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Switching from Ironman France to Ironman UK

As I mentioned previously, I have decided to switch my 2016 Ironman plans from Nice, France to Bolton, UK.
I did an old fashioned ‘Pro’s & Con’s List’ (see below) and it just made sense when I went on a 4 hour bike ride to argue the toss with myself. I got off the bike, still in my kit and paid the £50 transfer fee.
I signed up to Ironman France with all the best intentions. I wanted to do an EPIC Ironman race, one of the iconic races that is on the calendar. A real tester, an honest course. A swim in the Med, an alpine pass on the bike and a stinking hot seafront run – I knew if this were to be my last Ironman for a while I would be going out in style in a race that would really hurt me.

0430_40658

So why am I now back at Ironman UK, the site of my first Ironman back in 2013? As you can see below the ‘Ironman France Con’s’ list is the longest list!
I was stressing myself out with questions about gearing and bike set up. There are long standing arguments all over the internet about using a road bike vs a TT bike at IM France. I was looking at a brief trip to do a course recce, but this wasn’t going to be possible.
The major problem came when the European Football Championships were announced and Northern Ireland are based in Nice from the same weekend. This naturally meant the flights from Manchester and Liverpool to Nice doubled as well as the accommodation – air BnB etc all saw the chance to cash in alongside the football.
Ironman France Pro’s:
Epic Course
Tough bike ride to play to my strength
Opportunity to travel for a race
Guaranteed weather
Ironman France Con’s:
Price of flights inc bike haulage
Need to hire a bike box
Hire Car in France
Price of accommodation
Sea Swim (proven not too good in the sea at Challenge Weymouth!)
Paying for Lynsey to be there
Extended time off work
Ironman UK Pro’s:
Local, able train on the course
20 minute drive to start line
Known entity
More family & friends able to watch

 

Ironman UK Con’s:
Done the race before (albeit a slightly altered course)
I believe I’ve made a sensible decision and with both courses spitting out similar finish times I’m still opting for a tough course and a long day of racing. I’m over the idea of having to do an epic race (for now). I just want to do an Ironman and I forgot how lucky I was to have one on my doorstep!

100 Days To Challenge Almere

There’s 100 days to go until Challenge Almere and the European Long Distance Championships at which I will be representing Great Britain in the Male 30 Age Group. Can’t wait!

I love training. Genuinely. I love tracking progress and seeing improvement and I also find it a great release from my job and it’s all going good.

almere_bike

So with 100 days to go, I thought I’d start geeking out a little about the event itself. It’s Iron distance, with an Australian exit on the swim. A flat bike course, but has notorious winds, followed by a similarly flat run course, kissing the edge of Amsterdam.

Weather:
Like I said, it’s time for a geek out. I’ve looked up the historical weather of Almere over the same weekend over the last 4 years.

2010 – 13 degrees, 10mph winds with 18mph gusts
2011 – 21 degrees, 8mph winds with 16mph gusts
2012 – 17 degrees, 10mph winds with 17mph gusts
2013 – 13 degrees, 14mph winds with 29mph gusts

Past Results (Overall Winning Times):
2010 – 08:19:05
2011 – 08:32:36
2012 – 08:09:07
2013 – 08:34:50

Guess what time is in the envelope?

Guess what time is in the envelope?

So throwing caution to the wind (!) I have written down my personal thought on a finish time and sealed it in a black envelope and pinned it to my notice board. I’ll take this with me over to Almere and open it after the race and see how close I came to my prediction.

Where was I when I had 100 days to go to IMUK last year? Here’s that week of training from April 2013:

W/C 22nd April 2013:
Walk 2hr / 90min Turbo Interval / Swim 4, 000m / 90min Turbo Interval / Swim 2, 500m / Cycle 5hr 45min – 70 mile / Walk 2hr

I hadn’t done any long ride and run brick sessions. I was surviving ITB pain and only just getting back into my running schedule. I was having a great block of swimming and my times were solid, maybe even slight ahead of what I’m actually doing now. This was because of a large swim focus as I needed to work in this most and also running less. I’m not worried about this as Challenge Almere is 5 weeks later in the year than IMUK was (August 2013 / September 2014) so I have time and confidence to pull this swim time back. After London I also have that open water confidence that I can hold a good pace without tiring myself out. I also get that extra 5 weeks in the open water as the season will run to September and I’ll be getting the best of the water over the summer and then tapering when the water turns cooler into September.

Here’s some interesting analysis into my run fitness and tracking the improvements I mention at the top of this post:

Run Alanaysis June 2014

I’ve highlighted the average pace vs the average heart rate and it is good to see the HR coming down. I’m doing the same distance, at the same speed but it’s becoming clear that it’s not as much effort as it was.

I have a great run base to work on, this is something I am delighted to see further improved from where I was last year. My bke has proved to be solid from my races so far this year at Newby Hall and London as well as sticking some really long ride and brick runs together already.

So whats in the envelope? We’ll find out in 100 days time but any guesses yourself are welcome. There might even be a prize for the closest to!