Jul 19 2018
My Journey to a sub 10hr Ironman and a Silver Comrades
By Grant Guerin from THE BLUFF in Durban (Ha Ha)
I started training with Rowland from the 1st of January 2017
I had 3 goals in mind
1: Sub 3 Hour Marathon at the PMB City Marathon
2: Sub 3:30 Marathon at Ironman SA
3: Silver Comrades up Run
Although I saw big improvements in all three of the disciplines, I fell short of all three of my Goals. (Maybe I just wasn’t ready or I wasn’t good enough)
Goal 1: 3hours and 18 seconds
Goal 2: 3hr35min
Goal 3: 7hr35min
Towards the end of 2017 I gave Rowland a List of my Goals for 2018. He probably thought I was overshooting again but he never said anything and agreed. I told him give me the training programmes and I would put in the work. I put in pretty much all the work that he set for me. The one thing I did miss though was quite a few of my swim sessions because the surf was really good.(Ha ha ha).
The way I see it is that I’m a pretty crappy swimmer and I’d much rather be surfing than swimming, so as long as I’m doing something remotely close to the movement of swimming then I’m good to go, I’ll just try make up the time on the bike or Run.
Goal 1: Sub 5 hour 70.3 EL and a slot in 35-39 age group worlds Champs
Goal 2: Sub 3 hour Marathon at the PMB City Marathon
Goal 3: Sub 10 Hour Ironman
Goal 4: Silver Medal comrades Down Run
I came into 2018 with a good base because for once I put in some solid training and cut back on the usual December Drinking, eating and partying. East London went well and crossing the finish line and seeing I had done 4hr51 I was so pumped. I thought I had a top 10 and a definite slot for world champs. After taking an hour to cool down and regather myself I checked the results and saw that I had only managed a 16th Place in AG. That was a real high low moment as I had smashed last years’ time by 18 min and a PB but I had somehow slipped down the ranking by 3 spots. I thought that I didn’t have a shot at my slot but went to the Allocation holding thumbs. Luckily for me there were 11 slots and quite a few guys had already taken them.
Goal 1: Check
I had entered a new event called the Miway 226 Challenge. Which is either a half or a full Iron over a 3 day period, Swim Friday, bike Saturday and run Sunday. Although the timing of the event sucked as it was the weekend after 70.3 EL I wanted to do it as it was a cool concept and good Ironman Training. The swim on Friday was horrible, it was a 2 lapper and the wind was pumping and the cans were so small and so few it was difficult to swim in a straight line. After the first lap we had to get out and run around the timing mat and back into the water. After my first lap I stood on the slipway and was so close to calling it quits because I was not enjoying it. Anyway my never give up attitude prevailed and I went in for the second lap. I don’t know my time but it wasn’t good and the total distance was close to 4.5ks. On Saturday I rode the bike course comfortably and stuck to my numbers. Afterwards I went to check on the results and saw that I was leading by quite a bit on the overall standings. Which meant I had to run the full marathon in order to claim the win (I had only planned on doing 21 or so Ks) I did some stalking on the competition and saw that my only real threat for the marathon was Glen Gore (the event organiser) but he was very far off the overall as he had a very slow bike. I ran the full marathon on a super tough course on very tired legs and finished in 2nd place in a decent time of 3:22 which meant I had taken the overall top spot. Although there wasn’t much competition it was still a really cool feeling winning an overall event and getting some awesome trophies and prizes.
Onto my next Goal which was sub3 hour marathon at PMB which was 2 weeks away. The plan was to run an even split 1:29 for each lap I ran with a really strong runner who comes from a trail running background, he had a few sub 3’s under his belt, we ran a bit faster than I was hoping and was on target for a 2:55, but the last 8ks climbing up Fox hill my legs said no more and I almost came to a complete stop, Mark pulled away, I had to suck it up and just keep moving forward. At the next water table I grabbed a few cokes and pushed on at a slower pace but still on for a sub 3, I came in on 2:58. Very stoked and very sore.
Goal 2: Check
In 2018 the Deloitte marathon was moved to 2 weeks before Ironman. This is my favourite marathon but doing it 2 weeks before IMSA would not be a good idea. I told Rowland that I wanted to try run a sub 1:20 Half (my PB being a 1:23). He agreed and tweaked my programme. I ended up running a 1:18:40 and was so pumped as I felt good the whole run and I recovered pretty quickly.
Next up IMSA. The plan was a 1:05 swim, 5:10 bike and 3:20 run. I came out the water on 1:04, I felt good the first 45ks on the bike then it sort of fell apart I was riding to my numbers but my Ave was just getting slower, this really spun me out and I started not enjoying the ride and at one stage I was actually hoping for a mechanical or puncture so I could have an excuse for bailing. I somehow managed to get my head back in the game and I put my Garmin into my back pocket and just rode to feel and ended up finishing strong, although my time was 10min off the plan. I got onto the run feeling really good and just kept my pace consistent. I ran a 3:16 including a 1 min penalty for having my Zip down. (Pretty stupid reason in my opinion as I feel a guy in a speedo and a crop top is far more deserving of a penalty. Ha ha ha). Coming onto the red carpet I thought I had done round a 9:55, when I crossed the finish line and saw that I had actually got 9:47 I was super pumped and couldn’t get the smile off my face.
Goal 3: Check
I took a full week off of training after IMSA and caught up on some much needed rest and sleep. Then it was into full comrades training mode and some big weekly mileage, including one of the toughest ultra-marathons I have done (The Hibiscus South coast marathon). I still also had to get through 3 days of MTB’ing at Sani2C. Most people probably thought I was crazy for adding that in too but getting invited by DSV to ride with the SA Rugby Legends is an opportunity I can’t pass up. I was partnered with Shaun Payne and ex Sharks and Irish Club Rugby player. For a guy who weighs 95kgs he is a machine cyclist and climbs like a mountain goat too. I just hung on as best I could for the 3 days and we ended up finishing in 9th Place on GC for the Adventure event. I was pretty broken after that and just wanted to climb into bed for a few days but there was no time for that I had comrades around the bend. I took 1 day off after Sani then straight into 30k run on Sunday. I put in some good mileage and quality sessions in the next few weeks leading up to comrades.
The week before comrades I was a wreck, irritable, anxious and very restless I was driving my wife Crazy (Ha ha ha). Comrades morning came and I felt really positive and in a good frame of mind. The Plan was to run the first 5ks slow and not get sucked into the A batch pace, and then steadily increase my pace so that when I got to 60ks (Winston Park) I would be on a 4:50 ave Pace. Everything went to plan but after stopping to see my wife, boys and family at Winston Park my Ave was on 4:51. I put the hammer down and ran the next 10k split at 4:40 ave but my overall ave only dropped to 4:50. I did my last planned speed walk up Cowies hill and then started running again. I wanted to push the last 20ks so that I could finish on around 7:15. I soon realised that this wasn’t going to happen and my legs were in absolute pain. I had to revaluate my race plan and slow down a bit or risk blowing up my chances of silver. I ran a steady and comfortable pace for the rest of the race. Coming into the stadium and crossing the finish line in a time of 7:22 was the most incredible feeling I have ever felt and by far my greatest sporting achievement. (I get goose bumps just typing this). The dream of a silver medal was something I thought about from the very first time I sat on the side-lines watching comrades at the age of 12. After 4 previous runs and a near miss in 2017 this was a very special feeling.
A big thanks to my Coach Rowland Who never doubted me (Maybe he did in his mind. Ha ha ha). He gave me valuable guidance and advise and never told me I shouldn’t do this race or that event, he just tweaked my programmes and fitted it all in so that I could do the events that I wanted to.