What happened? One moment it was summer and now suddenly it’s Autumn. The Monster Middle and our Club Championships are just specs in my rear view mirror and that dot on the horizon that was Ironman 70.3 Lanzarote, is now dominating the landscape. It is approaching fast – in fact it is a week tomorrow. Yikes!
Once again I am in the horrible two-week no man’s land between training and competing. I finished my volume training almost a week ago and I am now winding down and training lightly in preparation for Saturday week. Some people call it tapering. I could think of another name for it. I hate it!
This time it is slightly different and my anxieties are not the same as usual. Apart from the normal concerns about phantom aches and pains, weight gain and dwindling fitness, this race brings with it a new set of things to fret about.
First it is in another country. I have to pack up my bike into a box and ship it overseas and get all of the rest of my tri kit into a suitcase. Then I just pray that some muscle-bound baggage handler doesn’t bend my bike or send my luggage to Morocco.
Added to that is the worry of forgetting something important. The option of popping home or borrowing something from a club mate doesn’t exist. My only safety net is my flexible friend and the hope that I can find what I have forgotten on the small remote island off the coast of Africa.
Then there is the weather. Lanzarote is on roughly the same line of latitude as the Bahamas with a climate to match. The race is run in October so that the worst of the summer heat has subsided; except this year it hasn’t! Temperatures which should be in the 70s are stuck stubbornly in the 80s and forecast to stay there next week. I am an Englishman – very at home running under 100% cloud cover and a past master at running in the rain. I am less comfortable running in the heat of the blazing midday sun – which if all goes to plan is exactly when I will be cycling towards transition and preparing to set off on a half marathon run on Saturday.
Just to compound my nerves, the list of competitors was published online yesterday. Everyone has a country after their name! Usually I wouldn’t give an athlete in my age group call Julian Hall a second glance. But Julian Hall (South Africa) is altogether a different proposition. This guy has flown half way round the world to kick my arse. I suspect Julian Hall is another age-grouper like me having his day in the sun, but put a country after his name and, in my mind, he is six feet tall wearing a tri suit covered in sponsors’ logo as he strides his way to a sub 1.20hrs half marathon. Then I chuckle to myself when I wonder if he thinks the same when he sees Peter Whent (Great Britain). If only he knew!
Deep down I am really excited. The second week of the taper (which is next week) is always the worst. This time I have lots to do to keep my mind occupied. I fly out on Tuesday. Then I have a bike to build and get serviced, I want to recce the swim course in the lagoon at La Santa, drive round the (horribly hilly) bike course, register, attend briefings, go to a pasta party and do a little bit of training.
I am hopeful it will all fly by and that everything will go to plan so that I can enjoy what should be the highlight of my season. Fingers crossed.