Not long ago I began working with an athlete, Matt Carnal. Matt came to me about a year ago with aspirations to do Ironman. No not just any Ironman. The Ironman…You know the one in Hawaii… The World Championships. Matt had yet to even do a triathlon, but this was something he really wanted to do. His background is college baseball and he ran a little in high school. I kindly let him know that it was very competitive to get to the event and that some people work their tails off for many years and still never get to the big show. I wasn’t really coaching people then but my wife was. He wanted some advice from us because 50% of the 2006 Oklahoma Hawaii Ironman qualifiers were living under our roof. We must have been doing something right. He ended up working with another coach but we saw one another now and then and when I saw him at a few races I offered encouragement.
Matt learned pretty quickly that there are some pretty fast dudes out there, especially in his age group, the M25-29. His first triathlon was Oceanside 70.3, and then he went to Honu 70.3 and had a better race. He had some mechanical problems on the bike at Buffalo Springs and didn’t finish, but in 2007 he got his feet wet in the sport and he got a good feel for “what it takes” to succeed and reach his ultimate goal. He contacted me again this summer and I agreed to help him. Since then we have been working toward his big goal…one step at a time.
The first step in Matt’s progression is to run a sub 3:00 marathon at Route 66 in Tulsa on November 18th. This wasn’t my idea, it was Matt’s. He has never run a marathon before but this is what he wanted to do. Sub 3 his first time out. He’s right though. To make the Kona cut in his age group he will have to have sub 3 hr open marathon speed. I gave him workouts that a sub 3 hr marathoner should be able to do and he did them. I gave him tune up races with goal times as benchmarks to see if it was a realistic goal and he even surprised me.
He got faster with each race and as the distance went up Matt was able to sustain the pace. On Oct 6th he did the Zoo Run 10K in 39:47. On Oct 27th he the did the Tulsa Run, his first 15K, in 56:51, On Nov 4th he did the Jenks half in 1:23:53. Based on his last long run pace he did on Oct 14th, and his progression in times in these last few races, he should be able to crack the 3 hour barrier if he paces himself smartly and I’m sure he will ;) These great results will steamroll into better ones and build greater confidence for further achievement down the line.
What I’ve noticed most about Matt recently is that he is focused. He has the right mental attitude and tunnel vision required to meet his goal. He is eating a proper diet, no junk. He is getting the rest he needs. He knows what he needs to do and goes out and does it. This mental attitude is often overlooked but is the most important component of achieving an Ironman goal. There are so many opportunities for letdown in a race this long. Having the right mental attitude is more than 50% in achieving success.
I will be updating Matt’s progress in his quest for Kona but for now, Ironman Kentucky this summer will have to suffice. In Ironman the slogan says "Anything is Possible". Maybe he will be in the waters of Kialua bay this October. At this pace, he very well might.
So if you are on out on the course at the Rt. 66 Marathon in Tulsa on November the 18th, give Matt a cheer.