Friday, September 7, 2012

The rest is easy

I've always followed the philosophy that the preparation for these things is and should be the hard part. You pay your dues, so race day is a (relative) breeze.

It's not that I'm not going to feel like my guts are coming out of me at about mile 18 of the marathon. I know what I'm getting into.

But the irony of the ironman is that the effort is easy. The only way to make it through a dozen hours of activity is to stay within your capabilities. You train to extend the limits of those capabilities. That's all there is to it.

So the hard part, building the physical and mental stamina, is done. It was done weeks ago. I knew I was ready on August 3. I took the Friday off of work and did a long workout--about 3,000 meters in the pool, 90 miles of hilly riding, six miles of running. All in 95 degree heat. What a sufferfest. But when I was done, I knew I was ready. I could have raced the whole thing on August 4.

So, as I'm getting ready to head up to Sandusky tonight to race Sunday, I'm reflecting on the three things have gotten me through the last 10 months.

1) Simplicity. I followed the Bernhardt plan, with a few tweaks (not as much swimming, and I planned some of my long workouts a little differently), week for week. I never overcooked it. I did all of my weekday cycling on the computrainer or rollers, rather than trying to shoehorn road rides in between everything else. I didn't get fancy with the nutrition--it's been Clif bars, Gatorade and Boost. I hydrated well, tried to get plenty of sleep, and stretched daily.

2) Maximizing efforts. I knew I wouldn't have the luxury of 20-25-hour training weeks. Instead, I topped out at about 14 hours, and most weeks I trained in the 10-12 hour range. I tried to make every swim stroke, mile ridden, and step count for something. I got up very early and was diving in the pool as the sleepy lifeguards were climbing in the chair. I started my weekend long rides right at dawn. A few times I ran after we put William to bed. And those swims and rides and runs had objectives, plans and measurements.

3) Support. A couple of months ago, my 2-year-old started noticing when I was out running. I'd get home, all sweaty and tired, and he'd ask, "Daddy, have fun running?" Such a great kid. He always makes me smile and helps me keep everything in perspective. Then, there's Jenny. My biggest fan, who gave me the idea (and clearance) to try another Ironman ... for the first time in five years, and first time since our lives have been turned around since becoming parents. Couldn't have done this without her ... wouldn't have tried!

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