Sunday, 26 July 2009

Recover, clean, tidy, rest & onwards...

Time...that's been the biggest thing about recovering from an Ironman... and loads of it. Recovering means very little training, lots of rest and just these huge holes in the day which were once filled with long rides, runs and swims. Time to write the blog on a Sunday afternoon for a start, thats never been known! Time to de-clutter the whole house ready for (no not children, I'm not nesting for everyone of you who keeps wondering) but for life. A whole year of hard training has meant the house has been a tad neglected. Cleaning it out room by room, cupboard by cupboard, drawer by drawer etc has been incredibly cleansing and now I feel ready to go into the next part of life with a clearer mind. All year we agreed that I would concentrate on training. If the phone rang booking me for work then I would never turn it down but I didn't go searching for it. Now my priorities are different. Out goes Ironman and in comes the challenge of creating a successful business that I love. I don't think that's going to be too difficult. I'm already half way there, because I truly love taking pictures and success goes way beyond pennies and pounds in my eyes. Just as I truly love training, putting the time in to get the best out of yourself is incredibly rewarding and so I can't fail to enjoy the new journey that I'm about to embark on.

My life within triathlon hasn't gone anywhere. I certainly haven't given it up I've just changed my priorities. For some strange reason I'm REALLY looking forward to the challenges of shorter distance racing. To the hard short swims where I don't feel like I can turn my arms over anymore, turbo sessions I fear my legs might burst and run sessions that have my heart in my mouth. It's one of the mechanisms that I'm using to help deal with the fact that Ironman for me is over (not counting going back to it when I'm 50yrs old!!!) If I train harder but shorter I don't compromise putting the time and effort into my business but I do get a completely new challenge to get my teeth into. Mostly I still get to consistently train with real goals. I guess the test comes when I'm training with Tom and he's concentrating on Lanza. My swim, bikes and runs are all going to be considerably shorter than his and for once our training is going to look very different. Here is where I'll see just how well I'm dealing with giving IM up ;)

Since Switzerland (which seems like forever ago) I feel like we've moved mountains in terms of setting out our life goals and plans. Real direction is becoming apparent and it feels great. Triathlon has so much to answer for in my personal development. That's why I could never give it up. My triathlon plan therefore is to get back into a (new) training routine as of tomorrow and with 5-6 weeks to go before The Vitruvian Middle Distance the goal is to try and get some speed (do you hear that legs?) into these slow twitch muscles of mine. I'm looking forward to it.

Our great mate Tony (or Big Dog as we know him) has been here since Friday (see above pic with Tom) and being able to spend quality time with him without ridiculous training hours getting in the way is refreshing. But there's only a certain amount of Chai Tea (the Big Dog loves his leaves) and chocolate we can take. Bring on tomorrow morning where will-power exceeds greed and temptation (I have a feeling Tom's blogging about the difficulties of that right now.)

So all that's left as usual is pic of the day, I think there's a good few days for you to catch up on after we blogged mid-week last week. A few changes here. I have a new Facebook Fan page for my daily pic and things I'm doing with my photography, it's working REALLY well and I'm loving the feedback and instant interaction with everyone out there. You don't have to be Facebook member to have a look but if you're new to facebook and can't navigate through the site the daily pic album is here, just scroll down to the ones you haven't yet seen. Failing that here's the usual Flickr site, although I'll probably faze that out eventually.

'Change always comes bearing gifts.' Price Pritchett

H. x

Recovery... or lack of?

Sitting here (watching the final stage of the Tour de France on TV) two weeks have passed since crossing the finish line in Switzerland and I feel unfit, tired and overweight. I've never done immediate post event recovery particularly well, particularly in the absence of a suitably challenging goal, and the last couple of weeks have been no different. Every time I get close to an A race I have visions of crossing the finish line and spending a couple of weeks eating super healthy food, drinking loads of water, sleeping more than ever and being active (but not training) every single day. Within seconds of crossing the finish line however I embark on a 24/7 mission to emulate Ricky Hatton and/or Jan Ullrich and weld myself to the couch whilst keeping Domino's on 'speed dial'. All this while guffing around so much that 9pm bedtime becomes midnight throwing 56 weekly sleep hours firmly out the window, leaving me fit for pretty much nothing and feeling like Homer Simpson's slight less healthy twin brother!


I'm sure plenty of you out there will think that two Ironman triathlons in seven weeks is the likely cause of my feelings of lethargy and fatigue but regular readers of these ramblings will know my belief that 'over training' is normally caused by 'under recovering'... the latter being my forte (out of training at least). Whatever the cause, this morning I reached breaking point and having eaten my weight in junk food yesterday, I fell into bed just before midnight and with a 5AM alarm call poking me in the ear shortly afterwards (long story) I found myself stood by the side of Otley reservoir at 7.30 this morning unable to face our monthly club aquathlon (900m OW swim and 2 mile run)... so 'bottle it' I did and spent the session cheering everyone on and taking transition splits.


With Ironman Lanzarote 2010 (paid and entered - thoughts on my approach to follow in future blogs) still a long way off (base training starts in October, full training in January and race is in May) I'm in desperate need to jump back on the rails and get myself to September (2009's designated rest month) in the kind of shape I really should be a) to feel good and b) so that if by some miracle I manage to deliver the end of season rest month that I dream of (see above) then I could actually start training for an Ironman without the need to lose two stone first... which would be a first!

Inspired... Twiggo and Cav, tomorrow is a new day and with six weeks of my season left the plan looks something like this...

week 1
Full training - around 20 hours, nothing to hard but plenty of swim, bike and run and a little bit of strength and stretching. Sleep, eat and live like the athlete I aspire to be.

Week 2
As above plus a little more intensity. Return to racing with the VOTWO 3.8km sea swim in Poole.

Week 3
As above plus even more intensity. Final LBT aquathlon on Saturday. Return to triathlon with the Allerthorpe Olympic distance race.

Week 4
As above plus even more intensity. LBT club 10 mile TT champs, final Pool Triangle of 2009 and most intense racing of all - National Club Relays.

Week 5
Final big training week, probably no racing although might do parkrun on the Saturday.

Week 6
Controlled six day taper leading into the Vitruvian.

...eating super healthy food, drinking loads of water, sleeping more than ever and being active (but not training) every single day.

So there we are... how hard can it be? ;)

See you in seven,


p.s. Today's photo was taken by H on her phone whilst hanging out with me and our great friend Tony on a lazy afternoon in Leeds. Thanks to everyone who has logged on to Helen's new Facebook site and become a fan, with Ironman behind her she's looking to drive her photographic career forwards and with some exciting projects already in the pipeline we're both super excited about the future.

Friday, 17 July 2009

One hundred percent me...

With a few important and time consuming things planned for Sunday we thought we'd post early this week...

So, here we are nearly a whole week after our second Ironman of 2009 and it's race report time...

The week before race week Hels and I jumped in the Team Southerns Ford S-Max and together with four bikes, ten wheels and enough spare kit to send man to Mars headed down to Klagenfurt for some hot weather training and Ironman spectating. Having never done two Iron distance events so close together the previous five weeks had been somewhat of a learning curve but with Pool Triangle (29:54), Olympic triathlon (1:59) and 50 mile TT (1.58) pbs all achieved since Lanzarote I was feeling pretty confident. Having spoken to a few athletes who had achieved success in summer Ironman events following Lanza the idea was to train reasonably hard up until race week and only taper for about 8-9 days. Therefore, despite Monday & Tuesday (travel) and Sunday (Ironman spectating) being rest days we still managed just over 15 hours of training including a decent brick session consisting of one lap of the Austria bike course and a VERY hilly ten mile run straight off. The brick was done on the Friday and although I was pleased to ride 2.44 for the bike lap, on my winter wheels, the heat (30 degrees +) got the better of me on the run and struggling to maintain ten minute miles the only thing that kept me going was the hope that Zurich would surely feel much easier a week later if my body managed to acclimatise. By the time we got to Austria race day we were pretty fried and although it wasn't a training day over 15 hours of shouting, cheering and jumping up and down meant that race week would require a seriously good recovery strategy.

Arriving in Zurich on the Monday afternoon I felt mentally and physically exhausted, dinner and an early night followed but come Tuesday morning things weren't looking much better. We met up with good friends Andy and Debs to ride a lap of the course but a combination of freezing rain and poor road markings saw us abandon the ride after a few miles and head into the Old Town for lunch. By Wednesday the weather was somewhat better and joining the official bike tour we set off round the lake. The usual levels of bike bling and muscle flexing were on show but neither H nor I have ever been the type to get suckered into race week competitiveness and opting to join the slow group soon found ourselves getting dropped going up the hills as self imposed power limits held us back. I think we got round in about three and a half hours but my legs still weren't happy and the thought of taking an hour off that, twice, only four days later, was beginning to worry me. I don't think I've ever felt so empty that close to a race and with memories of Germany coming back to me it was time to up the recovery stakes... Thursday saw a 30 minute leg massage, Friday was a leg rest day, my carb intake was tripled and my water and salt intake followed suit. Trying to remain positive was difficult as every bike or run we did my legs felt so empty but as we fell into bed on Saturday night I knew all I could do was play the next day's 'cards' to the best of my ability... what hand I would be dealt come 7am was now out of my control...

Although watching Alistair Brownlee winning his 3rd ITU race of the year on the Saturday afternoon had temporarily filled me with confidence, by the time I was walking to transition on race morning I was on the phone to my mum letting out all my concerns about feeling as far removed from a 9.30 Ironman athlete as I could imagine. Sorry Mum, last minute confidence crises are not my normal style but I really thought I'd broken myself the week before in Austria (not only with the training but also with the travel and spectating) and with H about to race her final ever Ironman the last thing she needed was me falling apart on her shoulder. Anyway, what will be will be I thought, time for some swim biff...

The Swim
Having raced four previous Ironman events and never having experienced much of a swim beating I was sure my luck would be up this time. H and I positioned ourselves right in the middle about three rows back, seconds later the gun went and... I instantly found clear water! Now, I promise I started right in the thick of it and I'm sure I swam in a pretty straight line but for some reason by the time I was approaching the first turn buoy (about 800m) I was yet to even be touched by another athlete. Turning right I found myself caught on the inside and braced myself to no-doubt share the inside lane with the tri equivalent of Iron Mike Tyson... but again nothing! After 26 uneventful minutes I was on the Island, soaking up some much needed love from my Dad and the Team Southerns support crew, with all the negative pre-race thoughts left firmly behind on the start-line... time to race ;) With the two swim laps being different lengths I couldn't tell how quick I was swimming but I seem to have got the hang of swim pacing and feeling strong I pushed on... exiting the water with 57:58 on the clock and feeling strong I flew into transition... one minute and 42 seconds (less haste more speed) later and I was 20 seconds up on target and at 14th in my category only one place off Hawaii.

The Bike
For a couple of years now the bike has been my triathlon strength but a week of dead legs had left me unsure as to how I would feel. I knew the course was a little short (111 miles) and that 22mph would therefore see me to the run in good time, and if there's one thing I've learnt (the hard way) about Ironman it's to take the first half of the bike easy. My goal over the first 20 minutes was to start fueling asap and bring my heart rate swiftly down into the mid 140s. The first 17 miles were pan flat along the side of the lake so I knew that something around 23-24 mph was required, with perceived effort and heart rate as my guides I gradually built up a slight buffer against my '11 miles per 30 minutes' goal. As the hills kicked in I let my heart rate touch the low 150s and span nicely away, dropping back down to the lake a little behind schedule was expected and by the time I hit the final climb of the lap with less than five miles to go I knew I was having a good day. Coming past transition to start the second lap my Garmin said 2:30:45 for the 55.5 miles and with my heart rate settled at around 145 I was expectant of a negative split and sub five hour ride.

I hadn't experienced much drafting (cheating) in 2007 but towards the end of lap one groups had started to form. My good friend Jevon O'Neill had given me a word to use on race day and as the number of cheaters increased I reminded myself to 'RELAX'... 'ride your own race and it won't matter' I kept saying to myself, 'they cheat every year and <9.30 class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_26">bpm efforts followed but it was no good I just couldn't shake them. I sat up, let them ride by, dropped 20 metres off the back and had a think... of course, as soon as I dropped off the front they slowed and I was back to 125bpm 20 metres behind them. I tried two or three more times to ride them off my wheel but every time they hung and as my heart rate reached ten mile TT effort intensity I had no choice but to sit up and let them through. With about five miles to go before the turn away from the lake a draft buster rode up beside the whole group, surely they'd at least get a six minute penalty, which they'd have to take at the next penalty box and I could ride off into the sunset... but no, nothing, not even a stop/go warning. From this point on I pretty much ONLY saw people cycling in packs, I'd estimate that of the 'athletes' around my time splits and those who I was cycling in the opposite direction to at least 80% were cheating, yet a quick scan of the results shows no significant penalties! 'RELAX' I repeated again and again, 'they can cheat all they like, I'm going sub 9.30 today and will run them down on the marathon'. Following my 20 mile interval session along the lake, the hills helped to spread things out a little (only a little) and settling into my rhythm I was riding strong and matching the first lap at both my checkpoints (1:17 and 2:00). Having struggled for energy on the second lap of the Lanza run Jack and I had agreed that I should take on more calories in the final 30 minutes of the bike and with four caffeinated PowerBar energy gels taken in the final 10 miles I hit T2 with a 5:03:00 bike split. One minute and 25 seconds later (again, less haste more speed) I was running at 6:04:06, 54 seconds ahead of schedule and feeling great!

The Run
Having felt the worst I ever have during race week I found myself ticking off 4:30 kms, feeling by far the best I ever have over the first 10km of an Ironman marathon! Due to the positioning of the timing mat the laps weren't all the same length so I went by my watch and hit the red button each time I passed transition, giving laps of something like 10.6km for the first three and 10.2km for the fourth. This also meant that in my head I had a 400m 'bonus' with the final lap being the shorter. As with the bike I knew the first half needed to feel easy and passing transition for the second time with 1:37:45 on my run clock I was taking people for fun and as sure as I could be that I was running, almost literally, to Kona. As they had been throughout the race, my Dad, AKJ and all our supporters were amazing and with Andy shouting I needed a few more places (he was getting updates via Sam who was following online) I set about attacking the second half of the marathon. No sooner had my effort increased however than I was hit by a wave of stomach cramps... suddenly easy 7:30 min miles had turned to super tough 8 min miles, fellow 35-39 athletes were passing me back and where 13 miles to go had seemed like nothing, the remaining ten or so loomed in front of me like a double marathon! 'RELAX, RELAX, RELAX' I repeated, 'It's just a tough patch, remember Lanzarote' I said to myself. Lap three of four is often the hardest as you're a long way out yet a long way from home... I promised myself that if I could survive to the 'bell' without falling too far behind then I would deliver the fastest final 10k of my Ironman career. A 53 minute lap took me from roughly 31 to 41 km and throwing my cap to my Dad I set about running like never before, almost immediately I passed four or five 35-39 athletes and with every stride my energy increased. Just before the 1km mark on each lap there is a slight incline through an underpass and lifting on to my toes I've never felt so good until suddenly... bang! The worst cramp of my life!! I've never had muscle cramp during an Ironman run or stand alone marathon (plenty afterwards) but in exactly the same place as my stomach cramps had hit on lap three I was reduced to a hobble. 'Don't stop, whatever you do don't stop' I said to myself, I knew that my only chance was to run through it, hopefully it would pass... to stop now would surely let the group of 35-39 guys come flying past me and snatch my Hawaii place from me. It did pass pretty quickly but my newly found energy from the beginning of lap four was gone and like lap three it was time to survive. 'RELAX' I repeated, 'sub 9.30 is still on and that would have given 5th overall last year on the very same course so let them go, keep moving forward and get to the finish'. Our mate Hanno (second in double Ironman UK 2008 and also racing in Switzerland) had reminded me that it's all about getting from start to finish as fast as possible and that doesn't always mean running. I'd run every step up to this point but with energy levels flagging I chose to stop at a couple of aid stations, take a good drink of Coke, grab a gel and a sponge before settling back into a rhythm. A rather painful final lap of around 54 minutes (remember, my laps are different to the official laps) saw me cross the finish line a broken (nearly) but happy (very) five-time Ironman in a 28 minute pb of 9:28:48... Kona?

Post Race
Wandering into the finishers tent I was hopeful that my time would get me to the Big Island, hardly unrealistic considering it was 13 minutes faster than last year's mark and would have placed me 6th in 2008 with 13 slots. But something didn't feel right, the bike had been a draft fest and I'd seen a few too many competitors come past me in the final lap of the run. Going straight to the information point I collected my diploma to see I'd finished 105th overall and 25th in my category. I was too exhausted to think straight but with 13 slots available things weren't looking good. Still, I was determined to get back out on the course and cheer home H, I'd seen her looking great out on the run and as this was likely to be her final Ironman I wasn't about to let two broken legs get between me and her finish. Just after eleven hours Hels came flying by, grabbed 'The Religion' (our Team Southerns Leeds flag) and dived across the line.

Hawaii Roll Down
We went along to the Hawaii allocation with mixed feelings. It rolled down to 17th place and I missed out by three minutes and 11 seconds. I was prepared to not qualify by giving my best and losing out to the 'better man', by having a bad race or by succumbing to some kind of mechanical issue or puncture, I was even prepared for the odd rival to cheat me out of a position or two, but to train so hard for six months then execute the race of my life yet lose out to such blatant cheating is rather hard to deal with. Of the 24 35-39 males who finished ahead of me I reckon at least 15 will have drafted the majority of the bike leg (I saw most of them with my own eyes), not only significantly increasing their bike speed but also leaving them fresh for the run. They say you should never meet your heroes and up until Sunday afternoon Hawaii Ironmen were mine.

I'll probably pen a few more thoughts and reflections on my experience over the next few weeks, but for the moment I'll stick to repeating my word....


IMCH race report... and the next step...

Ironman Switzerland 2009 according to Helen (Turton) Williams...

It's a long 'un....

As I registered for my last* ever Ironman event on the Wednesday prior to race day I was reminded once again of just how fast time goes. A whole year has passed in which I had entered Lanzarote & Switzerland as a Turton, completely forgetting that for both races we would be married & I am in fact now a Williams. Lanzarote officials changed my name for it's race but in Switzerland I was to race my last Ironman as a Turton. I started this triathlon journey as a Turton and my OCD likes to see me end it as a Turton. As I write this blog, for the first time in 5 years I have no Ironman events entered (it's a little odd) but I start my new chapter of life proudly bearing the Williams name and I look forward to entering it into a variety of shorter distanced races.

*Last as in the last in the next few years. There is a possiblity that the Three Musketeers, Tom, Myself and Sam the Triple Ironman may return to Lanza for one more blast when we're 50!

Race day morning...

With the alarm set for the un-godly hour of 3.45am I was surprised to find that when the alarm went off I had indeed slept incredibly well. The hardest thing to do on race day (apart from the 3rd lap in the marathon) is to actually force breakfast down. Firstly, it's silly o'clock. Waking yourself up to put yet more food into your well rested and tapered system is hard, especially when the nerves are kicking in and you realise the feat that lies ahead. Trying to avoid having too much fibre I managed a bowl of Crunchy nut Cornflakes and a white bread roll with jam.

It's actually the day before that gives me the jitters more than the actual day. On the day all you can do is well, race. The day before you can panic, worry, wonder, wait, wait and wait a bit's the worst day of all.

So arriving at transition at 5.15am I had loads of time for a calm prep. In Switzerland the transistions are all like normal races. No swim to bike, bike to run bags to deal with, just plain old kit by your bike. With 2000 people entered, transistion is a big old place. With so many people you would think it to be a noisy place but actually the atmosphere and sounds of Ironman race day are amazing. Not the sounds of voices but the buzz of anticipation, anxiety and excitement fills the air as the sun slowly starts to rise it's head. The most obvious noise is that of rustling bags and the pushing of air being forced into thin black race wheels, followed by the psst of the pump being removed. I can hear them now, that sound for me is race day morning. Loved ones gather staring through the wire fences watching like we're animals in the zoo. But isn't that what we are for that moment in time? You go to see animals in the zoo because they're special, different and as all 2000 people tinker and touch their race machines that's exactly what the spectator has come to see.

The swim... 3.8km

Always a place of anxiety for me because my last few IM's have been brutal and have affected my times a little. Switzerland was changed to a deep water start which is just the worst but wading in with Tom (who consequently NEVER gets touched) I knew my nerves were on the wane. No point worrying now, you can't get any closer than in the thick of it as you are a minute before the starting horn goes! As black neoprened clad arms and legs begin the swim out to the start line I know I'm in for a rough one. One last glance between Tom & I as we know the next time we see each other will probably not be until the run. The hooter goes and the chaos begins. Arms, legs, toes up your nose, fists on your head, hands pulling you under, pulling you over. Breathe to the left side, people...bloody loads of them all wanting the same bit of water I've got. Breathe to the right no different. For the first ten mins or so I'm in survival mode, fight, fight, fight and don't forget to breathe. Don't give an inch. Someone's bloody big toe has kicked my goggles off. Trying to empty and re-adjust them is scary as I see the thunder of the hundreds of arms and legs behind me all thrashing towards me. I swim hard until I discover a moment of calm I've found a bit of clear water & I get into some sort of rhythm until I get to one of the main buoys and it's like trying to fight through a packed nightclub to get to the bar, no-one wants to give their place up but they do want to kill you if you pass them!
A two lap course with an Aussie exit meant I had our amazing friends & supporters to look forward to seeing & look out for as I clambered out of the lake over the island. The KJ's are easy to spot, firstly they shout the loudest and secondly they stake their claim on land with the St Georges flag daubed with LEEDS THE RELIGION, bloody marvellous! Off I leap into the crocodile soup for the second lap and things are a little more strung out thankfully, although I still get my goggles knocked off again as I approach another buoy. Just pleased to be out of the lake alive and with my features still arranged in the same order I was born with I run into T1.
1:03 on the clock.


A little slower than I'd hoped. Hold a stick in front of you, stare at the top of it as you spin around a few times then try putting socks onto soaking wet feet..that's what T1 is like. The spectators glued to the wire that surrounds the transistion zoo must have a laugh watching folk wobble around like new born deer. Helmet on, glasses on, nutrition in the back pocket, socks on (after a few wobbles) bike shoes on, bike in hand & off I run...
2 mins 37.

The bike... 180km

The course in Switzerland is pan flat for the first 30km as it sends you round the lake before turning left away from the lake and you disappear over a few hills (more drags really) then you're rewarded with some fantastic downhill sections and more flat as you come back along the lake before the last climb of the two loop course. Not the fastest IM course but certainly not the slowest. My cycling this year has come on in leaps and bounds and I know I'm capable of at least a 5:35 bike split. Not today however. My aim was to evenly ride 2:50 for each loop, turning it up for the second if I could. I hit the first lap in 2:51 (including two wee stops) and I was dead on target and feeling good. My biggest worry was never the bike, it was more about what has been happening to me in the latter stages of the run so I decided to change my nutrition strategy on the bike. I didn't eat anything for the first 40mins after coming out of the swim and then I only sipped on a little Nuun (salt replacement drink, no calories) for the next 20mins or so. Then I ate when I wanted it. Consequently and to no real surprise I struggled on the second half of the second lap being over taken for fun and wondering what on earth had happened to my legs?! I had a brief chat (mostly about the horrendous drafting we had witnessed) with Emma (our very own Leeds and Bradford Pirate) who was having a storming bike. Unable to keep her in sight she pedalled off into the distance with ease as I chomped on as much Powerbar as I could with no effect. After my last wee stop at the penultimate feed station on the bike I decided I was in need of something drastic. The only thing that could help me now was caffeine and sugar so I hit the coke. I've avoided all caffeine in previous races due to my temperamental stomach issues but I was down on time and energy, had nothing to lose and needed something to pick me up. I feared for myself on the run. Having no energy for the last section of the bike certainly made me wonder what on earth lay ahead of me.

T2...1 min 55

Running into T2 I saw Mark, Debs and the KJ's, as I ran past them with my bike they asked if I was okay (they knew I was down on time.) I shook my head and stuck my tongue out, I didn't know, I really didn't know... pockets emptied, trainers on, cap on, glasses on, tick tock out of T2.

The run...42.2km

Those first few steps after a long bike are odd. It's like someone's swapped your legs for a set of Willy Wonka's Umpa Lumpa's, they feel short, stumpy (thankfully not bright orange) but truly like they don't belong to you. Until I reached the first feed station I was deeply concerned that I was in for a few hours of pain. Having had coke at my last feed station on the bike I knew the wrong thing to do would be to avoid it or save it for later on the run. I tell you it's amazing. Coca-Cola is a wonder drink, rocket fuel, a miracle. A few minutes later and I felt amazing. Holding myself back and really enjoying the tick, tick, tick of my feet as I ran over the lavender garden and out onto the first lap. I had my planned wee stop & salt tablets after the first hour and maintained my even pace. The first two laps are always easy, the third lap is where the mind games begin and things can start going wrong. As I started my third lap I saw quite a few people around me walking. They were a lap ahead of me and walking. It's oh so easy for that to happen as much as you don't want it to. The marathon is really where the test of the day lies. Have you gone too hard on the bike? Have you gone too hard at the beginning of the run? In training it's all about the bike...on race day it becomes all about the last 10km of the run...can you run it?! I had a bad, bad spell of stitches at the turn around point on the Lake on lap three and hoped this wasn't the signs of my usual demise into puke and poodom. I still felt good though, my legs still wanted to run. I held onto it refusing to give in (thinking of how hard Jevon fought to keep one foot in front of the other when he felt awful) and the stitches went away. More coke, more water and still running. I turned for my last lap and was struck by them again. They forced me to stop dead but after a few seconds of stretching I was running again. I knew then that I was going to be fine. Yes the stitches were a little debilatating but they weren't stopping me from carrying on running. A few more stops to stretch them out and tick, tick, tick I was away. Tom & his pa were on the course, Tom proud of his 9:28 spurred me on for the last lap, I couldn't wait to celebrate his amazing time. Running towards the finish chute not feeling like death is just the best feeling in the world.

The end... 11:15.00,5

So that was it, that was my last IM. Even with the bike split I'd hoped for I wasn't in the running for Kona. Those girlies out there, they've upped their game and I ain't fast enough to play with them. But I've loved my journey, a journey I'd always planned to put to bed about now. I've achieved more than I truly ever thought possible. I've learnt to swim, I've learnt to ride a bike and I've learnt to run off a bike. I've also learnt an incredible amount about myself, some good, some bad. All of this through a triathlon journey, I'd be mad to give it up, so I don't plan to. But I do plan to concentrate on different things now, like my husband, my business and much shorter distances :) The people I've met, the friends I've made, the things I learn, that's living, that's life!

Huge thanks as always go to the Kendall-Jones clan for their incredible endless support and their two amazing daughters, Jessica & Eleanor. To the Family Ladd, Jo I can see it won't stop here ;) Flappy, on the day you gave your all and you can't ask for anymore :) Charlotte you should be incredibly proud of your ma & pa x
Triple Ironman Spaniel who we have journeyed with since day one of that fated surfing trip in Lanza Bonanza. We've come a long way together we three and long may we travel together still. x
To Deb & Andy Scott who have been through the toughest of times with the recent loss of Joel. You're both amazing and Andy I have a feeling your IM journey won't end here either!
Emma & Mike. Cheers for the shouts Mike and it was great seeing you on the course Emma :) well done on a fab race :)
And to Jevon, who gave me a word to take around with me on race day. I used it, I wore it out, & if it's okay with you I'll keep it...thank you x

Throughout the whole IM journey Tom & I have been very lucky to have the constant love of his family. Mum & Ray, ever present in person or in spirit, every time I ran over a chip mat I thought of you both huddled around the computer in Framlingham waiting for the times to come in, thank you forever.
To Brian, Tom's pa who has become embroiled in the triathlon world and done so with much gusto and love, thank you too, it was great to see you out there x
My Ma, Bob & Jonny who just think I'm a little bit nuts, I know you're proud. x
My husband who amazes me with his spirit, his talent and his love... every day. This... it's all because of you and you're crazy notion that 'we can do that'!!

And of course to everyone I know who takes their time to say good luck or offer me words of wisdom and care... I've taken all of those words and thoughts with me on this journey and I've used them, thank you, I really couldn't have done all of this without such great friends and family.

So it's the end but not the end. I'll still blog, the content may change but the person hasn't so as long as you're interested in the ramblings of a Geordie then I plan to keep this going and I haven't given up triathlon just Ironman, time for me to become Tom's Ironman coat holder, hey I don't mind how I get to Kona just as long as I get there ;)

The same goes for my picture a a day which you now have two weeks to catch up what are you waiting for...go on they're all here...enjoy...

"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end"
Seneca (Roman Philosopher)

Monday, 13 July 2009

IMCH in 60 seconds..

Just got back to hotel... both knackered but both happy... Will go along to the Hawaii roll-down tomorrow on the off chance. In the meantime just recorded a brief summary...

Friday, 10 July 2009

Another 48 hours...

Relaxing in our hotel room with 20 minutes before we pop into town for some dinner I thought I'd steal the chance to scribble down a few pre-Ironman thoughts...

For some reason, probably the taper, I never feel that sharp going into an Ironman event and for number five it's business as usual... my legs are aching, my belly feels a little large and my head is suffering from a severe inferiority complex compared to the huge amount of bike bling and ripped athletes it's surrounded by. However, with 12 marathons and four Ironman triathlons under my belt, experience is telling me that come 7am on Sunday morning the flag will drop and everything will be great.

We've swum, biked and run most of the course over the last week and there's certainly nothing to be scared of. The swim's been changed to a deep water start which although will probably make it more physical over the first 400 metres or so it's nothing either of us haven't dealt with before. There's also an 'Aussie exit' after about 1800m where we have to run over a timing mat on an island which provides a great opportunity to re-adjust wonky goggles and will give those tracking online the first idea of how their athlete is doing... 13 slots in my age-group so top 15 will probably do it. The bike has changed since I rode 5.11 in 2007 and is now two laps instead of three, the amount of climbing has reduced slightly so hopefully it's slightly faster now? What climbs there are a easy enough to sit down and 'spin' up allowing those of us capable of sticking to a pacing strategy a significant advantage over those who aren't ;) Finally the run, a little complicated but pretty much pancake flat except for the odd underpass and one that I enjoyed greatly two years ago.

So with less than 48 hours to go it's about time I finalised my goals....

Obviously the key goal is to qualify for Kona and with 13 slots available in my age group (35-39) 'plan A' is rather simple - top 13 and the celebrations can begin on Sunday afternoon! In terms of time 13th place last year went to 9:41:09 but with the standard seemingly rising by around ten minutes per year at the moment, I'm guessing that a sub 9.30 will be required. So, remembering that it's actually about position not time here are my individual split targets...

The transition is very small here and with a swim pb of 54 minutes my first target is probably my most conservative. 

Swim + T1 - 60 minutes

Having ridden 5.11 on a slower course in 2007 and 5.09 on a slightly long (2km due to road works) German course last year (despite blowing at around 130k) combined with a significant increase in bike fitness over the last six months my second target what I think I can do yet still be in a position to run well.

Bike + T2 - 5 hours 5 minutes

Finally, my run target is my most ambitious but the weather is set to be the coolest of any Ironman I've done, I ran 3.31 in Lanza on a tougher course despite running on empty for a good 15km and I've run this pace or faster off at least five 100 mile training rides in 2009.

Run - 3 hours 20 minutes

Total 9:25:00

So, there we are - in 48 hours we'll know all the answers!

Speak soon and thanks for all the support,


p.s. A few recent occurrences have underlined the fact that as serious as I take all this it really, in the grand scheme of things, doesn't matter. So whether I come first, last or DNF I can assure you that a) I'll have given my best and b) will be celebrating that fact in style with a large smile and an even larger ice-cream!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Thursday's here...

Thursday's here already and for some reason once Thursday arrives IM all starts to become very, very real.  The Ironman village is always very quiet and not always completely finished even though you can register on Wednesday.  It looks neither finished nor started with only a few smatterings of athletic looking people and their blingy bikes.  And in fact in a city like Zurich we all get swallowed up by the many tourists, trams, cars and people of all sizes and ages flying around on their sit up and beg bikes.  However, Thursday appears to be a popular day for the regular Ironman athlete to descend into their sporting arena.  

Myself, Tom, our mate Andy Scott and Team Southern's member Flaps all rode the largest loop of the bike course yesterday, complete with motorbike outriders and a few drops of rain. It's a fairly fast course, the hills mostly being very long drags as opposed to being leg smashing hills but this is where you have to be careful.  These little buggers tend to take it out of the old legs slowly so keeping an even pace is going to be a hard discipline but a great one if carried out correctly.
In about ten minutes we're going to walk down to Lake Zurich (see above pic taken last night) and recce a loop (this year it appears to have an Aussie exit that goes over the middle of an island in the lake!!) Then Tom's pa is arriving and the Ironman jitters will begin as talk of time, condition, health, expectation, worry, fear, dread, excitement, wonder... and a bazillion more adjectives and oxymorons that follow the thought processes of racing an Ironman all set in.
Not much left to say really except, if the weather stays as it is I feel so much more confident of holding the contents of my my stomach.  If it's not ridiculously hot I think I'm going to have a great race.

My dream race would be as follows:

Swim: 1hr
T1: 1.30mins
Bike: 5.30-5.40
T2: 1.30mins
Run: Sub 4hr (3:59!!!)

Total: between 10:30-10:45

My best in Germany was 10:53 so a PB would be nice ;)

Thanks to everyone for their good wishes, love and support, we couldn't do it without your love and encouragement, help and advice ;)

Oh and I MUST put right a HUGE mistake I made when I blogged after Austria last Sunday. I made the worst mistake an athlete could ever read... I wrote Ironman Sam's time down as 12:33 and it certainly wasn't that, I meant it to read 12 hrs and 33 SECONDS 12:00:33 APOLOGIES MR ALLEN!!!

So, on I go to take the Ironman baton from Alison's wonderful race in Nice, and also from freshly broken legged ironman athletes...Jo, Ady, Sam, Kev, Simon, Simon, Skinny Steve, John & Sara Blyth & Jez (all from Austria) and the lovely Jevon who raced in Germany... hopefully I'll take it across the line in Zurich with a smile on my face :) I take inspiration from you all. x

iphone photo's for the last two weeks will be posted whence I return to Angleterre, I've loved taking them but had no time to upload them.

Catch you all soon.

Hells Bells. xx

Monday, 6 July 2009

A quickie ...

This blog is I am afraid going to be uber short for two reasons. Firstly in about 10mins Tom and I are leaving the beautiful Ironman world of Klagenfurt and heading for a week of race preparation in Zurich. The second reason is because I am typing this on a German keyboard and it is making me want to throw it out of the window, the configuration is slightly different than English.

Anyway, more importantly. A solid week of great warm or should I say scorching weather training should put us both in good stead for Switzerland this coming weekend. We have managed to get some great rides and runs in and swimming in the lakes over here is second to none.

Yesterday was Ironman day and we were here supporting loads of our mates. Firstly from Team Southerns were Jo Ladd, Ady Stott and Sam Allen. Leeds and Bradford had a great turnout with big shouts going to first timer Ove who had a fantastic race and looked great all day. Kev who was out with lovely wife Bev, he also had a cracking race, John and Sara Blythe who were cracking on the course, and Simon and Jez. Simon we saw your finish, great time, sorry we missed you Jez but we gave you a holler on the bike. Tom had his cousin Simon doing his first too and I have to say if I would like to emanate a race day then it would be his. Simon paced the whole day perfectly even in the 31 degree heat, finishing as a fresh as the proverbial daisy in 10.52 awesome mate, lovely to meet you, happy recovery.

Jo, Ady and Sam were brilliant out there. True inspirations. For Jo it was her first taste of the Ironman world and what a star she was, having discovered she had torn ligaments about three weeks before the race she was a trooper. Swam like a fish, biked like a star and dug deep on the run, wonderful. Ady was undoubtedly in the best shape of his life leading up to the race and could not have been in better shape until he slept in a hotel bed that did not agree with his back! Struggling to move the day before we all felt a little concerned as I am sure he did too. But filled up with enough paracetamol to kill a baby elephant off he went. What a swim, what a bike and what a run, 11.29 great work. Then Ironman Sam, our best mate who was racing in Lanzarote with us 6 weeks ago. He had a great race too, desperate to break 12hrs he was looking good for it all day, even with 4mins to go we thought he was going to do it, until he got struck by cramp 2mins from the line which stole his sub 12 making a still glorious pb with 12.00.33 or 11:59:93 if you prefer ;)

Over in Frankfurt our good friend Jevon was also giving it his all to pb on what sounded like an equally sweltering hard core day in the office, well done mate, awesome. We cannot wait to hear all about it.

Right, time to hit Zurich and start getting into race mode to see what Tom and I can pull out of the bag.

Big ups to the Kendal Jones family who have been amazing supporters throughout this whole journey and will be there in Zurich with us, our ever presents, cannot thank you all enough.

We plan to try and blog again on Wednesday, the internet access has been impossible here.

Well done to all you Ironmen out there. Alison, we certainly have not forgotten your amazing acheivement in France last weekend, brilliant, just brilliant.

Time to go.....tschuß

H and T. x