Less than a week now until Ironman AZ! I must admit to being a bit nervous about this Ironman because my preparation for it certainly was not 'ideal'. (is it ever?!)
The thing about Ironman is that you cannot 'fake it' like you can shorter distance endurance events. For example, if you've raced for many years like I have and take an extended time off from racing but continue to 'exercise', you can come back and with a few weeks of higher intensity training and race well at events under 2.5 hrs. When it comes to the Half and full IM distances however, or events over that 2.5 hr window, the miles in the legs that you've accumulated in the prior 6-12 months (if not more) weigh heavily in your end result. In particular, the 4-12 weeks before your 'big day' are crucial in terms of building that long distance aerobic endurance fitness... and due to my accident at Leadville 12-wks ago and the recovery afterwards... this is where I'm lacking.
My strategy for IMAZ is clear... I need to take the idea of being very competitive off the table and aim to finish strong by burning my 'matches' slowly and selectively throughout the course of the day. Knowing myself and the way I race (and did back in the 1990's), it was 'all out' or nothing. Of course, back then, I had the fitness base to back up my aggression and I could go out hard, suffer, recover and finish fast (but with lots of suffering) due in part to my high training volumes. Nowadays, whereas my mind 'thinks' I'm still 28 and in sub-9 hr IM shape, my 41 yr old body doesn't agree.
Besides lacking that aerobic endurance fitness base so important to successful IM racing, I also need to watch out for my leg cramping issues. My plan is to 'hyper dose' electrolytes on the bike and run, as I did at Racine 70.3. It worked well at Racine, enabling me to almost even split the 1/2 marathon with only a slight twinge of cramping coming on once in awhile. I hope the same strategy works for IMAZ...because hard cramping is painful and emotionally difficult to handle as you go from 'race mode' to just survival mode. Ugh, it's tough when you're walking along, dejected and about to seize up with every step and spectators are saying, "you look great... only 13 more miles to go!". Whatever!! :)
So, I'm a little bit anxious but excited to 'get it on' at the same time. My kids have been sick and I'm starting to feel a head cold, so hopefully that doesn't get any worse. Overall, I feel good and without any unusual aches and pains. And as I've said before in my blog, I'm just so fortunate to be able to toe the line and participate after the Leadville crash.
Good luck to any of you doing the race with me! See you out there on the course.
- Coach Troy