This weekend is round two with one of my favorite races, Ironman Texas. Last year I added Texas at the last minute (thanks to an idea by Coach KT) to use it as an attempt to qualify for Kona. I remember being a nervous wreck in the last few weeks of training. Even my support team was nervous! Katie endlessly researched the past race performances of every athlete in my age group and ‘What about Bob’ (or now known as THE Bob post IMWI), drove the bike course at least three times. Without me.
Thankfully, I did qualify last year (IM Texas Race Report 2012) but had a difficult race dealing with some severe nausea the first fifteen miles of the marathon. I remember seriously considering quitting for most of the marathon. I made a deal with myself if I didn’t quit, I could retire from the sport after the race.
A year later and I find myself in a new place. Happy. Excited. Relaxed. Kona has been checked off the bucket list and as much as I would enjoy going back, it is no longer about validation for my choices the last three years.
What is my goal for this race? I want to race smart and fast.
What have I changed since last year to achieve my goal? I have a new coach, Marilyn McDonald, and her focus for me has been on getting faster, stronger and lighter. As a former Ironman Champion and a pro-cyclist, Marilyn created a plan that addressed the following:
- Creating deep fitness for the swim.
- Improving cycling speed and strength.
- Maximizing my ability to run at pace during an IM.
- Reducing (in a healthy way) my body size to go fast in the heat.
I made a few equipment changes this season too. I upgraded my pulleys and bottom bracket to ceramics to reduce friction and save a few watts. I have learned to race on latex tubes (saving a few more watts) which I really like. I have practiced training and racing in a more neutral and lighter running shoe with great success.
My most helpful change this season has been reexamining my race nutrition. After my nausea issues last year, I decided to try new sports drinks this year. I worked with Skratch a bit in my early races. I found my stomach tolerated it very well however it does not have enough calories/carbs to support long course racing. I switched to Perform (the on course nutrition at Ironman events) and found I tolerated it very well.
Based on the current science, I know two things are possible; we can take in roughy 60-90g of carbs per hour and we can train our body to process the higher amounts (Chrissie Wellington was near 90g per hour). Yes, I actually practiced processing carbs! I started with just using the same amount of carbs I used last season and eventually reached my goal of using 75g of carbs per hour (54g of perform and one gel at 24g per hour) on the bike. I believe being properly fueled will really help my run and my ability to finish strong.
Nothing left except to hope for some tough conditions. I welcome the heat, humidity and wind of Texas. Thanks to Marilyn for the work to get here and my family for the unbelievable support. Test time.