Thursday, February 7, 2008

500 Days to Coeur d'Alene Ironman and 241 days to Longhorn Ironman 70.3 - The Countdown begins...

I have decided to set a goal to do my first Ironman at the 2009 Coeur d'Alene Ironman on June 21, 2009, which is 500 days from today. Why so far out? Simple. I want to make certain that I am fully prepared and adequately trained, and with my work schedule constantly in limbo, this will give me plenty of time and offset those stretches where I may not be able to train as much as needed. If things were to open up for me and I could compete in another Ironman event sooner, I will leave that option open, but I refuse to pressure myself to do it before I am fully ready.

In the meantime, I have registered for the Longhorn Ironman 70.3 in Austin, Texas to be held on Sunday, October 5, 2008. I'm not going to say what my goal time is at this point since I am still a virgin to the sport, but I do have a time in the back of my mind that I believe is doable.

If my schedule remains flexible between now and June, I may also consider entering the Buffalo Springs Ironman 70.3 in Lubbock, Texas on June 29 (provided it's not sold out soon). With only about 4 months of training, my goal for that one would simply be to finish and get a taste of what the transitions are all about. Plus, being experienced with training and competing in the Texas heat, I can not imagine any type of great performance in late June in Lubbock where the temperature will almost assuredly be in the 90's.

On the short term, I'm going to run a half-marathon with my son in March (will be his third half), and I will target some sprint distance triathlons in the local area.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Returning after a lengthy hiatus... and 17th marathon race report

Quite a lot has happened since my last post back in September. Rather than type a long and boring description of what has been going on, I'll make it brief. I own a company that performs title due diligence on first and second mortgage portfolios secured by real estate, and we do work on properties in all 50 states. In September, we were blessed to land a substantial new client that immediately started sending us a tremendous amount of work, and at the same time, two of our other large customers also became very busy in portfolio acquisitions. In October and November, I literally did not do any training of any kind and was working 100+ hours a week.

As for my 17th marathon in Houston on January 13(coming down to the finish line in the photo to the left), I'll start by saying that 6 weeks before the race not only was I not entered, I had absolutely no idea that I'd even be running in it. The half-marathon and marathon had been sold out for a couple of months and my 15 year old son had entered the half-marathon. My plan was just to go out and be a spectator on race day to watch him and cheer him on. To back up in time a little, my workload had finally gotten back to normal around December 1 (my 48th birthday). I ran 3 miles on my birthday (first time I had run in 2 months) and thought I was going to die (consider that I typically do what I call my "Birthday Run" of 12.1 miles to coincide with the 12-1 date). That night, my Dad called to wish me happy birthday, and made a passing comment that he had run his only marathon in Houston when he was 48. I suppose I subconsciously filed that away somewhere. By this time, my son had decided that he was going to forego the Houston Half-Marathon on January 13 to run in another half-marathon later in March. This was the first year that Houston allowed transfers between runners, so I decided that a half-marathon would be a reasonable goal to achieve in 5-6 weeks and that I would transfer his entry to me. So I go online, and unbeknownst to me at the time, they give you the option to transfer to the half or the full marathon (you see where this is going). I immediately thought to myself how cool it would be to run the same marathon at the same age my Dad had been when he did his, so I transferred and entered the full marathon. This would be my 8th Houston Marathon and 17th marathon overall, so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. I knew that with such a small window of time to train that it could get really ugly on race day, so my plan was simply to finish it the best I could, walk when I had to, run or jog when I could, and enjoy the day. In a 5 week period, I was able to build up to one long run of 16 miles and had one week of 50 miles about 2 weeks before the race, and in the 6th week I treated it like a normal taper week. At that point, I felt comfortable that I would at least go out and not be totally unprepared. The shocker was what happened on the day of the race. I told my wife before I left the house that I fully expected to take at least 4:30-5:00 hours, and that I would carry my cell phone with me to call her and let her know how I was doing (she and the kids stayed home that day and watched the event on TV because I told her there was no need for them to go out and stand for who knew how many hours waiting on me to finish, if I was even able to do so). The race began and I just ran along at a very nice, easy and comfortable pace. Again, to make a long story short, I made it all the way to the 21 mile marker before I decided to force myself to stop and take a short walk break. At that point, I was at about an 8:45 pace per mile, roughly a minute slower per mile than my normal marathon pace when I'm properly trained. I walked for about 3-4 minutes, and decided I'd see if I felt well enough to start jogging again. Well, I did and ran all the way to the 23 mile marker. Being experienced, I did not want to do anything stupid, so at mile 23, 24 and just before mile 25, I again forced myself to take about a 2 minute walk break during each mile. At the 25 mile marker, I looked down at my watch and was amazed to see that I was at about 3:45, and had a chance to break 4 hours if I could jog the rest of the way in. I called my wife and basically said, "You are not going to believe this, but I think I'm going to run a sub-4:00". I think she was as stunned as I was. I started jogging at the 25 mile marker and ran comfortably the entire rest of the way, and finished with a chip time of 3:57:06 (a 9:03 pace per mile even with the walk breaks factored in). I must say that although it was way off of a PR or my normal times, it was one of the most satisfying marathons I have ever done, and it proved to me that the base I have maintained all of these years has really paid off to keep me in good shape. It also proved to me that I am ready for the next phase of my life as a distance athlete.

Tomorrow, my big announcement about the newest phase of my training... Stay tuned. It's good to be back.