Mike Reilly is “the voice of Ironman”. Since I became involved in the sport, I’ve heard and read about people whose goal is to hear Reilly say their name followed by the words “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”. I indulged in the fantasy in the months leading up to the race and part of my visualization process was hearing his voice say my name as I crossed the finish. The thing is, it didn’t happen.
With a finish time of 12:42:57 I became an Ironman on November 22nd, 2009.
My bib number for Ironman Arizona is 593, or DXCIII, a prime number. I’m writing this one week before the race itself, looking over the last year and reviewing numbers. Realizing I hadn’t backed up the blog, I copied and pasted the text and it’s over 700 pages long. In the last six months I’ve swam 82 miles, biked 2,304 miles, and run 541 miles. Those are lower than my goals miles of 100, 3,000, and 1,000 respectively. Coach Brian said that we may have been too aggressive in those mileage goals, especially since the big goal was staying injury-free. What that means is that I’ve propelled myself 2,927 miles. I have spent $7,300 this year on triathlon related goods and services. That includes accessories, race registrations, sport-specific nutrition (Infinit, whey protein), USAT certification prep, apparel (clothing and shoes), bike maintenance and upkeep, TNS business startup costs, and rental equipment. It does not include airfare or hotel costs traveling to races or other groceries that are purchased specifically for my consumption (I could not tell you how many jars of almond butter, applesauce, or ground flaxseed I have eaten). I weighed 184lbs at the start of my Ironman training, now I weigh 180lbs. I am somewhere under 10% body fat. I have many new friends whose value I cannot and will not quantify in raw numbers. I co-own and am building a business whose value lies not only in its revenue but also in how it helps people change their lives. In six days, 18 hours, and 10 minutes I will be racing my first Ironman. That’s just 140.6 miles to go.
I did it to myself. A dumb, newbie move. Three weeks before my big race I purchased two pairs of New Balance 1063’s, the same shoes I’d been wearing for a year. After logging more than 550 miles it was time to replace my current pair. My thinking was that two more pairs would give me a new set of trainers and a new pair of shoes for race day. All I had to do was break them in. The last sizeable run on the calendar going into my taper was a series of 4 two mile sprints at 10K pace, separated by 3 minute recovery jogs. A simple interval run, bookended with 10 minutes of warm up and warm down jogging. I had forgotten that I run faster than I used to, which meant that my 10K sprints were at 7:15 to 7:30 minutes per mile. By the last sprint I had run 11 miles, and as I slowed to a jog I could feel something was terribly wrong with my right leg.
Curiosity and a 20% discount enticed me to buy the H20 Audio Interval housing and headphone combo in the week leading up to my 8,000 meter swim. I had wanted a swimming headphone system since seeing the H20 Audio products in the Apple Store, but I was an early adopter of the 3rd generation iPod shuffle and there’s almost no accessory products on the market for that device. The 3rd gen iPod shuffle has a different headphone plug to allow for the small control buttons on the cord: volume, next track, and voice-over. Leave it to Apple to create yet another plug incompatible with the older headphones or even the iPhone headphones. This means accessory makers are much less inclined to spend the development and manufacturing funds to make a product. H20 Audio announced their Interval product in August, they are one of the only third party makers of a 3rd gen iPod accessory, and one of the only waterproof housing and headphone products. Does it work? That depends on your ears.
It’s a phrase Coach Brian has been saying for some time, and it’s confusing in that he’s not a farmer. What he meant is that after the “Helloween” epic volume all of the hard work would be done, the taper would begin, and in three weeks all that effort would pay off. Three months ago when I looked at the Helloween schedule I damn near threw up – begin the week with a half ironman race, then a few mid-week swims and runs, and culminate in a long swim day, then a long ride and run brick, and then a long run. Around mile 60 of the long ride the weekend suddenly made sense. Friday’s 2.5 mile swim would be an Ironman distance swim. Saturday’s 80 mile ride and 4 mile run would be a not-quite Ironman distance brick but still long enough to tax the engine. Sunday’s 20 mile run would come at the end of all of this, prepping my mind and body to keep working while tired. Without realizing it I wound up running another 55 mile week, having a PR at the Soma 70.3, and having the best big brick of my training. All this while in a vague pre-migraine state, ongoing dentistry, putting out IT fires, and the normal, everyday chaos that is life.