“We let our battles choose us.” – Lorde
I set a PR on what was not the fastest course I have ever raced and for sure not fast on that day. I bet it’s Not even the second or third fastest course. With heat and wind it was average for an ironman frankly making my PR feel legit.
I made a lot of changes heading into the race and I think it’s worth noting what I changed and what worked and what things I can do and didn’t.
The first thing was a serious commitment to strength straining. Not just in the off season. Not just going to the gym and hoping by looking at weights I would cause me to absorb their magical powers. I went into the gym like an MMA fighter and got rowdy. I made the gym my key workouts for much of the year and left hobbled. I did work. I went in there will malice and ill intentions to hurt myself. At the height of my strength training it was a non stop 90 minutes of functional strength work and my heart rate never dropped below 140 and hit 180-190 often. It was a crazy productive gym session. I puked, I cried I got stronger and stronger. I think most triathletes I know train at the gym like gym dudes train on a track. They show up and hope without intentional focused motivated work they will get fitted. You get out what you put in. Or you you get out what you put out ( in terms of effort).
I also raced less and kept the strength work right into my taper. In years past I dropped the gym work in Spain and never got back to it. This time I lifted in Spain and right up until 10 days out. I would not lift Bc I was doing early season races and this I skipped those and the excuses they generated in terms of avoiding the strength work.
I also did core core core and strength training up to and during the taper. Looking at the pics from the race I had my best run form. Run strong and you will run fast.
I also cut my final prep down from 21 to 16 days. At my age I don’t think I can do 21 days straight of hardcore training. I did a hard half iron 6 weeks out then took 6 days easier (but lifted twice!) and then did my final prep which was full on.
I also did more speed in final prep with intervals in my race simulators rather than race effort work. Going above and below race effort and pace was good as it gave me a bit more speed on race day.
Don’t think I skipped base! In fact I did one of my longest rides a mountainous 135 mile bike ride on Saturday then a 20 mile run Sunday for a big iron-base weekend 5 weeks out.
I made a few nutritional changes. First I went with real food in the form of Carb BOOM, which is like if nature made a gel. I also switched to caffeine pills during the race.
I also did a full and meaningful caffeine detox and was off the sauce 5 days out which made the pills work that much better. I did have decaf a few times, but it’s decaf and I didn’t over due it.
A meaningful change was also how little I races coming into this one. I did only two half irons and one of those was my race-simulator 6 weeks out so it did double duty. That’s and the LA tri Championships was my prep races. I love racing but my gun only holds so many bullets…like 2.
I also boosted my hematocrit levels from 42 to 46 using an altitude tent. I didn’t feel different but the science is there and it seems to show that that extra 4 points is meaningful. It’s the same effect (though not as strong, but has the added bonus of being ethical and legal) as taking EPO which sadly works. Amazingly you only need to sleep at altitude for a short period of time to have to work. If you want to rent mine this fall let me know.
Lastly I focused hard on my head. I spent a lot of time seeking motivation. I am going to post about this in a separate post but it was a big part of my taper.
HERE ARE THE THINGS I DIDNT NAIL:
My bike was a disaster coming into the event. I spent the day prior frantically trying to get stuff fixed. That’s so rookie.
I need to eat more on the bike. I think now that I have found Carb BOOM I will be able to get down a lot more calories. AC was the first time with them because they are on course and I loved them but I think I need 2 x the amount I used.
While I need to eat more race day I need to eat less in the months leading up! I was 2-3kg over my ideal race weight heading in makings miserable for my taper.
It also cost me a better Wild Flower. I need to get to race weight in April if not March.
I failed to race my bike enough. Nothing makes me strong like bike races and while I raced some I need more. I also need more ITT races. I did one and it was perfect. I need more of that! All the motivation and effort of bike racing but on my awesome Valdora Tri bike!
I need to spend more time on my tri bike doing big gear strength intervals too. I was comfy on my TT bike and road a PR but need more strength work which I skipped. I did ride huge mountains in Spain which helps a ton. But as soon as I come back I need to jump on my Valdora TT bold and help transfer those gains at SLB to flat land TT riding. AC is a flat course.