Sunday, 17 May 2015
The race had started well enough with my completing the 1.9km swim in just over 40 minutes. Don't make the mistake of thinking this is fast however for the Pros did it in just 20 minutes!
Yes there was 3,500 in the water but the start time was staggered so the elbowing, kicking and re-directing of fellow competitors was kept to a minimum.
The bike race was hard. Very hard. It included a 15 mile ascent up a mountain side but I knew if I could crack this I could crack the distance too - not only of the cycle component but the whole race.
One consequence of ascending a mountain in 30 degree heat is that you have to drink a huge amount of fluids and this means a lot of toilet stops. Many of these stops were in portaloos along the route but by no means all. Secluded large walls fronting farmers fields did their bit to help out as did a family in a tiny village 3km from the cycle finish line who kindly granted access to their facilities to some strange guy who appeared on their doorstep in his cycling lycra looking very uncomfortable and speaking wobbly Spanish!
The run was all about getting to the finish without collapsing in the heat. There was loads of roadside assistance from officials handing out energy bars and drinks to kids handing you sponges to soak yourself with as much water as you could.
I loved this day. It was truly great.
Before the race I came across a quote in the official race programme by the co-founder of the Ironman competition and it's stayed with me since :
"You may quit an Ironman race and no one will care at all. But you will know for the rest of your life!"
Posted by Barry Phillips at 01:03
Thursday, 30 April 2015
I've learnt a huge amount talking to people in advance of the race. An Ironman told me this morning that I should keep a log book for my trainers and as soon as I clock over 100 hours I ditch them and get a new pair. He's never had a pair for more than 6 months. My trainers I bought at least two years ago. My physio advised me that I'm flat footed and need insole (two are in the post at £60 a pop!). My doctor was very diplomatic saying that most people our age do moderate exercise to keep things ticking over nicely.
Recently in my mind I've been going through my race strategy and at the moment it looks like this :
Keep well away from the serious contenders, Start off at the back and avoid congestion spots. What I don't want is to end up in a medley of elbows, knees and feet and risk getting my head bashed. When half way and feeling comfortable start to gather some speed.
Transition to bike - gargle and drink lots of water to get rid of the sea salt in my mouth and throat. Load up with energy gels and drinks and head off at a steady pace
Drink before I feel thirsty and take in energy gels - at least 3 each hour. Keep pace steady and conserve as much energy as possible for the run
Transition to run -walk really slowly as the legs get used to forward motion rather than just turning around and around.
Avoid a fast early pace which apparently accounts for most people who fail to complete the course. Try to run at all times and not fall into a walk.
Posted by Barry Phillips at 01:00
Wednesday, 4 March 2015
I would like to state that the training is going well and is on schedule but that wouldn't be true. You see about a month ago I erected a baby gate at the top of the stairs. The following day I forgot it was there, fell clean over it and down the stairs. The injured toe was in agony and still isn't right. Anna laughed that I didn't look at that moment much like a potential Ironman and as I cursed my toe at the bottom of the stairs and I guessed she was right.
So for the last fours weeks all I have been doing is swimming. This is improving however and significantly. To improve my style and speed courtesy of a lot of Youtube videos I've learnt the following is important to do and keep doing :
# kick from your hips, relax your legs and point your toes. This instruction still feels counter intuitive. Physiologically I can't believe that it is possible to point your toes whilst relaxing your legs so at the moment I'm settling for the former in the belief that it's more important than the latter. The kick from the hips bit I do get and it does make a big difference.
# pull hard through the second part of the stroke underwater and continue pulling until your hand exits the water past your hips. This I've decided is where the power and momentum is. Get this right and your velocity increases big time.
# hand shape must be exactly right for the best pull. I'm still working on this but the angle of the hand whilst underwater is clearly critical and I need to give this some more Google and wet time.
For the past month I've been up to 50 lengths each working day doing 100 lengths on one of them only. 75 lengths is the distance for the Ironman 70.20 swim and half the distance of the full race.
I need to get on my bike and back in my jogging shoes and plan to do just this as soon as my toe morphs from black to white through the 50 shades in between and lets me walk again properly.
Posted by Barry Phillips at 08:40
Monday, 12 January 2015
The evening was special because some dozen or more of Anna's relatives came together and put on a night of fun and feasting that make a good New Year celebration truly great. Although everyone contributed to the evening for me it clearly belonged to a fine lady who left me with a very special memory I'll treasure for a long, long time.
Anna's babushka or, if you prefer, Alicia's great babushka, sat at the head of the table. Although late in years she sat very upright, gait quite perfect, almost majestic. She talked slowly, deliberately, gently and quite beautifully.
Sat next to her was a man who understands opportunity when it comes knocking and surrounded by relatives good in both Russian and English I slowly began to probe and open up a wonderful personal history that confirmed my view that I was in the presence of a very special lady who had some stories to tell.
She told me that her mum was a member of the communist party aged just 15 and "took an active part in the Revolution". She said she remembered when she first heard that their leader was a man called Stalin and how they thought he was a man "next to God". She explained how she and others laboured hard in the fields because they wanted to serve him well. I asked her if she remembered the day Russia declared war with Germany and she replied of course she did. She said she remembered it well "we cried all day long because we knew so many Russians were going die" she added, her face looking disturbed and stressed.
As we headed towards the latter part of my interview I wanted to lead her into more positive memories in the hope she'd finish feeling good about my gentle inquisition so I asked her when she first met her husband. Before I did so I looked at her and I couldn't help but think of the Titanic movie where a once youthful lady recounts her life story at the beginning and end of a film. The lady in front of me smiled gently through a face that though now "a carefully written page" was still very beautiful.
She told me she had met her husband at a college dance and the attraction had been immediate - a statement confirmed by the fact they were married within six months. When I asked if it was love at first sight she merely replied "we both knew". I couldn't help but think about the happenstance around it all which scared me terribly. What if either of them hadn't turned up at that dance? Might there have been no him, no Tatiana and no wife and certainly no daughter?
She explained they had both worked for the first three months in one place before being posted to another much farther away. She worked on environmental matters and he in agriculture. For a good period of their early marriage he was away mapping a huge forest returning only for the weekends. But he was a family man and lived for his wife and children.
By the end of the ending everyone but she and I had peeled away and gone to bed. I thanked her for sharing her world and tremendous personal history with me and others. I hugged her and struggled to let her go.
Posted by Barry Phillips at 09:02
Monday, 17 November 2014
There was a full team in the expedition. There was baby on Papa's back with Moma following close behind for the feeding stops. Bringing up the rear were sherpas Tatiana and Vitali who carried the water, the flask of soup and the nappies.
The weather was kind to us. There was no rain or snow this time just an awful lot of fog.
I guess her donkey called Papa had better stay in shape..
Posted by Barry Phillips at 04:30
Friday, 31 October 2014
My exercise this week looked like this :
Monday : 100 lengths of the pool (25 metres)
Tuesday : 50 lengths and 6 mile run (80 minutes)
Wednesday : 50 lengths
Thursday : rest day and work on new bike that has arrived
Friday : 100 lengths (time 75 minutes)
Saturday : the plan is to do 28 miles on the bike
Sunday : the plan is to do 14 miles bike followed by 6 mile run.
Although all of the above are slow if I repeated the distances in the Ironman and added distance at the same pace I would beat the disqualification times. This is heartening.
The other piece of good news from all of this is that although I was tired after each bit of exercise I wasn't dead beat. As I approach the weekend I don't feel any more tired than if I had done nothing at all. In fact I think I feel a good bit better. I've noticed your day feels so much better if you began it on top of a decent aerobic work out.
My weight is under control now too. I now weigh 13.5 stones or 86 kilos. That's a full half stone lighter than I was 3 months ago.
The next project is to sort out the bike. I need to make sure the cleats on the pedals fit well and that I fit the bike.
Posted by Barry Phillips at 06:44
Monday, 27 October 2014
I entered the Mallorca 2015 Ironman last week. In so doing I applied to do an event that requires you to swim 2.4 miles, then cycle 112 miles then run 26.2 miles all in under 17 hours.
The race is in May of next year which gives me 7 months to train for it and I think I'll need everyone one of them. Last Friday I ran 6 miles in over 1 hour and I was exhausted after it.
I have been contemplating doing this event for a number of years and as I'm 50 next year it seemed a good time to finally stop contemplating and move through the gears to planning, training and then completing.
I have to confess to being quite nervous about it already but when I thought about it closely there was just too much to lose by not doing this. The benefits in giving this a rattle are huge and include :
# Achieving a level of fitness superior to anything I have ever experienced in my life at any age;
# Understanding how my body works and how to get the most out of it;
# Learning about food, diet and nutrition and how to "fuel up" properly;
# Achieving a greater level of mental strength and discipline than ever before
# Sharing a platform for at least a day with some really focused and driven people.
I'm lucky enough to live very close to a great swimming pool, in amongst some fabulous countryside which makes for ideal jogging territory.. I live opposite the "7 Mile Straight" a perfect cycling track . So I've no excuses to hand as to why I can't train for this.
The next 7 months promise to be hard. Very hard. Game on.
Posted by Barry Phillips at 04:17