I need a plan. I’ve got nine of them, but none are mine. Two days until the – potentially very wet – Ironman 70.3 UK and while all my athletes racing there are well prepared I’m not really sure what I am going to do. So far planning consists of a hastily thrown together mix of out of date sports nutrition, a decision on which bike I’ll use and a note to make sure the power meter is working. I remembered to bring a race belt this time, throwing it in amongst the jumble of layers ready for whatever weather conditions we encounter on Sunday. I think I have everything covered, simply because I have everything.
Preparation hasn’t been perfect, but it has been improved. I am fitter, I have trained, and it has felt good. I don’t need to dig through training data to know I can comfortably complete a 70.3 in a respectable time. Famous last words?
Lanzarote knocked my confidence. It stripped away the hubris that I could easily complete an Ironman on minimal training; it was, after all, the wrong Ironman to test that theory. I’m not nervous, not when my objectives lean more towards completion than competition, but I am less certain of what will come. The potential to be out there for a long time or to suffer seems that much greater. At least a long time at Half Ironman is less than a long time at the full distance.
My objectives on Sunday are simple: complete each stage competently, work hard, push myself a little, rebuild confidence in my ability to race. And the plan: a steady swim; start strongly on the bike, fire the legs up, then settle into something more controlled; a quick T2; then run steady to finish. This is definitely a training day. Steady dominates with the exception of the bike where I have something to prove to myself – I want to lay that feeling of weakness that haunted Lanza to rest. This is enough of a stretch at this point in the year, I have yet to achieve the fitness or the focus to aim higher. I’ll work hard and take what comes.
Kit is simple. This is not a competition so the road bike will have an outing while the Blue Triad stays at home. I may opt for clip-on tri bars, or not; training wheels will remain though I’ve yet to decide whether to change to narrower tyres; I will have power. Road shoes on the bike, and ordinary laces on the run – steady is the keyword. Nutrition will come from a concentrated mix of energy drink and a couple of bars, free samples I’d stashed in the back of the cupboard, but enough for the demands of a half. It will all do the job.
Despite modest goals and kit choices that signal I’m not there to compete I am excited to race, or rather, I am excited about the race. The atmosphere, the meetings with friends, even the nervous tension that hangs over transition at stupidly early hours of race morning. All the more so when they’re shared with a group of athletes I coach; it’s a no-lose proposition – whatever the outcome of my race there are nine other chances to achieve new personal bests. The more of them that beat me, the better.
I head to Wimbleball tomorrow morning. Register, rack, then relax. Race start is 7am on Sunday, I should be done in time for lunch and home for dinner. Legs, don’t fail me now.