It had never been my intention to do an Ironman in September in 2017 as I had wanted the late summer off. However the Lanzarote experience (food poisoning) had forced me to seek another one out and as it was the first event in Italy, and the food is so good, Karen was keen to get me to sign up.
So we arrived a few days before and settled into the hotel and the great atmosphere these events generate. Despite my gastronomic disaster last time I still played shellfish roulette at dinner. It wasn’t much of a risk as you could toss the shells and hit the fish market behind if you wanted.
The day of the race was perfect. Smooth warm water and a gentle breeze. I had sought out my first ever swim lesson 2 weeks before and this paid dividends as I was 3 minutes faster than my PB. So I was up for it, the target was a sub 10:30hr race, previous PB was 10:53. However the transition was over a kilometre long and the bike was 5k longer than usual so that was a big ask. Still nothing ventured nothing gained.
As I had exited the swim fairly quickly I found myself in a fast group of riders who initially worked together within the rules (no draughting) and the pace was high. However some soon started to realise that two brits, me and a chap called Duncan were pushing on and they started to draught. In fact there was a lot of draughting. This is very annoying as it wears you out but rests the opposition. So I had to pace myself to not be spent when the marathon started.
To make matters worse the top of my water container popped off and I was getting covered in sticky drink which should have been going into my stomach! Any small loss of hydration can have serious effects on performance. It also makes it hard to eat your food. This cost me time and I lost the quick group.
By the time I finished the bike I felt as if I had made up the deficit and my legs felt good as I ran up T2 with the bike. A quick change and I was off on the run with an expected finish time of sub 10 hours. I was feeling great and stoked by the time. Karen was cheering me on fervently and we were in for a good one.
That is the biggest mistake Ironman Triathletes make. They get carried away and run off too fast. First 10k, flying along (for me) at 8 min miles, next 10k just a little slower then BOOM my quads went tight and I was struggling to run. Stretching nearly gave me cramp so I gave that a miss and it was shuffle, jog, walk, curse, question my sanity at doing something so crazy such as entering and then being stupid to not run enough in training.
It’s tough being in the mind of an exhausted person when you still have a half marathon to race. You want to stop and give up. You want to swap places with the person being pushed around the course in a buggy. Wait a minute. Did I just see that or am I about to collapse? No I was not hallucinating. There really was a team who had swum with a less abled chap in a rubber dinghy for 3.8k, then towed him on a bike for 185k and now there they were, on the run smiling. Yep, smiling. I couldn’t give up now, so it was gels and flat cola by the bucket load, plenty of thigh slapping, swearing and gradually my legs returned.
With a huge effort I started to run continuously and pick up the pace again. I was hopeful that my target of 10:30 was still on but as I got to the final 5k I realised that was long gone. The next target was a PB of sub 10:53 and I managed to get to the line (which you feel may never come) in 10:42. Respectable, but could have been a lot better if I had paced my run. The run came in at 4:05 which was only 4 minutes slower than last year when I ran all of it. So I really had been the hare when I should’ve been the tortoise.
I am not doing a big one next year as life is likely to get a little too busy, but I can manage a couple of middle distance Tri’s and may have a pop at Time Trialling on the bike.
I had trained all winter, braving freezing dark evenings, plus bleary eyed pre dawn starts in the pool. May had come round all too quickly and it was time to head off to Lanzarote for the Ironman. Unfortunately, some under cooked chicken put me out of action for 5 days and so the less said about that the better. To rub salt in the wound it was my Birthday too, so not a great trip.
That left me eager to make amends at the Titan Brecon. This is a race in the Brecon Beacons and a half distance but a tough one. So I was ready for it, however it was also the hottest day of the year which proved a problem on the run.
I was doing pretty well overall, lying in 19th place after the bike. The heat meant that I ran out of fluids just before the big hill climb with a further 10miles of the bike to go. This left me dehydrated for the start of the run. The result was cramp setting in hard in both legs at mile 3 out of 13. Add in shade temp of 33c and you had a recipe for a true endurance test.
The result was that I had to keep stopping to gulp down lots of water at every chance plus pouring it over myself. In the end I gave up on a PB time and ended up getting to know some of the helpers quite well. So another disastrous race, only plus side was the pro female winner was also 15 minutes slower on her run than usual too.
The next big one was Weymouth Middle, after a bit of argie bargie in the swim that nearly saw my goggles go floating off it was onto the bike. My glasses rapidly misted up and I was riding practically blind up the first big climb. I managed to pick off quite a few of the faster swimmers and was well placed on my return to T2. It’s always a good feeling to see the leader still only just on the run as you come back into town. I also had my number one support crew of Karen and our friends’ dog Hero to encourage me.
The run went quite well and I managed to overtake a couple of runners ahead of me but was past by one other. The aim then was to keep him in sight and hope he fatigued. It was close at the end with him only 40m ahead of me. However I just didn’t have the legs to catch him in the final sprint so finished in 11th place overall, just 1 minute off 5 hours overall. So close. Still the home made organic speciality ice cream after was a real highlight!
July saw me fall off my MTB and slice my knee so the next race suffered from lack of training, less said the better. August was back to Swanage where my lack of training showed and I came in at my usual time of 2:30. A week later was a trip to Weymouth for the classic Tri. Despite my running being off parr I managed to go 4 minutes faster than 3 years previously, so I was quite pleased with that. The next step was Ironman Italy which you can read about here.
If you were asked ‘how is your sense of balance?’ how would you reply?
For many people their idea of good balance would be whether they are good at walking along a wall or narrow beam, or if they are comfortable to go up scaffolding and clamber around on a roof. Indeed, these things do require a good sense of balance but day to day we all need our balance systems in order to know where we are in space when just sitting or standing still. Even more so to stand up from a chair and simply walk across a room, let alone turn around.
Now, when our balance is acutely disturbed we can experience a feeling of spinning (vertigo) or falling. There are various different reasons for this including alcohol, which is particularly toxic to the cerebellum, (the area that is associated with balance and co-ordination), is just one reason. Think of the clumsiness , slurred speech and stumbling of someone who has had a few too many.
When those changes are more gradual or a subtle loss of balance we may not even realise we have a problem.
Our brain and body will do its upmost to compensate but these adaptations can result in changes of posture and maybe spinal problems. Slowing of general movements occurs. Walking speed is a common sign as are changes in tolerances of movement around you, this can manifest as travel sickness or feeling uncomfortable in supermarkets and busy streets.
Another common complaint of people with giddiness, dizziness or balance issues is anxiety and nausea. It is estimated that 15-35% of the population will experience a complaint of dizziness and at least a third of those will develop a secondary psychological disorder. (Ref: Susan Herdman PT, PhD Vestibular Rehabilitation 2nd Ed)
Are you noticing these changes in your balance, co-ordination, speed of movement or someone else’s .
Do you think you might benefit from having your posture, balance and co-ordination checked? Chiropractors at Back In Form are trained and practiced in looking at the integration of these systems and may be able to improve or resolve your complaint with treatment and ‘vestibular rehabilitation’. If you’d like to know more then please call the clinic for further advice or to make an appointment.