Ironman Portugal Cascais – Tim Thorpe

This is sort of a reflection, one week on, than a straight up race report – grab a cuppa and enjoy 🙂

So, much like Fiona, I was entering my 50th year and had an itch to scratch. The monkey in the room was a full distance IM and I’d been putting it off for years, mainly due to the busyness of family life and working around how to fit all the training in. I bit the bullet and signed up for IM Cascais late in 2021. This gave me almost a full 12 months to plan, prep and tackle it head on. I selected the event carefully, based upon the warm climate, challenging course and location. My target: 1) Finish 2) Sub 12 if everything went well on the day.

My plan was simple. Train a solid winter block, with plenty of time on the turbo, then start training in earnest from Easter, ramping up over the summer. I would build in a few benchmark races to gauge progress: Reading Half Marathon, Cotswold 113 and Vitruvian – all of which slotted in well into the schedule. I used these races to practice some new fuelling tactics more suited to full distance that I’d not had to deal with before.

My experience was so much more than the race itself. Although training for best part of 11 months for the IM, I thoroughly enjoyed the process and in the main, avoided injury and illness. Much of the training was solo, but the club turbo from home sessions, lake swims and training rides with club-mates were invaluable. Training was never a chore – I would use the Cascais IM as the incentive for motivation.

Race day arrived and I was buzzing, along with the whole of Cascais. We watched the sun break over Lisbon in the distance to see the 70.3 race get underway – goosebumps. Then it was our turn. As we funnelled through to the beach start I was filled with excitement and the nerves had gone – telling myself to trust the training. I had set myself a race plan and being the orderly type, would be confident that I could stick to it. Before I knew it, I was in the water and on my way. It was the swim of my life and despite the odd kick and swim-over, loved it. Got some good feet to swim on for the return leg. 1hr5. done. Out of the swim and the long run to transition, smiling all the way – a quick wave to our support crew along the way.

Onto the bike and straight onto the climb to Sintra. Beautiful. I planned to ride to a target Normalised Power for the whole of the bike and executed it perfectly. Not stressed by those coming past me, enjoying the bike – pushing, but not over doing it. I figured that the time would take care of itself. I wanted to have enough in the tank to do the marathon justice. Fuelled well, drank A LOT of fluids!! The weather was perfect, with only a headwind on the last 30k stretch to Cascais. I checked my Garmin – 5hr55. Happy days indeed!

Through transition. Stuffed a load of Peanut M&Ms in my mouth and headed out for the run, looking much like a hamster, still working hard on the M&Ms!

The plan. Walk every aid station, run a steady pace throughout. Again – let the time take care of itself. So I was running 5:30ish k’s and feeling comfortable. At 10k, decided that I’d had enough of gels and picked up my M&Ms stashed in special needs. A huge thankyou to Kate for suggesting that I do this as this was the perfect fuel for the run! Every aid station; water, coke, a few M&Ms, water again – over the head. Repeat. Not an easy run by any stretch of the imagination with a long drag uphill, turnaround, then a slow descent into town. I saw Sean a few times on the run, going really well and in contention for a podium place – so good to see. Had a little chat with Lefteris as he started his run – special moments indeed. I think I smiled pretty much the whole way, even when it really started to hurt around 10k from home. So good and a massive motivation to see the support along the run from club mates and family. Run done 4hr14.And then there it was, the finish line. What a buzz. Music pumping, lights through the darkness. What an experience. Right up there with other life defining moments. Finished 11hr34I LOVED every moment. Never stopped smiling. I trusted the training and had executed my race plan to perfection and had come well within my 12hr best case scenario. Just ecstatic!

A huge debt of gratitude to Kate for putting up with my heavy training schedule, to the friends that lined that course shouting encouragement, to those that came riding, running or swimming with me and to all those that provided excellent advice and motivational race reports leading up to the IM – Guy, Nick W-S, Philippa, George – Thankyou!

Oh, and I would thoroughly recommend Cascais as a race – stunning location – brilliant course – not an ‘easy’ course but so rewarding.

Itch now well and truly scratched 🙂

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