It’s been a while. So, let me fill you in on how my Ironman journey is going.
100 days ago I ran my second marathon, this time in Brighton. It’s a harder course than London and my training miles were much fewer. As a result – plus other factors – my time was 30 minutes slower. Yet I would still say I ran it better than London.
The original plan was to run the Goring 50k ultra in May. Which would effectively make the Brighton Marathon a training run. For those of you who are unaware, an ultra marathon is any distance further than 26.2 miles. With the Goring 50k coming in at around 31 miles.
Despite the full marathon being the last hurdle of an Ironman, my logic behind signing up for Goring was to test if I would still have some energy left in the tank after completing a long endurance event. I certainly didn’t after London, there wasn’t even enough left for a sprint finish. I’d argue differently with Brighton, enough for an extra five miles? We’ll never know, but I doubt it.
To cut a long story short – I didn’t participate in the Goring Ultra. My heart wasn’t in it and I just didn’t think I could do it. The reason I’m blogging about this two months later is simply that I didn’t want to rain on the parade of those who did complete it.
Goring Ultra Marathon U-Turn
I hate letting people down. In the past, I’ve exhausted myself trying to be anywhere and everywhere all at once. But in recent times I’ve accepted that I just can’t make it to everything. I recently turned 28 and the number of things I’m committed to is arguably as high as it’s ever been. I could write the list out, but that doesn’t make great reading. All you need to know is the long list isn’t as short as it used to be. Which is a perfectly regular occurrence as you get older.
Referring back to the Goring Ultra Marathon and why I pulled out for a minute. Training for a marathon does take over your life, ask anyone that has done it, and I’m fully expecting the Ironman to do the same.
The ultra would have also taken its strain on me. This is why my partner and I booked a five-night stay in Gran Canaria for a few days after Goring – she was also due to take part but had to pull out due to a knee injury. After Brighton, we spoke about it and very quickly knew where the other person was and what we wanted to do. Give our Ultra Marathon places away and take a break from running until we were back from Gran Canaria.
Those extra five miles which make up Goring would have been too much. Especially on a trail surface which I don’t have the best history/relationship with. Simply put, the ultra marathon medal wouldn’t have been worth the blood, sweat and tears I’d have gone through to get it. Fortunately, my place at the event went to a good home. A Mind runner whom I met through the Mental Mates Running Club took over, and she completed the event with flying colours.
Second thoughts on Cork
Those of you who are following my Ironman journey will know I plan on taking part in the Cork event, which is in Ireland. The reason is simple, I’m half-Irish, and my bloodline from the Emerald Isle comes from Cork.
However, I’m having second thoughts on whether I want to complete my Ironman there.
The first is cost. For reasons unknown to me, the Cork event costs more than the ones which would not involve me getting a flight to take part – Pembrokeshire and Bolton. On top of the inflated entry fee for Cork, I’d have to factor in a flight, extra baggage allowance for my bike and safety gear, wetsuit, running shoes and other items of clothing. Then I have to consider accommodation while I’m there (which will be inflated because of the event itself). I haven’t sat down and done the maths yet, but early indications show that for the cost of all those add-ons I could potentially get a small holiday/city break.
Although Cork would be a fantastic experience, I’m beginning to think it would be more sensible to take part in either Bolton or Pembrokeshire. At the end of the day, an Ironman is an Ironman. The disciplinaries are still the same no matter where you take part.
I’m unsure which of the two I would change to, they both have their pros and cons. Bolton is earlier on in the year so I won’t have to train throughout the summer heat. Whereas Pembrokeshire isn’t in Bolton. At the end of the day, there’s still plenty of time to decide.
The rest of my training
I need to hold my hands up and say my training break has gone on longer than planned. These things happen. I’m only human.
After Brighton, I had the laziest of lazy weeks and it was needed. A lot of my friends celebrate their birthday in April so most weekends after were spent celebrating those. Then I spent a weekend at Center Parcs and before I knew it, I was in Gran Canaria.
After five nights on one of the Spanish Islands it was time to celebrate my birthday and now, almost two months later, here we are.
My running has been close to non-existent if I’m honest. I’ve taken part in a handful of Park Runs and four milers over the last few weeks, although I’m giving the running shoes rest in this heatwave. I have managed to get out on my bike a couple of times, one for a 30-mile exploration of the surrounding area of Chelmsford which was superb. That two-and-a-half-hour cycle reminded me of why I love getting out on my bike so much.
A week later, I went for a much shorted 14 miles, which took about an hour. However, 1.5 miles from home, I burst a tyre and had no spare inner tubes at the time, so I had to walk back. A minor inconvenience. Sadly, I haven’t had the time to buy some more and get out on my bike since. I’ve just come to the end of my peak hay fever season so I’m now looking forward to getting out on the bike once again – after the temperature drops of course.
The swimming – which is by far the area of a triathlon that needs the most attention – has been pretty consistent with one hour a week. In that time I can comfortably complete one-mile breaststroke which is a far cry from where I was at the start of the year. However, for the 2.4-mile swim of the Ironman, I want to finish in around 1 hour 25 minutes. But I’m not planning on completing that using breaststroke.
I recently bought a pair of goggles and have started to practice front crawl. The technique is fine. It’s the breath work which is the problem. Luckily, I’m training well ahead of the event itself.
I’m in a situation where I have experience in long-distance running and cycling events. Swimming is the big problem of the three. However, all that means is I’ll have to focus more on swimming to get that up to scratch. While also ensuring my running and cycling don’t dip.
Truth be told, this blog has been sitting in the drafts for a few weeks now. During that I’ve come to an important decision – the Ironman isn’t going to happen in 2023.
But it is still going to happen!
The reason I initially wanted to do it in 2023 was that I wanted to secure the achievement before I’m 30. I start the next decade in my life in May 2024. The Cork, Bolton and Pembrokeshire Ironman’s all take place after May, therefore 2023 was the last opportunity.
For a number of reasons – which I’ll get onto in future posts – I decided to push it back. Hopefully just one year, but who knows, it may be more.
The underlining reason is simple, other than me, no one really cares that I’m going to do an Ironman, let alone when. So it seems very unnecessary to put pressure on myself, financially, physically and mentally, to get it done next year.
I’m certain that I’ll look back on it more fondly if I do it further down the line when I’m better prepared in every sense of the word. After all, we all know how the expression goes? Life’s an Ironman, not a sprint, right?