Race day is close upon me. I have raced many events, and every time there is that part of me that wants to believe that I am ready, but deep down inside, I always had a nagging doubt. There was always something that wasn’t quite right. A run that didn’t go well. A bonk on a bike. Even last year, when going through this exact same race rehearsal, there was doubt. The numbers did’t lie either.
At the time, I was beyond happy about my rehearsal. I had run reasonably well off the bike. My moving average was 8:37 per mile pace, but my heart rate was all over the place, and high. Worse, my legs, if memory serves, were’t feeling too great either. I felt like I had been through a train wreck.
The results in Honu showed through. I blew up. Like I always have. Primarily because of a misalignment between reality and expectations. Mix in with that a complete and utter disregard for understanding what my HR should be and can do. My biggest fault in racing has always been that I ride the red line thinking that this must be how the pros do it. My strategy equated out to win it or bin it.
Coach Ben has really been hammering into my head this year that I need to plan the race and race the plan. I have grown weary of the disappointing results, and have been really focused on heeding his advice. The result? I’ve been having some break through sessions. Even my races this year have left me grinning. Not all of them were to plan, but the results were positive. That said, a consistent and nagging self doubt has been pervasive as I approached the date of the first half Ironman. Without enough time training outside on the bike (gee, thanks Seattle), I have not had enough of a baseline to really feel like I was ready.
My race rehearsal bike this weekend was unremarkable save for the fact that I felt amazing during it. I had a clear target not-to-exceed heart rate, and I followed the plan to the letter. And I felt amazing. I came up on the end of the session thinking that I didn’t have any of the characteristic quadriceps pain that had so often accompanied my hard bike sessions. And I was moving at a very good pace.
Even better, before the bike I swam a 2100 yds in under 30 minutes. I was floored. During the last :30 of the bike I kept thinking that the other shoe was going to drop when on my run. There was no way I was feeling this good during a race rehearsal.
Coach Ben was pretty clear. Run the first mile around 9:00 pace. It would feel slow, but resist any and all urge to run faster. Then, run 5 miles at 155-162 bpm. Simple. So I did exactly that. I ran the first mile with the pace on my watch, and when I clicked over to mile 2, I turned it all off except for HR. Even with the stop lights on the run, I a little over 7:30. The last one was 7:23. I am without words.
It was an odd and curious feeling to return to my car and not feel like I was going to die. Coach Ben has consistently asked me to be patient, to trust the training, and to come to grips with the reality that my little project was going to take a coupe of years. I leave for the big island in a week. I have never felt like this before a race. The only word I can think is “prepared.” As I explained this to my wife, it feels more like I am going to actually be racing than it does that I am going to be participating in an endurance event. I’m pumped. More from the road later.