607

Posted on July 25, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

This week has turned out to be a very interesting week.

Firstly, race numbers were released for Regensburg which has caused a bit of a flutter in the pit of my stomach and a maelstrom in my head and secondly I celebrated Christmas on the 20th July.

To tackle the first oddity first we had an event at work which would normally have passed in the normal manner of events at work until some fruit loop decided that our random task should be to celebrate Xmas.  Clearly, everyone has their own picture in their head of what Xmas looks like but to run through some random memories off the top of my head may illustrate the scale of the effort – an old mill was fully decorated including a tree, carols before dinner, full xmas dinner, a Queens speech recorded on the day, the exchange of presents, a full rendition of “Do they know it’s Christmas?” in costume (guess what, I was Boy George in make up for some reason) and lounging in new Xmas PJs after dinner.  It may sound like insanity but I now know it is possible to deliver Xmas in under 3 hours………

Which brings me back to the more sane world that I live in where IMR is now looming on a horizon that gets closer every minute.  On Thursday, race numbers were released and I now know that I am prospective Ironman 607.  What had previously been a relatively abstract concept that lurked at the end of a 2.5 year training programme has now become a crashing reality.  And in a further cruel twist of fate Ironman classifies your age at the end of the year – so, although my whole plan was to do IM before I turned 40 in September I have been unceremoniously tossed into the 40-44 category with the wrinklies.  After discovering at Lochore that I was already a Veteran (now that hints at incontinence and zimmers) it is lucky that I am not sensitive about my age (actually, thats not strictly true but my 7 day meltdown when I turned 39 is now just a distant memory!).

The whole race number thing evoked quite a strong doubting emotion on whether I was ready.  After 38weeks of solid training I have to trust in the plan and assume that my body is up for the task.  A quote that Shakey and I found recently that we really like is that “when the mind is 100% committed the body will follow”.  And I know that is true…..

When I was training for the Rome Marathon last year I trained from a plan in a book called the “Non-Runners Marathon Trainer” which I borrowed from Shakey and which had already got a few of our colleagues ready for marathons – in fact, by the time I got it it was so coffee stained it was a health hazard.  Anyway, this book literally nurses you through marathon training physically and mentally and I clearly remember the day when Shakey told me about her “Marathon Angel”.  I had already read that particular session and guffawed; and then when faced with Shakey, while I was making a coffee, telling me she had an angel, I damn near pissed myself laughing.  Shakey occasionally calls me Yoda which I suspect is mainly on account of my freakishly short legs or possibly because I am always dispensing wisdom whether wanted or not……..however, I really only accept wisdom through bitter, bloody experience and there was no way I was appointing an angel on the say so of a daft paddy and some happy clapper who was American to boot.  Bitter, bloody experience came deep in the depths of dehydration shortly after my punch up with a blind man when I was staring over the abyss wondering whether I had what was needed to grind out the last 8 miles.  I didn’t have a physical angel but I’m pretty convinced that, though barely lucid, two people mentally shepherded me in to the finish line that day.

Since Rome I have tried to leave nothing to chance.  I have contingencies for contingencies – I have a plan for punctures, broken chains, dehydration, hypoglycaemia, barfing, blisters, the trots, having to remove my toe nails (some people can’t cope that it is only a 50:50 chance they’ll grow back apparently), gentlemanly chafing,  and so on.  The only thing that I don’t really have a Plan B for is my bike breaking or a foot in the head during the swim.  I also don’t have a contingency plan for a weak mind but this weekend was the latest that I could test my resolve and after several weeks of long but easy endurance sessions I went out this weekend to test the engine and the mind and hurt myself to ensure that I could come back for more.

Saturday morning I did 60km of unrelenting hills on the bike.  Instead of staying in the saddle and conserving energy I tried to red line my pulse on every single hill and I did and I never even contemplated putting a foot down for a rest.  I knew it would happen and at about 42km in, just after I had taken down my arm warmers with the sun in my face and facing a decent headwind it did.  Out of nowhere I started zinging…….down on the aerobars pumping the quads on a rare flat stretch I sustained between 40 and 45kph for about 2km.  Again, my pulse was redlining so I knew the headwind was taking it’s toll but everything else felt effortless.  Sunday morning I hit the pool for a 4k session and went in completely on empty with only half a litre of electrolyte mix to stop me from cramping.  After warming up I did 3 sets of 600metres with hand paddles and a pull buoy which I haven’t really used since I had my shoulder rebuilt in November.  It went pretty good but about 300m from the end I bonked but still managed to drag my ass for 10 more minutes in the pool until I had finished the programme.  And then on Sunday afternoon I went out in 22c heat hydrated only by 3 cups of coffee and a coke to see what happened and I ran 6 miles just fine although I discovered that dehydrated sweat really nips your eyes.

What was the weekend all about?  I have trained my body and I have planned for equipment and body failure but I needed to know I had the fortitude to keep my head 100% committed to give my body a fair chance to finish.  As well as an angel the yankee mumbo jumbo marathonista said that you needed a mantra to train your mind.  Who am I to disagree with them now and who knows if I’ll remember it but I’ve always loved If by Rudyard Kipling which I believe Chrissie Wellington (the most successful British sportsperson that no Britons have ever heard of) keeps taped to her crossbar.

“If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same”

I think the weekend was successful, I have pushed myself to the point where giving up was the easiest option three times over the weekend and I was suffering.  When suffering makes you feel a little more alive then you are probably one step nearer the goal.

Other than the sufferfest there were some nice training sessions.  I am grateful that the xmas event was planned near open water just for me which saved me a dash back to Threipmuir and I had a really nice swim just short of 2k in Loch Earn on Wednesday evening.  And then early on Thursday morning I had one of those rides that is just perfect – a cool morning, a flat road, mist hanging low over the loch, a spot of a red deer fawn from about 2 metres and a feral goat that thankfully stepped left as a I rode right.  The picture of the Temptress is looking across the loch to where I spent my summer holidays for years when I was a boy and brought back very fond memories.

At the start of the week I had the Temptress in for a full service and the guys at the Leslie Bike Shop were so great they gave her a good clean and treated her as well for her overnight stay as I would have done myself.  After quite a few thousand kilometres she was needing a bit of TLC and the 100k or so that we have spent together since the service has been like a new bike.  Next Sunday she gets taken to pieces for the journey to Germany.

I’ve spent a lot of time this week working out “stuff” and I am getting as close to a clear head as I will need for IMR.  Thinking about Rome dredged up a lot of stuff that I had forgotten about and as my first time at a long endurance event I remember clearly how I felt at the start.  The Europeans do cheese much better than our stiff upper lip and as I lined up in front of the Colloseum I remember listening to “The Final Countdown” by Europe only with excitment.  What I know now is that all the haunted looking guys with the 1000 yards stares were the veterans who had been there before and they knew that they were standing in the foothills of their wildest dreams and their darkest fears.  What they knew is that for long endurance events the only way to finish in the face of adversity, pain and suffering is to HTFU (google it!) and that is the plan I have lived by all year.

Apparently, the Germans like a bit of M People at the start and I’m sure that I’ll mist my goggles a little when I stand on the beach and I recall the fight with the blind man but I will know that I have what I need to drag myself back from the edge if I have to.  I watched the start of last year’s Regensburg swim again today and it still has a deeply unsettling impact on my stomach…….

For Rory fans this weeks update…..

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2 Responses to “607”

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Oh my god, I’M nervous, never mind you ! 😉

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I can almost guarantee that “Sherpas” will be more nervous than the “athletes”. You guys will have to get me from the finish line to bed after all……

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