IM FL 2008: The Build to Peak

Here I sit, thinking about my buddies going to the Ironman Championships this coming weekend in Kona. As I think of them and their upcoming race, I reflect back on my peak for Ironman Florida.
It’s been a long training season. I haven’t raced at all and have been focusing on building for IM FL. It’s been a pretty good training year, although with minimal setbacks. It’s also been extremely hot for Northern California as for almost two months straight, it’s been 90+ degrees almost every day. Only recently has it cooled down which is nice for training fast, but not so great for heat acclimatization. I checked on the typical weather at IM FL and it’s relatively cool, so maybe that’s a good thing that I’m heading to IM FL and not Kona which will be super hot as usual.
This is my fourth year of Ironman, having completed four Ironmans. I can see where my body has adapted to the stress even more, and it feels like such a slow process to build my body to tolerate such stress.
Over the last 2 months, I’ve been running 2-3.5 hours each week, which is something that I never would have been able to do in the past. This last Friday was a big deal for me; I ran three 6 mile loops and was able to descend the loops by 2 minutes each time, accelerating across 18 miles. Very important; I am determined to have more tolerance at higher mileages this year and to not be mentally (or physically) challenged when I hit the second half of the Ironman marathon. The only way to practice that is to run 13+ miles, and then keep going.
Never would I have been able to train this way when I first started out. But my body has adapted and this year I was able to do this for weeks on end without injury. Very thankful for that.
But on top of that running, I also cycled hills across 6.5 hours on Saturday. I was able to climb Kings Mountain twice, then go over to Old La Honda and climb that twice, and still be able to race out onto Canada Rd and back home without feeling too depleted. This is also important; at Ironman Austria the hills destroyed my legs and hitting the marathon after all that really sucked. I was determined to never let that happen again! Still, IM FL has very little hills and I just need to maintain watts across a very long period of time. Racing flats is harder than you think; I found out at IM WA last year.
So lots of great adaptation to Ironman level stress this year. As my friends tell me, you have to train so that when you get to race day, the race seems easy. But to get to the point of being able to tolerate training that is MORE INTENSE than your race – well that took me about 4 years to get here, plus not to mention about 3 years of less-than-Ironman distance training before that.
It took a lot of time and patience across SEVEN YEARS, but the end result was extremely rewarding. I hope to see my PR improve at my upcoming race.

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