2014, the year that wasn’t

So we are almost at the end of the year, and I am sat planning my “campaign” for 2015.  As I have just had another birthday, I will be moving up another age-group in triathlon next year, so I have certain sights set, but more about that at another time.  However, before I cement my goals for 2015 I wanted to review my 2014 year (as this is something I suggest all my clients undertake).

For me, 2014 was the year that wasn’t…let me explain:Back at the end of 2013, our son was a year old, and my lovely wife Becky decided she wanted to do her first Ironman.  Not only that she set herself some serious goals.  My plan was to be a good supportive husband 🙂

I found myself some “filler” events for the year. The Marmotte, to be ridden with a client.  Paris-Roubiax as a builder event, and Snowdonia marathon at the end of the year, some good targets, but nothing really to get my teeth into or worry me too much.

Paris-Roubaix Sign
This way to Paris (from Roubaix) with just a few bumps along the way

My plans soon changed!  We had an opportunity, where with family support, I could also race Ironman.  I was motivated, and wanted to try to go close to 10 hours (at Switzerland, having gone 10:30 at Austria a few years earlier).

Dodgy back
My back, not a pretty sight! More of an S-shaped spine!

The year started well with a 19:09 5k parkrun at Telford.  But within a few days I started suffering with my back and lost most of January!  To compound that by early Feb I was having issues with my Soleus which seemed to flare every time I ran.  February I managed just 12 hours on the bike, and 4 hours running!  March was hardly better, with 2 weeks off training before heading to Mallorca for the Sportstest spring training camp.  10 days and 42 hours on the bike seemed to do the trick, but I was still concerned about running!

To me training for Ironman is a delicate balance of fitting in training around work and family, whilst still getting the fitness for race day. In the past I have got away with minimal (~6 hour per week training), so I decided to build bike base fitness and worry about the run later!  That meant no running until the start of June!  In the meantime I focused on bike volume and the Paris-Roubaix in April (175k in 6hrs 5 mins – ride report to be posted soon), and a week at the awesome Les Stables in May really helped, and I felt I was riding strongly (partly helped by training with Seb in the bike trailer).

Bike and trailer
Stunning scenery in the Dordogne makes Les Stables an excellent training base, and quiet roads mean it was safe to haul the trailer and Seb!

The plan was to leave Ironman run training to the last 6-8 weeks, and in June I managed a massive 3 hours of running, then we got the news that due to health reasons the inlaws would not be travelling to Europe, and I would need to miss the race to watch Seb whilst Becky raced.  I was disappointed, but it was Becky’s race!

It did however leave me with very little time to prepare for the Marmotte as a key event, so I reached the start line having done no specific climbing work, but had a solid ride finishing about ~45 mins faster than the Gold standard.  A week later I was enjoying the mountains so much we went to Ventoux so I could ride the Cingles.

The bike base worked!  World renouned Sport Psychologist Prof Andy Lane (a former colleague and friend) set me a challenge of running 10 parkruns in 10 weeks! By week 3 (only my 4th run) I ran 18:41, the next day I managed a 30k trail run in Belper.  All was going well and I was hoping for a good marathon at Snowdonia.

Bruised and bloodied
Honestly I wasn’t punched, I fell over a stile and it HURT!

Things continued to go well.  By mid September I had the parkrun 5k down to 18:06, and managed 250k of running in 20 hours, a very solid month for me.  That was until I tripped over a stile in the Sandstone trail race.  Whilst I still managed to finish OK, I was in pretty bad shape, and my body was knocked about a bit.  The upshot was a very dodgy back and return of a previous calf injury.

Snowdonia marathon was 4 weeks away and I went from running really well, to struggling to walk!  I wanted to start but only made it to 8 miles before pulling out and getting a friendly marshal to give me a lift back to the start.

October was a write-off with just over 8 hours of training done.  November started to get better, with some good biking, until my back went again (I now have an MRI booked for mid-Jan to see if we can pin-point the cause).

Snowdonia marathon 2014
I made it to the start-line of the Snowdonia marathon, but not much further!

So far December I have managed a massive 4 hours and 30 mins, so where that 39:11 for Wheaton Aston 10k came from I have no idea, but over weight and unfit it has filled me with hope for 2015!

Race-wise 2014 hasn’t been the best for me, but I have had some great performances from the athletes I coach, so that has kept me buzzing!  Let’s hope 2015 brings some great performances for everyone!

Good luck, Garry.