Paul Hayward: Part 3 - Achieving the (un)achieveable!

Having followed Paul's progress right through from winning our competition, to meeting his coach and undertaking his training, Paul's latest and final blog covers his 'A' race; Ironman Austria.

Not only has Paul had to deal with the increased training needed to complete an Ironman distance event, he has moved house, is in the final stages of planning his wedding AND has had a running injury to contend with (not to mention trying to have some form of social life!)

A week after completing IM Austria in a time that he didn't think was possible, Paul reflects on the race and his coaching experience.

(If you haven't read Paul's previous blogs - catch up with Part 1 and Part 2)

Let me take you through the last few seconds of Ironman Austria; or at least what I remember. 

My run had slowed down a little, the sweat was pouring down me (in disgusting fashion) and my legs were screaming at me (how could I be so unreasonable to do this again?). But I could hear Paul Kaye telling other athletes “You are an Ironman”. I was home, I had made it. 

I turned into the finishers chute and people were clapping, screaming “up up up Paul” or “Super Paul, super” and I finally saw Paul Kaye and that smile. Paul said “Hello Paul! You are an Ironman!” and the noise was incredible.

I high fived Paul, thanked him and looked for my fiancĂ©e. Fortunately I heard her (which did not happen in Wales) and I leant over to her, kissed her and told her I loved her so much. Smiling she replied “quick, make the line”. To this I ran the few metres left to the line and crossed it in the daylight, hands in the air. 

To finish in daylight was a dream I never thought possible. Harriet met me outside the Irondome, and hugged me whispering “you did 13 hours 37 minutes, that is two hours off Wales!”.

So one week later - how did this happen? I do not have the benefit of asking the other Paul Hayward (the former me; the one who wasn't coached), but I can tell you that he would have been in pieces the day before about the possibility of a non-wetsuit swim at IM Austria, he may well have made the swim but not feeling strong like I had and he may well have blown up on the bike / run, had he made it.

A sub 1:30 swim, dream
goal 100% achieved
This finish (and with that time) happened due to a combination of things from Tri Training Harder; a training plan that addressed my weaknesses (swimming and latterly running) and built on my strengths, a coach that was tactically brilliant (such as a run strategy that enabled me to run the whole marathon or a bike strategy that knew I would be fast by holding me back) that was not scared to be firm with me if I pushed too hard and a team behind her with experience that enabled me to be the best of me.

I will be honest with you (and with many of my friends now), when I did Ironman Wales, there was this niggle in me that I could have done better. I could have finished earlier. Crazy? Yes. Stupid? Yes. But in my heart that is how I felt and in my competition entry I said “I wanted to do myself justice (at Ironman Austria) and although everyone else is proud of me - I wanted to lay the feeling to sleep”.
Pacing was key for the run

That feeling has well and truly gone now, thanks to Sorrel and Tri Training Harder.

Being a coached athlete has had a lot of people contact me and ask “what is it actually like” or “would I pay for it”. Sitting here one week on, I would have paid every penny for just the chance to finish in daylight, have someone re-assuring me that my swim was good enough for the 1.30 group (still now, really?) or that a non wetsuit swim just meant a little more time (speaking to some athletes they were in pieces about this) and give me the smile on my face now.

I cannot stress what Tri Training Harder added to me, my mindset and my performance.

"I think the misconception is people don't see what a coach can do; they think big picture and overlook small things that actually add so much. Like putting a wetsuit on properly and not hating going to the pool three times a week; that's huge and adds value to someone who came from a place of: 'I don't want to be here'" 

Believed.  Strived.  Achieved.

As people plan their 2018 races, I cannot stress at looking at getting some help. I could not quantify the cost of two hours off my Wales time to me personally; but the real cost isn’t as much as my wheels, bike or probably new wetsuit.
A coach: better value than a new bike?  In my opinion - YES!
See you in 2018 Tri Training Harder for #IMMarbs.

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Photo credits: FinisherPix