I started this blog in 2010 when there were 11 weeks to go before my next Ironman triathlon. People have found it interesting (mainly my Mum!) so I continue to write.
The Ironman is a long distance triathlon; Swim 2.4miles, Cycle 112miles, Run 26.2 miles (marathon). I have competed in one every year since 2004. I hope this blog can help others see what is involved. I find the process of writing it makes me more accountable and motivates me to do the harder sessions when i'm not feeling like it!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Thoughts about it all

I'm really pleased with that swim - have been trying to work out what was responsible. I think mainly the interval training. This is the first year I have done this, and using the wetronome http://www.wetronome.com/ was instrumental. Also the single arm drill that I have only recently learnt made a big difference.
At present I think I would just continue to do those two things as they are far from reaching a plateau.

Again really pleased with this - the plan of having as little as possible to put on, just grabbing the stuff and going, worked well. This was the first year that I took the wetsuit off quickly - mainly just rolling it down as far as it will go before trying to step out of it. Liked leaving the hat and goggles in the sleeve - nice touch.

Here is where all the improvements need to be made.
1. Putting gloves on whilst on the bike played a big part in the crash - either no gloves next time, or need to put them on in transition.
2. Various equipment problems and bike set up - this can all be solved by getting out on the roads for a good month before the race. This year I favoured the indoor turbo a bit too much. Maybe a good compromise would be to do some normal time trials.
3. For a very technical course like this it's an absolute necessity to go up and ride the course before hand (I could also see if the road bike would have been any better)
4. It felt like leg strength was a limiter here - I haven't done any weights for cycling before (all the studies are fairly inconclusive - riding more seems to be the solution) so will plan to work on this.
5. Bike fit - I now know most of the principles so need to make all the adjustments and play around in the off season. It's far too easy to leave this till it's too late. It was ridiculous to be doing this so close to the race.
6. If I'm really serious about delivering a good bike split I need to think about getting a power meter - these are not cheap - between £1000-£2000. I'll do some research, quite hard to justify. I have just heard about something that could revolutionise this area that is due out this year - http://www.metrigear.com/ this may put all the others out of business.
7. Fueling on the bike - I was over ambitious this time. Would drop it by 20%. You can always get more from the aid stations if it goes well. I didn't like to consume these amounts whilst training (not great for the teeth!) so was a bit in the dark.
8. I became a bit too obsessed with aerodynamics - Part of me thinks there is a bit of a conspiracy with the manufacturers to get us to buy the latest stuff. The time spent thinking about it would be better spent cycling.
9. The turbo sessions;
They became too long - I need to keep these to under an hour to prevent getting mentally stale.
It was difficult to see how they translated to the road - I think the best ones to keep doing are the shorter lower cadence intervals (strength)
10. Haven't written anywhere else but there were a few near crashes with other cyclists doing strange things in the road ahead - probably need to get a break on the aerobars too (think it's called a splitter)

Two things here, continue with the technique coaching, and more running in the running flats/barefoot to get the lower legs stronger. Knowing the pace was the key here and the garmin made this possible.

This can always be better - early nights! I don't think it's that essential to eat loads unless you've done a mega session or are planning to do another quality session within 24hrs.
It's to be expected but I have quite a few asymmetries in terms of flexibility and strength - I need to work slowly in the right direction on these.

Overall - (after the long break) continue what I'm doing and work on the bike.

I'll keep the blog going and especially want to complete all the sections on the science behind endurance physiology etc. I have been thinking the 11 week concept is a good one. In the coming year 8 weeks off would leave 44. First 11 to work on the limiters, 2nd 11 for base training, 3rd 11 for building, final 11 as before. Will see if I'm as keen in 8 weeks time - there's a lot I want to do at work and the family deserves some pay back, they've been brilliant - a lot can change.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Race report
(hope not too boring/grammatically bad for anyone reading, need to get all this down while it's fresh so I can learn for next time, after a very long break!)

Woke at 4am. Breakfast; porridge. Left hotel for 4.30 got to T1 for 5am.

Wearing tri shorts and top under clothes with white transition bag with swim kit and another bag with all the stuff to put on the bike - shoes/elastic bands, garmin, aero bottle with drink, tool kit, gloves. Track pump.

Most people make the adjustments to the bike and then get into their wetsuits. A few put them on first thing - long time to have it on though. Mistake I've made a few times is to get it on and then realise I've forgotten the heart rate monitor strap. Anyway all fine and for the first time shorts weren't rolled up under the wet suit. Pumped tyres up and was ready to go. Usually drink High 5 xtreme carbs from now as it's got 150mg of caffeine in it and certainly wakes you up!

The sound of a tyre exploding was a little disconcerting - no one knew who was going to get out of the swim to that.

Not much time to figure out where to position myself at the swim start. Eventually was about 5 people back and everyone was suddenly going. I just followed in the washing machine for quite a while. The plan had been to go for it at the start, get in a good position and then ease off - that didn't happen. Spent the first 5 minutes avoiding blows from the other swimmers. For once I was certain I was swimming straight whilst all around me were swimming all over the place - main task was to do my own thing and wait till it sorted itself out. Ella had come up with the plan of concentrating on one technique aspect until each turn - so the first thing was to blow out continually whilst under water - this stops you getting panicked and short of breath - it worked well. Second thing was to count every ten strokes and then look up - seemed to be going straight. Third thing was to concentrate on that early vertical forearm. Lastly tried to emphasise the stroke right to the exit of the hand from the water. Felt a little fatigue for the last 200m or so but otherwise good.

Didn't know how I'd done. A few friends and Ella were shouting "great swim". Last year was 1.16 and my best ever when I worked much harder than this was 1.06. Asked the first bloke I met on the bike -who said we'd done something like 58mins! Couldn't believe it.

T1 - remembered to take googles and hat off and leave them in the sleeve. Helmet on, number belt on grabbed gels etc and on to bike. Managed the shoes on bike affair despite being fairly new to it.

Bike http://connect.garmin.com/splits/43047164
Then the problems hit, all to do with the gloves - on glove blew away so I went back for it, then tried to put them on - didn't see the sleeping policeman hit it hard and went over the top of the bike. Tool kit skittered off down the road, big graze to arm, knee and ankle. Gear shifters bent, aerobars angled down now. Picked myself up and carried on - confidence really shaken so just took it steady and surveyed the damage. Luckily the bike seemed OK mechanically (gear shifters bent back and still worked). Looked down at my leg - couldn't believe all the blood and grazing as couldn't feel a thing - I think there was a lot of adrenaline involved. I just remember thinking that's going to sting in the bath tonight.

Next problem - aero bottle started playing up, I'll spare you most of the details. Tried to tape it down whilst moving but after a while thought better of it as the chances of crashing would be too high. About 20 people passed during all this - it didn't bother me too much at the time but looking back the whole "if only" starts up.

The bike course is very technical - lots of bends and shallow hills that if you take them just right can save you a lot of time. I was far too nervous to do this and was on the breaks all the time, only by the third final lap did it all come good, my confidence returned and I rode it as I would have liked to from the start.

Couple of other problems
All the climbing meant the saddle started to point up. Need to really secure this well.
Couldn't tolerate as much carbohydrate as I forced down - had good going stomach ache till last half of the marathon
Hamstrings protested a lot, eventually figured out this was due to being too far back on the saddle which put them on a stretch. Felt great when I moved further forwards on the saddle - more modification of position needed. This may have been related to the saddle pointing up as well.
Looking at the heart rate data, I backed off a bit too much. I was aiming for an average around 140bpm for the bike but was way below this. Would love to know how I would have fared on a normal road bike, I could have climbed better etc, May warrant a trip up there in the future to settle that score.

Pretty amazing to come into there with virtually no one around, makes you think you haven't counted the laps properly! Almost forgot to get out of the shoes and leave them on the bike. It's very easy to sit and take your time. Found myself putting my watch on etc when all this was meant to be done on the move but pretty happy.

Run http://connect.garmin.com/activity/43047170
First part of the run took us into the woods, very muddy. I was glad I wasn't going up here after a thousand other people had made it even worse. Heard some shouts saying great running James, it didn't even register - in a world of my own. It was only on doubling back when I realised it was my friend Ben - thanks for the support. Stomach ache was still there - I was working on the premise that this was due to the high concentration of carbs still sitting in my stomach so planned to get as much water down me to dilute that and get my stomach emptying again.
So there was a choice here, run at the pace you'd like to average for the whole marathon. This means going slower than you feel like, the adrenaline would go down and the stomach would empty. Or because you feel good run fast and hope it gets better. I chose the later 4.10 - 4.30 min/km pace. Managed to keep a good pace for the first third and then started to slow a little - gradually I changed my goal to average 5.00/km which I knew would give me a 3.20marathon. Had three toilet stops in all - really gutting to see the people you passed then pass you.
Decided to take it relatively easy until the last turn around and last third run back into Bolton, lifted the pace again and tried to stay below 5.00 as much as possible. I had decided to take my speed and distance from the footpod on the trainer as the GPS can be a fairly inaccurate suddenly saying 2.00 and then the next minute 6.00.
Carried a running drink bottle about half of the way, eventually ditching it when I realised I couldn't stomach it and it was starting to annoy me. Had to settle for Coke and water at the aid stations (water over the head every time as well) - I have never been able to manage with these cups they give you but did a lot better this time (even if a lot went down the front). Don't think I'll bother with the running bottle again. Did manage a couple of gels (mainly for the caffeine) but was right on the edge with the stomach.
A couple of paracetamol and codeine also seemed to help (could have easily been placebo though)
2km from the end I heard someone working hard behind me - he said "were going to have to work really hard if we're to break 10.30" and the race was on! Went up to 4.00min/km, he overtook me running down the hill into Bolton (I'm not great at running down hill) We then fought it out over the last km with a sprint finish. I was told the finish would probably get on TV - who knows? it was great to be able to finish strong except part of you thinks if there was more left could you have pushed more.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Race day


44th overall (out of about 1200), time 10hrs 22mins 39sec

Swim 59m 52s
Transition 1# 1m 2s
Bike 6h 01m 32s
Transition 2# 2m 17s
Run 3h 16m 27s

If you would like to donate George's charity please go to  http://www.justgiving.com/drmoon

Cycle: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/43047164
Run: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/43047170 (was using the "foot pod" for distance which has under read a little - mainly on the downhills)

Pleased with that, had crash on the bike right at the beginning so didn't get anywhere near the 5hr30 I thought I would get. Really happy with the swim - beat last year by about 15mins. I'll be in the 40-45 year age group next year and that time would have qualified me for the world championships in Hawaii.

Everyone nervous in anticipation of the swim

Swim start

 Finish bike leg (T2) these are the "bike catchers"