ironman regensburg

Dear Garmin (You Chubby Ginger Tosser)

Posted on July 16, 2014. Filed under: cycle, first time ironman, Garmin, Garmin Forerunner, Garmin Ironman, Half ironman, ironman, Ironman Austria, ironman regensburg, ironman swim, Ranty McRantface, run, swim, vlm 2012 |

Dear Garmin

 

I have a problem.  And let me say it is you not me.  How many times do you have to let me down before I have to drop you in the bowl of an Ironman portaloo to fend for yourself?  This time you have pushed me too far.

 

I’ve always put my trust in you even when you don’t deserve it.  Back in the old days when I was a right chubby wibbly wobbly I got a Forerunner 50 and a foot pod to measure my progress.  We go back a long way so we can be honest and say that the calendar function was of far more use to me than the thousandths of seconds on the stop watch.  But, back in those days, you just worked.

 

Then when I was preparing for the Rome Marathon I decided to treat myself to a 405cx.  It saw me safely round what is still my marathon PB but did you record my heart rate?  Did you monkeys.

 

I have a Garmin Swim.  Probably my favourite piece of kit that I own.  But, then again, that was only an upgrade from a big black and yellow speedo sweep hand.  It’s basically a digitised sun dial.

 

But, here’s the thing – I am an Ironman.  Hell, no – I am a two time Ironman.  And Ironman timing is where you have really seized the opportunity to let me down in style.

 

Useless oversized ginger lump of shit.

Useless oversized ginger lump of shit.

I knew I needed a watch with a long battery life back in 2010 when I first decided to do Ironman.  I decided not to be shallow and set looks aside.  When people pointed out that you were orange and quite a substantial unit, the unkind yet prophetic even said you were fat and ugly, I stuck up for you.  When they called you a chubby ginger, I said it’s what’s inside that counts.  You came with me on runs, bike rides, on and off road and we swam in the sea, lakes and rivers  You even escaped from Alcatraz with me, gliding through San Francisco Bay like outlaws on the run from a federal penitentiary.  A modern day (rotund, ginger) Bonnie and rubber-clad Clyde.  We did 3 marathons together.  But you let me down EVERY time it really mattered.

 

Sure, like any ginger, you were temperamental.  Getting feedback out of you was like getting blood out of a stone.  Although a stone doesn’t need rebooted, manually reset, uninstalled, reinstalled, updated or balanced on a metal coat hanger while praying to the ANT+ gods.  While my heart should have been at the centre of your concerns you spent more time ignoring my heartbeat than listening to it; and occasionally you just made up completely random numbers like I wouldn’t notice.  Recording 35 beats per minute while climbing an 11% incline is like peering over the Daily Mail with faux concern and saying “yes dear?”.  And occasionally I had to sit in the garden for 20 minutes for you to find the satellites in a wide open cloudless sky.

 

F5F7A085B6BB30A4DEDCCEFFD5F54D_h498_w598_m2But normally you can trust your constant companion to turn up and support you in the most crucial moments.  So, you can imagine my disappointment when, 6 hours into the bike leg of my first Ironman, you made a noise like a Smash robot being strangled.  Not a short, sharp sigh.  No, more like long drawn out autoerotic asphysiation.  A taunting, sneering noise.  And when the noise faded your screen was clear.  Void.  Blank.  Vacant.  Your memory had gone.  If it wasn’t for the finish line photos and the medal there would be no proof that I had actually completed an Ironman.  There was nothing to upload to Strava.  I hold you solely responsible that I had to do a second Ironman.  Just to keep Strava straight.

 

You were still under warranty so you were replaced at the end of 2012.  I knew that you weren’t really the old you but I pretended that things were still the same.  As the London Marathon, the Escape from Alcatraz and many 70.3 came to pass I started to trust you again.  We trained together through last winter to get ready for Ironman Austria.  I smiled wryly in May when your strap sheared – a tangible sign, a fond reminder of the hours and hours we had spent on the road, the trails and in the water together.  But what a fecking waste of £15 replacing your strap turned out to be.  I tried to be nice and you shoved it back in my face.

 

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Not only are you a deadweight on my wrist but you clash with the blue trim on my wetsuit. I hate you.

As I emerged like a swamp beast from the Lend canal one hour and seven minutes  into Ironman Austria (based on Ironman timing obvs because as we are about to discover Garmin timing was totes fecked) I looked down and was confronted by FOG.  The race photographers captured the moment for posterity.  Perhaps we should have a caption competition?

 

No worries, thinks I.  The fog will melt away during the next several hours of hot day.  Hell no, it wouldn’t go.  So, as it turns out I carry a heavy lump of ginger uselessness around Austria for 13 hours 53 minutes and 21 seconds.  Once again, Ironman timing not Garmin timing.

 

On returning home two remarkable things happened.  One – you automatically uploaded all my Ironman data (obvs not heart rate because that would be too fecking complete) without any need for the ritual sacrifice of a feral goat or a wire coathanger.  And then Two – you died.  To paraphrase Monty Python:   ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisibile!!  THIS IS AN EX-GARMIN!!

 

I’ve done two Ironman and you couldn’t be arsed to join me at the finish line for either of them.  That is a pretty shit way to behave after all we’ve been through together.  After all the time I spent defending you when people sniggered at you on my arm.  It turned it you were actually a big, fat lump of orange uselessness.

 

And now you’ve given me a problem.  I need a replacement, but I just can’t trust you any more, Garmin.  You will undoubtedly launch something sexy and new, but ridden with bugs, and then start developing the next big sexy thing leaving me with something expensive that *almost* does what it promised too.  Sure Polar, Suunto and Tom Tom are vying for my affections but, if I face reality, a Casio digi calc watch would actually have been more useful to me than you were.  Now I look at you lying on the shelf, lifeless yet sneering at me with your shiny new strap.  We shared some great times but I guess, in the end, you always were a chubby ginger tosser at heart.

 

It’s been fun but probably best we don’t talk any more.

 

Yours

 

Ironman

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Ironman Austria 2014 – The Run

Posted on July 12, 2014. Filed under: Austria, first time ironman, ironman, Ironman Austria, ironman nutrition, ironman regensburg, ironman tips, Klagenfurt, marathon, race report, race review, run |

When it comes to the Ironman, run is often a euphemism.  “A euphemism for what?”, you may ask – because it is indeed a foot race after a swim and a cycle.  Well, it is a euphemism for a never ending, shart stained, dehydrated hobble-waddle.  But that might put people off so we soften the description.

Let me share some important statistics with you:

Number of people who say “I will swim and ride conservatively and then smash the run because I am a runner” – trillions

Number of people planning to smash the run who actually succeeded  – absolutely feck all

Percentage of those that looked over the abyss but still crossed the line humbled and stripped of most of their dignity – 100%

These statistics are more directional than strictly actually factual but, more seriously, there are two types of runner in the world – those that have done the Ironman marathon and those that think they know what it is like to run 26.2miles in the sun just after cycling 112miles and swimming 2.4miles.  Without spoiling the surprise too much I can exclusively reveal that it’s just not fun except, perhaps, if you are winning at Kona.  Your legs feel like all the spring has been taken out of them; your stomach feels like a bucket filled with a heady cocktail of left over chip fat and all the fizzy drinks from MacDonalds; and your whole body feels like you have been put in a sauna wrapped in tinfoil.  It’s only really a question of whether you feel like that at mile 1 or at mile 26.

And the really tough part is that once you have done an Ironman marathon you can’t unknow what it feels like so, although I finished the bike feeling strong, I had a sense of impending trepidation (or more accurately doom) about this particular jog.  I picked up my run bag, sat in the changing tent and started the taut, laborious process of of bending down to loosen my cycling shoes.  While I could get my hands roughly to my feet I was tantalisingly short of the buckle.  Thereafter followed a process not unlike trying to touch my nose with my elbow.  Or more accurately trying to identify my arse from my elbow.  But removing my cycling shoes was quite important to me as running a marathon in cleats was likely to be uncomfortable.  After what seemed like an eternity bent double, bouncing my top half towards my feet a volunteer saw me contorting like the work experience guy at Cirque du Soleil and with two finger presses released me from my shackles.

Something unexpected slipped from my sock – my right foot had a bluish tinge and was quite swollen.  An elephant foot.  It was unexpected as it felt fine and I had no indication on the bike anything was wrong but, hey, a bit of colour on my celtic white feet just added some glamour.

As I started on my preparations I looked up and noticed a lady had strayed into the male changing tent – she had either got lost or had some really odd fetishes.  As she loosened her cycling shoes this particularly hairy, Spanish Ron Jeremy lookalike next to her dropped his tri suit and began the thorough process of applying vaseline to his entire body finishing with some particularly noisy slopping around his wee fella.  Whether either of them noticed the other will remain in the sanctity of the changing tent.  The Somme of the Ironman.

I popped in a gel, changed my socks and shoes, lubed, put a bottle of water over my head, handed my bag to a volunteer who gave me a sweaty hug and I set off to SMASH the marathon.  Except I didn’t.  I squealed like a puppy that had been stood on.  My right foot had a blinding pain that shot right up my leg.  Another step.  Same pain.  Bugger – this wasn’t in the SMASH IT plan.  I’m not sure I can describe the pain but basically mid foot, on the out side of my foot the last three toes and the sole of my foot felt like they were somewhere between an inferno and a bruise.  I assumed I had swimming goggles or something in my shoe so I took it off but there was nothing there.  Something was wrong with my foot.  This was going to feel like a long 26,2 miles.

Leaving T2 I reset my ailing Garmin and changed the display so at least I could see time and distance in the 4mm of screen that was visible.  This meant that I could stick with my tried and tested 4min run, 1 min walk strategy.  I did a kind of awkward walk/limp for the first 4 minutes which took me out of transition, over the bridge at swim exit and into the park.  At the end of 4 minutes there was no chance I would walk as the well beered crowd was three deep – pretty much the first group of people we had seen since the swim exit.  Every time you contemplated a walk the crowd went wild so I pushed on.  With a kind of one legged, limp, walk, hop I was already developing the fear that my Ironman shuffle was going to develop into the sideways run so often seen in the latter stages of an Ironman.  I suspect that I looked like someone who has tripped and then pretends to run as they look over their shoulder.  I was that awkward.  About this time I also discovered that it was unadulterated agony to turn right.  Which left me in a bit of a pickle as the course was a double figure of eight WITH EVERY TURN BEING A RIGHT HANDER.

In 2011 I rattled like a pharmacy as I ran, stocked up with all manner of helpful narcotics (immodium, ibuprofen and salt tablets) but for 2014 I had made the conscious decision to run “clean”.  That seemed a twat of a decision in that particular moment.  I am pretty sure some pain relief would have made the ungainly gait more bearable but, hey ho, no-one ever died of a sore foot (googles sore foot fatalities).

The 4:1 strategy worked a treat for the first 10k.  Just before 3k, I ran across Michael  (@smoker2ironman) walking. I knew he had started 15 minutes before so he must have been suffering.  I walked with him for a minute – his knee was bothering him and he was weighing up the DNF with the intake of voltarol.  I could have mugged him for his voltarol at that point but he needed it more than me.  I gave some painfully gibbered words of encouragement and then jogged on.

The first part of the figure of eight was hard work.  It was a really exposed flat section out to Krumpendorf and, when I started, some of the speedies were on their last lap.  This meant that it was harder than it needed to be with lots of jostling and maneuvering on a really narrow path.  As we arrived in Krumpendorf there was a short grass section that went down to a lakeside lido.  It was short and semi-circular and, you’ve guessed it, continual right hand turns.  I died a thousand deaths as this was at the start of a 4 minute run interval.  The thought of gnawing my foot off with my teeth crossed my mind.  I swore inside my head like a sailor at the folly of not packing a couple of ibuprofen.

Somewhere around the top of the Krumpendorf loop I started to run out of steam.  I am Scottish.  Despite the factor 50 I had run an hour without any shelter in a temperature somewhere above 25c.  I had actually dessicated.  I was sweating salt crystals.  I was literally at the point where my own tongue was uncomfortable in my mouth and my head felt like it had been microwaved while wrapped in a damp towel.  At the aid station exiting Krumpendorf I started Operation Desperate Measures.  4 sponges over my head, two tucked in my try top, 4 cups of water, a slice of watermelon and two handfuls of ice.  I walked until I could feel my core temperature start to come down.  As the ice cubes started to slip through my fingers I shoved them in my shorts.  From that point on I just survived between aid stations.

Back into the park area the crowd were getting really unruly as beer and sun took it’s toll.  My walks were now always coinciding with a group of English lads who now knew my name and shouted increasingly “motivational” encouragement every time I passed.  The shout of “come on Pirate” were receiving less and less enthusiastic “arrrrgggghs” as more and more moisture leaked out of me.

0745_057597The run out to Klagenfurt old town was again completely exposed and I found a line just along a high wall that provided some shelter as I watched my shoulders turn from blue to white to magnolia to scarlet.  In the old town everytime we rang a bell in an arch money was given to charity.  Three times in one pass I jumped to get that fecking bell.  At the turn there was another sharp right hander through a square that was set up with a huge screen for the evening world cup games.  The crowd were fun but still on the right side “Magaluf bar crawl”.  I got the bell again on the return and noticed a photographer. I mentally checked my face and was happy to realise that I was still smiling.

By now the strategy was run 90 seconds, walk 60 seconds and always walk the aid station.  Thankfully my stomach was fine (compare that with the Ironman Regensburg run) but my feet continued to get sorer and hotter.  I managed to stay one step ahead of the dehydration as the day finally started to cool.

I knew mentally that hitting the half marathon would be significant and, from the first lap through the park area, I knew exactly where the half marathon point was.  As I returned to the Iron Dome area alongside the Lend canal in the relative shelter of the trees I became aware of the casualties.  There were a number of sideways runners, a man that ran like he had developed piles the size of watermelons and the chap nonchalantly face down in a grass verge.  Like he was dead.  But he wasn’t.  Yet.

Just before half way I saw Pam and Roar in the park and gave them the thumbs up.  Feedback afterwards was that I looked WAAAAAAY better than Regensburg.  I went through the half marathon just under 2 hours 40 minutes which was considerably better than I thought it might be as the liquid leeched out of my body earlier in the lap.  But now it was just one more lap to go.  5 hours was gone, the finish was in the bag even if I crawled it, the last 21km would just be about moving forwards while smiling.

About three kilometres into the second lap I saw shady goings on up ahead.  A tall hairy yeti skulked out of the woods.  Not spectacular in itself but that particular yeti had come past me very fast on the bike about three hours before.

Me: “What’s up Nick?”

Nick: “Everytime I run I shit myself”

Me: “Hey, it could be worse.  Come on run with me for a bit”

Nick: “I’ll give it a go”

Nick’s innards: *gurgle, splutter, backfire*

Nick: “maybe I’ll just walk”.

0745_077027Gastro trouble is never far away in the Ironman and that afternoon I learnt something I didn’t know about the Ironman run.  In Regensburg we did 10km laps  so you only saw the few people you were running with but in Klagenfurt there was often two and sometime three way traffic.  And what became apparent with all that traffic was the noise.  The noise of The Farts.  I remember seeing a sign at Kona last year “Never trust a fart in an Ironman”; well I can testify that the whole of Klagenfurt were putting their trust in the sphincter.  It was like everyone had squeaky shoes, like McCartney had given up on Hey Jude and was conducting a perpetual dulcet Frog Chorus.  Whatever the Ironman run is, I can confirm that it IS NOT pretty.  Or fragrant.

Pushing on for 30km I saw a scarlet heided paddy coming towards me.  Nessie was out on the run.  Cue an exceptionally sweaty, coke and gel stained hug.  We stood and caught up for the first time in 10 hours.  In the middle of a tight path, attracting grumpiness from the shuffling men on the death march, farting their way home.

At the top end of the Krumpendorf loop I needed a pee.  I could have gone into a bush.  I could have held onto it.  I could have peed my tri-shorts while I ran.  But no, I went into a portaloo.  I can truly say I have never seen anything quite like it.  As I nod at the trough I often like to rest my head on the wall.  I am just shy of 6 foot and THIS WAS NOT AN OPTION.  What hell had occurred in here?  How did someone’s bowels get sprayed quite so high up a wall?  As I stared at the small urinal feature in the portaloo I tried to pretend there weren’t two GIANT jobbies on the toilet seat but I couldn’t. I wretched constantly for my whole visit and even if there was a huge family sized packet of ibuprofen, hell even morphine, in there I wouldn’t have touched it.  If I ever pee myself in public I will trace the public john phobia back to Trap 2 in Krumpendorf.

0745_089822Back in the park I saw Pam and Roar again and heard that Ness was on her way back in from Klagenfurt.  I pushed on and about a kilometre later saw her in the other direction – “Nearly there paddy, you’ve got this now”.  Just before the old town some young chap on roughly the same walk/run plan as me.  Eventually we agreed to go it together.  From this point on, about 7km to go, we mainly walked.  We both probably could have run more but some social connection was important to us.  We chatted about anything and everything – he was from Ottawa, the airline had lost all his kit and his wife was also doing the race – we saw her during our march.

In the old town square the football was in full swing.  But plenty of the crowds backs were turned to the screen.  They had rearranged the beer hall bench to create a channel for the runners.  A drunken guard of honour.  The Gauntlet.  But by now the crowd were calling us Ironman, there was no doubt any more.  The thoughts of a smash and grab on the pharmacy were passing.  The grin got wider.

With 2km to go I suggested we run it in.  The final kilometre sign was a lying bastard. I estimate that is was about 8 miles long with  40 right hand turns, an underpass and the only uphill on the course.  Pirate Happy Chap cheered me from her balcony.  The lights shone, I passed under a gantry, I high 5’d a million people, I turned into the finishing chute, I ran until I wanted to vom.

“Dougie, from Great Britain, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”.  2 years and 11 months later it was as sweet as the first time.

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And just when you thought it was all over there is one more episode to make the Ironman Austria Odyssey complete.  And that will answer the age old question – what happens when you finish an Ironman.

Until then, have a beer and embrace the fact that you can fart without fear.

THE ENTIRE IRONMAN AUSTRIA ARCHIVE

 Auf Wiedersehen Pet

Ich Liebe Dich, Österreich

Ironman Austria 2014 – The Swim

Ironman Austria 2014 – The Bike

Ironman Austria 2014 – The Run

Ironman Austria 2014 – Beyond the Finish Line

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Ironman Austria 2014 – The Swim

Posted on July 7, 2014. Filed under: first time ironman, ironman, Ironman Austria, ironman regensburg, ironman swim, ironman tips, race report, race review, swim |

Toes grasping at cool sand, a priest reads a blessing “may the lord see you all return home safely today” or some other holy chuff.  F’sakes.  The rather jolly Austrian national anthem draws to a close.  2,500 stand shoulder to shoulder cocooned in rubber suits, latex on heads, making imaginery final micro-adjustments to well loved goggles.  It should be a ludicrous sight but we are immersed in the moment; the final seconds before a long training journey is put into practice.  The announcer calls 10 seconds to go and the silent stoicism is broken as 2,500 rubber clad gimps turn to the stranger next to them, tap them on the back, shake hands, offer a hug and wish each other, and no-one in  particular, good luck in any of 50 languages.  We face forwards, the cannon booms, red and white fireworks explode over the still, milky blue Wörthersee in an ethereal Austrian flag.  En masse, without words, 2,500 people step forwards.  Ironman Austria is GO.

Of course, Ironman morning doesn’t start on the beach.  It starts hours before.  Days before even.  There is a theme with Ironman Austria that I won’t labour.  It is a fantastic race, deservedly considered one of the best in the world  but it is all, well, it is all very vague.  There appears to be a huge amount of assumed knowledge and, as the site is vast, that results in a huge amount of unnecessary walking.  There is no signage, there are huge crowds and nobody really knows what is going on.  So bike racking on Saturday afternoon (I was given two different racking times) through to the swim start there was just a general level of confusion.  It just didn’t have the slickness that I would expect for such a huge event.

Anyway, with that minor gripe aside me, Nessie and the Sherpas – Al, Pam and Roar ate pasta on Saturday evening and the grown up Sherpas drank beer.  Due to the general vagueness we decided to go early and as in Regensburg 3 years ago I took control.  “The car will be leaving at 5am.  Don’t assume I’m joking”.  And so we retired and I pretended that I was going to sleep in the 6 hours before my alarm went off.  I guess I did, but not nearly as much as I didn’t.

At 4am I went into auto pilot.  Up, porridge, last check of bags.  Shower, P50, lube, optimistically spray some Lynx, suit up, warm layer on top.  4:45 wake up Pam. 4:55 lift Roar from his bed.  5:03  Give Ness the 3 minutes late death stare.  5:03:30 the car departs.  5:04 Roar starts singing “let it go” by repeating let it go in increasingly unintelligible octaves until the car windows shatter.  5:15 Parked.

Ness and I went to T1 to ready the bikes and “perfectly prepared IronNess” asked me if I would come to her bike and pump up her tyres.  Dumbass.  As I aero-tape my pump to the frame I met Michael (@smoker2ironman), a long time twitter buddy who happened to have a handy track pump so we chatted as I inflated and then he introduced me to Nick (@thehisknibs) the other man that had been along for the twitter ride since we signed up.  But, after talking about it for 3 years I wanted to spend the last hour with my real life buddy.IMG_20140703_190544

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So, as I found Ness in the ladies section she was already to go, but with flat tyres.  We had been assured that there would be mechanics and loads of track pumps in T1 so I never took mine but with all the Austrian vaguery loads may have translated into absolutely none.  Anyway, in what I thought was very un-Ironman behaviour I asked three people to borrow pumps before a passing chap eventually did.  The whole time the pumps that had spurned me sat next to me unused.  Iron ladies can be rude.

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Anyway, we refound the sherpas and the next 30mins were a blur of (more confusion), rubber suits, lube and my banana in a wetsuit jape.  And then it was time to head to the Strandbad to start the longest day.  As we turned, Roar shouted “RAINBOW” and, right enough, in clear blue skies over the Strandbad building was a double sided rainbow.  As if the Wörthersee was not beautiful enough it was framed in the most perfect rainbow to welcome us to the swim start, only my bicycle turning into a unicorn would have been more magical.  We followed the stream of rubber clad morphs towards the Ironman arch, wading through spectators experiencing general, well, confusion.  And then we popped through security in a blur of paparazzi and we were on the water front.  I had stressed to Ness that getting in the water for a quick warm up was critical.  But we couldn’t get to the water.  We wasted minutes squeezing through the crowd, all similarly dry and confused until eventually we were told we had to leave the secure area to get to the warm up area.  OK. 10 mins to go.  The crush was unbelievable and there was no chance we could get out, warmed up and back in. So, I looked at Ness and said “you’re going to have to trust me on this one”.  We headed to the cold showers and had 5 mins getting chilled down and wet and made it back just in time for the 3 minute countdown.

“You’ve got this buddy.  Hang back, take it easy, keep moving forwards”.  Hug.  Steamy goggles.  Separate ways.

Cue dumbass decision #1.

I woke up on Ironman morning knowing that I needed a perfect swim to hit my 1 hour target.  I am an experienced (some would say grizzled veteran) swimmer so this should have been basic stuff.  I was doing 400m repeats in the pool comfortably coming in at 1:02 pace and on Saturday I did 2700m bang on 1:03 pace.  If the Lend canal was as quick as everyone said for the last kilometre I could do 1:00.  But it was tight, and the last thing I needed was a schoolboy tactical error.

IMG_20140706_074239The only explanation I can offer for lining up on the beach 5 back from the front just to the left of the centre pier is that I was flustered by the warm up confusion.  I had intended to be front row towards the left pier.  In the final 30 seconds I took 4 large sideways steps but never moved forward. In the picture I am at the top of the balloon  shadow.  Yip, where ALL the people are.  Then BOOM, the cannon set unstoppable forward motion in progress.

It was 5 steps into the water.  I was in the most congested part of the lake.  I was up to my neck wading before there was any point in taking my feet off the bottom.  Even then there was only space to swim at a 45 degree angle.  And then BANG.

I’m not sure what happened.  I have no recollection of the swim for the first 1200m or so and after that it was a case of remembering “water side down” as my brain rattled in my head.  I had no facial bruising so I don’t think I took a kick in the face but i was tender on my neck and shoulders for days and I struggled to look forwards on the bike.  My best guess from forensic bruise poking was that a hand came down on the back of my neck.  I have no idea whether I swam the first straight or whether I was just carried by the draft but my first clear recollection is pretty much hitting the first turn buoy.  And that recollection was that my timing chip felt loose on my ankle – I have no idea what kind of mauling we took on that start but I struggle to remove a timing chip at the best of times so it was a rough old swim start.  The back straight had loads of space (or I was off course) but as we turned for home I was completely blinded by the sun as expected.  The thing about the Lend canal is that it sounds big but really we would probably call it a waterlogged ditch so even without the rising sun it was a practically invisible target.  The swim down the home straight to the mouth of the canal was the ultimate zig zag swim as the buoys seemed off course and some flags that seemed to obviously mark the canal were the decorations on some bloke’s decking.

IMG_20140628_183524Even 5m from the tightly gripped mouth of the canal I was unclear of the route in and then, without warning, there were rocks in my face and scraping my feet in the shallows.  I pulled my head up and cramped my hamstrings.  The rest of the swim was done with poker straight legs.

Now, here I take issue.  At the race briefing Paul Kaye prepared us for the “fastest swim of our lives”.  Personally, I experienced the most brutal swim of my life.  Or the most twig and leaf mouthed swim of my life.  But not fast.  Like the famous fish in a barrel we were squashed into bugger all space.  As a waterpolo and rugby player I can hold my own in a stramash but this was fierce.  Al even witnessed two chaps take it personally and stand up in the waist deep water for a square go.  Literally hundreds of alpha boys and girls clawing and grasping in a shallow, grubby canal for an extra millimetre.  Not fast, not fun but definitely a unique spectator viewpoint of an Ironman swim.

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Realising that my Garmin is as useful as a packet of bacon crisps for an OW swim

A sharp right turn of slack water.  And then we were out.  Volunteers hauling us up the steep bank and on our way to our bikes.  As I am normally a little, ahem, confused as I look for my bike after a swim I made the decision to walk the long transition.  Glancing down at my garmin I had no idea how long I had swum as the screen was completely fogged up.  But, ultimately, it was a disappointing 1:07 versus my downside time of 1:02.  However, with a throbbing head and shoulders I was just glad to make it onto the bike.

It was 21 centigrade at 8:10am. I am Scottish.  The suffering was starting.   The day was on.

THE ENTIRE IRONMAN AUSTRIA ARCHIVE

 Auf Wiedersehen Pet

Ich Liebe Dich, Österreich

Ironman Austria 2014 – The Swim

Ironman Austria 2014 – The Bike

Ironman Austria 2014 – The Run

Ironman Austria 2014 – Beyond the Finish Line

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Ich Liebe Dich, Österreich

Posted on July 6, 2014. Filed under: escape from alcatraz, escape from alcatraz 2012, first time ironman, ironman, Ironman Austria, ironman regensburg, Klagenfurt, race report, race review |

I have a purple security bracelet on my right wrist.  I haven’t needed it for 6 days but taking it off is final acceptance that my Ironman campaign 2014 is done.  And I’m not ready for that yet.

This isn’t my race report.  It is the prelude to a race report.  An amusee bouche, if you like.  The fluffer.

Now, as a prologue to the prelude I should make something clear.  I like detail in a race report.  When bloggers recommend taking a seat and pouring a coffee I get excited.  When I say pull out a case of rioja, your biggest glass and many tubes of Pringles, I AM NOT JOKING.  I have previous with multi-installment epics from Ironman Regensburg 2011 and Escape From Alcatraz 2012.  Just to read this blog in it’s entirety will be a herculean effort – I recommend wearing your HRM and having gels at hand.

Back in July 2013 I kicked off the journey to Ironman Austria explaining the reasons that I was coming back for Ironman 2.  As I travelled across the North Sea I finished the pre Ironman story making peace with what would come.  Que sera, sera.  But this is the story of the main event – converting a year of training into a long day out in southern Austria.

There will be details as there will be revelations.  Some mundane, some shocking stuff – what dumbass idiocy did I manage to do in this Ironman?  What is Ironman Austria REALLY like? What does the inside of a portaloo look like 13 hours into a hot, steamy ironman?  What is the darkest secret that the Germanic countries don’t want us to know?  Also, there will be human stuff.  I helped my buddy, formerly known as Shakey, to prepare for Ironman Austria.  I think we can now call her Iron Nessie.  But what is it REALLY like for a first timer who has just learnt to swim?  And cycle.  And is barely competent at staying on her feet.

But most of all it is the start of a love affair with bella Austria.  Possibly the fairest of them all.

So, the literal road to Klagenfurt started as we rolled off the overnight ferry from Newcastle.  The journey took the same route down the Rhein as Regensburg before it with stops in Bacharach and Dinkelsbühl before crossing into Austria at Salzburg.  As this isn’t some kind of travelogue, I’ll leave the details for another time and another place but three things on the journey are worth mention:

  1. I love the Dutch.  They are incredibly polite and great fun but those crazy, doped up hop heads need to stick to bicycles and get off the motorway.  From Scotland to Klagenfurt and back covering over 1,800 miles I can safely say the Dutch are the loon drivers of Europe.  Erratic speeds, no indication, random changes of direction.  Put down the spliff and get on the bike, guys.  Unless, of course, you build hills.
  2. With the notable exception of Amsterdam, Holland is dull.  From Amsterdam to the German border there is nothing of interest.  The Dutch are the masters of reconstructing the land – why they stopped at the polders I’ll never understand.  Now, Nederlanders, you have done the difficult bit by reclaiming the land from the sea.  It is time to take your finger out of the dyke and build  some hills, and maybe plant some trees.  Just anything but flatlands and motorway gantries.
  3. Autobahns are terrifying.  When sitting at 90mph in a very heavy 4WD and a car coming past shoogles your fillings out you know the going is fast.  My favourite moment however, was when a Ferrari came past at 110mph with a painter’s Transit tailgating him at about 6 inches distance from his ass.  Not sure that impressed the much younger chick in the passenger seat.

Anyway, it is safe to say as Europe transitions from north to south it becomes infinitely more interesting and as Germany runs out of miles the mountains get higher and the lakes get bluer.  Somewhere in mid Bavaria, Europe evolves from pretty to downright sexy.  It’s not always an easy journey – I am a fan of Germany and the German people but sometimes a commonplace road sign, like Dachau, chills the soul and causes a moment of quiet reflection.  As Hartley said, “the past is a foreign country”, and for me it is difficult to reconcile that distant land and those distant people.

As we ran out of Germany, Austria started.  Magnificent Austria.  We visited Salzburg which was twee and genteel.  Home of Mozart and all that.  But the high alpine pass we took through the Alps, the Großglocknerstraße, was like The Sex Pistols to Salzburg’s Mozart.  I can’t explain in words the majesty of the mountains, the jewel like lakes, the high alpine meadows or the bowel churning, arse clenching near vertical single path roads.  Let’s just say we broke the car.

And then we were there.  Iron Village, Klagenfurt.  Nestled in the mountains, perched on the edge of the milky blue Wörthersee, spliced by the leafy Lend canal.  Populated by loons.  I was conspicuous by my denial of compression wear.  And Vibrams.  And full race kit three days before the race.  All the weird and wonderful of the Ironman world were there, in their armour, ready for war (registration).

Registration was teutonically efficient.  We checked into the dorms of the Catholic Boy’s School.  Ness and Al arrived.  Stiegl was drunk.  We were ready for Iron Weekend.

Now is an opportunity to recharge your gel flask and maybe have a massage while I write up the swim.

THE ENTIRE IRONMAN AUSTRIA ARCHIVE

 Auf Wiedersehen Pet

Ich Liebe Dich, Österreich

Ironman Austria 2014 – The Swim

Ironman Austria 2014 – The Bike

Ironman Austria 2014 – The Run

Ironman Austria 2014 – Beyond the Finish Line

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Today is Taper Day

Posted on June 12, 2014. Filed under: Austria, brain training, ironman, Ironman Austria, ironman regensburg, Klagenfurt |

“You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can’t know what’s coming.”  

So said Frank Shorter, the gold medalist in the marathon at the Munich Olympics.

 

I have the ridiculous tan lines.  I have piles of stinking, worn out training kit.  I have the inconveniently sized thighs that only cycling can give you.  I am ready.  And I have forgotten.

 

20140611_143356Yesterday I did my last long ride.  My fourth century ride of this campaign.  During six long, windy hours on the road I concluded that I have no desire to do a third Ironman.  Did I feel the same before Ironman Regensburg?  No idea – my brain has allowed me to forget.  I checked the blog that I wrote just before I set off for Germany; something was significant as I read it – I didn’t know.  I was a chirpy fecking optimist and I didn’t know what happens during an Ironman.  Even when I think back now my day in the rain in Regensburg is viewed through a misty, sepia filter – it was the jolly boys outing to Bavaria.  But.  But.  But, if I think about it really hard it comes back.  And then I am Colonel Kurtz in his cave “The horrors…..the horrors…..I’ve seen horrors”.  Even still, I am ready.

 

Back in October I nailed my nuts to the mast and set out why I wanted to do a second Ironman, what I aspired to achieve and how I planned to do it.  I am pleased that I pretty much stuck with the plan; ideally I would be lighter but I think my legs are stronger than I ever expected.  More importantly I set out my targets; and day one of taper has given me pause to reflect on those.

 

My plan, like me, was incredibly simple.  Finish the 140.6 mile course in under 13 hours.  I think I’m close.

 

My target swim time was 59 minutes.  I have done a really comfortable 1:09 in the pool.  I’m a swimmer – if there is one thing I should be able to put in the bag now it is the swim.  My prediction is target time plus or minus 2 minutes, obviously dependent on nose bashing.

 

My target bike time was 6:30 and fit to run.  I have done century rides between 6:45 and 7:20.  Yesterday’s windy and hilly ride was comfortably 6:40 pace – I think the course in Klagenfurt will serve me well.  My prediction, dependent on not getting the trots or turning into bacon in the sun is 6:40 on race day.

 

My target run time was the balance after transition – 5:14.  I’ll be honest with you, the thought of running a marathon after getting off my bike has left me a bit lukewarm recently.  I am ready for a death march in the afternoon sun, shuffling my way around the course like Frankenstein’s monster.  However, I also have a tested strategy to get in around 5 hours.  Can my body do it?  Hell yeah.  Will my brain let me?  Time will tell.

 

It’s close.  Damn close.  I’ve trained for it – the only variable I can’t control is the weather.  It’s been in the 30s for the last week.  I’m Scottish (but not ginger).  The implications are simple.  In that case a finish is a finish.

 

It’s nearly time.

 

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What I Know Now That I Wish I Knew Then – Tips For First Ironman

Posted on June 9, 2014. Filed under: FAQ, first time ironman, ironman, Ironman Austria, ironman nutrition, ironman regensburg, ironman tips, new ironman tips, outlaw ironman, race review, regensburg, triathlon |

Ironman is tough.  It took me to the brink.  It pushed me further than I ever thought was possible.  It changed my life.  It made me believe anything is possible.

Ironman is like few other events.  It gets under your skin.  It occupies your thoughts.  It makes you do (even more) irrational things.

You only cross an Ironman finishing line for the first time once.  And between that unique moment and the second finish line there are literally hours and hours to contemplate what you would/could/should do differently.  In three weeks I won’t be a first time Ironman any more so I wanted to capture the thoughts that have rattled around my head during hours in the pool and on the road.  This isn’t a useful read for a 10 hour ironman but is just the stuff that I know now that I wish I had known before my first Ironman.

So, where to start?

 

ANYONE CAN DO IT

Ironman doesn’t require any kind of special magic gene.  Loads of people have done Ironman as their first triathlon and have done it within a year of deciding to do it.

However, you can’t blag it.  You can definitely blag a 5k, a 10k, a half ironman and I have even, quite uncomfortably, blagged a marathon.  However, if you try to do the Ironman without training for it you will either end up on the sweeper truck or in the medical tent with your tongue hanging out your head and a probe in your ass.  Ironman is tough; but very do-able.  Support and knowledge is easy to come by; you just need to provide the motivation and the time.

The most important thing it to have a plan.  Plans are easy enough to  come by, Don Fink’s Iron Fit is imperfect but a starting point – devour it, diary it and live it.  If you have a good base it takes 30 weeks to get ready, the plan isn’t rigid, but you need to be consistent.

 

CONSISTENCY AND QUALITY

The key thing about training for Ironman is consistency.  Boom and bust training shipwrecks many a fledgling Ironman campaign.  The basics are pretty simple – long stuff is easy and essential; shorter stuff is harder; make sure you can tell the difference between hard and easy; have easy and hard days; then RECOVER.

Also, you are not training for a standalone marathon or a Tour de France stage so make your long stuff of a length you can RECOVER from AND maintain CONSISTENCY.  There really isn’t any need to run 20 miles and your consistency will suffer if you do.

You need to train most weeks, most days, you need to eat pretty well and you also need to be able to schedule some time off.  But, most importantly, it is SUPPOSED TO BE FUN, so when real life inevitably gets in the way don’t melt down, don’t panic, just trust the plan and roll on.  The plan works.

 

THE SWIM IS IMPORTANT

In Andreas Raelert’s world record Ironman time of 7:41 the swim took 10% of total race time. In Ironman cut-off times the swim is only 14% of time.  So, the swim is relatively unimportant, right?

Not really – the swim is the entry question for Ironman.  Even if you are an expert bike/runner two hours in the water is going to screw up your nutrition, your legs and your mind before you start the day.  And, more importantly, if you miss cut-off the day is over before you get on your bike.  So you ignore the swim at your peril.

As a lifelong competitive swimmer I have two thoughts on swimming that are not always popular.  Firstly, I agree with controversial Ironman (and swim) coach Brett Sutton, for most prospective Ironmen you need to swim miles.  3800 metres is a hell of a long way and a lot of people train less than 2,000m sets with drills in them.  You wouldn’t skip your long run or ride so don’t mess with the swim – do the distance and do it regularly.  And secondly, while open water is brilliant fun, it is often a wasted training opportunity unless you are incredibly disciplined.  It is essential to acclimatise and get used to the wetsuit but for most beginners pool time is much more valuable and a better use of time.

And while the swim is important it is ALL about the bike.

 

20110806-223111.jpgIT’S ALL ABOUT THE ENGINE

I kinda like the roots of Ironman.  In 1978 when 15 guys did the first Ironman they cycled in tennis shoes and denim shorts and drank beer when they ran out of water.  Now triathlon magazines are the modern day snake oil salesmen and ooze with £1000 magic products that promise to turn middle age, overweight weekend warriors into iron legends.  They don’t

Magic products have only ever ended in disappointment for me – either they are completely shite and get filed in the Magic Product Cupboard or they are OK but don’t really deliver the promised “marginal gains” and I am frustrated at my gullibility.  Yet again.  In fact, losing a few kilos and training smarter would have been significantly more effective!

You need a bike, a wetsuit, and trainers to do an Ironman.  You can accessorise with goggles and cycling shoes etc but the basics are very simple.  In this Ironman campaign I have only bought new aerobars (because my “cool ones” were completely the wrong shape for my mangled and re-pinned wrists) and new tyres (because the old ones were threadbare).  I confess I have been tempted by 60mm carbon wheels and aero helmets that would make me look like a bellend but, to be brutally honest, they have no place on a chubby cyclist’s bike.  The quality of the training and the engine you build are what it is ALL about.

Looking back I have spent money on three things that I think have made a big genuine difference.  I think that will be my next blog post!

 

NUTRITION MEANS FOOD (NOT PRODUCT)

I’m not sure I fully understand why people doing exercise eat as much as they do.  I have a feeling that glossy marketing has temporarily trumped good science.  I got lured into this in Ironman 1; although normally very analytical, marketing got to me and unravelled my common sense – I ate more than I needed and I ate packaged sports nutrition products that I didn’t really need.

The great thing about some sports nutrition is that it is portable.  The bad thing is that it is basically sugar packaged in different glossy portable packages.  Sports nutrition is great for racing; but I would imagine scientifically (real science not marketing science) that it is pretty fecking awful to your body, your teeth and your hormones to eat it at any other time.

For Ironman 2 I have been running up to two hours only on water and riding for three hours on water and bananas or soreen malt loaf.  I feel 100% better for it.  I will use gels and bars when I race because they are portable.  My pre-event preparation will be porridge with banana and my post event recovery drink will be Austrian beer.  After several years of testing the catering plan the basic principle of keep it simple just works for me.

 

photo1THE TATTOO

I remember reading about Ironman for the first time and was fascinated by the concept of getting a tattoo to mark an achievement.  Everyone has a view on getting branded – for what it’s worth I got one two days after I became an Ironman. I love it.

However, the concept appears to be a minefield so here is my tuppence worth…..

Is it OK to get an M Dot if you didn’t do an Ironman branded race?  Hell yeah, if you travelled 140.6miles in under 17 hours you ink whatever you want on your body.

Is it OK to get an M Dot if you did a 70.3, middle distance or half Ironman?  Hell no.  See previous answer.

 

That’s it.  I’m still learning every single day.  Maybe after I complete my second Ironman I’ll have new insight.

 

Less than three weeks to go.  Bugger.

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Ready Or Not, Here I Come

Posted on June 6, 2014. Filed under: Austria, ironman, Ironman Austria, ironman regensburg |

As I nudge towards three weeks to Ironman Austria The Fugees have become my earworm. The lyrics strangely prescient of my relationship to Klagenfurt:

“Ready Or Not, Here I Come, You Can’t Hide
Gonna Find You and Take it Slowly

Now that I escape, sleepwalker awake
Those who could relate know the world ain’t cake”

I don’t know why that has replaced the Gruffalo (A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood. A fox saw the mouse and the mouse looked good) as my mental climbing chant. But it has. It is probably something to do with cake.

Wyclef has it right though. Mentally and physically, ready or not, Ironman Austria is coming now and all I can do is prepare for the day. The miles are in the bank, the mental plan is locked and loaded, the buffet is ordered.

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Since the campaign started on the 1st December, the odometer has been ticking over at a crazy rate:

Swim 126km
Bike 3,181km
Run 533km

And the last 3 weeks have seen the hardest training block that I’ve ever put myself through with 4 100m+ training rides and 3 within a 10 day period. I’m not a big sleep fan but last night I was out like a light just after 9. One more long run and long ride and then all I have to do is rest and recover. For once in my life, resting sounds tempting.

The highlight of the last training block was The Big Weekend. Day 1: swim 3.8k then run a half marathon. Eat, sleep. Day 2: ride 112miles. For the first time in a year I went out with my old buddy Shakey and we took in some seaside routes on the sunniest day of the year so far. There may have been ice cream. There may have been a dishonourable dismount in a very public town square. It may have been pedestrianised, with terrace tables. It may have been me. Who invented cleats anyway??

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Even the lowlights were highlights. On Wednesday I set off for a 100m ride in the most biblical weather. Twice having to dismount to wade and almost being taken out by The Inbetweeners in a crap little car. I managed my fastest consistent pace while taking in 1000m of climbing. I hope one day to be able to feel my hands and feet again.

Back in 2011 (the whole Ironman Regensburg 2011 story is linked now), I made a huge mistake with taper by stopping altogether as I literally screeched to the line. The engine seized. This time I have a plan.

What I know from experience is that the Ironman gods stand by ready to strike down great vengeance and furious anger on the cocky, the blaggers, the arrogant and the inflexible. (And do read that with your internal Samuel L Jackson voice rather than the Reverend IM Jolly).

Am I ready? Time will tell. And it’s nearly time.

But Wyclef got one thing wrong. The world is pretty much cake. I just have to try not to eat it ALL in the next three weeks.

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T Minus Seven

Posted on May 18, 2014. Filed under: Austria, ironman, Ironman Austria, ironman regensburg, swim |

Hopefully, about this time, in seven weeks I will have completed my second Ironman.  Yes, eight rapidly passing and increasingly shorter weeks.

I have an app on my phone that was counting down to Ironman Austria.  It was fine in months, it was mentally manageable in weeks but I have deleted it now that the days are firmly into double digits.  There is nothing like the taper being on the horizon to cause the ass cheeks to clench a little bit tighter.  Tomorrow, I start the last major training block, and in 5 weeks I will be tapering.  It is sobering.  Literally.

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I decided last week that I would have one last blow out and then knuckle down for the last training block to minimise the risk of alcohol induced conditions – CBA, compromised immune system and mixing with snotty people in sweaty pubs.  So after a 5 mile run on Saturday I pulled on my drinking Converse, headed to the Jed Forest 7s and drank like I was 17.  Literally.

I survived all the challenges that came before me – a dodgy burger from a van, a bone crushing tackle as I escaped Riverside, drinking Sauvignon Blanc from a bottle on a bus and downing a pint of Peroni because my pizza was ready.  It is out of my system.  My body now demands an athletic existence.

So.  That’s where I am.  With Ironman Austria approaching and a mindset to finish the training plan on a high.

As I have gone through the last 23 weeks of my training plan I have constantly used Ironman Regensburg as my benchmark.  I knew that if I trained smarter and longer than 2011 then I would set myself up to improve on that painful experience.

Back in one of my rollercoaster dips, suffering from a chest infection I set up a comprehensive spreadsheet to compare my cumulative training hours and miles.  What I had forgotten about 2011 was that with 16 weeks to go we had a baby and consequently the last 16 weeks were a pretty chequered affair.  As of right now  I have cumulatively cycled 6% more and run 18% more than in 2011.  I find that incredible but the spreadsheet don’t lie.

And the best part is that I have the opportunity to ace the next 5 weeks, with at least 4 century rides and half marathons and some Giant Swim weeks.

The most heartening thing about Ironman 2 is that it has been injury free.  I deliberately set out in January to build strength and power in my legs and have religiously spent two hours a week in the gym.  I have a strong core and no niggles any where.  That is the longest run without injury since EVER.  Sure, training has been disrupted by chest infections but that kinda comes with the territory of having a three year old.

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The other useful comparison to 2011 is The Blog.  I keep this to read back the kinds of detail that memory chooses not to or can’t remember.  It turns out in 2011 I did a sprint triathlon with 7 weeks to go and suffered from the trots.  At least I had the decency to call the blog post TMI.

So, that’s about it.  Sobering up has started, I’ll start eating the green food tomorrow, The Sultry Temptress will do a century this week and it is all going to be about consistency.

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It’s a Rollercoaster

Posted on May 7, 2014. Filed under: Austria, brain training, computrainer, escape from alcatraz, escape from alcatraz 2012, great scottish swim, Half ironman, Ironman Austria, ironman regensburg, shakey, swim, triathlon, Uncategorized, virgin london marathon, virgin london marathon 2012, vlm 2012 |

When I wrote Picking Up The Pieces on Friday night I had already picked up the pieces.  Whingeing is not really my style and it is a blog I would never have written while I was on a low ebb.  It was a catalyst, however, to remind me that I am an Ironman and an Alcatraz Escapee and to re-grow a pair, get my kit on and hit the road.

However, that said, it is fair to say that I was totally overwhelmed by the support that I received which was not all of the HTFU variety.  Chest infection aside all I really needed to do was get some consistent miles into my legs to top up the confidence tank.  This afternoon I realised the confidence was flooding back – but I’ll come back to that.

 

Since Friday I have:

Swum 6km;

Cycled 153km; and

Run 48km

 

20140505_093717And I still have my long ride to come tomorrow so that, frankly, is a mere drop in the ocean.

That is the kind of mileage that finally gives an old guy confidence.  Saturday morning had a very hilly 21.5km, the longest run that I have had in quite some time.  Sunday then saw a 55km ride which started in glorious sunshine with short sleeves and ended with me feeling that I had been waterboarded.  With hail and snot and ice.  And then on Monday with all of that activity already in the legs I enjoyed a stinking hot (19C, I am Scottish after all), flat, midgie infested 25km.  The midgie clouds were so thick that I resorted to the bank robber look and someone actually asked if they could have my saliva and sweat soaked mask after I was finished.  Pervert.

 

So, the rollercoaster is on an up.  Undoubtedly.

 

I would love an extra couple of weeks until Ironman Austria but, I have to face it, they are unlikely at this late stage to move it for me.  So it is when it is.  Which is cool.

 

So, how did I realise that my iron-confidence was back?  A text exchange that I had with Shakey today.  If you are new to the ironman39 blog you may wonder who Shakey is.  Well, let me explain that first.

 

Shakey is like my brother from another mother.  Except she is a chick and she is Irish.  Sister from an other mister doesn’t really sound right; but I digress.  Since I started jogging and stuff like that, me and Shakey have been through a lot of scrapes – I dragged her from the bottom of a pool and taught her to swim, Pam and I took her for her first open water swim, I escorted her to her first and second swimming medals, we did a half ironman and we ran VLM.  She is kind, she paced Pam round a half marathon when she was preparing for the London Marathon, but if you read only one of those blogs to get some idea of the eejitry that I have to deal with make it the VLM one.  I am not giving the game away to tell you it involves a daft paddy being taken away in an ambulance.

Anyway, the only other two things that you need to know about Shakey is that she has found some poor bugger to marry her and she is also doing Ironman Austria.  So, cue text banter today:

 

Me: Need to check – are you planning tears in Austria or at wedding?  Because you need to HTFU.

Shakey: Austria.  Defo.  Want me to bring tissues for two?

Me: Eff off.  I am an Ironman.  I’m just topping up my AWESOME.

 

IMG_20140507_130815And then I realised I hadn’t been quite so cocky for a few weeks and that the confidence is definitely back.  Less grumpy, more AWESOME (hopefully the English language will forgive my use of the word awesome because it is really reserved for Americans) and ready for the weeks ahead when the battle is as much head as it is body.

 

In other news The Sultry Temptress was unshackled from the turbo today.  After Ironman Regensburg I hated her.  She wrecked my legs and made my arse look like a baboons.  So, today after a long winter and many, many static miles she is being treated to a compact chainring to save my ageing legs on the rolling Austrian mountainry.  All outdoor rides from here until I climb off on the afternoon of 29th June will be on The Temptress.

So, it’s really just a short update to say the rollercoaster is heading upwards.  Of course it will crash down again but the miles are being banked day in, day out both into the legs and into The Brain.

I expect the updates will get more frequent now, if only to allow me to remind me what is going on in my head when I ever contemplate doing a long distance event again in the future.  😉

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Picking Up The Pieces

Posted on May 2, 2014. Filed under: Austria, bike, brain training, ironman, Ironman Austria, ironman regensburg, marathon, motivation, triathlon |

I haven’t written much recently for two reasons. Firstly, I had nothing very interesting to say and, secondly, I couldn’t really be arsed saying it. And from that pyre of positivity comes a blog. I warn you now, there is self pity. Feel free to hit the back arrow immediately.

This Sunday coming marks 8 weeks to Ironman Austria; and consequently there are only six weeks left of heavy training. Let me shout that a little louder in case you missed it THERE ARE ONLY SIX WEEKS LEFT OF HEAVY TRAINING.

If something you were REALLY looking forward to was 8 weeks away you would think it was a glacially paced eternity away. But, when you have been working towards one event that relies on you being at your peak so as not to suffer, 8 weeks feel like they are trickling through your fingers.

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So, why the self pity? Well, I’ve had a chest infection. It floored me. And then just as I was getting back on my feet wee Roar picked up a virus which meant, other than I HAD to receive a face full of projectile vomit, that I was home alone with him when there was planned training. I was unreasonably frustrated, at being grounded on the back of two weeks missed training, brought on by the oppressive sound of the ticking clock inside my head.

I can just about admit it to myself now, but the chest infection took a greater toll on me physically and mentally than I expected. Physically I am still struggling to find pre-Christmas run pace and mentally my confidence has taken a massive knock. I hadn’t realised how fragile my confidence was; I have very painful memories of a 6:10 ironman marathon which I put down to easing off training in the last months and the memories of suffering came flooding back.

Roll-forward to Thursday morning when I was sitting outside the pool in the pissing rain with my own personal black cloud above my head. For once, I wasn’t procrastinating about getting into the pool but rather starting a 5 mile run which I knew was going to be cold, miserable and involve mucky lung clearance. Two twitter buddies urged me in the most polite way possible to HTFU (thanks Bean and Lozz) and Rach reminded me about the message that I had written for my brain and then tactically forgotten in my foul mood.

To cut a long, tedious and particularly tortuous story short I ran and I had a word with myself on the run. Sure, 9 weeks out from an event is not the best time to feel like shit, but equally there are some good things going in my favour. While my brain likes to dwell on the morose, there are FACTS that just make reality more palatable……

– since I signed up for IMA I have swum 183km, cycled 4,400km and run 486km
in my 30 week training plan I have swum 87km, cycled 2,263km and run 386km
– since my broken toe mended in September I have no injuries. The longest run since EVER.
– I have been doing weights since last year and have the strongest core and legs since EVER
– in a year I have only had 4 weeks with no training whatsoever
– swimming is a dream – I am clearing 10k a week and pace per 100m is dropping by about a second a week. (Proving that tackling procrastination is worthwhile)
– I am climbing hills in on the bike faster than I ever have. (This is not really a proud boast, just a fact, I am still as slow as a mountain gorilla on a penny farthing)
– I have only missed one long road ride.

So. I am going to declare that a reasonable Iron CV to go into the last two months with. With laser focus I can nail the last six weeks of training.

I WILL nail the last 6 weeks of training.

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