Saturday, May 16, 2009

Game On!

Back in October of 2008 I set my personal goals. One of those goals was to win my age group in a triathlon. Well the official triathlon season for me starts next Sunday and it’s time to put up or shut up. I’ve done the work. It hasn’t been perfect but it will never be perfect. I’ve had great coaching for the last 5.5 months. Now it’s up to me.
Next weekend is not the goal. I would be crazy happy if I reach my goal next week, but I find it hard to comprehend. I think next week I’m simply looking for a good solid race played out with ease and a fast time. It’s been almost an entire year since I raced a triathlon. Although I have experience that dates back further than I care to admit I still expect to be a bit rusty. Where does rust show up, swimming. You can swim in a pool for as much as you want or you can even head to the lake or ocean (soon that will happen again) but until you are in there with 400 of your same age crazies you can’t practice it. Take for instance my last race. 40 seconds into the swim my goggles are knocked off my face. I had to stop, find them, put them back on and then chase to get back on the group. Rust can come anywhere, and this race in Austria is geared to get the rust out.
I’m still not going to be satisfied with a finish. I have to beat my time from 70.3 Switzerland last year and get closer to the winner of the age group. If I can’t do that then the 5.5 months of preparation needs to be blown up. It’s that simple.

2008 Ironman 70.3 Switzerland
My Race last year.
Swim 35:10
Bike 2:44:35
Run 1:39:51
Total 5:03:33

Ironman 70.3 Austria
The Winner 45-49
Swim 32:13
Bike 2:23:01
Run 1:26:18
Total 4:26:18

So you might think I’m crazy with my goal. How do I get from there to here while aging and all the other crap going on in my life? First I looked for a coach who would build my bike riding ability up. It wasn’t a matter of my ability more about my willingness. Last year I did random training with only 2 rides over 3 hours and most in the 2 hour range. This year, with the help of Endurance Corner 3 hours is like a warm up. I would share all the graphs I have on Training Peaks but believe me when I say I am one with my bike. Next were some minor goals. When I moved to Germany I added weight. I wasn’t fat but I sure wasn’t as lean as I was before the move. So I had a minor goal of getting back to my weight between 142 and 144. I focused on hitting the training plan and tried as hard as possible to stick to real food. I’ve been at 144 for 3 weeks now and will probably hit race morning at 143. That’s 10lbs lighter than I was in January or even last September when I ran the Berlin Marathon. That’s 10lbs I don’t have to carry up the hills and 10lbs I don’t have to manage while running. The only real drawback is my clothes don’t fit. I have had to pull the belt two holes tighter. I can’t wear any of my shorts, jeans or pants without a belt any longer. They simply fall off. Next up I wanted to learn to manage my effort while running. My typical running over the years has been at my pace. Whatever that happened to be. During this training season I wanted to learn to be comfortable running easy, and manage the times I run hard. I don’t think I’ve mastered this yet but I have no problems doing a long run under 140 bpm Heart Rate where in the past I could barely manage to keep it under 150. By the way, I’m running close to the same pace as before now at 140. Finally I managed travel better this year. That was not really by goal but by budget cuts and it’s less than last year. So far this year I’ve been across the water twice with the longest trip being 7 days. Last year by May I had been across the water 3 times with the longest trip being over 2 weeks with travel to Panama, Mexico and Boston in that one trip. So I think the lack of long haul trips is only going to help me.
The rest is up to my head. Can I stay focused for 4+ hours? Can I manage the pain? All of this is in my control. Right now I’m fully confident.

It’s a good life….
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