IMTX is 10 days away and that means…..well that means a lot. It tells me that I am officially in taper mode. It tells me that I survived overload weeks. It tells me that the third chapter of Ironman races is coming to a close. Having raced IMTX in 2012 and finishing off 12+ months of training for the 140.6 distance at IMTX 2013 means the world to me. My body has survived the rigors of training. My marriage has survived (sometimes barely) the stress that Ironman training can put on it. Along this road I have found a lot of support as well as lost some friends and their support. Life has changed, for the better, since the day I decided to do the first and it certainly has changed and will have changed when May 18, 2013 rolls around and IMTX is in the books.
As of right now I have no races on my schedule for after IMTX and I like it this way. I have no pressure to get back into training. I have nothing to look forward to which means that my sole focus is to race IMTX 2013 as hard as I possibly can because there is no tomorrow. I purposely setup my race schedule for this year in this manner because I think that the heavy race schedule of 2012 allowed me an out. The mindset was oh, you raced IMTX 2012 in 11:59 but you can do better at IMAZ. Oh you crashed and finished in 11:53 you still have IMTX 2013. Same can be said for the 70.3 races I did. There was always a tomorrow, but not this time. This time there is no tomorrow and everything I have done for the past 5 months will be on the line and I like it that way.
Some people will ask me what my goals are and to be honest with you there is only one goal because there is only one race. Yes triathlon is a combination of three sports, but in the end it is one race and that is the only time that matters. I have not finalized my race strategy with Maria and John but I can tell you that our goal for this years version of IMTX has been 11:15 or better. How I get there I don’t really care. If I swim 1:15 then I have 10 hours to bike, run and transition between the sports. If I swim 1:30 then I have 9h45m to do those activities. My training has me pointed in that direction but no one knows what race day will bring and so I will go into this race knowing I have done everything I can to get to 11:15.
Swimming has been going extremely well. I am very pleased with where I started and where I am today. This is the one sport that could have been dramatically improved and it has. When I started with Maria and John my 800 TT time was 14:50. A few months later we did another because I could feel myself getting faster and I finished in 13:56. The last 800 TT we did was a few weeks ago and I was down to 13:22. That is nearly a 1m30s improvement since December over 800y. Doesn’t seem like much but if you break it down to an Ironman 2.4 mi course that would look something like this: 1:18:30 down to 1:10:30. Also, keep in mind that when I finished that TT in December I was huffing and puffing and could have starred as the Wolf in Three Little Pigs. When I finished the 3rd TT I was gassed but I could have gotten on my bike and put in a good start. Can I swim a 1:10:30 at IMTX? I have no idea but what I do know is that even if I swim that 1:18:30 I would have improved my time by 18 minutes over IMTX 2012. I’ll take that any day.
This was the second discipline that the majority of the work we did in this training cycle went into. There were days where I did not think I could get to 145bpm and hold it for an extended period of time. There were days where I would go slightly above my target heart rate (John approved this!) and there were days where I just wished that I had a run instead of a bike session scheduled. All the while the improvements were there. Getting into specific heart rate zones got easier and easier and it made the confidence meter go up. My last long bike ride I averaged 18 mph and that is with all the stops and starts that you get with riding outdoors in the Metroplex along with using stock wheels instead of race wheels. The last component that cannot be ignored is adrenaline, which doesn’t exist on those long rides by yourself but will certainly be there come race day. I think that an increase of 1 to 1.5 mph is possible given the factors and having fresh legs for a race after a good solid taper. At IMTX 2012 I averaged 18.4 mph and I do believe that 19.0 to 19.5 mph is something I am capable of but there are circumstances beyond my control that make this impossible to guess at. If I finish at 19.0 mph I will be one happy athlete as I would go from 6:05 to 5:54. I also can gain confidence in the fact that I raced a 6:02 after a wreck at IMAZ that probably caused me to lose 10 to 15 minutes. Keep the rubber side down this time Jason!
The one discipline we did not focus on and yet the improvements have been drastic and quite scary. I remember the day I hit 8:30/mi and was sitting at the bottom of Z2 and thinking to myself: Is this for f’n real? Am I really going nearly :30/mi faster than I would normally be for this HR? It was bonkers to me because our focus has not been on the run but lo and behold with the fitness gains since December running gained as well. I am really psyched about this because all along I have felt that a sub 4-hour marathon at the end of an Ironman was possible. I believe the hardest part is going to be holding myself back from jumping off the bike and running as if my name were Roger Bannister (for you young’uns to the sport of running click here). At IMTX 2012 I ran to a 4:09 and that was without a strategy. IMAZ produced a 4:06 with a hanging arm so a sub-4 hour marathon is something I am certainly capable of. My familiarity with the course and the total elevation gain of ~250 ft plays right into my strengths. There will be pain on this run for sure as that last lap will be the bell lap and I’ll be running and chasing down that 11:15 regardless of where I am after the swim and bike. Embrace the pain for 8 miles and gloat forever about breaking 4 hours at the marathon of an Ironman……that is the dream.
This has been beyond stressful. I posted the other day on Twitter that if I decided to make lemonade out of all the lemons I had I could put Minute Maid out of business. It just seems that one thing got piled onto the next and Karen and I are doing all we can to keep our heads above water. The problem is that it is all the little stuff that drives you crazy. We purchased new appliances for the house in the hopes of luring a buyer. Since then we have had no showings, and about 10 minutes after the installation was done the power went out. Karen thought it was the house but it turned out to be the neighborhood. I then went to use the garbage disposal the next day and it wasn’t working. I went to Home Depot to get a handful of stuff but then Karen just pressed the reset button and voila the garbage disposal was working. Little things always add up don’t they.
Some of the projects I have been working on professionally and personally have fallen through but because of triathlon I have been able to keep my chin up fight through it and figure out alternatives to getting those projects back. I have to give credit to Karen for keeping me focused on IMTX as we get closer and keeping my arousal level to a 4. Anything above that and I am putting undue stress on my body and mind and it just isn’t necessary. If anybody want to hire Karen to be their guide through taper let me know and we can figure out an hourly rate because her service has been priceless.