Today is Boxing Day, and the start of my official training for Ironman UK 2023. For some background, I’m a 37 year old female, wife and mum of 4, we have a family business (t-shirt printing), and I have been retraining as a Triathlon Coach so I don’t spend my older years sat in front of a computer. My goal is to complete Ironman, I don’t have a time set but I’d love it to be around 13-14 hours. The furthest distance I’ve completed in Triathlon is the ROC in 2021 where I finished second to last. The ROC is similar to a 70.3 except the run is shorter, and up and down Snowdon. There were tears, it was not a great day, but I found a part of me on that mountain that I didn’t know existed, and so I booked onto Ironman UK to see what I other parts of me I could find along the way.
So I started this journey 12 months ago in December 2021, and I began by following the Be IronFit competitive plan from the popular book written by Don Fink. It’s a popular plan and followed by many athletes successfully each year for a variety of Iron Distance events across the world. I only managed a few weeks on it though, I quickly became concerned it wasn’t going to address the hills and my capabilities (or inabilities) of riding them at a decent pace with the necessary effort. Plus it was boring. Sorry Mr Fink! It just didn’t make my heart sing, and I know that’s not everything… but for me the enjoyment needs to be there so I started to modify the plan to make it more enjoyable and address the key challenges presented by myself as an athlete and Bolton as a notoriously difficult triathlon.
Unfortunately I began to suffer with plantar fasciitis, but it was just niggles I was keeping at bay with hip exercises and calf work. And then the whammy… I did an extra run that wasn’t in the plan, and less than 5 mins in, my tired legs put my foot down awkwardly and there was an almighty crunch. 8 weeks later I was still struggling to jog and felt like I had a wooden foot. The GP confirmed it was just a sprain, but with time running out I decided to take my deferral so I could come into Ironman as strong as possible rather than try to scrape the fitness together to make the bike cut off.
Ironically I caught Covid the day before race day, and I was in no fit state to race anyhow. So it was the right call!
What have I learned to make sure this attempt doesn’t fail? I have the help of Chris from Triathlon Coaching Company keeping an eye on me as a mentor to make sure I don’t end up over training again. I’ve spent the last 5 months building my base and my aerobic threshold seems pretty solid, my movement is good and my full body joint function is probably the best it’s been so hopefully the niggly ankle issues will stay away this time!
Assuming I stay free from injuries, the biggest obstacle I foresee is getting through the bike cut off. I am an ok swimmer and my technique is improving each week, I know I can swim the distance (I did it in the pool last year) but I need to get back in the lakes quickly this year as I’ve been having a difficult time with Raynauds so cold water dipping has gone out the window this winter! I don’t doubt my ability to smash the hills on the bike course… but I doubt the ability to smash on my pedals for 3 full laps without hitting the wall or feeling my legs give up on me. I need to be able to spin easily up those relentless hills at a steady pace instead of powering up and grinding through which is my natural technique with hills! I’d like to run the whole marathon, and I’m going to train with that as the plan, however I’m also staying open minded. I ran a half marathon in November and planned to run one each month now, however December is nearly over and I’ve not got one in due to ice, work and being wiped out by this nasty flu/virus thing that’s been going round. Running is my weaker sport of the three, but if I make the cut off for the bike I should have the time to get around the marathon even if it’s not very pretty!
Here’s my race schedule;
February 12th – Village Bakery Half Marathon (C Race)
May 21st – Outlaw 70.3 Nottingham (B Race)
June 10th – Barmouth 10K (C Race)
2nd July – Ironman UK (A Race)
I will post weekly or fornightly updates on my training to keep anyone tracking this updated and hopefully it will serve as some entertaining reading as well as contain helpful training advice. If you’ve entered on to Ironman UK for 2023 I’ll hopefully see you there, reach out and get in touch! Good luck!