Ironman Staffs – We Go Again?

Still licking my wounds from the Challenge Championship, as fast as it came round, it’s done. And my eyes have to turn to Ironman Staffordshire.

DSC_5218Two 70.3 races a week apart was always going to be a tall order, but with a solid performance at the Championship, I feel like I’m in a great position headed into Staffs. 

On Sunday only 41 seconds separated me and Brett, who went on to win our Age-Group and the overall age group race…. That’s if you ignore the swim and transition 1. Almost 10 minutes actually separated our times. So we know where the work is to be done.

Yet again I got on my bike completely out of touch with the rest of the race. I biked within myself, for some reason my legs just didn’t have the same aggression I often have. I was flat, empty, though still moving fast.

DSC_5306I managed to come home with the 4th fastest overall age-group bike split, only a few minutes behind some of the pros.

Then my run, this is where I wanted the focus to be. I wanted to run like I knew I could. Hard, fast and controlled. With a 1:21 half marathon and 10 seconds between my slowest and fastest 7km lap, I’d say it was pretty much text book for what I was capable of. I know there is more time in there, but on the day, I didn’t have an extra ounce of speed. 

To finish the day in 6th and 11th amateur is still a solid effort considering I came out the water in 155th!

DSC_5176So we turn to Staffs. And the focus has to be on seeing if I can show the gains I’ve made in the pool through the off season. I have to swim a good line, on good feet at a good pace. And it may not click into place, but I’ll be giving it a good go.

It’s nice to have a pressure free race in front of a “home crowd”. A lot of people will be able to support that often can’t get out to see me race!

I’ll be starting around 7:15 Sunday in Chasewater park. Though you won’t see me swim, and I’ll fairly shortly vanish off onto the bike course to try and dish all kinds of damage into my legs.

DSC_5368The plan is to start running in Stafford some time around 10:15, and this is where the atmosphere will be. So if you want to get yourself down, make sure you’re well positioned by 10am to watch the fun. It’s a 2.5 lap run course that does a lap of the centre, before making it’s way up to do a lap of the castle.

I’ve got no expectation for this race. I’d quite like to pick up a spot for the 70.3 World Championships in Nice, but the focus is still to race hard, enjoy it and see what my body is capable of before we head into the last block before Ironman Hamburg.
If you’re tracking at home I’m number 110. Enjoy! 

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2019 – the next steps.

Hello!

DSC02405It’s been a hot minute since I wrote anything. A lot has happened! World champs, a bit of training, another new bike fit, finalising the race calendar, a change of club, working on my photography business.

While writing this it’s Friday Morning. I’ve just got out the pool after hitting some big PB’s over 100 metres and yesterday I enjoyed my first rest day since we flew back from Spain. It’s amazing how long ago three weeks feels!

I won’t lie, I’ve kept no secrets in saying that I am disappointed with my performance in Spain.

I swam poor, I biked well considering the terrain, and I ran poor. The result, 7th in the AG and 26th in the AG field, you might say is a good one. But when I look to how I’ve been performing in training, I know I am capable of so much more. I won’t pretend I’m a strong cyclist in the hills, we all know I’m not. So to hold my own was a great positive, and there were no back issues! But, I know there’s more in there.

DSC_4107I don’t have any excuses for the run, I just didn’t have the legs on the day, and since then we’ve been working tirelessly to find out why.

I’ve had another bike fit, to see if that allows me to run stronger off the bike, we’ve worked hard in open water and in the pool to look for some cheap gains. And we’ve improved my run. I currently feel like my swim/run is up there with the best it’s ever been, but, that needs to start being translated into the way I race.

Last week was the 2nd biggest training week I’ve ever had, and the few days that followed were no smaller. Running off the bike when the body is exhausted at the end of a long block is the closest we can come to replicating an Ironman run leg. For those of you that want numbers, it was 2529 TSS in 11 days. 230 TSS per day average.

DSC02432For those that don’t understand that, TSS is a training stress score. The stress put on your body from any given session, calculated by some clever algorithms. And 230 for me is the equivalent of a 36km (22.5 mile) run, at 3 hour marathon pace. Or a 5 hour “steady state” bike ride with some intervals. Every day, for 11 days.

So as you can imagine, by day 4 I was smoked.

Day 8 of the block was a 1 hour bike and a 20.5 mile run off the bike, 33km to be exact. I was lucky enough to share it with my parents, them on the bikes, me pounding the pavement. It was thoroughly enjoyable, though my legs didn’t have quite as much fun.

DSC_4815We talked the world away, and with a strong last 30 minutes, I came home almost on the nose of the 3 hour marathon average pace.

Day 9 was another tough day, I woke up with understandably heavy legs to knock out 4.5km in the pool, weights and a 30 minute jog. This really made sure the legs were cooked before day 10. The last of the big runs.

I struggled to even get out of bed in the morning, let alone the thought of a chunky 90 minute bike and 2x5km run off the bike. But none the less I had a good go at the bike, despite my legs feeling completely ruined.

What followed was the first sign since February of the performance I know I can do. The type of spark I’ve been working so hard to find.

DSC02415I bumbled in through the front door from the bike, kit off, change jersey, running shoes on. And I was out. 2x5km “hard”.

The goal time was 19:10 per 5km, a tall order.

It didn’t take long before I was well up into the amber heart rate zones, knocking on the door of the red. Trying desperately to control my breathing on the small “hills” of my local Eaton loop.

“Stay smooth, stay strong”.

452A6279-3The words echoed in my mind. And before I knew it, the first 5km was over. I didn’t check the time, but I knew the pace was solid. And there was absolutely no way my body was going to be doing another.

But none the less, I took the full 3 minutes rest to talk myself into the second, and I was off.

“Stay smooth, stay strong.”

A quick look at my watch and it confirmed what I already knew. The pace was good, but I was hurting for it. Not fully emptying the tank, I knew there was still one day before I could let my body rest, and an injury wouldn’t help anyone at this point in time.

DSC_4786My heavy legs were hammering the silent roads, my panting all that I could hear. 1km…. 2km…. 2.5km… 3km…. 3.1km… I was breaking the distances smaller and smaller, into manageable chunks for myself.

But one thing was for sure, I was running, actually properly running.

I was back and it felt great.

Into the last 1km and I knew I just had to get to the end in one piece, nothing special, nothing magic, just don’t slow down, and don’t hurt yourself. Easy enough?

Job done.

Jog home, report to base.

I slumped on the grass outside the house to check the times.
18:14, 17:38.

DSC02441Wait what?

Far beyond what I thought I was currently capable of, and back to the form I was starting to see early season.

There and then, I’d run the confidence back into my legs. We’re back in business.

Now all this is great, and looks super promising for what’s to come in the next few weeks.

But the harsh reality is that nobody cares about how fast you train or how well you move behind closed doors. So, a week on Sunday, we go again.

DSC_4804At the Challenge Championships, Slovakia. A 70.3 race, where I’m hoping to show what I’m really capable of this year.

Then another go a week later, at Ironman stafford 70.3… and again at Swansea half marathon at the end of the month.

Why?

Because they’re pressure free hit outs. Who cares what happens? Until Ironman Hamburg I certainly don’t!

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be there and I’ll be racing hard to really see what I’m capable of. Turning myself inside out. But not for a time, not to win, not to beat people. Just to see how far I can take push my body, and where we’re up to after another solid block.

If at first you don’t succeed – try, try and try again.

ITU World Championships – Believe the Dream.

World Championships.

452A6309Just the name demands respect. The pinnacle of any sport, the best in the world, in one place, head to head.

I’ve just finished off yet another “training block”, though it doesn’t really feel like it ever got started. 

If you’ve been following me closely, all 3 of you will know that I’ve had it really rough since Africa. A fever, a cold, a back injury that has only just lifted. I’ve been really battling to do the smallest amount of training.

452A6330-2I feel like I’ve taken a huge step backwards in my development and fitness, my confidence has had a huge knock and I’m just not ready. 

2 big races, 2 poor performances. 

It would be naive to think that I’ll turn up at the world championship, and just race well. The worst prep, average fitness, fast boys.

Yet I find myself incredibly hopeful. With a strange mentality.

A bike that fits. Legs that aren’t broken. And a somewhat teenage attitude, that I can take on the world. And who’s gonna stop me?

452A6441And trust me, I have no doubt that somebody will. Somebody more suited to the  terrain, the conditions, the distance. But I’m going to race fearlessly. And yet again, leave it absolutely all out there, until my body just can’t take any more.

The body should remember the hard miles in winter, the long sessions, the relentless training.

I was asked by an interviewer recently, why do you do it? What gets you up in the morning? What motivates you?

And I won’t lie, I found it really really difficult to answer. 

452A6352But now, I think I know.

I’m absolutely terrified, of being ordinary. Average. Normal. The same as everybody else. 

Conforming to day to day life and not reaching my absolute potential scares me. Whatever that potential may be. 

And that’s crazy. Most people have to be average, that’s how statistics work. But i was brought up in the millennial generation, the generation that are born full of hope. 

“You can be whatever you want to be”. 

“you can do whatever you want to do”.

452A6407I often find myself preaching the same message to the next generation. Primary school, high schools, youth groups… every time I give a talk – I tell them to believe in themselves. Follow their dreams & don’t let anyone hold them back.

And when I look around the room, I see myself 10, 15, 20 years ago. No different to any of the people say in front of me.

I may never PB in a race again. That’s not impossible, bad things happen to good people. I may have already reached the limit of what I’m capable of. Which I sort of know is not true, as I’ve performed better in training than I have in racing. 

452A6457Though, if I don’t pursue perfection, and if I don’t try, how will I ever know? 

I’m no different. I am ordinary, average, normal. But normal people can do exceptional things. I actually believe that. 

It takes time, patience, hard work. Failure, setback, loss. But over time, the dream prevails.

I’m tired of putting out average performances. So yet again I’ll be on the start line. Ready to leave it all on the course, and hoping for that little glimmer of magic!

Because if not now, when? 

452A6378

Ironman South Africa – Tracking Information

It’s here! Race time. After a long winter, it’s a real blessing. 

I’ll keep this one short – the time for talking is over. It’s time for business..

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Tracking info: the best way is the download the Ironman app. Allow notifications. Hit South Africa and search for Jack Schofield or 148. You’ll see a nice little picture of me and mum, track me and off we go! 

It’s really that simple. Hopefully it works this time!DSC02222

To answer the common questions:

Yeah I feel great. Prep has been good, the bike is handling ok and we’re in for a tough day.

I’m racing with no expectation – just the expectation of racing as hard as I can with the cards I’m dealt. If that’s misfortune I’ll deal with it, if not happy days.

The numbers have been great the past couple of months, which is nice. But my training doesn’t do the race for me. I have to get myself as fast as possible around 226km with a combination of 3 sports. That’s all that matters now. 

Thanks to the huge team behind the scenes that have worked all hours to get me to the start line. And put up with all my winter tantrums – it really is hugely appreciated. 

This one’s for you! 

Instagram Without Followers – A New Start.

After a couple of emails at the weekend and today concerned that my Instagram has seemingly “been hacked”. I decided I write my reply openly, for everyone to read. To gain more understanding of why I’ve deleted Instagram.

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“Thanks for the concern, though it seems you didn’t read the single new post!

I chose to delete my Instagram account and start again. This is for a variety of reasons – the majority of which are listed below.

DSC_9264I decided moving forward a rebrand would be far more beneficial to me and the brands I work with.

I’ve been thinking a lot on the subject recently. I’ve really lost taste in Instagram & Facebook and the way my accounts have been running. My followers are completely disengaged and I haven’t been enjoying the content I’ve been posting. I feel like I’ve been posting for the sake of it and it’s gone completely flat. And that’s completely against everything I stand for.

So I’ve decided to reset my Instagram, keep the same handle and go back to zero followers. In the hope of building a more authentic approach, true to my character, with an engaged following, be it small or large. Do more of what I love and create original content through my photography business, and train/race hard for the love of it as I always have regardless of social media.

I have a lot more to offer any brand than a few Instagram followers – though it seems that’s all people are interested in. Being a content creator, an active community member offline, one of the countries top age group athletes and still only 25 all seems to get overlooked for a single number. A number of disengaged followers. Why are we so trapped by this?

DSC_7786Therefore I took the decision to start again. Though short term I may lose relationships, support or exposure.  Long term I’ll forge more valuable ones and be in a better place. I’ll be able to work with people that share my values, believe in my journey and have faith in me as a person.

It wasn’t a decision I took lightly, though I’m sure you’ll understand.”

Jack

And I’ll finish with one of my favourite quotes:
“It’s much better to walk alone, in the right direction, than to follow the herd, walking in the wrong one”.

February – Like baking a cake?

We’re a little over 40 days into 2019, and I’ve already had three of the biggest training weeks my body has ever been through. Backed up by some very high quality sessions, in some very uncomfortable zones. And why? Because I’m back in love with the process.

DSC01739Not that I ever wasn’t, but reinvigorated by my 2018 season, I’m hungrier than before. Hungry to go fast, but focussed on working hard. 

It’s easy to say that these early building blocks, joined up with the hard work in November and December are possibly the most important of the season. 

And you’d be right, they are. They’re fundamental to a successful season, but I think February is probably the most important month of the year.

If you think of it like baking a cake. A tasty cake, is a fast race. You have to be careful to get all the right ingredients, mix them in the right order, and in the right way. Without this, it’s impossible to get a nice cake.
You have to set it up well from the start.

DSC01569But then, the cake has to cook.

And February is time to cook.

It’s easy to be motivated at the start of the season, you’re eager to put right any wrongs or bouncing from a successful season. You’re hungry, motivated and ready for a big winter. Then In December you have Christmas and family time to break up the miles. 

DSC01591Moving into January and winter hits, but fuelled by resolutions and a New Years kick, it’s going to be your year. It might be time for camp or some sun, or just a big boost.

But February is tough.

The cake is in the oven, you can’t open the door, or mess with it, you just have to leave it. Let it tick over, let it grow.

The miles have to sink into your legs.
Race season is still quite far away, you might be still in a big building block, or letting the first 3 months of the year properly hit your legs. Keeping healthy, injury free and away from sickness is the most important thing. Winter is still here, it’s often hard to find motivation.

DSC01236And for myself, that’s difficult when I’m away a lot, working hard, and training harder. That’s when it’s easy to be careless, overlook the nutrition, sleep, prehab and rehab. The little exercises and stretches that make all the difference on race day.

Having just landed back from Gran Canaria, last week saw me training with some of Britain’s top athletes. It was great for me to watch everyone else push themselves to the limit, and how they conduct themselves in and out of training. And one thing we all had in common – the drive to work hard, and keep smiling. But a real love for the process. 

DSC01560Those of you who follow me closely will know I’ve been disappointed with the way I’ve been cycling in 2019, not quite finding my feet I’ve been searching for answers. But one thing I do know, if I keep working hard, they’ll find themselves. 

And this could be the month for that. March will be easy to motivate myself with more sun and a real drive to be ready for race season. 

Icing the cake, decorating it to look pretty. Adding the final touches. Jumping through the last through hoops to find that top end race form.

With the new bike position slowly dialling itself into my legs, I haven’t quite managed to hit a lot of my numbers so far this year.

DSC01646A less experienced version of myself would hit the panic button here, and to some extent I did have a minor wobble. But I have patience and I trust the process. You can’t be at 100% all year round, and the miles add up. Day in day out I just grind away, ticking over in the hope that in 8 weeks time, some form finds my legs.

The last few weeks we’ve had a real focus on my run, looking for consistency and high quality. And that’s beginning to show. My running legs are starting to come back, and they’re here to party. In this period, keeping the consistency is at the top of the menu.

Though the numbers haven’t been consistently there. I’ve been worrying more about the process of working hard, and that’s all the matters. And through that, occasionally there have been glitters of something different, a new form, something beyond where I’ve been before.

DSC01821Every day, ticking the boxes. I’m really loving the hard work day in day out, and the support is in place to allow me to do that. To be the best possible version of myself. 

A lot can happen between now and race season, and nobody knows what cards I’ll be dealt.

One thing I do know, is every day I’ll control the small things I can. And session by session, we’ll get there. 

Exceptional performances are made of hundreds and hundreds of average sessions. 

Bake the cake, the time to eat it is fast approaching.

Do your miles, Eat your greens, Don’t let girls be mean to you.

As I write this, I’m sat in the Portuguese sun looking back on what’s already been a very punchy start to 2019. With big personal goals for the year, I’ve really started as I mean to go on. 

DSC01017But what does success look like? What’s the real recipe? Though I’ve not quite tasted it myself yet, I’m often surrounded by some of the worlds best. A fantastic opportunity to see what they invest, and just what it takes.

And I’ve decided no matter what your goal, in or out of sport, the recipe is in fact this:

Do you miles, eat your greens, and don’t let girls be mean to you.

And I say not just in sport – because that’s the recipe for life. You’re welcome. 

DSC01044But before you shut it down and think the training has fried my brain, hear me out…

On paper the last week has been my biggest ever training week in terms of stress score on the body. I’ve done all the training solo and unsupported – and I’ve learned a lot about myself. Since the start of the year, I’ve been flat out. 1,179km on the bike in the last 19 days, 16,000m climbed. Already nearly twice Everest. 226km running, a whole Ironman, on foot. And 25.8km in the pool. 

This has reminded me anyone can work hard, if they set their mind to it. But working smart is better. 

20180624_11491You can work flat out for a week, or two, or three. But when you can’t work at all on the fourth and fifth week, you fall back. And it’ll stress you out. You won’t be moving forward any more, instead you’ll be overtaken by those that pace themselves. Those that just tick over, consistently day in day out.

They’re the real winners. 

I could have completed this quicker, harder – gone further. But I’d be burned out. I’d be injured and flat. I’d miss a weeks training if not more and we’re back to square 1.5.

DSC01067Success is a combination of consistency with a bit of luck.

So the consistency metaphor is obvious – do your miles. Just tick over. Stick at it! Some days it sucks, and all you want to do is lie in bed and not move. Trust me, I’m not a robot, I feel all the same things you do. And it’s hard, it’s really hard, but you have to get it done. 

But what allows you to do your miles? What let’s you work hard? What let’s you accomplish what you set out to do? 

Eating your greens. 

DSC01116These are the things that happen behind the scenes. The little things you can’t always see. Waking up early – and going to bed early. Long days don’t benefit anyone. Not enough hours in the day? You’re not managing your time well enough. This is an argument I see all the time. I know people working three jobs and training 20-25 hours a week, racing at an international level. And you’re telling me you can’t read a book for 15 minutes a day? Behave.

Eat your greens. Look after yourself. Let yourself recover. Stretch, do yoga, find some sort of relaxation whatever that may be. Give yourself the down time you need. The time away, time off. 

DSC01122Drink with friends, enjoy a nice meal. Go for a walk, catch up with people you haven’t seen in a while. Make time, make effort, get away. You can’t work at 100% all of the time, success is a balance. 

But balance is the key word. You can’t have treats all the time; you have to make sacrifices. The candle can’t be burned at both ends. What did your parents tell you? You can’t have dessert if you don’t eat your greens. 

And don’t let girls be mean to you. 

DSC01126And by girls, I mean anyone, anyone in the world. Who cares? This is something we see all the time, unfortunately despite all the amazing connections social media brings; it also brings a world of negativity. Real life has just as much of it. It might be a little comment that someone didn’t mean, it might be flat out spite – but honestly – why do you let yourself worry? Will Doris that things I eat too much cake to be an athlete stop me achieving what I want to this year? Do the people that thing I’ll never be able to swim fast enough have an impact on my life?  Does the people that think they’ll always be quicker than me stop me trying? No. And I know some days it’s hard to ignore, and some days you believe it. You let it in.

But think about the bigger picture. Remind yourself where you’re going and what you want to be. Anything is possible; don’t let someone else’s narrow vision cloud yours.

DSC01140And some times – even the people close to you need a bit of a nudge in the right direction. But they’ll support you, and they’ll come on board. A 2016 version of myself had to fight tooth and nail to convince my parents to let me leave architecture and pursue sport. It’d be a very different conversation today!

You can be successful. Anyone can:

Do you miles, eat your greens and don’t let girls be mean to you. 

2018 – A Brief Summary.

With 2018 drawing to a close, it’s time for a bit of personal reflection. It was a year full of ups & downs for me both in an out of racing.

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A broken toe & 2 bike crashes getting in the way of both of my A-Races… and moving up an age group making racing that extra bit tougher. Ironman Barcelona didn’t quite go to plan, and I didn’t have the running legs to do anything special at worlds. But that being said, I’d definitely class the season as a massive success.

I achieved everything I set out to do, I wanted to prove to myself that I could really be competitive in the higher levels of the sport, and despite still being held back by my swim, I’ve managed that.

The Racing:

20x30-CAAN0053My biggest successes this year were both in the Netherlands. 

Finishing 8th overall at Ironman Maastricht speaks for itself. A fantastic result when I was least expecting it, showing that I really can keep up with some of the top age group athletes.

Though overturning a 35 minute swim at Challenge Almere, churning out the 4th fastest bike split, followed by a 1:20:14 half marathon off the bike to finish 11th overall was the highlight of the year for me. Not the result I wanted, but a performance way above expectations. 

I’ve set numerous PB’s in the pool as well as PB’ing at both half and full ironman distances in the water. I’ve set a new bike PB in terms of speed and power for both full and half ironman, a new FTP, and personal bests in all running disciplines both off the bike and straight.

A personal best over an ironman and half ironman course, mean there isn’t a single discipline I’ve entered this year, where I haven’t set a PB… that’s quite some going! And a positive for the future, with more records falling behind closed doors since the season ended.

A win at Storm the Castle and Wilmslow sprint tri were good confidence boosters and I’m excited for what early 2019 will bring.

The Numbers:

452A0299This year I’ve completed:

832 hours training.
19,419KM travelled.

466,749m swimming.
16,771.4km cycling (144,315m elevation)
1996km running, (13,769m elevation)

This consistency has really paid off, and I’ll leave you to work out how far that is in distance…

What’s Next?

97_m-100832874-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2235_068630-19178256Well more of the same hopefully! Keep the consistency, improve the strength. Turn my weaknesses into strengths, and my strengths into weapons.

You may know my race schedule, if you don’t it’s available on my website. And it ends June 9th. After that is a big question mark, depending on how the races go. It’s not a secret that my main goal for the year is Kona, but that’s not the main focus. I can’t control whether or not I qualify, I can only control how hard I race.

The illusive “perfect race”, has never come around for me, so I’ll chase that perfection this year. Maastricht was the closest I’ve come, being happy with my result crossing the line, knowing I had nothing else in the tank on the day.

452A4077There are a few unanswered questions in my head, and I’ll leave you with a few of them:

How far into the red zone can I go, before my body gives up on me?
Can I swim sub 1 hour in an Ironman?
Can I match the pros on the bike?
Can I run around the 2:55 marker off the bike?
Am I capable of a 1:15 half marathon off the bike?

Lots to continue to work on for 2019, and I’m not even close to where I want to be. But for now I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, the people I’ve shared them with, and what I’ve been able to achieve. 

Ironman Maastricht – Race Report

Where to start?! From start to finish it was the race I’ve dreamed of since I decided to pursue ironman. Granted my swim massively let me down – but to overturn a 1:10 swim to finish top 10 overall is something I’d not quite imagined possible!

The boring bit will follow – but the race panned out pretty much how I expected it to.

2_m-100832874-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2235_000572-19178161One things for certain – I’m absolutely overwhelmed with the amazing messages from everyone supporting. I’ve always said that one of the main reasons I manage to perform is because of the phenomenal team I have around me. Sponsors, family, friends, acquaintances. I’ve never been one to race for people that doubt me – I left it all on the course for every single person that’s believed in me over the past year. And when I was really up against it – it was the support that got me through.

As per usual – I was wide awake when the 4:30 alarm buzzed. The lack of sleep doesn’t worry me any more – in fact I think I’d be more scared if I slept well the night before the race.

A decently sized breakfast preparing myself for a long day of nothing but energy gels, coke and electrolytes – I knew I’d have to make the most of the real food.

As we bumbled down to the start I was finally beginning to get my head around what I was in for. People spend years training to finish an Ironman, and I was about to try and complete another. Yet again in 30 plus degrees of sun.

The announcement was made 1 hour before the race – no wetsuit swim. Never ideal but everyone had to do it. I managed to forget my water bottles on the way to the start – but a quick trip back to the car quickly solved that – and we were up and running.

7_m-100832874-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2235_006432-19178166Though I was nervous – I was also very relaxed. I only made it out of the portaloo queue 8 minutes before the start of the race – and I still had to sort my special needs bags and drop my dry kit off – but I knew I had time. A quick photo stop with TPS and we made it down to the start.

The swim was good – I felt smooth, comfortable, confident. Probably because I wasn’t swimming that fast at all. But on a day where a lot of people added 3/4 minutes – I was happy to take an Ironman distance PB. Equalling what I did in the Kona practice swim. I picked good lines and good feet – and although there is so much work to do in this area of my race – I was happy I didn’t completely throw it away.

On to the bike and I was quickly making ground on the rest of the field. The surfacing was awful and it was a very very technical bike course. It took me a long while to get into any form of rhythm and through the technical descents I was losing a lot of time. This really highlighted to me the importance of checking the bike course before the race!

Despite the awful surfaces I managed to stick to my nutrition plan to the letter – and not lose the bottle on the bumps!

32_m-100832874-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2235_025566-19178191I stuck to the game plan and slowly picked people off one by one. The first half of the bike loop were where the hills were – and the second half was pan flat – so I knew this was where I’d make my time. Having a great battle with the eventual winner of the AG – we were back and forth for the whole second 90km of the bike – it was a real battle.

My legs started to feel the pinch in the last 30km so I let the power come down but kept working and ticking over knowing I’d still be putting time into a lot of the field. I knew I’d have to stay resilient and stick to the plan – no matter what.

Coming off the bike and it was a super warm day – at 30 degrees from the moment I stepped onto that run course, I could feel it. I knew I was in for a long one.

Laura told me I was off the bike in 5th, but I was confident in my ability to run a couple down. The legs were good and I was up for the suffering.

69_m-100832874-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2235_049633-19178228One by one I ticked people off – but I was overheating fast. There was a real lack of aid stations on the course and I hadn’t planned my run nutrition. A mistake I really paid for. Every opportunity I took ice and sponges – doing everything to keep the core temperature down and keep the legs ticking.

Unfortunately the lack of aid station from KM 30 – 34 absolutely ruined me. Then I took on far too much fluid to even contemplate holding the pace of the winner when he came through me. No wonder I was so ill when I crossed the line.

I’d fully come to terms with the fact that finishing 4th was a phenomenal result, so to find out I was actually second was an amazing result.

After coming out of the water barely in the top 200 to move through the field and into the top 10 is a race I’ll never forget. I’m gaining more and more confidence race by race and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season and the future hold.

55_m-100832874-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2235_046816-19178214 78_m-100832874-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2235_056512-19178237 102_m-100832874-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2235_068635-19178261 97_m-100832874-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2235_068630-19178256 100_m-100832874-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2235_068633-19178259

Ironman Maastricht #99 – Straight back at it.

It’s barely been 3 weeks since the ITU world champs and I’m straight back in at the deep end – an Ironman. 

It’s a strange feeling when you spend your whole time preparing for an event, for it to be out of the way and your focus has to instantly shift to the next one. 

With my next big goal being Ironman Barcelona it’s been very hard for me to focus in on this event – or even comprehend what I’m about to put my body through. 38444815_262771104324519_5349182369016315904_n

I’ve not applied myself with the same discipline I normally do leading into a big event – but I’m not worried about that. 

We’re in for a very warm day on Sunday, pushing 30 degrees which won’t benefit a slightly over weight version of me. I’m up 2kg since Denmark, though that has certainly helped recovery and training through the last 2 and a half weeks, it won’t help me on that marathon. But when have I ever made weight? 

My recovery has been good – I’ve managed to shift most of the issues I carried into Denmark and my training has been consistent and strong. 

I’ve just gently ticked over – with a few big sessions in the mix, nothing out of the ordinary.

So how does the race look? 

Well – I suppose the obvious thing is this race will be a lot longer. Denmark took me a little over 6 hours to complete, whereas here I’m hoping for a little over 9. 

And where is that time coming from?

38404522_1470977033004164_1671550307521265664_nWell, luckily not the swim!

The swim is meant to be 800m longer – which means it could be anywhere from 600 to 1200… but even on a bad day, that’s only an extra 15 minutes. 

I should be on the bike an extra 90 minutes – 2 hours – plenty of time to make ground on the rest of the field. A hilly course doesn’t benefit me in my current condition – although I’m sure there’ll be plenty for me to get stuck into. 

Then there’s the case of the marathon. If I held my Denmark pace it would take me and extra hour, and I have much more faith in my legs after some really strong run sessions in the last 2 weeks. 

As always – the real tell will be nutrition, and who can hold themselves together at the end of a long day. 

So obviously the old motto of “don’t try anything new” on race day applies…. right? No?

Of course, that would be far too sensible.

20180520_11141So this time we’re going to completely revamp my nutrition plan. And going to do the whole race on only energy gels, no “real food”.

Yeah it probably sounds as crazy to you as it does to me. So we’ve done the maths, and at my current weight I’ll need 28 energy gels to get me through the day, what’s the worst that can happen?

There is plenty of method to the madness of course – and if my body can stomach them then I think it could be the solution I’ve been searching for.

And if not – I’ll probably leave my stomach somewhere between mile 15 and 20 of the marathon. 

Hopefully the day won’t look too dissimilar to anything I’ve done in the past:

Shocking swim.

Very strong bike. 

See how much ground I can make on the run.

I’ve had plenty of mishaps this season – so I’m not worried about that happening again, I can only control myself and my effort, so that’s what I’ll do. If I get a mechanical or find myself in difficulty – I’ll adapt and react appropriately. This is where the experience is slowly starting to show. 

I’m number 99, first time down in double digits has to count for something right? 

It’s super easy to track on the Ironman app – or their website if you’re old school and my sister will be fuelling the social media hype.

So for now I’ll get my head down, rest up, eat more pastries than I should and see you all on the start line. 

And from the moment I come out of that river – I’ll be on the hunt.