I am a ‘glass half full’ type so I will resist the temptation to match the tales of woe of the ‘glass three quarters empty’ crowd jostling for position on the start line. Since the middle of January I have tested my sorry ankle with a few hundred miles of riding and a reasonable dose of running and swimming and.....it’s all good or at least there’s nothing to complain about. The week of warm weather training wasn’t perfect as I picked up, and have been dogged with since, a chest infection but since all the work was comfortably aerobic it didn’t impact the level of endurance work I could complete
For good measure I completed a normalish week of training post camp finishing with a hilly 5h hour ride the day before the race. The main purpose of the Saturday ride was to arm me mentally with one more reason to let myself off the hook on Sunday when the going got tough.
So, with an array of excuses tucked under my arm I lined up for the real Folksworth 15, reassuringly windy, wet and cold – it wouldn’t be the Folksworth 15 if it were any different. Boom, well more of a whimper, the gun sounded and we launched headlong towards the first mile marker...6:04...errr, reckon I might be over cooking this one. Mile 2 was mostly uphill and then a quad busting sharp downhill..6:24...better but still a little too excited. I planned to work my way up to 170bpm but I seemed to have arrived at that within the first couple of miles, a bit early to be at ‘hang on in there’ mode but too late now, nothing for it but to hang on in there for as long as possible!
The next 13 miles drifted by as I battled to stay in the ‘hang in there’ zone, only punctuated by two runners passing me and me passing one. After the first couple of miles everyone settles into a pace and the finishing places are more or less set unless someone fades badly or manages the mythical negative split. Mentally I had decided to settle for 6:30 min/miles as a target, don’t know why but it’s a round number I guess and that makes the mathematical gymnastics much simpler to bend my mind round as the mile markers come and go. Up the final hill and a sprint for the finish? Not likely, I trundled over the line and glanced up to see 1:39 click over; just outside 1:37:30 but I was pleased not to have needed to unpack any of the excuses I had carefully crafted for a potentially disappointing outcome.
I love running races because, rather obviously, they are full of runners wearing skimpy running vests, running shorts and a runner’s race face. I smile to myself (lack of imagination I guess) as I stand on the start line feeling rather oafesque, in very obviously non runners kit but knowing that I have a chance of reaching the finish line before the majority of them. I am also pleased to report an odd sense of pride as at least two iron distance triathletes finished in the top 10, Paul Lunn and Matt Stephenson, ahead of 400 or so proper runners.
All in all a successful day out with 23rd overall and 1:39:04, a slightly slower time than last year but a few places higher, reflecting tougher conditions. I wouldn’t claim to be just where I want to be at this time of year but I am sufficiently confident that I will get there in the end that I have finally signed up for Ironman Wales. Work in progress.