Triathlon Holidays are here and gone. The Kona Ironman World Championships came and went yesterday and unless you are racing IMAZ or IMFL your triathlon season is over and you are ready to focus on what to do in the new year. Since races fill up very fast these days there is a good chance that you have already laid out your 2014 race calendar. You are looking for the long rides and runs to help support those ambitions. Maybe there is a century ride that you are looking to do or a 15k race that fits in nicely with your planned training. The scenario is most likely the same for a lot of you reading this but let us not neglect the fitness gains you have made over the last year and allow them to slip away because your training goes down and your holiday treat consumption goes up.
Before we get into some ideas for how to maintain a solid base while the holidays are going on let us quickly discuss the triathlon Christmas holiday known as Ironman Kona. Yesterday, I had the great fortune to broadcast the coverage live onto my TV as opposed to trying to squint at my laptop or iPad and go blind. While watching the coverage I watched with a different eye than I have in year’s past. In the past I was just watching the athletes and this year I was studying the athletes. Trying to pick up anything I could so that I could apply it to my training and racing.
From watching VanLierde and Carfrae race to Potts and Rapp pulling out early I learned a lot. VanLierde chased down McKenzie on the run and when he caught him he did not slow down. This meant a lot to me because I know when I am running I put a bullseye on a target and will chase them but as soon as I catch up to them I feel as if my work is done and will slow down, even if for a moment, instead of passing with authority and leaving no question that I am prepared to suffer and go fast. Mirinda Carfrae proved the same theory. 8 minutes down to Rachel Joyce coming out of T2 I had the feeling that she was going to win and I texted Adena as such. It is one thing to have the ability to do something but it is completely different to actually put that ability to use. Carfrae did just that and when she passed Joyce she did it with authority as well. She carried that powerful leg turnover all the way to her second Ironman World Championship victory.
Jordan Rapp and Andy Potts proved something else to me and it is a lesson that I am putting into good use already. Andy Potts pulled out with an injury before the race even started. Jordan Rapp dropped out of the race midway through the run. That is a DNS and a DNF from two of the best American triathletes, and truly best triathletes in the world. Think about that for a moment. These two world-class athletes make their money as professionals through racing and sponsorships yet when it was time to make a decision on a DNS or DNF they made it. We, as age groupers, think that DNS/DNF are the curse words to the endurance athlete’s lifestyle but the reality is that they are not. This off-season I have had both Redman 70.3 and Oilman 70.3 on my radar to race and have decided to forgo them. In year’s past I would have put my head down and done the races despite not having the motivation to do them because, well, that is what I do. Learning from Rockwall last year and understanding the bigger picture and I have put those two races into the ‘no need to do them pile.’
Lastly, what I have also learned from the IM Kona World Championships is that it is possible to run hard and fast off the bike after a strong and hard bike leg. As age groupers the saying goes: ‘a good run is after a well paced bike’ and that is true. The problem for me is that the well paced ride has been one in which I can go much faster but worry about blowing up on the run. With that in mind I have made the months of September and October extremely bike heavy. In September I chose a goal of 650 miles and eclipsed that with 747 miles including a 102 miles at Hotter N Hell as well as a 124 mile training ride with some buddies. Seeing how close I was to 800 I chose a goal of 800 for #OchoInOctober. As of the writing/publishing of this post (October 13th) I have ridden 396 miles and am well on pace for 800 this month. Through all these miles I have seen my recovery runs get better even with ridiculously tired legs.
As the rest of the country and world prepares themselves for turkey, stuffing and dessert as well as Christmas cookies the triathlete holiday is going be filled with running and cycling as they prepare for the next year’s races. That is not to say that we will not be dabbling in all the foods but it does mean that we will be keeping an eye on where we want to go, what we have learned and how we are going to get to our desired goals.