Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ironman Envy

If you're like me and find yourself thinking about signing up for an ironman race after a good workout or after watching an ironman on, then may I suggest that you spend one day training about as long as you'll be racing in an ironman.  After a great 90 minute tempo run with my friend Chris, who is training for his first ultra, he and I talked about possibly signing up for Ironman Arizona in 2009.  The following day, I had a great trainer workout and my swim has been coming along of late.  In other words, I've been dialed in for most of my workouts and am feeling pretty fit.  Thus, this past Saturday, I tackled a 98 mile ride that I only do when I'm trying to get into ironman shape, though I have no ironmans on the schedule.  About, 30 miles into the ride, I was in my aerobars, grinding the gears against a slight headwind, holding about 33 km/hr just trying to keep up with my friend Staffan, who recently won his age group at Ironman China. Staffan is casually talking to me and I'm trying to converse back all the meanwhile, I was freaking out in my head because I felt like I was bonking.  Not wanting Staffan to know, I decided to drop back and reach for some food. Basically, I was scared #$%!less because the last thing I wanted was to bonk at the 30 mile mark of a 98 mile ride.  Luckily for me, the flats ended about 10 minutes later and we started a climb.  Somehow, my legs felt awesome and I was really pushing the pace up the climb.  In fact, I felt better climbing than I did through the flats, go figure. This climb totally woke me up and set me up for what was to be an AWESOME and EPIC ride. From the climb on, I was en fuego, I was mashing gears like a mad man through the flats, through the rolling sections and even on sustained climbs.  I allowed my body to keep ramping up the effort and found myself racing this guy who hopped onto my wheel.  I have a tendency to just keep increasing my efforts until I blow up rather than sticking to my pace. Well, as we approached our last major climb of the ride, my legs were toast but I knew I could come back to life if I just mashed the big gears and kept my heartrate low.  Sure enough, about 10 minutes into the climb, I came out of it and was holding a pretty nice tempo up the the rest of the climb.  At this point, my friend Erik was toast and we made the decision to split thus Staffan and I went on.  I totally can empathize with Erik as I've been there, where you can barely turn the pedal over and you're just fighting to stay upright [and thoughts like deflating your tire and relying on the kindness of strangers to give you a ride home].  Staffan and I managed to roll back to our car a bit over 6 hours for the ride which is my fastest ever...on way less training, go figure [old age must make me a worst runner but a better cyclist].  As with every Saturday, I always run off the bike.  It was during this 20 minute run that I came to the following conclusions:  I hate ironmans, I will never do an ironman again, and that this is the most absurd distance in the world.  One week later as I'm sitting here writing this, I find myself romanticizing last Saturday and am thinking, geez, if I rode 98 miles and only died a bit on the last climb, maybe I am ready for an ironman.

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