Sunday, 6 June 2010

Turn the heat up!

Two weeks ago - loved racing again!

I often play this game of "this time next week" or "this time last month". It puts moments into perspective and things into a bigger context. It makes you see the big picture.

So here goes:

This time 3 years ago I had just finished my second half Ironman where Duncan and I met. Exactly 3 years ago to the day we were on our first date. He later mentioned as a pretty bad first date - half way through, returning from the loo, he even thought I had walked out on him. To his relief (?!) I was only at the next table, hidden by a well placed pot plant. I later described the same date, as the "best first date ever" to my good friend H, and my housemate at the time. Go figure...

It can't have been all that bad, as this time last year, we got married. What a wonderful night that was! Two days later, my dad went into hospital for what we thought at the time would be a life-saving 11 hour operation.
This time 3 months ago, I lost my father. I still miss him every day. The pain has softened, but the gap is still so big and cannot be filled by any amount of training, work, time with friends or family. He taught me much of what I know and gave me much of what I am, and in that sense he is always very close to me.

This time 6 months ago, I could not run more than 15 minutes. I could ride my bike for maybe 30... I was in pain and could not even imagine that 6 months down the line I would be training for an Ironman...

In 10 weeks if all goes well, I will be lined up with another 2000 people at the start line, in Copenhagen. That's the dream. But as the last year has taught me, dreams don't always come true. You still have to fight for them, though, with all your might.

So... this time next week, I will be lining up for another starting gun - the one for the inaugural Astroman. With the company of another 110 athletes we will all be trying to get ourselves to the finish line. I have been very excited about the race. Yet, this week I have been nervous, primarily for two reasons.

The one is intrinsic, and I guess it's very controllable. I am worried about pacing. I am worried because I am meant to be using this race as an IM dress rehearsal, going at IM pace, using my IM nutrition, gear etc and seeing how my body reacts to it all. However, I know myself and I know that it will not be hard for me to get caught up in the racing. I also have the fear of being last... The guys who are racing here (oh ok... and the 4 women) are all seasoned athletes, this is not the country of mass participation sport (yet) and so it is very likely (in my head at least) that they will be packing up the finishing chute while I am at km 20 of the run.

I have, therefore, decided to race with my HR monitor - it will be my first half IM and only my second ever race where I will do that. That should keep my excitement in check and give me some honest feedback, aside from feel, on how fast/slow I should be going. I hereby declare that I will not ignore the beeping!

The second, and more serious of the two worries, is the weather. Extrinsic, and therefore not controllable. The weather forecast is for a scorcher (not an English scorcher of 26 degrees C) a real scorcher of 35++ in the shade, which means that the hottest part of the day will definitely coincide with the hardest part of my race, in the least shaded part of the course: the run!

Now all my racing experience has involved ice cold bodies of water, rain and a maximum of 17 degrees Celsius. I have done some training in hot weather, including last week's 4 hour ride in 34 degrees heat, plus humidity, and I can tell you I do not respond well. On top of that I have been reading this month's Triathlete magazine, with a great article written by ex Danish pro Torbjorn Sindballe on dealing with the heat and it strikes me how unprepared I am! (here is a much shorter version of the article

Sindballe covers the all the bases and what I can take away from it is that there is a direct correlation between heart rate (and therefore pace) and overheating, and also both of those combined and ability to take in calories. The only good news is that I do have a small advantage, being smaller than more of the other athletes who will race on the day, at 52kg.

So, after reading the article, it makes it even more important for me to stick to a slow pace. It will be important to stay in fat burning zone, as I will be able to ingest only minimal amounts of calories (and absorb them). I know my body and I have troubles taking food in even at more normal temperatures. Secondly I need to keep my core temperature down, mainly by keeping the heart rate low again.

In conclusion... if the heat is up, I will be going s l o w l y. Let the fun begin!

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