Sometimes the biggest logistical nightmares reveal the greatest results. I originally signed up to do this, half Ironman Connecticut because I was planning to do a half Ironman a month for six months.
(And you abandoned this because you realized this was a crazy, stupid idea.)
No, I realized that doing one a month for six months with a full in the middle was a bad idea.
(That’s reassuring, I think.)
Once I decided to sign up for a full Ironman everything else took a back seat.
(So why would you do a half Ironman before a full Ironman?)
This was a year of firsts. A brand new bicycle and a whole new approach to training. I wanted to test drive these both before I got to the Ironman in Lake Placid.
(Weren’t you worried that you might get injured and roll your season?)
That would be like a baseball player sitting out the entire season until the playoffs.
(Are you calling yourself a pro athlete?)
No, but I do eat like one.
(You eat like a team of pro athletes.)
The race was located in Middlebury, Connecticut.
An hour from my parents. Ninety minutes from my home in Teaneck. To complicate things I was required to pick up my race materials on Friday afternoon. The race organizers were kind enough to permit me, and my fellow Sabbath observance brethren, to bring our bikes in on race morning.
A half Ironman event has 3000 competitors. It would be a logistical nightmare and a complete circus to have 3000 people check in their bikes in a 90 minute window.
(What does a bike check in consist of?)
You bring your bike to a fenced off field and park your bike on a rack.
The problem with a race that is 90 minutes from my house is that it is too far away to drag my family too. Especially while I am on the course.
(But you take them to your races all the time.)
With races like Ironman Lake Placid, half Ironman Maine or Ironman Atlantic City, there are places for my wife to go shopping and things my boys can do.
(Your wife shops while you race?)
I consider it motivation to get finished sooner.
The other nightmare involving this race was a lack of parking space at the event.
So instead of showing up at 4:00 a.m., I showed up at midnight took one of the few remaining parking spots next to the bicycles and took a two and a half hour nap.
(You raced in Ironman on two and a half hours sleep?)
I would never do an Ironman on two and a half hours sleep. A half Ironman is a different story.
The race itself was epic. Any race where I don’t drown on the swim, crash on the bike or pass out during the run is a good race.
What made this so special for me was I exhibited enough self control to hold back on the bicycle. The first half of the bike course, people were passing me. Eight months of training in power meter zones and I held back. By the second half of the course, I was catching up to these people—and at that point nobody was passing me. People were walking bikes up hills, I just eased back my pedaling and used my lower gears.
I may have been in the back of the pack, but I was leading the back. This approach to cycling paid off in spades on the run. I made a commitment to myself that I would not walk any of the 13.1 miles of the run. To achieve this I have to use the same approach as I did with the biking. Dial back intensity. People would run in front of me and I did not take the bait and try to catch them. In many cases I’d find them down the road walking and I would just run past mid my even tempo.
It was a confidence builder for me as we look toward my goals at Ironman Lake Placid.
Coming in two weeks, in my next article.
By David Roher
David Roher is a USAT certified Marathon & Triathlon coach. He is a multi-Ironman finisher & a veteran special education teacher. He can be reached at: [email protected]