarote (May '09) for another crack... either way the journey will continue ;)


Tom said...

cheers J,

like the mental revolver analogy... although I might upgrade to an 'Uzi' for the final 10k ;)


Anonymous said...

Just a quickie to wish you all the best for Sunday.
I'll definitely be thinking of you both.
Have an absolutely great day!
p.s. When I did it there was an awful lot of salami and cake in the athlete's garden when all I wanted was a cheese sandwich :) Pack your own!

Anonymous said...

Good Luck Tom & Helen!

If your success in Frankfurt was down solely to the earnest and avid support of your friends and family, there would be no doubt in the outcome. We are all rooting so much for you two. May your courage, strength, spirit, determination and talent deliver you the result you need and deserve!

All the best,