Wednesday, October 26, 2011

One Year Ago

I was looking back at the training log and for the last week of the ironman build phase, and in the 8 days from Sunday to Sunday I biked 180 miles and ran 43 miles. That is incomprehensible to me if I look as an outsider. I know the really fast people that are potential kona qualifiers are putting in 300 mile bike weeks and 50+ mile run weeks regularly, but I'm not the guy who does that. Sometimes I still see myself as the guy who drinks 43 beers in a week, not runs 43 miles. And I'm sure I could knock down 180 cigs instead of 180 bike miles. It still doesn't seem real.

But, really, in 9 days and 23.25 hours I will be starting IMFL. 45 minutes into the swim (7:45 am) I should be back out for the second loop by now. Trying to visualize it is tough. Accepting the fact that I'm prepared is even more difficult.

I never thought Ironman was possible for me. I'm only working with partial lung function from all of the years of smoking. I went into my first half iron (Beach 2 Battleship 2009) with the intention that 70.3 was the farthest I would ever reach. If I finished, didn't die, and felt like I could go back out there and do it again then I would consider maybe trying a full. I did finish B2B and feel like I could go do it again. In 2010 we moved from SC to NC and that took most of the year. No way I could get a full iron done then, even though I wanted to.

So I waited a year. I did another half iron, and realized how my weight was holding me back. I knew 70.3 was a manageable distance, and I knew I could be good at that distance. But the weight thing... Really the last year started in September 2010 when after the Patriot's Half I picked up a copy of Racing Weight and gave it a read. Solid book, solid science.

This journey to Ironman really became more than a plan or a goal on October 18th 2010 with this post. It became more than just a concept then. I started the weight loss phase. I knew that I would try my best to get into IMFL or Beach 2 Battleship full, with a preference for IMFL. Either way, I was going to turn iron in 2011. It still seemed like more of a concept than a reality.

I wasn't going to push 210 lbs over 140.6 miles. I had a weight loss plan from the book, and I followed it. I had a goal to get down to (165 lbs) and a timeline to finish the weight loss (2/28/11 when Ironman training plan started), and I almost made it. I started Ironman training at 175 lbs, thinking that the training plan itself would take those last 10 lbs off of me. Turns out it did, and I should be coming into race day somewhere between 165 and 170 lbs. Several of you followed my lead and started losing weight at the same time, thank you for that. I love the support I received from family and friends, and the competition generated by some really cool people.

The Snail and I had one helluva weight loss battle going, as we both kept getting faster at the same time and besting each others 5k and half marathon PR's. In the end, he beat me by 5 seconds at both distances, but I will exact my revenge in the marathon. Good luck breaking 3:30 at the Rock & Roll Savannah, I know you can do it. But you know that I will beat your time by 5 seconds come January.

The official Ironman Training Plan started on Feb 28 2011, and I started with a solid base from the weight loss phase. Base building before base building, there's nothing like it. I got used to eating for two workouts a day, and got my schedule all setup. This training plan is hard core. The midweek workouts get quite long. Sometimes it would have 2.5 hours on the bike and 1.25 hours running on a Wednesday. Really? Wednesday? Over 3 hours? When am I supposed to work?

But I did as much as I could. I added weight lifting and yoga when I could. I joined the RAM team (best decision ever!) to help out with my swimming. That meant where it called for 4 swims a week usually under an hour, I swam twice a week for an hour and 15 minutes. Same amount of time, but it worked on the schedule. The plan had 401 workouts. 383 of those actually made it onto my spreadsheet with the combined swims. With a taper left, I've done 299 so far and have 15 left to go. I'm not going to total the training plan miles until I've actually made it all the way through.

I will say that I think I picked a training plan that is designed to help you get much faster at your second or more Ironman, not just basically survive the first one. I wanted as much confidence as I could get going into IMFL, and that's what I got. But I also think I could use the same training plan, follow it a little more closely, and get faster at my second Ironman. Usually I like to switch it up the second time around and do something else to get faster, but this seems like what I should have chosen for my second Ironman.

Lots of people have started asking me how long it took me to get ready for Ironman. You could say four years, since I started running tri's in 2008. You could say 2 years, since I decided that I would pursue this at the end of 2009. But really, it all started a year ago this month. Seeing a years worth of hard work and goal setting come down to the final days of taper and race prep is a bit overwhelming. This thing, this concept, is about to become a reality. One week from today we drive in a straight shot 12.5 hours from Raleigh NC to Destin FL and get checked into the condo. Here we go.


GeorgiaSnail said...

The hell with January! It's all about NOW! I'll enjoy my 2 month reign as marathon PR champ. (Oh, wait. I'm the current marathon PR champ)

All kidding aside, you are ready, big dude! You have made countless deposits into the training bank and now it is time to make a huge withdrawal. You are going to rock IMFL. It's been fun watching your journey.

After our events on teh 5th, we will need to line up a 2012 showdown. Maybe a cage match or something!

Hugh Jass said...

Dude! You're making ME anxious for this. Wooohoooo, IMFL!!!!!!

Karen said...

So excited for you! You have put in the effort as they say now it is time for that 140.6 mile victory lap :)

Isn't it funny how once you start training for a 70.3 your idea of how far you can reach changes? Next thing you know your toes are in the sand at IM FL!

You will LOVE this coming weekend. So much free time from training you won't know what to do... ENJOY IT!

Wes said...

Yea, I looked at that plan at some point in my Ironman journeys, and I said "screw that". My goals for Ironman didn't include those kind of sacrifices. Kudos to you for taking the plan, making it your own, and balancing that with your job and family. You are already Iron.

Get a solid race plan down on paper. Set your expectations. It's a long day out there. Anything can and will happen, but burn this cliche in the back of your mind:


Viper said...

You got this. Looking forward to the finale of all this buildup. Cheers!

Katie said...

What a great post. I can't wait to cheer you on!

Sophie @ threetimesf said...

Wow, it's been a big year - I'm gutted that I haven't been reading for all that time!
Eeeekk, so excited for you!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

You have worked so hard, buddy. I can't wait to see all that hard work come to fruition when you complete your ironman!! I will be cheering you on from afar!

joyRuN said...

You've worked so hard for a looong time. You've totally got this.

RockStarTri said...

Game on.

Diana said...

I sure hope you think about putting your story into a book once you've crossed that finish line!!

I'm very excited for you, I can so remember losing all my weight and doing my first "sprint" triathlon, it's so exciting. I'm hoping for a 70.3 in 2012....fingers crossed.

Hugh Jass said...

I don't know if you've seen this, but I thought I would pass it along

Alisa said...

You have come such a long way and I know for me personally, it's been an inspiring journey to watch.

You ARE NOT that 43 beer drinking 180 cigarette smoking dude anymore!

You're about to be IRON!!!!!!!!!

Colleen said...

I have absolutely loved following your journey and can't wait to cheer you on in person next week! Hope that we get a chance to meet up! What's your bib number?

healthy ashley said...

You are so prepared it's silly! It's been inspirational seeing all your posts about your tough workouts. You've got this Ironman. I can't wait to read your race recap! Good luck!

Al's CL Reviews said...

You are prepared!