1. In the pool, I've built both distance as well as speed and for the first time, truly enjoy my swim workouts. I won't ever have the speed of collegiate swimmers, but among an age-group field I can hold my own.
2. Biking was a heavy focus this year since I considered it to be my weakest link and also the longest portion of Iron-distance racing. I trained with a power meter for the first time, developed a love/hate relationship with power intervals, enthusiastically anticipated every 4am trainer session, survived three 100+ mile rides, and thanks to some great friends I actually started to enjoy long bike rides.
3. Running has been consistent, but nothing spectacular. I gradually built mileage and managed to get by uninjured. My longest run was 18 miles on one of the hottest and most humid days in Charlotte. Although I've had some fast race times, the majority of my run training was on tired and sluggish legs, and thus running was the most frustrating sport of the three this year.
4. Friends who are willing to spend six hours on a bicycle and then follow that with a ten mile run and never once complain are the best of friends. I've had the fortune of meeting and training with some amazing athletes and great friends on our respective paths to Ironman success. Andrew and Dana kicked butt at Ironman Louisville and I can't wait to celebrate with Jen, Kelly, Theoden, and many others tomorrow night in Chattanooga.
5. Ironman training is both mentally and physically exhausting. You walk a very fine line in an attempt to build sufficient training volume, prevent injury, and maintain your sanity. Two months ago I was in the middle of some peak training weeks and was just shy of being ready to call it quits. Fortunately I was encouraged by my coach, great training partners, and a supportive family and I rallied and kept moving forward.
6. It is possible to train for an Ironman while averaging 60-80 hour work weeks. Nobody said it was going to be easy to be an orthopedic resident and also an Ironman, but where there is a will there is a way. Since January, I've only missed 7 total workouts, and three of those were when I was in bed with the stomach flu for several days. Commitment and dedication were key, as well as an efficient training plan.
7. Having a supportive family is without a doubt another key to my success. Although they aren't close enough to bike alongside during my long runs, cook me recovery meals, or do my endless loads of dirty laundry, they've been with me every step of the way and I have no doubt will keep me moving and smiling tomorrow.
8. The volume of food that I've consumed during these last couple months of training is a bit ridiculous. Although it was initially quite fun to be able to eat as much as I wanted and still be hungry for more, I'm ready to go back to sleeping through the night and not waking up at midnight and finding myself in the kitchen downing a bowl of cereal.
And with that I think I'll call it quits for now. I'm sure there are plenty of other thoughts that I'm forgetting about in my daze of nervous race energy, but I'll get back to you with those later. I'll leave you with my projections for tomorrow's race and a few quotes that have been mantra throughout my training.
Swim: Less than 1 hour
Bike: 6:20 - 6:30
Run: 4 hours? (total guess on this since I've never run a marathon before)
With a well executed race plan, I'd love to see a sub 12 hour time on the clock as I cross the finish. Only time will tell.
"Ironman doesn't build character, it reveals it."
"If you want something you've never had, you must be willing to do something you've never done before"