🎉Happy Anniversary TeamRaceForce🎉 One year ago just as the 2014 Tri season started, Kate had the inspired idea of creating a RaceForce team. This has now morphed into something more inclusive of everyone who travels with RaceForce but at the time it just felt like me and the pros. I gave myself a year to be ready for a full Ironman and the last 52 weeks have been a journey towards that ultimate goal. 2014 wasn't my most successful season. Yes - I completed several events but my two 70.3 efforts were both outside the official cut-off time and I didn't finish a marathon. It's only this week I realised when looking at all my old results that I actually finished Ironman Zell am See 70.3 in 2013 in 8hrs 16mins - and now it's all come back to me I wasn't even last. (This was before they put the mountain in the middle of the course.) So I have actually completed a 70.3 but had somehow convinced myself that I hadn't. How bizarre! But the test wasn't about a 70.3; it was about being 'Ironman ready - long distance'. So last Friday, I set off to complete the long awaited "JT169", a 3/4 Ironman event, organised by me, for me, with the intention of really seeing what it's like to keep going for that long. The main difference between the JT169 and other events is that there is an optional time or distance cut off, moving on to the next discipline when either one or other target has been reached. (I wonder if it will catch on?) I gave myself a time cap of 90 minutes for the swim and finished in 76mins. It was the first time I had ever been to David Lloyds before 8am and it was busy. I quickly negotiated with the super fast guy in my lane that we would stay on our own sides so I managed to swim uninterrupted. At at 8:30am everyone vanished and I had the pool to myself for the last 15 minutes. T1 involved a cooked breakfast to steel my nerves for the bike. It was a lovely day for cycling so I set off with a plan to go from Oxford to Milton Keynes for a quick visit to a friend. I was thoroughly lost after a couple of hours so aborted that idea and headed towards some village names I recognised. I was out for about 4.5 hours including a quick Costa break but covered far too few miles, so popped onto the turbo for the last 1.5 hours to get in some steady cycling. 6 hours completed but nowhere near the 135km target. After a suitably long T2 and to Matthew's bemusement I staggered off for a 30km walk/run/shuffle towards Priority 6 in Radley to drop in on Simon #bestcoachever and the Crossfit gang which was just under 15km. Quite incredibly this seemed to go to plan and I really didn't feel too bad. I stayed a little too long at the gym and got a bit cold and stiff. I had to run a slightly longer route home and it had got dark, picking my way along roads with no pavements or street lights slowed me down considerably as I had to keep jumping onto the grass verge when cars passed - but I kept on moving forward. At 20km I questioned my sanity and the last hour was absolutely horrible. (Just like an ironman Yeah!!) Matthew came to meet me on his bike about 2km from home which was nice and I off loaded my race belt. I had given myself 5 hours for the run but finished well under 4.5 hrs. So.....my conclusion from this nonsense was that in fair weather conditions I should be able to complete the run and swim but that I've lots of work to do on the bike leg to make the cut off. We had a nice little award ceremony and I got my first place medal (69p - before anyone thinks I've really lost it) and apart from my weight rocketing from inflammation and a sore knee I seemed to have survived it relatively well. I am please that I knuckled down and did this test as the information has been so valuable to tweak my training plan for the next few weeks. I need a HUGE focus on the bike and to try and strengthen my legs to support my knee which is definitely a serious weak spot. I'm happy with my nutrition although on race day I might have to adapt to whatever's available but I think I'll be fine with that. Even more importantly though I had a bit of a eureka moment around 23k on the run on a dark empty road, thinking about normal people indoors watching the TV and drinking wine and found the answer to the magical "WHY?Why am I doing this? This first step on the journey started when Matthew entered us for the London Marathon ballot (without telling me I hasten to add) and I won a place. That set off a series of events whereby the spiralling downward of my physical and mental health after the sudden death of my eldest son started to slow down; I was introduced to Simon #bestcoachever and then Kate burst into my life and persuaded me to take on even more challenges. Each time I've thought about slowing down or giving up endurance events something else has happened to keep me firmly on this path; such as the massive high after finishing Challenge Paguera and obviously the latest twist being the Willy-Wonka-Golden-Ticket to the Kona world champs in October. So the answer is - I didn't actually decide to do any of this; I just followed the signs and accepted the opportunities and challenges presented to me. I do feel at times that I am a passenger on the roller-coaster of my life and not in control of any of it; but until I see some signs to stop, I had best just hang on and enjoy the ride while it lasts. I still haven't answered the question of "For what purpose ?" But maybe that's the next chapter.
KitBrix Luggage Partner for 2017
February 24, 2017
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