|North Tucson road to nowhere.|
I took about 5 years off from swimming and got back into it in March of this year. I got myself back into decent shape, hitting about 24 minutes for the mile and 30 minutes for the 1.2 mile in my events earlier this year. I've never been a super swimmer, probably because I've never made the sincere commitment to become one. Why? Because I've never really enjoyed swimming all that much. I like the feeling of finishing the workout :), but I get bored easily and most of my career training the swim, even as a pro, consisted of 1000-1500 yd workouts with a few masters workouts now and then sprinkled in for some speed/tempo. Even with minimal swimming, back 'in the day', I was able to go 26-28 min. at the half IM, 58-60 min. in Kona and even posted a 56 min. swim at IMLP one year! I still don't know how I managed that!
So, I'm an underachiever when it comes to the swim leg of the triathlon and always have been. It's ashame really, and one of my only regrets that , as a younger athlete... I didn't focus more on the swim and turn myself into a sub 55 min. IM swimmer. Had I done that, I probably would have been 'in the hunt' in major events because I could pretty much bike and run with most of the contenders, with the exception of the top tier guys. But once you're off the back and 'miss the train', you're working alone and it's tough to make up any ground at that level.
Now as a masters athlete, I found this year that I'll give up 2-4 minutes to the top masters swimmers in the Olympic and Half IM distances. That's close enough to be a contender if my run is strong, which it seemed to be this year. IM AZ might be a different story however!
My biggest concern for IMAZ is the toll the swim will take on me in terms of fatigue. I need to be patient, and remember that my fitness and endurance on the swim is insufficient to take it out hard from the gun. I need to line up with the 1:10-15 hr swimmers, and try to get into a pack and swim comfortably. If the day goes well, a 1:10 might be in the cards.
Going into the bike, I need to be mindful of the matches I burned in the swim, and go out easy and start hydrating and eating immediately. I know I'll be tempted to drop the hammer (I remember the good ole days of being able to split sub 4:45's!) , but know in my gut that's suicide. A conservative bike will hopefully get me to the run with a few matches left over... where the carnage will begin.
My running fitness is good, despite my 3 weeks of power walking after my injury and surgery. :) I did some long runs of 2 hrs recently, but my body felt like it was falling apart, so I decided to back it down and toe the line in good health but not in perhaps the best marathon shape. I have lots of aches and pains, probably from the years of abuse I placed on myself as a high school football player/wrestler (and some college) and then 12 solid years of serious tri racing, including 15 Ironmans, several marathons, dozens of half IM's and lots of training miles. It all catches up to you and everyone has to pay the piper some day. Geez, if I feel this way at almost 42, how am I going to feel when I'm in my fifties?
In general, my 'engine' is strong, and if my chassis can hold it together, I could have a solid race performance. My 4:11 at IM 70.3 Racine earlier this season showed me that I may still have the mojo to race a competitive Ironman and perhaps finish in the 9:30 - 10 hr range. The question will be how much my recovery from the injury has impacted my endurance and lactate threshold after so many weeks off from training... and how my reoccurring leg cramp issues get resolved on race day.
In any event, I cannot tell you how happy and grateful I am to even be considering racing in 2 weeks! When I crashed at Leadville, broke the collarbone badly and fractured the 2 ribs (they still hurt, btw!), I was pretty bummed...thinking my season was OVER. Even if IMAZ turns out to be 'one of those days', it'll still be a blessing to participate.
Thanks for your support. Train safe and train smart.