The difference this year is that this race isn't a priority. That has been hard. As it approached, resisting the urge to not start focusing on adding in speed to the program and priming myself to peak for this race has been tough. 29 days from now is the 70.3 and I have to keep that as 1 of 2 priorities.
The first race of the year is exciting, like the first early veg to be picked in the allotment. A lot of time has been spent in preparation for this moment of harvest, and you want to savour it. This year it's just a taster though, like picking the first solitary pea pod or first asparagus shoot, nibbled raw where you stand on the plot, a great, albeit fleeting taste.......just for fun to get back into the swing of the race environment, transistion, and first and foremost, just to enjoy the atmosphere and the thrill of the sport.
Training to go long has been a steep learning curve, but it has made me efficient. When you go long, your training has to go longer too. Its unavoidable that more time needs investing, you can't train at sprint distances and turn out on the Iron field and expect a decent return. What that has taught me is to look at every session, and think 'this is 3hrs of training I will do' and be absolutely sure before I start that I have a clearly defined reason for doing it, what I expect it to achieve, and then afterwards assess its success. There isn't the time or energy for a single junk mile.
What I have found, as expected, is that building a body full of slow twitch muscle is that the top end speed has depleted. It will be interesting on Sunday to see how this effects my times. I feel fitter and stronger than ever, but wonder if my times will actually be slower than last. I think I need to prepare myself now for that possibility, especially with the plan being to train through. No rest before, or specific taper for the race, meaning the sprint is just absorbed as part of the training program will be interesting. If I tire and struggle then alram bells will ring, the actual distances should be a breeze now, but how fast I do them remains to be seen.
That's not to say I haven't sneaked a bit of a busman's holiday of a rest over Easter. A midweek break to the chalet in Norfolk meant ample opportunity to do lots of walking, clocking 6 miles plus a day, a few lay ins and the first proper sea swimming of the season. I even persuaded the daughters to get in with me. It was bracing, but worth it. After we came back I also spotted I had beaten the local North Norfolk Crawlers into the water by 3 days for the start of the season which was a bonus!............Beaten by a 10 and 12 year old on your own surf guys :-)
3 wets Balls after the first sea swim of the year.
Tonight I also managed to bag the first decent 1.5 miles of open water at the local lake. It was good to be back in, plowing round the full 800m circuit, re familiarising myself with the plant life, fish and various curiosities at the bottom. Like catching up with an old friend. It vacillated between sunny, shafts of light dancing down into the green below, to the water changing from still and black as ink to choppier, with a wind and thick new growths of fauna to hack through. An enjoyable, purposeful and refreshing swim, with a quick 400m skins straight after in the interests of being thorough, exiting with warm shoulders and triceps, and numb hands, feet and face. Perfect.
Home for tea, the chief nutritionist has been trialling various tofu recipes. Tonight was homemade curried, scrambled tofu & salad. Filling, but light and refreshing. Chief nutritionist has also kindly offered to 'enhance' my cycling shoes in preparation for Sundays race. As soon as its done I will post up some images of the modifications.
It has been just over 5 months since I put up my first post. In that time I have hit just short of 94'000 views. All I can say is thank you to everyone who has taken the trouble to read this, subscribe and comment. It has been far in excess of my expectations, and to celebrate the upcoming 100'000th view I have lined up a genuine special guest post, so keep reading. The quicker we get there the quicker the guest blog will appear! Hopefully it will provide a useful and interesting alternative insight into triathlon as a thank to everyone for entertaining me in this.
Finally (a short post for once) Louth Triathlon have the honour of hosting the novice training day for the regional BTF before the Woodhall Spa Sprint Triathlon. Its free to all first time entrants, and I would encourage everyone who can to come along. Share questions, fears, training experiences, expectations and take the time to familiarise yourself with the various aspects of a race. It can be a daunting experience, I remember it well.... How does transition work? How are you started in waves? What is it like racing in a lane with others? What are the drafting rule distances like on the road when you are approaching a slower cyclist at full bore? How should I tackle the run? I never took advantage of the free introduction course, but honestly, I wish I had.
Plenty of my Club mates and myself will be on hand to share our experiences and tips, and guide everyone around every element of the course - so if you are reading and its your first race, (or you know someone who's it is, let them know), please come along on the 10th of May. You should get an email inviting you when you entered the event. If you haven't feel free to give me shout.
More than anything you will meet plenty of other like minded people and make friends who you can share your Triathlon experiences with for years to come.
Now its time to get back out the door for a 2nd swim, this time a pool sprint set. 20x200m off 3:10. Wish me luck.