70 days to go

Posted on May 30, 2011. Filed under: anaphylaxis campaign, baby, bike, cycle, ironman, ironman regensburg, man flu, regensburg, rome marathon, Rory, run, triathlon |

Project Regensburg now has 70 days to go which means that I have 7 weeks of hard training and 3 weeks of taper to go.

The taper is really just another name for a rest – there is a science to it where you steadily reduce training volume but maintain the training intensity but the reality for me is something very different.  When I trained for the Rome Marathon the last 3 weeks saw no intensity whatsoever and, in fact, the last week saw no volume either.  And the reason for that is purely psychological – for me, August 8th will be the realisation of a dream that is nearly 3 years old and the culmination of sustained stretch of almost 40 weeks of training (there were 10 days off for January Ironmanflu and 3 weeks for the delayed arrival of Ironbaby) – and the last thing I want at this stage is to get injured.  So everything from now on in like moving the patio heater in high winds (doh – of course that was going to hurt!) or riding fast downhill (how could I forget disclocating and breaking my shoulder 49 weeks ago) or even walking with the pram is done with a full risk assessment and is typically down very slow and gingerly.  I now wish that I was wrapped in bubble wrap and didn’t have to run again until race day.

However, I do still have to train and in the short time since the last update I have been for a ride and a jog.

Carbunkle of a house spoils arty shot of a pretty bicycle

On Saturday morning I was again up at the crack of dawn to head out on to the road.  When every fibre of your body is telling you that it is raining and windy and that the time is 0530 and getting up and putting on lycra is just plain stupid it takes a lot of mental fortitude to just man up and get out there.

The route wasn’t as random as last week thanks to the power of the blog.  Last week I introduced the new section On the Road With My Bikes and I instantly got feedback that the photos of bikes in the “hotspots” of Scotland were a hit.  I wasn’t planning to take requests and certainly I wouldn’t entertain anything too exotic like the London Eye or L’Arc de Triomphe but a request to take in the Wallace Monument sounded like a challenge that was do-able.  Thanks to Louise for setting the objective – for purely objective reasons I won’t hold her responsible for the headwind on the way to Stirling or the three downpours that threatened to scalp me even through a helmet – but I hope she enjoys the addition to the gallery.  The Sultry Temptress was scheduled for her first outing of the year but, to be frank, a lady should not have to go out in the rain.  For bike porn fans the Temptress’ maiden voyage of 2011 will be a trip down to the depths of Border country next weekend.

A few people have asked me about the gaudy liquids in my bottles in the pictures and given that I am now training with full race nutrition it might be a good time to write about the “catering” that I will be enjoying during Ironman.  A trained person (and I loosely use the term for myself since carbo-loading is my most successful event) has about 1800 calories of energy stored in their bodies but during the course of the Ironman I will consume something like 7,000 calories.  So obviously I need to get 5,000 additional calories from somewhere and ensure that I stay well hydrated in the Bavarian summer sun.  Nutrition is a key part of training to work out what and how much your system can cope with under load.

One of the best things about the Ironman is that it is fully catered – aid stations have sports products, water, coke, fruit, crisps, cakes and anything else with loads of calories to get you through the day.   My starting stocks on the bike will include Clif Bars and Powerbar Gels, later on the bike I will pick up bananas from the aid stations and by the time I start the run I will be on liquids only and strongly resisting the overwhelming urge to vom all over the medieval cobbles of downtown Regensburg.  I need to be taking in 60grammes of carbohydrate an hour which equates to one energy bar, a gel and a banana per hour which will be about 400 calories or so.  Any more and I run the risk of the tactical chunder or the Ironman trots (or perhaps both violently and simultaneously in a worst case scenario); any less and I face the wall where the body dips into fat reserves for energy and turns your brain into something similar to pea and ham soup and is about as much use.  While consuming all of this I also have carbohydrate drink and electrolyte tablets in my water bottles and I have to make sure that I get the best part of a litre of liquid in every hour.  So, basically I need to eat about two days worth of food in a sickly sweet format and more liquid than you would ever want to have in your body and then shoogle it about in a 26m run.  The Portaloos are always well used in Ironman events!

The ride to Stirling and back was pretty grim to be honest with a persistent headwind for almost 40 miles and constant violent downpours.  There was little relief on the return trip as I had to climb from Cleish across to Townhill which involved 150m of ascent in 3 km – in Regensburg it will be about 200m but over 16km a considerably more sociable climb.  About 500m in to the ascent, and just as I started to blow smoke, a lycra chap who must have weighed all of 3 stone in a sodden Fair Isle sweater sped past wishing me a “lovely morning”.  Moments later in the opposite direction came a dozen kamikaze maniacs from the No Brakes No Brains No Fear Cycling Club on the downhill – I swear if the sound of my own breathing in my head wasn’t so loud I would have heard a sonic boom.  All in all, including a poignant tourist moment at the Wallace Monument, I covered 105km in 4 and a half hours – not the fastest ride in the world but given the apocalyptic weather it didn’t seem so bad.

Tell me again about how you took a 20 mile wrong turn daddy

As soon as I get in from the long ride I immediately make a carb smoothie with milk, banana and protein powder.  According to the kind of boffins that know about this kind of stuff a recovery drink with a ratio of carbs to protein at 4:1 will recharge my system if I drink it within half an hour which will allow me to go out and train hard again the next day.  Normally frozen to the bone given the Scottish summer I try and get in the shower and stretch the legs a bit before everything ceases up.  And then Pam hands me Rory so that she can get a shower and get ready for the day.  For some reason the boy likes his dad’s chat and he normally smiles and laughs throughout the epic tales of my Saturday morning journeys.

Rory is riveted by daddy's stories of tales of the politics of the peloton

For the last few weeks post-ride, and after I have recounted my adventures, me and the boy then settle down to watch the Giro d’Italia.  For some reason his education in pro tour cycling isn’t going so well as he rarely makes it past the first few seconds and then as he sleeps like an angel Pam wonders what magic techniques I have deployed to settle him down.  Listening to Sean Kelly for 5 minutes normally does the job for me too.

The long run ended up being on Sunday night and was a blustery 10 miles around downtown Dunfy.  Now I am going to be very uncharitable, unkind and controversial for a second – so please stop here if you are easily offended by abuse of middle-aged women in lycra.  Yes, it is Moonwalking season.  I am all for charitable efforts after raising £4,000 for the Anaphylaxis Campaign myself last year and I am all for exercise for everyone, however, there is one subset of Moonwalkers for whom I reserve a special kind of derision.  Yes ladies I am possibly fitter than you, and yes I am a gentleman – but if you see me running towards you 9.5 miles into a 10 mile run I will be hurting and you should not walk 4 abreast on the pavement but should move at least one of your substantial lycra clad asses marginally and allow me past rather than make my aching, fragile legs climb a grass verge.  I understand the special bond of the sisterhood of Moonwalkers and I understand that you don’t want to be separated for even a second but pause for a moment, look at the pain etched across my face and do the right thing and step aside.  Oh, and you don’t need that much Powerade for a 5 mile walk or your asses will never shrink.  As you were ladies.

Next week will see volumes really start to kick up as I go into the final stretch of the plan.  And maybe I’ll tell you what I think about when I paddle, peddle and plod my way around Scotland.

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