**For those that want to track me on Sunday, the ‘IRONMAN Tracker’ app is the easiest and best way. Just type in my surname ‘Spraggins’ or race number ‘193’ into the Ironman UK event and I should pop up. Just search for the app in the app store. Failing that, there is live tracking online by clicking on this link **
Race week. It feels like I’ve been training for this forever. In reality, I’ve been focusing solely on it for the last 7 months, kicking off training back in December 2017. Some might say this is a slightly risky strategy, chucking all my eggs in one basket; so many things can go wrong over the course of an Ironman triathlon. Let’s just hope the puncture gods are on my side.
I’ve enjoyed this period of training more than any other in my brief spell in the world of triathlon. Sporting Director Paul Burton and I sat down before Christmas and put together a plan to try and ramp up my cycling to make me more competitive. The satisfaction of ticking off the sessions and seeing the tangible improvements in times and performance is one that many endurance junkies can relate to – it’s like a drug, and you want to keep coming back for more.
I’ve trained harder for this race than any other that has preceded it. Motivation levels have been sky high, and I’ve rigidly stuck to the schedule that’s been handed down to me. In the past I’ve been guilty of racing too much, or impeding my build up with a Spring marathon. Not this year; London was done very much as a training run, and in the last 4 months my only race of note was the Deva Middle at the start of June.
Ray at Swim Canary Wharf has patiently watched me splash around in his endless pool over the winter months, looking for any signs of improvement in technique and swimming ability. It’s been brilliant to work with him, and I’d like to think I’ve done everything he’s asked of me; even if swimming 5 times a week just plodding backwards and forwards doing drills isn’t the most exciting thing to do before work each morning.
When looking at the cold, hard numbers, things look positive. I’ve averaged 19 hours of training per week in the last 10 weeks building towards Bolton. It’s been a significant investment around working a full time job, but at no point has it been a chore. I’m lucky to be able to do what I love, with people that share the same passion for the sport as I do.
However, the amount of training everyone has done is thrown out of the window when it comes to a one-off race. For sure, I’ve given myself the best chance of having a solid day, but now it’s a case of proving I can do it on a sunny (probably) Sunday afternoon in Bolton. I’m looking forward to it more than any race I’ve ever done in the past, and I’ll aim to be out there enjoying the day whatever the result.
It’d be a lie if I said the result wasn’t important though. I’ve (maybe foolishly) always been one to openly state my goals. I’d love to qualify for Kona (the world championships, in Hawaii); I’ve watched the coverage year after year at home, always wondering what it’d actually be like to take part. The thought of having a chance to be there has driven me on through the dark nights and the early morning starts. In all likelihood, I’ll have to finish 2nd or maybe if I’m lucky 3rd in my age group to secure a spot.
I’m up north now, staying with our great friends the Cleary’s, who we met whilst travelling through America in 2015. It’s been so nice to just relax in a chilled environment and take my mind off the day; they’ve been absolutely amazing and I can’t thank them enough for opening up their home.
Not much more talking to do now. It might not all go to plan. That’s the beauty of sport; I’ve got no idea what’s going to happen. I think the only thing I can pretty much guarantee is that there’ll be some tears shed as I cross that finish line; it’s been quite a journey.