Every so often we hear about something that lights a fire inside of us. It can be a race or an event or even a training session that sounds exciting or challenging. For me one such session is the 100×100’s swim set. Ever since I heard of it I’ve had this strange sort of fascination with it. My longest ever swim at the time of writing is somewhere around 6.5km. The 100×100 is 10k (obviously) so that puts it up there for me as a long, long way to go. For real swimmers maybe a 10k swim isn’t that crazy but for any sort of triathlete it is an extraordinarily long time to be in the water. I’ve just passed up on the opportunity to be paced through it by a real swimmer. I think I mentioned it to a mate of mine, Patrick or maybe he read about it on my blog and he then messaged me to offer his help getting me through it. There was several convenient excuses not to try this time. I was too close to Ironman Mallorca, work was too busy, I had a sore throat but at the back of it all was the fear of the swim itself or maybe more honestly the fear of failure.
I’m feeling ready to race, or maybe more accurately I’m ready for a break from heavy structured training. I’m looking forward to lie-ins and a return to eating cake (Ais would probably tell you I never stopped eating the cake) I’m looking forward to 3 hours being a long bike ride instead of 6. I’m looking forward to mountain biking for fun and trail running. I’m looking forward to doing all off the stuff that doesn’t really fit in with Ironman training like putting a bag on my back and heading into the mountains for a full days running with Ais and arriving home that evening wet, dirty, tired, sore and full of the stories of the day’s adventure.
Don’t get me wrong I love Ironman, Ironman training and the whole lifestyle surrounding it but every so often I need to switch the head and body off and recharge to get ready to go again. The last month before a race is usually when I start to feel like this. The training is almost finished and all that’s left is to go and do it.
I think I’ve gotten as much training done as I could have and I think I’m in decent shape. I just don’t have any markers to confirm it as I haven’t raced at all this year. There have been some “breakthrough” sessions which sort of indicate that I’m on track but it’s hard to know as so much of the training is done heavily fatigued. Either way I’m feeling strangely relaxed about it all now. All I can do is try to nail the best race performance I can, that’s the only thing within my control. If I do that I’ll either qualify or I won’t but that’s not within my power to control at the moment so I’m not worrying too much about it.
Two weekly blogs in one week? Where did I pull those extra 7 days from you ask? The training diary has been a week behind all year to allow me an extra couple of days float in case I didn’t have time to get it up when it was due.
As a result conversations were always a little funny when someone commented on what they had read in that weeks diary.it might go a little like
“So you’re flying in training then Rob?”
I would pause and try to figure how they got that idea, I’ve been floored for the last week and then the penny drops, I was flying 2 weeks ago and that diary was published yesterday.
I would then try to explain why the blog is actually 2 weeks behind where I am and that I’m not really flying anymore and I see their eyes glaze over as they think “Jeez I was only being polite making conversation I didn’t want your life story” they smile and nod and I try to change the subject.
So seeing as how you came here looking for the update here is the life story. Or at least this weeks instalment. Read on…
It’s funny that I didn’t go as crazy not training for the last week as I might have expected to or as much as I normally would. I think the fact that work was so demanding both in terms of the hours and the work itself for the last few weeks meant that I was occupied and tired every day and it was almost a relief not to train.
The other aspect of it was that being this close to race day (I’m less than three weeks out now) I was too afraid to risk training while I was sick, even with only a throat infection. I just wasn’t willing to risk tipping myself completely over the edge in the hope of gaining that last 1 or 2 percent.
I’m also not really willing to go and get antibiotics as I would be very worried about the effect they would have on the body this close to the race, I would be afraid that they could do more damage than the infection. But maybe that’s just me being paranoid.
I don’t know if I’ve done enough at this stage but I feel sort of calm and accepting of where I am fitness wise. I’ll go out on the day and just aim to go as fast as I can. I’m thinking that I’ll race without a watch or Garmin. My first and I think one of my best executed Ironman races in UK in 2011 was done without a Garmin on either the swim or bike. I used one that day on the run as I wasn’t experienced enough to be able too pace a marathon on feel back then. I think that a part of me would want to race to my expected time and if conditions on the day mean it’s slower than usual I might cook myself. I’ll decide for sure closer to the day.
I think we all have an internal image of ourselves, of what we think defines us. Whether it’s related to being parents, athletes, our job or business its can be a source of pleasure or pain, it can drive us or leave us satisfied with who we are.
Usually how we internally visualise ourselves is quite different to how the world perceives us. I remember doing a swim coaching weekend a couple of years ago and after showing each athlete their video they were asked what stood out about it. I answered that I was surprised that I didn’t look just like Michael Phelps in the water (that probably explained why I was so much slower than him too) Most people made a comment that they were actually doing the complete opposite of what they thought they were doing. When it came to Aisling’s turn she answered in a small, upset and somewhat disillusioned voice that she always thought that she was taller.
Like I said our internal perception of ourselves is often quite different to the actual reality or how other people see us. In my case I wasn’t actually Michael Phelps, in Aisling’s she was a foot shorter than she perceived herself to be. We were both a bit gutted.
Anyway what’s with the name of this weeks blog? What the hell is an experimental donkey? I’m the experimental donkey. Read on to find out why…
I was in the shop last week eating lunch at the counter (a fairly regular occurence) It was a large bowl of salad with salmon fillets and boiled eggs and a customer commented how healthy it looked and said I must have great will power. It got me thinking about a lot of the things that I now take for granted like what and how we eat.
Anyone who knows me well or who has seen me pay a visit to the Avoca cafe in Rathcoole where a portion of Pavlova is as big as my head knows that will power isn’t necessarily my strongest suit. Sitting down to a desert that should really feed a small family with the determination not to be beaten by a piece of confectionery and usually finishing it looking a little green around the gills.
But I don’t quit when it comes to cake, maybe that’s the willpower bit…
Only four weeks to go. You spend all year preparing for an event that seems so far away and then all of a sudden it’s almost upon you. Four week to go means I’ve really only got two weeks training left when you factor in the taper. A couple of long rides and runs is all that’s left before easing back.
I’m divided between the thoughts that I’m not ready, not fit enough, haven’t done enough training and the desire to get it over with. It’s the longest lead into any race I’ve done and I’m getting to the stage that I’m tired of the training and want my life back, I want to lie in instead of getting up at 5am to go out for another 6 hour ride, I want to have a morning reading or loafing around the city (this usually only lasts until about 24 hours after the race then I want to go at it all again) anyway let’s get onto this weeks update.
I think there are a couple of things that differentiate not only successful athletes but successful people in all walks of life. I’m a big fan of both business and sports personality interviews and with the growth in podcasting it’s possible to binge listen to and accelerate learning from very succesful athletes and business people. My favourite type of story is the one of the person who starts off in a very ordinary situation and figures a way to either master a sport and gradually rise up to become world class or they build a business from nothing to success. As inspirational and fascinating as the stories of the Steve Jobs or Usain Bolts of this world are it’s almost impossible for me to relate to them. They are just so far from my or for that matter most of our realities as to be fantasy. Listening to someone tell the story of how they have gone from nothing to starting a business to building it to a level of success that, while aspirational is within the scope of most peoples reality I think is a great way to learn. And to be honest it makes a pleasant change to learning from my own mistakes.
This week will likely see a reduction in training hours due to work which as it happens is well timed. I’m starting to feel the effects of the last big block. Ironman visits Dublin for the 70.3 this week on its European Tour and we are the bike partner so it will mean a very busy weekend in work. It’s one of the races I would rather work at than race as I’m able to enjoy the buzz of a huge event without having to worry about racing it. Anyway click on through for this weeks update.
I started this blog I guess as a way to document our attempt to get me back into Kona qualifying shape. I had been following Alan Ryan’s blog tracking his attempt to not only qualify for Kona but to go on and try to win his age group there. I thought it was a great insight into how he trained and how his training differed from mine. I found it so interesting I decided to have a go myself and record how myself and Ais tackled it.
There’s a huge amount of nervousness stating a big goal publicly (crapping myself might be a better way to describe it) there’s always the possibility of failing and falling flat on my face and I’ve invited an audience along to watch. The first time I attempted to qualify for Kona in 2011 I wrote about it in the Outsider magazine and I found it provided me with a great sense of motivation, mostly from the fear of screwing up publicly.
At the moment it feels like I’m getting stronger almost every time I train and that the body is really starting to handle and absorb the training load. I’ve hit almost 40 hours training in the last 10 days including some hard sessions and even with the increased training load I’m still feeling good. There has been a marked improvement over the last 2 weeks. I’ve gotten a new antihistamine which seems to have made a big difference. I’ve also had some time off work which is helping hugely with recovery between sessions.