So, Cambridge Spartans went on a little road trip to Weymouth last weekend for the Ironman and 70.3 races. We had experienced iron distance finishers, first timers, those hoping for PB’s and those hoping for survival. By the end of the day we had all experienced the usual joy, pain, sunburn, sore bits and queasy tummies associated with long distance racing. We had also understood once again the massive power of the team, the camaraderie, hugs, tears and good wishes that comes from knowing you have friends waiting for you at the finish line
So what about the learning part? Well I for one learnt a lot from last weekend that I thought was worth sharing……….
* Listen to coach………….and I don’t mean “look like you are listening, let it go in one ear, nod then forget what he has said”. No, I mean, listen, digest, understand and apply what he has said. When I asked Ben about a year ago whether he thought I could achieve a solo race at Endure 24 (I ran over 100k) he said of course, but that I needed to let go of all thoughts of getting a PB at any other even during the year. I nodded, agreed, trained hard to run slower but longer, and promptly forgot what Ben had said about not asking too much of myself after that. Then came Monster Ely half, and yes my swim and bike were slower….and I did not like it! I knew I was really fit but somehow the speed and endurance on the bike and swim had left me, and I basically got cross! Weymouth was better, but still I was confusing what Ben had said, what I had agreed with, and what my brain was telling me. Lesson – Ben was right and I needed to listen!
* There is no such thing as “Only” a half Ironman! Because my training was for a 24 hour race, and my fitness level is maybe the highest it has ever been, I totally underestimated the two half iron distance races I have done in the past month. Most people think that swimming 1.2 miles in the sea, cycling 56 miles in the hills and running a half marathon in the sun is something only the truly deranged would attempt, and when I first did it I also thought that. But fast forward a few years, a few marathon, ultra run, full distance races later and it is tempting to think of a half iron in the terms “only”. I have some advice for you on that score: Don’t! It is a long way and the fact that some other people are doing double that at the same time does not make the shorter distance any less of a challenge. I will never use the phrase “only” in relation to middle distance triathlon again
* Train the terrain – something I think a lot of the Spartan crew have learnt this year. I was doing a sea swim last weekend, and had only really sea swum this year in Corsica, which let’s face it was some sunny splashing not endurance training. We were lucky last weekend and the sea was flat and gorgeous, but it still feels, tastes and behaves differently to river and lake water. The Dorset hills are unrelenting, Cambridge is flat, and another few practise runs of the bike route would have helped most of the people who had not been down before the race (me, mainly!). If you want to nail a course then practising it is definitely a good idea
* Friends, friends, friends…………..support on the ground, by phone, on Facebook, hugs, tears, the bringing of some chips after a race – all of this is what makes the world go around. For anyone supporting anyone doing a physical challenge, then truly know that they could not do as well without you being there, the IronFan as the brand likes to call it is a very important role. We are lucky with the Cambridge Spartan crew that we support each other all the time, and very importantly on race day too
* If in doubt, there is always Rudyard Kipling to fall back on. Chrissie Wellington, Ironman World Champ several times, had the poem “If” written on her water bottle. I prefer the poem in my memory, as accessing it can sometimes take a few moments of pain away, and have finished with an excerpt to inspire you………..
If you can force your heart, and nerve, and sinew To serve your turn long after they are done When there is nothing left within you Except the will that says to them “hold on!” If you can fill an unforgiving minute With sixty seconds worth of distance run Yours is the earth, and everything that is in it And what is more you’ll be a man, my son
That’s for all last week’s racers, and supporters………..Cheers! Bumblebee x