After committing to an Ironman race for 2016 I had a lot of friends ask me if I had a training plan–to which my response most likely resembled a drunken rambling of non-sequiturs. (Think any flustered Hugh Grant character from the 90’s.) “Well… you know… I, er… ahem, the thing is… I… do you want to share a taxi?”
Last Summer I was able to effectively execute my half-Ironman from a self-prescribed plan based on feedback from my fellow triathletes; however, somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that for this particular endeavor I needed a legitimate strategy to traverse 140 miles in one day.
After the New Year I started to panic because I had yet to figure out what I was going to do. I researched some Ironman “stock plans” but they didn’t cover crucial details like nutrition, as in, how to properly fuel for a 112 mile bike ride and still have enough energy to run a marathon.
I started researching some triathlon coaching services and came across E3 training solutions–a Boston-based coaching group catering to both amateur and professional triathletes. With just a little under six months out from my big race I met with my prospective coaches Jana and Jorge. Everything just kind of “clicked” and we hit it off… and so my journey now begins with a #legit plan. And a coach.
I have a tri coach!
My coach, Jana, is a ridiculous athlete. She has qualified for Kona four times and has a finishing best at Kona IM under 10 hours. (Kona is to Ironman what Boston is to marathons.) I trust her with my life.
One huge sigh of relief for me is that, regardless of what happens on race day, I’ll go into my Ironman with the confidence that I had professional athletic training and guidance. If I had attempted this race all on my own I would’ve been plagued with a head full of pre and post-race doubts not to mention a massive case of the “what if’s”. Having a coach, and a plan, removes any second-guessing. Obviously anything can happen–but whatever the outcome I can be confident that I put in the work and properly trained (and fueled) for my Ironman.
With under five months out from my race I have officially started my training plan and I have completed five weeks thus far. Jana uploads my workouts every week so I have some advance notice of what to expect. My third week’s workout schedule definitely solicited a Whoa! Slowly but surely the workouts are increasing in duration and intensity.
There are certainly many other ways people find to fill their own personal void–whether it be a 60 hour work-week, raising kids or taking a lot of drugs. There’s no right or wrong answer–the path we follow is just as random as the choices handed to us.
Not surprisingly, I’m finding every free moment of my life completely usurped with training; a welcomed construct, but also one that makes me realize that I have the perfect Ironman lifestyle–no kids, no home-ownership, no late-night or weekend work expectations and close friends that are almost exclusively into nothing but running, swimming and cycling. The thing is, an 11 hour training week doesn’t equate to 11 perfect hours subtracted from my week. One must factor in getting to the pool, showering, waiting for a lane to open, the actual workout, showering again, stretching, foam rolling… I sometimes think the tertiary before and after is greater than the time spent logging the physical yards and miles. An 11 hour training week, which in the triathlon world is nothing, is probably actually more like 18 hours. To all of the Ironman triathletes out there training with way more commitments than I have… kudos. Kudos.
One of the most amazing parts of being in my 40’s is that I am fit and healthy, but additionally, I have accepted my life as it currently stands. It’s an interesting and weird combination of things, i.e. essentially, I’m athletic with a lot of free time on my hands. What else would I be doing to fill the deep, dark void? Perhaps training for an Ironman is not filling the void, but rather embracing the void. There are certainly many other ways people find to fill their own personal void–whether it be a 60 hour work-week, raising kids or taking a lot of drugs. There’s no right or wrong answer–the path we follow is just as random as the choices handed to us.
I guess in some respects I didn’t find the sport of triathlon, it found me.
I love the quiet, cold, solitude of my training thus far. There’s no music, there’s no push notifications from my iPhone. I rarely have accompaniment–it’s just me with my face planted in the water. It’s just me on a barren track. It’s just me and a threshold test or an absurd workout.
There’s no one looking over my shoulder to make sure I get in the time, distance or intervals. It’s interesting because I’ve never thought of myself as a disciplined person, but for whatever reason I refuse to let myself go easy into the dark night. I don’t want to merely finish my Ironman. I want the void I’ve been embracing to puncture the very fabric of my own private black hole. I’m not expecting to finish in some absurd time, but I am expecting to finish strong–removed of my own doubt.