Well, it’s official, one week from today I will be on the Ironman Wisconsin course with about 2700 other nut jobs. Of course I say that in the most endearing way because I believe what we’re doing is, not only incredible, it’s what humans should be doing. It’s simply a great testament to how things have changed, and proof that we don’t have to resign our lives to the recliner when we hit 50.
I am a cauldren of excitement and anxiety. My concerns this time aren’t bout finishing . . . but, like most, I wonder if I’m ready for what I think I’m capable of.
The reality is “I’m as ready as I’m going to be.” Still, you always wonder if you could have done more. And the answer is probably, “yes.”
The reason for my uncertainty is once again lack of long mileage training. What’s worse is, after only riding 70-miles one time before Ironman Chattanooga last year, I promised I would rectify that problem. But I didn’t. So, if you’re worried you haven’t done enough this season, feast on my numbers.
– Longest ride this year is 65 miles.
– Longest swim 3500
– Longest run 12 miles
But that’s only part of the story. I’ve upped the frequency on everything, just kept it shorter, and mostly harder. I’ve also paid a lot of attention to active recovery in all three.
So, the question is: Will this wacky strategy work?
I hope so. Ha.
My base theory is: I’m a latecomer to endurance and at my best training happens when I’m energized and looking forward to the next workout. The “shorter” workouts also keep me focused on technique, which I think pays off in long-term form late in the race. We can train a million miles but the mental game is where it’s at on race day.
We will all face these three questions dozens of times during an Ironman:
1. Should I stop, tread water, and get my bearings, or keep swimming?
2. Should I coast this flat, or keep peddling?
3. Should I walk for a while, or suck it up and keep running?
Hopefully, the answer is always the latter. That’s the difference between a PR and just another race. It’s one day. There’s no fear of being recovered for pending workouts. It’s about being smart, but tougher than you’ve ever been.
I think the reason I tend to cut workouts short is that I usually stop when I know I could keep going. I try to build mental feel-good victories and bank on race day energy carry me the rest of the way.
90% of my focus the last 5 weeks is to burn a comfort zone for swim and bike into my brain. I’ve concentrated on varying paces, active recovery, and what it feels like to dig a little deeper when I “can’t.”
My biggest goal has been to build a positive and loving relationship with my bike so I don’t want to throw it into Lake Monona after 112 miles. Then it comes down to finding a zone and pacing the run.
It will be another long and grueling experience that will test me more than most things I’ve faced in my life. And even as I say that, I can’t truly imagine the feeling because the pain never ceases to amaze me. So much pain, so much doubt, so many thoughts about why we do this sport in the first place.
But, when you hit that Finisher’s Chute, you know exactly why you came. You know you’ve just crossed a hurdle 99% of the people are afraid to attempt. You know that you can do anything you set your mind to. It was worth every minute and you immediately vow to give it more next time. But for that now, you’re done . . . and all you have to worry about is hugging friends, family, and volunteers.
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