Sunday, 21 May 2017

Swashbuckler revisited

A year ago I completed the Swashbuckler 70.3 (half ironman) in my best ever time of 5 hours 32 minutes.  It was such a good event that 6 of us, with 2 support members, decided to give it a go so we all headed down to the New Forest on Friday to get ready for Sunday's race.  Much banter was thrown around but when the alarm went off at 3.45 this morning it got serious.  I woke the house up to "Black Betty" at full blast just to get everyone energised.
As a group we were doing different distances; some standard/Olympic distance and others, including me, the half distance -  1.9k swim, 90km bike and 22 km run.  Unusually for me I needed three trips to the loo to "lose some weight" and two of them were in portaloos which involved holding my breath for longer than is healthy!
We were informed that the water temperature was 16 degrees but that we had some company in the water - jelly fish!  It was a tough tidal swim and I was delighted to get through it as my shoulder was still strapped up and I'd only been swimming for about 7 weeks.  In transition the strapping on my leg came off so I wasn't sure how this would affect me on the run - the good news is that it didn't.
I gave the bike everything I had as the temperature started to rise, but I was 12 minutes behind where I was last year and felt I perhaps pushed it too hard.  My effort came home to roost on the run.It's a slightly unusual run in that, in old money, its 14 miles - 2 x 7 mile laps on an undulating course (152 metres of ascending).  Half way through the first lap I knew that I was in trouble.  I was walking some of the hills and wanting to bin the race.  Knowing my time was nowhere near last years I lost my focus and also the fact this was meant to be a "long training session" not a race.  I am cross training with swimming, cycling and running only to build my fitness and reduce the chance of injury.   After all my A Race is the Grand Caynon in September.
It's amazing the mind games that go on when you are in a dark place when running, or swimming or cycling for that matter.  I knew at the half way point the supporters would be cheering me on, they were going mad which was great, but I just walked up the hill shaking my head saying "this is about survival" - 7 miles to go.  I started the second lap well but the heat really started to take its toll.  I was running at the same pace as another runner but she was beginning to really suffer so I decided that my race was over and I'd help her finish the race - this was as much to give me a reason to continue as anything else.  On route a runner had collapsed with heat exhaustion and an ambulance was soon with him.  My time was a disappointing 6hrs 21 minutes but as I reflect on this there were some important lessons to be taken away.
I got over the fear of jelly fish in a tough tidal swim.  I need to remember why I entered the race and not get caught up in the event itself - it gave me a competitive training day which benchmarked where I am with my fitness.  It highlighted that my core fitness is lacking but that's no real surprise.  What this will do is motivate me to get stronger which will be important for the canyon. Despite the poor time I will take heart that having walked a fair bit of the run my position in my age category was 4th!  A small reward for keeping going when really I'd happily have put my feet up and have had a beer.  The biggest learning was the mental strength that you need to get through the dark moments and the pain.  The support team were amazing and really lifted my spirits when it was most needed.  This event has been a good and timely reminder for what lies ahead. More work to be done. Bring it on.

1 comment:

  1. You never disappoints your readers with your articles, I am fan of your blog and big promoter of it. Good post, keep posting such posts