Thursday 13th September 2018 (11.58am)
At 1911 hours on Monday 18th September 2017 I signed up for Ironman Wales. One week before I had been watching it (again) and knew that it was something that I had to do. I sat at the kitchen table looking at the details I had filled in on the website before closing my eyes and hitting the enter button. I felt sick for having just spent over £400 on an event that was going to cause me pain and consume my life for the next 12 months. I did not care, the ‘all or nothing’ in me knew that no other event would ever be good enough. This was the one I wanted. This was the one I was going to get.
I knew that I was in good shape after training for and completing the London marathon and Tenby Long Course weekend. I knew I had the distance in me, it was just a matter of the body holding out for the training which would take me to another level.
I told my parents (mother panicked) and publicised it on my social media. There was no going back after that. Excitement of a new challenge gripped me knowing that I would push myself to the max mentally and physically. I gave a shout out for a coach on Twitter and was overwhelmed by the number of people who responded.
I continued with my normal training clocking up the miles in the pool, on the bike and on the road.
My coached program started on 27th November 2017 and this is where I began to record my Ironman miles.
I liked the structure that the program provided. Mentally, it was what I needed. It gave me something to do each day. I am an organised person who likes routine, without this I could easy waste myself away into deeper depression. Not only was I accountable to my coach, but more importantly I was accountable to myself. If there was an activity on my program then I did it, and it did it well. Even early on into the training there was no point in cheating my way out of it. I would be the one come Ironman day to suffer, nobody else.
The cold winter months were hard, I spent time with relatives in London pre Christmas and would run, taking in the sights of the London marathon route but this time being able to enjoy the beauty of the iconic sights around me. The snow eventually stopped me in my tracks, but I used this as rest. Christmas Day took me home to Tenby and of course my trainers came with me as I ran through Kiln Park, the South beach and through the town.
As the new year began, I continued with my program. The days were cold, the days were short, and the evenings were colder. I would take Olly out at 3pm walking along the beach in the biting wind, knowing that when I got home I would have to do a strength & conditioning session and/or a run, having already either done a swim or bike session earlier in the day. I recall many times laying on the sofa trying to motivate myself to get into my PE kit to a run hill session. I would use every excuse in my head not to go. I would then give myself a sharp reminder ‘Do you want to be an Ironman or not?’ Reluctantly I would change and step out into the cold air whilst trying to start my Garmin with thick gloves on. As always, it was never as bad when out there running, the relief of getting home knowing that it was done and your activity turned to green on Training Peaks was a great feeling. Another session ticked off. Another day closer.
When I signed up 12 months in advance, it felt like I had plenty of time; yet it was amazing how time suddenly was eaten away. 12 months became 7 months, then 4 months, then 2 months, then 2 days. I am glad I got myself organised quickly in order to have a progressive plan of training. I changed coached in April and as time ticked away, I continued to see fitness gains and improvements. I worked on my swim technique, bike strength and performance and running efficiency all of which were specific to me. Power output, watts, and swim drills became second nature.
I worked to time, not distance (apart from in the pool) so I was never consumed by miles or data. My coach took care of this, I only counted all of my miles just for interest. The variety in my training kept me motivated and on track. Weekly discussions with my coach made sure that all was going to plan. When things were hard, or I felt rubbish, I trusted him, I trusted his knowledge, and expertise. Importantly he also trusted me.
The road to Ironman Part II to follow