June has been an exceptionally busy yet highly productive month as I get ready for Ironman Lake Placid, now only a month away, and after that the 2008 ITU Long Course World Championship in Almere, Holland at the end of August.
Training has gone smooth, with many key workouts including a few long swims of Ironman distance, a few long rides, one close to Ironman distance, and a marathon.
Racing, a key indicator of on-edge fitness, has yielded great results and given me much confidence as I hammer toward the heart of my season.
I am exactly where I originally wanted to be in training and racing and in my confidence. But the place is now changing. There is another place I want to be.
After a training weekend away in Lake Placid to run a marathon – where I am proud to say I finished in 4th place, the highest I have in any serious (enough) event of 250 or more competitors – and swim and bike the Ironman course, I have renewed focus moving to and through Lake Placid, and then another change as I launch into Worlds.
Cycling one loop of the Ironman course was eye-opening. The hills were a bit longer than I thought, and there was not nearly as much room to get into a groove. That alone doesn’t bother me. But what was eye-opening was the fact that the bike course is not at all fast. My bike split time, compared to what I had originally wanted, will definitely be on the slower side. This somewhat disappointing because coming into this year I wanted to better the bike split I did at last year’s Ironman Coeur d’Alene, a hilly course but one much faster than IMLP.
So the change is, really, within – to accept the fact that I will not be fast. Once I understand this, I will be more apt to pace myself fairly so that I can put myself in position to run the entire marathon, an important goal for me.
Also coming into this event, I held out false hopes of coming close to the 10 hour barrier. I knew I wouldn’t break it – not on the LP bike course – but I was hoping to at least better my CdA time. That might not happen. But I will try, only now that I know the course is tough and all-too-slow, I am now better prepared to not fight the slower start and splits. Instead, I hope to position myself so that I can work with it.
This is not to say the course is a beast. It is not. The hills are trainable. But it is not a fast course. The hills are just too long and right on the edge of being too steep for the low-gear grind that they are… hence the change in focus.
From now until Lake Placid, my plan is to tackle some serious hill workouts. I won’t go crazy with stupid bike mileage, but in keeping with the quality-only theme I will instead beat my legs into hill shape on shorter rides by doing repeats in a controlled manner. The goal is to get even stronger on the hills so that they don’t take more than their fair share out of me. I also hope to get more efficient in climbing, and in lieu of this, I plan to test a few different gearing options to see which is best for me.
After Lake Placid, I will knock off the hill repeats, knock off the crazy-stupid long rides, and instead focus on building more speed with tough intervals on inclines, on downs, into the wind, etc. I will use the same training methodologies in that month as I did last year in my preparation for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Clearwater, Florida, where I totally hammered the bike.
In this way, Lake Placid will lay the base and deep strength, and then the month after will layer nicely on top a higher end speed coupled with even more endurance speed so that I can hold it for even longer.
One thing certain in all of this is that I still cannot believe I have been selected to be a part of Team USA and represent my country, the United States of America, in what is truly a world class event. I shake my head all the time at my good fortune. Often I wonder: why me? While at other times I wonder: why not me? But you can bet that they have picked the right person. Not only will I go out to Holland and give it my all, you know I’ll be smiling the whole way, even if only on the inside, and also soaking up the experience yet presenting a professional yet friendly face in my job in representing the red, white, and blue!
Wow, am I excited!
Team USA Updates
Much to my surprise, there still has yet to be substantial updates regarding Team USA. Aside from a monthly newsletter keeping everyone informed, there isn’t all that much more. I’m starting to understand that this is because USAT, the governing body of USA Triathlon, is a smaller-type shop, where they are mainly busy with the other happenings, especially the Short Course World Championship in Vancouver that just happened. Now that they’re back in house, we are seeing more communication, such as the last one in making sure everyone has travel arrangements down.
Team USA Uniform
You have got to see the Team USA uniform. It rocks! Red, white and blue, of course, but get this… I also have to have my “family name” splashed across the front, “above the country code,” and across the “buttocks.” How freak’n cool is that!
The uniform, best I can see, will be the exact same used a few weekends ago by Team USA athletes at the Short Course World Championship.
Trust me, it’s cool. And it’s probably the one thing I am MOST looking forward to.
My secret hope is that I get the uniform by the 4th of July holiday so that at my annual family reunion I can show it. The kids will dig it. And I will dig answering their questions: “Uncle Thor, how long is the bike course, and do you still have to run afterwards?”
Wow. Still can’t believe it.
Heather and I are now pretty much all set with our travel plans to and from Holland. Airfare is booked. We fly out of Boston on Saturday, August 23, a week and a day before the event, and arrive in Amsterdam on Sunday, the 24th. We still have to figure out what to do with my bike, which I will carry on the plane, since we plan to spend Monday through Wednesday doing touristy things in the city. Then on Wednesday we’ll head to Almere a few miles east of Amsterdam to the Team USA hotel. The remainder of the time will be devoted to Team USA duties and getting prepared to have the race of my life and do my country proud. I will kick ass. You watch! Then on Monday, once all is done, we will head home. We’d like to spend even more time in Holland, but with Heather having started a new job with little vacation, and with the dollar being anything but strong, we’ll wrap it up.
More soon… Go Team USA!