I do believe that I am finally recovering from the double achilles injuries that have plagued me since July 2013. If you have been following along, you’ll remember that in the run up to Iron Dartmouth, I got some tendonitis in both ankles. It morphed a little, but ended up that both achilles tendons were tender to the touch and very stiff and sore in the morning. Once I loosened up, over the course of the day, I could more or less walk and run normally. Running has been a little cautious though, and it messed up the remainder of the race season for me. The original plan for the year was to go for a BQ marathon time, but that plainly was not going to be possible.
A little frustrating, some would say. In the meantime, I have also changed jobs, in fact changed career entirely. All in all, it has been a very busy and fairly stressful year – here’s hoping things calm down a bit.
Sometime soon, I need to make the decisions about race season 2014. I’m so torn about doing iron distance again. I really would like to, but do I really have the time? Alternatively, I could train hard for half and aim at sub-5 at Bridgetown. I’d still like to run a BQ for racing Boston in 2015 – do I do that early or late season?
Anyway, training-wise, things are going reasonably well. I ran 8k this evening, on track for 50k+ week, and I’m running with little notice of the achilles problems. Mornings have definitely improved too – feel like it’s finally on the mend.
Back in the basement in Sufferlandria, cranked out 4:30 last week.
Haven’t been swimming for weeks – I was hoping that the new pool at LCLC would be open, but it’s nowhere near. Planning to make time for a weekly trip through to Lunenburg this side of xmas.
I made a better job of it this time around. The last time was May 20, and my max HR was 156, with an average of 135. I felt that I had been a little conservative and was also in the midst of ironman training. This time I had a max of 169 and an average of 145.
So, the 145 becomes the figure that I base my zones off. I’m working on a little heart rate calculator, which will calculate these zones for you, which is now here…
Anyway, I worked bloody hard at it, and was wobbly in the leg dept. for a while after, must have done me good, then.
This isn’t the race report, you’ll find that here instead… this is the regular review of the week just gone, and the plan for the week (and block) to come.
I don’t have much to say about the race week really, it’s always a stressful time, especially when you are carrying a potential injury into the race. I was glad that I consulted a physio – having that third-party objective opinion really helped. His view was that my tendon wasn’t badly damaged, wasn’t about to rupture or anything, and that gave me the confidence to make the start line at least.
The race went better than it might have done. I had a great (for me) swim, and an on-target bike ride, which should have set me up to meet my #1 goal of a sub-11 finish. Well, I always knew this goal might be tough on this course. My 11:08:18 wasn’t too far off the mark, but my run let me down. To be fair, there weren’t many people *significantly* faster than me, only 5 people ran under 4 hours. My #2 goal was to do well in my age group, 1st place in 45-49 surpassed that goal and 4th overall is amazing. My #3 goal was to be strong throughout and enjoy the race – this was achieved though I could have been happier with my run.
Could I go faster? Yes, I have no doubt. I think I have only started improving my swim, and given the poor conditions for this 1:07, I would make sub-1:05 my next goal. I think I could take up to 15mins off my bike time, especially on a different course, or on a calmer day – I have to be sure about pacing myself properly though. General consensus is that an IM marathon will be open marathon + 10% (optimistic), or commonly 45min (possibly more realistic), so my expectation of a sub-4 hour run is not outwith the bounds of reality. All told, I think I could aim at a 10:45 realistically – still a long way off a Kona qualifier!
So, what went wrong? Not much, but something did on the run. Whether it was the lack of running in the previous 3 weeks, threat of an injury, pushing too hard on the bike, nutrition / hydration, or just the tough run course, I don’t really know. I’m fairly sure the nutrition and hydration was ok. I was peeing on the bike frequently, and twice during the run. I’m sure that the pre-race run issues didn’t help, but I had a similar problem last year at the Bridgetown long course, where I ran significantly slower than I thought I would, given my level of fitness. There, I think I pushed the bike a bit. Here, I wouldn’t say that I had, but it would have been very interesting if I could see my heart rate or power output against optimal race levels – would it show that I put out too much work during the ride? Should I start planning how to train and race using gadgets rather than relying on ‘feel’, or should I get better at ‘feel’? If I’m not already good at it – the argument presumes that this is the issue, and I’m not 100% sure of that.
What’s next? Well, I plan to take 2 weeks or so to recover, hope to fit a swim in in the next day or two. My legs feel like they are recovering well enough, gammy second toe on my left foot notwithstanding. I’ll plan to try a bike ride at the weekend, but running might take a week or two to come back. If I feel good after two weeks, I’ll plan to sign up for the Bridgetown Long Distance. Still unsure about trying for a marathon BQ before September though. Longer term, I still want to run under 1:28 for a half-marathon for a certain all-time PB, I’m tempted to stick to half-ironman distance next year, though equally tempted to make another attempt on sub-11 IM!
So, that’s that then. Possibly my final post? I started the blog to document the training I was doing to complete Epic Dartmouth iron distance, and that’s done.
Well, look ‘ee here… 30 weeks of training and we made it – race day. Here’s how it panned out; where we see what all the hopes and fears, early mornings and late nights, dedication and bloody single-mindedness amount too…
There’s just so much that can go wrong racing long distance triathlon. Getting to the start line un-injured is hard enough, then making sure you have equipment and nutrition plan dialed in and everything organised in the right bags in the right place, including contingencies and adaptations according to what might happen in the race, the looming threat of imminent mechanical, physiological and/or psychological breakdown. Needless to say, I didn’t really sleep well again…
I watched the clock changing all through the night and at 4:30 or so, decided I might as well just get up and start getting ready. Rather than bothering the other guests in the B&B, I had packed breakfast, such as it was, in the car, so stood and ate a bagel with some cottage cheese and two chocolate flavoured meal replacement drinks – good for 1000kCal or so. That seemed to work ok, though, really, a nice cup of tea and some proper food would have been preferable.
Got to the race site and checked bike and bags in, then went through body marking and changed into race kit – good timing with not too much hanging around, but not rushed either. Met up with the fab Bridgewater Triathlon Club crew. We had 5 individual racers, plus a team entered. At around 6:20am I said my fond farewells, drank a bottle of Gatorade and went through to the swim start area – no coming back now.
After a quick warm-up, we were counted back into the water and with a strong breeze blowing and squally rain, we were off! Despite there only being 120 or so swimmers, it took a while for things to thin out, but by the turn at ~1000m, I was swimming with the same group who were going about my pace. In particular was one female (different coloured swim hat) who I kept swapping draft off and we stayed stroke for stroke the whole way – turns out this was Dot Martin, half (with John) of a great couple from Vermont we had met and shared a meal with the night before. The backside kilometre was quite choppy with the wind kicking up the waves – it had also blown the warm water down to one end of the lake with the colder water coming up to replace it. Still, I was fairly comfortable and I was almost sad for the swim to be coming to an end – I could have swum all day! No problem sighting the buoys, so much open water practice, plus you could actually follow the wire strung under the water to which the markers were affixed. Out and helped off with my wetsuit by the jolly ‘strippers’ – wayhey, flying brine! I checked my watch: 1:07:12 – wow, happy with that – great start to the day.
I got through T1 without mishap in a reasonable 4:07, clambered aboard and off for the long ride. Now. On a nice day, this is probably a pleasant scenic bike, but this really wasn’t a nice day – felt like I was racing in Scotland, except a tad warmer. Overall, though, not a bad route, 180km as one out and back. There were no great hills to speak of, hardly needed to get out of the saddle, one rough section of road for a few km otherwise good surface, well-signed and marshalled with aid stations every 20-30km. The time went by quickly; battered by the wind and rain, I had been picking off riders, making up ground, and coming to the turnaround I was able to count the riders in front and reckoned to be around 10th position, with an unknown number of those being team, aqua and epic distance riders. The bike and wheels behaved perfectly, I had worried about using the disc rear and 60mm front Flo wheels in strong winds, but I had no issues with control at all. Cool moment, as I came past the end of the airport runway, a plane was coming in to land right over me. I felt comfortable the whole way, though the last 25km I maybe pushed a bit hard, into a strong headwind on rolling roads. Off in 5:28:19 – right on target. Proved to be the 2nd fastest bike split amongst iron racers and 6th fastest overall, though Sam Gyde’s 4:44 made everything else laughable, but then he has won his age group in the world championships the last two years!
Nutrition: 5 Clif bars and 5 bottles of Gatorade.
Zipped through T2 in a speedy 1:57! As soon as I started the run, I knew it was going to be a slog. Whether the last three weeks of no running had more impact than I thought, or whether I pushed the bike too hard, I don’t know, but I started off slow, and got slower. The first lap, I ran 10.55km in under an hour – good enough, and I didn’t lose too much more on the second lap, but the third lap was a real struggle mentally and physically, I lost 16min and my hope of my goal time. The final lap was slightly better, I revised my goals and was happy in myself. Although I had no clear idea of where I was overall, I knew I was ahead of some of my key age-groupers. Thankfully, I had no major injury upset, though my right achilles got sore at one point – generally you are in a fair degree of pain by this point. There are some significant uphill sections on this run, and I had to walk them on the last half. Otherwise, I managed to keep the slow plod going.
Nutrition: Gu gel roughly every half hour at water stations 1 and 3. Gatorade and water at stations 2, 4 and 5. Some cola on the final lap.
The final few kilometres are a joy though, you know you’re going to make it and you can relax a bit. Coming in to the last 500m is one of the most epic experiences you can have, but the best part was having Jane there at the end to share it with – she made a lot of this possible, picking up the slack from the the time I spend training, and supporting me through the rough spots. Thank you.
So, what did all that training time amount to? Apart from a very gammy toe and the inability to tackle stairs unassisted? Overall time was 11:08:18, good enough in the small field for 1st in my 45-49 age group, and 4th overall! So, I didn’t hit all my goals, but hey! I’m plenty pleased with that…:-)
More than that though, and one of the reasons ironman (with a small ‘i’) is so popular is because it is so life-affirming. I’m 46 bloody years old… and in the best shape of my life. I might have failed in some areas of my life, but in this; when I take control over controllable things, make a plan, read my body’s reactions and learn, face up to my fears and worries, laugh at the pain – *and overcome it all* – that, my friends, is what it’s all about, really what it is all about.
I’ll do a more in-depth think-through of where things went right and wrong in this week’s review – and also consider what to do with this blog! Thanks for listening.
Day getting set up. Went for a short swim this morning. Strong winds and torrential downpours! And the forecast for tomorrow is about as poor as it could be – good grief! Like racing back in Scotland :-/
Dropped my bike off and packed my bags, of course second guessing clothing choices, wheel choice and whether I’ve forgotten something vital. Ah well, probably too late to be fussing.
Great meal at the Mic Mac Bar & Grill. Met up with a couple from Vermont who are both racing iron distance and managed to get a table for four in a wildly busy restaurant which made for a nice sociable meal. Haddock, baked potato and salad for me which was very nice indeed. Nice evening. What a lot of ‘nices’ in one paragraph.
Travelling day. Rest day. Thankfully all according to plan. Made the B&B by 4pm, settled in and headed back to the race HQ. Got checked with race kit pickup and met up with the rest of the tri club crew. Did the athlete’s welcome dinner and headed back to camp.
Another screwed up taper week day really, but again saved at the last minute. Messed up sleep last night and it wasn’t a good day to get up very early. It was another school event tonight, so had no time between getting in from work and going back out. Thankfully the event was done by 8pm and I managed a sufferfest session on the turbo trainer in the basement – Revolver 2013. This was a good session to do today, hard enough to remind my legs what they are supposed to be doing, but not so hard to leave me drained.
Ankle again untested but feels good enough, doing my exercises and have a repeat visit to the physio in the morning. I’m thinking that I could call in at a running shoe shop on the way in to town on Friday – I’m going to need another pair for training in anyway – what to get though? Real dilemma… I’ll chat with the physio about this, he’s a minimal shoe trail runner, so a good guy to speak to I guess.
The physio appointment was worthwhile, but maybe not the dramatic resolution that I hoped for! He carried out investigation, roller massage, ultrasound, had me walk and run on the treadmill in both current pairs of running shoes, gave me a arch support, showed me stretches and exercises, stuck some ice on it and finally taped it up with some kinesiology tape – all as I might have expected.
The upside is that he didn’t think there was any lingering serious damage, risk of rupture etc. and that was the reassurance that I was looking for.
The downside is that it is still likely going to be painful to run on. My Newtons look as if they might be a little too flexible to race in whilst recovering, but my Asics trainers are on the verge of being worn out, especially in the forefoot. So… what to do about shoes for Sunday!! I didn’t want to buy another pair of ‘big’ shoes, but if I could find another pair of 2160/70s on sale, they would probably go straight on without breaking in. Or, I wear my old trainers with arch support and hope they get me through one more long run. Or, I wear my Newtons with arch support and have old/new trainers in my special needs bag, plus analgesia. I’ll look for shoes locally, but if there are none, then I’ll have to look at the two latter options.
I have made a follow-up appointment for Thursday morning, and will try to run before then to see how it feels with the taping on.
No shoes in the local shop, so I have a dilemma. Today was a very hot sticky day and also the kids prom, so it was late by the time I got chance to do any training. Just fitted a half-hour swim in, which was good as far as it went. Doing my exercises, but not very confident about the chance of my ankle holding up…