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Tales of an endurance athlete
Duathlete at heart, but will do aything running/cycling/swimming/multisport related. Within reason of course:-)

Took my time about this one... IMSA the report card!

tiggaby tiggaJun 13th 2016
Ironman SA was meant to be a race in the country that sparked my love for multisport â€" my hunger to improve my own performances. So much so in fact, I left SA soil to race in Europe in duathlons… Never to return, but settle in the country of birth the UK. So for many reasons I wanted to produce something special, something I know and believe I am capable of producing at this ‘hard to nail’ iron distance racing.

This particular race/holiday/trip was also the opportunity to finally meet my nephews... three young boys to whom Uncle Wayne is a Skype image that talks funny sometimes. Fantastic to see some old faces, some from races in previous years and some not... SA is truly a beautiful country and one which I hope to explore with Jacks and show her around sometime soon without an Ironman in sight!

Historically my performances show I’m very competitive at anything up to around 4 hours of racing, to a very high level. I know my body all too well, after 25 years of being self-coached around a full time career. The smallest of niggles, the slightest of pains… all mean something in my head. They say there is a fine balance to being in peak shape and dropping over the edge. That drop over the edge is far steeper than the gentle slope of hard training that gets me to top shape, so trying to nail it is harder than normal for me, simply because I’m the type of athlete that performs better with volume. Find the right combination of intensity and volume and you have yourself the perfect race. This I can do for a four hour race… but can’t seem to find the right combination for anything longer. However, when I reflect on my build up to IMSA it painfully obvious I should have pulled the plug in January… the day after a car smacked me up the backside on my ride home and sent me doing backflips over the bonnet of a SAAB. That was 13 weeks to Ironman SA and I had nice bruises scarring the right side of my body â€" Just how I didn’t break anything being hit by a car doing 40mhp and me about 10mph, I am not sure.

Four weeks later and I had conceded to the winter night rides and was training exclusively Mon-Fri indoors. Wattbiking and treadmill… at the very least it would mean my body would be ready to race in sweaty mode as IMSA was at the back end of summer and all my prep was in full blown UK winter. First indicator the body wasn’t happy was a misplaced vertebrae in my thorasics which means whilst running very painful and restricted breathing and takes days to come right… I was back to square one again. It wasn’t that the biking wasn’t there, I was producing impressive numbers on a Wattbike. 300w for 2hrs on a Wednesday and sweaty run off the bike on the treadmill?!
Not three weeks later my lower back went bang and I spent another uncomfortable week limping around feeling sorry for myself. I did manage to find a chiropractor who has helped a huge amount and being local to work made treatment relatively easy. Finding time to do three sports and a good practitioner is a time juggling puzzle. 25 years of competing and this body needs TLC otherwise it is easily broken, especially when external forces are to blame. I spend a lot of time foam rollering the body, but nothing beats a good old fashioned deep tissue massage to release the tension that accumulated tiredness brings when training 100%.

After the second episode of back issues I resigned myself to the fact this race was no longer going to be a sub 9 hour attempt, but rather an attempt at Kona qualification with 12 slots available I figured 9:45-50 would do it.

In an already severely disrupted training prep my 10 year TT bike gave up the ghost too and I was forced to buying a bike to race on in SA and had two weeks to get the setup right. However, when the body is as beaten up as mine, this was far more difficult than I anticipated… and I never really felt comfy on the bike until about 5 weeks after the race!

Race day came… and if I’m honest it probably was my worst nightmare day. I cramped in the legs 600m into the swim… could not swim properly dragging the legs around like anchors and on a couple of occasions was seriously doubting I would finish the swim. No less than a week ago I had jumped off the plane and swum in the Durban surf for 3km and was relatively unscathed! Onto the bike and I never really felt right and rode well within myself and at the slightest hint of cramp I said back off. I did just that at 135km… riding at 31km/hr for the final quarter of the ride was heartbreaking… but if I wanted to run the first half at least I had to manage the cramping issue so I twiddled my way back to T2 hoping that a 5hr dead bike and a very easy last 1hr20mins would allow me to run the 3hr30min and get 9:45. In training I’d done 2x32km the morning after a big ass brick at a comfy 4:15/km with the heart rate sitting at about 130. Hindsight is wonderful thing… the run did not happen at all. I was cramping all over from my first step… I should just have thumped the bike and at least I could’ve said ‘It’s all about the bike’ â€" hehehehe

The one good thing about this race as an event…. Absolutely incredible atmosphere, that run route was packed with people. Myself and my brother in-law (Patrick) who was also competing, had the support from our family which was awesome! I was never not going to finish â€" but there was a big lump in my throat as crossed the finishline knowing how much of my time and effort went into this, but it’s seems to hurt more when I know just how sacrifice others have giving to me and my personal challenges â€" not least of all my wife to be Jacks, for her neverending support I can only say a huge thank you! To my folks, my sister and Patricks family for putting us all up for a Ironman week of madness… a huge thank you for that never ending support. I’m not sure when the next one will be, I have always said racing after 25 years of competing is a privilege, and for now the book is closed until the time is right and I can find the motivation to give what it takes to nail an iron distance race. Back to what I do best… racing nothing more than 4hours and finding a new challenge or two. I’ve never really raced a marathon, and got a good for age time this past Sunday. So who knows… if I can get this old body straightened back up (at the moment it’s very lob sided after the right side impact), then I may well have a good marathon in me!

Hell, the Ballbuster beckons too… Being 40+ does bring a whole new set of racing motivations, it’s finding the one that means the most at this moment in time that’s all!
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