Equipment (clutching at straws)
I’ve realised, that training for the Ironman there are a few bits and pieces that I need...
‘Need’ is a slightly misleading word, it is more that I think they might help, and by ‘help’ I mean might make a bit of a difference and by ‘a bit’ I mean make all the difference and drag my sorry ass over the line of this ridiculous event.
Firstly we’ve done the Maths (I say ‘we’ I mean Steve W, who has looked at the course profile and is much more informed and therefore more worried than me and Dave) and worked out how fast we need to cycle to make the cut off time for the bike section and so I have invested in a secondhand bike computer (prelovedtrigear on facebook) as I tend to slow down over time (not just because I get tired) and lose my focus. I just can’t keep ‘pushing on’ as others do so I need some numbers to look at to keep me honest. I’m also going to get one of those little bags for the top tube that holds a couple of gels – tried strapping on a Bargain Bucket but kept catching my knees.
Also on the lookout for a set of clip on aero bars- if anyone has got a set I can tryout to see if I suit them- that would be really helpful.
I’ve started doing some longer runs on Saturday mornings, a couple of hours or more.
What to do about hydration?
I seemed to remember having a Camel Pack (a rucksack with a large plastic bladder that holds water and a long straw that you suck on when running), I found it under the kitchen sink, it was on top of the foot spa, beside the George Foreman grill, next to the Brevil toasted sandwich maker, to the left of the Bullworker, but not as far as the exercise ball, to the right of the kettlebell, beneath the knee support, beneath the knee support with braces, beneath the knee support with the attached ice bag, next the plantar fasciitis boot (my old spin bike would be under there as well but it is much to useful as a drying rack for my laundry).
I don’t know if I have enough junk to be a proper triathlete, I’ve only got two bikes and one of them cost me a whole £6 (yes, six quid - although even for that I was probably ripped off)
The grand plan is that myself and Dave (hopefully accompanied by the rest of the Rusties) will gradually increase the length of our rides by half an hour to an hour every few weeks so we will doing ‘comfortably’ doing 7 hour rides for a few weeks before the event.
Everything we’ve read about Ironman stresses the importance of nutrition so on our longer rides Dave and I are practicing eating on the go. Last Sunday wasn’t the best day for practicing that part, it was so cold that we would have had to squeeze out a frozen gel and lick it like a kiddie’s ice pop.
I managed a few bites while riding but Dave had to stop the whole peloton to have a bar because he couldn’t feel his fingers, here’s hoping Bolton in July will be a couple of degrees warmer. We barely managed to force ourselves to have more than a couple of sips of water while riding. More practice needed.
An example of why nutrition matters; and I have been waiting a while to tell this story as it is the only time I have ever done better athletically than Dave: The Pearsons’ London to Brighton and back about 3 years ago. We make it down to Brighton no problem, about half way back Dave starts struggling on the hills and gradually getting slower and slower. We had to stop every 20 minutes for Dave to have a gel. When we finally got to a feeding station the famously mild mannered Dave absolutely snapped at a poor little volunteer who tried to cut a Cadbury mini roll in half when he wanted a whole one.
When I finally coaxed the shattered Dave over the line, he had the cheek to ask how many gels I had eaten. None, I’d given them all to him. More tragic than Dave bonking is that fact that I’m still trying to live off it. (I’m sure Dave will regale you with stories of his other two less successful attempts at the London to Brighton).
Post ride Beans on toast at the Beeches Café still seems to go down a treat so perhaps on the Ironman bike ride when one of those speedy Brownlee types whizzes past me if I can just reach out and pin a picture of a plate of beans on their back I might be inspired to keep up.
Nutrition part 2 (Racing weight?)
“When I’m wearing a wetsuit I look like a Telly Tubby going to a funeral” Alan Carr comedian. “Ditto” Dan Holdsworth Ironman enterer.
‘When I was thin’ is a much used phrase which I realise hasn’t applied to me for about 30 years. Oh I’ve had ups and downs, I even for a very brief few months got below 12 stones (about a decade ago), but basically my weight has been on the rise, topped at 20 stone and now settled round sixteen and a half. My best running years were in my teens when I was literally half the weight I am now (already the same height) and I’m not going to mention my thigh gap as it’s a sore subject.
It’s all Nick Kamen’s fault. For those of you just too young or not culturally aware, in the eighties there was a Levi Jeans TV advert set in a fifties launderette when a gorgeous Nick Kamen takes off his clothes to wash them revealing a sculpted body the like of which we hadn’t really seen – I, and many others took to the gym to train badly.
For blokes it was probably as significant a moment as the first Jane Fonda workout video cassette (and if I’ve got to explain who she is, and what a video is I’ll give up and move straight into the rest home). It was the start of the objectification of the male body beautiful.
Being ‘fit’, changed to ‘looking fit’ (didn’t manage that either) and was it was separated from sport. Trying to reconnect the two, my weight has an impact on all three disciplines;
Apparently every time your foot hits the ground when you run it is with a force of 5 times your weight, for me that’s well over half a tonne. That’s not great for pavements, bridges, or manhole covers, let alone my joints.
I’m quite a large area to punch a hole through the air to start with. Going uphill the excess weight is an obvious issue just gravity and basic physics but there is also a downside to the downside. I am also very slow downhill, it’s and issue with my back- it has a long yellow stripe down it. When my bulk gets moving and builds up speed, it’s terrifying. Approaching a corner with all that momentum I feel as though I have about as much control as the Exxon Valdez trying to maneuver into a parking space at Sainsbury. I think about how skinny the tires are, how when I come off the bike I always find a way of landing on the few boney bits of my body and squeeze on the brake levers harder than Vinnie Jones tackling Paul Gascoigne.
The problem is locker 5 at Cheam Swimming baths. It is the locker I use because it is opposite the second changing cubicle as you go in. The problem is that after changing into my trunks and stowing my clothes in locker number 5 I have to walk past the world’s longest mirror to get the swimming pool. I’ve tried not looking, it doesn’t work, I could say that it is like a moth to a lantern but it’s more like rubbernecking a car crash. Although I wear large 1950’s style trunks by the time my gut hangs over at the front, my ‘love handles’ flop over the sides and my back fat slides down at the rear they look like Speedos on a Portugues Man of War with my scrawny hairy legs protruding from them (The PMofW is a jelly fish- you know one of those pale lumpy blobs with dangling tentacles that bobs gently across the sea- incidentally it is also a fair description of my body position, my kick, and my speed.
Bring on the days of wetsuits and roses.
Perhaps, until then I’ll try using a locker in the twenties....