Race Week

Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,

Rev3 Knoxville race week is finally here. My 4th half-ironman race is next Sunday. I have mixed emotions about that already, as I always do.

After 20 weeks of training, most of it in the cold dark of winter, I’m ready for it to be over. The 5:00am swims, the long bike rides in subfreezing temperatures, and the grey achy long runs after a long day on the bike the day before.

I questioned why I was “doing this” many times over the last 20 weeks – and every time I’ve ever done this. The truth is, I never really come up with an answer.

It’s what I do. It’s just part of me at this point. It’s me surfing that big wave again.

I love most it.

I think swimming is akin to meditating in my life – just my thoughts and that long black line on the bottom for an hour. Some days, in fact, most days, I don’t think at all.

Seldom do I feel more connected with nature than during my morning bike rides. I don’t think you can truly know the place where you live until you’ve explored it’s back roads, hills, and valleys on your bike. There’s something spiritual about the sun rising over a hill out in the country with the sound of the wind whistling past my ears and through the vents of my helmet.

Running is my time to reflect. It’s when I come up with plans for the future, when I reflect on where I’ve been and where we’re going as a family. I cherish my running hours – especially those long runs in the country, alone with the just the sound of my breathing and that one true voice in my head. I almost never wear headphones when I run.

And so, while I’m glad the hard work is through and it’s time to rest, I’m also a little sad that it’s over. Explaining that part of me to other people is often difficult. I wish I could better explain to people why I need things like this in my life, but I do. If I’m not moving towards something to challenge my spirit (and believe it or not, endurance sport does), then I feel like I’m not moving towards God. I feel His presence in the shortness of my own breath and in the water, and the wind, and in the feeling of my feet driving against the earth.

Sounds weird.

I have a plan in place for the race that’s very similar to my past half ironman plans.

Easy-moderate swim – use my strength as a swimmer without blowing up and ruining my day

Zone 2 progressing to low zone 3 bike- I’m hoping to keep my heart rate in mid zone 2 (145-151) through the first half of the hilly ride. Once into the second half I may open up into Zone 3 a bit, but will limit myself to 160bpm on the bike.

Same approach for the run. First 5k strictly in mid zone 2 (under 160bpm), progress into high zone 2 (170bpm), pick up to zone 3 at the half way point, and then if my body allows me, run all out for the final 5k.

I’d just like to set a personal record, but that may be challenging on Knoxville’s hills and with the predicted high of 88 degrees on Sunday. My current best is 5:30 in Austin, TX in October 2010.

Here’s the raw data from my build up towards Rev3. It hasn’t been perfect, far from it. I’ve missed alot of workouts through sickness, stress, and life, but I feel ready nonetheless.

Training since January 1, 2012:

Swam: 60,300 yards

Biked: 55 hours 35 minutes

Ran: 35 hours 2 minutes

I read this quote by my hero Dan Gable awhile back and realized that while he was talking about wrestling, the concept translates to triathlon as well. Substitute first period for “swim”, 2nd period for “bike”, and 3rd period for “run”.  I’ll be thinking about this in Knoxville:

“The 1st period is won by the best technician. The 2nd period is won by the kid in the best shape. The 3rd period is won by the kid with the biggest heart.” – Dan Gable

Je t’aime,

– Daddy