Getting ready for the big one

Last weekend I ‘raced’ a 100 mile time trial in Derbyshire. I was missing a party with my university friends and was so tired driving up there after an early morning swim that I had to pull over for a power nap en route. In all honesty I didn’t have a clue how I would manage to get myself through the ride, let alone push myself to ride hard. I checked my email in the car park to find a picture of my group of friends and me, 10 years younger at a previous party, and almost burst into tears. I would have given anything to be in a dress and makeup with my friends, rather than dragging my exhausted carcass, squeezed into an unflattering lycra skinsuit, through an A road time trial, which, even on a good day when you’re not shattered before you start, is an unpleasant experience.

I’ve made lots of sacrifices in the name of triathlon since starting my sabbatical but, in all honesty, this is the only one that has truly felt like a sacrifice.

Did I resent missing the party at the time? Yes, massively.

Do I resent missing it now? Not at all.

I want to arrive at Kona knowing I’ve done everything I can to give myself the best opportunity to get the most out of myself while I’m there, and, I guess if I hadn’t resented missing at least one thing on the way I probably haven’t tried hard enough. As it was, I made the time trial count. It was horrible, physically and mentally, but I did the best I could on the day and it’s another solid session banked which I can look back on when it’s hurting in Kona.

I’m now out in Lanzarote staying with my friends Darren and Debs at Trisports Lanzarote, being spoilt while I try to acclimatize to the heat before I get to Kona. Luckily it’s hot out here, possibly even hotter than Hawaii. So I definitely made the right decision coming out. I’m racing the Ironman 70.3 here as a warm up race next weekend; there are loads of reason to race, not least to allow some of the residual fatigue to get out of my system before the big one.

Lots of people ask me what I want to achieve when I’m in Kona. Non triathlete friends naively ask me if I’ll win (I laugh). Triathlete friends have varying expectations, often largely inflated; everyone wants to think they know a champ! So what do I want from my race? My main goal for the year when I started my sabbatical in April was to qualify as a pro for the Ironman World Championships. So, to some extent, I truly feel that whatever happens when I’m out there is a bonus. Hand on heart, all I really want is to put together a performance I can be proud of and get the best out of myself on the day. If that puts me 35th out of 35 pros I guess I’ll be a bit disappointed that that’s all my hard work got me, but, if I know I couldn’t have done anything more in my preparation and I executed my race as well as I could on the day I think I’ll be satisfied.

I know I’ve done as much as I could possibly have done so far, staying (just about) on the right side of the over-reaching/over-training line. I guess the key now is to make sure I let myself absorb all the hard work, avoid thinking about what everyone else may or may not have done, and make sure everything else I do between now and race day adds to what I have in the bank rather than detracting.

It’s been an incredible 5 and a half months since I stopped work. I’ve loved nearly every part of it. I hope I can continue to enjoy the build up to the big one.

As always I know if I’m smiling I’m far more likely to do myself justice.

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