It was Sunday morning and G and I were on the Tarka trail just outside of Bideford. I was half way through my 3rd (of 6) 400m reps when the thought occurred to me.
I was running each rep at just under 10mm pace and it was feeling hard. I have too much of a gap to bridge and with only just over 30 weeks to go, not enough time to bridge it, to achieve a finish at Ironman Lanzarote next year.
G and I had made our way to the Tarka Trail for many reasons. It was traffic free; although busy, people generally headed in the same direction; a 400m course was already marked out (it must be a common place for the running clubs in the area to complete their speedwork sessions) and most importantly, it was flat.
I always figured I would need every minute available to me to complete the race. The cut off for the swim/bike is 11 hours and 30 minutes – a very generous time in comparison with other Mdot courses – and a total reflection of how hard the bike course is over the volcanic mountains. But, the overall finish cut off is still 17 hours. So even if I scrape in off the bike, I’d only have five and a half hours to do the marathon, an average of 12.35mm pace the whole way.
I always knew it was always going to be a big ask. But, I suppose on some level, I believed if I trained diligently and followed Jon’s program to the letter then it was possible that it could be done. This was a huge chunk of reality check. I felt a bit enhausted by it but not down hearted. I’m certainly not going to give up on the training and I suppose, as long as you’re making progress there is hope.
I completed the session as set and headed back home to do the hours turbo prescribed for the second session of the day. That session was completed without drama.
The day before, I’d had another lesson handed to me by Woolacombe parkrun. G and I headed out for a warm up run before the time trial. It was shorter than previous weeks and we were back with sufficient time to go to the loo and have a drink before lining up at the start. It had been a bit wet in the run up and the sand was hard packed. With fewer tourists than in previous weeks there was plenty of room to run. So, I pushed on the first mile onto the beach and then tried to keep a steady effort along the beach before turning back for the climb back up to the finish.
In the end, I overcooked the flat section and went into the dune climb with too high a heart rate. I couldn’t get my heart rate down and ended up walking a lot of the top section, missing out on a PB by 45 seconds in the end.
I was gutted, but it had been a good run anyway and I was really happy with it. We finished the morning off by heading into the sea for the last sea swim of the season. It was glorious and calm and the perfect way to cool down after a hard run.
Slowly, I’m starting to feel tangible improvements from the effects of the training. I’m more flexible and moving easier. I’m not in as much daily pain as I used to be. I feel stronger on the bike and run – able to inject surges and changes of pace in now, where before there was only moving and not moving and most importantly, I’m enjoying the routine of regular training.