Good morning blog-friends. I hope that wherever you are in the world that he sun is shining on you and there is hope in your hearts.
There's no sun here as I sit in my office looking over my front garden but I'm hoping the weather will lift for Thursday's flight to Austria and the days thereafter.
Yes... we're finally there. Ironman Austria is this Sunday at 0700 (Austria time) and it's been quite a journey. I feel in the shape of my life - seriously, I haven't felt this fit since I was playing first-class rugby in my early twenties and am mentally as prepared as I'll ever be. In fact... I'm really looking forward to it. Fiona, Erin, Alice and myself fly on Thursday from Stansted. We're staying at Hotel Woerth in Maria Worth next to the lake at Klagenfurt, some 10k from the start of the race itself. My brother Sean and his family will be there, as will my other brother Conal. My parents will also be with us, not least as it's my dad's 70th the day after the race. So it will be a wonderful family affair.
Of course, there'll be others there too. My mates Tom and Helen will hopefully have recuperated from their fantastic races at Ironman Germany this week (Tom raced in sub 10 hours, Helen in sub 11 - well done, guys) and will be staying at the same hotel to cheer me on through the race. Ironman Sam will be there too, as will dozens of Team MK members and families. So, all in all, it should be a fantastic race.
My task for the day is to focus for (hopefully) just less than eleven hours whilst expending a huge amount of physical energy. I'm hoping to swim the 3.8km in 65 minutes, then take 5 minutes for my first transition, bike 180 km in 5 hours 45 minutes followed by another 5 minutes for Transition two, followed by a marathon in under four hours.
Put like that... you can see it's a tall order. But I've not been training this hard for nothing. I'm physically capable of all these targets and I'm capable of stitching them together. Ironman isn't just about physical capability though, it's about marshaling and utilising all your resources when your body is at its lowest ebb, every fiber of your being is screaming at you to stop and your mind is wandering due to the lack of oxygen. I promise you... halfway through the marathon, you're hard pushed to remember your middle name, let alone focus on on-going race nutrition and split time calculations.
I made two key mistakes last year - I neglected my nutrition on the bike and I set off too quickly on the run. I won't be making those mistakes this year. There will be problems, there will be difficulties. It's called 'Iron' man, after all, not 'Easy' man. But I'm looking forward to facing them head on, gathering strength from my support and driving forward to achieving my goal.
So, now I've had that Winston Churchill like chat with myself... what's been happening this week. Well, my taper has been going well. I've been reducing the hours training but - as Tom told me to do - included a few sessions in there to keep myself 'honest'. Training highlight this week was knocking another 25 seconds off my PB 10 mile Time Trial time on the bike which now stands at 23:51. So there is life in the old legs still !
I've been busy at work too, setting up some radio ads that I'm working on after I'm back from Austria, discussing future TV commercials with some clients and, of course, working on my film script. I'd be lying if I said that I find the latter the easiest thing in the world, but as I'm writing differently this time - producing a fully formed treatment consisting of over twenty pages of story before I begin scripting - I'm happy with where I am in the process. I'm hoping to have the treatment finished prior to flying to Austria so that there's nothing playing on my mind during the race preparation.
My taper week's training has looked like this:
Monday - 45 minutes swim drills, 20 minutes easy running
Tuesday - 45 minutes open water swim, 60 minutes bike, 45 minutes 80% Heart Rate run
Weds - 45 minutes run at Ironman pace
Thurs - complete rest day
Friday - 45 mins bike 10 mile TT (23:51) plus warm up and down, 15 minutes back to back run at 8 minute miles and 69% of Heart Rate Max
Saturday - Back to back session: 45 minute 2.2km swim, 2 hrs 15 mins bike 40 miles, 5 mile run at IM pace, 45 mins.
Sunday - 40 mins run at 85% max heart rate.
Total time training this week - 9.68 hours
Last week's film quote was
"You're a big man, but you're in bad shape. With me it's a full time job. Now behave yourself. "
and was spoken by Michael Caine as Jack Carter in GET CARTER. Robert Quantrell got it but only after sneaking a peak onto IMDB. Boo... hiss...
Have a go at this one:
"I'm not mad, I'm proud of you. You took your first pinch like a man and you learn two great things in your life. Look at me, never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shut. "
Go on... you know you know. Who said it? What movie?
Congratulations, of course, this week to Tom and Helen for two outstanding performances at Ironman Germany.
Finally, the photo... Fiona and Erin went girly shopping to Milton Keynes on Sunday so Alice and I hung out together at home. She'd recently picked up a big box of complicated looking lego models which, frankly, had me scratching my head and wondering how long it would take before she gave up. But she didn't give up. She followed the assembly booklet, constructing the things, bit by bit until - eventually - a fully formed model was formed. It was a patient, revealing and enjoyable process (I played a small part as 'coach') and it made me think of the journey I've taken over the past year on the way to this challenge. My coach, Mark K, has provided the 'assembly booklet' of training schedule and words of wisdom (as have other friends along the way) and, piece by piece, I've constructed my fitness over the year to the point where it is now, I believe, a fully formed item ready for the game to begin!