I've been rather quiet lately. After taking a full two weeks off from triathlon training, I am now back in base working to get my paces and watts back to my pre-Ironman Florida levels. It'll take me about 4 weeks to get there and then I can start working on getting faster. As I look back at 2011, I've made a lot of progress. Not only have I gotten a lot faster over the last 12 months, I've also made enormous strides since I started participating in long course triathlons in 2006.
|Completing a 2:21 run split at Lone Star in 2008.|
I hear a lot of people complain that they just aren't fast and that they "can't" do a lot of things (like run well off the bike or run at all). I have to respectfully disagree. I did my first half iron distance triathlon at FIRMman in 2006 in 6:57:09, obviously I finished way at the back of the pack. While I hired a coach early in 2007, I didn't improve much. I recorded a 6:34:02 at the Patriot Half and a 6:04:57 at FIRMman (although at the time, I thought my FIRMman time was blazing fast).
|My 5:30:30 Disney Marathon.|
Rather than improving, my times got even worse in 2008. I completed the Lone Star Half (now the Galveston 70.3) in 6:35:02, the Patriot Half in 6:41:12 (with a 2:31:24 run split) and finished Ironman Louisville in 15:41:12. In retrospect, I should not have toed the line in Louisville. Yes, I finished the race, but I knew I was under trained, over weight and that there was no way I was going to perform to the best of my ability (whatever that ability actually was). I ended up slogging through a hot, slow bike and walking the vast majority of the "run." I was elated to finish, but I don't feel like I respected the race and the distance that day and I was violently ill all night as a result of poor nutrition and hydration throughout the race.
|Post - Ironman Louisville.|
I pretty much repeated the same pattern in 2009. I completed the Disney Marathon in 5:30:39. Two weeks before the race, I forced myself to run 8 miles on weekday and thought that this "key workout" would get me through the marathon. Not so much. I spent the late spring / early summer in New York City on trial at the Southern District and any fitness may have had completely evaporated (as my waist line expanded) and then attempted Ironman Arizona in the fall. While I improved on my Louisville time by over an hour, finishing in 14:30:52, I once again walked most of the marathon. After Ironman Arizona two things were perfectly clear to me: (1) I had no natural talent when it came to triathlons or long course racing; and (2) simply having a coach was not going to make me faster. I parted ways with my coach in early 2010 and set out to train myself.
|Pre- Ironman Arizona.|
I started 2010 off by trying to train consistently rather than simply training when I felt like it (despite what the plan from my coach said). I rode my bike a lot more than I ever had before and I made myself run. While I was getting faster, I was also getting injured. A sprained ankle in my left leg led to Achilles tendinitis in my right leg. By mid-year I decided that I needed a coach and went with Doug at QT2 Systems. With this round of coaching, I decided to just trust the plan, do the work and see what happened on race day. There were no more skipped workouts, no more self-modification and no more "good ideas" on my part on how my training should go. It wasn't just that I changed coaches, I also changed my mind set (Shaun would say I changed my mindset for the worse and became triathlon crazy -- he may have a point). I was willing to work, to put in the hours and to make training a priority. In 2010, I biked 5,215 miles, ran 941 miles and swam 216,571 yards.
|2011 Ironman Florida Finish.|
The work paid off. I completed FIRMman in 2010 in 5:29:34, a PR of 30 minutes for the race and the distance. While Half Max National Championships did not go as planned (my wedding the week before and an Achilles flair up led to a DNF), I made huge strides in 2010. I went into 2011 with the goal of going as fast as possible at Ironman Lake Placid and Ironman Florida. While there were lots of long trainer rides and cold runs that sucked, I did the work and I got faster. I had a great race at both Lake Placid and Florida and was thrilled with my 11:26 finish in Florida (with a 4:06 marathon split). I didn't get lucky in Florida, I worked for it. After two years, I know putting in the time isn't always easy but I also know that putting in the time leads to great results. I know there are those out there that disagree, but I'm committed for 2012. If I can put in the work, I can get the hour I need to qualify for Kona. 2012 is the year.