Month: July 2014

Outlaw IV – Picking up the pieces

I have a standard recovery position after my events – it’s probably not unique but for me it works.

It’s the lie down on the floor, close the eyes and feel terrible position. Usually with an ice cream.

Sunday was no different – after staggering up the stairs to have my picture taken with the massive pint I walked through the food tent which made me feel sick and out into the sunshine and back to the main stand to attempt to find everyone. I had some sweaty hugs form various people and stumbled across Pete again and met  for the first time then walked back to the end to see my folks who were by this time concerned that I hadn’t appeared.

Sweaty hugs all round, plenty of holding back the tears and emotions some more and with the bride of an ice cream we went back round to the main stand again. I sat down and sent the ever useful Sue to get me some ice cold coke and an ice cream whilst the kids played football.

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Then the world started spinning a bit and I dashed off to the toilet. Just a pee was required but I leant against the wall and had another cry to myself and a couple of fuck yeahs were said. God knows what the person next to me thought I was doing.

After collecting the kit and heading back to the car I was ordered not to drive back to the hotel. Once back the world was not right inside my body by any means. I have a few bodily function rules one is that I don’t ever be sick. I haven’t been sick for years regardless of how full of Guinness I am, it doesn’t matter – the last time was probably 4 years ago at Pamplona where I am pretty sure my drink got spiked.

So when I rushed back up, via the lift clearly, to the room and headed straight for the bath I didn’t know which end was going to erupt first. Towards out it was south and it was quite violent – the immodium keeping everything in check all day had finally warn off – oh well I knew that might happen just glad it happened back in the hotel and not during the race. I stood up and started to wander towards the bed for a lie down.

Another grumble.

Wow.

Projectile coke / gels / water / orange segments all came erupting out of most of the officious in my head in a I am sure stunningly pretty arc – pretty convinced some even came out of my ears. I don’t do being sick well, maybe it’s the lack of practice I get. Another blast and my streaming eyes made me briefly think that it was now coming from my eye balls as well.

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I collapsed into bed, still smelling of the adventures of the day, not bothering to shower or wash and just lay there in a semi drugged up, ill state. After a short kip my guts settled and I woke up starving hungry and convinced myself I needed a McDonalds – luckily one was next door. Again the ever wonderful wife was despatched with orders of a chocolate milkshake, burger and chips. She reappeared in a matter of seconds – confirming that I must have fallen asleep again and the smell of food made me feel instantly shocking.

I nailed the milkshake – no matter how ill never waste a milkshake – had a single chip and fell asleep again. Woke up at 1 in the morning full of energy, apart from the sore bits, and caught up with all the lovely lot on twitter for a couple of hours then dosed from 3ish till 6ish where again I was awake.

This was my time to shine.

This was my moment.

This was a Holiday Inn breakfast buffet.

Quick shower to make me look vaguely human – attempted to get swollen feet into trainers and headed down for food.

4 courses later and a full 90 minutes ( full English, toast, pastries, toast, pastries, fresh bread) and a jug of ice cold water and a jug of orange juice I felt full – the fullest I have felt in a gods age. It was good. Swapped war stories with a few others eating about the day before, but it already seemed a long time ago.

Another shower, another dodgy stomach moment and we were homeward bound, via McDonalds for another chocolate milkshake.

In the days since I have eaten everything possible – Chinese takeaway, endless yogurts, gumbo (which I made and was rank), ice creams, fresh breads, beer, fish finger butties, prawn crackers, chips. And it’s been great – but now it’s time to focus on the next challenge.

My only war wounds which remain right now are a sore and bruised big left toe – which I can only assume happened in the swim and swollen feet – so much so that I can’t get into my usual work shoes still at the moment. Along with a still sore knee – randomly it feels better post-race than it did pre-race, which I am sure makes me a medical miracle.

So I did an ironman distance triathlon as an under trained and slightly injured numpty in 12:43 – the next challenge in theory is Ironman Wales in September. Can I do it?

During Outlaw I said numerous times to anyone who would listen that this was it – I wanted to go long to prove I could do it, scratch the itch and move on, but the pain wasn’t worth it, this would be a one stop shop – get in and out and forget about it. My body isn’t designed for long races – hell it’s not even really designed for a super sprint distance.

Winning the entry to Wales has changed that, it’s a great opportunity to go and do a really tough event. Something I would never have paid for or put myself forward for.

At Outlaw I didn’t get to break the tape, I didn’t get the ‘Rob Jude you are an Outlaw’ moment and I still remain jealous of those who can rightly claim to be an Ironman. I was called an Ironman on twitter on Monday, but to me that doesn’t sit right – at the moment I am not an ironman I am an outlaw.

I think I want a crack at going long again, I think I want the ‘Rob Jude you are an Ironman’ moment and I think I want the bragging rights of being a proper Ironman.

After all I know I can do the distances; wales brings its own unique challenges – sea swim, hilly bike course and then fairly hilly run course. But I am confident that if I readjust my goals to a more realistic view point ( i.e. not a target time of sub 13 hrs, but maybe sub 15hrs) and am prepared to walk the majority of a marathon route, I should hopefully beat the cut off times.

Tenby I am coming for you.

46 days and counting.

Best go find a hill or two.

 

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Outlaw III – I kneed a break

Turns out only one major thing could go wrong and it did.

The return of the dodgy knee.

Due to said dodgy knee I haven’t run a single step since the 6th July and I knew that the upshot was that baring a miracle I would be in for a long and painful ‘run’ to finish off Outlaw. Having only once done the distance previously I also knew it wouldn’t be pretty.

But the strangest thing happened – I started to run out of transition and everything seemed to be working ok. I heard my support group, which by this time had grown to include my mum and dad, my daughter and to my surprise my sister and her two lads. They were over by the start of the lap and I homed in on them – well if I am honest I headed straight for Zoe with the intention of the getting a high 5, but as I hadn’t seen her since Saturday morning and figuring that 30 seconds wouldn’t matter I stopped and had an uplifting cuddle – it suddenly dawned on me the excitement in her eyes and even as a grown, hot, tired and sweaty man I choked up when she said to me that she was proud of me.

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A quick smile and wave to the rest and I was off on my first lap of the lake – I grabbed a gel and a drink of water from the first aid station and then plodded on with the intention of running to the next aid station at the top of the lake. I spotted a lone portaloo en-route and with my first call of nature since the lake brewing I held my breath and ducked inside. I must have got lucky as despite the walls being covered in pee it wasn’t that bad and I was in and out pretty quickly – opening the door to find someone else waiting to go in, hoping he didn’t think the mess was my doing I plodded on hoping he wouldn’t catch me up for a chat about my apparent bodily functions.

So around the lake and everything was going pretty well – I was within the HR zones I wanted to be in and wasn’t feeling low on energy, I had no gut issues and the knee seemed ok – a dull ache rather than anything else. The supporters had moved round to the car park section and as I headed out I got a shout from an idiot lying down – hey budgie…..don’t be shit…… bloody Barnett had turned up to heckle support. At least I got some sympathy from the crowd to his shout and it made me chuckle to hear budgie. I don’t ever hear it out loud apart form at events and to be fair I had a few spot me on the run – probably due to the lack of speed I was travelling at and my size.

Saw the support at the car park section and I felt ok had another chat and some high fives then it was heading down the tow path to the next aid station, again I was surprised how it was going – my god I am going to finish this in one piece in a very respectable time.

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I stopped at the aid station and gelled up again with a coke and orange segment thrown in then plodded off down towards Nottingham to the section I hadn’t done before. It seemed weird running alongside the river and in-between normal folk having a nice afternoon playing with kids, or listening to music or having a few beers. I spotted Pete for the first time and he looked amazingly strong – a clear example of if you do the training and put the effort in you usually get the rewards. He was literally flying round and disappeared into the distance in no time at all, I was delighted for him as despite being a blue nose he seems like a decent guy.

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By this stage I had nearly nailed all the painkillers I had packed for the run – not a good sign but least it meant I was still moving ok, with this in mind I decided to shift the plan of just running as long as possible to run 9 minutes, walk 1 minute plus walk any feed stations when I came across them. Up and over the bridge to the little turn around points and the change in ploy seemed to be working – I was downing energy gels and either a banana chunk or orange segment as I came across them, this was washed down with a coke and a water over the head, then headed back towards the start.

Then it all fell apart. The running 9 minutes walking 1 minute slowly but surely altered till it was almost the other way round entirely throughout the remainder of the marathon. The knee pain – whether mental or physical at this point begun a lot to bare whilst even walking the course. I had a few chats with myself about keeping going but then to be honest I think the fact that it had all gone so well up to then finished me off.

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I worked out I could walk the vast majority of the rest of the course and still be in or around 13hrs and so still hit / be close to the overall goal. Why put myself through more pain than I needed to still hit the goal target? I had lost the will to push on and aim for a time I didn’t ever think possible i.e. under 12 hrs. Looking back this annoys me a little but then it’s easy to sit here and say that as the pain has subsided. I stopped by the support crew again, had high 5’s, the offer of water thrown over me and then I poured some water over my increasing blistered left foot – something I haven’t suffered with for ages – and walked on back to the next aid station.

Where I quickly groped Barnett to pay him back for the abuse an hour before I marched on up and round the lake and back to the grandstand – with the support I broke into a jog through the crowded area and stopped within the shower section to get cooled down again. Picking up my second band I asked for a third to end the pain to which I was told – see you in a couple of hours. Jesus – two more hours of this!

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The march continued fairly consistently for the rest of the out and back – I saw Pete again flying along to the towards the finish and bumped into Stu and Dave at various points as well – all seemed in various degrees of pain and discomfort and conversely I started to feel a bit better. Maybe it was the thought of the end approaching or the fact that I saw others suffering or maybe I just came through the bad patch of before but I began running a minute, walking a minute which at least made me feel like I was achieving something and not cheating my round an ironman triathlon.

At this point I started seeing a few people properly struggling – one guy was passed out, with a drip in his arm by the river being attended to by medics out the back of a Land rover. Another bloke was staggering round unable to walk in a straight line before sitting down next to a aid station to get some treatment. Least I wasn’t that bad.

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Back up to the lake and had a nice chat with some pirates out on the course and marched on up and around the lake again to get my third and final band – with ‘only’ a lap of the lake to go I attempted to run more than walk, but being honest it didn’t last long and by working out the timing I was well within the 13hr mark of success, so I walked down and back to the last feed station. After which I trotted along for the final time – determined to run at least the final part. As the crowds got bigger towards the end, all the pain disappeared, all negative thoughts vanished and I was eagerly looking out for Zoe and Sue and to finally get to go left instead of right down the wall of noise.

I spotted them out in front and urged them to start running till I caught up but perhaps correctly they waited for me to catch them up before beginning moving. The rest is a bit of blur, we held hands and ran down the end to the finish – I got a couple of shouts from the crowd of my actual name which confused me but we continued through the finishing line, I pointed with my free hand to the time (no idea why, but probably in amazement) and sheer relief at completely something I never thought possible washed over me.

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Zoe and Sue were going nuts – I had a cuddle from Sue before a family cuddle including Zoe has held just past the finishing line – where again I was told by the two people who matter the most in the world to me, that they were proud of what I had done.

 

Struggling to keep my emotions in check we staggered forward to get my medal – I asked the volunteer to give it straight to Zoe, as I normally do, which she did. Zoe for some reason immediately took it off and offered it to me, something she has never ever done before. I bent down to let her put it on my neck and she did, whilst at the same time telling me that she loved me and that I deserved the medal more than her.

Damn how can a 4 year old make you so happy and emotional with just a simple action. By this time I was one cute cat picture away from full on tears, so it was perhaps a relief that Sue and Zoe got directed up the stairs whilst I had to go through the medical tents and towards the dreaded flight of stairs. The medic took one look at me and told me to sit down, I didn’t argue I just sat hands on my bowed head and cried to myself.

Once they established that I was just being a bit of a Jessie they let me go collect my finishers shirt and head up the stairs to the photo opportunity I missed at the half.

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I had done it. I was an Outlaw, I felt invincible.

Turns out I wasn’t.

 

Outlaw Part Deux – Choo Choo

So out onto the bike and spotted / heard Sue shouting at me just after the bike mount line and set off with a smile. I am still not that good at clipping my shoes in from the get go, which is why I usually leave them clipped in on the bike, so it was a mild worry I would deck it in front of everyone – so relived to not have to many issues. Settled into the out section of the lake and picked a few people off, including one guy who appeared to have a puncture already – after about 300 yards, how’s that for bad luck.

As I came round the bottom of the lake and headed back towards the start my heart went out to those still swimming, including one person swimming breastroke who didn’t appear to be making much head way and was a long way back – I assume this was the person who missed the cut off by 33 minutes. Takes some guts to enter an ironman distance event without being a confident or efficient swimmer.

I say my heart went out to them, but probably only half my heart went out to them, the other half was thinking, as is the norm – yeah I’m going to be last!

The first section of the bike was fairly routine, I was comfortable and ticking along at a reasonable speed, knee wasn’t sore, not many hills as is the outlaw way and I had a couple of battles with riders going similar speeds – nice bit of cat and mouse to break up the hours of slog to come. The first loop, which you did twice had two distinguishing features; a rabbit which had had its brains blown out across the road by a car and the strength of the wind.

I hadn’t really considered the wind to be an issue but it was sole destroying at times and messed with my head a little bit at times, average speeds dropped in those situations and I knew I was struggling as a few people came past me individually. Some had the nerve to not even be out of breath and wanted to chat. Another of my rules is no chatting during events – usually because I am not fit enough to hold a conversation as I am near death.

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However with the individuals flying past – including Kevin Dawson who must have had an engine hidden somewhere, I don’t think I have witnessed raw power on a bike quiet like that before – there were plenty of people in trains or chain gangs. This consistently annoys me mainly because it’s against the rules but also because I have never had the balls to just jump on one of them and follow suit. Having no friends I don’t get the chance to ride in groups that often, but when I have done I have been amazed at just how much energy you can save, transfer this round 20/30/40 miles of an ironman bike leg and then think about how fresh you feel getting off a bike at 70 miles compared to 112 miles.

The worst example of this was a group of 6/7 blokes riding nose to tail on the windy section the second time around – the last bloke even cut me up to get back inline as they overtook me meaning I virtually came to a standstill and for the second time in the day I was hurling expletives at a fellow competitor. Within the race briefing the director mentioned numerous times the number of motorbikes that would be draft busting but I only saw a couple – maybe they don’t care about the lower end of the age groupers but if one rule applies to one it should apply to all. Having a look at twitter and Facebook afterwards I wasn’t the only one complaining about the amount of drafting and as far as I can see no one got a penalty for drafting at any point within the race.

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The fuelling plan was going well – exchanging bottles of high 5 at each food station and aiming to drink the majority of the bottle before the next one, always taking an extra bottle of water to cool me down a little bit and clean my mouth out from the gels pre-loaded into the bottle I kept throughout. I had 4 9bars with me to take at 20 / 40 / 60 / 100 miles with the stop at the feedstation of mile 80 to pick up the two pork pies in the aid station. This in theory was a good idea – change to the sweet stuff but I didn’t factor in that by that point my mouth would be quiet as dry as it was, I only managed to eat about half of a pork pie so I guess that idea failed.

Also (if there is a) next time I think I will use a bento box on the bike to store a variety of food and not just the cycling top with pockets in the back. Not sure how much time I wasted talking to the pirates at the feedstation but probably only a minute or so whilst they found my bag and I messed around with packaging. I also recovered some more painkillers at this point as the ones I had been taking all day were starting to wear off and I had run out by this point.

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The knee was getting progressively more noticeable in terms of the pain so I am thinking that the minute I took maybe saved me much more later on. I also picked up some more salt tablets and ensured I swallowed another 3 at that point. Happily I had no issues with cramping at any point throughout the day so that plan definitely worked and will be reused. Again it would make sense to have the bento with some drugs / salt tablets in it instead of fishing them out from behind my back all the time.

Anyway the last 30 miles ticked away slowly and I had a little internal cheer as I passed the 100 mile mark for only the third time in my life on a bike. The now typical horrible last couple of miles off road followed and before too long I was back into HPP and again hearing my little wife shout her heart out at me as I rounded the final corner. I took a deep breath and slowed the bike down to a stop and put my foot down for only the second time in 5:47 of riding, hoping my knee wouldn’t start sending messages of pain to the rest of my body.

 

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I ambled down the transition and heard my name over the PA system and I quote ‘a very respectable race time so far’ which made me laugh and the guy next to me said something along the lines of ‘respectable my arse, it’s a miracle I am here already’ which made me chuckle out loud. I checked my watch and the total time was 7:01 so I knew I had 4 minutes to get out onto the run to be bang on my A race time. With that in mind I didn’t hang around too much again and despite a complete change and some more Udderly smooth (turns out a bit too much) applied I was out onto the run in 7:07 – which I was massively delighted with – somehow everything so far had gone 99.9% correct.

What could possibly go wrong…….

Outlaw – the battle begins

So then -56 hrs. on some of the pain reminds, all of the pride but little of the memory so I better write down something before I forget it all.

Zoe got dispatched to my parents for the weekend early on Saturday, with the plan for them to drive over at a reasonable time on Sunday to see me do some of the run and then allow myself, Zoe and Sue to run down the finishing carpet together. The car was already packed and loaded by 7 in the morning and as ever I wanted to get all my stuff set up as early as possible. Reality dawned on me when I plugged the post code of HPP into the sat nav and it was less than the bike ride the following day. I find it strange to think of equating distances in training to distances in races.

An ironman bike leg would get me to Leeds with change from my house or down into deepest darkest south wales – both of which when I drive them seem a ridiculously long way away.

We arrived nice and early and went through the registration part smoothly enough. Again it dawns on you how far the swim is due to the nature of the course – it just seems to go on for seemingly miles and miles and miles. Attended the race briefing and slowly cooked for an hour or so in a tent, where they didn’t really tell you anything not already in the race pack and people asked a whole raft of stupid questions, which not even I would have asked; i.e. do you have to change your own punctures? Which to me is the same as saying – do I really have to swim 3.8k’s?

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Whilst wandering back to the car to collect the equipment I bumped into @bluepete1979 and we had a chat about all the important things – nerves and goose shite being the main talking points. The lake itself didn’t smell as bad as I remember from the half and plenty of weed had been pulled to the side so I was optimistic that it wouldn’t be much of an issue in the morning.

I carefully checked and double checked the bag situation and made sure everything was where it needed to be – including the special needs bag for mile 80 on the bike with the pork pies in. I stuffed two bagels down my neck as we had forgotten to bring any lunch with us and started the process of attempting to carry everything back to transition without dropping the bike or injuring myself anymore.

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I had, had numerous discussions about tyre pressures and whether to bother letting them down the night before or just leaving them pumped up. As I have never had to rack my bike the day before it was all new to me, but maybe it was gut instinct or luck I seemed to completely forget about this issue till I was back at the hotel listening to sue snore – decision made! I didn’t give it another thought till the morning when I walked up to the steed with my fingers crossed in the gloom of 4:30.

So everything racked away in its place and we headed to the hotel. Sue promptly fell asleep and I dosed thinking about the coming day – we went out afterwards and destroyed a Harvester including a nice ice cream sundae but resisted the urge to have a beer or two. Back into bed by 9 – alas no sleep till 11:30 then off and on till the alarm at 3:30 and a half eaten bowl of porridge at breakfast. Drove through the mean streets of Nottingham with loads of folks tumbling around still in the throes of a good night out.

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Checked on the bike (with its perfectly pumped tyres) dropped the after event bag off and then spent some alone time in a relatively clean portaloo thinking about the day ahead – with the choice words of most pirates ringing in my ears my guts seemed to take it personality as although feeling like the world was going to drop out of my bum, nothing was shifting.

Whilst on the loo I heard a tyre blow up – due to a bit too much pumping pre-race, relived I didn’t have that concern I re-joined sue on the bank overlooking transition and watched people rush back and forwards but I was strangely calm for once, I knew I was in for a tough day and my lack of training or miles in the bank would catch me up at some point. Anyway wetsuit on – suitable amounts of lube applied and then it was a kiss goodbye and a wander down to the start.

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I still didn’t know what pen to get into but went with the desired time of around 60 minutes – figuring if I could draft someone then they might drag me closer to the time. Getting into the lake it was clear that it wasn’t that clear and did indeed smell just as bad as when I did the half. I warmed up the arms and had the usual pre-race pee before hanging back a little bit in pen 1 – the countdown begin and I had a little space at the get go which I couldn’t believe. I think this was because they didnt squeeze people back to the pens but left they free upto the first orange buoys.

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I can’t honestly remember if it was a hooter or a bang but upon cue I started swimming towards the sun with every other bugger. My narrow strip of space got shorter and shorter till the usual bumping / elbowing / fighting began. It was off and on throughout most of the out part of the lap. It got worse and worse till at one stage a bloke grab my leg just below the knee and hauled me back three times in a row – it annoyed me so much that I stopped mid swim to hurl abuse at him and kick my legs as hard as I could, hoping he would get the idea to sod off. Not sure he did or not but we went our separate ways and the rest of the swim up to the first turn around went quickly enough, only interrupted by a swimmer heading right across everyone’s path and seemingly on a collision course with the bank.

The first buoy had its usual battering and with two in quick succession it didn’t get any easier to the turnaround point heading back to the start. Relieved that I was over half way and in theory with the field thinning out I was hoping to find some more space and get into a proper rhythm coming back. It was pretty uneventful apart from the large clumps of weeds that I swam into and at the end the world and his wife seemed to want the same bit of lake as me – I was hauled out by a bloke and stumbled forward onto the ramp – eager to see how the knee felt under its first jog in almost 3 weeks. Checked my watch and it said 1:05 and had a smile as big as the volunteer who offered to strip me down out of my wetsuit. I had no feeling from the knee, but figured I was to hyper to notice and set about getting naked in the quickest possible time. Swim done in what turned out to be 99th place overall which I still don’t fully understand.

Figuring 5 minutes spent in t1 would save some discomfort later in the race I applied rucks of Udderly smooth to my bits and had a complete strip down and change before getting fully covered in sun cream by a volunteer before heading to find my bike. A quick smile and wave to the camera man pointing directly at me and I found the bike first time, which is a rarity for me.

All in all I was delighted to be on the bike safely with one leg out of the way. Turns out I spent 6:12 in T1 but to be out on the bike in a comfortable 1:11:48 was well ahead of the A race plan result.

Robbing the bank

So then…….

6 days to go till I get to stand on the water’s edge with a herd of nervous strangers for what I imagine will be the longest and most painful day of my life.

Backtrack to April 2013 and I wasn’t sure I would be able to finish my first sprint distance event without embarrassing myself in the process. The idea of ‘going long’ never entered my head; mainly because only someone superhuman did it. A super-fit superhuman to be precise.

This is not me, it never will be.

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I never thought I would be able to do it, I wasn’t entirely sure I would finish that sprint distance or ever be able to swim 2k in a pool or worse still in a stinking lake or run a marathon let alone train and enter for a full ironman distance event. Life is full of surprises.

There is no getting away from the fact that I haven’t trained enough for Outlaw, injuries at the start of the year and events booked in throughout May and June have meant that I haven’t enough long rides or runs under my belt and I know in all honesty I am going to struggle come Sunday. Of course there are mitigating circumstances I could blame but the responsibility lies with me at the end of the day and it’s me on Sunday who will feel that pain.

I am jealous of most peoples comments in regards to how training has gone, how they have ticked off the tough sessions and put decent miles in the bank in all three disciplines, how training hard equates to racing easy, how it’s just a matter of turning up on the day and emptying that training bank out.

The problem is that if the bank is pretty empty and your overdraft is undefined – the risk of having to rob a bank to survive is increased tenfold. This is the mind-set I find myself in come race week. Can I rob a bank without getting caught?

I have completed a fair few events since October 2012’s first 10k (complete with camelpak strapped to my back, good god) and within 2014 a few Olympic events and two 70.3’s but I haven’t dropped the amount of weight I wanted when I had grand plans back in August when I signed up and although I am the lightest I have ever been in my adult life I can’t help thinking I could have done more to be better prepared. This despite swimming a massive (for me) 31 miles, cycling an impressive (for me) 1885 and running 371 miles (which is pants even for me) within the year so far and having some encouraging results at all of my 70.3’s (5:26. 5:28 and 5:29, although I seem to be getting slower)

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It’s a strange and uncomfortable position to be in, to feel so massively underprepared for an event is still pretty new to me. Only once have I known I was undercooked prior to hanging around a field in some overly tight shorts at an ungodly hour on a Sunday and that was Chester marathon and that ended as painful and slow as I imagined it would. The fact that, I haven’t run over 13 miles in one go (always an event) since then further underpins the poor base training, least I know I have not been overtraining. The fact I have run for two weeks now due to a knee niggle sort of sums up the situation.

That said my swimming has massively improved this year and I am confident that I should be comfortably out of the water within 75 minutes of rank water bobbing / fighting / swimming no doubt covered in weed and duck poo. My cycling has also similarly improved in terms of average speeds, but not distance and I have no idea how I will fair; it could be close or even sub 6 hrs. or it could be 7 or just as easy 8hrs. The course being fairly flat suits me as I hate hills and I did a ‘comfortably’ paced 56 miles at outlaw half in 2:37, so I hope to come in ideally close to the 6hr mark. I have only once ridden 112 miles in one go and that was at a stupidity hilly sportive in Wales last year where it took me 7:30hrs and I could barely walk to my car at the end and when I did get there I threw up on the wheel.

Anyway I digress.

In training I have only managed to get over 100 miles once this year, but felt good doing so and ticked along at a comfortable heart rate / speed and completed it in around 5:30 including some stoppages for Joe trying to kill himself by falling off and then puncturing every two seconds. Prior to that I have done a few 70’s and a few 60 mile rides but it does annoy me that I have failed to go properly long more than once in 2014. However if I can replicate that sort of speed, minus the falling off and puncturing, when I did and keep a settled HR I think I should be ok come Sunday, to be at least able to hobble into the change tent.

I plan to use the special needs bag drop at mile 80 to stash some additional goodies just encase – thinking spare canisters of gas, some additional fuel if I fancy a change (pork pie anyone?), some additional drugs and udderlysmooth if I missed a bit originally. I figure an extra couple of minutes then might make a massive difference when I eventually get under foot.

So that, including the usual messing around in transitions ( I am going for full strip down and a costume change in T1 and T2) should put me out onto the run in or around the 8 hour region, hopefully closer to 7:30 if everything is going extremely (unlikely) tikiboo. This is where I expect it to get even murkier in terms of expectations; I could end up walking the entire marathon in 8 hours or I hope to be able to employ the run / walk strategy to get me through. Especially as the feed stations are so plentiful on the outlaw run course, I will attempt to ‘run’ between them and walk through savouring the copious amount of coke and buffet like snackage on display. From past experience I expect the process of beginning the run again to be difficult to say the least. My best paced HM at the end of a 70.3 was my recent 1:47 at the castle series where the feed stations weren’t as close together or large in number, so I am considering ignoring some of the feed stations early on in the run course unless I am flagging a lot or it’s a million degrees like last year’s competitors had to put up with.

Also at my last 70.3 event I used salt capsules for the first time – taking two before the get go at the start and then dissolving two each into my bottle of drink and bottle of gels for on the bike. I plan to take two lakeside at Outlaw, then two at the start of the bike – whilst dissolving some again in the bottles. This should front load me for the bike and see me through back to T2, where likewise I plan on taking 2 more before I start the run, along with painkillers and immodium tablets. Now doesn’t that sound like a sexy cocktail. Then I will take some with me to take every hour I am under foot, along with painkillers (if needed) and more immodium (probably needed).

Due to the knee issue I have had for a couple of weeks I havent risked running on it at all and dont plan to do so between now and the exit of the change tent in T2. Hopefully the first few yards will equal no surprise pain, just the pain of the 114 miles covered so far.

All the projected time calculators put me coming in to the finishing cute in the region of 13 hours (double your HIM PB and add 2hrs or the Olympic PB + HM x something or other, both come out surprisingly close to one another) Based on the above lack of long training I think it is unrealistic for me to think I will be in any fit state to run a 4hr marathon, considering my one and only run at that distance was the afore mentioned Chester borderline disaster in 4:29. I am sure by the time I start the last leg all bets will be off in terms of finishing time predictions and deep down if I finish in 14 hours or 16 hours 59 minutes I will be just as proud of the achievement.

 

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I have been unlucky with injuries this year, although I guess many of you would and will argue falling out of my loft was, despite my protests, my own fault – however I feel very lucky to have had the support of 9bar, Udderlysmooth and Pharmamuscle. I don’t think I would be even vaguely ready without their help that they have given me this year and as ever I will be proud to use the products before during and after the event and wear my suit on Sunday bearing two of the three company logos. Plus it often allows fellow competitors to spot me and hurl encouragement / abuse towards me. So feel free to give me a shout or a physical push along if you like on Sunday afternoon if you are in the Nottingham region.

 

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As those of you who have completed long distance events know the support of family is paramount and as frequent readers of my waffle will know my wife and daughter have been brilliant. Sue in her determination to kick me out of the door to train and to postpone family days out, putting up with my tiredness and general increased grumpiness and Zoe in her excitement when she sees me ambling around the run leg of an event, beating me down finishing chutes and putting up with daddy’s tired legs of an evening.

I have day dreamed the moment I am ‘running’ down that famous finishing chute with Zoe next to me and breaking through the tape to finish (often the background is daylight, more frequently it is pitch black) this has brought me close to tears numerous times and all the pain of training, the loft based injuries and worries will be justified and will be worth it.

Getting that medal briefly around my neck, before it is rightly snatched away by a 4yr old should subsidise the belief that the old, fat, lazy rob is finally dead and buried, never to be seen again – (well apart from at the holiday inn’s breakfast buffet on the Monday morning which I plan to single handily destroy over a period of 3hrs)

Despite my known limitations I am determined to primarily finish and finish comfortably within the cut offs and I haven’t once allowed my brain to think about the possibility of failure in Nottingham (Tenby yes, Nottingham hell no) – I hope I don’t have to cross that particular mental and physical bridge on Sunday.

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Trying to push my body harder and further than ever before whilst turning into an occasion emotional wreck doesn’t sit hand in hand in my mind but it’s what I have had. I have read the inspirational stories of fellow twitter folk conquering IM Austria, IM Nice and more recently IMUK and Roth this year and it gives me butterflies to think I will be within the club on Sunday night.

Come Sunday I will be part of the going long club and you know what, I can’t bloody wait.

Not sure what will be next for me – I have Ironman Wales in 7 weeks and I already know I will be also struggling with that due to the same issues highlighted above and I fluctuate in opinion about what I would like to do in 2015; I really really fancy, as I write this now, a crack at Roth whilst being fit and healthy with a proper training plan from the start of the year building to the one race. Only issue is that entry opens next Monday, whilst I will be lying in pain and discomfort after finishing outlaw (or within a mound of bacon), perhaps not the time to make any decisions.

First things first.

Just have to hope I don’t cross the line an emotional mess and still have the energy for the possible / or more likely probable emotional release that it will bring.

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By the way if you want to track the pain throughout most of Sunday my race number is 320. Feel free to marvel at my slow progress and track my ever slowing carcass as it inches towards the finishing line.

 

Something to tickle your pickle

I have always been a little sceptical about the use of a lot of tablets and powders in the world of getting fit. I still remember having slimfast drinks all those years ago in a bid to kick start weightloss and not be such a cuddly chubby monkey.

Shockingly it never worked and I had massive changes in my weight – usually ending up heavier than when I had actually started. After all those years of being on the obese side of ‘normal’ weight I discovered that I actually liked exercising and ill-fitting lyrca and when I did partake in getting sweaty it meant that I often didn’t have the energy to eat a family 4 pack of kit kat chunky by myself on my lunch break (not that I have ever done that) (ok I used to on a regular basis + a normal lunch)(sometimes it was mars bars)

Now I am a seasoned (well not a completely green newbie anymore, although I did put my helmet on back to front at outlaw) I have been for a while using protein powders after training to ensure that I get maximum benefit and try to improve as much as possible from the limited sessions I complete when not injured. I have had the discussions in the past surrounding the usability / performance benefits of such things in comparison to things like chocolate milk and for me it undoubtedly works and I have to say I am a convert.

A convert to a particular brand I have to say. Now, some of you who are seemingly limited in the mental capacity department and regularly read my waffle will know that sometime ago I linked up with Pharmamuscle (link) and since then I have been using a range of the products to review and see if they work for me, offer help and to see if I stick to the intake if it improves my results.

It doesn’t mean that you don’t have to attempt to train every waking hour of the day (when not injured) however the performance differences I have seen in the last 8 weeks are impressive by my humble standards. With a heavy event schedule throughout June and building towards outlaw at the end of July I have been utilising the start of this link up with Pharmamuscle and putting a selection of their products through their paces and into my usual dietary / training plan.

I have had the two biggest training months ever back to back in May and June and July is shaping up nicely despite a niggling left knee at the moment. The products I have used are namely the whey protein (http://www.pharmamuscle.com/wheymax-hydrolysed-whey-protein-isolate-p-177927.aspx) the metaburn tablets (http://www.pharmamuscle.com/metaburn-sports-p-177938.aspx) and the aminos bcaa capsules (http://www.pharmamuscle.com/mega-aminos-bcaa-capsule-p-177930.aspx)

Many of you may remain sceptical of my improvements but the proof is in the powder – my weight has continued to drop off despite me eating the same if not more than before (including more than one treat trip to the pub), I don’t feel as hungry between meals, I am recovering quicker between sessions and am able to go again much quicker than ever before. For me this means sticking to the training plan and not missing sessions. I don’t have that many sessions in the plan so if I do miss one it often means I miss out – with limited time to catch up again.

My swimming has improved no end over the same time period (I can now do a comfortable 3.5k in 58 minutes and not be out of breath) and this dovetails nicely with the new wetsuit purchase. My biking is now consistent and again I out preformed my expectations on the bike leg of two 70.3 events this month (finishing 16 minutes overall behind the pro winner at Outlaw) and my running has probably seen the biggest improvement. At the castle series 70.3 I ran a 1:47 HM which for many of you would be slow, but for me it beat my previous best times by 15mins at that distance triathlon.

It also meant that I ran myself into 24th position overall – by far and away the best result I have achieved so far, especially considering it included numerous pros and relay teams. Not only that but afterwards I felt fine. Well not immediately afterwards – as ever I had a lie down and felt like I wanted to empty the energy gel contents of my stomach whence they came – but the next day I felt good, I did a light run and then the following day I ran 10 miles and swam open water 3.5k.

Compare this to after outlaw when I had just started taking the products and I could hardly move for the first half of the week. At the end of that week I did Chester Olympic and again went well, holding my own on the undulating bike course and producing a 48m 10k run in blistering hot conditions, to PB the Olympic distance by a couple of minutes.

The other thing about the protein powders taste is its actually nice! The chocolate flavour I have been using is easy to mix with water or milk and also works well in my breakfast smoothies with the addition of Kale, frozen bananas and chia seeds – looks disgusting but tastes lovely.

As I have the chocolate flavour it also takes away the chocolate urges elsewhere, so I don’t feel the need to reach for a treat and it actually tastes like the proper chocolate with that little bit of bitterness.

I would definitely recommend you check the website out and have a look for yourself – they are a friendly / helpful bunch and get the products out every quickly to you.

Also on the website is a lot of training tips and advice if like me you still don’t really know what you are doing!

I would point you in the direction of the ambassador page as well – they are looking for similar folks to myself to help out / test products going forward – if I can do it there is no reason why anyone reading this couldn’t either