Evolution Of An Ironman Triathlete - The Story

[caption id="attachment_8474" align="alignright" width="300"]evolution ironman triathlete - training - triathlon Source: Zazzle.com[/caption] Evolution of an Ironman triathlete starts with the decision to race 140.6 miles using your own engine.  From that point you are filled with glee and giddiness as well as anxiety and nerves.  You have no idea what you have just gotten yourself into, but you are ready.  There is going to be swimming and biking and running.  More importantly there is going to be lots of food to eat.  It is all unicorn and rainbows after you hit that registration button.  After those few hours have worn off the evolution of an Ironman triathlete really begins to take place. That night you begin to lay out a plan or you have already hired a coach that has the plan uploaded for you and it is time to get to work.  This is where the evolution of the Ironman triathlete takes place.....overnight.  And it is not just one night but every night until you finally cross the finish line and even then you have one more night to complete that evolution.  Let us breakdown how the evolution of an Ironman triathlete takes place.  We are going to assume a 24 week training cycle with base phase, overload/build phase, taper phase and arms raised phase.

EVOLUTION OF AN IRONMAN TRIATHLETE

Weeks 1-4

Your first couple of weeks are filled with enthusiasm.  You are as giddy as a fat kid with cake when the schedule shows 1 hour ride or 2 hour ride.  There are days with 2000-2500 yard swims and runs that last no longer than a few miles.  You are building your base and you are loving this.  Every night you put your clothes out for the morning workout or pack your bag for the workout after work.

If the training schedule says 30 mile bike ride you will ride around in circles until your Garmin 500 shows 30.0 miles.  You are analyzing all of your data like a Rocket Scientist for NASA.  What does this 0.1 sec blip mean?  You are googling all kinds of information.  Sh*t man, you are going to be an Ironman.  Nobody can stop you.

Weeks 5-8

The long rides have progressed from 1-2 hours to 3 hours.  You are now on your trainer quite a bit because those simple sets with intervals must be done in the wee hours before work since you have meeting after meeting and you still need to pick up the groceries, dry cleaning and your kids from school.  You are starting to see changes in your body and you begin to take your nutrition a bit more seriously because along with those body changes you are craving everything now that the workouts are longer and a bit harder.

Your significant other starts to notice the pile of laundry growing as well as the cycling and running shoes strewn about the house.  In an attempt to keep these clean you think that you can pack it all in a corner until 5am one day comes around and you can't find anything.  You are certain you left the shoes in the bag but sure enough you go grab your bike and the shoes are still clipped in.

You return from your morning workout and the conversations start about what needs to be done around the house this weekend and all you have are visions of you in your cycling kit and shades and riding around the country.  Nothing that has been said sticks.  You then mention the TV show you were 'watching' last night and are informed that you passed out around 9pm and its a good thing that you have a DVR.

Weeks 9-12

The halfway mark.  The evolution of an Ironman triathlete is starting to take shape.  You have had a recovery week thrown in here and your body feels somewhat normal but not really.  Your legs are tired, your arms are tired, even your neck is tired.  Why is your neck tired?  Well, those days of swimming 2000 yards have been replaced with 3000-3500 yard swims.  There are descending sets and ladders.  You realize that your lungs can feel like they are on fire even though you are submerged in water.

At  this point you have started a blog and are writing everyday:  Today I rode 25 miles on my trainer and it HURT. It sucked.  I watched three episodes of Walking Dead and I feel like a zombie.  Day 2:  How is it that whenever I have a run scheduled it rains and I have to go to the treadmill again.  I HATE the treadmill.  You also begin to wonder if this will ever end.  It has been 12 weeks after all and I am READY for this Ironman.  Bring it on!

Weeks 13-16

Somewhere in  here there is a 70.3 tune-up race.  You begin to think about taper and recovery weeks being built into this.  Silly fool.....The Evolution of An Ironman Triathlete does not mean you taper and rest and recover for a HALF-IRONMAN.  You will train hard up to 2 days before the race and after 2 days of recovery you are back to doing 3 hour trainer rides because your kids need to go to their soccer game in the evening.

You think about goals for this 70.3 and write them down and blog about them.  You tell everybody you are going to be flying around that course chasing the likes of Crowie and O'Donnell.  The truth is you are barely moving faster than the dead crow on the side of the road because the lactic acid has not fully left your body.  You are testing out all sorts of different nutrition ideas and none of it seems to work.  You start thinking.....can this get any worse.

Weeks 17-20

Yes it can get worse and here is when it does.  Overload weeks start and the 5 and 6 hour bike rides on Saturday are followed by 2-3 hour runs on Sunday.  Your mind is everywhere and you can't possibly go another step let alone another 4 weeks.  Is it 4 weeks until the race?  Where am I racing?  How am I going to get through this race?  Questions are everywhere but you keep blogging even though the words look like this:  Swim, Swam, Swum....what did I do?  I think I was pedaling but not sjkl; and alkj.....too tired.....going to bed.

Your bedtime is now before your kids.  You are battling the eyelids starting at 7:30pm and are eating dinner with the blue hairs.  You have more canisters of powders on your counter tops than you have counter top space.  There is triathlon stuff everywhere and that small laundry pile has morphed into a clothing monster.  You don't even bother trying to fold and just pick clothes out of the basket and give them the sniff test.  Do they smell used or like laundry detergent?  Either way you don't care and you put them on and go out for that day's scheduled activity.  The baristas at Starbucks know your order and when to expect you.  They greet you with a smile even though your stench is stronger than the coffee they are serving.

Your last week of overload is completed and you try to raise your hand triumphantly after that last step is taken but your arms are too tired and you still have to make that recovery smoothie and meal.

Weeks 21-24

You made it.  It is taper week and you have visions of sleeping late and feeling energized.  Unfortunately your training plan still has interval work in it and that long ride while no longer 6 hours is still 2-3 hours.  You still have to go out and run for 1-1.5 hours and let's not forget that you are still swimming.  Shaving?  Yeah right.  The only thing you shave these days are your legs.

You start to think about traveling to the race.  Things to pack.  What goes into what bag.  What is your race strategy.  You wish that somebody had invented human bubble wrap because you stub your toe or your cut your finger and you are worried that you won't make it to the starting line and complete your Evolution Of An Ironman Triathlete.

You finally get to race week and the workouts are truly short and your body feels a bit better but the nerves and anxiety fill that void.  That last day before the race you are so bored of just sitting around that you just want to sleep and sleep and sleep to help kill time.  DO IT!

Race Day - Recovery

You go to the swim start the cannon goes off and you swim, bike and run for 140.6 miles.  You cross the finish line and regardless of how tired and irritable you were for 24 weeks all of that washes away.  It doesn't matter how hard the race was because in a few steps you will cross the finish line and here the voice of Ironman Mike Reilly say:  First Name, Last Name:     YOU ARE AN IRONMAN! The crowd will cheer loudly, you will fall into the arms of a waiting volunteer.  You will find your family and friends and you will cry like a baby that you just completed an epic race but the evolution of an Ironman triathlete is not done yet.

The next day you go to breakfast and you order Page 2 of the menu because it just doesn't matter anymore and you are hungry.  You are wearing your medal and every article of clothing that is showcasing the M-Dot logo.  You want people to ask you if you raced the Ironman.  You practically put the medal on the check when it comes so that the waitress/waiter asks you about it.

That night when you go to bed you realize that you have become an Ironman.  You realize the time and effort and pain and suffering and tears and blood that has been spent in the previous 6 months was all worth it and you start thinking about IM #2.  Congratulations your Evolution of an Ironman triathlete is now complete.

** Based on a true story**

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Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.