It's less than three weeks to go until our UK winner of our Norseman competition, Mike Tate jumps off the ferry, cycles through the beautiful Norwegian countryside and finishes his marathon on the mountain top to claim the famous black tshirt.
Mike has been under the guidance of blueseventy coaching partners Andy Bullock and Simon Ward to get him to the start line in peak condition.
Over to Mike to talk about his recent race prep, iron distance training races and and how he's feeling about getting closer to the start line…
As many of you know if you have been reading my updates I have a busy year! Obviously my A race is Norseman where the black t shirt finish is paramount. However I also have three other iron distance events this year- all within the space of eleven weeks. After talking to my coach Simon Ward about this we came up with a plan that would get me in peak condition for Norseman but include some of these races in the build up. Also by recovering properly from my Norwegian efforts I would be able to successfully compete in the last two events- ironman Copenhagen and Wales.
In my last update I wrote about how my training had very much gone to plan and that my first two build races would allow me to see exactly where I was in terms of fitness. These races would also allow me to test out the blue seventy equipment that I would be using in Norway. I had already trained in the amazing helix wetsuit and the tri top and bottoms and had found that all were the most comfortable tri clothing I had ever used- but there really is no substitute for actually racing in it.
The first race was the Cotswold 113 half iron. I planned to race conservatively, swimming well and then holding back on the bike and then run walking the half marathon- just as I would do at Norseman. With almost 40 members of my tri club , celtic tri, racing it would also be an exercise in leaving the ego in my kit bag and racing to the plan. I'm pleased to say the race went well. Conditions were perfect, mild conditions but dry with a little wind. I swam to my best ever half ironman split of just over 31 minutes- helped in no small parts by the Helix wetsuit. I felt good throughout the bike and held at a given average speed and then started the run walk strategy from the start of the run. For me this was the hardest part of the day. I'm used to running all the way but this was not an A race so I settled into 9 minutes running and 1 min walking. When I walked I drank and took on board nutrition. Initially sceptical about the run walk approach my doubts were dispelled by a 1:42 half marathon split and a 4:49 overall time. This approach allowed my legs recovery time and ensured I was ready to train again the following day.
Two weeks later came the bigger test. A full ironman at the Outlaw on what was the hottest day of the year. There was no real taper as such coming into the race and again a set plan of what to do. For me this was to be a long ( and very hot!) training day. I felt relaxed and race ready thanks to Simons plan and was looking forward to seeing how I would cope. The plan was to swim a one hour ten minutes 3.8 km. I exited the water in 1:10:31 in a swim that felt really long and for the first 1.9 km was crowded and a little physical.Pleased though I walked through transition taking my time to change for the bike. I wanted to keep my heart rate in zone three as much as possible so took a little longer than normal to ready myself for the bike. Onto the bike I planned to average around 19 mph to bring me into transition under 6 hours.
The course was beautiful and tempted me on a number of occasions to push on but I held back kept on track with heart rate and speed and concentrated on taking on board fluids and nutrition regularly. I came back to transition in a total time of under 7 hours hitting the second of my goals with a 5:43 bike. This was now the key part of the day. The heat was incredible so I knew that the run was going to be brutal. The plan at Norseman would be to run the first 28 km quick as this gets you to the bottom of Zombie hill. So my plan for the day was to run walk the first 18 miles then speed walk to mile 24 and finish running. The plan started well and the miles ticked past. Aid stations were fantastic and I took the opportunity at each to empty water over my head. The plan was going well and I started the second out and back at 16 miles roughly 2:20 into the run.
Conditions were really taking their toll on competitors as the day got hotter but by this point I was speed walking. I actually found this harder and more uncomfortable but stuck with it and continued on. The trail footpath sections were hard underfoot and the Tarmac sections reflected the heat back at you. My legs were feeling heavy and I was willing for the second from last aid station to start running again. Initially this was really painful but after a couple of minutes I was back to run walk as before. Eventually I came up the finisher chute to be greeted by my coach Simon Ward, and crossed with daughter Jasmine enjoying the moment.
It had been a long, hot day but I was glad to have finished under 11:30. Tara was on hand to make sure I started recovery straight away with ice lollies, drinks, wet wipes and compression garments. I had a brief update with Simon before watching a number of club mates finish before heading back to the camper van and a very lazy evening with my feet up being waited on!
It's now two days since Outlaw. I swam today and felt good and am now on the last few weeks leading to Norseman. Both events have served as good confidence boosters and I feel fit and ready. The blue seventy gear is awesome, my training has got me into Norseman shape and I'm excited for the big race. I'm sure the next few weeks will fly by but I intend updating you before I go on my thoughts and plans for Norseman. Stay tuned!