In November of 2014 I flew down to Brasil to visit my IronBuddy Hal and compete in the inaugural IM Fortaleza. It was a great experience and afterwards over a few cocktails, I decided I would return to do IM Florianopolis in 2016. Well 2016 came and I was still in a bit of hurt with my back and was hesitant to make the fiscal commitment with airfare, hotel and race fees once registration was open. After completing IM Boulder in August of '16, I realized I could do IM Florianopolis but at that point the race had already sold out.
I attempted to do IM Cabo instead since IM Boulder went off without a hitch and well, we all know how dismal that turned out with my back, forcing me to drop out about mile 60 on the bike. And so began the arduous task of trying to come back once again without undergoing any sort of invasive therapy or surgery. I basically took off the remainder of October and pretty much all of November. In December I started to run (ummm jog) again as Jessica and I signed up for Rock n Roll Arizona 1/2 Marathon in January. Running was the only thing that allowed my back to feel decent as compared to biking or swimming, which both put a lot of stress on my back.
After that January race, I continued to run and at the end of the month decided to add swimming back into my routine. I would only swim with a pull buoy though. I did that for a few weeks as the pull buoy acts as a floatation device and lift my hips and legs putting less pressure on my back. I then went for Full Lava Pants. This is similar to the pull buoy but allows you to kick rather than using your legs to hold the buoy in place. Since IM Florianopolis is a wet suit legal race, it was my thought that the lava pants would mimic the actions of the bottom half of a wet suit.
March rolled around and I thought it was time to get back in the saddle and on the bike. I was concerned that that training in all three disciplines would aggravate the back and lowered my run miles as I increased my bike mile. Bella was very happy to be back out in the action and the early days saw Kerry and I making the reacquaintance with Winston. Eddie joined the party and our weekly rides would begin. I then started leading Boulder Tri Club B rides and more people joined our band of merimen riding the roads of Boulder, Loveland, Berthound, Erie, Westminster, Longmont and such. I added midweek rides back and forth to work weather permitting. And all was good in my training world. I knew I was behind where I would like to be with a race approaching but I didn't want to rush this back/spine. I would find myself reminding myself that IM Florianopolis is a no pressure, no stress, enjoy yourself in Brasil kind of race with your Ironbuddy. If all goes well there I would have plenty of time in the season to continue to train and get stronger and do an "A"race later in the season....say November on some tropical Island perhaps??
March and April were great strong riding months and the swim was coming along quite nicely. Increasing my yards and mileage along the way. The running.......all but disappeared. A few measly miles here and there. But nothing as to what I would "normally" be doing. I was spending my time listening to my body and giving and taking what I could. Logging the hours in the disciplines that put the most pressure on the back. If I could get to the marathon with enough time, I could walk it, if need be. Just get me to the marathon and we'll figure it out from there was my mindset and what my body seemed to like as well. Towards the end of April Natalia returned from Florida and another weekly riding buddy was back in my life.
More importantly, I was having a blast being back out on the bike and riding. I'd mix in interval training, some nuero work and speed work along with the long easy rides. I also realized I had a lot of pictures of me peddling Bella with friends and a pig. The week before I'm set to take off for Brasil, I do all my "normal" pre race week things. I have two great swims at Rally and go for an easy hour ride in the hood. Making sure to stop by Winston and the Oreo Cows to say hello.
This past week I also made two stops to visit Darcie and her magic elbows for deep tissue massages to loosen up the back. Then there was this little thing of turning the Big 5-0 and entering a new age group. So Brasil will be my first race in a new age group. Joining the ranks of the older guys category and I am ok with that. I don't typically race against other people when doing an IM race. Sure it is nice to look at the numbers afterwards and see where I fit in with the rest of the peeps my age. And yes, every once in a while I'll see an age on the calf of someone and say, I can catch them or damn that guy just passed me and he is in my age group. But at the end of the day, I race because I love being out there and moving and growing and having a blast. It certainly is my hope to finish this race but I understand that it is not necessarily up to me alone but the powers to be also play a key role. I raced very smart in Boulder last summer and finished. I went into Cabo last fall with the same game plan and dropped out because of my back. Here I am 7 months later with the same mentality of healing my back and racing smart so that I can finish the race and yet continue to play in this life of mine. Race smart? How so? What's the game plan?? What are you going to do??? There is a time limit on an Ironman, there must be some set of clock goals??
I know you're all on the edge of your seat. The answer:
Yep - If I can follow this simple equation then I should/could finish the race. 2hours for the swim + transition, 8hours for the Bike + transition and 7hours for the marathon totals 17 hours. The amount of time allowed for one to cross the finish line and be an official Ironman finisher. It's a long day and certainly not ideal or optimal for great athletic performance but it is one that can get me to the finish line and I can save the PR attempt for another day. All the work is done now I just need for race day to come.
18 hours and counting till Ironman Florianopolis begins and a promise from 2014 is fulfilled.