Before going into the reflective elements I'll give a super quick overview of the day.
I found it very amusing that within the first 20 strokes of the swim my goggles began to leak (see Aug 23 post). Yep, I bought brand new goggles, tested them in the practice swim, and they worked perfectly. So, throughout this swim I was forced to stop, empty them, and then get back at it. Kind of frustrating, but IM is full of them. One must leave the pouty pants at home when racing at this distance. Get over it and get on with it.
Take Home: Find someone of equal abilities and let them do most of the work. I worked off some fella for most of the swim, which allowed me to maintain a stroke rate that felt like 10 to 15 strokes/25 yds and a perceived effort of 5 (1 to 10 scale). Be corteous though and don't touch their feet or you'll likely get your teeth knocked out or goggles kicked off.
Things quickly went down hill on the Felt. Not sure what to say here. I played it smart and held watts that I knew were appropriate, but the legs were simply not there. What shocked me most was that my power numbers were 7% less then in 2009. It was somewhat demoralizing seeing the downward trending from mile 20 to mile 112.
Take Home: Consistency is key. In order to deliver on the bike (and run) one must be consistent in their training. I tried to be consistent in my training, but was not. In order to complete or compete using the IM in 10 approach you need to be consistent. I averaged 1 to 2 rides per week for this IM and placed other priorities ahead of my training. No regrets. Just speaking the truth.
Off the bike I felt great. Mechanically I felt sound and pace was appropriate. I was optimistic coming off the bridge and heading out of town. However, post the 5 mile mark things began to deteriorate. Fast paced 20 second aid station water breaks quickly turned out to full blown conversations with volunteers. No joke. At one point I made myself at home under one tent like I had made it home from college for Thanksgiving dinner. The volunteers must have thought I was a bit off when I helped myself to their table. "What ya got in here?" I asked. I have never run with a 50 pound backpack until last Sunday.
Take Home: Listen to the Holy Spirit. My most memorable moment at IML this year was at an aid station. This young girl was in a wheelchair handing out water. Her father was there and her siblings were too. They all had name tags on. I think her name was Cyndi. She couldn't talk. I was almost brought to tears when I saw her. Her father was so proud of her - I could see it in his smile. I made sure to take a cup of water from her. As I left her I felt a tug to spend more time with her. No joke, I wanted to get on one knee and kiss her cheek. Not sure what came over me. I promised myself I'd do so when I saw her on the final loop. You guessed it, she was not there when I returned. This was my biggest regret/disappointment of IML 2011.
Below are some other tid bits that I thought I'd share.
#1 - 6 hrs is enough.
As I looked back on my training for IML 2011 it became very clear to me that I had accumulated an all time low training volume for this event. Anne and I both accumulated similar training volumes per life and the challenges it presented. Although the race was not a PR by any stretch of the imagination I believe one can tackle an IM in much less training then advertised. I plan to compete another day using 10 hrs vs. 6 ;)
#2 - One must be able to adjust on the fly.
Back in February I had grand plans of Kona. My default is to think big. That is how I am wired. I still clung to this plan, but was prepared to shift accordingly. I felt Kona slip through my fingers like sand last Sunday. As I saw power output dropping and perceived effort increasing I knew I had to adjust expecations quickly. By doing so I was able to fully embrace the gift/joy of moving ones body for 10+ hours.
#3 - Bring ear plugs.
Most people are terrified in the moments leading up to the start of an IM. You can see it in their faces. I am totally confused, therefore, why onlookers feel it is appropriate/necessary to create more commotion. If I could have jumped the fence and broken the 3 foot long horn I would have. Bring ear plugs if you want to get in a zone in the moments prior to the start.
#4 - Strength rules.
If you really want to 'keep it together' at an Ironman make strength training a top priority. I know that I could have done more, but the little that I did do kept me in the game. Bill Scibetta (http://www.lakenormanfitness.com/) worked wonders with me in this department and I recommend him highly to all.
#5 - My athletes.
I think of my athletes all the time. Many of them have said things to me that have stuck. As I am sure I have said things to them that have stuck and helped them work through hard times. I so wanted to walk more then run, but I opted to stay the course and move. There was no room for a DNF. I pressed on because I know my athletes would press on. My athletes finish what they start.
That sums it up. I could go on and on, but would rather not. Thank you to those who prayed and tracked Anne and I.
Continue to think big and be different,