I am sure when I look back in months and years to come, my Ironman adventure will provide plenty of high points to enjoy but this past week or so won’t be one of them.
Today marks ten weeks to go until the big day which also means that I am exactly ten weeks into my twenty-week Ironman training program. Ten weeks of relentless, daily grind, sometimes twice a day for six days a week, but I still have another ten weeks to come. Except the ten weeks ahead of me are going to be harder as the training volumes go almost off the scale. I am in a mojo funk. The halfway blues
The challenge hasn’t been the volumes or the number of hours, it has been getting my arse out of the front door to do the training. I have been here before and the feeling will pass, it always does, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
The week that ended on a low, started on a high with a great cyclo-sportive. The Clatford Challenge is a 60-mile ride in aid of Naomi House, a local children’s hospice. Our tri club has supported this event for a few years and this time eleven of us turned out and it was about good as it gets. Great company, great banter, fab weather, a beautiful scenic route round North Hampshire and fantastic cake at the halfway feed station. We also had an animated discussion about the etiquette of blowing snot rockets when you are at the front of a group ride. No-one could ever accuse us of ducking the big issues! By the time I had cycled to the start and home again I had clocked up 73 miles (118km) at an average pace of 16.4mph (26kph).
The next day was a club track session with a difference. This week we did brick training at the track. Ten minutes of hard work in the big ring on the turbo straight into a fast 400 metre run – repeat several times. It was great fun.
From there it went downhill. Wednesday was a 12-mile (19km) run. I spent the whole day procrastinating, finding excuse after excuse. I did eventually force myself out of the door but I wasn’t feeling the love. I warmed to my task after about 3 miles and finished at a comfortable cruise but was glad to be home with 12 reluctant miles in the bank.
Same message on Thursday. It was an open water swim and I had no appetite for it. I went to the lake with a car full from the Club and I did the session, but I grumbled at myself for the first 1km – the water was cold, it was too choppy, my wet suit was chafing my neck (was there ever a better situation to illustrate the use of the term MTFU) I managed to get to 2km before I called it a day.
So far I was holding it together despite my fragile state of mind, but Friday was to prove the low-point. I was scheduled to do a 5-hour bike ride which would equate to about 80-85 miles (135km) but the forecast was for rain and high winds all weekend. Fine for swimming, acceptable for running but miserable for cycling. This was the point at which I should have said to myself: MTFU (it was a bit of a MTFU week!) – but I didn’t. Instead I started a negotiation.
The long-range forecast was for fine weather a week ahead – so I decided to swap the long bike session from next week for this week’s 80-miler. So instead of a five hours ride, I did a three and a half hour brick session – a three-hour bike ride covering 48 miles (77km) and then straight into a 30-minute run. Hardly an easy option, but preferable to 5 sodden hours in a cold wind tunnel.
I took an impromptu rest day yesterday to try and get myself together before getting back on it. I went for a couple of tried and trusted mojo restoration techniques. The first was lunch at MacDonald’s which helped. Cate came to the drive-thru with me (in fact it was her idea) – if you knew her you would fully understand how much this was her falling on the grenade in support of my Ironman cause! Then last night I treated myself to a few beers. I am following my father’s philosophy. He always claimed that he was born two gin and tonics below par!! Having been pretty abstemious for the last 5-months it doesn’t take much to have the desired effect. After three Buds, I was ready to cycle 80 miles – what wind and rain!!
I couldn’t swear that the slump is over but I woke up this morning feeling a lot more positive and did a 90-minute bike run brick session with more of a smile on my face. I am pleased to be looking back on a week where, despite feeling as though I have lost my groove, I have done pretty much all the training I was supposed to do and clocked up another 12-hour week. I could have been looking back at a train wreck.
Ironman was never going to be easy right?