It’s been nearly 3 weeks since Ironman Arizona but to me it seems like so much longer. Here’s where I’m at with things. Feel free not to read if you’re sick of hearing/reading about this.
I’ve thought about IMAZ off and on since the race. I look at the medal and at 4th place and at the splits and times and think about the 2 minutes I thoughtlessly gave to the course that would have put me in 3rd. And I think how and where I came up short. IMAZ was a humbling experience. I’d done the race 6 times and while I trained and prepped to perform well again this year, I was surprisinglyUNprepared for the things that didn’t go as planned (windy bike ride, back pain, nutrition not great, feeling fine and more often feeling bad on the run). This isn’t how I see myself - I have thought that I usually am good about adapting, adjusting, and taking in stride whatever comes. As I think about it, I have hit breaking points during a few races that took me more time than I’d like to get over before pushing ahead. Hmm… well that’s not how I see myself.
For this race I learned that it's a good idea to ‘coach’ my support crew on what I need to hear and how I want it said. This was my 10th Ironman so at this point the goal for me is not “just” to finish. If Linda hadn’t told me what my status was during the final 8K of the marathon, and told me with urgency, enthusiasm, and forcefulness, I wouldn’t have worked nearly as hard as I did to give it my all. She and my other support crew made a huge difference at important moments. I needed them to push through.
It is surprising to me that I let go of my goals the way I did. But that has made me hungry for a redo. And so, while I told myself for half the race that I’d NEVER do it again, I went and signed up for 2018. To make things ridiculous I’m also racing Ironman Chattanooga six weeks before Arizona. I have a vision of how I’ll go about this double but it is unknown territory for me. It excites me and makes me a little scared – now THAT’S motivating! http://online.ccfa.org/goto/skipslade
My physical and mental recovery from IMAZ has been faster than I can remember. I could be back into full-on training by now but since this is my down time/off season, I’m trying to be smart and not jump back in too quickly. I know I’ll run out of enthusiasm and feel that self-defeating burnout by the summer if I don’t honor the need for some unstructured, optional working out now. It is hard not to want to get going right now because I think I know what I want to do and need to work on to hit my goals for next year. Patience is what’s needed.
That said, for the next 6-10 weeks I intend to do mostly shorter workouts. Swim, bike, and run will focus more on technique and on higher intensity stuff, building gradually of course. This is similar to what I intend to have many of my athletes do who have developed a large endurance base over the years. I’m unhappy with how my swim has slowed and I attribute that to declining technique and to fewer pool swims. I know age is a factor for ME because I’m a ‘mature’ swimmer because of my long time in the sport but I can still put up a fight to regain some of that lost speed.
I intend to mix in some work on the rowing machine just for variety, since my races are pretty far off. I’ll also have a strong early season focus on strength training. This comes after a visit to my knowledgeable and experienced expert, Diane Buchta, last week. This past year I did the least amount of strength training I’ve done in 9 years and I think it showed on both the bike and run in Arizona.
So that is where I’m headed. I’ve swum twice, rowed twice, run and biked once each, and done strength training this week. Most has been pretty short but next week I'll start getting in what I would call real workouts.
That’s the update. I could easily just write this for myself or just think about it without sharing but I often share this stuff in case it can help you understand your own efforts, give you ideas for your training, or normalize what you might be thinking or feeling. I don’t have all the answers. Obviously I have my own weaknesses and places where I fall short. Racing 10 Ironmans has peeled away hidden, or maybe intentionally buried, weaknesses that I need to work on. I just don’t think it would be honest to paint a rosy picture of perfection when that's not reality. Thanks for reading all the way to the end!