Thursday, 21 August 2014

Race strategy for Challenge Vichy

So with my main 'A' race in less than a week it is time to review my goals and overall strategy for the big day.

My main race goals, in order of importance for Challenge Vichy are as follows:

1. Finish the race with a smile on my face after enjoying the whole experience
2. Getting a personal best at the ironman distance of 12:23 or less
3. Obtaining a sub 12 - hour finish
4. Running the full marathon distance (only walking through the aid stations), with a sub 4:15 time

My race strategy starts on the Saturday after our car journey down to Vichy. Once I have registered for the race and racked my bike I intend to top of my energy reserves with some decent nutrition. Not too much walking around the expo and an early night to get as much sleep as possible.

It will be an early start when I take on the first food of the day, likely to be some granola, nuts, yoghurt etc with some toast or a bagel. Just before the swim start I will take an energy gel.

I will start the swim easy, attempting to stay out of harm's way even if that costs me a bit of time. Once I have found some space I will get into a steady rhythm and make every effort to draft off of stronger swimmers.  My target swim time is 1:15 with a 15min transition window. So the plan is to be on the bike after 1:30 at the latest. I will take enough time in T1 to put on my cycle socks, gloves, sunglasses and sun tan lotion.

Once on the bike I will start to take on some nutrition,  initially a few sips of my energy drink (likely to be a Hi5 based solution). Thereafter I will feast on 3-4 Zippvit energy bars (cut up into small pieces) and some salted Macadamia nuts. I will also ride with a small water bottle and top up at aid stations with more energy drink / electrolytes. Later in the ride and certainly before the run I will try to get down 1-2 energy gels.
I will ride with a bike computer and aim for an average speed of 30km/h for a 6 hour target bike split. I am happy to sacrifice 15mins of easy spinning to ensure I get off the bike feeling good and ready for the run.

If all goes to plan I will start my run 7.5 hours after the start gun goes off and will target a 4:15 to 4:30 marathon time to get me in just under the 12 hour mark. I aim to go off at around an easy 5:50 min pace trying to keep my foot cadence relatively high (around 90 steps per minute). If I feel OK after 2 laps I will try to increase the pace to something I can maintain to finish. I will be very pleased with one hour laps (4 to complete), each lap being around 10.5km. During the run I will take on more fluids and gels (if my body allows it). There is always the 'magic' flat Coca Cola strategy if all else fails - it did get me round last time. I do hope I can just keep going and my legs will not lock out as they did for IM Austria.  With the exception of the aid stations when a walk strategy to take on nutrition is beneficial I plan to run the full marathon distance.

Sounds good. Of course a lot can happen on the day!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Taper time in Turkey

Well it is finally here - I am well into the taper period of training just 11 days from my 'A' race, Challenge Vichy - a full ironman distance event.

And what better place to spend some time tapering than a week in a 5 star all-inclusive spa hotel in Turkey. Plenty of R&R and light exercise - swimming,  aqua aerobics, running,  and some gentle strength work in the gym. The only problem with such an excellent resort is the all-inclusive food and drink.  I am trying to be good, mostly going for the healthier options, whenever possible - I love fish, which is a bonus. Although I do accept I am on my long-awaited family holiday so I am certainly not living like a monk, ironman or not!

One day I did probably over do it in the gym and as a result had a slight ache in my left shoulder.  Since then I am taking it nice and easy. I am writing this blog after 15mins on the bike in the gym, 15mins run around the resort estate and 10mins swim. Then 5mins in the steam room before heading down for breakfast.

This afternoon I will probably do 2-3 more circuits of a sea swim / beach run combo that I put together. I swim around some buoys, approx. 300m in distance (according to my Garmin) and then run along the beach for 200m - nice and easy pace.

A few more days of spoiling myself and then it is back to the UK to organise all my gear for the race. We will be driving over so I will post my list of equipment beforehand.

Now where was I - are yes, chilling!

Monday, 4 August 2014

Less than 4 weeks to A Race

During the week of the Brompton World Championships my legs (and generally whole body) felt relatively fatigued and so I was grateful for a few recovery days.

Last week my intention was to build the volume back up for the final 2 weeks before my taper period. So how did I do...

Well not too bad. I unfortunately missed the long Wednesday Club swim (1:30) but got in a decent 17km run and a 113km ride on the TT bike. In total a 15 hour week with no ill-effects and lingering fatigue.

The long ride was another dress rehearsal with tri suit, race helmet ('Sonic the Hedgehog' look), and nutrition practice. Going to go with the ZipVit energy bars (3x bars cut up in chunks) and some Macadamia nuts for salt/protein, together with a sports drink / electrolyte as fluid (probably High 5). When I put together my race plan, which I plan to post to the Tri Hard Training Blog in due course, I will re-confirm my nutrition strategy, not just for the bike but on the run.

So the ironman journey is finally coming to an end once again - I have one more high volume week and then 3 weeks of taper before the race.

My plan for this last high volume week is as follows:

Mon - 1:00 easy run (or take as recovery day and add run to Tues)
Tue - 1:30 easy bike
Wed - 3:00 long run; 1:30 club swim + stretching
Thu - 1:00 easy bike + stretching
Fri  - 1:00 bike (turbo / intervals)
Sat - 1:00 Club Swim; 1:30 easy bike; 1:00 easy run + stretching
Sun - Either Club Supersprint event Or brick set + lake swim

In total another 15+ hour week including my last long run (IM pace - into work) and some multiple discipline days / brick session(s). Not sure if I will race the Club Supersprint event or not - it is an enjoyable race, a bit fast and furious, however not that specific to my ironman distance event and of course there is always a slight worry of injury, which I do not need just before my 'A' race.

New running shoes and new SwimRun kit on its way

I decided to upgrade my trusty ASICS GT-2000 Series 7 to the new Series 8. I had run about 600km in my old shoes but had started to get some...