In my mind at the beginning of the season I always knew what I wanted, I just didn’t know how my return to racing would go. I said to myself that if my sprint performances at Ribby Hall and St Anne’s were a positive indicator of a return to fitness, and possibly more importantly a desire to push myself further then I’d look at doing something a little longer. I’m happy to say that so far so good, so I’ll quickly tell you about St Anne’s this past Sunday.
I did St Anne’s two years ago in horrible conditions and battled to a 1.20 finish. The weather was much better this time around although the wind in one direction on the seafront was brutal. To give you an indication, in one direction I clocked 30mph on the flat, in the other it was about 17 mph – a huge difference. I felt confident going into the race and that showed from the gun really.
I set off in the swim with my COLT clubmate Charlie just behind me, there were three to a lane and before the 400m was up I had lapped him and the other bloke. I got out of the swim feeling relaxed, I thought it would be slow but my watch told me otherwise. 7.50 – my fastest ever 400m. I was made up.
A quickish run through transition and then out on the bike. I passed loads of people and no one came past me. It was a fantastic atmosphere, people of all sizes riding every type of bike from shoppers to hybrids to 5k speed machines. I felt strong and dug really deep but the wind took its toll on my time. I did a 35 min 12 miles and when I started to run my legs felt the effort for the first couple of kilometres along the seafront. Eventually they woke up and I got into a steady rhythm picking people off. My mile splits were consistently 7.45 which was pleasing. The run is slightly longer than 5k coming in at 5.5 I think. I crossed the line stopping the Garmin at 1 hr 10 minutes. I was so pleased. I felt fresh.
The results came out yesterday and I officially did 1.12. I was initially gutted but realistically it was a huge pb on that course and the last time I was in that sort of form was back in 2009 in the final month before Ironman Germany. That gave me some perspective and cheered me up. The initial disappointment proved to me that I had the desire back, I wanted to be faster, I wanted to improve, I wanted to push myself and that was the final piece of this seasons puzzle falling into place.
Last year I couldn’t run then I found a fantastic pair of physios in James and Anna Geary, they rebuilt me, advised me on a steady comeback and listened as I told them my long range plans. Without them none of this would have been possible, and I really mean that. They were one part of the puzzle. Other parts including learning to run again, working on my weight, rediscovering my desire, getting the support of my family and club mates and testing and further testing the body to see if would hold up. I’ve kept quiet and plugged away, as I didn’t want any pressure, I just wanted to be back, I wanted to be ready.
I now know that I am.
It won’t be pretty, it won’t be fast, I’m certainly not chasing a pb but I fully intend to enjoy every long minute of it.
Watching everyone do Lanzarote at the weekend was inspirational and that just made me want this that much more.
So in 9 weeks time on July 20th 2014 in the wonderful town of Bolton, I shall be lining up with 2000 other athletes chasing their dreams as I battle my way around Ironman UK.
I can’t bloody wait, it’s time to come out of the Ironman Closet.
ps: When I posted the photo above on twitter as an April Fool, it wasn’t 🙂