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The One Month Countdown to Ironman

Posted Aug 15 2010 1:34pm
First it was T minus 363 days--the morning last September where I stood in the volunteer line at Monona Terrace in Madison, Wis., to get my credit card swiped and receive my permission slip to register for the 2010 Ironman Wisconsin. Now the countdown stands at 30 days before I'll be adding the final race-morning touches to my bike, rising way earlier than I do for any other race and floating in Lake Monona until the cannon booms at 7 a.m. on September 12. Scary that only 30 days are left, and even scarier that only about half of those--tops--are reserved for the last of the hard-core training.

I've been quite reserved when it comes to talking about my race schedule here on Fit-Ink. Not for any reason in particular but in part because I'm not big on sharing all of my workout with the world. I feel bad enough for the friends who inevitably end up hearing about it for lack of anything else I can talk about (if you're training for an Ironman, it's a challenge, in my opinion, to focus on other stuff). And well, sometimes I cringe at some of the people who post every single workout and every single reaction to said workout on their Facebook or their Twitter, or both. I'm biased: if it's a pro, I'll eat it up. After all, there might be a helpful hint to my own training. Other than that, I have to stop reading the updates that start looking like Training Peaks entries.

I know I make plenty of right, wrong and so-so actions when it comes to my hours (or lack of) in the pool/lake, on the saddle or pavement pounding and I'm not sure I want to become the laughing stock of the blogosphere overnight. And this time around with Ironman, I've learned fast that everyone has a different way to train. Not that I was surprised the first time but on any given weekend I'll have a friend who wants to ride a century followed by a short run, another friend who's busting out 20-mile bike, 6-mile run bricks, and another who continues to say training has started but the collective group wonders how that person will reach the finish line. Who is it that said that one plan doesn't suit all?

Anyway, with 30 days left before this Ironman showdown, there's definitely some prepping to still be done. And not necessarily the good kind--some items should have been figured out months ago. You think I would have learned that the first time I did this two years ago, but no. I still have to:
  • Figure out my nutrition on the bike. I've been drinking Hammer Nutrition's Perpetuem during longer races against the better judgment of my stomach, but it just didn't seem to cut it at the Steelhead 70.3. I blame my bonking on the run largely on lack of proper fuel on the bike. Or running out. Goal: hope that a new drink fits the bill.
  • Get bike tuned. I've put this off all season--bad me, I know--but it needs more that a little TLC before this 140.6-mile race. Only problem is that last time I took it to the shop, it messed up my week of workouts (I had to beg to surrender it for less than a week), and cost more than $300 to fix a chain, cassette, tape, wires and more.
  • Pack my bags. This was a disaster last time and I really should have followed the advice from the countless blogs I read about laying out all your gear before packing it and taking pictures so you could easily do it over and over again. Nope, instead I spent forever packing, brought enough triathlon gear to last me a week, and didn't use half of what I toted into my hotel room--and then had to tote out by myself the day after the race when I really didn't want to carry anything.
  • Select race day clothing. You'd think this would be easy. After all, everyone urges you to train like it's dress rehearsal for race day. I must have earmuffs and blinders on when I'm supposed to hear and listen to that statement because I don't wear my race day outfit as often as I should, and I forget that 40 miles in that outfit isn't the same as 112 miles plus a marathon when we're talking chafing. Goal: find a pair of shorts in my arsenal that cancel any rubbing and burning. Enough said.
  • Figure out how I'm going to survive this marathon. Yes, I know after I get off the bike, a time check will tell me if I can walk the entire 26.2 if need be. The question is: do I really want that to happen? Of course not. But when you have your slowest run split ever in a half Ironman, know you've avoided running for a multitude of reasons, and have resorted to walking in every running race this year but a 5K, you start to wonder what's going on.
  • Swim a mile, or two, or three. Usually, you'll find me swimming in the lake at least three times a week. That was last summer, the summer before and the summer before that. I don't know what it is this year, but I cannot drag myself into the water. It's almost like I'm afraid to go outside and bake in the sun unless I'm on my bike. And my pool swims? I'm the queen bee of the 10-minutes and she's out--15 if I'm really feeling good. In fact, I should be making my way to the water right now instead of typing this.
  • Ride the bike course. This is one thing I've actually handled well this time around. Scared to tackle the hills in year one, it was only with a month left before race day that I started making weekend drives to Madison to check out the course and know it's twists, turns and climbs before thrown out there on race day. I've already ridden the course twice with No. 3 on its way--and that's including the times I had to bail because of work commitments that crept up at the last minute (ahem, June's mid-week Vision Quest ride).
Sure, 30 days might seem like plenty of time to work out these kinks--go running, force myself into the pool for an hour or more, practice properly. But after 333 days, that final 30--or 29 being that it's already later in the day--really isn't a heck of a lot. I guess I have my work cut out for me. To the finish line or bust!
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