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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.