As I sit down to write this it is Sunday evening and I am in reflective mood.
This afternoon as I stood at a pelican crossing, soaking wet to the skin, my bobble hat so damp that it is slipping down over my eyes, with mud oozing through my trainers just mid-way through a two hour run in the heart of storm Ciara and I found myself asking ‘why am I here?’ Not what am I doing on the planet but why would any sane person be out running in a storm in February? While God is doing his/her very best to enforce Sunday as a day of rest why I am wrapping up my chubby little body* against the elements and setting out with all the positivity of Captain Oates (‘I am just going outside and may be some time’) Why? Because I’m training for an Ironman and that means being committed. That is ‘committed’ in the sense of being dedicated not in the sense of being locked away for your own good (…..although come to think of it). It is at times like this I like to turn to the book of Mark. (Kelantous) chapter14, section 2
‘Mood swings are usually linked to low blood sugar levels caused by an incorrect diet, not wearing enough clothing while training in the cold, dehydration, not getting enough sleep etc…’ chapter14.
Nice to know that the answer is a donut, getting out of the shorts and putting on a onesie, a pint and heading back to bed. But if I’m anything, then it is a ‘trier’, and I am committed to this training.
Obviously commitment comes in a range of different levels, for example;
Going for run on a Saturday night and missing the Masked Singer might be considered a relatively minor sacrifice.
Standing on the edge of the pool at Westcroft in the early morning, half the lanes taken by the teenage dolphins of the swimming club and looking down for an appropriate lane in remaining 4 public ones and realising that your best option is sharing with the bloke who walks as far as he can from the shallow end until he absolutely has to swim and then coming back from the deep end he swims only until he can touch the bottom and walk again. Still going in and not going home, medium commitment.
Not hitting the snooze button but heading out with the Rusties on a Sunday morning (sounds minor but when you factor in the possibility of Fed wearing his semi- transparent summer cycling tights- that’s something you can’t unsee and I don’t have time for that much therapy)- it’s quite a commitment.
When at school and setting up the Turbo trainers discovering that you have forgotten your cycling shorts, do you a) cancel the session and catch it up later or b) do it in your pants. I chose the pants option, being trunk style I thought they would be alright but after 5 minutes they had ridden up so high I had to resort of trying to preserve my modesty by pulling down my cycling jersey(don’t think it was particularly effective). Major commitment, and now I need to check my CRB is up to date.
This week’s Lesson.
Dave and I have been guilty of the sin of pride. We have being getting just a little too smug about our training. It was bound to happen, every winter since I started doing triathlons we haven’t done any winter training, As soon as it gets a bit icy we pack away the bikes, Dave sets off on his annual quest to find the perfect mince pie (that’s a pack of six from each shop, and then buying the winner in bulk) and I give up all movement which isn’t towards the fridge. It is usually March or April before we finally scrape the previous year’s mud of our shoes and start our desperate efforts to make up for lost time.
This winter has been different we’ve actually put in some hours. My polar flow online diary has more training sessions indicated by red spots than a chocolate loving teenager’s face.
Dave on the other hand has almost worn out a quill and is well onto his second scroll. We are doing a long ride on a Sunday, a couple of Turbo sessions, spin, fitting in swims when we can, and a couple of runs. We were feeling positive, surely we were making a good start- then we encountered some numbers.
First numbers- On Wednesday afternoons we have started jogging over to the David Wear arena for a running session on the track. Dave (Clarke) has been following this bloke called Nick Bare on youtube who is “almost as heavy as me” (nice to have a positive coach, but he is rather taller than my stumpy 5’ 10”) and he can run a 6 minute mile. So the first thing we are going to do is 4 laps= 1 mile timed.
It’s been a very long time since either of us ran a mile, I mean, ’properly’, but I think that were both fairly keen to impress- the forced casualness with which we sauntered to the start line was a clue. I don’t know quite what I imagined my legs were going to do, how I was going to be anything other than the Dad who looks like he’s about to have a heart attack on the school’s sports day.
I managed it in 7 minutes and fifty seconds, disappointing. Dave, 7 minutes and twenty seconds, now if I’d had put money on it then I’d have had him lapping me so I think that he was even more disappointed than me.
It was with a heavy heart we continued the session. Five x 400 metres and as Dave stressed, consistency was the key.
First lap: Dave 1.45 me 1.55.
Second lap: Dave 1.45, Me 1.45,(a bit surprising but I just shortened my stride and tried to keep up.)
Third lap: Dave 1.43 me 1.45, ( Dave is ecstatic- proper consistency.)
Fourth lap: Dave 1.44 me 1.58
Fifth lap: Dave 1.45 me 2 minutes something.
Extra sixth lap: Dave 1.42, me sometime later that evening.(Dave is a ‘little’ disappointed with me.)
The part of the Ironman that is our biggest worry is the bike. Looking at the statistics last year 17% of competitors failed to make the cut off time which is ten and a half hours after the start of the swim. Assuming that the swim and transition takes somewhere between an hour and three quarters and two hours that leaves about eight and a half hours to do 112 miles which for a course with 2000 metres of climbing is actually going a bit.
We have been carefully upping the duration of our rides but this weekend with the approaching storm Dave and I decided to try fit in a shorter ‘tempo’ ride on the Saturday. Again I’m not sure quite what we expected, I think that after a few tempo sessions we were feeling a little over confident about our ability- based on 20 minutes hard work on a GCN video.
Well it was faster than we’ve done before but it wasn’t fast enough, more worrying, it also included the slowest Boxhill ascent I’ve every done without a puncture. Trying to go just that little bit faster is knackering. The prospect of ‘pushing’ for 8 hours seems a very long way off. I just can’t concentrate for that long, I start looking around, I compose parts of this blog, I can’t help but find more interesting things to consider than how fast my legs are going round.
I CAN’T STOP THINKING- perhaps a lobotomy? (insert your own joke in here)
*(if God made me in his image- does he have a problem with crisps as well?)