On August 24th I began a 6 week block of Ironman training preparation. This will be my 10th Ironman race with my first resulting in a DNF after crashing at IM St. George in 2011. Typically for these long distance races I like to put in a 6 week block of training from 8 weeks before the race lasting until 2 weeks before when I begin to rest up through a taper. After winning Challenge Atlantic City in June my training lacked structure or much substance. I had managed to gain over 20 lbs. and tipped the scales at 176 as I entered this 6 week block. I realized the lack of training for an extended period of time and then jumping right into a high volume block would come with a higher risk of injury. My last few Ironman blocks have gone almost to perfection. I've been able to pile up tons of volume and drop to race weight rather easily. This year has not gone that way.
My first weekend of the block I did a 100 mile long ride and ran 15.5. Things seemed to be off to a good start as I logged 230 bike miles and 50 run miles the first week. Week 2 of the block was incredibly hot and I cut the long ride back to 80 miles but got up really early and ran 18 the following day on Sunday. For the week I ended with 52 run miles and 210 bike miles. The next morning, on Monday, September 7th I could feel a bit of pain in my knee. I ignored it and forged on to my 3rd week of the block logging 255 bike miles and 52 run miles. That 3rd week I biked 126 miles on Saturday and ran 22 on Sunday. My knee was beginning to accumulate more swelling. I realized I was on a collision course with a full-blown injury if I tried to continue at that rate. I was still weighing 166 lbs. which is not a weight I want to attempt an Ironman race at. Knowing I would have to cut back training meant I would have to become even more disciplined with my nutrition. I cut back in my 4th week to 200 bike miles and only ran 28. I thought the running was causing the knee pain. I biked 100 that weekend and ran 18 for a long run. My knee hurt bad at the end of the 100 mile ride...the worst it had hurt yet. It made me realize the biking is what was causing the swelling more than the running. I also knew I was becoming for fit and getting closer to being ready to race. If I wanted to make it to the start line healthy I would have to scrap the lofty 6 week training block volume goals and make adjustments. During an Ironman block I typically bike 6-7 days a week. These past 2 weeks I have dropped that to 3 days. Every ride involves quality. I have completely eliminated my base mileage rides where my sole goal was to burn fat. I have kept a strict eye on my calorie count and made sure those calories were quality ones as I've been only eating 2,500-3,000 calories/day on average through the week while training for an Ironman. In a 100 mile ride I burn about 3,600 calories so I'm continuing to operate on a deficit but it's much tougher without all the extra training. Week 5 of the block I biked only 160 miles and ran 44. My long ride was 100 of those miles with nearly 1/2 of it at my Ironman wattage. My long run was 18. The reduced volume has allowed my knee pain to subside although it has not disappeared. I have been able to manage it to a point I'm comfortable it will have no impact on my race. I have been in the water swimming 5 days a week which is more than I was before the knee pain. This AM I weighed in at 158 lbs. After beginning this block at 176 I set a goal to be under 160 by October 12th which is 5 days prior to the race. I'm very proud to have been disciplined enough with my nutrition that I could get there despite not putting in the training I like to for an Ironman. My power numbers on the bike have been good with the extra time off the bike.
I'm SUPER excited to get to Wilmington for what will be my last Ironman race for at least 2 years. I've already decided next year I want to race shorter distances which require less hours on the weekends. The next Ironman distance event I do I want my kids to be old enough to attend without adding a ton of extra stress for Jen to manage while watching the race. They are not close to that point yet. I intend to go under the 9 hour mark knowing that I won't be racing this distance again for some time. It's been a goal of mine since I started racing this distance in 2011. I've been close on a number of occasions but have never seen the lower side of 9 hours. It should not take a magical performance with a swim aided tide. I should swim around 45 minutes, bike around 4 hrs. 50 minutes, and that would leave me a with a good chance to break 9 hours unless I implode on the run. A 2ndary goal is to run a PR marathon. I've been 3 hrs. 11, 3 hrs. 10, and 3 hrs. 8 minutes twice. I'd like to knock a few minutes off that time and go 3 hrs. 5 minutes or better.
This past weekend my highlight was getting a text during my long run that one athlete I've coached this year, Chris Chamberlin reached his season goal of running a 5k under 6:00 pace. Chris is extremely disciplined. I have been sending him workouts for the last 30 weeks and 29 of those weeks he hit the exact goals for the week without missing a single workout. He 100% trusted the process...much like I have through this Ironman block despite having to cut back training...and he ran 17:45 which comes out to 5:45/mile pace. I was thrilled for him! I'm looking forward to traveling to Wilmington in 2 weeks to make this sub-9 hour goal finally a reality. I'm hoping to bring home some money for the iHope Foundation in the process to put a cap on a tremendous year for the foundation. To date the iHope Founation has received just over $51,000.00 in contributions which has lead to 10 students being awarded an iPad while in junior high and a promise of a $1,000.00 scholarship when they graduate high school. It has completely blown away the vision I had when starting the iHope Foundation. This would not be possible without the support of so many local businesses and individuals who have generously contributed. I cannot thank you enough! Sub-9...DREAM BIG!