Training, Racing & LCHF Fueling For Skating And Endurance Sports
Somewhere in China a butterfly flaps her wings… and half a world away the brave participants of the 2014 London Speedskating Tournament (consisting of the 5km Juniors’ race, the full & half marathons, and the quad endurance challenge) suffer the fallout as Hurricane Bertha shakes her tailfeathers in our direction. Yes, continuing the theme for 2014, this was as wet a marathon as I have ever skated, but that was not the real challenge – what made it much more difficult still was the violent headwind greeting us 28 times down the back straight that made the infamously windy Goodwood marathon of 2008 feel like a Sunday picnic in comparison.
The entry list for this was tiny – 20 full marathon participants and a similar number for the half-marathon. Bertha evidently kept a lot of fair weather skaters at home, and anyone who turned up must be congratulated. Also, a big shout out to the guys at my club LSST who organised it, and to those who volunteered with helping out on race day.
My cat alarm ensured that I awoke early and sleep deprived on race day as I normally do on most days. I prepared myself my customary breakfast of bacon, eggs, avocado & a mug of bulletproof coffee. I also prepared one bottle of energy drink (UCAN, amino acids, d-ribose & MCT oil) for the race. Rain wheels were already fitted, and gear all packed ready to go.
Coming into the weekend I felt slightly under prepared, having only done one structured training session in the last two weeks outside of streetskate mileage. However, on the flipside I was well rested and it was an opportunity to test the advice that being slightly undertrained and more rested was a better combination than overtrained and tired. Taking public transport to the venue and walking around the local flooding at Ealing Broadway, I arrived at about 10:45am, leaving myself over an hour to pick up my race number and to prepare and warm up.
If there’s one thing that I learnt at Le Mans it is that skating in wet socks in the rain is HORRID, so I took every means necessary to ensure that the rain couldn’t get into my skates on this occasion – this consisted of taping up the mounting holes on the underside, and wrapping my feet in clingfilm, and also clingfilming the outside of the skate (reminder: I must get some rain covers). In hindsight with the small amount of rain that fell this was probably overkill, but far better safe than uncomfortable. If I did anything wrong it was neglecting to secure everything in place with tape, and as the race progressed the clingfilm started falling apart and flapping around. This probably looked worse than it was, but it is something to correct next time for sure.
So as we set off on 28 laps, I was unpleasantly reminded that it has been a very long time since I actually *raced* a marathon – and the shock of “pedal to the metal” racing in the first few miles had me struggling with my shins once more – my heart rate way into the red zone frequently north of 180bpm on the uphills, and I’m sure that I was not the only person wondering how I was going to complete however many laps remained at anything like this pace. However, I did manage to settle myself into a paceline with 3 or 4 other skaters. Not the greatest line I have ever worked with, it has to be said, as their sense of rythym, pacing and teamwork seemed non-existent, but you take what you can get on such occasions – today was mainly about surviving and being able to say “I was there!”
By about lap 8 or 9 I had eventually warmed up sufficiently – my fat-burning engine had finally kicked into something like top gear – and my shins were now fine, but no way was I going to leave this line. However an opportunity soon presented itself – a faster line came around to lap us at around lap 11 or 12 – it seemed to be going far too fast for me to hope to keep up with, but I wanted to at least test myself, so I made a split second decision to break from my current line and try to catch the faster line. I knew the skaters would be better and easier to follow, and that often makes them easier to follow despite the greater effort! As it happens I managed to catch the back of the line just as it was breaking up, so I was towed around by another skater for a few laps. Again, he proved not the best guy to draft as he seemed to skate in bursts of energy rather than at an even tempo, but at least his technique was a better… plus the fact he was quite a large chap made him a decent windbreaker. Small victories, yeah.
I can’t quite remember how the the next few laps unfolded, but we caught up with my LSST teammates Peter & George over the next few laps, who despite being ahead and on different laps, were alone and therefore just circulating around looking for some other skaters work with. It actually felt great that I was able to skate with these guys for at least a while, although eventually I fell off as we came around to see a slightly slower line that included Alistair and RichardA. At that point I decided I was redlining a little too much and dropped into the slower paceline. I knew they were on the same lap as me and that were of comparable ability, so was confident that this was a good line to skate with. I happily skated out the last 10 laps or so with them, and even took my share of pulling the line into the headwind down the back straight. Richard and I both had enough energy to sprint for the finish, and the swine beat me by a skate length! As per the Central Governor model – I chose to lose that one!
Final classification: 1:48:14 which I’m very pleased with. On a more pleasant day and with more skaters on track to work with, it could have been 10 or perhaps even 15 minutes faster, but then again had it been a bigger race I would not have come 10th in the scratch results!
So despite, or perhaps because of the challenging conditions, LIM 2014 turned out to be another fun, challenging and slightly masochistic experience. My pre-race goal of just showing demonstrable improvement over my 2012 marathon season was definitely accomplished (LIM 2012 finished in 1:58 in much easier conditions). It was a shame that the field was so small, but that’s how it goes sometimes – When life hands you a LIMon, you make LIMonade (see what I did there?). I haven’t raced that many marathons (maybe around 10 in all?) and I have to say that I don’t feel they’remy specialty, but I it was definitely one of the best marathons efforts that I have put in to date, and if Berlin goes this well then I’ll be pretty happy.