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Ironman ambitions - Part 3

by Paul Hayward
Thursday 20th November 2014
Tags  Paul Hayward   |   IRONMAN   |   Triathlon   |   Swimming

Our obstacle racing columnist Paul Hayward has been inspired to become an Ironman. The training required is starting to cause a few life-style changes

In the last two weeks I have really noticed how my life has changed by training for an Ironman. Due to "Fun Friday", or the Friday night swim session in reality, I have missed a Halloween house party and tonight I'm missing the chance to drink steins and wear a silly hat in the name of German Christmas markets. 

I accept that both occasions could have involve drinking, quite a bit, and that has to be left to the side, but it is nice to be outside occasionally and socialise. Just chill out and laugh with your friends. Plus who doesn't want to pay £8 a stein and get a free Christmas hat? Instead I'm swimming, or attempting to swim and that is not the same, although it does feel better at the end of it.

There are pluses though, the pool is quiet (as everyone with a life is out)  and there is no-one to bash into you! Probably best as I am now training to be a shark, literally.

My latest lesson with my coach Scott involved a lot of attention to technique and in particular my arms. I am blessed, so Scott says, with massive legs and these are causing me to do a lot more work. The way round this is to build up my arm strength by using a buoyancy aid between my legs. Unfortunately the normal small one that is a  figure of eight is not good enough, so I have been given a huge yellow float.

The result? I am essentially pretending to be a shark as my new yellow fin sticks out of the water as I go up and down the pool. However if this gets my arm strength up and means the swim will be easier with minimum effort, I cannot complain. Or at least I can when everyone points at me in the pool and laughs, but it will be worth it. It will.

When repeating the 20 minute test, to check how far I can swim without stopping, I reached 650 metres by the time the clock ended. Although it was an improvement of 100 metres, it broke me like nothing I have experienced before.

After somehow managing to get dressed, I sat in the car park unable to muster the energy to drive. I was broken, it had taken a lot out of me and I was so hungry. I tried to get a costa on the way home (I thought to myself if I can get a coffee then the world will be okay) but at 6.30 I was out of luck.

When I approached the barista and asked for a coffee, the lady responded that they were closed. On hearing this news I must have looked an absolute state as the barista asked if I was okay. I was fine; although I wasn't going to be okay, as I had not thought past sitting at a table with a coffee.

Photos: Paul practising to be a shark - and looking rather sad without his coffee

The fact I can swim that far now does give me hope though. If I can hit 750m then I am beating my time for breaststroke at Blenheim and that is a day I thought would never come. I had not even dared to think about it, as I was too used to coming into transition last and being a bit of a joke.

I managed to get a longer run of 10 miles - in the rain - in at the weekend too, across the "muffin top" route, as it is affectionally known by my friends. We used to do this route when we were in marathon training and is really named after a brutal hill.

Although the pace was a little slower than what we used to do, I was so happy that we got to go out.  Sometimes it is easy to forget about the magic of training for something with friends every weekend. When it ends you are thankful at the time, but looking back I am sad that I did not enjoy it more for what it was, as it was a little special.

I have also started to experience time management for training. Working in Bristol means I lose two hours a day travelling and the solution appears to be to run to training from the train. This is fine, but it is slightly strange when you get changed on a train toilet, as are the resulting looks you get from people. Still there is something about running with a backpack down the stairs from the platform that makes me smile!

In between training I have also managed to sort out some form of preparation plan for the summer leading up to Ironman Wales. I am really pleased to take on the prestigious Outlaw Half at Nottingham in May as my official warm up; with a smaller warm up in the Cotswolds. I am also going back to Blenheim to banish the ghost of coming in last from the swim!

I am really excited about the Outlaw though; being one of the most exciting half iron distances. I just hope I am ready and finish well.

To say that this Ironman business has all got very serious is an understatement, but I want to be in with a shot of that red carpet, so the work has to start now. If this means Fun Friday at the pool, strange looks and changing on a train, then so be it.

Finally apologies to the lady in Costa - I did not mean to look so sad, I just had not thought past that moment in my life!

Photos: Paul with Thomas Blanc at Nuclear Fallout © Nuclear Races, and ready for the run-commute


About The Author

Paul Hayward

I am 33 years old and spend the majority of my life within an office environment. Whilst I played football, I never really took an interest in sport let alone athletics. In 2011 I joined a gym as I was slightly concerned about my weight. However I was, like an awful lot of my colleagues, coasting and I considered spinning three times a week a workout.
This changed when I took up a circuits class and found myself entering Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest London in November 2011. I was assured by my friends that this was a good idea and would be a “challenge”.
I had never entered any form of competitive event before and training for this run changed me. I listened to my personal trainer, who assured me that if I quit drink I could be dangerous, and sorted out my diet, stopped drinking so much and focussed my training. I completed the race in just over an hour and I was instantly bitten by the racing bug, I loved the challenge the event offered. 
Nearly two years on I have completed a half marathon in 1hour 49 minutes, came 6th in the Rat Race Horseplay 5k event and usually come within the top 30% at Obstacle Course races. I am also a part time triathlete and I am lucky to find myself in a running club where we have a great coach and the focus is on members. If I am honest - I came to running through these events and I am not alone.
My aim through Run 247 is to promote, discuss and publicise Obstacle Course racing. It is becoming huge and over the coming months we will cover all of the major races and the new competitors entering the scene. 

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