The Hay is in the Barn” This is the expression used when the big training build is complete and all that remains is to taper and rest up for the big race.
This years Ironman build went very well. I decided not to race after Buffalo Springs 70.3 at the end of June and concentrated on my build to Ironman Hawaii. Racing frequently requires too much of an effort to travel to and recover from so I just chose to stay home and put in some big training weekends and solid 20 hour training weeks. I had 12 weeks of consistent training with some breakthrough sessions that really added a fitness boost. I am in the aerobic best shape of my life.
Each workout represented a bail of hay. Some workouts were like 10 bails of hay. Once they were complete I neatly stacked them away in the barn for safekeeping. I plan on slowly burning the stored energy in each bail out on the Queen K on October 13th. I know I have enough hay reserve to get through the race in a PR time. It all just depends on what kind of weather conditions or potential cycling catastrophes are thrown in my direction that will determine how fast I do it.
I did my last long simulation ride this weekend. I have been doing these on my own, but this time I wanted a little company. My fatigue level going into this one was pretty high and I needed a little external motivation. I called on my good friend Larry Krutka. Larry and I go way back. We raced against each other in the early days of triathlon, before USAT, and when you raced on 10 speed bikes with running shoes and toe clips. Larry went on to become a legend in the sport in this area, finishing top 100 in the Hawaiian Ironman, and has been on the age group podium twice in Kona.
Larry later went on to open his own fitness center, and I left the sport and went to medical school. Years later, I ended up moving to Tulsa after residency training and reunited with my old nemesis. We became training partners and good friends. Some of our training sessions became testosterone fests. One would push the other until someone mentioned “Lets slow down a little” That was rare….most of the time we silently shelled each other. Last year we rode 160 miles in 8 hrs and Larry did it on power cranks in the aero position. Oh, and did I fail to mention that this guy is now 58 years old. Larry has been sort of a mentor for me since I started doing Ironman. He knows what it takes to succeed.
So, getting back to my last long ride. Larry agreed to join me. He has only done one hundred mile ride this year and was only planning on going half way with me. We started the familiar hammering on the flats. My quads were screaming. Larry did his job and helped me make this ride do what it was designed to do. I wanted to simulate the fast start in Kona. We had good grade and headwind up to Bartlesville, which simulated the climb to Hawi.
Larry didn’t have the type of ride he usually does but he stayed glued to my rear wheel. Other folks would have cracked. That’s not Larry, he’s tough and tenacious. It was nice to have him along and I was glad he was able to make the entire 103 miles with me. I hope some of his mojo rubs off on me.
I am really looking forward to racing Kona this year. From the moment I crossed the finish line last year, I thought “I have to do this again, I know I can go faster” So this year, Kona has been my focus. Next year I think I will take a break from Ironman and concentrate on some shorter races, such as Olympic distance and 70.3.
The time it takes to train for Ironman is just too much for me. It takes time away from my kids and wife and it has become too consuming. I have started to coach other athletes which I think I will find rewarding. Hopefully, I will help them stack some hay in their own barns and become a mentor for them like Larry has been for me.