Now there was one thing that I did last year that strongly impacts me and my family this year: I signed up for my first Ironman race. A dream I've had for many years will come to fruition this year in August, in Mont Tremblant. I've got a plan (two actually - one for now from Troy Jacobson, and one that starts in March and goes for 6 months), a new swim coach, and possibly a new running coach (still figuring that out). This is a dream I've had for many years, with the seed planted back in 2003 when I watched the NBC Ironman World Championship Recap with amazement. If I knew then what I know now....
And up to this point, all that talk and ego about being a triathlete, a runner, a persistent athlete that goes out in the heat and in the cold (well, most days) - all that feels unimportant now in a strange way. I've trained, I've raced, I've sweated and I've suffered. I've gotten up early and stayed up late to get workouts in. And I'm proud of all that - it's what got me to the point of being able to register for an iron distance triathlon. But now I feel like I did many times before: when I signed up for my first triathlon; when I signed up for my first olympic distance tri; when I signed up for my first 5k, 10k, half- and full marathon; when I signed up for my first half-iron tri. I feel the excitement, fear, confusion, the "everything" of facing a new big challenge head on.
My wife got me a Garmin Forerunner 305 for Christmas this year. I think it was her way of ushering the "new" in more ways than one. My Polar 625X was old and worn, the chest strap broken and stained - but it still worked. Why change it? It's still good enough. But, as always, she knew better, and she knew it on many levels. A new tool for me, with new features that encouraged a new way to apply my stats so I could train smarter. The HRM has made me revisit how I train, how I measure myself through the different efforts, what I decide to focus on. After years of racing and training, nothing has really changed in terms of performance and desire. Getting the Forerunner has changed that for me.
A key example - my lactate threshold. This is an important number for many reasons, including defining your intensity zones across all activities. If you don't know your LT, you don't really know if you're training too hard or too soft. And if you don't race often, you don't know if you're improving either. Well, on January 1 of the new year, I did a hard-effort run around my neighborhood, suffering through much of the run but pushing to see where I was on that day. Skip ahead to today, where Coach Troy's plan for the day was a bike set that (with one of his DVDs) allowed you to determine your LT. I don't have that DVD (yet...) but found that if you do a 30min time-trial and give it your all for the full duration, the average HR for the last 20min is a good estimate. So that's what I did on the bike today, and what I did with the stats from the New Year's Day run. Previously, I guessed my LT was at about 155bpm. Today I found that on the bike it's 170, and on the run it's 165ish. That's a HUGE difference. And I can take that to the training bank and adjust my training accordingly.
|The nearly done workout area...well, part of it.|
Talk is cheap, sure. And I've added a pile of it above. I'm a good talker, a good complainer, a good whiner, and I can be a terrific victim when I want to. But by signing up for this event, I'm putting my money where my mouth is and I won't let myself down, my family down, my friends down. I'm going to do the very best I can each and every day leading up to that event in August where I will see what I truly am possible of achieving. Just like the good stuff we forget about in our daily lives, I think I've forgotten just how good I really am - perhaps the daily grind drums that out of you. But it's still there - it's always been there - and I'm going to celebrate it again and again.
This is my year, my race, my Ironman. And the best thing about it is that I'm sharing it with my family and my friends. Without them, I'm just another guy. I may wear the medal, but we'll all have earned it.
And that excites me to no end.