But first, a season recap. It's been a surprisingly productive year, given that I'll be 357 days post hip fracture on race day. After a month of recovery and several more of rehab, it's been essentially injury-free. The unintended bike focus has given me more watts to work with. Reinventing my run form, with the personal help of coach Brian Grasky and the virtual help of Bobby McGee, has made speed more effortless. Swim, well, whatever. It's about the same. My coach, Bill Daniell, is a superlatively good swimmer. Maybe some TrainingPeaks osmosis will happen.
It's probable that consistent and unrelenting training has improved the ratio of slowtwitch to fast twitch muscle fibers, increased the number of fat-oxidizing mitochondria in the intracellular matrix of my myocytes, and improved the capillary density in relevant muscle beds. But what is undoubtedly true is that systematic neglect of upper body strength training coupled with 2 1/2 years of SBR has led to a vast improvement in the critical and well-researched Ass to Arm Ratio (AAR). (see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19901178 for further details)
Yes, what used to be a fairly balanced physique is looking more and more like that of a competitive triathlete. Observe these actual, unretouched photos:
Plus, I've lost THREE WHOLE POUNDS since last year! Look out, world!
Anyhow, to the plan: Start off the morning the normal way, with the core macro- and micronutrients that encourage firm and regular bowel movements: Oatmeal in coconut water; high-dose caffeine; fluids. Maybe throw in a couple of salt tabs for good measure. But not on the oatmeal. After distal GI tract success, it’s time to head down to Tempe Beach Park, so I can mill around with fellow racers and urinate surreptitiously in my wetsuit while consuming sports drink. (Note to first-timers: Wet footprints on the sidewalk are not due to anyone having pre-swum the course.) Then into the water, where if memory serves, we bob around at the start line in the mid-to-low 60s murk of Tempe Town Lake until the race director confirms that at least 50% of competitors have begun shivering convulsively. Then the cannon sounds.
The ass to arm ratio thing hurts me in the swim, but since I'm one of those contemptibly well-reimbursed Age Group triathletes, I can afford a nice DeSoto T1 wetsuit that does a marvelous job of floating my disproportionately dense derriere. My swim goals are to avoid trying too hard and wasting energy, to get clobbered and to clobber as little as possible, and to move on to the fun stuff, AKA the bike and most of the run, ASAP. Some people think there are curves that can be legally straightened on the swim course, and I suspect they're right. Pre-examining the course will be key. I went :58 last year in the swim. It’d be nice to break an hour again, but not nice enough to work hard at it.
After spending roughly an hour in the water warming up the wrong muscles, there's nothing like a barefoot shuffle through T1 to send the HR skyrocketing. Hopefully I can get the bike computer turned on soon enough to see if I've managed to break my personal best for max heart rate.
One key element of the bike plan is to actually have the bike computer on the bike this year, instead of in the pocket of my morning clothes. Also, I plan to actually recharge the 310XT I’m going to use for the run. It was very retro of me to do an electronics-free Ironman last year, but not a do-over.
Mostly, the bike leg is about getting ready for the run. My plan for pre-watering the wetsuit has got nothing on what I’m going to do to that poor bike. Priorities are: 1) Go as fast as possible without overdoing it, and 2) Get so dang hydrated that my back teeth will be floating by the end. This means drink, pee, drink, pee, repeat, repeat, repeat. One thing I’m doing differently is going fluid only (Infinit Custom), all isoosmolar to hypoosmolar, depending on how much I'm sweating. Quite possibly my previous bonks were due in some part to a high solute load in the gut drawing fluid out of the intravascular space, and Infinit has worked flawlessly in training. And if I can manage over the next week to avoid whatever questionable sort of food that caused untimely gastroenteritis last year, I should be good to go from a GI point of view.
The bike iteself: Same one, new paint job:
At the turnarounds, I'll keep an eye out for the fam. But I’m well aware that watching daddy go around in circles for ten-ish hours may very well not be on the tippy-top of our brood's “fun” list. So I hope they enjoy the zoo or whatever, and I’ll probably see them at the finish.
I’ve got my wattage limits, and this year, I’m actually going to stick to them. It’s unclear how fast a well-behaved bike leg will be, but last year was 5:07, with a few minutes of extra stop time to address aforementioned GI problems. Best guess: 5:05, + or - ten minutes. Assuming a well-executed race, this is the wild card with regards to my overall finishing time.
For the run, my last two 26.2 mile death marches were neither enjoyable nor productive, and hopefully the nutrition, pacing, and fitness problems have been solved. With any luck, my new and improved run form will carry me as far and fast as possible before things get tough. Besting a 4:24 split should be no problem if all goes reasonably well. I should hopefully even go a good bit faster than 4:00. Last year was 10:39 overall, and I’m hoping to go sub-10 this year. Given that M45-49 appears to be more stacked than the cast of Baywatch, I imagine I’d have to go a good deal faster than that to be in contention for Kona slots or the podium. We’ll see. Not expecting it this year, but eternally hopeful. . .
Most importantly, I’m going to keep in mind that this is all optional, and all for fun. The jerk who yelled profanities at me on the bike last year because I didn’t hear him and finish my pass/get out of his way quickly enough may have gotten his coveted Kona slot, but if that’s what it takes, I’m not interested. Nothing I do next Sunday will result in a pay raise or cut. There isn't a finishing time so fast that it will improve my marriage, nor one so poor that it will get me sleeping on the couch. So, priorities: Fun, gratitude for health, family support and friends, fun, fun, fun!
Except maybe the last few miles. But after that, it’s dinnertime. For a week or two. Which will be fun.