Last night after swimming, I got on the trainer for an hour or so and watched Ironman Kona 2011. It’s always an inspiration, but no matter how good training is going, watching professional triathletes collapse can knock you back a bit.
Not only is 140.6 miles an enormous challenge, it’s all relative. The pros talk about keeping fuel in reserve and it may be one of the most difficult things to do, especially if you’re feeling great.
I am still around 6 months out and I’m already trying to slow down. The swim has me especially perplexed.
When I start running too fast, it’s easy to slow down. When you’re in a murky lake in the middle of 3,000 other swimmers, keeping my heart rate under control will be no picnic. I guess the only way to combat that is to swim a boatload before the race. And that’s what I plan to do.
I sometimes get a kick out of friends or family that sort of “write off” the bike as the easy part. I even used to do it a little, but when you think about 112 miles on the bike, and racing those miles, it’s a game changer. Not only that, you have to save fuel for the run, which is ultimately the stage that will make or break your race.
On September 8th at 7 am, when the cannon sounds to start Ironman Wisconsin, I will have never run a marathon. But later that day, after swimming 2.4 miles, and biking 112, I will run 26.2 miles. For some reason, this seems logical.
To be honest, running a marathon scares me a little. Not that I don’t think I can make it, but the risk of injury seems too great. I’m sure I’ll be trained up to 18 or so, but I hear those miles after 20 are the killers.
If you don’t feel like watching the entire video above, this truncated version takes you through the end of Ironman Kona. Joy and elation from some, but excruciating pain for others. The scene at 3:00 highlights a remarkable struggle to complete this daunting dream.
Tonight, I prepared for the inevitable pain by skipping the scheduled East Nasty run tackling the signature “Nasty” route on my own. Six miles of hills, and I had a side stitch from the moment I started.
I tried to talk myself into quitting a dozen times, but used the pain as a testing ground for that inevitable moment when I’ll need the practice. The pain was relentless, but so was I. I hammered each hill and tried to recover on the backside. Still a pain that would have knocked me over 5 months ago, gnawed at my gut. I knew it had to leave eventually, and just as I hit mile 5, it did. I picked up steam and finished the six miles, ready for more. The whole time, Kona played in my head.