On October 10, 2015, I had one of the worst days of my life.
I DNFd (Did Not Finish) at my very first triathlon, Ironman Louisville–I was pulled at mile 17 of the run, with 9.2 miles to go, as I missed the cutoff time for the final turnaround.
I had spent 8 months, from ground zero, getting my swimming ready and that compromised me on the bike and run. I made the bike cutoff but trashed my legs. I had no legs coming out of T2 and bonked at mile 10. From there, it was a slow-motion train wreck.
The worst feeling was, after that, MrsLarijani bawling when I came up short.
I felt like the old Philadelphia 76ers after their 1977 NBA Finals loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. They blew a 2-0 lead, and lost in 6 games. It was bitter. The team took out ads: “We Owe You One!” Julius “Dr. J” Erving, the star of that team, was without a championship.
I was angry. No…angry is too soft. I was pissed.
Wanting to give MrsLarijani a break, I sat out 2016–did a half-Iron, some centuries, and an Olympic-distance triathlon. Last year, I planned on doing an Ironman, but Abigail and the Battle of NICU was my big endurance event last year. Abigail showed her Ironbaby creds.
This year, I signed up for Ironman Chattanooga. September 30 is D-Day.
I’ve been training like all get-out since April.
I figured Chattanooga would be the fitting place to take care of business, as that is where I met MrsLarijani and that very area is where MrsLarijani and I spent plenty of time during our engagement.
As for the race itself, the swim is slightly easier than Louisville, the bike is about the same–not as hilly as Louisville, but 4 miles longer and hot temperatures can make it a killer–and the run is one of the toughest on the Ironman circuit.
This time around, I’ve been biking like crazy: 8 century rides so far, one of them 160 miles. I have 2 more planned (tomorrow and next Saturday) going into taper, with long runs on Sunday morning. (To put that in perspective: I had 5 going into IMLOU 3 years ago, but this time I’ll have double that. And a lot of long rides to go with that.)
I haven’t been neglecting swimming or running, but Ironman–as I learned the hard way–is all about the bike. I’ve upped my swimming starting this week, and nailed a 90-minute swim this morning, adding a 15-minute transition run to it.
(Transition-running after every swim and bike has been a big part of my repertoire this time around. And my long runs have been the day after–not the week after–my long bikes. I’m not treating this like training for a marathon.)
My strategy going in is simple: take it easy on the swim and let the current be my friend, keep it steady on the bike to ensure that I have legs going into the run, and don’t get stupid on the run.
And when I’m going through Hell on the run, I’ll just mutter to Satan, “Yippie kiyay…”
It took the old Philadelphia 76ers team six years–which included two more losses in the NBA Finals and an embarrassing 7-game loss in the Eastern Conference Finals–to get their championship. And it was the one remaining player from that 1977 team–Julius Erving–who sealed it in game 4.
That was a wonderful day: Doc had his championship, and the Sixers delivered on their “We Owe You One” promise.
My goal is to do the latter. And after that, to be able to stand.
I plan on being a “one and done” with the Iron distance. My back, neck, knees, and hips are reminding me to stick to activities that have little or no impact.
But like those Sixers of old, I have some unfinished business.
Here is the highlight video from last year’s Ironman Chattanooga.