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Ironman ambitions - Part 5

by Paul Hayward
Tuesday 24th February 2015
Tags  Paul Hayward   |   London Triathlon Show   |   Zone 3

Our obstacle racing columnist Paul Hayward has been inspired to become an Ironman. V-Day (Valetines day) marks the start of serious training for Paul and is also the date for the London Triathlon Show

“65 miles across the beautiful countryside of Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire” I was told by my swimming coach Scott Farnell as he 'sold' me the benefits of signing up to the Evans’ Ride IT Sportif. It does not sound that far I thought to myself. After all, I have to do a 112 miles come September across some of Wales’ scariest hills, but I had only ever cycled 30 miles in one go before in my life. I was, however, promised that there were 'cake stops' and I could certainly eat £11.33 worth of cake so the decision was made.

Ironman ambitions - Part 5

What Scott failed to mention was that it would be freezing, that my bike would get filthy, that there would be vertical hills that would break me and I would look like a complete amaeutar without cleats. This being said, I managed to survive the ride and after several comments of “bet you wish you had cleats mate”, I was quite pleased to hear that I was “the fastest guy in the south without cleats and I clearly must be fit” as one or two serious cyclists were shocked when I overtook them.

I feared the distance truth be told. I was not ready for it and I had been quietly enjoying some turbo sessions in my garage, so hills were quite foreign to me let alone the freezing weather. However I managed to stay in the bike saddle up the majority of the hills, when others struggled, and finish in a respectable time, so there is half a chance I can make the finish line at the Outlaw Half come May.

I also proved to Evans that one person can eat more than the entrance fee in cake across two food stops!

With the buzz of this performance on the bike and my swimming up to 52 lengths in a 35 minute session, I was quite excited about Valentines Day. I could say that I was excited because the day marked the beginning of my training and the hard work starting, or for some romantic time with the girlfriend, which would be the right answer, but my excitement was mainly due to going to the London Triathlon Show.

I had not been to an exhibition where I had purpose; before I had just had a look round and casually purchased water bottles or even goggles. But this year was different; this year I was taking on the challenge of becoming an Ironman and I needed help. I was really excited about going to the featured talks on “don’t fear the swim” and “training for your first Ironman”.

Ironman ambitions - Part 5

Photos: Three top triathletes at the Triathlon Show

Although I had read Don Fink’s book, which made it all sound very doable, I am still scared; witless. Simple things like what if someone swims under me? Or I get kicked in the head? Or I get a puncture? So I was hoping that these talks would help in some way. I also had promised myself that I would try some wetsuits on and hang around the Tri247.com area and pick Paul Shanley’s brain about a lot of my questions.

So what did I learn? Well mainly that I should stay to the back of the swim and go for the inside lane once the mass start had taken off. I had previously planned to stay at the back and go on the outside for fear of being kicked in the face; this was clearly a mad idea as I had not appreciated that I would swim further, a lot further, by this tactic. I also learnt that I really need to plan my fuelling strategy and eat a lot on the bike whilst using some gels on the run. I had started thinking about it, but not enough and with May around the corner, I need to think about it now and test new things.

On being suitably scared by just what I should be eating (people eat sandwiches on their way round?); I decided to take some small steps first and look at some wetsuits. I was lucky that Scott had told me from day one of my swim training that I would need some support in my legs and I knew I needed a suit with some extra padding in my legs.

After plucking up the courage to speak to one of the team at Zone 3 Wetsuits, I was recommended the 'Vision' and I was told that I needed to go and try it out in their pool. I will be honest, I was scared by this. I did not want to embarrass myself in front of so many people, but I was not really left with an option - I had to test it. 

What happened after this was nothing short of special. The suits I had used previously for Blenheim Triathlon were always tight and uncomfortable. The Vision was a sports car in comparison as it felt natural and more importantly, quite magically, my legs seemed to raise and I could feel them kicking in and out of the water.

Ironman ambitions - Part 5

Photos: Testing the Zone 3 wetsuit at the Triathlon Show

I could actually swim properly for once and on doing four lengths I was beaming. I could kick freely and the swim felt controlled and natural. I was amazed that I had found a wetsuit that supported me and made me feel competitive!

I was so impressed I asked my girlfriend (who had done remarkably well to not fall asleep) to come and watch me as I glided, or splashed awkwardly, up and down the pool. The wetsuit was clearly special as it had not only fooled me but also her, as she commented “your swimming has really improved Paul”.

On speaking to James Lock from Zone 3 about their wetsuit and expressing how fantastic it was;  I was bowled over by their offer to support me to the finish line. I am really pleased to be supported by such a fantastic brand with such a good wetsuit.

By the time you read this I will have hit the second week of my training plan (with morning sessions being a struggle but strangely enjoyable); but I think I am ready to train for this. I know the hard work starts now and the sacrifices get harder; I just want to be in with a shot of that blue carpet come September.

With thanks to Zone 3 for their support, more information on their range can be found at: www.racezone3.com


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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