As usual, I've checked out of many things over the last few weeks to focus on what I needed to. I apologize if I have been distant, it's not you, it's me. It's just who I am and what I have to do before a big race. More on that in a minute, but first I wanted to check in with a quick update to all my family, friends, sponsors and supporters.
The training is done, my race plan is done, my gear perfect and I'm ready to go. All I have left to do now is get to Kona, enjoy the week before the race. As I have said before this is an off year for me and I am going to Kona to enjoy the experience. I will be attending as many events as I can, and there are so many, thanks to my great sponsors. Of course I have trained hard but I do not have performance expectations or goals.
For the tri-athletes reading even with less focus than last year, I may have just had my best build up ever. I pretty much nailed every single workout in my Endurance Nation 12 week ironman training plan. I set PRs on my long run, long bike, and even in the pool! I also had my two best race simulations ever. Both including the full swim in a pool in 1:04, 4:58 112 miles rides, and 8 miles in ~55 minutes on both brick runs. The first was sunny and hot, I felt great but lost too much weight. Lesson learned and I did much better hydrating the 2nd one even though it was cooler.
New to me this year was heat acclimation which is a challenge when the fall weather quickly moved into Chicago in August. For the last two weeks every one of my key workouts has been inside with zero air movement, this sure has simulated some heat and forced me to sweat more than I ever have before. Next time you are looking for a challenge try riding for 3 hours at an IF of .84 inside on a trainer with no fan or air movement. It was significantly harder than I expected, but I did it and ran after. Additionally, I have gotten to know the steam room and sauna at my gym very well. It's pretty crazy that 15 minutes in the sauna feels like nothing now and is relaxing. This morning I went for 36' at 182 degrees and only got out because all of my water bottles were empty and my key to my locker was so hot I had to pick it up with a towel.
For the data geeks, here is how the year has looked for me. I was so concerned about not running Dec-Feb because of the foot injury, but in hindsight it seems to have worked out just fine.
Click to Enlarge
For the non-athletes reading this, I progressively build my fitness over about 10 months of the year with a goal of arriving at my A-race in peak shape. This means that about 2-3 weeks before the race I have to taper or reduce the volume of my workouts. I know this is critical as my body needs time to recover from the 10 months of stress I put it through, however this is by far the worst part of the year for me.
Prior to last year, I pretty much never tapered and if I did I ended up doing extra ad hoc workouts. Last year, based on the advice of EN I actually tapered prior to Ironman Wisconsin and did not do extra work. It worked and on race day my body felt great and had my easiest bike ride of the year (also my fastest ever). The two weeks I was tapering was hell. I absolutely hated every minute of it. I guess it has something to do with my type-A personality but after years of building my fitness and enjoying working out every single day, the last thing I want to do is stop. That combined with my body feeling weird while recovering and other pre-race anxiety makes me pretty high strung and not fun to be around.
So far this year my taper has gone significantly better and it's actually a longer taper. So what's changed?
Well, I doubt I will ever like to taper, but I have learned it is needed and therefore instead of fighting it this year, I decided to make the best of it. Therefore I shifted my focus to swimming and heat acclimation for the last three weeks of my build. This does two things, first and foremost it helps me with two of my weaknesses, but secondly it gives me something to focus my thought and time on (i.e. obsess over) so that I don't mind cycling and running less (my normal obsessions). This is working really well as I have found my body reacts very well to more frequent shorter swims. Therefore I have been in the pool and steam/room or sauna just about every day for at least two weeks now.
My swim is feeling great as I am focusing on my form and feeling the water instead of swimming long. The heat acclimation is going well as I used to make it 10-15' in the sauna, now I go over 30 most days and am pretty much always cold if I am not in the sauna.
Of course none of this would be possible without the never ending support and encouragement from Theresa and Abigail. I'm so fortunate to have them embrace my hobby. Right after Kona we are taking a week to vacation and just enjoy each other and NOT talk triathlon for once. In addition to Theresa and Abigail I want to thank all of my sponsors that have helped me this year.
Jake at Zoot has continued to make sure I have everything I need for Kona including multiple pairs the exact shoes I wanted to race in and other shoes/clothes for the week. BTW, the new Thermal compression stuff is awesome and just what I need now that it is fall.
Orbea, Zipp, Fuel Belt, ALCIS, and Gu have all provided awesome gear for training and racing. If you are in Kona, make sure to find the Gu house on Ali'I just south of town as they will be giving out special edition Hawaii flavored products.
The guys at Get a Grip Cycle have ensured that my bike fit is right and I have all the gear I needed.
My newest sponsor, SpiderTech Taping, came along at the perfect time. Early in my IM build I started to have arch and achilles issues, the SpiderTech team has provided me with Calf and Arch spiders that have dramatically reduce any pain and allowed me to continue my training with no further issues.
Road ID hooked me up so I have an ID for all occasions and even multiple colors. With all of the unfortunate cycling accidents this year I never leave home without a Road ID them. If you don't have one (or want another), use the coupon ThanksMatthew844172 .
The Endurance Nation team continues to motivate me and provide invaluable advice on my training and racing. More importantly, Theresa and I have so many great triathlon friends now because of EN and triathlon has become part of our live.