** Tracking information** – For those who want to track me on the day of the race (Sunday 19th July), there will be live tracking available through the following links;
We’re into race week, the period in which the training stops and the panicking about every detail no matter how minuscule commences. The current worry I’m facing is learning that wearing a sleeved triathlon jersey is apparently more aerodynamic than a sleeveless one. Am I going to be the only fool with his bare arms on show? Will this be the reason I blow up on the run and come home an hour slower than my desired time? Most probably. At least I’ve got a good excuse now.
People suggest various ways to combat the restlessness and nerves in the lead up to a big event, such as spending time going over all the positive aspects of the training & racing season so far, and making a mental note of these so you’re able to draw on them when times get tough on race day.
Well, I certainly can’t say I’m going into Sunday undertrained. Since the turn of the year, I’ve started working with a coach (Dan Holmes @ Profile PT), and together we’ve attempted to turn me into a runner who tri’s to swim and ride a bike (I thought that was a good one), to a more rounded ‘triathlete’. Since January 1st, my total amount of training looks like this;
Swimming – 55 hours – 96 miles
Cycling – 204 hours – 3,645 miles
Running – 155 hours – 1,242 miles
Total – 414 hours
That’s, on average, 15 hours of training per week, every week, for the past 6 months. It’s astounding I still have a girlfriend. Thankfully, she’s incredibly supportive and a rather speedy runner herself, and understands what it’s like to have a passion and desire to constantly want to improve and draw the best out of yourself. I peaked a couple of weeks ago during ‘Spragg Camp‘, managing to cram in 36 hours of training into a single week. Will this pay off, or was it a stupid, foolish idea? We’ll find out soon enough.
I can also draw some confidence from some of my race results. A 2.42 marathon in a pair of swimming trunks showed me my endurance training was paying dividends, before the focus switched to the triathlon season. I ended up racing the same build-up races as 2016 and saw significant time improvements at both the Deva middle-distance and Norwich Olympic triathlon.
Even just this past weekend, I shaved a massive 4 seconds off my 5km PB at Raphael parkrun, collecting the first finishers token in 17:08. The most encouraging part was that I was under instruction not to run flat-out, and I can honestly say that for the first 2 miles I ran at an 80% effort, only realising in the closing stages that I may be able to sneak a personal best, so upped the effort to make sure I did. I’m hoping that in the near future I can finally break that 17 minute barrier.
As usual, the performance of the weekend came from the proper runner of the household, who absolutely obliterated her personal best by over a minute, going sub-20 for the first time (by an absolute mile) with a 19:30 5km. Yes that is 19 minutes. Would it surprise you if I said she did it walking the whole way round on her hands? I don’t really know what to expect any more. It represents a changing of the guard, as she now has a better age-graded time than me, and is therefore, officially the better runner. Next thing I’ll be telling you is that she’s qualified for Kona at Ironman Wales..
Anyway, I’ve gone around the houses a bit there, but the point I was trying to make is, things are looking vaguely positive. The problem with an unbroken build up and some good results is that it brings with it the weight of expectation. Friends and club-mates have told me that I’m going to smash it, break the world record and win by 2 and a half hours (maybe I made up the last two). Having been humbled at Ironman Zurich 12 months ago, I know an iron-distance triathlon is a bloody long way and an awful lot can happen in those many, many hours of constantly moving forward.
I’ll just be concentrating on racing my own race, at the effort level I believe I can hold for the duration, and see where that puts me coming into the second half of the marathon. Only then will I maybe take a check on total time and see if I can continue to move my way further through the field. That being said, I believe it’s good to have goals and be held accountable to them, to enable an honest post-race assessment of performance and what went right/wrong. So mine look like this;
Swim – An hour and ten minutes would be par for the course. Anything under 1.08 I’ll be thrilled with, and over 1.12 I’ll be annoyed; small margins. Irregardless of the time, I’m determined not to let that throw me out and put me in a negative mindset – it won’t make or break the race.
Bike – IF conditions are favourable, I believe I can be somewhere close to 5 hours, but maybe I’m not quite there yet, fitness wise. I’ll ride to the power levels I’ve been able to ride at during training, and I’m hoping this will bring me in somewhere in the region of 5:10. 5 hours is the dream day. Either that or I’ve just biked too hard – I’ll soon find out on the run.
Run – ‘Don’t set off like a maniac, don’t set off like a maniac, don’t set off like a maniac.’ These words will be running through my head in the closing stages of the bike. After an opening couple of minutes of setting off like a maniac, I’m hoping to settle into a nice, sustainable pace. If I’ve paced it right on the bike and not messed up my nutrition, I really believe something near to 3 hours could be achievable.
You’ll notice I’ve not really put an exact number on anything there, but so many things can happen over the course of a long race, it’s hard to set finite goals. However, I’ll have a stab at this for the purpose of overall finish time;
Gold – Sub 9.30
Silver – Sub 9.45
Bronze – Sub 10
So there it is, I’ve stuck my neck out and set myself up for a glorious failure (something akin to any Scottish team sport performance ever). Those who know me well will know that missing these goals won’t come through lack of trying – I intend to give it absolutely everything on the day. If I can draw out every last bit of energy in getting to that finish line, then I’ll be satisfied regardless of the time.