When I decided to do Ironman a year ago, I knew from the beginning I could finish the race. And despite having not finished the race, I still believe I could finish the race, I was just dealt a bad hand in Louisville. Now that I'm considering another nine months of training and shooting for iron, what will it take to have the iron experience I want? I've been doing some thinking...
Open Water Swimming: I did all my training this year in the pool. The only time I did any open water swimming was in a race. And I did pretty well considering my past freak-outs in open water. But you only get faster in open water if you practice in open water. The problem IS the open water. There isn't a whole lot of it around here. The closest place is The Quarry, where you can only swim with the local tri club. I'm not part of that tri club. Plus two people have drowned there this summer and I don't think it's open for swimming anymore. The other place is Alum Creek, which...ewww. They only let you swim inside the beach area which means you go back and forth and back and forth. If you go outside the area, they'll ticket you. There's got to be other options, right?
Longer Bricks: In training for Ironman I did long bikes and long runs but not together. I would do long bike rides with short runs topping off at maybe 4-5 miles of running. For the first 10 miles of the Ironman run I felt great and then disaster struck. I need to learn how to handle the nutrition shift between biking and running. I need to learn how to fall into a good, solid pace for many miles off the bike. I believe I can achieve this with longer bricks. We're talking LONG, like 30-60 miles of biking followed by 8-15 miles of running.
Racing: I know that you are supposed to train more to race better and having been coached the last two years I can absolutely say this is true. However, training for Ironman is LONG and daunting if it's looked at as nine months as a whole. After putting all my eggs in one basket this year and coming up with nothing, I need other races to look forward to in my season. Plus racing more helps my confidence in triathlon, which is still growing. Right now I've got many races I'm looking forward to in 2011 of all distances.
Weight Training: While at the Rev3 Cedar Point race my dad kept saying to me, "You don't look like those other girls. They're big. You look like a runner." Believe me, my dad meant all of that lovingly. :) He's right, though. I have tiny, T-Rex arms that runners have. And not that you need big arms and bigger muscles in general for triathlon, but a race as long as an Ironman does require more strength. During the last training cycle, the strength training was the first to go when I didn't have time. Not this time. I don't necessarily want to be big; I just want to be stronger.
Nutrition: If you all knew what I ate, you would be disgusted. I grew up in the typical American household: completely overscheduled. And because we were overscheduled I ate easy to make, quick, processed food. When I became an adult and cooked for myself, this didn't change. I need to learn to plan my meals, eat cleaner, and snack wisely. I don't want to lose weight, but I certainly could become leaner and drop some body fat.
Harder Workouts: For years I have been going long. Doing longer swims, bikes, and runs doesn't mess with my head the way it used to. Generally, I fall into a trance during long workouts and the minutes, hours, and miles tick by without me even knowing it. When things got tough in the Ironman I'm not sure I knew how to dig deep to pull myself out of that hole. Sure the workouts for Ironman taxed my body. I have never been more fatigued. But I need to fatigue my mind more and I think that can be achieved by doing harder workouts. I want to look at my schedule and see track intervals, crazy paces that could make me cry, and trainer sessions that leave you saying, "You've got to be kidding me!" I want to train for what I'm actually capable of, ie- a 3:30 marathon, and not what reality will be, ie - a 4 hour marathon. I need to be broken and rebuilt. I want to train like I'm trying to win every race. (I could totally be making a mistake by putting this out there for the world to read, like Coach.)
Part of me can't wait to get training again. The other part of me is dreading it like the plague. But hopefully changing things up a little is going to help me have a successful season in 2011. I still can't believe I'm gonna give this triathlon stuff yet another chance....