I’ve decided that it’s time to start stepping out of my comfort zone in the comfort of my own home and I’ll be pushing myself to take on a different challenge each weekend during the lockdown period. This weekend was my first experience of the Ironman Virtual Racing Series and a steep learning curve in balcony running, turbo transitions and mastering multiple bits of tech (which I am useless at)!
The Ironman Virtual race series is part of the Ironman virtual club (VC) and has been running for three weeks now. It’s free to enter and consists of a 1.5km run, a 20km cycle and a 5km run to finish. It can be done over a whole weekend from 7pm UK time on a Friday to midnight Sunday, all you need to do is sign up, sync a GPS tracker and do the miles.
It sounds simple right but of course I managed to make a bit of a mess of the GPS/tech bit (shocker). I missed an email on the Friday which stated that strava was no longer connected to the Ironman VC platform and I would need to register another app. Luckily I spotted this on the Sunday morning, but it meant that my speedy mile I had ran the day before which I planned to double up as my 1.5km wouldn’t count. At present we can only leave the house once a day in the UK to exercise so if I wanted to take part I somehow had to get my 1.5km run done without leaving my flat. After seeing people completing 5ks/ 10ks/ half marathons and beyond on their balconies/back gardens I decided it was time to give it a whirl and use our little bit of outdoor space to run the first 1.5km on our 10m wrap around balcony (5m each side of the building)
I set off and after 5 minutes of shuttle runs I was dizzy as hell, had quite a few of my neighbours staring at me like I was mad (they’re probably right) and despite having done numerous laps, my GPS hadn’t registered any further than 250m. The space was just too small. Going back to the drawing board I started over this time using the indoor run function on my watch. I counted up the 150 laps I knew I needed, then kept going until my watch caught up and showed the magic 1.5km I needed. It took longer than it would have, had I ran this outside but I did the best I could under the circumstances, plus it was a bit of fun to have a go at running on our balcony. Then came the bike leg.
After the easiest transition ever, basically just a shoe change, it was on to the turbo. Again I was met with tech issues, largely of my own doing. I had planned to use zwift to log the bike section as I find it records easier with my turbo trainer, plus its a lot of fun, and I set my iPad up ready to go so I wouldn’t be faffing in transition. It was a bit low on charge so I plugged it in and thought nothing of it, but coming to use it I realised it was discharging battery quicker than it was charging. I opted to use my Garmin with my speed sensor and I’m so glad I did because my iPad died just 3 minutes into my ride.
The bike section felt never ending. I just couldn’t settle, my turbo kept making a squeaking sound and I was worried if this would be annoying our neighbours. Usually I love my balcony turbo rides but today I was just counting down the time until it was over. I decided to put some music on via my headphones, which calmed me down and the last section of the bike flew by. It was soon time for another shoe change and off out I went on the run.
Getting outside I realised just how hot and sunny it was. There had been a slight breeze on our balcony and I was so grateful that i had used electrolytes in both my bottles on the bike. My legs felt a little heavy, I always forget how sluggish you can feel getting off the bike. But after 1km my watch buzzed to show I was running at a 4:55min per Km pace. This was a shock to me as I haven’t been that quick off the bike for a long time. I pushed on, the kms getting quicker and my legs really waking up. All the tech issues and the never ending bike nightmare were forgotten as the run made me feel super strong. I finished in 24:24 ones of my fastest post bike 5ks!
Overall I found the experience really enjoyable. I definitely would have enjoyed it more if I had prepared better (and I will do so in the future) so don’t let a disastrous first time put you off. I’d certainly recommend giving it a go, but make sure you plan your weekend accordingly and carefully read all the instructions online. With only being able to exercise once per day there is the pressure of only having one shot at each of the legs and you definitely have an advantage if you have a treadmill, exercise bike or turbo.
I did it all in one go, as if I was doing a Run-Bike-Run event and found this such a great challenge. It really pushed me to get a good solid brick session in- so whilst I first thought the error with the strava linkage and having to run on my balcony was going to be a faff it definitely turned into a fun and unique situation. I do love that you can spread it over a weekend and this is perfect for anyone who wants to give a run-bike-run challenge a go but doesn’t have the time for an extensive session or doesn’t want to run off the bike.
I will definitely have another go at this one! Have you or will you try one of the Ironman VC challenges?
You can catch up with how I got on in my training vlog which will be uploaded onto my YouTube channel in the coming weeks