The event that I have been training for all year is almost here. On Sunday 13th September I will take part in Challenge Weymouth Long Course Triathlon.
This is an ironman distance triathlon comprising a 3.8 kilometre sea swim in Weymouth Bay followed by a 180km bike ride (with 1880m of elevation – hills that is!) and then a full 42.2 km marathon run. The clock doesn’t stop during all of this, so quick changing between each element is necessary. Food and drink is taken on the move.
The whole event must be completed inside 16 hours with the swim taking less than 2:15 hours and the swim and bike 10:30 hours. I am the oldest woman on the start list. In Triathlon your age is taken as of 31st December so as I am 60 in November I am in the 60 – 64 category. There are no other women in the category and there is just one woman in the 55-59 category.
Throughout the year I have taken part in several running races and one standard triathlon.
I have kept up my Audax AAARTY with a hilly ride each month.
I have completed enough races to be eligible for Egdon Heath Harriers Club Championship and enough Dorset County road races to be eligible for that championship. But this is the big one!
My target for most of my training this year has been to complete the ironman distances in a training week. In addition to the swim, bike and run I try to do a couple of strength and conditioning sessions in the gym and also go to an Iyengar yoga class once or twice a week.
This all adds up to about 24 hours a week of training. Of course life gets in the way sometimes so I have not always met my training targets but on some weeks I have exceeded them. I have enjoyed the training.
I am much slower than I used to be when I was younger but I reckon I am fitter today than I have ever been. I find it difficult to accept the slower speed, particularly in running. I have tried to address the problem of the lack of speed through training but it seems there is only so much I can do and the speeds I was running at even 10 years ago are now gone which is something I have to just keep working on.
As the big day draws near I have been spending time trying to minimise surprises during the event. I have cycled around the course several times and I know the route quite well. I have practiced eating and drinking and know how much I will need to eat and drink and which food I am likely to enjoy and tolerate. I know I need to take some energy on about every 20 minutes on the bike. I will have food easily available and electrolyte drinks in my bottles. So my pockets are crammed with flapjack and cereal bars and I have a bag with dried fruits and nuts on my top tube. There are feed stations around the course where I can get a banana and more bars and drinks. On the run it is easier to get food and drink as in each 10 kilometre loop there are 3 feed stations with all sorts of good things to keep energy levels up.
My bike, a Specialised Roubaix, is a standard road bike. It does not have any racing features that are found on time trial or triathlon bikes. It is comfortable and I can ride at a quick enough rate for 112 miles on it in comfort. I have screwed on some aero bars which will enable me to assume a more effective riding position on the straight, flat parts of the course.
I have had my bike thoroughly serviced by Toby at Pedals and Paddles.
I have put two new Continental Gatorskin tyres on my bike.
I have had these new tyres on and off a few times so they are not too stiff. I will be carrying a spare tube, a canister of gas and a pump – just in case! As well as doing lots of hours of training in the sea and out on my bike and running I have spent time thinking about what I will wear. I have decided against a tri suit which some of the fast pros will use for all three disciplines. For me – going much slower – it is really important to be comfortable. I am going to put on my normal cycling kit – that means padded shorts and a warm long sleeved jersey.
After the cycle I will change completely into clean dry running kit!
As the weather forecast is not looking too good I will have a jacket in my transition bag for the bike and the run in case it is raining. There is no point in making it harder than it already is by being wet and cold.
I do not tolerate cold water well and losing energy on a 90 minute swim trying to keep warm had to be minimised. I had a wetsuit custom made by Snuggs which has extra thermal lining on the core.
In addition I will be wearing a Zone 3 neoprene vest under my wetsuit.
And 2 hats!
Before I had the Snuggs wetsuit I was finishing my swims mildly hypothermic and unable to walk and talk let alone run to transition, change into cycling kit and set off on a 112 mile ride.
So I’m ready. I have controlled all the variables I can. Bring it on!