The off season features the return of a commodity that many age group triathletes find themselves in short supply.
Along with greater amounts of time comes greater amounts of reflection.
You guys knew you were in trouble. Right? :-)
Basically, what it boils down to, is this. My failure to meet my sub-6 goal at Augusta stems from three sources. Two of which should be fairly obvious. The other one, not so obvious. Let's go through each one of them. I know. You can't wait.
Back before the High Falls Olympic, I was hitting the strength training pretty hard. I was only going once, maybe twice a week, but I was pushing some pretty heavy weights. I had discussed this with my coach. She had scheduled me for strength maintenance on my plan. In my foolishness, I hit the weights hard. I felt the burn in my muscles.
At High Falls Olympic, I caught myself. I told coach that I was not doing anymore strength training because it was causing my muscles to cramp. What led me to this decision? I was cramping in my thighs. I haven't cramped in my thighs since the West Point Olympic back in my first year of triathlon.
The second foolish decision was really two and three together. Coach sez to take two salt tabs per hour when its hot and you are racing and training, and we all the axiom, "Nothing new on race day!" Well, I never ever trained with salt tabs. I tried them last year, and I did not care for them. They upset my stomach a bit. I decided to go with PowerGel Electrolyte water for Ironman Florida last year, and it worked out OK. I finished. This year, at Augusta, I left my PowerGel packets at home. They are not easy to find. Dani was kind enough to give me some of her Propel packets, and I used that to fuel my water.
When I ride my bike, I alternate between Gatorade Tiger and enhanced water. I like the taste of Tiger. Not too sweet. Not too salty. I can drink it for an Iron distance event. Unfortunately, when I got to the Propel, I hated it. It tasted nasty, and I forced myself to drink the first bottle. The second bottle of Tiger didn't go down so well after that. Rather than drink my fourth bottle (the one with Propel), I opted to pick up a bottle of Gatorade at the bottle exchange and managed to sip that into transition.
If you read my race report, you know that less than a half mile in, I cramped up on the run, in my thighs. The rest is history.
So lessons learned... Moving on... and all that jazz. Liz tells me not to beat myself up. She knows. Of course, she knows. She sees it all the time in her athletes. We are all different, yet we do the same shiz. It's just, and here's the kicker, from my perspective, it takes a certain amount of effort, and commitment, to train an athlete and train for a half Ironman distance race. That deserves a healthy amount of respect. More, evidently, than I was willing to give.
That, in a nutshell, is why I am not doing Ironman next year. I am going to take next year and put into practice everything that I have been taught and do it over and over again until I get it right. For me, its no longer about going the distance. It's about, going the distance well, and who knows. Somewhere, along that line, off in the distance, there just might be a sub-6 half iron performance...