IM UK: Preparation, preparation, preparation

It’s pretty neat when a plan comes together. Or at least most of a plan comes together. I raced Ironman UK  with a rather big grin on my face, for that very reason.

Its all in the mind

Clearly I had doubts about my run going into the race.I just didn’t know if I would be able to get to the finish line. Deep down I thought I would, perhaps through sheer determination, but as I hadn’t run for longer than four minutes at a time for over six weeks, due to an achilles issue, I was pretty nervous about the marathon.Thankfully some good women in the world of triathlon did their best to boost my confidence and get me sorted mentally… “If you can get up to twenty minutes running before race day, you’ll be fine,” I was told.Another pointed out “Remember you can walk a marathon, so you’ll finish regardless.”And then some sound advice two days out:“I once started a race being unable to hop the day before I was in so much pain. You’ll be ok.”Her point? The body is an amazing thing. 

There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing

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I had obsessed over the Bolton/Chorley weather for 7 days, but it just kept changing!Cue the ridiculous scene of me showering in my sports bra the day before the race, just to practise putting a cycling top on when soaking wet. In the end I opted for tri-suit and bright yellow winter gloves.

I also changed in T2 into the infamous orange running shorts and a KTC running vest. In short, I had thought massively about my kit and I was ready for whatever Bolton was going to throw at me.

You get what you work for

Coach Rob Wilby hatched a training plan  way back when to get me in good shape for Bolton. I seemed to be on the turbo a lot over winter but come race day I felt really comfortable on the bike.I also worked hard in the pool and had some brilliant swim analysis sessions with Hamish Shaw, so I was thrilled to come out of the water with a PB.

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As for the run training, well it had been going ok through winter and spring…until my body said enough is enough. My longest run in the build up to Bolton was 13 miles on May 21st. Even during the bike I was worrying about what would happen when I got to T2. But I had a plan which I was going to try to stick to.   On Rob's (sensible) advice I went for a 9 minute run/1 minute walk strategy.  I did it all the way to mile 21 before I ran to the finish line.  I admit, I may have been trying to chase someone down at that point!  

Food, glorious food.

For the first time I actually felt I nailed the nutrition in a race. In 70.3s I’ve usually had to just stick to water on the run, while in my first Ironman I took on too much solid food…but not enough calories. This time, apart from half a peanut butter wrap from my special needs bag at mile 80, it was gels and liquid carbs all the way. Gels aren’t really my idea of fun, but Tanja Slater had passed on her advice and I had practised with them twice in training rides. Come race week, the electric scales even made an appearance to weigh out precise amounts of carbohydrate powder.

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It did the trick. Nice one OTE Sports.

Be happy and Smile

This part of the plan was the easiest bit. I was so excited to be out there racing and wanted to enjoy every minute of the race in order to celebrate all of the work that had gone into it.

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I even joked with Laura Siddall that although she’d whoop me time-wise at Roth (8.51.59!!!!!!!!!! BOOM!!), I’d out-smile her in Bolton.So I was delighted when a spectator on a climb said ‘you’re the only person smiling going up here.’ Result!

Working together is success

I’ve said before this sport is a selfish one and you need a team around you to make the whole experience a successful one. Coach Rob, super physio Clive, Knutsford Tri club mates, Team Raceforce, understanding friends… you’ve all played your part. As for the support from the Cup of Tri listeners - wow!Thank you, it’s been overwhelming. 

My 'Supportive Dude' Rich has been amazing as ever…dealing with my hangry moments, keeping me going on long rides and runs...What a star! While my parents  seem to enjoy the role of chief supporters, since coming with me to my first triathlon in 2011. So I felt incredibly happy, proud and even a bit emotional when I saw them cheering me on at the top of Hunter’s Hill and on every loop on the run.Mum even handed me cherries and an emergency ham and cheese sandwich when I looked like I was about to collapse in the finish area.Now that is preparation. 

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The numbers: swim: 1.05.21, t1: 5.25, bike: 6.16.25, T2: 6.26 run: 3.54.43.

Total: 11.28 for 4th AG, 10th Female. Happy Days!