(this post was scheduled to have been posted before Sunday's event - you'll probably know the outcome of the race as you read it. Bear in mind that, as i wrote this, i did not! )
I had not originally planned to race a summer ironman this year in order to give myself the best chance of regeneration after the double and preparation for Ironman Wales and the start of the 2013 Ironman series. But Steven, my sister, and her boyfriend, some of the athletes that I coach and a crowd from my former club, Tri London had all signed up for Challenge Roth - an iconic event that I’ve always wanted to experience. I’m in the privileged position as a Pro that, although the race had a complete and impressive professional start-list, they granted me an entry and fixed me up with some local accommodation. I was in!
Through the months following the Enduroman, I struggled with the prolonged recovery process and wavered in my decision to race, but following the Pyrenees training camp in May I started to feel a pleasing return to form – and booked my flights.
There’s no hiding from the fact that I’ve put in a lot less volume in prep for Roth than I would usually for an ironman – perhaps I’ll be able to draw on the massive volumes that I did back in Jan/Feb would save me? Self-coached for the time-being I have been focusing most of my attention on my cycling; using my Powertap to train very specifically and at higher intensities, rather than the high volume approach which most people associate me with. Similarly with running- this seems to be coming back together recently and I have been focused on specific pace workouts and brick sessions in favour of doing long runs. The race will provide a great opportunity to assess my progress and possible draw-backs of this lack of “long”sessions.
With this in mind, although I do have best-case time targets and hopes on what is considered to be the worlds fastest long distance course, it is most important for me to keep a fix on the “bigger picture" during the race. In my note book I wrote :
the reasons i am doing this race - three things i want to achieve:
>regain confidence in my ability to race the ironman distance well
> get some power data as indicator of success of current training philosophy (bike) and marker for areas to work on for Wales
> a new iron distance PB and best av (bike) power
and some specific targets (I couldn’t start a race without them, that’s just me)
race day targets and goals:
> close to 9:30
> top 10
> a new race PB < 9:43
>better that Thorstens' race prediction (10:09)
> av bike power greater than 175W
This was accompanied by a list of things that in needed to do and think and remind myself of in order to achieve this. Much of that was about controlling my mental state and reaffirming the key objectives above.
To place top ten would cover the costs of my trip, improve my publicity profile …and a new PB would be good for morale, but in this instance and it was important to be to fixated on these outcomes as I have alternative indicators of a successful race stated here. With the large and high-class line-up of pro women, I feel less pressure as one of the "lesser" pros (who seem to make up about 1/3rd of the pro field) and my race experience must then be focused on "my race" rather than "the race" and my performance relative to those crossing the line ahead of me. I hope that this will enable me to retain that positive state of mind that has been known to deserted me in the past if I see the leaders out there, an "impossible" distance in front and i'm feeling like a total amatuer with ambitions way beyond her capabilities.
I am nervous, excited, curious and "up for it" in about the right proportions...!!