I’ll let you into a little secret: I only signed up for the race yesterday.
I really haven’t been sure as to whether this is really possible. I still think I am only training for a half and expecting to do a full, but the gap has been decreasing and the alternatives are not worth considering.
What are the alternatives?
Do a half instead. That is like giving up before you even start. And I know I can do a half so where is the challange in that?
Cancel and do a full later in the year. That would mean more bloody training. I’ve trained for goodness sake: if I need to do more then I am not interested! Neither is the family!
Cancel and do it next year. OK it would mean a rest now, but still more training next year and, if I am accepting that I haven’t done enough training this year then that means MORE training next year. On yer boike!
Cancel and give it up as a bad job. This is actually the most attractive propositions. If I can’t do it, I can’t do it and if I am going to give up I may as well give up now!
You see? None of the above are really acceptable, so after 6 months of training to varying degrees of intensity the only way is up!
So Where am I?
I started open water swimming last week with an aquathon and a splash at Box End Park in Bedfordshire. Not big distances but concentrating on my technique. What really hit me was how out of control I felt at the beginning of the aquathon. By 300 metres I was having serious doubts about wether I could complete the 750 ahead of me, let alone the 3800 in Gravelines! I had no rythm, no focus, no position. I couldn’t keep a straight line and for some reason I couldn’t breath to my left.
Added to that some arsewipe thought it would be a great idea to try to draught off of my rear but kept tapping my feet, thus slowing both of us down!
But by the turn I was calmer. I had lost arsewipe, I could breathe bilaterally, my strokes were even and considered and because of all that it was easier to swim in a straight line. By the last 200 metres I was starting to enjoy myself and pull back what I had lost.
I dragged myself out promising myself that some more practise was required.
The rest of the race went brilliantly.
I didn’t hurry the transition because I will not be hurrying on the day of the Chtri. I can understand why saving a few seconds is important in a sprint or even an olympic distance… it is not so much the time as making sure you don’t loose the pack, but as part of a full day of sport there really is no pointy in saving 10 seconds in T1. So I staggered out of my wetsuit, dried myself off a bit, put socks and shoes on, carefully tied my laces, grabbed a drink and, just at the last moment remembered to take my goggles off.
But after that terrible swim and a slow transition I tore round the 5k just because I could, only to find that my chip stopped working after coming into T1!
Never mind, it was never about the time, but the swim and T1.
So on Thursday I headed off to Box End Park. It is just a couple of small lakes near Bedford but they have great facilities and they are a friendly bunch and I spent 40 minutes pootling round there playing with my stroke and sighting. I am back there in about 30 minutes time to do some more of the same, because with 10 days to go, its not about muscle but about skill and confidence.
Oh, the taper. Bugger I forgot about the taper.
I have done most of my cycling. I have built up to 175km (which I did in 7 hrs, 37 mins including getting lost several times and having to walk through Bedford Town centre) which I am completely happy with.
I will do a couple of little rides and may go out on Sunday (T-8) for a few hours and practise refuelling drills. Otherwise I think I am finished with cycling till the day before when I would like to have a quick go in France so I get used to the road conditions and the traffic being on a different side.
One other thing I have decided is to forgo the tribars. I had them on for a couple of weeks and didn’t do much more than look at them. Oddly what they did do was persuade me down onto the drops for longer periods of time, so if nothing else they have improved my position even though I will not be using the. I have become much more comfortable on the drops as a consequence!
I also wore my yellow jacket for most of the cycle. For “Yellow jacket” you may as well read “Big yellow sail”. It wasn’t until I took it off later that I realised just how much extra work I was doing!
So all in all, what with getting lost, having to walk through Bedford and not being quite so aero dynamic as I could be for three quarters of the ride, I think 7h37m is a respectable time.
One thing that was in my favour was that I have finally joined the ranks of the shaven legged ones!
I don’t think that my ne go-faster legs really helped but I may as well give it a go and as someone commented, it will help with road rash AND at least it will make me “look” like a pro!
I am reasonably happy with my running. I think I am stronger than when I ran the Lisbon marathon but I certainly haven’t had the road time. This may cause a problem in the end but it was all part of the management of my aging body that I dropped off running slightly earlier than I did for Lisbon.
Although I have run several 11 to 13 mile sessions, my longest run was 19 miles and that was 4 weeks ago. Otherwise all runs have been between 5 and 10 km and either concentrating on speed work or just concentrating on not tripping over and spraining an ankle!
For the event itself I want to run 10 minute miles. If I have more in the tank towards the end then so be it, but otherwise10 minute miles will mean that I get off my feet with 4h:20m and in the bar with my long-suffering wife by about 9:30! That will be a good day’s work!
So tonight I am going out with the 10 minute milers of Dunstable Road Runners to find my rythm at that speed. I’ll jog there and back too so hopefully I will get in 10 miles at “race pace”.
After tonight I’m not too sure what I will run. DRR are doing hills next week so I don’t want to do that but maybe 6 miles with them on Wednesday will be OK… four days out? Maybe I’ll take advice on that!
So after tonight it is yoga on Thursday and a swim and a run on Friday.
On Sunday after the ride I’ll play around with transitions – going out, running round the garden in my wetsuit with the kids throwing buckets of water at me, then practicing T1 before a 5km ride round the block then back for T2 and a 2 km run round Blue Water.
I’ll do that twice and then get my own back on the kids!
Then next week a little run on Monday, open water swim on Tuesday, 6 mile run on Wednesday, yoga on Thursday and relax!
I think that sounds pretty good!
I’ve just returned from that session at Box End Park: 4 km of stroke play and sighting followed by a jog round some nearby fields. EASY!
There was one thing though that was not too easy. OK for the proper folks amongst you I apologise but anyone who has done a triathlon will know what’s coming next… the mid-swim pee!
Its a tri fact! I heard once that there are two types of triathlete: those who pee in their trisuit and those who lie about it! But that doesn’t make it any easier. I really needed to go today so I held outfor as long as I could but then just had to go. The only problem was I couldn’t! And then I switched to breast stroke and I couldn’t stop it!
So today I’ve learnt a simple fact. All those triathletes that say they are just taking a moment to sight to correct their course are lying. They are “letting it rip” – it’s a technical triathlon term apparantly – because it is really hard to do while in race position!
There is also the fact of a mid-bike pee but I’m not kidding anyone: I’m hopping off and going behind a bush. Two minutes are not going to be race changing for me and think of the chaffing!
Also the course we are riding is two 90km laps, I can use the first lap to find somewhere suitable.
So that’s it. 10 Days to go and I can swim the distance, cycle the distance and run the distance I’ve got shaved legs for the go-faster bike stretch and I can pee for added warmth on the swim section!
I’ve got food and drink sussed, I have my kit and, come this weekend, I will be a dab-hand at transition.
I am fit to Ch’tri! Now where is my passport.