My result. Click or tap the picture for more detail (Bib number 385)
I entered the Ironman 70.3 UK Exmoor event not long after I had completed the Challenge Weymouth ironman last September. The last 9 months of my life have been focused on training for this event. I did the London Marathon, some Audax rides and other events in between but the 26th June 2016 is the date I have been training for. Most weeks my training log shows about 17 hours. This is just the training time – I spend a lot of time faffing about doing at stuff to do with training. I enjoy the training mostly. I have a training plan which I invent based mostly on my own experience but sometimes I do what I fancy whether it is on the plan or not. Usually I end up doing more than the plan suggests. I’m not very good at rest days. My bottom line is that it has to be fun. If it is not fun it is not sustainable. I am very fortunate that by training sensibly and listening to my body when bits inevitably start niggling, that I have not developed any injuries that have stopped me from training during this 9 month period.
2016 was the inaugural running of the West Bay Triathlon. It was organised by a local fledgling company Beyond Events.
West Bay is a perfect venue for sports events. It is in beautiful rural Dorset and on the spectacular Jurassic Coast.
West Bay from Thorncombe Beacon
Beyond Events are very keen to encourage inexperienced athletes to have a go and push their limits. There were 2 distances – Sprint and Olympic. The Sprint course was very flat and aimed at newcomers to triathlon. The Olympic distance course had a challenging bike and a very challenging run and all though there were some athletes who took this on as their first triathlon the majority were more experienced.
Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance
Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance (DSAA) is a registered charity to provide relief from sickness and injury to the people of Dorset and Somerset by provision of an Air Ambulance. There is no direct funding from the Government or the National Lottery and they rely totally on the generosity of the public to run the service.
The service was launched in 2000, and since then over 11,000 missions have been flown. The helicopter can be at any point in Somerset or Dorset from its airbase at Henstridge in less than 20 minutes and then at any one of the major trauma centres in the South West within a further 20 minutes.
Operational costs exceed £2 million a year with each with mission costing £2,500.
There are many challenges to be tempted by when riding Audax. However, a lot of them involve riding for a very long way and for a very long time. At present I do not find it fun to be out for more than about 12 hours, so I am limited to 200km rides or less.
I have found that one challenge I can maintain and use to keep up my cycling motivation is AAARTY. (Audax Altitude Award Round The Year). This involves riding a minimum of 50km with at least 750m of elevation every month. I have ridden a hilly ride every month since June 2013 so this was my 36th consecutive month!
Occasionally I will ride a hilly Calendar Event like the Dorset Coast 200km in April 2016 which attracted 2.75 AAA points with a total climb of 2850 metres. But usually I ride a 100km DIY with over 1500m of elevation. Living in the West of West Dorset it is not difficult to plan hilly enough rides from my back yard.
For Audax DIY planning purposes Burton Bradstock to Shillingstone is a very convenient 51km with 1015m of elevation. The return trip makes for a very neat 102km with only the one intermediary control necessary. Perfect.
The second week in May the weather warmed up nicely and I set off to meet my cycling buddy Jo ready for a hilly 100km.
Setting out from home – nice jersey!
All details about the event can be found here. This post is just about my experience.
150,000 people enter the ballot for a London Marathon place in the May before the event. About 50,000 places are allocated and about 40,000 start the race. In addition to the ballot places there are also some places that are allocated to runners who are very fast or who are considered ‘Good for Age’. So if like me you are female, old and considered to be quick for age and sex you get an automatic entry. In 2015 I ran the North Dorset Villages marathon in 4 hours 30 minutes (and 46 seconds) which just about quick enough to meet the Good for Age standard for women aged 60 – 64.
Of the 40,000 runners who started the London Marathon on 24th April 2016 just 204 were women aged 60 – 64 with a further 130 women over the age of 65. The reason why there were so few older women running the marathon is because it is bloody hard.
I have completed the London Marathon seven times over the years since my first one in 1994. Back in the day I used to run quite quickly and until I was 55 most marathons were sub 3 hours 30 minutes with a personal best of 3 hours 12 minutes set in Paris in 2001. In 2009 I ran 3 hours 37 minutes and I then decided to stop running marathons as I was getting too slow!
Training for a marathon is quite tricky. In an effort to train hard enough to get the best from yourself it is essential to avoid over-training and acquiring injuries. I try to vary my training and do a lot of it off road. I build intensity by running on hills (not difficult in West Dorset) and by doing some intervals and speed work. After the ironman in September 2015 I had a few months of low motivation and started 2016 with no desire to compete and not much urge to get out of the door and run! My training diary records ‘running is hard work and I am depressingly slow. I cannot imagine being at the start of VLM on April 24th’. In January a 15km run was ‘exhausting’, but by February things were improving and I was pushing the long run out to 30km. During March my mojo gradually returned and I recorded that I was ‘running well – just slowly.’ I ran the Grizzly in March at race intensity and was quite pleased. I recovered well and ran the Weymouth half marathon in 2 hours 4 minutes the weekend after. However, I only ran more than 30km in training 6 times in preparation for the London marathon.
As well as running, I have continued to swim at least once a week and cycled several times a week, including many rides over 100km. I also do some strength and conditioning with weights in the gym and Iyengar yoga.
The Virgin London Marathon is incredibly well organised. It is a massive event with 40,000 runners and many thousands helping to facilitate the event. Registration takes place at Excel in London and in itself is a huge event. Registration is open for 3 full days and although by Saturday lunch time when we rolled up it was very busy, we were quickly processed and I had my number and timing chip. I had been quite nervous in the week before going up to London but by this time I was resigned to my fate.
Registration at Excel
Good Friday. Good weather. Bright blue sky sunshine and light winds. Perfect.
The South West Coast path is a long distance footpath of some 630 miles from Minehead to Poole. Over the years we have walked all of the path (and also kayaked all the way round too). On this occasion we were just walking 20 miles from Lynmouth to Minehead. Minehead is where most people start and there is an official starting point with a Sculpture.
The SW Coastal Path sculpture at Minehead
In preparation (training is a difficult concept for Ian) for a much longer walk we have planned later in the year, we walked 100k from Dulverton to Minehead last week over 4 days. We carried everything we needed but stayed in guest accommodation and ate in pubs. Archie our Border Terrier came too, as he also need some multi day walking preparation.
We left our car at Dulverton and set off along the River Barle heading North. There is a good path that keeps close to the river for about 5 km to Castle Bridge. There is then a gentle ascent to Hawkridge where the path meets the Two Moors Way.
Hawkridge is one of the oldest communities on Exmoor. It lies on the track that crosses the River Barle at Tarr Steps and in sight of the barrows on Anstey Common. The church has Saxon origins.
The Two Moors Way is a long distance footpath between Ivybridge on the Southern edge of Dartmoor and Lynmouth on the North coast of Somerset. We have previously walked the Dartmoor section. This walk is within the Exmoor National Park and passes through landscapes of exceptionally high quality. Not only does this include the high moorland but also the deep and wooded valleys of the moor.
The Two Moors Way