But it will be worth it ! To cross the finish line at Ironman Austria in June 2015 is going to tough, emotional and exhausting but today I start the training plan………
Actually thinking about it, crossing the start line is going to be tough, emotional and exhausting too – staying healthy and fit throughout the next 10 or so months will be key to ensure consistency in training.
I’ve taken the time to map a few things in the diary between now and then so we will see how things progress. This will be my first time building my own plan, so I’ll be reading lots of blogs for ideas and all suggestions gratefully received !
If anyone saw my blog last week, a cycle ride from the London Eye to Notre Dame was my most recent adventure and as with everything I seem to do, it wasn’t dull – lots of ups and downs along the way.
Our ‘Grand Depart’ rendezvous point was the London Eye on the south bank of the River Thames and with the threat of the ‘worst storms in 170 years’ looming over us, we set off from this point on Saturday morning. Spirits were high, wet weather gear was on, the heaven’s opened and even so, I was very excited about what lay ahead of us.
The outline of the plan we were following is below, and we travelled along a variety of cycle paths: tarmac, gravel, wooded trail, mud, deep mud, un-passable mud (ie we had to carry our bikes up onto the bank, walk around the said mud and jump down the other side !!)
Day #1 : Saturday – London Eye to Forest Row, West Sussex (approx. 50 miles)
Day #2 : Sunday – Forest Row, West Sussex to Newhaven, East Sussex (approx. 50 miles)
Day #3 : Monday – Ferry crossing to Dieppe, cycled to Forges Les Eaux (approx. 40 miles)
Day #4 : Tuesday – Forges Les Eaux to Conflans St Honorine (approx. 85 miles)
Day #5 : Wednesday – Conflans St Honorine to Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris (approx. 45 miles)
As you can see by some of the mileage and the types of terrain we were facing, the days were long ! And given that we were on ‘holiday’ we did manage a few stops for coffee, lunch and afternoon tea so don’t feel too sorry for me. 8-9pm was a standard arrival time at our next hotel each day and waiting for us was our luggage and a welcome wine / beer depending on your preference.
The weather was generally very good. Except for the initial ride from the Eye, a huge thunder-storm about 6 miles from our hotel on the 3rd day and a little drizzle on the morning of the 4th day, we had sunshine, very little wind and warm conditions – very very fortunate !
Here are some of the photos I took from my go-pro helmet camera…..
And here was the finish line………. what a beautiful sight !
So we did it :). 16 cyclists made it (we started with 18, but that’s a whole other story!), we were sore, elated, emotional but most of all ready to put our bikes onto the courier van and not see them for a while.
I have to admit to a few tears once I arrived. The experience through Paris was not fun for me and that together with being very tired, meant I was so relieved to see the finish line it overwhelmed me a little.
Do it again ? Of course ! There is another way into Paris you know – we chose the west route. There’s the east side still to explore !
Today we set off ! We set off to ride the 406km across 5 days from the London Eye to the Eiffel Tower :).
It’s very exciting, a little daunting but is another adventure in a life that I am lucky enough to be living out loud.
We are taking a set of ‘sustran’ routes that wind their way through South London, down through the Sussex countryside to the town of Newhaven. We than take the ferry across the English Channel to Dieppe. Once across in France, we spend the next 3 days working our way through French lanes and tracks arriving in Paris on Wednesday evening.
Doesn’t it sound romantic and idyllic ? Have you seen the weather reports ? Wet weather gear has been packed ‘just in case’.
So the small bag has been dropped at our friends house (BTW we aren’t carrying our own bags !), the chamois butter is to hand, the trusty hybrid has been serviced and prepped and the go-pro charged for some perfect moments……… off we go !
When we finished our tri Camp in Club La Santa last week, we were lucky enough to hang out to watch Ironman Lanzarote live, in the flesh ! WOW, that’s all I can say………. !
After completing two 70.3 races in 2013 (well January 2014 for the 2nd), my ‘life plan’ was to complete a 140.6 in my 40th year (November 2013 – November 2014) but circumstances have led this to move to 2016. I was fascinated to finally be a spectator and even find a little time for a volunteering stint at bag drop the day before. One of our tri-campers and neighbour was a participant too, so we were prepared to be the loudest set of groupies ever heard.
I don’t think anything had really prepared me for what was going to unfold that day – at the swim start at 7am I said “hell yes, let’s do this next year” to “oh my, what am I thinking” at 7pm as I watched people run / shuffle / walk through the marathon……. 2016 is a long way off !! Ok so perhaps not.
7am we were at the beach ready to go !
I can’t quite describe what happened next, it was like a huge flock of birds landed on the water. Instead 2300 people in black wetsuits, swim caps and goggles took to the water all at the same time and they just kept coming, streaming into the water, and they kept coming and coming !
And then lap 2 !!
After watching alot of the swim we walked to bike transition. At this time we hadn’t seen ‘soon-to-be Ironman’ Paul, so we waited very close to his bike, groupies through the chain link fence.
Before we knew it Paul was there, smiling widely, ready to rock the next 7 hours or so in the saddle…….. and then he was gone ! And we decided it was time for breakfast 🙂
While we were taking our little brunch sabbatical the IM circus continued – the transition emptied (well almost – another story there !), the commentators kept the crowds informed, the big screens showed the beasts out on their bikes and the motivating heart-pumping music blared.
After our own little sea swim, the groupie group re-grouped (!!) to watch the bike finishers stream into the transition shoot. By now the temperature was up in the high 20s and the sun was burning……… we tried very hard not to complain, cos what did we really have to complain about ?
Again, ‘1 step closer to being an Ironman’ Paul flew past us in a bit of a blur ! We had an advance party watching out for him and yes, we were loud and proud as he blew past us.
So 2 stages down, just the little matter of the run to go !
Now this was a spectacle to behold. The course consisted of 2×10 mile laps and 1×6.2 mile lap, each one bringing the field back to, but not quite touching, the finish line. The course was exposed, there was very little shade and early on, no wind at all. The spectacle was heightened by runners being at different stages of the race but alongside each other – you had those just starting the run with those that were starting their final 10k and amongst all of these were the elite leaders, being escorted by mountain bikes.
It was at this point that my “hell yes I can do one of these” euphoria started to wane a little – this was tough, really really tough. No like really really really really tough !
If possible, it started to get even tougher when the wind started to blow up, the sun started to set and the temperature started to drop quickly.
You could also see energy levels, physically, emotionally and mentally, seep out of those on the course too. They were doing whatever they needed to get across the finish line !
Our buddy, ‘I’m very nearly an Ironman’ Paul was pushing on – for the first time we lost the smile for a while which was worrying, but at about mile 18 he found a rhythm and some energy from somewhere (lemon Fanta apparently worked for him!) and he could taste that medal.
And then he was done ! A sprint finish, a GB flag and the medal around his neck……… and the smile that says ‘I am an Ironman’……. yes you are !
For some though, the evening hadn’t finished. With the 17 hour (midnight) cut off looming, we jumped on our bikes to ride back to our apartment. I’ve never felt like I did riding past people still out there cheering them on. Some were nearly at the line, some were still heading away from the line, some were with family, some were alone, others had found supportive volunteers to keep them company. Did I feel pity ? No it was admiration. Some knew they wouldn’t be crowned an IM and would not get that medal, but they weren’t giving up.
One of the last sights of that day was from our hotel balcony – a IM car with the timing clock at 16.41 on a count down, driving along the road about 3km from the finish. That was brutal…………
2016 for me ? Hmmm I’ve started to tell people now, so I guess I’m committed – but its going to be a hard road to get to the start line, let alone the finish line. Have I got what it takes ? Only time will tell. If what it takes is focus, determination, guts and a big degree of stubbornness, then evidence suggests I can. But I’ll keep you posted over the next few years.
Another motivating factor ? Those smiles !! At the start line, at the finish line and at the airport the next day…….. I want one of those !