It’s probably a little bit Irish and parochial that I think when I’m writing my weekly blogs that everyone reading knows me, my background and what I’m hoping to achieve. I often think it only Ais, my folks (hi Mam) and a couple of training buddy’s who read this. However this being the internet where we are just as likely to have visitors from Australia as North Dublin I went checking to see where the actual traffic was coming from.

Online everything can be counted and measured and tracked so when I decided to have a look at who’d been along for a visit the biggest surprise was that we’d had people reading from 105 countries.

So with that in mind hello, ola, bonjour, g’day, howza, hallo, yo! and hey to all of our international visitors. I though that seeing as we are at the start of a new year and planning what races we will target it was best to do a post bringing newbies up to date and letting you regular readers know what the plan is for 2017.

I started the weekly training diary back in January 2016 after being inspired by a friend of mine and Kona regular Alan Ryan who had decided to document his years training as he attempted to not only qualify but to win his age group in Kona. He had a couple of Kona podiums previously and it was the top step that he was after this time so he decided to blog every session along the way. He ended up having a pretty rough year injury wise and in the end didn’t even get to race an Ironman in 2016 never mind qualify.

Anyway that was the inspiration to start to document my attempt to qualify for Kona again. So it’s probably a good idea that I give some history on me and my Ironman background.

I did my first IM in France back in 2008 as a complete IM beginner and finished somewhere around 1200th. I decided that in 2009 I’d train properly to see just how fast could I go. After training my little loaf off for six months I had a crack at my second Ironman in Zurich, Switzerland where I moved up a somewhat less than impressive 250 places just barely cracking the top 1000.

I was pretty sure that I wasn’t exactly Kona material after that little performance but for some reason when I asked Ais a couple of years later in 2011 if she thought I could qualify she immediately said yes and more importantly she said lets do it. So after finding ourselves an Ironman coach and spending the next five months learning what actually training like a Kona person was we rocked up at IMUK in Bolton and I finished 26th overall and 8th in my age group only missing a Kona slot by 1 place and 2 minutes. Ais placed 4th in her age group and also just missed a Kona slot, a podium place and one of those highly coveted perspex Mdot trophys.

The following year, 2012, I tried again at IMUK and this time qualified and raced Kona. I repeated in 2013 and paid the big island a second visit. I returned from Kona in 2013 in the best shape I’d ever been in but I had been carrying a back injury ever since IMUK earlier that year in July.

Over the following months the back injury gradually worsened and despite seeing several physios and getting treatment it wasn’t improving. It came to a head in the pool mid January 2014 when I felt something go in my lower back, the pain was excruciating. It took me about ten minutes to get out of the pool and into the changing rooms where I called Ais to come and get me despite the fact that we only lived 800 meters from the swimming pool. I couldn’t even walk that far.

Four days later I was admitted into hospital and lined up for back surgery. I was diagnosed as having a bulging disc which was crushing a nerve. The surgery was successful and I was sent home a couple of days later. The initial rehab was much less active than I’d envisioned and I spent the next eight weeks in bed after contracting an infection post op. I was horizontal 23 hours a day for those two months which meant that when I did get out I was starting with no fitness. Walking was tiring never mind any sort of training.

Over the next year I mostly biked with the odd bit of running but we made the conscious decision to not rush the return to running and possibly damage the back again. I spent the early part of 2015 bike racing and then in the summer made a return to Ironman.

Myself and Ais did two races back to back. Ironman UK and Maastricht and it was so hard with almost no run fitness that I promised myself that if I was going to do another I would be fit for it and there would be no more showing up half arsed for an Ironman.

With the memory of two hard days still fairly fresh we decided to have a crack at Kona again in early 2016 which is where you may have joined us on the blog. The year didn’t go quite as planned and I didn’t get a slot but I wasn’t deterred and I’ll go again in 2017. We haven’t entered a race yet but a late season US Ironman is looking most likely at this stage.

It would suit from a work and lifestyle point of view and it also allows me start training a little later in the year than a European race would. So for now the 2017 plan is to get in decent run shape for the Boston marathon in April. After that I will pick one or two half distance or 70.3 races where I can hopefully get competitive with a little less volume than I’d need for a full Ironman while I’m busy in work.

Then when the shop quietens down a little in the off season I will be able to focus on 3-4 months of big volume training for an Ironman with the target of scoring a Kona slot. I move up an age group this year to the 45-49 division and a lot of races only have 3-4 slots available. This means I’m pretty much chasing a podium spot in whatever race we pick.

I’ve always wanted one of those perspex Mdot trophies…. no pressure now Rob.

I will continue to blog my training for the year and you can follow it here if you are so inclined.