Despite having been an athlete for 25 plus years, having experienced upwards of 35 maybe 40 tapers (and their associated prep), I have yet to encounter one that fits a mold. Some I feel awesome all the way through. Others have left me in tear filled despair part way through, only to be redeemed with an unexpectedly grand performance at the end. And still others feel good in the middle only to fizzle to disappointment come race day.
From a pure metric perspective the key workouts of this prep and taper were not confidence inspiring and left me sitting on the plane to Hawaii doodling some notes about just wanting to have a positive experience, pondering the meaning of triathlon and the pursuit of crazy goals, and if I actually was capable of achieving those goals before the cruel hand of time forces me to revise my goals.
Then a few interesting things happened – in no particular order:
- I got sick
- I had an incredibly disastrous workout
- I had some great workouts
- I relaxed and did a lot of thinking
The last few trips to Kona, I’ve attempted to do my last “long” ride on Sunday morning, after arriving on Saturday. I’ve done this mostly out of a desire to ride my bike in Hawaii, and only partly out of a desire to get that last workout in. This has usually served me well, but this year I ended up limping home seriously dehydrated, more so than I can recall in a long time.
What really stood out about that experience was how difficult it was to produce power on the bike and how miserable I felt. This coincided into relaxing and thinking about my last race in Kona and the follow-up in Texas, where I had issues on the tail of the bike sustaining power and had really rough runs. Perhaps my issue wasn’t one of fitness, but simply not staying hydrated enough. Both in an absolute sense and a sense to allow me to process my calories.
I arrived at this line of thinking after thinking about past IM performances and the key workouts leading into them. What I observed in an absolute sense is that I’ve been able to average 230 watts on the bike (and run well) with key long rides having 4 hour powers in the range 200 watts to 245 watts, leading me to the conclusion that much like the difference between Elkhart Lake (terrible) and IMCDA 70.3 (solid) two weeks later that my fitness has not been noticable different between my Ironman races for the last several years, the difference is likely to solely lay in mental and physical execution.
After recovering from my dehydration episode I had some solid workouts, including a swim with some simulated race starts where I was trying to slow down yet swim the 100 + 400 significantly faster than I have in the past. Additionally, some comfortable and fun bikes/runs took place. All of which leaves me feeling content.
Finally, on Tuesday I started to feel the beginnings of a cold that I got from my lovely daughter, forcing me to rest more and get a lot of sleep in an effort to get it cleared out by Saturday morning, which it is looking like it will. Even if it isn’t completely cleared out I’ve done hard workouts feeling worse, and I feel better than I did on race day in 2012.
All in all I’m looking forward to tomorrow and the opportunity to race and execute a strong race.