Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Here we go again

My summer break is drawing to a close. I'm sitting here 5kgs heavier than I was at the start line of IMCH, a nice little paunch developing around my midrift that was not there a few weeks ago. I've overindulged on cream teas, ice cream, carbs and gin and tonics, so after this weekend when I'm back at work it will be time to draw in my belt by a notch or two and start getting back into some structured work.

I'm looking forward to the early starts to get to the gym and do a bit of SBR, but I have also finally got my act together and I'm trying to look at the whole picture, in particular, how to get running and reduce my injury rate. To that end, I've done my first two pilates classes. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but the 45 minutes went by pretty quickly and I felt pretty lose and relaxed at the end, although there were some really tough bits. My hamstrings are monumentally weak, barely able to support my weight during one exercise and cramping immediatley. I'm hoping that over time, my hams, glutes and quads will reward me with being a lot more resilient, elastic and less injury prone.

For the last couple of weeks I have focussed on running, even doing some very gentle speedwork, but most of it clicking along at 8 minute miles. A social, hilly ride with Simon over the weekend, highlighted the extra kilos I was carrying and some of the hills were stupidly difficult to get up. The bacon sandwich and coffee at the dabbling duck made it all worthwhile.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Combing through the wreckage

After Ironman Switzerland, my plan was always to take at least two weeks off while I went on a family holiday and despite feeling quite bruised and emotionally battered for a good few days, I've managed to put things back into a bit of perspective and start to look forward. As a teacher I've often had to highlight to my pupils that failure is often necessary to move forward and that from failure, that's where personal growth happens. I don't know if it's a consequence of my safe existence but it's been a really long time since I properly failed at something. Adam and I dnf'ed at the DW back in 2011, but in our heart of hearts, we alway knew that we'd have to be really lucky to finish and often with a 50% dnf rate anyway, the odds were always against us. We bounced back and finished the next year and while 2011 was a failure for us, it didn't hurt anywhere near as much as this.

To be brutally honest, I never, ever expected that I wouldn't finish. That simply was not a scenario that I contemplated. I hope that that doesn't come across as too arrogant because it's not meant to be. I just always believed that even if I had to walk the marathon I would be able to do so. Getting my body to a point where I would not even be able to hold down water was just something that's never happened to me when doing anything athletic before; I just never saw it coming.

The sting
In my last post I gave some possible explanations about why this might have happened. I'll never truly know if the insect sting was what tipped my body over the edge of being able to process calories. Obviously I would hope that that would be the case. It's a lot easier to say that I dnf'ed due to something that was completely out of my control, but I think that it's important I have a good look at the other factors that might have been to blame and make sure that I rule them out in the future. I suppose the take away from the sting is to keep my top zipped up in the future.

My IMCH power file.
Was my bike pacing correct? In a word, yes. My power zones were accurate and set right on my Garmin. I stuck to my IF. In fact, I came in under this at 0.67. Looking at my power file there is a slight drop off over the last 90 minutes, but that was me knocking it back as the temperature climbed and particularly in the last 30 minutes, spinning more on the flats to get ready for T2. The thing that could have been improved was my variability index (VI) which was 1.16. This suggests that I was surging a bit too much. You can see this in the first 2 hours and was mainly due to being caught in packs and trying not to be caught in a draft zone. So other than this, I genuinely don't believe that by me reducing my power any more would have changed the outcome (well, except for having avoided the wasp completely!)

Was my nutrition correct? I did what I had always done when racing long course or HIM in the past. Mainly solids for the first 2/3rds, then switching to predominantly fluids as the bike progressed, taking on board water when I needed it. Two things that I could have done differently. Firstly, I didn't train with the on course energy drink which was Enervit. That said, I tried it the day before and it seemed no different to High5, which I do use. I didn't taste or feel any discernable difference, but maybe, it might not have agreed with me and I didn't realise? I don't think this is the case as I didn't feel sick at all on the bike, but this is something I can rule out next time. The other point is that I tend to train in a fasted state and too many of my long rides were done like this, so that I could train my body to burn fat as fuel, rather than carbs. Maybe, I relied on this too much and my stomach simply was not trained enough? It's something that is easily rectified and I should do more of next year. So nothing earth shattering or new, but maybe a couple of minor points that combined to send my race off the rails.

So I'm pretty certain I'm going to go long again next year. I want to capitalise on the work that I've done over the last 9 months but as yet I've made no firm decisions about which race I'll sign up to, but I'm more determined than ever not to leave Ironman racing like this. It's really important that I get running again and I have a plan for this over the winter.  I do know that I will aim to get some good 70.3 races in next year as I am a lot more suited to this distance than Ironman distance.