After yesterdays lounging around it’s back to work and although the heatings fixed in the pool it’s not quite as warm as the first couple of swims. I managed 3550m before shivering my way to the hot showers.
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Knowledge doesn’t produce results, action does. Just knowing how to do something doesn’t guarantee success, especially something as difficult as qualifying for Kona; you have to put in the hours. In this book I share some of the lessons I learnt between being a back-of-the-pack beginner to qualifying for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.
Session two for the day was on the bikes and lasted just under two hours. A storm blew in and it started raining heavily almost from the start and we quickly adjusted the plan and did hill repeats instead of a big loop staying out as long as possible before the weather and the cold got the better of us.
Myself and Ais wanted to make up for the short ride so headed out for a long easy trail run. 55 minutes of climbing followed by 45 cruising back downhill and I was starving. I ate anything I could lay my hand on in the apartment before promptly falling asleep. I woke at 5pm knowing I still had a swim to do if I was going to stay on target to hit 30k swimming for the week. Why the hell do I make up stupid arbitrary targets? Why 30k? Why not 25 or 26? Anyway I crawled out of the cosy warm bed and into the pool.
And. It. Was. Epic. It dumped down with rain half way through, did I mention it’s an outdoor pool? I felt like a legend. Until that was, the German triathlon kids got in the lane next to me. Not only braving the woeful conditions but rubbing salt in my wounds by lapping me every couple of minutes. Damn 12 year old swimmers making me look like an old, soft, slow triathlete.
Anyway the days training total was 5 hours 20 over four sessions and my swim count so far is somewhere north of 22,500.
It’s that stage in the camp when you don’t want to waste a minute, the days are slipping away and cold, wet Ireland is looming large on the horizon. The forecast today was for rain, wind and big storms pretty much all day. We had planned to go out early on the bikes if the weather was reasonable when we woke. It was, so we were on the road before 8am. Only 40 minutes later a storm of biblical proportions (really it was) landed. We were on a climb close to the hotel doing big gear hill repeats (again) and the rain came in sideways. It was lashing so hard and the rain stung so much I had to keep checking that it wasn’t hail. It wasn’t. I’m only a little bit soft, honest. Anyway we managed another hour before heading back for another long hot shower and breakfast. After the food settled it was back in the pool for swim number one for the day. Every part of my upper body hurts like someone has spent a considerable amount of time beating me with a stick. Every stroke felt slow, sore and lumpy. But I surprised myself by hitting reasonable splits for the first 2k. It feels like I’m starting to get a little bit of my feel of the water back (I say that like a real swimmer, as if I ever really knew what the water felt like other than heavy)
I’m hoping that once I recover from the massive overload of this week I will be ready to start some hard sessions with the paddles, pull buoy and band. I got out shivering but satisfied with 2.5k done and with a weekly total so far of 25,000m. By far the biggest weeks swimming I’ve ever done and I still have a bit more to do.
We joined the gang for a run at 4pm. Diogo, one of the Portuguese coaches led our group and I felt sluggish from the start. It was only going to be a 40 minute run so I wasn’t too worried. At about the half way mark I started to feel good. I decided that I would stay steady, stick with the plan and not start messing around. The next thing I knew I was off the front of the group and accelerating. It was like there was a clear disconnect between my brain and legs. I didn’t seem to be able to help myself. Legs felt good so they were in charge for now. It didn’t take long until I heard footsteps closing in behind me and I was more than a little worried that they weren’t accompanied by heavy breathing. Whoever was chasing was cruising. I on the other hand was already working hard. I might be in trouble here and end up looking like a tool. Sergio the other Portuguese coach, the one who runs a 2:50 something IRONMAN MARATHON and weighs like 50 kilos cruised up alongside me and starts talking. I was in trouble. Ship my TriBike Dave arrived next and it was just at that moment that my stupid ass legs decided that it would be a good idea to go faster. Jesus, did they not have any idea what was going on with my heart and lungs. Sergio and Dave responded. I was starting to feel the pressure build and was wondering how long I could hold onto this pace when I accelerated again. Jesus wept. Stupid out of control legs have no clue how to pace a run. We came around a corner to the glorious sight of the hotel entrance and I managed to hang on till we got there. I slowed right off only to see Sergio and Dave continue to run on.
I had to quickly pick up the pace to catch back up as I realised that we had another 10 minutes to go. I was fried. Note to legs, if you insist on doing stupid shit during a run please at least know where the finish is going to be. I hung on for dear life trying to recover as Sergio chatted away like we were only out for an easy trot. I wont tell you what Asho called me afterwards but suffice to say that little stunt wasn’t in the training plan. I’d better hope it doesn’t cause me any problems finishing any of tomorrows sessions. Or I will get a right bollocking from The Coach.
So after the stupidity of the run session I headed out for my second swim of the day. I’m rapidly closing in on 30km of swimming and close to 30 hours combined training for the six days and I’m getting tired so I headed out to do what I thought would be an easy recovery swim.
I panicked a little when I saw Ship My TriBike Ciara in the pool shooting the breeze with one of the lads. I tried to sneak into an empty lane before she spotted me but had no luck. When she asked me what session I was doing I promptly answered whatever was the exact opposite of what she was in to do. She promised to be nice and suggested we do 100’s again. It was like very nasty deja vu. It was only three days since she had knocked lumps out of me and I had lasted less than 400 meters at her so called “easy pace” I agreed to partake if she promised no tumble turns and that she actually went slowly instead of just agreeing to go slowly.
Ok she said we will come in on 1:45’s and we will go off 2 minutes so you’ll have lots of recovery. Jesus that’s exactly what she said last time and that didn’t end well. I had no more time to protest before she was off. It was just then that I realised that I hadn’t warmed up and I was straight into a hard set. It’s funny how fear can screw with common sense and good plans. Arms, shoulders and back very quickly let me know they weren’t at all happy. That was almost immediately followed by lungs and heart also screaming their protests.
We came in on 1:33 for the first 100. I know that 12 seconds doesn’t seem like a lot but it is, it really is. Honest. And it hurts like a mother f*****
“Well done” she said calmly while I tried not to throw up “It seems like I can’t really go any slower” she added “but you’re doing great”
I had no words, well I had lots of words they just wouldn’t come out with the gasping for air and the combined taste of blood and vomit in the back of my throat.
Then she was gone, and again we came in on 1:34. Jesus she’s trying to kill me.
And she was gone again. Long recovery my arse. Again with another 1:34. And again. At 400 I had to back off and said I would follow her on every second one.
I slowed right off aiming to come in on 1:45 and did the next one in 1:37 without drafting. I couldn’t believe it. I jumped on her feet for the next one and alternated following and swimming alone until we got to 1000. All of them sub 1:37.
To put that into perspective 1 week ago a hard 100 was getting me in on 1:45-1:48 and I could do 4-5 of them. With all the volume this week I’m already 10 seconds faster per 100 than I was last week and that’s before I’ve even recovered from the big load.
Thats all for today now go and swim.
If you want to check out the blog from Day 1 & 2 it is here
I have written a report examining how 5 of the most successful Irish Ironman triathletes have qualified for Kona an incredible 29 times. You can access it free here.
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From smoker to back of the pack triathlete to the Ironman World Championships.
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