My body took quite a battering during the Outlaw in August, some of which I’m still feeling, but also the whole “Post Ironman Blues” kicked in a little.
If you’ve not experienced this it’s a little difficult to comprehend. I spent the best part of a year focusing on racing at the Outlaw and once that was over it felt like I had no reason to get out of bed and go for a run or spend 4 hours in solitary confinement on my bike. I was no longer moving towards a goal, why couldn’t I just have a lazy Sunday morning with the papers? That’s exactly what I did for a couple of weeks but the truth be known, it did my head in. I’m not that sort of person, I got bored.
I resumed running again when we went to Beziers in the South of France for two weeks in August. The heat was stifling, one day the needle was above 40 degrees. I ran a 5 mile loop along the Canal du Midi to the next village and back and would then jump in the swimming pool to cool down. That particular day the dry heat actually burned my throat ( it felt like one of my regular tonsillitis outbreaks ) and on returning I drank a litre of water without coming up for air. My garmin was telling me that my heart rate was just shy of 200, I swear that when I jumped into the pool you could see a column of steam rising from the water. Each run got quicker and by the end of the holiday, my 5 mile time had dropped from 50 minutes to 42 minutes. I still couldn’t feel 3 of the toes on my left foot though – nerve damage caused in the Outlaw Marathon. I went to see the doc and he said that the nerve would grow back over a period of a few months, thankfully he was correct, as its now fine.
So I was back running but I didn’t feel particularly fit so rather than make any rash decisions about racing again, I sat down and talked about it with Em. I needed a goal to focus on but with our first baby due in December I had to be realistic in what I could aim for. Em said that she was more than happy for me to do the Outlaw again but I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to get the level of training into my legs that I would need to do a long distance race. I’d be interested to hear if any of you have trained and raced with a newborn baby in the equation?
What I decided on was a two year planned return to Ironman racing. Although I was proud to have finished the Outlaw I was really disappointed with my time, I am determined to get that sub 12 hour time that so far has eluded me. I think it is well within my capabilities if I’m race fit and have some luck on race day. So in 2012 I will be returning to Ironman, most likely in Germany or Nottingham. I see 2011 as a transition year, building up my fitness, reducing my weight, and getting faster at shorter distances. My A race next year will be a half Ironman, most probably the Cleveland Steelman in July.
Two vital things have happened since the Outlaw that are helping me immensely.
Firstly I have been to see an endocrinologist regarding my underactive thyroid. I had put off the tests for months as I didn’t want to risk anything before the race. The results showed that my thyroid gland had gone haywire hence why I’d piled on weight despite intense training, been experiencing lethargic moods, and suffering with joint pain. My medication was changed and I’m now feeling like a new man, I have so much energy, the weight is dropping off me and I’ve not had any knee or joint pain even after a two hour run. All of this is a great incentive to train.
Secondly I’m now working with a coach, Richard Mason, of Inspired Personal Training. He’s a veteran of multiple Ironman races, a BTA regional coach and a great motivator. He’s the captain of the COLT ( City of Lancaster Triathlon ) of which I’m a member. I had a fitness test which involved working out my heart rate zones on the bike. I never knew a turbo trainer could be such an instrument of torture, by the time I’d finished the twenty minute session I thought my heart and lungs were going to come out of my chest. But I survived and for the last 4 weeks I’ve been getting weekly training plans, which have seen my weekly training output progress to 12 hours. My key weekly sessions are highlighted for me, and each week I can see what the aim is, this week it’s endurance. In the past if I trained myself and looked at an endurance week, I’ll be honest there were probably quite a few ‘junk miles’ done. By training smart, every session is done for a reason, that can only be a positive thing.
If you’ve never worked with a coach I can recommend it. When you have someone to answer to, it means you really put the effort in. If you don’t have a coach, find a training partner, join a club, again gauging yourself against others will make you train harder.
Another thing that has helped me is that one of my friends Richard G has started running, I’ve been helping him and advising him. We’ve been running 2 or 3 times a week. He’s played at it before but always put up mental barriers, and found excuses not to train. Now no such barriers exist and he’s running like a man possessed. Our first run, he was winded in the first 400m and we spent most of it walking, which is fair enough – Rome wasn’t built in a day as they say. That was in September, so we set a goal of being able to run a 5k in under 30 minutes by the end of the year. Less than 3 weeks later we ran that distance in 27 minutes, and we were running comfortably. I can’t tell you how good it felt to see the look on Rich’s face, like all his Christmases had come at once. That’s inspired me as well, because I can envisage him being another Lesley i.e. a friend I’ve helped with his running who then goes onto to beat me in races. Seriously though, it’s great when you can help someone else.
So I’m feeling very positive about the way I’m moving towards my long term goal, I’d be kidding myself if I thought it was going to be easy as I’m aiming to take at least an hour off my previous best for the Ironman. Providing that my body keeps responding to the medication, and the fact that I’m training hard but more importantly training smart it feels like a reachable goal. However this is before I’ve factored in sleepless nights and other baby related distractions, they could be a much bigger challenge than I’m used to?
In other news the book is finally finished, and has gone to the printers. There is a new book cover which looks far more dynamic, and there has been a few ‘interesting’ main stream media developments, which, if they materialise will be amazing. So keep your eyes and ears open as you might be seeing and hearing from me in places you wouldn’t expect.
Right I’m off for a run, winter has arrived so the gloves are out.