Saturday was a massive confidence booster ahead of Lanzarote. When I first got the email from my coach Richard Mason, I blinked in disbelief. He wanted me to ride for 5 hours, rest for an hour and then run for 2 hours. That was going to be tough, especially as I was streaming with cold. But telling myself to man up that’s what I did – well almost.
The alarm went off at 4.30am, I’d laid my gear out in the spare bedroom the night before, so as not to disturb Em. I looked out of the window, and surprise surprise it was pouring down. Compression top, bib-tights, long sleeve cycle jersey, two pairs of socks, neoprene overshoes, fluro waterproof jacket, sunglasses ( yellow lenses to enhance light ), buff, helmet and goretex gloves and I was ready to go. Can you see why I got up 1/2 an hour before I set off.
I grabbed a load of gels and stuffed my pockets, I deliberately didn’t eat and decided that I wouldn’t consume anything but water for the first two hours to try and tap into my plentiful fat reserves.
I was running two lights on the back, each at 1/2 a watt and giving visibility up to a mile and on the front I had my ayups, a 1200 lumen flashing light and then just for good measure another 1000 lumen torch on my helmet. Overkill really but I was about to hit unlit country lanes, and I both needed to be seen and to see where I was going.
You know you are out early when all you see for the first hour or so is roadkill. Rats, rabbits, pheasants and loads of frogs for some reason. The only living creatures I saw were sheep on the fell roads, who did their very best to crash into me, they aren’t the brightest of creatures. How the hell can lambs ( full of energy and enthusiasm ) turn into sheep ( dull, stupid and looking thoroughly bored ) ?
I was never more than 5 miles from home, I just hit every big hill several times, riding loop after loop. It was pretty boring, so I decided to liven things up by playing Roadkill Bingo. The first to reach 5 sightings would win, and then we’d start again. The poor unfortunate frogs won. It was slightly grim but the macabre game kept me going.
The rain eventually blew away, and most of the fog ( or low lying cloud ) blew away as the morning passed by. It meant I could turn off the illuminations. My legs felt good climbing, I wasn’t fast, averaging just over 12 mph but I did climb just shy of 3900 feet – only about a third of the climbing in Lanza. Most of my climbing was done seated, I only got out of the saddle climbing Littledale which reaches 20% and rises 478feet in just over a mile. I’d forgotten what a tough climb that was, although I wasn’t helped by all the mud and crap on the road either. This climb was quickly followed by the Tower, 650 feet in 1.2 miles, but I managed to stay seated and grind it out – never been able to do that before this year.
To be honest the five hours went by a lot quicker than I thought they would. I drank one bottle of water, and one of nuun. I had 6 gels, one every 1/2 an hour in the last 3 hours and I don’t think I suffered for not having eaten in the first two hours.
I got off the bike, cold and wet but not feeling as trashed as I thought I would. Strip off, running gear on and away we go. I couldn’t afford the luxury or pain of an hours rest in between the bike and the run, I had family commitments. I probably went off a little too fast as the first few miles averaged just over 8 min mile pacing, so I deliberately slowed down.
The run was a straight out and back, flat route, trying to mimic Lanza. I had two gels on the run and again the 2 hours flew by – I’m taking this to be a good sign. By now the rest of the world had got up, so running along the A6 it was quite busy. I made it home just after noon, and was rewarded with a cuddle from Charlotte, who didn’t seem to mind that her daddy was dripping in sweat. That was the best part of the day 🙂
I feel like I’m on a roll, a major test will come this Sunday when I take part in the Kendal Sportive, a very hilly 75 mile ride that will be test my legs and my desire. These things have to be done, after all I’m an Ironman.