The day after the race, Lisa and I went on a great snorkeling trip to Captain Cook's cove, where I almost became a nice snack for a huge moray eel. The woman who took our cash was asking about the IM. She was on the run course as a volunteer and said to me "That can't be a good thing for you?". I replied with "That depends. No, it's not healthy, but many of us do things, have habits, that aren't necessarily healthy yet make us feel good."
Racing an IM is not a healthy thing. The training is not healthy. It's out of balance. Don't confuse being healthy with being fit. You can continue to become more and more fit, yet go past the point where your healthy. I can tell that what we put ourselves through out there when digging really deep for that long, it can't be good. I often think of the repercussions I will pay later on in my life for the damage I am doing now. I wonder if the body can be drained that low and bounce back to it's normal healthy level? Perhaps there is something on a cellular level that doesn't return back to normal. So then why do it? Come on, we all do this not to be healthy but out of mental fulfillment. Our "habit" is an addictive one that makes us feel good (at least that should be the case). The abuse is different and the mental outcome and fulfillment is different than other addicts but we are addicts none the less.
I've been thinking a lot about my eight races on the big island, and maybe it's because this recent one is so fresh, yet I believe this was my best race ever there. It was the hardest one, conditions wise. In 2004, the winds were worse but it wasn't nearly as hot. I was slower in 2004 but not necessarily because of the conditions. 1997 was the most similar to this year in terms of conditions - challenging winds on the bike BUT more importantly, extreme heat and humidity. Heat and humidity effect me much more severely than wind, hills, cold, ... Bigger endurance athletes don't do as well in the heat having more surface area and muscle tissue to cool, making the metabolic demands that much more challenging.
My training for this event consisted of two swims per week, three to four rides per week, three to four runs per week, and one strength training session per week. Not a lot of volume compared to what I have done in the past and compared to what most IM triathletes do. In the range of 14 to 18 hours per week. I'm a firm believer in cumulative base. I have been racing IM's since 96' and have established a really solid base over these years, so my training this time around was more pace specific and getting in key sessions each week. I cut out a lot of the "junk training" or filler that I used to do more so out of not having the necessary time because of other priorities. In doing so, I felt more fresh for my key sessions and had a great build. I caught a head cold with less than two weeks to go from the race and actually carried it into the race. I had a lot of congestion on race day and the days proceeding the race. This head cold, although timing wise not great, was the only real set back in my build.
My legs felt great on race day and thank god for the power meter which kept me in control. I gave up 15 to 20 minutes on the bike compared to how I would have ridden had there been normal conditions. I was hoping that this would allow me to run in the low 3's, in which I didn't, however, I know that had I ridden that 15 to 20minutes harder, I would have been at least 30 minutes slower than the marathon I did run.
In this race, I realized that after competing for a long time, the pursuit of time becomes more irrelevant. Trust me in that I am still just as competitive and still want to go as fast as possible. However, I wonder twenty years from now how much more important a 9:15 would be to me over a 9:45? I just wonder if it will even matter. But I do know that testing my will, exposing my vulnerabilities and facing them head on - these are the things that enrich us. It's in these experiences that we create long lasting memories. I know that by testing my will, I will learn just how fast I can go anyways. This Hawaii, I did the best I could on that day, and I relish in that fact alone.
Hawaii is an amazing trip. It's not just about the race for me. This is an opportunity for Lisa and I to get away and we love this island. We had an amazing time, but Lisa knows that her and I can have an amazing time anywhere. The fact that we are in Hawaii is just a bonus. The race is unreal though, and the amount of energy surrounding it cant be described. The days following the race were spent mostly relaxing, and I thought about when I'd be back here toeing the line once again. I'm not on the every year plan anymore and believe me, I am extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to race here so often. I don't take for granted by any means the fact that it's truly and honour to race in Hawaii. I am content however, and life gets more and more busy.
I know that I am on the road to recovery though because I'm beginning to plan some goals for next season. And I also heard that Lance is planning to race Hawaii in 2011. I do want to take my kids out there to see me race at least one time...
Thanks to my sponsors - I appreciate loyalty and i will continue to try and represent these companies to the best of my abilities.
Thank you everyone, for reading this "random jibberish", and for your support, and really nice comments.