IRONMAN TRAINING IN THE TIME OF PANDEMIC – PART VII
My son had a female teammate on his college cross country team that had two great attributes that everyone took notice of. First, she was smoking fast. She outright won many of the meets during the season. When the team ran in the NCAA DIII Cross Country Nationals, she was the runner-up. So yeah, the competition knew who she was. And the second characteristic – she smiled when she did it. I’m not just saying that if she heard you cheer for her that she would flash a smile. No, she smiled through the entire race like she actually enjoyed running and putting the beat down on everyone else.
This week I thought about that out on the trail while putting in my training runs. Although lately there have been some times when I wanted to flip people off, this week seemed to be more enjoyable. Lots of people were being friendly and I took notice. So I started to smile when I saw people. Not sure if they noticed me having fun doing what I love doing, but I started to see the benefit of smiling. My pace quickened a little. I felt myself sliding comfortably into a pace that normally is reserved for hard efforts.
So smiling may be in my future. Feeling good about running in this crazy world right now is just what I need.
Training went well this week. After riding a stationary bike and my gravel bike for my training rides the previous six weeks of training, I finally committed to riding my tri bike for my Saturday long ride. I don’t mind getting my gravel bike dirty and riding it is fun, but I was pushing hard and only finishing with a 15 mph average. So I was eager to ride the tri bike to see if there was a difference. Yes, there is a difference. I did 45 miles and averaged 17.5 mph. That’s something to smile about.
I’m not alone when I say I haven’t done any swim training yet. Most pools are closed due to the pandemic, and the lakes are just now starting to hit 60 degrees allowing some swimmers that are braver than I a chance to swim. But that’s way too cold for me. I will open my pool soon though. I usually open it in May when the temps start averaging around 60 degrees or more. I looked at the forecast for next week and see that we have another cooler week coming, so I think I will wait one more week before opening the pool. I’m okay with waiting. Swimming sucks.
Ironman makes announcements all the time and I usually don’t give them much more than a quick glance. But this was shared on a couple Facebook group pages and it caught my eye:
The reason I didn’t pay much attention to it at first is that it looks like your standard “Register Now” announcement for Ironman, and I’m already signed up for it. But then I read a few comments and realized this was for a relay. Say what? An Ironman relay? NO!!!
Immediately I made up my mind that I hated this idea. A relay for Ironman? C’mon man, this shouldn’t be. Triathletes that do Ironman do them for the challenge of doing three tough events in one day, 17 hours typically. To do just one part doesn’t make any sense to me. The whole purpose of Ironman was to prove an argument as to who was the toughest athlete of three disciplines, the swimmer doing a 2.4-mile swim, the cyclist racing a century or more, or the runner running a marathon. Do all three events in one day and find out! – was the reason behind creating Ironman. (Note: It’s the runner if you are wondering. The strongest swimmer never wins the race. And if you followed Ironman Texas this weekend you witnessed Andrew Starykowicz destroy the bike course only to be caught on the run. And Daniela Ryf made up a significant time gap on the run to win the women’s title. Always bet on the runner. Unless the runner is me, then bet on my buddy Dave. Actually, always bet on Dave, he’s 3-0 in our Ironman racing.) But seriously, what are you proving by just doing one segment of the race? After the swim leg, what do you do while the rest of us are still busting our butts? I better not hear you call yourself an Ironman.
As I read through the many comments I was seeing a lot of similar reactions to this announcement and I was hitting the “like” button for every comment that I agreed with.
“Give me a break. It’s an Ironman! This cheapens it. The last thing I want is some fresh-legged relay athlete zip past me as I’m actually enduring an Ironman. Save the relays for the Olympic distance. I’m not ripping on the athletes, but the Ironman has been the one true test for individuals in triathlons. That’s the beauty of it. The individual challenge mentally and physically.”
“It’s called Ironman, not Ironmen.”
“It’s about that adversity. I’m signing up for the relay as “me” doing the swim, “myself” on the bike, and “I” for the run!”
But as I sorted through those comments others started making valid points.
“Embrace it. It is good for the preservation of the sport or these races go away. Those who do the relay many times will do the full.”
“This opens the door to people who have injuries or are thinking of working up to doing a full one day to experience it. The more people outside doing something, the better! Run your race, meet your goals and let others do the same!”
“Sad that people rip on the relay! I’ve done two full Ironmans and now knee injury. This is a great idea. And for all those who knock it, I hope you always stay injury free and continue being able to do fulls. Not everyone is that lucky!”
So now I am conflicted. I definitely will defend the tradition of the race and what it means to be an Ironman. But if we can get more people involved, I’m all for that too. I don’t really know what to expect when I will be racing Chattanooga in late September. If I see a faster cyclist fly by will I assume he’s doing the relay? When I’m gassed on the run and someone trots by like they haven’t done the previous 2.4-mile swim and the 116-mile bike ride, will that make me angry? I’m not sure. A few commenters mentioned that everyone should do the race their way and not worry about the other group. I guess I will need to focus on myself like I usually do. This is why I would make a horrible judge. If both sides made valid arguments, I wouldn’t be able to make a decision on a winner.
TRAINING FOR THE PAST TWO WEEKS
Last week was Easter and we had out of town plans, so I did some creative moving of my workouts and got the job done. And since I was out of town last weekend I didn’t have time to write my weekly wrap-up of training. So here are the details from the last two weeks.
Week 7 was jumbled around a little. I had the opportunity to run with the local running club F’NRC in a group run on Wednesday, which meant I ran twice that day. It was fun running with the group on a nice weeknight. I ended up skipping the long bike ride up north in Minocqua on Saturday, as they still had snow and ice on the bike path up there. Instead, I opted for doing the Sunday run on Saturday as I had a long drive home on Sunday with an additional trip to Valpo to take Ashley back to school.
Week 8 was looking to be a normal follow the plan training week. But the forecast for the weekend weather was terrible. A record-breaking late April snowstorm was predicted for Saturday, so I moved my Saturday 2-hour long bike ride to Friday and made it a bike/run brick, keeping my 1-hour run that was scheduled for Friday. That reminded me how tough brick workouts can be. I was pretty low on energy after that. My Gunner teammate Jeff asked this week as to when we start using gels on our weekend rides. I laughed at him because he’s a two-time Ironman and should know the answer by now, but I now found myself bonking because I didn’t remember that I should probably be adding more energy replacement into my workouts. Jeff’s not the dumb one, it’s me. At least he’s trying to be prepared for it. Although Saturday’s weather was crappy, we didn’t get anything more than a few ice pellets/sleet type stuff. I took Saturday off and had a great 1-hour run on a beautiful Sunday morning. So in all, the week ended well.
Week 7 Training Totals:
Swims: None > Rides: 2 total / 29 miles > Runs: 3 total / 22 miles
Week 8 Training Totals:
Swims: None > Rides: 3 total / 65 miles > Runs: 4 total / 23 miles