Yesterday I took all of my new toys and gave them a work-out.
I’ve been wanting to test my level of fitness (mental as much as physical) in the only way that’s relevant; by doing a half Ironman. That is; swim 1.2 miles, (in under an hour) ride 56 miles (under 4:30) and run 13.1 miles/ half marathon (under 4 hours).
I have had a multitude of excuses why I haven’t done so to date. The snow and ice being a rather good one, then getting a day off when it was above zero degrees and when the swimming pool was open in the morning, etc etc.
Yesterday I took the plunge. I didn’t quite go the whole hog, leap from one discipline straight in to the next, but did all three over the course of the day. I got fed in between, and even took a shower. Pussy!
I did the swim at dead on the time limit. This was, he says hastily, at least partially down to poor use of equipment. I was using the lap counter on my watch to mark the lengths swam, but I don’t think it was registering every fumbled press. Also, as it’s only got a 30 lap memory I swam 10 lengths (6 mins) and pressed it, swam another 10 and they took 9 minutes! I think I lost count. I couldn’t have dropped my pace by 50% in such a short space of time.
Anyway, I just about made it, I think. I’ll give it another go soon to find out.
As I said, I had to rush home, run Wendy to church, grab some grub (I live in terror of the energy crash!) put the washing out (all recognized events in the revised Ironman rule book) then set off for the ride.
It was windy and a bit nippy, so going into it I wasn’t even sure if I was going to try for the distance, a factor that lead to the delay between events. No point in going off half cocked if you are not even going to go the distance. Even into the wind it was so much easier on my lovely new bike that I decided to go for it. I had two, two minute stops to drink water and eat, and still made the meerkat landmark in 1 hour 50. Sat down and had five minutes while I troughed out and put my gel pads on.
Apparently cycling can cause a pinching on a bunch of nerves between your toes which leads to your feet going numb and freezing. I thought by moving my foot-to-pedal position in the cleats I might have overcome it, so didn’t put on gel pads (which cushion said nerve cluster, supposedly easing the condition). Wrong. My feet were like ice to the touch, even though I was sweating. So I put the pads on whilst stopped. That particular horse had already bolted. So it was ice cold numb feet all the way home as well. Ace.
Full of nuts and water I remounted my trusty steed for the 28 miles return ride, happy in the knowledge the wind had been in my face and it had been constantly uphill on the way so I should fly back. I really should know better. The wind on push bike rides always manages to be in your face, omni-directionally, and the road is always uphill. Still, a lot better on my lovely Boardman!
I got home (pitstops included) in 3 hours 50 minutes. That was a fairly easy pass.
I had more nuts and cereal bars and a shower, then down to the gym for the last leg.
I got on the treadmill, and the pain wasn’t that bad. I did the first 3 miles at a 7½ minute mile pace (½ mpm faster than my previous standard pace). Then the fatigue started to bite so I slowed down to an 8mpm pace. As you are going into your seventh hour of pure graft you have to settle for what you can maintain! Still, the first time I did a 56 mile ride followed by a half marathon I dropped a minute a mile, so mustn’t grumble.
I finished in 1:42.48! Which, to put it in perspective, is a minute faster than I ran the Warrington half marathon!
OK, this was on a treadmill, hence no running up the cantilever bridge, but on the Warrington half it was gloriously cool (not sweat streaming off you the whole time) and I was fresh and hadn’t just done the previous two events.
Pro’s and con’s considered I’m taking that as a new Personal Best. It makes me wonder what I can achieve in this years half. I reckon I can slaughter the 1:30 mark at this rate. The race winner only (ONLY!) managed 1:09. Hhhhmmmmm.
You see how easy it is to get carried away with this lark? Some 20 year old wiry super athlete versus me, a gritty but knackered old fart. Well, if they did a medal for ‘best improved’ I think I’d have a shot at that!
But back to reality. What I have achieved is a run in 1:42, less than half the time allowed for a half Ironman.
Not the full, leap from one discipline to the next and keep going, but I did all three in a day, and passed two out of three comfortably. The swimming is my weakness, but a bare pass even now. By May I will be stronger.
So that was a beastly day. But not impossible, and mostly just steady determination. It has put my mind at rest a bit. After reading that guy saying he’d done a half IM and it had nearly killed him and how he had given up on a full IM, I was starting to think I’d bitten off more than I could chew. Turns out it’s no biggy.
In other news of partial success, I went in to hassle the manager chick in transport over my driving. I have had dealings with her when she was a shift manager in the warehouse so we know each other. She’s one of the better managers, she tells it like it is. If she isn’t going to do something she’ll tell you to your face. Unlike all but one I work for now. Anyway, I saw her on Friday and said that the driving assessor had said he would recommend to management that I do some runs with the assessor in the cab before going solo. Had there been a decision reached?
She said, to my amazement, “There’s no reason why you can’t go out with the assessor, come back Monday and we’ll arrange it with him.”
Given my history with them I didn’t get too excited. Went back today and she was as good as her word, shot straight off and talked to the assessor. Then we went into a meeting. The plan is; I prove my commitment to the job by coming in on my day off (unpaid) and going out as a passenger with a driver to see what the job entails. Do this several times, then go out and, once the driver has done the reversing in and unloading, drive it back. Then go out as the driver, with the driver watching me, then if they ever have enough confidence in me, go solo.
Prove my commitment! I paid for my own licenses! I went through all that stress and expense just because they had a sign up that said one of the workers initiatives was a warehouse-to-wheels scheme! I was a bit miffed by that.
Upon reflection though, a slow steady approach to the the job might be best. When I go out as a passenger I can learn all the ancillary stuff, such as operating the tail lift, operating the digital tachograph, working times and breaks, pre-op checks, paperwork, and all the stuff I don’t even know I don’t know. This frees me from the stress of trying to learn everything at once.
It’s not ideal, but it is a plan. If I get to be a driver at the end of it it will be a great plan. Also, I suppose they won’t want to move me from one stage onto the next until they are happy I’m good enough. In a way that gives me an open ended introduction to the job.
Just so long as I get to drive at the end of it. I reckon I’ll be driving by the end of the year. If possible, for DHL, but if not I’ll be able to say I’ve been getting lots of driving experience and I’ll have had both my licenses for over two years (a pre-requisite for agency insurers, apparently).
This is going to be the year!
What a year it’s going to be. All these sporting events, getting out of debt (woo-hoo, go us!) and probably driving.
Oh, and I should get athletically slim. Yesterday I burned the best part of 5,000 calories. Today I can feel the loss of each of them.