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Ironman Hamburg – Brave faces and dark places.

It’s arrived, we’re here. Ironman Hamburg has swung around and yet again, I find myself in race week. We fly tomorrow super early doors and so far, so good… touch wood.

_MG_1827If you’re just here for tracking information, that’s relatively simple. Get yourself the ironman app downloaded, search for Jack Schofield, and a little smiley picture of me and my mum should pop up. Get notifications on, get me on your tracker and off we go. Start time is around 6:45am in Germany, so 5:45 at home.

Though it wasn’t originally on the calendar, it’s been running through my head ever since Africa went wrong for me. Of my last 5 full Ironman races, 4 haven’t gone the way I like. But that’s taught me a lot about my goals, targets and how to deal with bad results.

I’ve had bad nutrition, bad run numbers, back spasms, a bike crash, punctures, you name it, I’ve had it. All the possible triathlon excuses.

But there’s always another day, always another race and that perspective is why I think I’m in the best place I’ve ever been in.

There’ve been a few bumps and bruises in the last week or two. A complete nutrition revamp because of a leaky front system among others. But that’s how it goes and I think I’ve got to the bottom of it all.

_MG_1944It’s no secret that I want to go to Kona again this year. That’s been a goal of mine for quite some time, but if it doesn’t happen, I’m ok with that.

A bigger goal of mine, that’s been on my radar for the best part of 5 years, is completing the ‘perfect race’.

Now we all know that doesn’t quite exist, but in the pursuit of perfection you can easily stumble across excellence.

There’s absolutely nothing I’d change about the last 3 months of training and preparation. I’ve worked hard, eaten well and it’s been a great journey. My mind is in a good place and physically I’m in the shape of my life. I’ve been racing consistently and the people around me have been working endlessly to keep me propped up and moving forward. And for that I’m incredibly grateful.

I’ve learned first hand how quickly it can go wrong. I have to respect the monumental task I have in front of me, another ironman in very warm conditions!

3.8km swim.
180km bike.
42.2km run.

So how does that look?

_MG_1775Well, after a shiny new wetsuit with a huge thanks to Glass & Stainless, my swim will hopefully be an improvement on where it’s been in the past. I’m looking to dip pretty close to that 1 hour marker, probably just above. Though probably still 10 minutes back on the people I’m planning on rubbing shoulders with.

I’ll be straight into transition, socks on, shoes, helmet, race belt, go.

And I’m going to attack that bike course like nothing I’ve ever done before. Sure, I’m not riding to blow up in the first 40km, but there’s a fire in my belly that hasn’t been there before. I want to explore the limits of what my body is capable of and just how fast I can take to 180km. What can I do flat out after 2 years of average bike performances? The dream is to hold a pace not too dissimilar to that in Slovakia…. which brings me in on the better side of 4:30, something I know I’m very capable of.

If I get a flat. I’ll fix it.
Lose my nutrition, I’ll sort it.
If I fall off, we’ll have to hope everything is ok and I’ll keep battling.

_MG_1848I’ve spent the last 2 weeks going over and over every scenario in my head. So should one happen, I’ll stay calm and work out the best possible way to keep me in the race. I’ll play my hand with the cards I’m dealt on the day… and statistically, I’m due a good hand.

Peel myself off the bike, hopefully less literally than in Africa… shoes on, belt round, visor, glasses, nutrition, go.

Get after that ever elusive sub 3 ironman marathon.

I’ve spent 7 years in & around sport.. beating myself up day in, day out, aspiring to be like the athletes I surround myself with. And I’ve learned a lot about myself. Hopefully I can get back into the darkness and come out the other side… a grimace on my face, but a smile underneath.

Sunday will be entirely dictated in the last 15-20km of the marathon. Everyone can run the first 10km fast, but who can run the last 10km fast? It’ll be a delicate balance of having nutrition perfect so that there’s no gut issues or cramp in that latter part of the race. Mixed with a mindset that allows you to perform.

_MG_1636I’m hungry for an 8:45 ironman. It’s been a long time coming and I really hope that this weekend I can punch that ticket. 525 minutes from A to B. As hard as possible. With no excuses. No if’s, no buts. I’m under no pretence that to accomplish that I’m in for the hardest race of my life, but I’m prepared for that. I’ve done all the work I need to, no stone has been left unturned.

But really, I don’t care about time, don’t care about wins, losses. As I’ve adapted as an athlete, I’m out there to race myself and see just how far I can stretch my own limits.

Fight and fight and fight, until I cross the finish line.

Hopefully this time when we get there, it’ll be a performance I can be proud of. A day I can look back on and think “Wow, now that was a race!”. Sure, I have my targets. But it’ll be warm and so many factors can come into play… so I just want to work hard, race well and race strong.

And if it’s not my day, again…. then the next ironman start line I’m on, I really wouldn’t want to race me!

See you on the other side.

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