August 2010

A tale of two Ironmen

(or, strictly speaking, an Ironman and an Outlaw)

How to do an Ironman:

  1. Lots! (up to 15 hours a week, including monthly 100 mile bike rides)
  2. Test and organise your kit with military precision.

Race day
  1. Take it easy.
  2. Ride at a steady pace and start over-taking people on the final lap of the bike.
  3. Run almost the whole marathon, overtake lots of people and get within 20 minutes of your marathon PB.
  4. Finish an hour faster than your pre-race ‘best case’.

Ironman 2007 Result: 13.39 (1:18, 7:22, 4:39)

How not to do an Ironman:

  1. Injure your Achilles tendon running the Round Rotherham 50.
  2. Do nothing for several months.
  3. Get a bit carried away and run 5 ultras in 11 weeks....... culminating in 105 miles where you loose the skin off the balls of your feet (and several toes) and render yourself incapable of doing anything for a fortnight.
  4. Two months beforehand, do first ‘long’ (> 15 mile....) bike ride, get very sore bum.
  5. Do another ultra, fall over, land on your knee.
  6.  Go on a (no training) holiday for a fortnight.
  7. Get attacked by a sea urchin. Spend next ten days removing spikes from your foot.
  8. Start proper bike training a fortnight before the race, including your two longest rides (64 and 80 miles).

Race day
  1. Wear men’s cycling shoes which don’t fit properly because you hate pastel coloured women’s shoes.
  2. When your bum/feet/knee/.... starts hurting 28 miles into the bike, speed up to get the pain over with quicker.
  3. Finish the bike with an average speed 1 mph faster than your fastest short training ride
  4. Come out of T2 20+ minutes up on previous best time (and entertain brief delusions of a PB....).
  5. Realise you’ve left your legs on the bike.
  6. Feel sick. The gel mix in your camelbak has fermented. Switch to oranges and crisps for fuel.
  7. Watch average speed slip from 11 to 13 minute miles. Decide power walking would be easier and not much slower. 
  8. Set marathon personal worst.

Outlaw 2010 Result: 14:36 (1:22, 7:01, 5:58....)

It is possible to finish an Iron distance triathlon on virtually no bike training (and, if offered it beforehand, I’d have been happy with a sub 15 hour time).
However it’s not very satisfying. Especially if you hammer the bike and nearly end up with bike and run splits which start with the same digit. Swim training, on the other hand, is very over-rated.

Would I do it again? No. At least not another single iron-distance race with (virtually) no training. I do quite fancy having a go at a double (or triple? or deca???) ironman in the future thoug