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While I’ve been training for Ironman Sweden, the time with the folks at TEAM Tri Coaching has been amazing. But I’ll elaborate on the whole IM training thing in a final post after the event. This one is about a rite of passage that I had the opportunity to experience while 6 weeks away from race day. My coach, James, mentioned of this test called ‘The Double Paganoni’. A brick of a sort, but under specific conditions that must be met for you to claim the title.

A 200km bike ride was to be completed, followed by an hour long run, within the following restrictions:

1. The entire ordeal must be completed by 12pm of the day.
2. You may start at any point during the day as long as it is after 00:00 Hrs.
3. To participate, you must be training for a full ironman race and roughly 5-6 weeks away from your race day. This ensures that your body is fatigued from the training volume and that your muscle groups are far from “fresh”.
4. Your Garmin (or any other logging device) must log every kilometer on the bike and the run, or it didn’t happen.
5. 12pm cut-off means 12 pm cut-off!
6. No drafting or any external help with nutrition.

 

Although few of the perks of this was a free all-you-can-eat breakfast at the end and a wicked biking shirt, the biggest benefit was an intangible one: confidence to your ironman prep. I was, of course, keen as hell! The day was chalked into my plan (09 July, 2016). There wasn’t going to be any taper or any rest sessions after. This would just have to come and go as any other training session.

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The path was clarified and everything decided, but what threw a spanner in the works was the weather. Forecasts of  50kmph gusts, 90% chance rain and a slight possibility of hail. Not exactly ideal but the day was decided and there wasn’t any going back.

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Rod Marton, 3 time Ironman World champs qualifier and one of the co-founders of The Double Paganoni, told us that there were only 13 official qualifiers of the title before me (including my coach, JD, and the Duffield sisters!), so if I were to complete it, I would be the 14th. Loved the sound of that.

Considering the weather conditions, I decided to start off at 02:30am in the morning. Stuck to the same nutrition plan as what was being planned for my Ironman in August: alternating energy gels and vegemite sandwiches. The glorious duo of savoury-sweet goodness!

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An early 01:30am wake-up and a lot of coffee later, I was off on a cold COLD morning. Apparently, there had been thunderstorms and lightning while I blissfully slept but the early morning sure seemed much tamer. What didn’t help was my main bike light dying in the first 3 minutes (totally my fault). The headwind on the first 60km towards Paganoni road wasn’t doing me any favours either. What did help was me being layered up massively. I’m talking 2 socks, 2 tee-shirts, a biking jacket, a rain jacket, gloves and a beanie. I was still far from feeling anything resembling warmth.

The ride wasn’t nearly as bad as I imagined. Paced myself but felt fighting the headwind was draining me quicker than I thought. In the midst of the cold and the unexpected addition of a rain jacket, I dropped a couple of gels which I later craved quite dearly at the end of the ride. Around the second half of the ride, my mate Kieran joined me at 6am and gave me company for around 40km. This was an absolute legendary effort in my opinion, especially considering there was no reason for him to be up at that hour in those weather conditions. In his words, it “builds character” to train like you would race and not be deterred by the conditions of the day. Seriously something else! Love it.

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Despite not having all my gels and not doing too great, we were clear on not allowing any drafting or any assistance with nutrition (even water). Managed to get back with my watch beeping ‘Low Battery’ over and over during the way back, despite starting off with full charge. I was absolutely devastated when it died at 199.43km, but kept going without thinking too much about that. Used the strava app to log my 01Hr05min run and decided to worry about the ride later.

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Started raining around the end of the run, but I didn’t care. All I could think of was that I was running in time to finish around 15min before 12pm. My plan had been to finish at 11.06am but obviously the day didn’t go per plan. To be on the safer side, I ran an extra 5min and ended up at the planned cafe in maylands, to find my mates waiting for me. It was also great to see Rod present there with them all. Kieran, Dan and Siobhan gave me the warmest welcome I could imagine and truly made me feel like I had just saved the world! Love these guys, their support helps me go so much further than I would be able to otherwise.

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In hindsight, what I got most out of this was a bit of confidence in knowing that the nutrition plan works (except for the lost gels part) and also a bit of insight into how crap my legs feel after riding IM distance on the bike.

Considering the circumstances, Rod took my Garmin data to ensure that despite my watch dying, the map would be able to clarify that the remaining distance covered by me was at least 600m. Was totally stoked when he posted this a couple of days later! 🙂

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Now with this in the bank, time to finish up the final ‘hell month’ of training before beginning taper for the big day!