1 week to Ironman

I received an SMS from a fellow competitor yesterday (Sunday).  It said

 

“Where will you be this time next week?” 

 

Eeck, think the penny dropped there and then and alarm bells rang and my inner voiced screamed “I’m doing Ironman on Sunday!”  Think it’s only dawned on me yesterday… What was I thinking?   

 

With the training done, a sense of calmness prevails with the odd (ok, frequent) twisting and churning of a nervous stomach taking control.  The common greeting in the passage way is “not long to go” followed by a grin that a Cheshire Cat would be proud of. 

 

Over the past week I have had several discussions with folks that have achieved the extraordinary, been awarded for their merits and overcome personal tragedies.  Their achievements have been accoladed, written about and marvelled at.  They are heroes and heroines in my mind.  Yet, when Ironman is mentioned, they have the utmost respect for me……. I find this astonishing considering their feats and amazed at their humbleness.  Their well wishes are held close and the enormity is further entrenched in my mind.

 

The journey is on the finishing mat and surrounding me are phenomenal friends, family and colleagues. 

 

Phew, 6 more sleeps……  

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25 weeks to Ironman

RECOVERY WEEK – that’s all I need to say.

 

Bags were packed, bikes loaded and three ubër-babes descended on the quiet town of Clan William for an action-packed weekend, a mini-triathlon (800m swim, 20km cycle, 5km run) within the Ironman training plan.

 

Registration was a breeze and watched with pride as friend Michele ventured out on her second Duathlon (5km run, 20km cycle, 5km run), an inspiration in itself. 

 

Cocoons where hatched while lining up for the start of the swim and no amount of breathing could quell them.  Twenty minutes later I was back on dry land thinking two things:

 

1.        It wasn’t that bad.

2.        Add another 3km………..

 

My strength has been revealed and it was with surprise I caught and overtook a few competitors on the cycle that came out of the swim ahead of me (phew). 

 

The run went better than expected and I’m amazed and thrilled with my overall time of 30-minutes.  Better than I ever thought!

 

The day ended on a high note – staying partying until way after 12am………….. Getting up for the scheduled 1.5 hour ride the next morning was easier than I imagined.  The hill at the end however, wasn’t. 

 

A memorable weekend filled with laughter, fun, intermingled with a bit of training

WALKING ON CLOUDS

It’s 24-hours since I became an Ironman and to say I’m walking on clouds is putting it mildly. The realisation of one’s dreams coming to fruition are well worth the nine months of early morning training sessions. The aching and stiffness as I write this are my war wounds and I am enjoying them with pride.

Lining up at 7:00am with approximately 1600 fellow competitors on Hobie Beach and listening to the excited chattering of racers is a sight and sound I won’t forget soon. Seeing the spectators lining the pier and shouting last words of encouragement to everyone bought home the enormity of the day ahead.

The first lap of the swim reminded me of the annual Sardine Run that takes place in KZN. The majority of the time was spent avoiding feet and swimmers veering off in all sorts of directions. The field only thinned out towards the third buoy. A nasty current on the lap exit resulted in frantic hard swimming to avoid being bashed into the pier. Unfortunately a few competitors were not so lucky.  Lap 1 was a warm-up with lap 2 flowing a lot smoother and less bods on either side of me. The 5m buoys were nicely visible once on top of a swell… My swim time was 1:46 with a rather long transition following!

As I started lap one of three on the bike, my thoughts were two-fold. A huge sigh of relief that the swim was done and dusted, the second being pace yourself so that you will have enough energy to carry you through the marathon.

Spectators lined the bike route and each rider was greeted with enthusiasm and encouragement, with an extra few cheers for lady competitors. I was pretty consistent with my lap times and eager to get off the bike halfway through lap 3.

Seeing the top guys and girls come flying past me was phenomenal, with winner Gerrit Schellens recording an average speed of 44kph. Wow, Wow, Wow! My overall ride time was 6:38, far better than I expected.

I started the run with trepidation and had been preparing myself mentally over the past few months for a long, tough run. It was, and keeping focused and mentally strong were by far the most challenging. Being caught and passed by riders that came in over an hour after me on the bike was part of the process.

Names on race numbers enabled spectators to cheer you on with the familiarity of old school friends. A lamppost scenario kept my legs moving and running down the finishing straight and onto the red carpet was like Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom. Overall time was 14:29 – with a novice goal of just finishing, you bet I’m chuffed!

Having the medal around my neck and receiving the praise and adulation of friends and family have made the past nine months the most memorable experience of my life.

Rest and recovery are on the agenda for the next week and the next goal is to take part in the renowned 80km off-road PUFFER that takes place in August. I’m looking forward to my first off-road run next week and building on the phenomenal fitness base that training for Ironman has given me.     

2 weeks to Ironman

Filling in my logbook this morning gave way to nostalgia and reminiscing about the first few weeks of my Ironman training, which started in July 2006. The countdown started with 34 weeks to go and now only two remain.

 

An early eye op delayed the swim training and panic set in as I was missing out on 15 and 20-minute swims. Lately my swims have been averaging 1 hour and 1.5 hours…

 

A hip injury had me worried but changing my routine, resting and slowly upping the mileage gave way to first a 10km and then a 21.1km PB.

 

Switching from a mountain-bike to a road-bike with cleats was a struggle – a love of mountains, dirt and trails had to give way to speed, cars and tar road. Nevertheless, the transition was made and a three-day stage race (Cederberg Escape), Double Century (205km) and five consecutive days on the bike are all logged in my logbook.

 

Solid friendships have been cemented. New friends have been made. Bigger goals have been set and Ironman 2007 is the launching platform.

3 weeks to Ironman

The training is done, the nerves are conscious and race day is very much in the hands of ‘what will be.’ Long training rides are a thing of the past and part of me is sad that the journey is nearing completion.

 

A memorable 15-hour final week has cemented the preparation as I embrace three weeks of rest and relaxation mingled with anxious anxiety and fear. I’m continually being asked how I am feeling and it’s difficult to articulate it clearly, because this has been a rollercoaster of ups and downs, enlightenment and frustration.

 

The biggest enlightenment has been the durability and sustainability of my body. I am astonished how well it has endured five consecutive days on the bike, brick sessions followed by a half marathon, and back-to-back 15-hour weeks.

 

The downs have been surpassed by the ups and are not worth mentioning. Also, unrealistic early expectations that were self-inflicted have all been part of the learning curve.

 

Further enlightenment has included support and encouragement from family, friends and colleagues, including some that have surprised me and are now my biggest supporters.

 

Frustrations have been minor and have coincided with down periods when training was low and patience and perseverance had been forgotten.

4 weeks to Ironman

A big 15 hour week in the log-book and one more to go… To say I’m counting the days/hours until I start my taper are putting it mildly.  It’s going to be a gentle two weeks that will see my body and mind go into total de-motivation mode.  I am prepared and have arranged every conceivable social engagement that I have eluded since my 34 weeks of training started to keep my mind off the fewer training hours.

 

A phenomenal week of training that culminated with a brick session, and a half-marathon.   Once again I’m amazed at the stamina of the body and how it has adjusted to the heavy mileage.  Before, I would have been man-down after a half-marathon, now the body is screaming for more.  Pinching myself has become a common occurrence during/after each session is completed as fewer and fewer aches and pains are felt.  

 

Checklists have been prepared and my pantry is stocked with the entire stock of Vooma found at the local Sportsmans Warehouse I have decided to stick to my preferred gel and energy drink of choice and have not given Powerbar a try.  I will carry my own gels and mixture with me on race day; I guess time will tell if this is the best strategy….

 

Talking to prior Ironman finishes has become my goal with every social engagement I attend.  The light in their eyes is contagious and the advice given is listened to and segmented for later use.  I am humbled when newbies are not familiar with Ironman and bashful when they inquire to its components.  Alas, once the gates are open there is no stopping.

 

Its 4-weeks to the biggest day in my life and for 1 500 fellow competitors.  Make it a memorably four weeks, stick to the last bits of training, taper and rest and arrive charged.

5 weeks to Ironman

My recovery week was mirrored by an intensely busy work week that kept my mind off how little I was doing. 

 

Two 15-hour weeks are what’s left on my training plan with a gentle taper to race day.  It’s hard to believe that it’s been eight months…

 

One and a half hour cycles in the beginning were stressed about, now they’re not worth getting out of bed for.  Gentle 45-min runs left me gasping for air, now they’re admin. 

 

The change in mindset has been challenging but worth every step.  The change in my body has been phenomenal and the benefits of the past eight months will live with me for the rest of my life, not just the physical benefits but the emotional benefits.  My mind is stronger. 

 

Race day is looming and I am prepared.  What keeps me awake at night is setting the next goal ‘after Ironman’ and I constantly rack my brain and question why I waited so long to embark on this incredible journey? 

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