This was my 6th Ironman so I had some idea what to expect. Signed up early Ocotober 2016 and downloaded a training plan from training peaks that started in March. With work situation training time was really at a premuim. I work for myself so work can change very quickly in this environment and when you thought you might have had a good week training something happens that calls you in and training is the first thing to get cancelled. Long story short training wise it consisted of about 1.5 turbo sessions a week. The swimming training was very good, I trained hard with Titans Monday, Weds, and Friday and I was very consistent. Started training with Declan Hogan on the runs, the only problem is Hogan doesn't like running more than 10k so I did get out three or four times a week but generally 5k. I managed to do Dublin 70.3 about a month out so the 21k run in that was the longest i'd run this year (also did the wicklow half earlier in the year). After Dublin 70.3 I decided that I had to make the long bike non negotiable I wasn't missing that session again I only had 6 of them left. So I got two 80k cycles in of "the block" I got down to Brittas bay and back and the life saver one for me was getting out with Conor, Ronan and Tony about 3 weeks out we covered 120k. I was a broken man that day but I needed to do that ride, to get something into the legs.
So heading into Barcelona I was aware that I hadn't done the long stuff and in the back of my head I did think the wheels were likely to come off at about 120k into the bike. I wasn't worried about the swim and the run was going to be just a case of getting through the marathon.
Swim- I went right up the front for the swim start(i'd say about 500th person into the water). So every 6 seconds they let 4 people go to try and break the swim start up. There was a lot of people getting into the water ahead of me that had clearly lied about their swim time as there's no way they were going to swim sub 60 based on the first 100 meters. We swam hard into the current at the start which was a lot stronger than I'd expected. my watch beeped at 500 meters and I was amazed to see it had taken me 9 minutes something, that's pretty slow for me. So I was thinking sub 60 minutes might not be on today. However after we turned at the half way point I was 36 minutes in the water so was looking at 1 hour 12 but we flew back with the current and a lot of the other swimmers started to tire so was great picking people off, I swam a very fast last 2k to get out of the water at 60 minutes and 24 seconds close but no cigar.
Bike- Transition was a bit all over the place I was getting changed into full bike shorts as there was no way I was doing my first 180k bike ride in two years in a pair of tri shorts or suits. So got on the bike and started to settle into it. Although I had done little to no cycling I do have a power meter and I know the theory behind how pacing works. My FTP is 271 based on a test I did 6 weeks ago, In Dublin 70.3 I held 200 watts for the bike. The plan in Barcelona was to hold 180 watts and I did till about 130k into the bike. Then it was like I was flying a big jumbo jet plane with 4 engines and BOOM one engine had blown, there was panic on board as they were trying to put out the flames of that engine with Gels and water and Bananas but nothing was happening engine 4 was gone, as that was happening engine 3 went with the strain of it all. So I felt like I was gliding the plane in for the "marathon" that was about to happen.
The Run-The plan in my head was to go out and run a sub 2 hour half marathon and that way I'd have to break 5 hours on the run. However at the very start of the run/walk it became obvious that we were down to the last engine and any stress was going to blow this one up. It was a long painful end to the Ironman many many times I thought I could just stop now and the pain would be all over. A marathon is hard enough in itself but starting a marathon when you've got nothing left is just cruel. Your head starts telling you things you don't want to hear at this point and things friends said to you in the lead up come back to haunt you. I remember as I crossed a mat thinking the guys at home will see where I am now and I wonder who is following. At that point Liam Dillion a staunch supporter of mine said "I'm not even going to tune in until 120k into the bike because that's where you should start to unravel". I thought my bike training was awful but because I had been running a fair bit although not far I'd be ok on the run. Then Hogans words came back to haunt me "ah sure you've done fuck all long runs, you'll be in trouble on the run". I was doubting myself thinking "why did you think you'd be able to do this you haven't done the training for this". You just have to keep going. John Connaghton used to always say with training if you've done something like this before "muscle has a memory" and that's what I used to convince myself despite the training I had done this before so I could do it again.
In hindsight if I sign up for an Ironman again and training doesn't happen I'd pull out. I know you lose your money and it's very expensive but I think the pain and damage you do to your body by doing one off no training is not worth it. I weighed myself on Thursday before I left the house I was 94kg I weighed myself when I came back after two days of eating and rehydrating and I ate a lot I was 86kg that's a lot of weight to lose over the course of a long weekend. A lot of the more serious guys in the hotel I was staying were going for a cool down spin the next day. I was in pain walking the next day. Even now 5 days later and I'm in agony just walking around.
It was a great experience though and really enjoyed the craic on the watts app group with Ronan, Tony, Ger, Conor, Dave, Corrinna, Rodolfo, Kevin, Justin, Brian added in much later!!
We were hoping to make a family Holiday out of it but because there was a bit of uncertainity over wheter I would actually take part or not we were very late booking. So the cost of bringing the family over was pretty steep. In the end I just went on my own so my long suffering wife Kelly Cheung had to endure me whinging about training or lack thereof all year and then didn't even get a holiday out of it in the end.
To anyone thinking of doing Barcelona- It's a good one to do, the place is nice easy to get to and loads of Irish tend to do it. A lot of people like to do it because it's seen as "easier" Ironman. Having done Nice and Lanza it's certainly easier on the bike as you don't have the hills the swim and the run are about the same in the three but don't be fooled you're still cycling 180k, yes it's flat and there's harder ones out there but it's still 180k.
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