The season began with 1 main target: qualification for the IM 70.3 World Championships, but there were a few sub targets beneath that:
– Sub 3:10 Ball buster in March
– Sub 3;10 Boston marathon
– Sub 60 minute 25 TT
– Give IM UK a real go, target sub 11
– Sub 3 marathon at York
This was the first season I had worked with coach Steve Lumley for the duration, and I’d also joined a masters swim group and usually made 2-3 of their sessions a week. I had an Achilles injury around December to mid January, but once that eased I felt great and training went really well. I enjoyed having the sessions set, and not having to think about what I was doing, just how to do the session set. However there is no doubt that Lumley sets a challenging volume and intensity of training and at times I was clinging on desperately, waiting for the next cut back week.
The first real test of the year came in early March with the Ballbuster, and this went superbly with a 3:09. A negative split across the 2 runs sandwiching a PB bike split and a long time target fell. Next up was Boston marathon, where I put out a well paced race but without any real taper and without sufficient marathon specific sessions I did not make the sub 3:10. Unsurprisingly I could not accelerate on the largely downhill last 6 miles as my quads were trashed. However a shade under 3;13 was more than decent on the day.
Attention then turned to the main event: Wimbleball, and the qualification target. Training went brilliantly until early May, and I felt my strongest ever on the bike. Then for some reason everything seemed to go wrong. Couple of puncture related DNF’s in key warm up events, my Achilles injury returned, I hyperextended my big toe backwards in an accident and the long term weather forecast looked apocalyptic. The race itself seemed ill fated; I knew conditions would be horrible and I’d be running with some pain and loss of pace from the toe and Achilles issues. On the day, the ill fate delivered in spades – I swam poorly after my Garmin was booted off, the weather was awful and my bike split no better than the previous year’s and I had some front mech mechanical issues. Result was I was some 15 minutes behind target schedule when the run began.
I dug deep in the run, but could only finish with a run 2-3 mins slower than last year’s and crossed the line assuming Vegas was blown. That all changed when I actually checked the results back at the cottage: 9th AG, a placing that should be good enough given the generous rolldown for 70.3 worlds. Everything changed in an instant. A marvellous moment, and I duly got the 3rd of 4 slots. The fella behind took the last spot; I’d taken 3-4 AG places on the run. The lesson is never ever give up.
With Vegas secure, thoughts turned to IM UK. A confidence booster came in June with another target achieved: 57:12 on the E2/25 TT. A fast day, but I nailed a great ride. Tenby long course weekend was superb: it was in the middle of that scorching hot spell, but swim was good (1:09), bike good (6:13) and marathon ok given the heat and brutal course (3:40). I was 10th overall, out of 200 starters. In hindsight, a marathon that tough 3 weeks before an Ironman was not wise.
The rest of July went well as I tapered into IMUK. Plan was sub 11, but the sub plot was to really give it a tickle and assess where I was to a potential Kona dig at some point in the future. Both my previous IM’s were conservatively paced, this one I was going to put it out there.
I was disappointed with my time, 11:13, but I have learned more from analysis of this race than any other. Racing an ironman is a very different beast to pacing one, and there were both good and bad signs. I had a decent swim (1:11), but caused myself issues on the run during the bike. I went a little too hard (TSS 308), but the real problem was a VI of 1.12 – showing I had a very uneven ride – surges and digs everywhere burning matches. This is not a good way to spend your energy in an ironman.
I ran some calculations and have worked out that I could have reduced my NP to that which would have given a TSS of 290 – the level recommended for a strong run, and then if I had ridden that NP at a VI of 1.05 I could still have raised my average power for the ride. So I could have ridden faster, yet put less stress/fatigue on my body and ran better off it. Hmmmm
I was out of T2 in 7hrs 15, but I blew on the run after 16 miles, and sub 11 drifted away with a 3:55 marathon. I had run 3:29 at IM Wales (3:40 pace for a full marathon), so I had the capability. Race execution let me down. From a learning perspective, job done. There is no doubt in my mind that I could, and should have gone something like 10:50 – 10:55 on the day; the last Kona slot in my AG went at 10:33. A long way off, but I feel not unbridgably so.
After IM UK there was a nice ego boost with an AG win at Cambridge Triathlon, although probably due to the fact it was run as a duathlon due to blue-green algae. Final training for Vegas went well, the race was superb despite the rain (!!!). I loved being part of the event, I can only imagine what being part of the real McCoy in Kona would be like. I swam horribly, but rode really well and ran nicely.
On getting back from Vegas motivation was hard, and I knew from a few run sessions that sub 3 at York marathon was way off. Bike and swim dropped off and I concentrated on run training for 4 weeks, but could feel that this was an end of season effort. I was ragged, with a few niggles and patchy motivation. Very glad I opted out of the Winter Ballbuster this year, but perhaps in future I should drop the October marathon as well. On the day I wanted a sub 3;15, ideally a 3:10 to keep a Boston qualifier and a VLM GFA on the books. Surprisingly the race went brilliantly: I started slow (6 miles at 7:30mm), built into the middle section (14 miles at 7:13mm), then surprised myself by finding a searing final 6miles (6:51mm) for a 3:09:40 Job done.
Overall a satisfying season, however there is a bit of frustration in that I never produced a triathlon performance that I felt justified my fitness. I entered 6 triathlons:
– Dorney Eton sprint – a scratchy and rusty 1:08
– Dorney Olympic – I was flying in this. 26:30 swim, and smoking on the bike when a puncture hit – DNF. Results show the AG win was there if I had carried on riding at that pace then produced a 41 minute 10k. Arrggghhh
– Wimbleball – job done, but not the race or time I wanted.
– IM UK – blew on the run
– Cambridge tri – ended up as duathlon
– 70.3 Worlds – shit swim, rest good though
I am definitely a better swimmer but results were patchy. Some good – a 26:30 1.5k and a couple of IM distance swims 1:09 (Tenby) and 1:11 (IMUK). However there were also shockers at Wimbleball (41mins) and Vegas (44mins), so I am inconsistent and need to improve my racecraft.
Best swim: the 26:30 at Dorney. Felt brilliant.
Worst swim: even the possibility of having booted Gordon Ramsey in the face cannot disguise my 44 minute time shocker!
Definitely stepped up on the bike TT’s were quicker and I feel like I am pedalling smoother. Next year it is all about riding smoother (low VI), combined with getting the FTP above 300; do that and I’ll fly.
Best ride: 57:12 TT on E2/25.
Worst ride: 100 TT on B100/9. 4hrs 40 mins of grind in grotesque conditions, then at 98 miles smashed into a pothole hidden in a puddle, double pinch flat DNF and cracked disc wheel (now replaced).
A solid year, but one without a single run PB. I need to do something about the bouts of Achilles issues I get – it might be trainers, it might be mileage based.
Best run: York Marathon 3:09:40
Worst run: IM UK Apologies for any nearby buildings damaged when I exploded at mile 16.
I am still interested in Kona. 70.3 ambitions have been fulfilled, so I am going to focus on Iron Distance racing and see how it goes. I lack the talent of a BB or a Deenzy, but am prepared to work hard and consistently. I think I can get good enough to be in the Kona mix, and I owe it to myself to give it my best shot. If it doesn’t work, so be it. I’ll know I’ve done my best; and then I’ll start working down the bucket list.
To get to Kona in my AG I think I need the following
– A sub 1:05 swim, so 5 mins+ improvement
– A bike FTP of 300+, so 24 watts more than 2013’s peak
– Ability to ride with low VI on race day
– A better pacing and nutrition strategy on the run, so I can convert my 3:10 stand alone marathon pace into a 3:25 IM marathon off a bike with TSS of 290ish.
– To execute a perfect race on the day
– A huge dollop of luck in terms of who enters the AG, and roll downs
Not a lot then! I have thought about it a lot, and thought it was probably a bit too much to ask in 2014. You need 4-5 Ironmans, properly raced, to really know and learn the event to get the best out of yourself. I’ve raced 1.
2014, then, is all about learning to race Ironman while working on those fitness requirements. I’ve thus decided to race 3 next year.
May – IM Lanzarote
June – Forestman
September – IM Wales
I’ll see where I am after Lanza and Forestman.
If the first two go well enough (a sub 11 at one of them?) and training suggests I’m getting there on the other stuff, then I’ll enter IM UK 2015, and possibly IM SA 2015 with a Kona slot in mind. If I feel it is too far away, then I am going to do IM lake Tahoe in 2015 as a bucket list race.
IM Wales, with the 3 raced IM’s behind me should be good, and I’ll expect something close to 11 hours. There may a 100-1 Kona shot at IM Wales, who knows. Something around 11 hours puts you in the mix according to 2013 results (2013 was a tough day, with a full length marathon so probably 15-20 mins slower than 2012).
Down to the detail:
Obviously things have to change for the coming year to get anywhere near this. I’ll be trying the following
– Up the volume of swims aiming to hit an average of 3.5 a week.
– Man up during the swims and push harder.
– I will look to do 90 minute efforts at least once a week (last year it was all 1 hour max)
– Regular monthly CSS pace test to check progress
– Work hard on the threshold stuff on the turbo
– do a regular monthly FTP test (only did 3 tests last year)
– Get out with the club weekly ride; improve handing skills
– Learn to ride evenly, track and measure VI
– Get a trainer fit assessment done
– Less races, more training
– No more ‘winging it’ in multi sport running; a better pace and nutrition strategy is required at IM level, get the calories in early and build
– Train at 72.5kg, race at 71.5kg (both 1 kg less than last year)
– Take diet seriously, eat lean meat. Reduce carbs, especially reduce high GS carbs and late night sugary snacks
– End the reward eating – workout then have a sugary snack habit
– Max 3 coffees a day; more water/decaff green tea
– Need to make more time to sleep, avoid the conflict between sleep and training of last year (sacrificing much needed sleep to get training in; means that training benefits not optimised)
– Proper rest days built in. I need them.
On Monday 4 November, it begins. As ever, bring it on……