Half Ironman done....plenty to note and learn from. - Phil Cox

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With less than a month to go before the Ironman, my schedule called for a half Ironman to evaluate how all the elements of the event would hold together and, more importantly, how effective my training had been. Sunday, 2nd August just happened to be free.

The plan for the day was:

Start 8am

45 minute swim

64 mile ride

22,500m row

I thought it would be interesting to compare the numbers for the full Ironman:

1:15 swim (3,900m or 156 lengths of Wantage pool)

112 mile ride

42,195m row

I was unable to swim in the pool at Wantage Leisure Centre so I used the endless pool at TFD Gym. It’s not my favourite type of pool, but it served a purpose. I swam continuously (i.e. no turns or rest) and cranked up the pace for the last 10 minutes. I wanted to enter each new leg slightly fatigued to see if this raised any issues. The strength and conditioning work over the last 7 months has paid off a lot in the pool, just need to work on better technique!

The transition from swim to bike was fine, no niggling aches and pains as a result of going from one discipline to another. I was fortunate to have Carl riding with me; it certainly helped the time go. We used the loop planned for the main event; each loop is 32.5 miles in total so we went round twice. Details of the ride can be found here thanks to Carl’s Garmin.


The ride flagged up a number of issues which will help the day itself. Our pace on the first lap was good, too good in fact. The second lap was a little slower and the hills felt a bit more severe. Even splits will be the order of the day; it’s vitally important to do as much of the event within my comfort zone to be in the right place at 10 hours to go on and complete.

It will be crucial to stick to my pace plan and ignore others, as much as this galls me because I enjoy the social aspect of riding with a group.

I pressed up Compton Beauchamp hill like I would on a training ride: seated and generating power through smooth, ‘push, pull’ pedalling technique. This is very energy hungry so I will get out of the saddle for this hill to save my legs on each of the loops. I tweaked the right Vastis Medialis in my quads too, nothing major (more like muscle soreness) but I can feel it climbing. The lesson was: ‘don’t push too hard!’

Timing the stops will be essential because it’s easy to lose 10 minutes chatting and eating etc. I have no desire to be on the course longer than I have to!

Drink, eat, drink, eat, drink, eat….an absolute must.  I have also resolved to take a gel on laps 2 and 3 10 minutes before Compton Beauchamp hill. This will mean I can take a third gel during the row without worrying about stomach problems (I hope). Four gels is unknown territory for me so I won’t be trying my luck on the day.

Carl and I arrived back at the gym around 1pm, I grabbed my food bag for the row, got changed and got on with it. My back was aching from the effort I’d put into the climbs on the bike, this eased a bit once I had settled into the row but I popped some Ibuprofen anyway. I stayed with the plan for the row:

Start 42,195m counting down (the Concept 2 rower has a marathon setting)

At 35,000m stretch

Stretch every 5,000m thereafter

Finish at 19,695m

Every time I row long I want to replicate what I will be seeing on the computer and ingrain the stretching breaks; one of the key training principles: specificity!

I noted that the glute pain I typically feel on the left hand side came on sooner than normal. I did not stretch before I started to row so that has been added to the plan for the day. Energy and hydration levels were all good; the mounting mechanical pain in my backside will make things a lot more miserable on 28th August but I expect this to happen so I can cope with it.

The pace was quicker than I have planned for the day, the positive news being that it wasn’t a problem to maintain it for the 22,500m however, that’s only just over half the job done. A key learning from all of this has to be, ‘start slow and easy, finish well if that doesn’t jeopardise completing the event’.

It’s fair to say that I was ready for a bath and a sit down once I had finished, the total time was 6 hours and 50 minutes.  I didn’t want to stretch but went through the full routine with the roller. It was painful and hard work but essential. The 28th can’t come fast enough now, I’ve almost done all the hard training, next week (commencing 10th August) will start to see the taper come into effect. Good food and plenty of water plus light exercise, it almost seems like bunking off!

There are a lot of logistical and administrative things to get through before the event so the taper will free up time to get these things done.

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Further reading…..

If you liked this blog please take a moment to check out my book describing the solo Land’s End to John O’Groats ride in 2012, all profit from sales to www.criduchat.org.uk

Please click the cover image for the Kindle version or click here to order a paperback copy. Thank you!


3 Comments Responses to Half Ironman done….plenty to note and learn from.
Nobby2015-08-09 19:38:12Reply
Well Mad Dog, sounds like your on track and have planned your training well. Not to mention the crucial element of 'getting your head round everything'. Strong Bruv Strong
Phil Cox2015-08-07 08:09:35Reply
Thanks Simon, lots of good advice from you helped. I like the 'Indian Knot' stretch for the Piriformis but would like to know some other ones to get the most benefit from stretching.
Simon2015-08-06 14:30:00Reply
Well done Phil, sounds like you are just where you need to be. Might be worth trying some piriformis stretches for the backside thing, particularly if you only get them one side - give me a shout if you want them. Cheers.
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