The weekend just gone marked 16 weeks until Ironman UK and the countdown begins!
We had the finance’s two sisters and their fellas visiting from Northern Ireland over Easter without their kids, so they were ready to let loose in Manchester. The girls went off looking at wedding dresses so I was left to entertain 2 Irish guys. To the pub, easy win.
This drags me down with them I’m afraid. Although I could not keep up so was no point in trying, I did have a few more drinks than I usually can cope with and we ate out a lot over the 3 days they were here. Heavy on the wallet and liver. I pencilled in some shooting to break up the drinking – it kinda worked!
I was happy to have a big blow out to be honest. I’d been a bit under the weather twice in close proximity and was fairly fed up of feeling crap. I had an interrupted block of training, having to eventually give in to the cold and take nearly a full week off training. Even when I eased back into it I didn’t feel 100%.
The Easter weekend marked a turning point in my thinking and approach to IMUK from here on in. No more messing about with late nights out drinking and eating whatever is put in front of me and then everyone else’s leftovers! I can cope with that much in-take when I am slogging the training, but without it to balance things out, I was slipping into a motivational choke hold.
16 weeks pinged up in my calendar as a reminder that now shit needs to get serious. Although my swimming was looking good, my bike training was struggling. Motivation to throw a leg over the Turbo was creeping further down the list and my running was ticking along with the odd niggle beginning to creep in. My calves have pained me for a few weeks now and then my ITB’s have began to flare up after most long runs. Although they calm down reasonably quickly it’s just another problem to manage. Nobody said Ironman training was going to be simple, so you accept it and work around it.
I love getting out on my bike and savour the long rides now the weather is beginning to take an upward turn. I need to get back on the Turbo and hit those sessions as hard as I was before I contracted the dreaded cold. I took a ride over to Leeds to meet my new nephew. Felt good out on the road, didn’t feel my bike fitness had suffered as bad I’d anticipated. Aside, everybody meet Able Riding, healthy and happy. He’s awesome.
Up next is Wilmslow Half Marathon (see how the legs hold up in that one) and then a countdown to Monster Mojo (a half Iron distance race) will see me bring in the odd brick session to get that lovely feeling of running off the bike back in the muscle memory.
Onwards and upwards…
My first race of the season is in the bag – Macclesfield Off Road Duathlon, making up part of the North West Club League Series so there were plenty of decent athletes to contend with – not just the weather!
I knew it would be a cold one. Macclesfield Forest is just on the edge of the Peak District and the course was very exposed. I’ve not got too much experience of fell running or cross country.
It was a tough first run (7.5km) up to the top of Shuttlingsloe, one of the highest summits in Macclesfield Forest. Coming down was as much torture as going up! I worked my way slowly past the guys who had bombed off (as is natural in any duathlon), so I was descending by myself and somewhat wildly. I thought I was never going to be able to stop. I considered bailing out and throwing myself on the deck. I couldn’t see this descent ending and my legs couldn’t keep up with my body. This was telling in the quads the following days. Constantly braking using the legs is tempting injury but I held on despite some choice words as I lost control.
The bike leg (17.5km) went ok. I’ve always been a confident mountain bike rider and the 3 lap course gave me chance to take stock of my position and make up some ground on the better fell runners/lesser MTB riders. It was just so cold! The rain and wind, sideways, relentless.
There was only one technical descent that separated the men from the boys. The rest of the course was long steady climbing which didn’t work to my advantage as I like to hang it out a bit on the faster sections and use my experience from years of motocross racing to be comfortable with the bike dancing around and having it on the edge of breaking away from me.
That said, my trusty old Specialized Camber got me round, still wearing every stock part it came with back in 2010. She’s been a goodun! I did make a couple of silly errors with wrong turns. Looking at the timed results at the end, I don’t think my mistakes would’ve impacted the final result so I’m not going to beat myself up about that. Just make sure I don’t make those mistakes in a race that is more important.
Into T2 and my fingers had stopped working, I couldn’t get my helmet buckle undone, and my calves began to cramp while I was stood still trying to force my mountain bike shoes free in similar numbness.
I managed to prise the helmet off and around my chin without undoing the buckle and I was on my way for there second run (3.5km). This second run was much more of a known entity as it was the lower level final section wee had ran in the first leg. I was too far behind to make a real impact on the position ahead and I had a commanding lead over my next in line so there was little to push for and tempt those injuries. Looking at my heart rate after the race, it’s easy to see how I let my foot off the gas as the race went on.
I brought it home in one piece, to land 6th overall and 1st in my age group. Happy with that and some great training, I’ll definitely be doing more off-road running. Crazy Legs Events put on a great race as it was their inaugural running of the event and the wine and chocolate for AG win came in handy that night. I whacked the heating up in the car, cradled an awfully weak cup of tea and spent the next few days wishing I’d have done that warm down jog!