Monday, 26 April 2010

Two down... one to go...

I’m writing this whilst we cruise along the M1 northbound at 10.30pm on Sunday night on our way home from the London Marathon. With 80 miles to go we popped into the services for a celebratory Burger King to swap drivers and with 27 days to go until the most important race of my life I’ll need to reign in my taste for junk food for the next four weeks.

Twelve weeks ago, with my motivation at an all time low and my energy levels following suit, I spent some time seriously contemplating an early retirement from my Ironman journey. My self-imposed conditions for giving it one last shot on the 22nd of May were that I would set myself a training schedule which I believed would put me in a position to qualify for Hawaii in Lanzarote next month. My only motivation with regards taking to the Canarian start line is to qualify for Kona and as such there can be no half measures, either in training or racing. I’ve not considered the demands of the 16 week schedule on my body, and whether or not I would be able to survive… I simply set myself what I believe is required, and anything less would simply remove any chance I have of achieving my ultimate (and only) goal. With 12 of the 16 weeks down I can definitely say it is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, by quite some way, and with four weeks to go I’m still not convinced I’ll make it to the start line. Nevertheless, so far so good and with my two main training goals / fitness markers achieved I believe that with 27 days to go I’m still in the game.

With swimming reduced to a bare minimum due to whatever the mystery injury is that I’m suffering from (long story) it’s up the my bike and run to do the talking. So, that meant two serious training / racing goals in the build up to Lanza… The Circuit of the Dales 50 mile super hilly TT (in it’s 50+ year history only two people have been under two hours on the full course, and Chris Boardman wasn’t one of them!) and The Virgin London Marathon.

The former saw me pb by around ten minutes with 2:21 and proved that my 16 weekly bike hours is doing the trick on two wheels, confirming my thoughts that having started 2010 in the worst bike form of my life I’d found the complete opposite by early April. The latter would be my chance to do the same for my running and suggest that my target 3.10 run split in Lanza really is possible…


It had been a far from ideal build-up to today’s race, overtime on the podcast along with a return to teaching at the University found me needing solid 20+ hour days (literally) to fit in my 16 hours bike hours. Arriving in London I was pretty much the most fatigued / tired / knackered I’ve ever been, my legs felt about as close to lead as I could imagine and thoughts of running a ‘comfortable’ marathon, let alone in under three hours, seemed somewhat of a pipe dream. Still, if I’m going to run 3.10 in Lanzarote then I need to be in sub-2.50 marathon shape, so today’s target of 2.55-2.59 would need to be comfortable… Despite my default confidence, having seemingly emptied my legs over the first part of this week I was somewhat concerned that they wouldn’t have the strength required to hold 6.45 per mile round the streets of London for nearly three hours. Because of this I tried to stuff in a little extra food and drink over the last few days in the hope that they would last the distance… which was nearly my undoing, as despite my legs feeling great from start to finish and feeling like I had an extra gear right through miles 1-26 I found myself needing two rather long wee stops and an even longer ‘number two’ stop, as well as a ten mile fight with the ‘gingerbread men’ (check out Tony’s Trials on Marathon Talk if you don’t know what that means) in the second half of the race. (Sorry R & K but those jelly babies would almost certainly have pushed me over the edge!).

Anyway, here are my 5k splits (corrected to remove toilet breaks)…

20:29, 20:46, 20:53 (+30 sec stop), 21:02, 20:37 (+30 sec stop), 20:37, 20:35 (+60 sec stop), 20:40 & then 20:29 pace for the final 2.2k.

All achieved with the feeling that if required I could have dropped any one of them under 20 minutes if I’d wanted to. A finish time of 2:56:39 (including toilet stops) is bang on 6.45 per mile and at the effort level that it took I’m pretty confident that with 27 days to go I am most definitely still in the game ;)

There’s many a slip from cup to lip though and with four weeks until Lanza there are plenty of hard training sessions and key workouts left to bank before I attempt a short and steep taper into the defining moment of my Iron journey. In six days time I’ll be on the start line of the Yorkshire Cycling Federation 25 mile time-trial champs, the second fastest marathon of my 14 or so 26 mile efforts, just six days prior, will not be accepted as a legitimate reason for a sub-par performance.

With my swimming looking like it will cost me at least five minutes over my Kona rivals and a sub ten hour performance likely to be required, over perhaps the hardest Ironman course in the world, nothing less than ‘everything’ will do the job. I’m sure that a few of you reading this will be thinking that I’m pushing it too hard and doing too much… my answer to that is I’m doing what is required to achieve my goal, nothing more and nothing less. Yes, I may not make the start line, but that isn’t my goal.

“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift”
                                    - Pre

See you next week,



runwildrunfree said...

Great blog Tom and I know 100% your attitude. No point saying 'I wish I had...' or 'I could have...'. It is about laying it on the line and accepting that if you fail, you could have done no more.
I know so many who have left a 'great race' on the Pub table.
I am sure you have heard it and certainly I use this quote lots, BUT nothing every quite works as well:
'It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

All the best for Lanza - you can do no more than your very best!

Darryl said...

Execllent attitude. Keep pushing hard, only stop to push harder.

Mark S said...

Awesome. You are a true inspiration. Go get em.

Rogier, Natalie & Rhys said...

All I can say is:
"go, go, goooooo" and

"come on, dig in"


Tom said...

Ian - Thanks for the AWESOME quote!

Darryl - Great advice!

Mark - Thanks :)

Roger - Will do!