Approaching Ironman Wales

ApproachingWales.jpgMy blog posting has been hugely intermittent this year. The reason for this is some pretty big changes in my life which has really meant that Ironman racing does not quite hold the same importance it did before. As I approach Ironman Wales this weekend I do not feel on form. Thats not to say I’m not fit, I’m pretty sure I am, it’s just I don’t have that oomph I’ve felt on the bike in recent races and my running still remains well off my pre FHL snap days.

Towards the end of last year I posted a fair bit about peak oil and the problems I feel the world is facing though the vast majority of it’s population and leaders appear completely oblivious to the problems. My awareness of this started a couple of years back but I now realise that I’d probably been open to have my eyes opened for many many years. I remember the questions I used to ask and it’s only recently I’ve stopped taking the stock answers at face value. The normal one is along the lines “the human race will solve it it always has”. It was the Christchurch earthquake that really helped me see these problems for what they are. The human race has not always solved it’s problems. Over it’s history numerous civilisations have grown and collapsed. It is the height of naivety to believe this time is any different. This doesn’t mean I don’t hope it is different. I do hope it is but I plan on the basis it won’t be.

It’s this planning that has really removed my time for blogging. Over the past 18 months I have dramatically changed my life circumstances. Things I spent my whole working life putting in place (savings, investments etc…) have been changed. I’ve moved house, buying a place with land and have started investing in things that have real value. I now have a complete bike workshop together with a good stock of spares. I have got all my wheel building kit and will start building wheels after this race. I’ve bought my first axe and steel toe-capped boots and am looking forward to the couple of days (minimum) hard labour involved in splitting these big piles of wood rings left from felling a couple of trees. I’ve start composting and am quite excited with experimenting when I get back on ways to improve the speed and efficiency of this. We’ve got our first batch of chickens. When deciding to get them I made sure I was ready for the ‘chore’ of looking after them. How wrong could I be. They are great. They have reduced my stress levels even further. I look forward to letting them out and love the fact that Freddie is a bit of a free spirit always escaping and wandering over to check out what I’m working on on my bikes ! The next stage is to buy some extra land and build a coppice.

The aim of all this is to try and live more in harmony with nature. That sounds a bit full of it and certainly if my self of 10 years ago could see this I’d have had some choice thoughts. However it’s made me feel so much more content. I’ve even taken up knitting which is so relaxing. There’s huge satisfaction in composting, feeding chickens and the like. I think it’s meant I don’t feel the need to prove myself through Ironman.

That said I have huge pangs about missing Kona this year but I realise it’s not the race it’s the whole social in the week before. I was tempted to fly out to cheer on my numerous friends out there. The reason I’m not is not because of the emissions that would be involved it’s purely financial. I accept there is a contradiction here – I don’t run a car and try and live low impact but I will fly halfway across the world to race. I won’t try to defend it it’s just the way it is – I will aim to reduce my air travel but I will go to Kona again.

This brings me to the build to my first attempt at qualifying again this weekend, my second attempt, if needed, is Ironman Western Australia in December. Coming in to Roth I was really on good form. I felt great but the camp in the Pyrenees put the kybosh on a performance reflective of that form. I don’t regret that – the camp was great as was Roth. However since then I’ve just not had the form. On the bike we went out to the Pyrenees but my riding just wasn’t anything like pre Roth. I then switched to 165mm cranks and Q-rings. I threw myself in to big riding (1,100 miles in three weeks) to try and adapt to it. There was just no form but of course now I have no idea whether it was just lack of form or the short cranks. I tested it this weekend and have switched back to 175mm cranks for this race. It’s the hills that made me decide as it felt I needed the extra leverage. After this race I will got back to 165mm but without the Q-rings and see how it goes for 4 weeks.

Running. Following Roth I had a niggle with my heel. I think the cramps I was having in the run up to Roth contributed, it only stopped me running for about a week but it was slow to get back to any sort of volume. I’ve managed 3 weeks of 50+ miles which is good for me over the past few years. No long runs though. This means my expectations is to fall apart at some part on the marathon.

Swimming is the one highlight. Despite a three week break my swimming feels like it’s had a step change. My feel for the water has increased, stroke count down. I’ve been hitting some good times feeling controlled but done no long swims or long main sets.

So going into the race my expectations are low which I’m hoping is a good thing. For once I will be feeling I better start the bike conservatively, which is again a good thing. In my favour is a desire to qualify. In the past I’ve raced really well when I’ve genuinely wanted to qualify. I’m hoping that will be the case come Sunday.

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