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Ironman Quest
Ironman Quest
The quest of a 45 year old recreational runner who likes nothing better than a lazy night with a beer or glass of wine to become an Ironman

Two Busy Months

macukby macukMay 21st 2014
My April and May have so far been busy with me taking part in a marathon, two triathlons and a 107 mile cycling event. Between these events I've also tried to increase my training in cycling and swimming as I know I need to work on both these areas.
My first event in April was the Halesowen Sprint Triathlon which I wrote about on my last post. Exactly a week later I was London bound to take part in my second marathon. The weather was stunning again this year and as I made my way to the start in Greenwich I could feel the day warming up nicely. I was determined to run a more even race this year and stick to my plan of 9 minute miles to bring me in under the magical four hours. I had run with a friend last year and I think we would both agree that we got caught up in the moment and set off too fast for the conditions. My finish time had been 4 hours 22 minutes in 2013 and the last four miles had been very hard.

I set off from the start and kept within about 10 meters of the 4 hour pace flag runners, My logic was that as long as I kept these guys in my sight then I couldn't go too far wrong. I was overwhelmed by the amount of support along the route and purposely didn't put my earphones in so that I could soak up the atmosphere. The other thing that struck me was the t-shirts and vests of other runners that showed what or who they were running for and I must admit to choking up on more than one occasion.

With the pace markers still in sight I was soon passing the half way point and it struck me how well I felt at this point compared to the year earlier when by mile 13 things were starting to feel uncomfortable. As I headed into the docklands I made sure that I didn't go with the urge to speed things up and I kept plodding on at my 9 minute mile pace. It was hard at some points because of the amount of people trying to get through at bottlenecks in the route but I allowed myself to take the pace up when clear of these areas and before I knew it the 22 and 23 mile markers were behind me. I saw a lot of runners struggling by now and remembered stretching and walking at certain points the year before, but not this year, I felt good and strong and did not have one inclination to stop or slow down.

The last mile was soon on me and I noticed at this point that the 4 hour pace flags had been passed a while back. I knew that as long as I kept doing what I was doing that I would finish under the four hours. I resisted the urge to sprint the last hundred meters like some of the runners around me and stepped over the finish line in 3 hours 58 minutes. I was pleased with my finishing time but more pleased with how good I felt at the end. My original thought were to do a second marathon to make sure that finishing the first one had not been a fluke. As soon as I had finished my thoughts went straight to how to get signed up for 2015 and I would recommend the event to everybody. You will never get a personal best marathon time because of the numbers of competitors on the route but you will get a fantastic sense of achievement and a feeling that not everything is as bad in the world as we think after hearing packs of unknown supporters calling out your name as you bimble past.
Two Busy Months
My other events over the last two months were The Fairwater Try-a-tri sprint triathlon and the Carten 107 mile cycle ride.

The try-A-tri was held at the Fairwater leisure centre in Cardiff and as the name suggests is an ideal event for novices. All the marshals and organisers were very friendly and helpful and to me this was a home event as I grew up in the area and remember riding the cycle route many times on my red Raleigh Grifter as a kid. The swim was 16 laps of the 25 meter pool with a two lap cycle course and then a 5km run which took you into the nearby village of Llandaff and back. I had been working hard at my swimming after the marathon and felt fairly confident that although my swim would still be slow I would be a lot more confident in the water........Wrong. As I set off I was keeping abreast of the other swimmers but as I turned for my second length my calf cramped up and I had to stand in the water and stretch off. I had done a hard 50 mile bike ride the day before and this was my comeuppance for being so stupid. As I stretched, trying to convince the marshals that I wasn't going to die in their pool I could see the other competitors streaking ahead of me. I did think of calling it a day but thought better of it and gingerly started to swim again. I was last out of the pool by a long while but so glad that I hadn't chucked the towel in. Swim time - 13 minutes 5 seconds

The bike leg was quite uneventful compared to the swim and luckily I was able to catch and overtake a few competitors that had left me for dead in the pool. Cycle time - 45 minutes 9 seconds.

The run was nice and I thought I would never say this but was the part of the event I was most looking forwards too the most. I set off with the usual bambi legs but soon got into a rhythm and after a few minutes found myself overtaking a few more competitors. The course was great and took in both a cycle pathway and a few main roads. I finished the run in 22 minutes 18 seconds with an overall finish time of 1 hr 22 mins 32 seconds. Not the worlds best but I was happy to have finished after nearly packing it all in on less than 50 m in the swim.
Two Busy Months
The Carten cycle ride is a charity event from Cardiff to Tenby. It is extremely popular and sold out in hours of going live late last year. I had wanted to do a ride like this for ages but had spent most of my training time preparing for the marathon and am ashamed to say that my preparation for the event was about 5 rides in total. That didn't stop me setting off at pace from the Cardiff City stadium and heading west. The morning started off quite brightly but soon the weather changed with rain and high winds. I hit the 30 mile food stop full of confidence in just over two hours and set off again thinking that if I could keep that pace up then I would be drinking a cold pint in Tenby by late afternoon. I didn't account for the horrendous headwinds and hills I encountered further along the course. At one stage I was riding up a hill that went on for miles, face first into a strong wind that kept taking my breath away and only being able to push out about 6 miles an hour. As the event went on people were becoming more stretched out and you could see that the weather was taking it's toll. The organisers and support crews were great and I saw more than one person having their bike fixed by the following marshals. I eventually reached Tenby in about 9 hours riding time. It was a fantastic feeling having completed my first 100 plus mile ride and in such bad conditions. It was really hard going but I know I'll be signing up for any future events and must admit that although the riding conditions had been terrible they actually help make a day that I will remember for years to come.
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