In 6 weeks time, I will be tackling my biggest challenge yet. My first Ironman 70.3. That’s 1.9km swim, 56 mile cycle, 13.1 mile run. That’s all. How hard can it be? Very is the likely answer but it’s the reason I signed up in the first place.
Ever since running the 4 races in 2 days in Edinburgh in 2014, I’ve craved the kind of events that takes me right out of my comfort zone. I can run a marathon no problem but when you add in a discipline that I’m ok at and another one that makes me confront my biggest weakness, now you’re talking!
Today, I was supposed to run the Stirling Marathon but with the Ironman so close behind it and not enough time spent on cycling or swimming, I binned it in favour of stepping up my training. I’ve never pulled out of a race so close to the event before and it felt a bit weird but at the same time, the Ironman holds greater value to me and I’m not one who just “wants to get round”. I want to give it my best shot.
I felt a bit more determined, as I got out of bed this morning at 6.30am, than I’ve been for some time so that’s a good sign. My plan was to do 20 miles on the bike then do a 10k run so after having some breakfast and prep, I headed out around 8am. Staying so close to the countryside was a bonus so I got the steepest hill out the way first then see what followed. I had a route in mind but I was also open to extending it as I knew it would be slightly short of 20 and didn’t want to have to find an extra bit towards the end of it.
The roads around Perthshire are amazing and on this route, I barely saw many cars until I was 15 miles in and heading back into Perth again. Another thing we’re lucky with here is that the majority of car drivers give cyclists and runners plenty of space. I put that down to the likelihood that most car drivers are cyclists/runners themselves.
I raised the seat post for the first time in nearly 3 years as I had just left it at the height it was when I bought it second-hand off a guys who’s a few inches shorter than me. What a difference! I thought I had gone to the extreme of putting it too high but it was just right and felt the difference in power going uphill as well as on the flat. I completed the 20miles in 1hr 20mins, a great start and I’m delighted with the time. I would love to be able to maintain the average speed of 15mi/h as I increase the distances.
I hadn’t set out a plan of creating my own transition area so just popped the bike back in the shed, went into the house, changed my shoes, messed around for a few minutes and headed out for my run. I wasn’t sure how this would turn out as I felt my hamstring in the first 200m and felt my body want to almost cruise along and so I did what my body was telling me to do and didn’t feel my hamstring after that.
The last time I did any of this over a proper distance was at the New Years Day Triathlon in Edinburgh in 2015 although I’ve done the Relay Wild Triathlon a few times since then. I couldn’t remember how the start of the run felt in those races as I was trying to catch people in front so this was an interesting experience. It felt a bit like running the Edinburgh Marathon in 2014 after running the Half before it where it seemed easy in terms of no pressure and just get to the finish. I found myself running the first 3 miles at what my target pace was for the Paris Marathon and even though I slowed down in a couple of miles (due to stopping to chat to some people), I still felt fairly comfortable and decided to do another lap of the North Inch and run 8 miles in total.
Even though I was a bit slower than I was last week at Loch Leven Half, I wasn’t that much slower overall but felt much more in control of my pace and a lot smoother today. I finished my run in 1:02:57, very happy with that. With my first open water swim done yesterday, I have a lot of work to do but at the same time, I can feel things coming together and the event doesn’t seem like the big scary beast it was when I entered.
Overall, I felt today’s performance justified my decision not to run Stirling and the buzz I got from today has been missing for a wee while so I feel like I’m getting my mojo back and looking forward to see what I can achieve and discover about myself in the coming weeks.