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On Reflection

This weekend past was Ironman UK at Bolton, and once again – hundreds, if not a couple of thousand, of hardy souls lurched into the breach of pain, suffering and achievement in order to hear those much sought after words – you are an Ironman.

I admit it.  More than a couple of times over the weekend I reflected back to where I was one year ago at that moment.  ‘This time last year I was racking my bike’.  ‘This time last year I was just out of the water’.  ‘This time last year I was still on the bike’.

So what have I learned in the year since becoming an Ironman?

I want to go again

I went back and forth on this one immediately afterwards, but my overwhelming feeling now is – I want to go back.  It was a great experience, even though there is a definite risk that I am suffering from ‘pregnancy brain’ – otherwise known as the concept that enough time has passed now since the significant pain, that I only now remember the positive stuff.  There are just too many fantastic races over the Iron distance that I want to experience that mean that I really want to go back to it.  Lanzarote, Nice, Roth, any US race – these are all on my race checklist.  I also don’t want to forever be a ‘one and done’ guy; I feel like a lot of people could do this if they wanted to – but it wasn’t just a bucket list thing for me.  I did Ironman because I love triathlon, and I want to do it again.   There is also another reason…

I’m still pissed about my bike leg

I really thought I could go around sub-6 hours for my bike leg at Bolton, and my 7:17:42 bike leg was the most disappointing element of the whole day.  It wasn’t just the disappointment in the physical effort either – psychologically it was the most down I felt all day, and the only time at which I felt like quitting.  For the effort that I put into the bike leg in the leadup training, I was really disappointed that I didn’t do a better job, and I’d really like the opportunity to set that one right.  I really feel that if I worked at it, I could be a slightly better than mediocre biker, and that is where I would like to be.  The only way I find out whether or not I have that talent in me is to go again – and really look to smash that bike leg.

I still have the base fitness?

This one is a little more open to argument.  In retrospect, I don’t think I trained enough for Ironman, but I also think that, and just bear with me on this one…it might not take all that much for me to get back into a place where I would be able to do another one *wince*.  Look,  I could run a marathon tomorrow if I needed to – no problems.  And I didn’t do all that much swim training, so I could build up the endurance again in that area.  It is really the bike that would take the work – so give me a few months, a cycle trainer, a backyard shed and a looped video tape of the NBC coverage of Kona – and I’d be ready to go again.

I don’t know how I got the training done

That being said – how the hell did I do that?  How did I get up at those ridiculous times on Saturday mornings to ride 100km before rolling home at 930am and spend the day with the Tin Lady?  Granted – I’m neck deep in 3am nappy changes at the moment (except for last night when I *completely* slept through one, much the chagrin/humour (hopefully) of the Tin Lady), so it seems all the crazier, but how did I do that?  A lot of people get by with social networks, leaning on each other to push through the training – but with few exceptions, I really did it all by myself.  I didn’t do a single training session focused on Ironman with anyone else.   That’s a bit crazy; and I’d likely have to do it differently the second time.

I’m proud that I stopped

It was the right decision.   It was hard, and it wasn’t necessarily what I wanted to do – but stopping to focus on non-triathlon things was the right decision.  I know this because I am two and a half chapters progressed in my PhD, and I would have had to stop anyway because of the arrival of my little boy.  I’m proud for a pretty immature reason, which is because I did what I had to do, rather than what I wanted to do.  While this might qualify as ‘adult behaviour’ for most people – I still consider it a minor achievement for me.

So what have I learned in the year since Ironman?  Well, I want to do it again, and I want to nail the bike.  The biggest difference is that now I know can do it.  That confidence is still there.  A marathon doesn’t fill me with fear in the way that it used to – because it isn’t prefaced with a  3.8km swim and a 180km bike.  I have a sporting confidence that comes from having gone to the deep dark places and coming out the other side.  I’m not as fast as I want to be – but I know that with the right focus I can get faster.

And everyday that passes gets me closer to the day when I have the time and space to get back on the bike, having signed up for an Ironman the night before.

In honour of a recent television premiere – Ironman is coming.  Again.

Listening To: ‘You Know You’re Right’ by Nirvana

Tri, Tri Again

Thermo

The Old Stuff

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Marathon Times

Marathon
I have completed seven marathons; reducing my personal best time by 1:12:03 between my first and my fastest.

2012 Edinburgh 5:00:42
2013 Thames Meander 4:51:58
2014 Edinburgh 4:36:37
2016 Walking Marathon 8:21:00
2016 Rome 3:48:39
2016 Ironman UK 4:40:59
2017 Rotterdam 4:13:00

Run

5km – 20:32

10km – 43:44

Half – 1:33:22

Marathon – 3:48:39

Triathlon

Olympic Triathlon - 02:40:10 (32:53, 1:12:18, 46:13)

Middle Distance Triathlon - 5:40:59 (46:56, 2:57:59, 1:43:53)

Ironman - 13:46:57 (1:23:55, 7:17:42, 4:41:25)

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