Living The Dream Vol 5 – No Iron in Ironman

So things have been a bit quiet on these page for the last couple of months but it’s finally time for a bit of an update on how things have been and where they are going. After my last blog things were very positive, I was on the up and working well to get my season started. Unfortunately one snowy Monday afternoon in March when the beast from the east had returned again I got 3km into my long run and stopped, walked home and was done! Physically my body shut me down and my mind went with it. I spoke to Mark and agreed to take a couple of days off and see how things were. This then grew to a week off, a few more days grew to 2 weeks and ended at a month of no swim, no bike and a few hours on the mountain bike when I felt like it.

It was fairly obvious though something wasn’t right, I was tired and my mind had no interest in getting back to training. A trip to the doctors and some blood tests though revealed that some low iron levels may be a pretty significant contributing factor to things and that my body indeed was running a little empty. This was encouraging though as it gave me a reason and hope that actually retiring from triathlon and selling all my kit wasn’t a particularly clever idea and that starting back training again was probably a better one so I got back in the pool, on the bike and even did some running!

I’m not going to lie it wasn’t pretty, or fast or even felt good and for the first few days I was really questioning whether I wanted to go back to it. I hadn’t exactly lived like an athlete taking care of there body during that month eating anything and everything, staying up later and generally being very sedentary which made the return to movement one hell of a shock! Thankfully the training camp we were running in Mallorca was enough motivation to get me moving though and the week out there was actually pretty perfect timing and provided a fantastic setting for everyone to get some great training in and get some sun on there back and not worry about real life at home. On return from Mallorca I spoke with Mark and he started to put a plan together to get me back on track for the season.

Having s structured plan to follow was bliss again. All the emotion and thought process taken out of it and just ticking off the sessions one at a time trying not to compare to previous times and powers but just giving what I had and focussing on nutrition, recovery and keeping my body healthy and getting back to how it should and can be. Now as I write this I am 4 weeks back into training and starting to feel a bit more like an athlete again. My swim and bike seem to be coming back well but they are the sports I have history with and although my running is a different story I am confident it will come again as well and am excited again about training and the prospect of putting in the hard yards.

I even ended up throwing in an impromptu half Ironman race this last weekend with Lisa just entering me anyway three days before the race despite me stating stubbornly that I was no where near race fitness and had no interest in racing. The Immortal Half event at the Stourhead estate is a brutal course and one I have won twice on and blown up spectacularly on as well. It was going to be a very honest assessment of my current fitness but knowing I needed to be training as well I trained hard up until Friday, did an easy spin round the course Saturday and raced Sunday. Overall it was a great weekend with kids races and a 10km and sprint triathlon all happening on the Saturday then the Immortal Half on the Sunday. The weather played nicely and the atmosphere was fantastic.

Without boring you too much with the details it proved exactly where I was at and the result confirmed pretty much what we already knew. Swim is good and as good as it has ever been and will continue to improve as I keep putting the work in in the pool.

Bike is again actually alright, the course was hard with nowhere to settle into a nice time trialling rhythm with punchy climbs and twisty roads but was a brilliant test for the legs, my nutrition plan and all my other equipment. My legs weren’t super fantastic coming in fairly tired with no specific training and certainly around the 2 hour mark it got a lot harder to hold the power but I was generally pleased with the ride and couldn’t have asked for more. My nutrition plan worked well and stays pretty much unchanged from previous years and it’s always nice to put the fast wheels on the bike and see how she goes.

The run on this course is 23km of hills, either up or down with noting in between and a test of anyone’s legs. A conservative approach got me round and put the miles in the bank and although far from competitive time wise will hopefully set me up well for the work to come and proves at least over the half marathon I can go the distance ok without slowing down but just don’t have the speed in the first place. Hopefully it will act as a little boost for my run fitness and now as I feel I am able to start to push on with the training again help me find those legs I have had before and build on them for races later in the year.

Racing wise now though things have been pushed on a bit with the need to train consistently well for a few more weeks I am not going to Outlaw Half but will be going to the DB Max Titan event in Wales then on to Outlaw Holkham half if things run relatively smoothly along with some local run events to keep me going. Then after that I will plan the second half of the year and aim to make up for the lost time in the first half!

Thanks as always for reading and for those who have helped and supported me again this year. Although it’s not been the perfect winter and start to the season more lessons learned and experience banked which I can only hope will help me in years to come.

Immortal Race photo credits – Curious George Photography

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