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Chasing a dream - Ironman Tallin

In around 2 weeks I will be returning to Estonia to take part in Ironman Tallinn again, as a family we made the trip in 2021 for me to do the race and it worked out well, winning my Age Group and setting my fastest IM time ever, 9hours 14mins.

We decided then that we would come back and even missed certain places to visit so we could do them the ‘next time’, in 2021 it was also announced that they had cast the next 4 years medals and they all fitted on a special plaque, well, for anyone that knows me, I am basically an ironman groupie ! I was all in for the next 4 years !!

Then as things unfolded in the year, it became apparent that I wouldn’t be able to come back in 2023 due to racing the 70.3 world champs a few weeks after the proposed race date.

So if I wanted to go back and have the desire to train hard enough I needed a new goal, this had also been forming in my head since I finished in 2021, with a better swim, not falling off my bike and the run course not being long, how close can I go to 9 hours ! In fact, why not aim high and look at sub 9 hours. If not, how close can I get now I have hit the big 50

Over the years, beating a time at the time at the finish line has always been there, I’ve used it for motivation to push myself, I mean, why do all that training if you aren’t going faster ? Not all races are about speed though, elevation, temperatures or just conditions outside your control mean that its about you and the course, fast as you can and if you beat a few people on the way, brilliant. But in Tallinn, its definitely the course to race hard and fast, minimal elevation on the bike course and only a few little lumps on the run course, and having raced here before I can see the opportunity to improve.

Sub 9 hours in an ironman has never been a goal, its always been that target that was never thought of, sub 10 was always a goal and once I got that I wanted to go further under 10 hours. Over the last 2 years, I have got faster, fitter and in Tallinn executed a race that I was ‘only’ 14 mins short, so close but realistically, still a large chunk away from being a cert.

I look around at friends in the sport who have broken the 9 hour barrier recently, I don’t class myself in their league, truly great efforts from brilliant age groupers, but they are age groupers, they have jobs, some with families, so why isn’t it possible, I started to believe that I could get close, they have inspired me to reach higher than I though I could.

I want more of this ↓ but faster 😊

The Plan

Firstly, lets caveat the race last year, weather was awful but the racing conditions were good, low temperatures for biking and running were a bonus, but 20+mph winds and driving rain not so much.

So, the times I am aiming for are just based on what I want to get and have no relevance to external conditions, they will either help or hamper, I can only hope for a kind of Carlsberg day, whatever happens, at each discipline it won’t affect my desire to keep striving for that finish line in the fastest possible time, in fact I really need to be more like I was in 2021, I didn’t know my overall finish time until I was in the athlete area and Dan McParland told me, it just wasn’t a target, the AG win was. If I am to remain calm and race composed I can’t let fear of failing or mind games affect my race.

Swim – 1hr 6 mins, lake swim, rough water, lots of turns and I had swum inconsistency all year leading up to it, all excuses but it wasn’t until Ironman Portugal 11 weeks after this race where I swam the leg in 60 mins that I thought I could knock 3-3.5 mins off this even without the added buoyancy of the sea. I have swum a lot more in 2022, I am probably not quite at the hour mark but a few minutes quicker than 2021 is a good start to the day.

Bike – 4 hrs 44 mins – on the day I thought this was a good time, the weather was awful but a good temperature (17deg) and rained all day with 20+mph winds. Now the wind could have played into our favour as down wind we were flying, against it, not so much but made for an interesting race dynamic, I also fell off going round a left hander and wasted a few mins, and finally due to the colder weather I found myself peeing more (it’s a triathlon thing) on the bike as I was overhydrating, this meant I was having to slow down too much to pee. All added up, I was now thinking I could get another 4 mins here.

Run – 3 hrs 17 mins – this was by far my best ever IM run, nailed it ! BUT! the course was 2 mins long, my Garmin had my marathon at 3:15 and I think I have got better this year, 1:23 half marathon and a sub 3 hour marathon in March/April has given me positive headspace for improving even by 3-4 mins putting my target at 3:10-3.12.

So, with a couple of speedier transitions, and 12 mins over the 3 disciplines, could this be possible?

To finish it off and cover the 4th discipline I’ve worked with Total Endurance Nutrition to nail my race weight and improve my carb intake over the last few months, this again puts me in good headspace even though my race weight is probably the same I feel stronger. I have great support from Xendurance, using their Fuel5 carb drink and XE gels over the last few years means I can work on the intake in training and racing and test out the race strategy repeatedly. I also believe that whilst many people are suffering colds and illness over the last few months taking Immune Boost has helped to restrict the days out through illness and helped with consistency in training.

Yes, I am putting myself out there but this isn’t the only goal, the day will unfold and I will race as hard as I can, I can’t control everything but what I can control, I hope to conquer. Hopefully this results in an AG win and a faster time than last year.

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