My Ironman Wasn’t Hard Enough

Here is Corch Ian, “admiring” his handiwork at the finish line of Ironman Coeur D’Alene:

finished

I was higher’n a kite and crazy as a runover dog.

I’d been training for an Ironman for almost a year – I picked CdA during the winter, deciding to do the half which took place in June, and reserving signing up for the full until I saw how the half went. Obviously, it went well enough that I signed up for the full (see photo, above).

I had some injuries along the way, that kept me from doing the running that I wanted – and that ultimately kept me from actually being able to run the marathon portion of the race. I had to walk the whole darn thing.

I’m going to give a race report later, with details about the various stages. Of course, by the time I get around to that, nobody will read it. So right now I’m gonna say something peculiar, and I hope that nobody takes offense – but, here it is.

My Ironman wasn’t that hard.

“Let me ‘splain. No – is too much. Let me sum up.” — Inigo Montoya, “Princess Bride”

The swim is the swim – I’d done thousands of yards. It started out to be uncomfortable – the water was choppy, the other swimmers seemed to be a bit more aggressive than I am used to, and there were cabin cruisers on the lake making large swells. I thought about quitting early, but kept swimming, and the second 1.2 mile lap was actually quite pleasant. The training was there, and the fact that I didn’t want to drown kept me from trying a full-out effort for an hour and a half – especially since I still had the bike and the run later. So the swim was the swim.

The bike was the bike. Coeur D’Alene is one of the hardest courses – listed in the hardest 25% of Ironman rides. And we had 25 MPH sustained headwinds on the mainly uphill part of the ride, the route out Highway 95. But I had done a lot of 100+ mile rides, and five of those were on Cozumel, with wind and serious heat. I actually passed a lot of younger, skinnier, fitter riders – and my Noble Steed passed a lot of very fancy, expensive bikes – because of all of those thousands of miles in training. Besides, I had my bike computer and my heart rate monitor, so I was able to monitor my effort and make sure that I didn’t wear myself out, because i still had the run. So the bike was the bike.

BUT THE RUN WAS NOT A RUN.

I had done all of this training based on swimming 2.4 miles,  biking 112, and then running 26.2 – but I did not get to run 26.2 miles.

I had to walk.

Now, I’m here to tell you that walking 26.2 miles at 4 MPH is not easy – especially if you’ve never done it. I don’t believe that I’ve hiked over 8 miles since I was a kid in Boy Scouts. I’ve always ran, so I’ve never been a distance hiker. So it was a strange motion, and not a comfortable one.

BUT IT IS NOT RUNNING. And it does not require anything like the effort, and does not give the beating. And doesn’t take as much transition from cycling. There is no doubt that the run is the hardest part of triathlon – not just because it comes after the bike and swim, either. Running is the most energy-demanding of the disciplines; there’s no way to get one’s heart rate up as high, or keep it as high for as long, as in running.

(In addition, there was the issue of the torn calf – if I started working too hard, it would make me aware of itself, and remind me not to overdo – it would sort of fire warning shots across my bow, so to speak).

So I went out and I “hammered” the walk, as much as I could, but there’s no way to work as hard walking as running. Even though it hurt, it wasn’t hard.

And I was able to distract myself by chatting up everybody around me, and talking with all of the spectators as well – I’d even sing along with their blaring music, at full voice, and nod and smile at everybody, which is something that you simply can not do while running.

Even after dark, when the party was over, and all there was left to do was a stiff-legged joint-hammering waddle for the last nine miles carrying a glow tube, I was still walking, not running.

But I had trained to do the run.

So, although I’m as tired as heck, and my legs and joints are swollen (I’m about ten pounds heavier than before the race, even though I burned about 11,000 calories – gee, my ankles are big…) and I can’t concentrate very well or bend too easily – I have to admit that my race was not as hard as I expected it to be – and was not as hard as I had trained for.

Which is probably why I was so animated in the above photo – because Coach had me trained up to swim, bike and run, but I swam, biked and walked instead 🙂

So I wasn’t as tired as I should have been after the race.

I feel – strangely – cheated. My Ironman wasn’t hard enough 🙂

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2 comments
  1. Chris - W0EP said:

    I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Then my friend you must do another. Congratulations, awesome effort and awesome ironman report. You are ironman !!

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