A quick glance of the bib numbers and I see that I have been given 321. Last year I was 267. I did not like the number 267, there was no rhythm to it, no flow. Every five years I guess my number will go up considerably as they must do it by age group. Regardless, 321 I like. And I'll tell you why.
I've been vibing on the number 21 lately. I have put in exactly 21 weeks of training since I started back up in June. I did the math the other day and found out that, over those 21 weeks, I've averaged precisely 21 HOURS PER WEEK. How insane is that? 21 hpw x 21 weeks = a lot. I remember being in college and I'd have a few weeks over 20, but then I'd always have an 8 or a 9 hour week from time to time, and most weeks were considerably less. Obviously I was training for shorter races, and I was trying to be fast, but realistically I'm faster on a bike now and I'm not really a whole lot slower than I was back then (at least in triathlons, open races much slower).
So then I'm explaining how this number keeps popping up when Erin Feldhausen [amended] goes, "aren't you racing ON the 21st?" Holy crap, I am. November 21st. I am loving this flow. All good things. The merry-go-round, it goes up and down and AROUND. Harness good block bad.
In an attempt to honestly examine myself, given the factors I faced, I wouldn't change the way I trained. My concern was, from the beginning, my knee holding up under the duress of a 10 hour race. Most of all, that it would physically be able to make it through 26.2 miles of running. My months were structured around building up my volume to a level acceptable and reasonable to be able to complete an ironman. In the pool, this volume was reached at the 100k mark in July. I realized that whether I was swimming 50k per month or 100k, I was likely going to swim the same time. I had the 4 biggest months I've ever put in on the bike, so I don't think I could have ridden more, but I think at some point I should have transitioned to some harder rides. I didn't really do a ton of efforts. Then I thought about it - I did everything the same as I used to do, and I used to ride pretty well. That's not to say I think I can go in and have the same results; I'm not the same athlete I was last year. But, I think that with my ability to race a bike being pretty good, I'll do okay with the volume-based system. I don't anticipate riding at the same effort level I would normally do in a half or less, so it's better I don't even get that in my head.
Running came along slowly at first, but soundly. Each run provided me the opportunity to say "this was the fastest I've run since x/xx/xxxx" or "this was the longest I've run since Boston 2009."
The phrase "body of work" is one that pops up a lot during March to describe NCAA Tournament teams. Well, I am honestly proud of my body of work. From doing literally nothing to being in ironman shape in 4 months is pretty impressive, and I realize that. I also know how hard I had to work to do it. In July, there was absolutely no way I was going to do it. In August, it was still less-than-likely. By September it became more realistic and then after the half in October it was time to pull the trigger. It's hard to believe it's been 5 weeks since that race. I've made big improvements in just those 5 weeks even.
But now isn't really the time to pat myself on the back or give myself some attaboys. The job isn't done. Last year I had a goal, and it was ambitious. I've always said I don't need to do a race just to finish, because I'm not that type of competitor. I could have gotten myself into shape to be able to "just finish" this race, but what would have been the point? If I'm going to do that much work, I may as well make it count, right? Go out and compete. If your body doesn't cooperate, then so be it. I go into this race with a goal that may be slightly amended from last year, which is more a function of not having my bike to ride, and not having done any races I use as benchmarks.
I guess the thing I'm overlooking is that this is a long race, and I've never done anything longer than a half. Like I give a shit. All I do is suffer, this will be no different. If anything, I've taught myself to endure fatigue this season. I rode maybe 50 miles of my 950 mile October with people. I ran all by one of my bricks solo. I've gone out and suffered in the cold, the dark and, more than anything, the wind (that was part of why my harder bike efforts didn't happen, I was working hard but not going anywhere!). It's not like I'm hoping to crash and burn, I certainly could do without having to walk a marathon, but I also realize that I will always, always make it to the finish line. Even if I have to walk.
I put in my last couple of big workouts over the last few days. Following the 20 mile run, I ran again on Thursday, just an easy 4 with Ed. I felt a little sluggish, but I anticipated that. I originally thought I'd get out Wednesday for my last "long" ride, then I pushed to Thursday, but stuff came up so I held off until Friday. Instead on Thursday I rode for a few hours around the county with Brennan's sister Erin. Friday came and it was time to get out for one more 85 miler. I swam in the morning and got out onto the bike just a little late - 12:40. The ride normally takes 4:45, and with a quick stop in the middle + traffic lights and stuff I figured I'd get back around 5:40. So I knew I'd be riding close to 40 minutes in the dark. I was riding decently quick, not blazing, but it was just taking forever. Too many stops at red lights I guess. By the time I made it through Loch Raven, it was getting dark, and when I made it over to Joppa Rd it also dropped 10 degrees. I started to bonk a little, and suffered up Bellemore in the dark. Scarfed a Gu, felt a little better, and then made it home. Ride time was 4:45 on the nose, but it was 6pm. I don't know how that happened.
Saturday I ran 10 miles in the morning with Kris, my legs were a little tired and the route didn't help at first. 6ish miles uphill to Gilman. I love that run normally, but man, legs were tired. Kept the effort real chill, and then had some benefit of longer downhills on the way home. That was good for opening up the stride a bit and by the end I felt better. Saturday afternoon went to the Navy game and that was pretty awesome. Also the Terps rammed UVA in the 2-hole pretty hard, so that was good.
Sunday was my last little attempt at a workout. I figured a week out was plenty of time to be able to handle this longer type of day, especially since I kept the effort down. I mostly needed to make sure I could ride Pat's bike and that it fit okay. I made a few adjustments and got going around noon. It was weird to be on a TT bike again, as it's been 16 months now since I last rode one. I also never rode the bike on any of my normal routes, as it's quite dangerous. I rode out 40 and then hopped onto Mountain Rd. I was able to do a few long stretches in the bars on that road, but then on 165 the shoulder is non-existent and the cars were flying by, so with the crosswind and sun blaring in the face I sat up. Rode for about 3:15, felt good when I got back, and jumped in the pool. Did a 3000m straight swim, picking it up each 500m or so. I worked down to just under 1:40s by the end, and finished the swim in 51:40.
With the pool done, it was time to run a little. It was awesome out, great temperature (no shirt weather in mid November is always awesome), and it was dark. So I ran my usual 6 mile loop, and was running comfortably. With a mile to go I picked it up a bit and finished up with just over 5 hours on the day. Then it was time to consume mass quantities at Panera.
Now it's all done. Can't believe the week is here. I'm excited, and definitely nervous. I think I'll feel a lot better on Sunday night.
Don't Tell Me What I Can't Do ~ John Locke