2014 was the year of the Ironman for me. It was the only event that mattered. Everything else was just window dressing. Every other event was a train-thru for that one single event. It was on my mind almost every waking moment.
It was an obsession.
The year could be broken up into three phases. 1) base training, 2) 30 week Ironman training program, 3) post Ironman.
I did other events, a lot of other events, but none mattered to me. The only thing that mattered was this single moment in time…
Oddly, in hindsight, it was a great year in many other ways. For starters, I started blogging! The blog started as an attempt to catalogue my training and to keep myself accountable. It was also a journal to help me remember the journey. I am still amazed that so many others decided to take this journey with me!
I technically also completed my first Ultramarathon-26.5 miles (the world’s shortest Ultramarathon) at Route 66. Finally, I did a LOT of events, and achived PR’s in most of them. Essentially, the amount of training that I was doing elevated my game across the board.
Here are the PR’s that I achieved this year:
5k-23:49 (Lifetime Torchlight 5k)-0:40 improvement.
10k-47:40 (Flying Pig 10k)-4:29 improvement.
10 mile-1:27:50 (Twin Cities 10 mile)-10:32 improvement.
Half-Marathon-1:44:03 (Monster Dash Half Marathon)-10:40 improvement.
Sprint Triathlon- 1:18:26 (Lifetime Trinona)
Ironman 70.3-6:13:51 (Ironman 70.3-Muncie)-52:32 improvement.
Ironman-15:42:11 (Ironman Wisconsin)-No previous PR.
In my third year of running, I have completed nine marathons, 19 half marathons, five half-Ironmans and 11 triathlons.
My Ironman world ranking score improved again this year. You earn points in every Ironman competition that you compete in. If you win your age group, you receive 5000 points for a full IM, and 3500 points for a 70.3. The minimum number of points received per race is 1000 points and 700 points (for a 140.6 and a 70.3 respectively). The three best scores are added to give your year end total upon which you are ranked. I only received 700 points in 2012. That improved to 2145 in 2013 (3 races, two minimum number of points and one slightly higher). That improved to 2376 this year. Keep in mind that I increased my point total even though I completed fewer events. My previous best single race score was 745. This year, I was awards 1000 for IM Wisconsin and 1376 for Muncie 70.3. This placed my in the top third of all Ironman athletes in the United States.(had I completed another 70.3 and received another base of 700 points, my total would have swelled to 3076 and I would have ranked in the top 25% in the country! Wish I could have found a way to sneak one more race onto the calendar!)
My training totals have equally surprized me:
Ironman training totals (30 week training block):
1066.2 running miles (1716 km) , 2818.0 cycling miles (4535 km) , 116.2 swimming miles (187 km). Total of 4000.4 training miles (6438 km) and over 457 training hours.
Year end totals:
1580 running miles (2543 km), 3001 cycling miles (4830 km), 127 swimming miles (204 km). 4708 total miles (7577 km).
I made a point of stacking a bunch of running events on the calendar post-Ironman triathlon. The rational was that it would be easy to go into a very long off-season and risk losing fitness and never returning to my active lifestyle. I know that I need an offseason, but I decided to postpone it, and return from my Ironman event to a full fall running season. This schedule included a 1500m, four 5k, two 10k, one 10 miler, one half marathon, and two full marathons in the 3 months after Ironman Weekend. The plan worked. I have returned to running as a lifestyle and I am maintaining it nicely.
Even though the year is over, the season will continue for another three weeks or so. Tomorrow, I am competing in the Polar Dash. It is a series of three short races in one day (10k, 5k, 1500m). A couple of weeks later, I will be flying to Houston to complete one more marathon. Once that is complete, I will ease into a well deserved off season.
The year did have so ups and downs. For starters, I broke a rib with no trauma (I simply leaned over the padded center console in my car). That led to the discovery that I have osteoporosis and that I have the skeleton of a 100 year old man. Surprisingly, the broken rib had little impact on my Ironman training (I was able to continue long swims and long rides, but I had to substitute the elliptical cross trainer for running for a week or two). I also was not able to improve upon my marathon results. On paper (based on my half marathon time) I should be posting full marathon times of about 3:45-3:50. But my personal best remains stuck at 4:26…less then a minute faster then my first ever marathon finish (18 weeks after I started running). After 3 years, the lack of improvement at my prefered event is very frustrating. Either I am doing something very wrong, or marathons are just not the right event for me.
The plans for 2015 are complete, and it will be busy. I have been burnt out on triathlon training and I have little interest in cycling at the moment. I will try to focus on marathon running next year with a few sprint triathlons sprinkled in just for fun. I will not reach 1000 cycling miles next year, heck I may not get to 500 miles. But I will look to cycling as cross training and will try to rekindle an enjoyment for the sport that is no longer there. I will not compete in another Ironman nor do I have plans for another 70.3…but I suspect that I will complete another one at some point down the road. I will participate in 5 marathons and one Ultramarathon. The ultra will be a 24 hour event. It is about as low-key as you can get. It is a flat 2-mile loop with two aid stations. You can stop anytime you want. There is no DNF. I did a 50k during training this year, and I completed the “World’s Shortest Ultramarathon” in Tulsa at Route 66. But, I want to make it official (which I consider to be at least 50k). My hope is to go even further. I doubt that I will fall in love with ultra’s and this will likely be another “one and done” event. It would be nice if I could get splits for 50k, 75k, 50 miles, 12 hours, 24 hours, etc. We shall see if I can improve my endurance to that level.
The two marathons at the very end of the season will be back-to-back (2 marathons, 2 states, 2 days) in Kansas City and Des Moines. This will allow me to enter the 50 states marathon club and move me up to “4 moons” in the Marathon Maniacs club. Other marathons will include Pittsburgh and the Twin Cities for a third time.
Looking ahead to 2016, I was considering the Disney/Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend. It is still on my radar (it hits all my “geek” buttons-running, Star Wars, and Disney) but I have a hard time justifying the expense for a half marathon. With Ironman complete, I think I need something new to kindle my excitement. I need a new challenge (but one that won’t take over my life). The more I think about it, the more I think that it will take the form of Cross Country Skiing. I don’t ski. Not at all. I tried it when I was eight years old. I wiped out on the tow line for the bunny hill and never looked back. But three years ago, I didn’t swim, cycle, or run either. If there is one thing that this journey has taught me is that I can do more then I think possible. The “Birkie” is one of the biggest and best ski-marathons in North America…and it is in my own backyard. It is a 50+ km race and I am setting a goal to complete it in 2016 (the race is in February). When my Houston Marathon is complete, I will try to find out more about this sport. I have found some skiing lessons for beginners at a nearby park which include equipment rentals. I can try both classic and skate techniques and see if I enjoy either. By that point, the end of year clearance sales should be starting and I can hopefully get into the sport without a big financial investment.
Thinking about 2016, I may look to that year to become “the year of balence”. I will have reached a point where all of my crazy goals have been reached (marathon, ultramarathon, goofy challenge, back-to-back marathons, Ironmnan, 50 states/50 marathon club, Marathon Maniacs club). Instead of continuously outdoing the crazy, I think I will focus on making fitness and racing as a sustainable part of my life. I am thinking about two marathons a year and one mid-distance triathlon (Olympic or Half) per summer, with shorter fun runs sprinkled in. Starting this year, I will limit travel to 3 events/year (I would really like to get it down to two a year, but there are just too many great races on my radar) and keep the rest local. Already thinking about Toronto Goodlife Marathon in the spring, Chicago Marathon in the fall, with The Berkie in February and Minneapolis triathlon olympic distance during the summer of 2016, possibly followed by the St. Louis 70.3 (if it exists) with a couple of marathons in 2017, Dopey Challenge (25th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Marathon) as the highlight in 2018 with one other fall marathon. I like the looks of those schedules. I like it a lot…