There’s nothing like the first 6 plus hour, 112 mile ride of the season to gain a healthy respect for the Ironman triathlon. Last week, thanks to the Memorial Day holiday I’ve done two. To think, at this point in the season, that on race day rides like these will be preceded by an hour or so swim with 1700 of your closest buddies–the kind of buddies who don’t feel the slightest bit of remorse about kicking you, elbowing you, pulling on a leg or simply swimming right over you–and followed by a leisurely 26.2 mile run, jog, speed-shuffle, crawl to the finish line is enough to make anyone question the sanity of such a pursuit. Had I not in fact already completed two previous Ironman races, I would hardly think such a feat possible. But there’s the rub: Having done two I know that through time and consistency, these rides will become common if not approaching easy. The training volume will continue to grow on a weekly basis, and baring injury, I will start to reach the pointy end of fitness. Chubby and pale-skinned will fall away to toned and tanned, and race day will begin to shape itself more as a plan of execution than simple vision of crossing the finish line.

And so these are the difficult days. The days where one must be patient, fight the urge to do too much too soon. The first part of any season where the ultimate goal is an Ironman is simply spent training to train, to laying the necessary foundation upon which the real training begins. Patience does not come easily for me, and this year has been especially frustrating because I actually started the season still working through some injuries from last year. But I’m finally starting to feel it, the sense of base fitness right around the corner. Fuller pool has opened and I’ve gotten some really nice long swim workouts done in the 50 meter pool. I’m approaching some semblance of base in my cycle training and am no longer merely struggling just to stay seated on the saddle in 3 plus hour rides but rather, I am finally able to start concentrating on staying aero for sizable stretches of time. I’m working through the last of my running issues and, though still slow, am really looking forward to being able to start building my endurance back up. My diet has been rather poor of late as my increase in training has lead to the justification of far too many pints of Ben & Jerry’s (otherwise known as “proof that God loves us”), but I’ve started tracking my diet on again (links to this digest will now also appear in weekly reports) and hope to bring my body composition around by the end of this month.

So things are beginning to look good: my training is tightening up, approaching the necessary consistency and beginning in July I should really be able to start putting in some really good-quality training days. Ideally I’ll find 1 or 2 half-Iron distance races to gauge my fitness level in early August, and then really be able to focus on some key areas of fitness in the remaining couple months leading up to Kona. This will also help guide my goal making/planning for what I’m actually going to be aiming for on race day.