What’s in a goal?

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve accomplished the goal I have been driving for since I signed up for my first Ironman in September of 2004. At the time I set the goal, I thought it would be easy.

As I learned at Ironman Wisconsin in September 2005, it wasn’t going to be easy. It was going to take a lot of hard work, sacrifice and support from my wife. Looking back I’m glad it happened this way, I appreciate the enormity of what I’ve accomplished more then I would have if I had made it at my first Ironman. How do I know this? I look at some of the other goals and/or major acheivements I’ve accomplished in my life and the ones that came easily I didn’t value. Chances are had I qualified for Kona on the first try, I would enjoy this sport nearly as much as I do now.

But now I’ve reached a point, nearly 3 years later and I have achieved my goal. That leaves me in a different position then I’m used to – I’ve only truly achieved a goal of this stature once or twice in my life – as I generally set my goals rather high and end up [happily] falling just shy of the goal. Although those goals were typically short term (i.e. Current Swim season) goals, not a long term 3-5 year goal that I just chipped away at.

Anyways, what do I set as a goal for the next 3-5 year triathlon goal? To be honest I have dozens of ideas, but I’m having a hard time settling on one, mostly because of a post by Gordo a while back. The jist of the post is that by setting a clear cut completely objective goal of “I want to do an Ironman in X:XX” we will in a way place an artificial cap on our ability to achieve. I’m particularly fond of how he stated it

“So, my experience is that aiming for our highest potential will ALWAYS sell ourselves short, because we sell ourselves short.”

Hard to imagine that in trying to do ourselves a favor by setting a goal, we are in reality placing a limiting factor on our performance by defining what fast means to us at a given point of time.

Time to take a deep breath…

So what do I set as a goal? To be honest I have no idea, and in a way I’m scared to. I’m scared of selling myself short, scared of setting an unobtainable goal, scared to set a goal others will call me crasy for setting.

Who would have thought that crossing a long term goal off your top ten list would cause such a crazy dilemma?

Well I’ve got to head off to a meeting at work. Perhaps when I get back my head will have cleared a bit to reason something out!

Catch up time

Well it’s catch up time. Not in the sense that I have training to catch up on, but it’s time to bring my blog up to date with things, and spend a little time working on the website.

Where to begin? Well Ironman Arizona was a great success. It wasn’t a perfect race, but it was pretty darn close. I won’t go into to much detail about the race in my blog – I’ll save that for the race report section of my site, which is coming soon – but I bettered my time from IMWI by about 40 minutes. Normally I’d say that’s equal to a 25-30 minute improvement, but we had some pretty crazy winds out there on the bike, and I had a flat so I’ll call it an even 40 minute improvement!

That performance earned me a spot at Ironman Hawaii, which has been my driving goal for the last two years. What my next goal is/will be/should be is a blog in and of itselef. Mary and I are thrilled at the prospect of going to Hawaii in October.

A wrinkle introduced by qualifying is the fact that I have registered for Ironman Wisconsin, only 5 weeks before Kona. That’s a mighty tight recovery window; and while I seem to be recovering very quickly from Arizona, who knows how I will recover from Wisconsin. In addition to that, who knows how my performance at Wisconsin might influence my motivation for the last 5 weeks leading up to Kona. Mary and I talked about it a bit tonight, and she and I agree that it’s probably better to approach Wisconsin as a giant catered training day. I’m going to start the race, do the swim, the bike, and the first 6 miles of the run and end the day with my first DNF. The thought of that doesn’t make me real happy, but Kona is much more important then Wisconsin at this point.

In another first I found out my hometown newspapers featured articles about my race last week! I feel pretty honored to get mentioned in the newspaper. Here is a link to the article I found – Rochester Post-Bulletin. My dad told me there was also an article in the Austin Daily Herald, but I couldn’t find an online version of it.

The remainder of our trip was great – it was mostly a driving trip around Arizona, with a stop at Sedona, Meteor Crater, and the Grand Canyon. We hiked (two days after IMAZ) down to the bottom, camped out, and hiked back up to the top. The trip was a blast. You can take a look at some of our pictures here.

Training wise, last week was mostly 0’s – if you don’t count the hiking – this week I am limited to swimming since my bike got misdirected to Oregon on the way back and won’t be here until this weekend, no running planned until next week probably. I swam for about 50 minutes today:

  • 3×300 – Swim/Kick/Swim
  • 10×50 @ 1 drill
  • 8×50 @ 1 Non Free
  • 3×300 @ 4:30

Not to much on the plate except for getting back into the swing of things, and preparing for the DeSoto American Triple-T in a few weeks.

I’m back

Just a quick update, I’m back from my trip to IMAZ. It was a great race and a great vacation. I came home with a slot for Kona, 3rd place in my age group and 29th overall – 9:46.

I’ll try to post a race report tomorrow.

Ironman Arizona 2007

This is the second time I’ve tried to write this (the IE window got closed on the first try).

Fortunately for you that means all the boring garbage I wrote about the days before the race will get surmised into this:

  • Mary swam with me in the lake without a wetsuit, she’s tough!
  • The desert botanical gardens are beautiful!
  • I forgot to bring most of the tools to move my cassette from my training wheel to the disc I rented.
  • I did my best to avoid getting sun burn on my pasty white Wisconsin winter tan.
  • I had a panic attack on Saturday when I thought I lost my goggles.
  • Breakfast with the TNO folks was fun
  • Left my wetsuit at the race sight after the Saturday swim.

 

On to the Race:

I woke up at 4:00 am on race day – it didn’t seem as early as it was since my system was still mostly on Wisconsin time, so it was more like 6:00 to me. Over the course of the next 30 minutes I had my usual pre-race two cups of coffee and 3 yogurt smoothies. At about 4:40 Mary and I went down to the hotel lobby to meet my parents and head off to the race. From there on I did the usual stuff.

General Note:

I had decided earlier this winter that IMAZ was going to be extremely fast or an extremely spectacular blowup, so I was going to ride the bike fairly agressively and then have faith in my legs for the run.

Swim:

The plan was to simply get out of the water as fast as possible (50-55 min), but with as little energy expenditure as possible.

I entered the water a couple of minutes before the pros started and swam over to the start bouy. Some of the kayekers were nice enough to let us hang on the kayaks before the start – which was good because fighting for my space was difficult. It always surprises me how agressive people are at the start before the race even starts.

My original plan was to swim from the start bouy to the third leg of the Rual Road bride trying to swim as straight a course as possible (since the course actually snakes along the lake/channel). Oce at the bouy I quickly decided that with the sun as bright as it was I’d follow the bouy line other swimmers out, and then cut in on the way back.

When the cannon fired I took off swimming hard trying to get out of the mess that’s the Ironman Swim. After things settled abit I was surprised to see a fairly large group of what looked to be 6-10 swimmers about a hundred yards in front of me. I sensed a several people in the water behind/around me meaning that I was pulling the second group. Normally I don’t have a problem with pulling people on the swim, but a few times I had some “jerks” try to slip into the water in my armpits which just happens to be the best drag but also happens to be the area of the draft that actually slows the lead swimming down. So around the 1/2 way mark between the bridges on the way out I decided to try to bridge the hundred meters or so to the lead group.

Everybody but one person fell off me at that point – and he must have had the same idea about bridging to the next group because we spent the rest of the way out swimming a couple meters to my right even with me. We continued that way until sometime after the turn around when he dropped to my feet.

From that point the swim was uneventful until I got right around the Mill Ave bridge when I was struck by a huge cramp in my right calf. It didn’t worry me to much though as this has happened in both of my previous Ironman races. Ended up being my second fastest IM swim, but my lowest IM swim placing!

Time: 0:52:48

AG/OA: 2nd/28th

T1:

Nothing to see here, was great to not have to run up the helix!

3:36

Bike:

I had no idea what to expect on the bike. Almost all of my bike rides this winter were on the trainer or in terrible weather conditions so I had very little reference to how fast I could ride. I was confident I could ride hard and fast – partly due to the grinding “flat” miles on the trainer, and partly because of the 4 months or so of dedicated powercrank usage.

The plan for the bike was to ride the first hour (or until my HR settled) at a pretty easy RPE, and then ride above 135ish HR, but not going over 140. 119 – 125ish is my typical Ironman HR range, but given my overall race plan I was going to bring it up a little bit.

I got out of town and onto the Beeline highway quickly – I was surprised by the first aid station at around 5 miles, I wasn’t expecting it until mile 10 so it caught me unprepared for it. The ride out to turn around went really quickly, and the ride back into town went quickly as well – the wind was there, but it wasn’t bad.

The beginning of the second loop was spectacular, the tailwind just threw me down the road. I was riding with my bike computer on cadence only (no magnet on the disk) so I have no idea how fast I was going, but I hit the half way point at 2:28 – 3 minutes faster then my fastest half Ironman split. I was really stoked at this point – turning around into the headwind put a little bit of a damper on that, but I don’t know what it was, but I passed a lot (and I mean a lot) of people on the way back in on the second lap who had passed me on the way out. The headwind was just hammering them. For some reason it was hitting me hard, but I was flying by them quickly at my 135ish HR.

I hit the turn around heading into the third lap figuring a 5:05-5:10 was looking like a very realistic split. I took advantage of the tail wind and put the pedal to the metal. The 5th straight away went really fast, I hit the turnaround and kept the pedal down reeling people in. I hit the 95 mile mark still condfident of a sub 5:10 spilt when I notice a chunk, chunk, chunk, chunk in my ride. Knowing without knowing that I had a flat tire I started to pull over while I looked at my tires to determine which it was.

It was pretty obvious that the back was flat. When I got off the bike I noticed that it still had some pressure so I did a quick pro/con of using my CO2 to add some pressure and then grabbing my extra CO2 at special needs to top it off again. Part of me though I’d be able to pull it off since I’d only be on the road for another 40 minutes or so. Surprisingly the conservative part of me won, and I pulled the wheel off to change the tire. By the time I got the wheel off and had my tire lever jabbed in the glue to rip the flat off – a tech support car pulled up. I was more then happy to let him come over to pull the flat off while I pulled my spare from under my seat. The guy pulled it quick enough pumped it with real air, and sent me on my way. I was pretty dismayed to discover that I had lost most of the fluid in my aero bottle, and had a mostly empty bottle of water in the bottle holder.

I went through the aid station by the landfill, and cheated a wee bit and grabbed my special needs bag and pulled my second spare out just in case.

The rest of the bike was uneventful.

Time: 5:19:02

AG/OA: 7th/74th

T2:

World’s longest pee. Spent a good 2 minutes in the porta potty. I was totally amazed at how empty the transition tent was. Turns out I was 40th overall at this point.

3:26

Run:

The plan for the run was to simply run as fast as I could until I couldn’t any more. (Target was 3:15)

I came out of T2 with a couple of other guys, one of them fell off pretty quickly the other one fell off around mile one. As I turned off the Rural Road bridge into the “4 mile loop” I saw a couple of the back end pros finishing up that lap. At mile 2 the urge for #2 came, so I ducked into the john, did my business. When I came out I noticed that at least 4 or 5 guys had passed me during the rest stop.

I got back into my rhythm and started to reel them back in. Rounding the corner after the second aid station I was slammed by something I least expected. A hill. A hill that was one mile long. One mile. I was expecting a course somewhere along the lines of the Chicago Marathon run – flat and fast. Guess not.

Unfortunately I don’t remember a whole lot of the run. Just that it hurt and it wasn’t really a lot of fun.

Time: 3:27:43

AG/OA: 4th/39th

Total: 9:46:33

AG/OA: 3rd/29th (10th Amatuer)

General Thoughts:

I “finally” accomplished my driving goal of earning a Kona slot. Now that that is done, I need to come up with a new goal to drive my training – what it will be I’m not sure, but it will be something out there, that will really force me to reach. Hopefully it will be another goal that will take 3-5 years to reach.

While I’m completely satisfied with the overall result of this race, I’m a little dissatisfied with my run. It was a great run, a IM PR by a minute or so, but I’m not thrilled with some of my behaviors that I had:

  • I ran well for the first 13 or so miles, but after that I didn’t fight to keep my focus up, it slowly dropped and I shifted from running to just getting through. I never stopped running, but you can tell by my splits – I stopped running.
  • Mentally I wasn’t fully in the run – my mind seemed very distracted by something. THis probably contributed to #1
  • I had a really hard time getting into the nutritional rhythm I’ve used on the run before (Water/Coke/Gel at 2 sucessisve aid stations and Water/Coke/Salt at the third). Perhaps the cause of #2?

 

What’s Next?

I am definately headed to Kona, no way am I missing out on that show. I need to figure out what to do for IMWI. Do I race it? Start and DNF at mile 6 of the run? Spectate? I have no idea. The focus of this summer will be shifted to Kona without a doubt, but I’m the type of person that just hates to throw an opportunity to race away. Fortunately I have the Desoto Triple T 6 weeks after IMAZ (Kona is 5 weeks after IMWI), so that will be a good indicator of what IMWI will do to me. In fact it will probably be a really good indicator considering I hike to the bottom of the grand Canyon to camp and hiked back up to the top 2 days after IMAZ!

I’m off

Well I’m off to catch my plane. I don’t know what I’ll have for internet access while I’m in Arizona so there might not be any updates until I get back – 4/22/2007

Calm before the storm

It’s very close to the race now, so close that I can feel it. In fact one week from know it will all be over. In fact one week from now I’ll be sitting at the awards dinner chowing on some good food. I’ll know the results of the race, how I did, how others did. And it will all be in the past. I’ll have a nice week of vacation in the American Southwest to look forward to. A hike in the Grand Canyon, all sorts of awesome things.

Except right now none of those awesome things matter, the lunch doesn’t matter. At this point in time the only thing that matters about the trip is the race. To be honest I’m not sure I like that, but like the Oracle said in Matrix Reloaded “We can never see past the choices we don’t understand.” It’s not really a choice and I really don’t even need to understand it, but at this point IM Arizona is a huge thing in front of me that I have to get past first. I’m really looking forward to it, there is a lot of anticipation in my mind – will I remember everything, did I train right, did I train enough, will I pace it right, will I eat enough? All these questions are racing through my mind

What makes it worse right now is that even though all this nervous energy is building up inside I can’t go do anything to expend it, right now my body needs rest.

The good news is that my training the last week or so has been pretty good. Yesterday I went for 1:45 on the trainer at a pretty steady effort and followed it up with a 3.6 mile run (26 minutes flat), which was my fastest ever. Saturday was a pretty easy type day – with part of it spent watching Mary run a half marathon, she did great 1:48, a 1 minute PR, in cold, windy conditions. It was really hard for me to spectate. I wanted to suit up and go run and see what I’m capable of. It seemed a shame to show up at a race with the fitness I have and just watch – grrrrrr. It kills me to speculate about how fast I could have gone, it just flat out drives me nuts. It has taken a lot of effort on my part to try and not speculate.

Not much more to ramble on about….oh yes I do have some more. A huge thanks to the people at Oomph. They came through with a huge homerun for me – and got a pair of Vigor Compression shorts, and a Tri Singlet in my hands even though the shorts were out of stock. I’m super stoked about getting them in time for Arizona this weekend. Thanks Scott and Julie! FWIW – you’ve earned a link on my links page!

Getting Close

Two weeks.

14 days. It’s been a long cycle so far, and that’s all that’s left. My training is pretty much done – at this point there are only a few more days of potential fitness gains before the race, after that all I can do is tire myself out.

Training has been going pretty good. I’ve had some rough days – mostly mental. Last Tuesday I had a great run – I ran 12 miles in 90 minutes increasing pace every 3 miles ( 8 mpm, 7:45, 7:30, 7:15). It went really well, I was able to bring up my pace, while keeping it aerobic the whole time.

Thursday I did a 48 mile ride with a couple HIMish effort intervals in there – followed by a 10k run at IM effort.

Today was the last big day of training, and was planned to be a race simulation. I searched out a course on terrain as similar to Ironman Arizona’s as I could (Pleasant Prairie Tri Olympic Course). The course was exactly what I needed – unfortunately the weather was totally uncooperative – 30+ mph winds, and nasty cold rain. I ended up riding for about 4 hours and running for 45 (planned 4 + 1). I only covered a little over 70 miles – while the speed was disappointing I was really happy with the effort I put in and how I was able to run afterwards (~6.75 miles in a little 48 minutes).

Physically it seems like I’m ready for the race, mentally though I’m not so sure. I’m confident in my ability to do a good swim, and run well off a well paced bike, but I’m not sure what a well paced bike is for me right now. With the time I’ve spent on the trainer this winter – I feel stronger, but I just haven’t had the opportunity to see how I am on the road. I’ve had a couple really strong outside rides, but I’ve also had some really bad rides. In the end I’m going to really have to rely on my HR and PE at Arizona to make sure that I’m not riding beyond my means. I’m confident that if I ride smart I can run a 3:15 marathon, but if I ride to hard – I don’t have a chance at that.

One thing I’m pretty sure about though is – I’m going to do the run on pure PE, so I’ll be dropping my HRM strap in T2 and just running by pace and effort. It worked well for me at Wisconsin, and I think ultimately with the potential for the heat/excitement to artificially inflat my HR on the run, I will probably run a better race by disregarding it.

I’m hoping to head down to PP again this week for a 2 and a half hour ride, hopefully I’ll be able to pick a day where the weather will be nice to get a good idea of what my target effort equates to for a speed.