Friday, August 19, 2011

About The Home Stretch

It's just 9 days away.  It seems like just yesterday I made the decision to sign up for Ironman Louisville 2011.  And now it's just 9 days away!

At this point is all about the taper.  Doing what is right at this point is more important than at any other time during training.  Understanding that the hard work is behind me and allowing the training to take over from here.

I find, as I have done with any other race / any other distance I have ever done that at this point it's about getting the mind and psyche in order.  As mentioned in the previous post it's time to calm the heebie jeebies.

And I think a turning point came last Saturday.  I had a 4.5 hr training bike ride followed by a 1.5 hr run.  They were both tough, as I guessed they would be, but they were both well within my comfort zone.

After I finished the run, with chocolate milk in hand, I felt a sense of peace overtake me.  A feeling of calm, a sensation of satisfaction.  I got the chills and if I must confess I got chocked up and a bit teary eyed.  I knew that this was the last really long training session in my plan.  I knew that the rest of the trip would be up to my head.

This week it hasn't been easy by any stretch of the imagination.  Race day logistics questions have overtaken me.  What needs to go in my T1 gear bag? T2 gear bag? Bike Special Needs Bag?  Run Special Needs Bag?  So many things to think about.  Apparently, so little time.

One thing I have not done is check the extended weather forecast.  This I cannot do anything about.  I have trained in some unbelievable conditions and I'm praying (real hard) for the best.  But the weather, I cannot change.

One of the biggest improvements and source of added confidence has been the improvements I have made in my swim.  As most know, the swim and I don't see eye to eye.  I have worked hard, real hard on getting better, on making small improvements each and every time I'm in the water.  The last two open water swims have been beyond anything I could have ever hoped for.

I have also improved on the bike by leaps and bounds.  I can last longer and my speed has picked up almost a mile per hour.  Again, for me... that's huge.  I have been practicing on using all my gears, specially on the hills.  Something I had not really done before.  By doing this, I keep my heart rate down and get less exhausted.

Understanding that the run will the the toughest of the three, due to obvious (to me) reasons, I have decided that I will run a 5-1 ratio.  Run 5 minutes, walk 1 minute.  I have trained with this plan for the past two months on shorter runs and longer ones, as well as bricks, and I seem to be able to keep a pace below the 12 minute mile.  How sweet it would be if I could do the entire marathon like this!

I expect the upcoming week to be intense.  Not training for all I have scheduled is maintenance sessions.  But mentally.  My mind will be racing every which way.  I will be playing each step of the way over and over again.  I will get my gear ready and check it over once, twice, three and more times.  I will review my race day plan.  I will fret over details, most of which in the whole scheme of things, will turn out to be meaningless.  My wife and daughters will have to remind me over and over again to relax and enjoy.  I will nod in agreement.

With my friend Skip, his wife Charlene and my wife Monica, we plan on arriving at Louisville on Thursday morning.  Skip is racing as well, his wife and mine are the biggest supporters we could ask for.  We have other friends that will be racing as well; Bill and Charlie.  They will arrive later.  My two daughters, Juliana and Marcela, my in-laws and a multitude of other friends and fans, including Coach Barry,  are making the trip to Louisville to support us.  We plan on absorbing the whole experience.  To devour each and every minute of each and every day.  After all, it's only once that you become an "Ironman".