Well this is it. This is the month I take part in Ironman UK, my first full distance Ironman, after 33 weeks of training since I officially called it Ironman Training we are finally at race week. I say 33 weeks but the reality is, I started swimming in August 2017 and continued with that through to now so swimming training has been an 11 month journey from a non-swimmer who had spent 23 years out of the water to a guy who swam the 2 Mile Swim Serpentine event in September 2017 and also swam a PB in the swim leg of IRONMAN 70.3 STAFFORDSHIRE last month, plus the many hours spent swimming at Congleton Leisure Centre and open water swimming at Boundary Park lake near to Knutsford. I have progressed from not being able to use my arms and legs at the same time and having to swim with my head out of the water, swimming at 2:50 / 100yrd pace to swimming at 1:56 / 100yrd pace, being able to coordinate arm and leg movement and swimming with my head in the water. My technique is probably really poor and I find it more comfortable breathing every third stroke and only to the left hand side. Lots and lots of room for improvement here, but this is the starting ground, the bench mark for future Ironman 70.3 and 140.6 events. The only way is up.
Cycling training again, officially began 33 weeks ago, but like swimming, I never really stopped riding during 2017, I clocked up 1,750 miles during the year, in October I cycled 300+ miles along the Grand Canyon from ARIZONA TO LAS VEGAS as part of a charity ride with Global Adventure Challenges. During this ride I beat my previous longest ride twice, firstly with an 85 mile ride and then 110 miles. All great practice for Ironamn. Then in May I cycled 185 miles in two days during the LONDON REVOLUTION RIDE again cycling over 100 miles in a day. The biggest improvement in this years riding has been my power, I am able to hold a higher power output now and as a result average speeds have increased. This is down to buying an indoor trainer, in January I brought a Wahoo KICKR and subscribed to Zwift. This has been an absolute game changer, during the cold winter months I spent countless hours riding on here in the garage. Sometimes in temperatures as low as -18c and having to wear a hat, gloves and hoodie to stay warm, then in the summer months just wearing bib shorts with two big fans blowing on me when the garage temperature hit 39c. To date, I have cycled 2,043 miles, already surpassing last years total.
Running has been an up and down journey, I started marathon training for PARIS MARATHON 2017 in January 2017 and have only taken two weeks off since. The two weeks before starting Ironman training on 27th November. So I think it is safe to say, I have been training for this run for 19 months. I have ran 7 marathons, six of which I ran under my 4 hour goal. This year I have ran two marathons, three half marathons, three 10k’s and one 5k race. I have beaten my marathon PB and half marathon PB twice, I ran my second quickest 5k and came within 90 seconds of my 10k PB running in snow during the KIDSGROVE 10k so I think my running is in a good place.
So the goal for my final two weeks of training? well its taper time now so pace and mileage are dropping and it is time to rest and recover. In my June Ironman Training Update I completed the Ironman 70.3 Staffs race and took a week off on a family holiday but then suffered some calf cramping issues. The biggest goal now is to get that calf issue sorted and be able to run with confidence and pain free.
Week Thirty Two:
- Swim: 2,187yrds, 42mins
- Bike: 108 miles, 6hrs 42mins
- Run: 5 miles, 41mins
After still experiencing some calf pains during the Alderley Edge 10k, after speaking with my running coach we decided to try a sports massage to see if she can work the cramp and tight muscle out. I had held off doing this until now to give things time to calm down. I had the sports massage on the Tuesday and typically I had no pain at all on Tuesday, after the massage the calf did ache a little but soon calmed down and felt better than at any point in the past 10 days. She agreed with me that it looks like I suffered from a cramping of the calf muscle during the first half of the Wilmslow half and with running on things got worse and the muscle fibres fused together. She said to keep foam rolling it out, it may take a few more days and rolls to get things fully back to normal. I tried a 5 mile run on Friday, the first 4 miles were pain free and I was over the moon, finally I can start to get my running back on track, then in mile 5 the calf pain returned. We travelled down to Bournemouth after that were we spent Friday & Saturday on a little family break to take the little one to Peppa Pig world and have a play on the beach, it wasn’t until Saturday afternoon that the calf pain cleared again. I told my coach that I didn’t think it would be wise to do the 16 mile run planned for Saturday night and also, best to stop running all together the following week. I need to give the calf as much time as possible to rest and heal before next weeks 26.2 mile run.
Bike wise, I started the week with a 2 hour ride, covering 34.8 miles at 18mph, not what I had hoped speed wise, but this was heavily affected by traffic lights and road works. I followed that up with a 90 minute easy ride covering 23.1 miles at 15.9mph and then my final long ride on the Sunday were I cycled 50 miles and 4,000ft of climbing in just under 3:20, I took in two of the top 100 UK climbs as part of that one, cycling up Mow Cop within the first 1.5 miles was tough going.
I only managed to get in one swim this week. A 1.9km pool swim on the Monday morning, surprisingly swimming at 1:56 / 100yrds in the pool, usually I can only manage that kind of pace swimming outdoors in my wetsuit. I did plan a 2.5km open water swim in Salford on Wednesday but due to work I wasn’t able to make that and I didn’t make my planned 3.5km open water swim on Sunday either. That does mean I haven’t swam outside in the UK since Ironman Staffordshire, I did swim in the sea whilst in Menorca so I think that wont be a problem.
Week Thirty Three:
- Swim: 3,171 yrds, 1hr 1mins
- Bike: miles, hr mins
- Run: 4 miles, 32mins
Final week here we go!!! So as mentioned in week 32, I am taking some time off running to rest the calf. Since returning from Bournemouth the calf has actually felt fine, no pain whilst walking so I attempted a 4 mile run on Thursday and all went well, no pain during the run and nothing overnight too. Now that is only 4 miles and I ran that far last week before the pain came back in mile 5 but I do feel a lot more confident that it should be ok at least past mile 5, whether it stands up to the full 26.2 miles, we will see on Sunday.
It has been more of a steady week on the bike, 15 miles on Monday and 20 on Wednesday, Friday I went back on to zwift for a one hour ride, it was pouring with rain and I just didn’t want to mess around cleaning the bike and risk coming off in the wet conditions. I have done plenty of riding in the rain this year so missing this one is no problem.
Swimming has all been in the pool again. 1km on Monday, which was actually the quickest I have ever swam 1km and then Thursday I set a new PB for 1.9km as well and both set in the pool without the wetsuit so my swimming is looking the best it ever has done, perfect timing with the race this Sunday.
Speaking on which, it is race week and you want things to go smoothly, well on Wednesday we received an e-mail from Ironman advising us that the bike route has had to be changed due to the moorland fires on Winter Hill. Which is fine, I am glad they have decided to move the route to keep us out of the smoke, however, the new route is 95 miles instead of the 112 miles you ride on ALL full Ironman events. They state that Ironman UK will still be classed as a full distance Ironman but personally I am very disappointed by the shortened distance. For me, I cannot class this as a full Ironman and can’t count my finish time as a PB, I am just racing to earn a medal and t-shirt now.