Ironman Wales – preview

So, here we are again. Time to zip up the wetsuit and give this long-distance triathlon lark another go. If anyone wants to track my progress on the day, there’s a great little app called ‘IRONMAN track’ – you can plug my name in on the Ironman Wales page and this should update throughout the day. Failing that, http://www.ironman.com will be providing live coverage, just follow the link from that website and search my name.

After a break from training post Outlaw, I’ve logged some big, hilly bike miles, ran a new 5km personal best, and kept my running ticking over. I had my last bit of proper training this weekend, running in the Surrey Road Relays for Clapham Chasers on Saturday afternoon. Based in Wimbledon Park, this’ll be the closest event to our house we’ll ever do (about a 7 minute walk to race HQ), so it would’ve been rude not to.

Each team has 6 runners, racing over a leg of just under 3 miles. I had a respectable run -completing the course at the same pace as last weeks 5km personal best, on what was arguably a tougher course, with one massive hill just after the first mile. Our team finished in 5th overall, narrowly missing out on a county medal.

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Sunday was my last longer bike ride, but with more important things on the calendar, I had to get out on the road early doors to make sure I didn’t miss the days main event. What I hadn’t realised was that it’d still be dark at 5.30am! After dashing back upstairs to grab my bike lights (how depressing), I ticked off the 3 hours without any real incident, arriving in Maidenhead to play the role of chief bag carrier/superfan for the day.

I’ve already documented in this blog on how Katie’s running has really turned a corner in the last 6 months, but I don’t think either of us were quite prepared for the heady heights she hit at this weekends Maidenhead half marathon.

Luckily for her/unluckily for everyone else I had my bike with me, so I was actually able to be at pretty much every mile marker to offer words of encouragement and take some snaps at the same time. I think those running in the same vicinity may have got slightly sick of me when for the 10th time they heard ‘Come on Katie, keep pushing hard, you’re nearly there now’.

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Happy camper

The results speak for themselves; 1 hour and 28 minutes. 15th female. 6 months ago she ran as hard as she possibly could in Kingston, finishing in an 1 hour and 52 minutes.  She’s taken over 20 minutes off her personal best this year. Not only that, she’s secured a championship starting place at next years London Marathon, completely skipping over the good for age time. We’ll get to be in the same starting zone next April – how cool is that? If there was a prouder person in Maidenhead/the UK on Sunday, you’d have struggled to find them.

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After all the excitement of last weekend, all thoughts now turn to Sunday. I’ve been in a bit of a weird mindset since the Outlaw. I never imagined that I’d finish something like an ironman triathlon and be thoroughly disappointed, but if I’m going to be brutally honest, that’s how I felt. Crossing the line, I didn’t get that wave of euphoria or emotion that usually comes with completing something you’ve worked so hard towards, I just felt pretty hollow, and glad for it to all be over.

I really don’t want this to be the case in Tenby; I want to give it everything I’ve got, but also enjoy the weekend and the event itself, and savour every moment from the second the gun goes all the way to the finish line of the run. I’ve trained so hard just to get there in decent shape, but I don’t see the point in doing all of that if I’m just going to be stressed out the entire time. It’s going to be a great opportunity to hang out with family and friends, and I’m lucky to be able to combine that with one of my real passions in life.

I’ve talked previously to people about qualifying for the world championships in Kona. Sensible people have managed to get through to me around this point, highlighting the fact that you really can’t control what happens on the day or even who turns up at the race. All I can do is swim, bike and run to the best of my ability and see where that puts me at the end of it all. If I’m being totally honest, I think my swim will let me down, but that’s an issue for me to address in the future – I’ll do what I can on the day and crack on from there.

The aspect I actually really like about the Wales course is that because it’s so tough, it’s unrealistic to set specific time goals. The swim can be really challenging if the sea is choppy, the bike is ridiculously hilly and the run isn’t flat either. It’s certainly not a ‘PB’ course, instead more of a chance just to test yourself against some great triathletes and the elements.

That means I won’t have any time goals in mind, which seems alien to me, especially as I like to measure myself up to pre-race expectations to assess how I’ve performed. I’ve thought long and hard about what will constitute a ‘success’ for me on Sunday, and come up with the following;

  • I want to be able to say I gave it everything on the day and leave every drop of energy/training out on the course.
  • I want to enjoy and soak up the atmosphere before/during/after the race and make sure my friends and family making the trip down have a great experience.
  • I want to race alongside some great friends (10 Clapham Chasers + numerous others) and enjoy the mutual shared suffering we will undoubtedly be going through.
  • I want to finish as far forward in my age group as possible – I know I can’t control who turns up, but I can chase down anyone who even looks remotely the same age as me (or anyone really) during the run – playing the role of the hunter is much more fun than being hunted.

I’m heading down to Tenby on Thursday morning with George Bright (who writes a far better blog than mine; https://halfrust.com/), in the now standard white van – is there any other way to travel? If anyone else is going to be down there, drop me a line, it’d be great to say hello.

At the current time I’m trying to ignore the hurricane-like conditions being forecast, imagining instead a flat, calm sea and lovely sunny weather. There’s only one thing that is absolutely certain; I’ll be eating my body weight in fish and chips post race.

10 thoughts on “Ironman Wales – preview

  1. Good Luck Joe. Wales is without question my favourite UK race and 2nd only to Boston. I’m insanely jealous of everyone doing it and completely gutted it’s on my wife’s birthday this year!

    Remember the more choppy the sea the more fun you’ll have – having had swell twice and pancake flat once I’d take the chop anytime. That’s what makes Wales.

    Enjoy and smash it!

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  2. Good luck Joe! Love reading the blog and sure all your hard work will pay off and you will get the day you want. I really like the goals you’ve decided on as well.

    As a female runner I always enjoy hearing about Katie’s amazing progress too! Would you mind me asking how many miles a week she runs now? She’s an inspiration!

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    1. Thanks India!

      She’s definitely upped her mileage in the last few months – currently training for Amsterdam marathon and I would say on average she’s doing about 50 miles a week. Just shows the rewards that hard work and dedication can bring!

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    2. Thanks – lovely comment!

      As Joe says, I’m probably averaging 45-50 now that I’m marathon training.
      The extra mileage and consistency of runs has really helped.

      🙂

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  3. So looking forward to Tenby, Joe. All packed up and ready to go. You sound very positive which is the best mindset. See you there….

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  4. Looking forward to reading all about it Joe – and will be tracking you tomorrow. You can only control what you do and you can’t do any more than your best on the day. DBS:-)

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