Hola! A quick and brief update on Outlaw last weekend as I’m hungry and tired as I didn’t expect to be back in full blown athlete training mode again so soon! I’m virtually back to peak Ironman training volume. Anyway, last weekend was supposedly Outlaw full and OSB’s 10th birthday. During the week I had executed the best taper I have ever done, it was to be my 6th full distance and each time I am learning more to fine tune it so that I’m in the best possible condition by race day.
6am came and I was in a toasty lake ready to swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles and run 26.2 miles. It was absolutely pelting it down but I was in very good spirits (for me, I am terrible with the weather), so much so that I had stopped looking at the forecast and had accepted that it would be a wet day but hopefully a successful one. As 1500 of us set off for the swim little did we know how much things would change. I went through the first lap reasonably well and the second, and then I was crestfallen. I got out of the lake around the top 7 females overall but couldn’t work out “why isn’t someone (we nickname them “The Strippers”) helping me out of my wetsuit?” Instead, “please move over to the side, we need to brief you”. Immediately I knew something had happened during the swim. The 112-mile bike had to be cancelled. No full race distance here today. I was gutted as I really felt it was going to be my year. I was also gutted for Outlaw who had to make this decision on their 10th birthday. I know the Outlaw family well and I know they would have been equally gutted. I also know it was the right decision. Whilst the route was signed off safe at 5.30am, at 6.10am there was torrential rain that led to fallen trees and too much spray for 1500 cyclists at 25mph going through it.
The revised format was to continue with us doing the marathon at 9am (a two-hour transition!). Advantage runners. Many decided not to bother, and I get that. Ever seen a long-distance triathlete run? The majority of us train to semi-crawl a marathon after a 2.4-mile swim and 112-mile bike ride. Running a marathon from scratch was going to hurt and require much more recovery and therefore stop any potential replacement races happening. I was of two minds; did I want my Outlaw series medal? Did I want a good run in prep for the European champs or did I want to sack it off and press on with 6 hours indoors on my wattbike?
I decided to run. I’m not sure it was the right decision but I struggled through and ended up 12th in my Age-Group. I was up to my ankles in water for large parts of it. My hammies were shot to bits from jumping over things and my 6-week-old carefully run in Hoka trainers totally trashed. And quite frankly I was afraid I was going to continue with my clumsy fashion, slip and put myself out of the European Champs. I made myself a pact: walk the deathly bits and if I start shivering and showing the first signs of hypothermia from being so wet, I am out. I continued with that mind-set for 26.2 miles. Basically, for the memories: I was there the year this happened! It did really hurt, so much so that I have learnt a new trick…run 100 steps, skip 10. Try it! Everyone laughed at me but the skipping breaks that redirected the pressure from the hammies to the quads helped enormously. I’ll be doing it again.
Being race ready and then it not happening was a very strange experience for me. I think it could be worse than not finishing due to a mechanical or injury. Sat there with this amount of fitness, full of carbohydrates and some giant dreams many people were in transition in tears at their lost prospects. It is virtually impossible to find another available full distance UK event this season. I’m not without though and I can race middle distance at European and World champ level next year if I don’t retrieve a long-distance time. It might even be quite fun to make myself a better middle-distancer, although will require some different training.
The shenanigans have reminded me of one thing though. My love and my drug is for the full distance. When a race or something doesn’t go to plan, my golden rule is get back on it as soon as you can. Just like when you crash. The very simple “onwards and upwards”. I was very sore Sunday night but made the commitment to myself that I would ride the 112 miles I didn’t do that day throughout the week as extra training. This has meant 28 miles extra after work four nights this week before an easy day. Sounds mental, but if I can’t control the weather(!), I have to do what I can control and that’s my legs and my body to keep myself in the best situation for Amsterdam European Champs. As I haven’t been the 140.6 miles it means I haven’t had to reverse taper much and can get back on it pronto.
So long the British weather. I’ll be back next year.