I am still on reduced training due to a heel injury, mainly concentrating on low impact training which basically means no running. So for this week’s blog I have decided to talk about my second year competing in triathlon, and the come down I had after my first Ironman. After a year of training and preparation races, I did Ironman Wales in September 2014. I was over the moon with the fact I had completed the race and I even managed to stay up to watch the last finisher at midnight.
Then Monday came. I woke up with the expected sore body and an Ironman shuffle, knowing that we had booked the holiday house in Tenby for the rest of that week. I should have been looking forward to my week of rest, but surprisingly I felt a void, as my main focus for the last 12 months had now disappeared. This feeling wasn’t helped by the fact that as Tenby is known as a seaside resort, scores of triathletes were packing up their cars to leave, only to be replaced by coach upon coach of pensioners, like a scene from a Carry On film.
I walked around Tenby that morning, noticing Ironman Wales athletes in their finisher tee shirts, giving each other a nod of appreciation, but wondering to myself “what next?”
I did allow myself a week of rest, and I will admit I probably ate my way through enough ice cream to keep local businesses in trade until the next Ironman event, but I still had that nagging thought at the back of my mind of what should I do next? Do I look for another challenge in another sport/activity or do I want to stick with triathlon?
I know people who completed an event like Ironman, only to hang up their trisuit and retire. They are happy with their accomplishment, but never want to swim, bike and run again. It’s the challenge of achieving something as bonkers as Ironman that is their end goal. I, on the other hand, was torn. I had invested so much time, effort and resource into my tri journey, I felt I had unfinished business, but I was physically and mentally knackered. I took a couple of months to think over what I wanted to do, but I always knew that I had a taste for triathlon and I wanted more.
Between September and December 2014 I didn’t really have any training focus, which really frustrated me. There was no structure to my weekly routine because I wasn’t really training for anything, and the winter months always proved difficult to get me motivated anyway. It wasn’t until the New Year that I finally decided to take action; I would concentrate on races up to middle distance, competing some of the more challenging courses local to South Wales and South West England.
That decision was the push I needed. Within a month, I was back into a structured training plan and had the sign off for a new bike J. I had also registered for DB Max’s Titan Brecon middle distance which is renowned for being a challenging course, so I had a focus and more importantly I had a date to structure my training around. I had also signed up for a few sportives, ½ marathons and an aquathon which equated to roughly an event a month taking me up to August 2015.
The events started in March with the Llanelli half marathon and a personal best of 1hr:35min; each month ticking off another race and learning more and more each time. A regular race structure for the season definitely works for me, enabling me to build the distance as the year goes on, and ensuring that I don’t lose focus.
Then September 2015 came, it was the end of my race season and I went to support Ironman Wales again. We camped ourselves in Saunderfoot on ‘Heartbreak Hill’ and spent the morning cheering the bike leg before moving to support the run leg. The support Ironman Wales receives from the crowd is phenomenal and the experience of being on ‘Heartbreak Hill’ was all I needed to plant a seed of competing at iron distance again.
Within 24 hours I had signed up for the following year’s Ironman Wales.
The training cycle then started again, but this time I had focus for 12 months and the rest, as they say, is history. I completed Ironman Wales 2016 and took 1hr 40mins off my previous time, putting that mainly down to being more experienced with how to train and how to race.
I seem to be in two year cycles so roll on 2018 and another Ironman event………..