Sunday afternoon and the final big week of training is done and dusted. After 18 hours of cycling this week I'm looking forward to a couple of total rest days - my first in over 4 weeks. As you may have guessed, the main focus of this past week was to get in some solid cycling volume, with the majority of work being done at Ironman intensity. What will I be doing during the next week? This evening I'm catching an inter-island flight to Praslin (the second largest island in the Seychelles) to relax for a few days. I'll be doing some light training, but the main focus will be to absorb and recover from the work done in the past 4 weeks.
This 3 week taper will be extremely similar to those used last season for Austria and Kona, both of which left me feeling really good come race day (unlike some other tapers)! There's always a temptation to alter the approach slightly, but I'm going with the if it ain't broke attitude. In terms of where I feel I am with my fitness, that's always difficult to quantify. Unfortunately, I don't feel my swimming has improved. This is largely due to not enough time in the water. On the bike, I believe my endurance is better than it was last season and I feel at least as fit as I was in Kona. Incidentally, my bike position has (thus far) remained identical to that of last season. For the run, again, difficult to quantify, but it's the discipline that I've focussed on most. The past 5 months have had higher run mileage than any other period. That's no guarantee of a better run, but suffice to say that if I don't run faster than I did in Kona I'll be disappointed.
All in all I couldn't have asked for a better build up to the race - I'm injury free and fully acclimatised to the heat and humidity. Psychologically, that's a big bonus. Here's the best thing though, I am motivated. More so than ever before. I don't know what it is or where it's come from, but it's made training a breeze. I can only think of two or three sessions since November where I havn't really wanted to train. I'm not putting extra pressure on myself to perform, as my better races have been where I've had a relaxed approach. At the same time those who know me know that I'm as serious as it gets when it comes to triathlon. As much as I'm looking forward to Ironman South Africa and the challenge of putting myself through another Ironman, I'm going there for one reason. Kona qualification.