Tuesday, 26 October 2010

A glutton for punishment

On repeat: that nagging sensation of
unfinished business rears its head
Late October. I cycle back in the wet and dark wearing ever more clothes as the temperatures plummet. Hills I flew up in summer are proving trickier to negotiate now, despite regular practice.

So what better time to decide on another crack at the Marmotte? I've been deliberating for a couple of weeks; ever since the first cold snap bit at my cheekbones and trawled the water out of the sides of my eyes. Thoughts turned inevitably to warmer times in hotter climes and endless climbs.

There is the possibility, of course, that I've just forgotten how painful it was and how much work it took. Perhaps bravado has taken over. Maybe I've just lost a marble or two. But I know I can do it now. And I've been feeling there is unfinished business out there.

So the plan is to start training in earnest this weekend. A long weekend in Yorkshire will see me put in some bumpy miles, mostly to see where I am fitness-wise and assess how much work needs to be done. This time, I'm aiming to do it in less than nine hours, more than two hours quicker than my time last year.

This will be possible, I believe, for a number of reasons. Last year was all about whether I could do it and raising money; neither of which are factors any more. I also spent far too long at feedstops admiring the view when I could have been on the road last year. Then there were the two seated comfort breaks, which put on at least half an hour to the overall time. My descending could have been better too. I also failed to get down to my target weight and didn't put anywhere near as much training in as I'd have liked. Starting in January was possibly too late as well.

It will be different this time. To reach my target, I'll need to be more strict with myself, eat the right foods, structure my training better, put in more base fitness miles over the winter and lose about five kilos. Come July next year, I'm going to look like a toned-up whippet rather than the Labrador I currently resemble. At least, if all goes according to plan.

So I have just over eight months in which to lose weight and add speed, power and stamina. I'm about to board the roller-coaster again. Ups. Downs. Flats. I'll welcome them all.

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