Saturday, 5 July 2008

Some last minute confidence....

Note: If you are reading this on Sunday the 6th of July we are probably giving it everything at Ironman Germany. You can follow our progress on, my race number is 2712 and H's is 703.

Not long now! Just thought I'd use my final blog entry before the race to build my confidence a little by reminding myself of a few of the key sessions which I have banked over the last few months...

1. Fourteen miles at 14kph on a knackered old treadmill in a tiny room staring at a plain green wall - Dad and I were in Vancouver for a week's skiing in January and having made a great start to the year I wasn't about to let my training falter. Although I managed to swim ever day, as over five feet of snow fell during our stay there was no chance whatsoever of getting out on a bike or run so the treadmill was my only other option. I actually logged nearly 70 miles running that week with the session described above being by far the toughest.

2. Half-iron training day with Jevon and H - Our mate Jevon came up one Wednesday a few months back for a good solid day in all three disciplines. We started with a 5k swim (200 lengths) straight through before a quick breakfast lead us on to a steady 50 mile bike followed quickly by a 1.49 lap of the very hilly Leeds half marathon route. This only left us about 30 minutes to refuel before finishing the day off with a flat out but very hilly 20k bike time trial... an iron day if ever there was one.

3. Forty mile steady/hard ride on race bike followed by 18 mile run including Kirkstal Hills in both directions. A month or so before UK70.3 H and I were keen to combine a big brick session with some race specific hill work. Kirkstall hills is a legendary run which starts at Kirkstall lights and finishes about four miles later at the Sheesh Mahal curry house... the start and finish are only a mile apart however the 17 steep terraced hills in between add a little 'spice' to the session. I'd done it twice in a single session before but never as part of a long run and certainly never as the second half of a big brick.

4. The Etape Du Dales + 10 mile hilly run - Simply the hardest I've ever worked on a bike... by quite some way. With the aim of covering the hilliest 112 miles that the Yorkshire Dales has to offer in under seven hours I teamed up with ex-pro mountainbiker Rob Thackray and a few of his mates (good luck next week in Switzerland boys) . Fortunately (or unfortauntely depending on your outlook) Rob and the lads were a fair bit stronger than me which resulted in 6 hours and 39 minutes of near maximal effort in an attempt just to stay on their wheels! Coming to the end of the bike my legs were blown to pieces and I was doubting I'd be able to stand let alone run but 10 hilly miles followed in 77 minutes. (One of two massive breakthrough sessions for me this year)

5. 106 mile / 20 mile mega brick with Ben G - This was my other major breakthrough session of this year's training. Still somewhat sceptical about my bike fitness I set out for seven laps between the Boroughbridge and Dishforth roundabouts on the A168 (I think I got those names right?) with the hope of breaking five hours for the 106 miles and running to target marathon pace (7.49 per mile) for the 20 mile run. Ben set a crazy pace for the first 20 minutes but once the tempo is set that's it and working hard all the way we went through 100 comfortably under 4.30 and finished in 4.46. Twenty miles later I'd hit my target average mile split for the run but going off way too fast (7.20s) had blown with about 8 miles to go. A very important lesson was learnt that day and will be with me on the first lap of tomorrow's run!

6. 5k straight swim in 1.21 going through 3.8k in 1.02.02 - Although nothing spectacular this session was only a week ago and reminded me that even though I've not had the best swims so far this season I'm ahead of lasgt year and breaking an hour tomorrow is more than realistic. We set out for a steady 5k and drafting off each other alternated the lead every 250m. To go through Ironman distance in the pool with no wetsuits at an effort level lower than Ironman pace in 62 minutes felt great and although I'm not expecting miracles I'm confident of being there or there about.

7. Swim with H - 20 x 150 off 2.30 averaging around 2.15 (i think - not got my training diary to hand) - Deciding to do this session I didn't think it sounded to difficult but when Ian Wilson (ex Olympic swimmer over 1500m) said 'rather you than me' on the way down to the pool I began to worry. By the time is was hanging on for grim death with over half the session to go I was having to really dig deep. This session was by far the hardest I've ever worked in a swimming pool and will give me some serious mental strength of the going gets tough in the lake tomorrow.

8. All my super extra freezing cold long bike rides in the Dales - too frequent to single any one of these out but in terms of mental suffering nothing comes close to seven hours in the freezing sleet and snow in the middle of nowhere. Tomorrow may hurt my body more but my mind has been to darker places in the last six months than the Frankfurt Ironman course with its beautiful sun, crazy supporters and endless aid stations could ever muster!

9. UK70.3 - Having wanted to do this race ever since we saw Daz fly round last year I wasn't sure when I'd get the opportunity but with H racing for Great Britain in Vancouver our normal pre-Ironman half (Bala) was out so the week we returned from Canada we headed down to Devon for one of the toughest half Ironman events in the world. I'd hoped to get around 5.05 but struggling badly in the cold (I only managed to drink about 100ml of fluid on the bike as my hands couldn't squeeze the bottle) I would have been happy to get under 5.10. Crossing the line in 5.01 without having to really push the run and winning my age-group at the same time provided all the confidence I could ever ask for about my ability to string all three disciplines together.

and finally...

10. The London Marathon - Although I've run well in all my half ironman races I' yet to get hold of an Ironman marathon running 3.50 in 2006 and 3.40 in 2007. Because of this I've worked extra hard on my running all year (see session 1) and felt really comfortable and strong running 2.49 for 26.2 miles this April. At an average pace of 6.29 per mile I'm confident of being able to hold 7.40 per mile tomorrow... although see session 5 for pacing strategy.

So there we are, I've trained harder than ever before and now I have to race harder than ever before. With such a long training block (32 weeks) I've been concious not to peak too soon and as such have been careful to hold a little something back the whole time. It's all been about tomorrow though and with it comes the final challenge... to give absolutely everything.

Before I go though... today's picture see's H and I earlier today standing by the finish line. Sometime tomorrow afternoon we will both cross under that archway and earn our Ironman medals. Whatever happens during the day, tomorrow evening we will both be celebrating the culmination of a wonderful journey which has seen us learn so much about not only ourselves but our wonderful friends and family. Whether we smash our pbs, crawl over the line one minute inside the cut-off or DNF we will have given it everything.

See you then ;)


p.s. Wetsuits will be allowed :)


AndyS said...

Good luck Tom/Helen. I'll be watching out for you and wish you all the luck in the world. Aloha.

DaveMcG said...

Brilliant effort Tom - congratulations - courageous! And you bust the 10 hour marker!

Been following you both throughout the day via the athlete tracker and guess you've come in around 15:00 Frankfurt time. Back here - Rafa is giving Roger a spanking right now!

Be looking out for Helen whose Div pos for age group was 9th at end of 2nd set of 10.5km run markers - amazing!!!!


Ps. swam myself this am. for 500m constructing my crawl technique and swim fitness and can't believe how you do almost 4km in less than an hour - the two of you....

DaveMcG said...

Well done Helen - sounds like an awesome performance - 11th outright in your age group - genius! Great last leg also.
Congratulations you guys - completed the challenge big time - have a great evening if you have the strength left for a Stein or three - one for each discipline!!!!! Good luck on recovery also.

Dave - over and out.