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Can I be an Ironman by 40 ?
Can I be an Ironman by 40 ?
Having taken part in several pool based sprint events since starting out in 2009, I wanted to celebrate turning 35 by completing the Vitruvian in 2011...with a long term goal of completing an Ironman by the time I'm 40. I'll keep track of the trials and tribulations here.

Hard work

tallguy76by tallguy76Mar 23rd 2011
Sunday morning saw me up and about at a time normally reserved for the working week while everyone else (aside from my younger brother who was staying and would be joining me) in the house was still fast asleep. Smalltalk over bowls of porridge and mugs of coffee centred on wardrobe choices for the day and looking for blue sky above.

Not necessarily conversation that you would expect to hear from two 30-something guys, until you realise that the reason we were up so early was down to us having signed up to take part in the first ever Endura Lionheart sportive.

So it was that before 8am we were parking up on the Longleat Estate, queueing up in a marquee to sign on and get our race packs and unloading our bikes. The sun was trying to break through the clouds so I didn't feel too out of place in my shorts, despite there being many people with full length tights/trousers/leg warmers wearing balaclavas and woolly hats.

We weren't among the first large groups to set of on either the 100km or 100 mile routes around the Wiltshire and Somerset countryside - we had chosen the shorter option - and ended up starting on our own for the initial lap of the estate. We were met almost immediately by a large hill passing through the woods before riding past the Lion enclosure unscathed and out onto the exit road. Wolves could be heard howling in the distance as we tackled the second large hill of the day, and I promptly fell off as my speed dropped below snails pace. Thankfully the landing was the grass verge and I wasn't spotted by one of the official photographers...

Having reached the top of the hill and caught up with my brother (who judging by his hill climbing ability over the course of the day must be part mountain goat) we continued onwards, winding along country lanes and passing Shearwater, Stourhead and Bruton (where we stopped briefly to fix a puncture) amongst others before hitting the vicious climb up onto Kilmington Common beside King Alfred's Tower. By this stage in the proceedings I had pretty much given up trying to cycle up the hills and was overtaken by numerous people zig-zagging their way to the top as I trudged up on foot. Walking up felt just as uncomfortable as cycling, and by the time I reached the top I was suffering cramp in both legs - the joys of walking in cycling shoes with cleats !

The brief respite of riding on the flat across the common was short lived as we started to drop down again - rather rapidly - towards Trudoxhill, fully aware that between us and the finish was Gare Hill. Once again Neil cycled all the way to the top without stopping, while I was forced to a painful standstill by cramp, which got even worse as I placed my foot on the floor as I got off the bike. Both legs cramped rigid and it was all I could manage not to collapse in a heap on the verge. An energy gel and copious amounts of energy drink later we continued towards our goal, and despite the sign suggesting we only had 1 mile to go appearing just after a junction where the marshall advised us we had just over 2 miles, it passed without incident.

Upon crossing the final cattle grid onto the long straight road leading to the front door of Longleat House I'm afraid to say that I shifted into top gear, got my head down and pushed as hard as I could for the line leaving my brother and his heavier touring bike to follow at a distance. Crossing the line in 6 hours 46 minutes we were met by our parents, my wife and the children who had been hanging around for about 5 hours waiting for us to appear, expecting us to take somewhere between 3 and 4 hours...

Did I enjoy it ? Well, yes. The flat bits and downhills were great.

Would I do it again ? Possibly, but I would definitely not go into it cold like I did this time - I had only done 25km since November last year.

And it just goes to show how much work I have to do before September - I need to be able to swim 1.2 miles and run a half marathon as well as cycle 85km in not much more than the time it took me to finish this ride.
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