I entered the Challenge Weymouth last September but I didn’t tell very many people. There is a lot of stuff that can go wrong when you start to train an ageing body to do stuff it used to do.
I started running again. I went out with Egdon Heath Harriers on Club nights and did a few low key races.
I had to face the reality that I was now running at a much slower speed than I was a few years ago. I still find this difficult to accept and will keep working at it – even to hold the status quo.
I had been riding up to 200km on my bike quite regularly on Audax rides for a few years so it was just a matter of turning attention to intensity and working on speed and bike handling skills.
Throughout 2015 I have aimed at completing the ironman distance in each of the three disciplines every week, usually spending around 24 hours a week training. I have consistently tried to make myself do brick sessions (get off the bike and run!). My training has also included regular (aiming at 2 hours a week) sessions in the gym mainly with dumbbells and also regular Iyengar yoga classes. We are so fortunate to live close to Bridport Leisure Centre which gives me unlimited access to the swimming pool, fitness suite and fitness classes – including superb yoga with Alex Klein.
Swim training was in the pool until May 2015. When the sea started to warm up I was in it regularly – several times a week. The sea is only 200 metres from my home so there is no excuse.
I have really enjoyed the training. It has never been a chore. I live in a beautiful rural area of West Dorset which is perfect for running, cycling and swimming . I am retired and mostly I am free to spend my time as I wish. I am as fit as I have ever been.
So I’ve been doing all this training all year. I’ve been lucky. No illnesses or injuries that have stopped me completely. I have a husband who does everything he can to support and help me. (Though he has no interest in joining in except for the fitness suite and yoga). He also does the techie stuff on this blog.
As well as the physical training I have also turned my attention to mental training. I have explored strategies for controlling my nerves (excitement) on the build up to the race and on race day. I have several mantras which I will use to stay relaxed and focussed on the race. I sing inspirational songs to myself and sometimes to the world. I have tricks I will use when the going gets tough, as it inevitably will. I will smile, keep my shoulder blades in, relax my face, relax my jaw etc. But most of all I will remember that this is ‘just one day’. I can do this –it is only for one day. (I can even trot out the ‘Pain is temporary, ironman is forever’ if I get really desperate).
There comes a time though as the ‘Big Day’ approaches that there must be a reduction in this level of training. It’s called tapering. I had a good search on the internet and discovered that I did not have to draw to a halt. The modern, perceived wisdom on tapering is that you keep up the intensity but reduce the volume. So with 3 weeks to go I reduced volume from 24 hours a week to 13 hours with my longest bike ride being 50 kilometres, but riding fast and hard and still doing interval and hill reps out running.
With 2 weeks to go at the beginning of September I set out to do my AAARTY ride for the month. My health and fitness was great and I was hoping it would stay that way. Then a wasp flew inside my sunglasses and stung me on the eye lid.
In the past I have had an anaphylactic shock from a wasp sting. This time I just got a very swollen face and felt unwell for 5 days. (I did finish the ride and get Septembers AAA points !!) I tried a run the same day as the sting but had to give up. To distract me from this problem and have some fun, we took ourselves off to Dartmoor and did the opposite of low volume high intensity. Very low intensity and high volume. 2 days walking across the highest and remotest Tors in North Dartmoor. Splendid.
By the time I got back I could see just enough to get back on my beloved bike.
For the last 10 days I have reduced volume a lot but have kept up the intensity. I have done several short brick sessions and practiced the transitions from swim to bike and bike to run.
I have practiced changing tubes on my bike and have put new tyres on to reduce the risk of problems. The day (TODAY!) before the Challenge I will have a final short ride on my bike – to check all is working well and follow that up with a short shuffle – just to make sure I still can.
I’ll then put my numbers on my bike and gear and pack my transition bags with everything I could possibly need. I haven’t really changed my nutrition through the taper except – I haven’t drunk any alcohol for the last 3 weeks. I’ve been trying to drink more plain water.
These last few days I have been reducing the amount of fruit, veg and salad and changed to white processed carbs to reduce the chance of GI distress on race day.
Yesterday I went to Weymouth to register at Challenge HQ, WEymouth Pavilion. . I was surprised to discover only 82 women are on the start list for the Long distance triathlon and I am the only woman in the age 60 – 64 category. I have got my bags, swim hat, my electronic tag, and race instructions.
We had a walk along the sea front – which is the run course – and inspected the sea. It was in quite a lively mood. Very frisky.
The transition area was being built and I was relieved to see that bike number 521 is in a corner at the end of a row making it easy for me to find my bike even when my brain is befuddled after the swim.
Today it’s back to Weymouth for the race briefing. After that I will take my bike to transition and put it in the rack and then leave my bags in the transition area ready to change from swim to bike and then 7 or 8 hours later from bike to run.
An early supper and early to bed tonight. Then back to Weymouth ready to start the swim at 07:15. The weather forecast is not looking very good. It will be windy all day and then heavy rain later on in the day for the run.
I’m ready. I can do this!