Hello! Remember me? It’s been a while.
Hello from Kona, the home of Ironman Hawaii. I’m sat here, it’s 2am and wide awake – thank you jetlag – so I thought I’d do a quick blog update. Now I just need to figure how I get 3 months of happenings into a post short enough to send any reader over the edge. I’ll try to keep to the basics……..
I’ve been injured!
Is that enough? Ok! Back at the beginning of August I had a bike crash. Rolling down a hill sat behind a couple of cars at around 30mph I hit a pothole. Next thing I remember was waking up on the floor with people looking down at me. An ambulance ride and a couple of hours in the hospital followed where they proceeded to do nothing but give me a course of pain killers and tell me to have a couple of days off work due to concussion. It hurt like hell but stupidly I went back to work on the Wednesday (no play, no pay) after which I was so bad I ended up back in A&E thinking I must have broken my ribs. Apparently I hadn’t - although they still couldn’t be bothered to x-ray and be sure – they said I’d pulled/strained/ripped the Intercostal Muscle in my back – whatever that is! I had the rest of the week off work, but still foolishly tried to run through the pain, then when I got in the pool and only lasted 12 lengths I knew I was in trouble.
Thank you to Google for telling me everything about the Intercostal muscle that the Dr’s didn’t. They didn’t tell me that it wasn’t a pain you could work through, nor did they tell me that every twist, turn, stretch, lift was just ripping it more. It turns out that pretty much any movement you do goes through your Intercostals and I was in a whole heap of trouble. There were other issues, like 6 weeks of headaches and a left leg that doubled in size due to swelling, but they're mostly sorted now.
In total I ended up off work for 6 weeks and still probably went back quicker than I really should have. Of course I also tried to keep at least some of my Ironman fitness by doing some very steady rides & run/walks, I’m not sure how much they helped although keeping them steady was easy because once I started breathing heavy it was agony. Most annoying was my having to miss races I’d entered. Ilfracombe Tri came and went with me looking like a spare part as I tried to help out while not actually being able to do a lot, then Burnham-O-Sea Standard Distance Tri where I stayed at home unable to go defend my title from last year. I’d planned Burnham to be a real hard pre Ironman blast to see where my fitness was – it was nowhere!
So now I’m here, in Kona and ready to …………… get round the course, but nothing much more!
The Swim – This is now actually one of my biggest worries. I’ve only been in the water 4 times since the crash and the stretching forward (over your head) that’s required in front crawl REALLY pulls on my back. More than this it always feels super weak and as if one good clash of arms could cause some proper damage. With Kona 2010 being my 2nd worst swim ever (after the legendary 2004 Perranporth Tri swim) when I seemed to be in a 3.8km fight I’ve a plan of action for the first time ever. At the Start of the swim I’ll be as far to the left as it’s possible to be! This should be a good move because when I can maintain a nice steady stroke I’m still able to swim at a decent speed, my thinking being that nobody that can swim at my pace will be daft enough to position themselves so far off the racing line. Hopefully this will mean that I’ll find clear water pretty quickly and shouldn’t run into much ‘traffic’ until half way when I have to round the turn buoy to come back. Of course this plan has down sides like that it’ll immediately be a longer swim, mostly in my notoriously bad navigation which will probably see me heading for shore and being corrected by kayakers on more than one occasion. When I do sight it’ll probably mean breathing to my right wich as well as being my ‘wrong side’ does tend to pull on my back a little more. There will be no swim heroics! The original plan was to beat my 2010 time of 1:02 and aim to get under the hour, now I’m hoping a sub 1:10 is possible with the minimum of discomfort and fighting.
T1 will be what it is. There will be no rush, this is an Ironman not a Sprint and it’s the World Champs, I’m hardly likely to be pushing for an Age Group placing!
The Bike – I discovered on yesterdays test ride that my biking pulls my back more than I realised. The secret is to keep as still as humanly possible and it’ll all be good. I also know that I’m not in shape to go out hammering things. I also discovered that my HR goes through the roof in this heat so if I’m going to keep it to its planned level I’m going to have to back off. No repeat of Florida’s hammer-fest here, just nice steady pacing and spinning the climbs as much as I can. I’m actually kind of regretting not getting a 11-28 cassette on so that I could make the climb to Hawi a little easier on the legs. Standing up on the pedals pulls my back – standing up is BAD!! In 2010 I rode 5:28 but I blew to pieces at 80miles. I’d like to think that if I pace things properly I might still get quite close to that 5:30 mark although if it takes 6:00 and I hit T2 feeling fresh (as fresh as I can in 30C+ temps) I’ll be happy enough. No back/quad/hip issues is the target, I’ve been having issues with all three since the crash.
T2, like T1 will be steady. I’ll be lubing up my toes and any potential blister hot spots with lube and putting some socks on. Then I’ll be taking advantage of any sun block applications because I’m going to need all I can get ahead of the last section. Might even pop in a toilet stop while I’m there. Don’t expect this to be quick!!
The Run – Heck, who knows?!!! It’s an ironman in stupid hot conditions, anything could happen. One thing’s for sure I won’t be running it. The injuries have had me doing a whole lot of run/walk sessions and I haven’t gone over 10miles in the last 3 months, yesterdays 4 miler also told me running in these temperatures is a killer. So there are 3 possible options :-
The Amazing Day will see me running between every aid station, where I’ll take a full minute to walk, while eating and drinking as much as possible. Run Time – Anywhere between 3:15 & 3:45 (I’d like to go quicker than last time)
The Good Day will have me doing a 4:1min run/walk where the 4mins will come early (or maybe late) if there’s an aid station in the immediate vicinity where I can fill my face. Run Time – Somewhere between 3:30 & 4hrs (Pleeeeeease!!!)
The Bad Day will involve the patented Ironman Shuffle and lots of walking as I use whatever I can to get round. Once I’m at this place the time won’t matter, I’ll stop to chat at the feed stations if it eases the suffering a little – although the sooner you get to the Finish the sooner the pain stops! Run Time – Who knows! I ‘WILL NOT’ drop out so it could be a long walk. My personal worst is 4:59:45, I’d like to keep that sub 5hrs record going if I can.
So that’s it! After my last 7-8 attempts to write a blog post have fallen flat I’ve actually ‘sort of’ done one. All that’s left to do now is get a few more panic training sessions done. Consume some local food and drink and get Saturday done and dusted. I’m quite enjoying this injury ravaged Kona, it’s taken a bit of the pressure off. Race expectations are such an unknown that there I’m quite happy to go eat and drink whatever I fancy. Not that I’ve ever been a super serious ‘my body is my temple’ athlete, but I’m even less so now. This is Kona, it’s the Big Dance! On my best day I’m not going to win anything, this year I’m going to be the pasty white/sunburnt, hairy athlete with the muffin top who’s looking to take down some bronzed, waxed Adonis like athletes. There’s around 1500 of them here to work through, it’s going to be a blast :-D
PS – If by some miracle anybody reading this has missed it. I had a two page feature in 220Triathlon this month – that puts a bit of the pressure back on!! – and they’re planning a post race follow up. You can find it HERE if you don’t mind it putting you off your lunch ;-)