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

Chester Triathlon National Championship

Well Sunday was my first triathlon is 2 years without any training. I had decided to renew with the competition in Chester, a City that I really like. Chester Tri, the organiser, has done a fantastic job over the years and it was a fair reward for the national championships to be held there.

I arrived late saturday and I found it hard to sleep the night before as the stress of the competition got to me. It is a sensation I love. You play in your head your race time and time again.

Early wake up, at 5.30am to go and register an hour before the race. The morning of the race you have a great atmosphere, triathletes are a nice breed and all supportive from one another. My aim was simple, finish it. 2 years ago I had completed it in 3h10 but this time with no training I knew it would be hard on my ageing body.

At 7.45am, I jumped in the Deva, bloody hell was it cold (14 degrees), and as the klaxon was released I started getting into my strides. To my surprise I got into my rythm very quickly and posted a personal best on the 1.5km distance at 25min.

Exiting the swim though was a different affair, at that point the GBR female passed me and the Channel 4 commentator made a sexist remark that made my blood boiling. I lost no time on getting on my bike and again posted a personal best of 1h12 for 40km

I finished by the 10km run in 39min, I felt like the flash, and believe me I was not on EPO. I did train in Colombia 3,000m above the sea!

I finished 305th out of 1,000 and 39th of my category out of 285. My body is paying for this effort but I will now go back into training knowing that I can improve.

Benoit Mercier