It’s O-6 (Outlaw minus 6 days) and I’m trying to remain calm and relaxed in the run up to the Outlaw iron distance tri this coming Sunday. One of the things I find useful is to think back over all the training and races I’ve done in the build up, to help cement in my mind how much work I’ve done to get me to this point. I’ve done 3 x 100 mile rides, about 10 4000m swims and some good 15 mile runs as well as countless other sessions.
I’ve only done one triathlon in training, but my goodness it was a goody. As my main race this year is in not-very-glamorous Nottingham, I treated myself to the Ironman 70.3 in Alcudia in Majorca in May. Heaven.
There was a small group of us who knew each other from the Lanzarote training camp last year – Sean Blair, Chris Thompson and Nicola Hearn, fellow WADAC member Karen Hazlitt doing her first half ironman, and a couple of fellow pirates, too, so it was very sociable.
Everything was set up on the beach and our hotel was about three mins walk from there. It meant we were three mins from transition, five mins from the start, five mins from the race briefing and 10 mins from registration. Everything was on the beach. Like I said, heaven.
We were there a couple of days early so we had a chance to do the swim course a couple of times before race day (clear, warm sea – no wind, weed or current) and, because I was using it as a training day rather than racing it I did the bike course a couple of days before, too. And what a bike course. Along the coast (flat) then up into the mountains for 20k (looooong gradual climb), a technical descent for 10k or so then flat (but occasionally breezy) back to to Alcudia. The views from up in the mountains were breathtaking while the smells of honeysuckle in the citrus orchards were wonderful. Even the birdsong was stunning. The run was partly along the beach boardwalk so that was picturesque, too.
Race day was hot so standing on the beach in full rubber kit, even at 7.30am, had us feeling like oven ready chickens. My swim was ok (came 4th in my age group), and the bike was solid, although it felt slow compared to everyone else because I was doing it stolidly at ironman pace rather than half ironman pace (and was made slower by a stupid mechanical early on which was my fault). By the time I got onto the run – probably at about 1pm – it was hot hot hot, but I felt ok. It was three laps which worked brilliantly because somehow it didn’t feel like we ran a half marathon. Other people felt the same. I think three laps is the way forward, whatever the race distance. If you have to run four laps, you’re ok on the first because you’re glad to be off the bike and you know you’re on the last phase of the race. Lap 2 you’re still ok but the adrenaline’s died down and you realise you still have a long way to go. Lap 3 is the lap of doom because you’ve already run a long way, yet you still have a long way to go and you’re tired and grumpy and it’s hard work. Then lap 4 is ok again because it’s the last time you’ll see everything and you’re nearly done. With three laps you never quite get the lap of doom feeling.
The support was tremendous all round the course – even on the remotest parts of the bike people were out to cheer – even if some of them had no idea what on earth was going on. The finish was slightly cruel – you had to run over an ornamental footbridge (entirely ornamental because it arrived more or less where it started). It killed the legs but made a good spectator point. The only bad thing about the event is that they gave me a team medal instead of an individual competitor’s medal. I’ll just have to accept that I obviously looked too fresh to have done the whole lot!
The finish was in the harbour so seconds after finishing I was standing knee deep in the sea on a slipway under a cool shower – more heaven.