Ironman Cascais training with Madrid and London marathons

It has been a roller coaster of a year. Finally managed to beat most of my COVID symptoms and get my normal life back. This means getting back into my sport and aiming for one big challenge this year…#Ironman Cascais.

Back in July, I completed solo an ironman distance, which fills me with confidence but not too much as many things can go wrong, and I speak of experience. Nonetheless, I am buzzing at the idea of travelling again this year and feeling that unbelievable ironman atmosphere.

I am not a great trainer so I always count on my main asset that is my mental strength. That being said I decided to ramp up training at the end of September with 2 marathon races a week apart. Those selected where Madrid and London.

Let’s start with Madrid. First international travel and it felt epic. Even the COVID bureaucracy did not put me off. Arrived on Friday night and spent the day on Saturday getting prepared. Went to collect my bib and running vest. From experience, I stopped myself doing anything else in order to save energy. Transportation in Madrid is so easy and rapid, unlike London! Sunday, 14 degrees at 8am, which is nice and off we start. The course until 30km I thought was flatish. I was just over 3 hours on the 30km mark so pleased with myself, especially temperature has risen to 26. Now the last quarter of the race is excruciating. A huge elevation gain I was not prepared for that took all my energy away. Also, they did not provide any solids along the course, only sugary water, which for me was a no-no. I finished the last 12km in 1h30, an embarrassement but a good lesson for the next one. Although disappointed, I feel that as a competitive training session it will serve me well. Once the medal around my neck, positivity comes back. I would give the course a 6/10.

A week later is the London virtual marathon. Aim, improve on my 4h30 time the previous week. Unknown is how the legs will feel. No training done in between, purely rest. The weather is decent and temperature perfect. This time I am well prepared and I chose a flat course. The first 30km are done at the same pace that the previous week and the last quarter at 1h15. This time I have my kids to hold the finishing line, nice touch by the organisers, and I am happier with my time. A marathon under 4 hours will have to wait, this is not the goal this year. The only downside of virtual marathons is that you have to go shopping for water 🤪.

So here I am, a week away from the race of my life hoping for no injuries, no sickness and a smooth event. Again no goal in terms of time, just finishing will grant me huge satisfaction, I have not forgotten the state I was in less than a year ago.

Benoit Mercier

Amsterdam Marathon

Ok, it has been a while since my last blog post. So what have I been up to in the past 6 months. Well, running and running. I hate running. No really. It is boring but you do feel good.

6 months ago my sister completed a half marathon, whether I have been inactive for the last 3 years, reaching a weight of 100kg. Shocking. I have always been the sporty individual in the family and uet here I am eating badly and not exercising whilst my sinling is swalloing the miles…wake up call.

First thing I did was to download the NRC app. I absolutely love it. Not promoting Nike as a brand over orhers but there app is well made. Of course I ended up buying the Nike Vaporfly knit 4%. The bounce I got from the shoes were out of this world. I started running a 5k and within 3 weeks I pushed myself to run a half marathon. It was hard work but I was highly motivated. But as a key competitor individual I need to know that I will be running with a goal in mind. This is when I thought of a marathon. Looked for a flat course and gave myself 5 months to be ready. Amsterdam was selected (can’t get any flatter!)

Ran 3 times a week and followed to the letter my NRC coach schedule. Within 3 months I had lost 16kg and I managed to run up to 30k. I have kids so long run had to be eary sunday morning 6am. Not plain sailing but enjoyable to run in Summer. Then a month ago I decided to run from Waterloo back home, which is bang on marathon distance. It was awsome. London at 5am is so peaceful and pretty. Managed to do it in 4h29 and it gave me a real boost of confidence. By now my mind is already thinking about ultra marathon (next challenge). So I refocus and prepare my Amsterdam marathon. One long run (22km) a week before and an 8km trail run 3 days before.

Arrived in Amsterdam with the family the Friday night and got my wife to run the city run on Saturday. On that day, I picked up my kids and mine running packs (your bib number and a nice running shirt). I actually walked 15km that day which was stupid as I could feel it in my legs at the end of the day. Sunday, awaken at 3am with the adrenaline pumping through my body. 8am took a taxi to go to the Olympic stadium (many roads are closed and a lot of demand for taxis so try and get a hotel as close as possible to the stadium). Great looking stadium and cracking atmosphere when I went inside. I am in the last group of racers as I imagined I would do it in 4h50 when I registered 5 month ago. Big mistake. The first 5km are horrible. You are walking and slaloming between people. The rest of the race is a perfect harmony between body and mind. Really enjoyed some of the scenary but disappointed that the race doesn’t go more into the city centre and over the bridges. I finished it in 4h05. Delighted with thrashing my training record. Also my kids got to do a 1km race themselves and dis really well.

Really good day, well organised and great volunteers. If you look for a first experience, this is a great one to do.

Marathon overall score: 7/10