Sunday, November 15, 2009


In order to participate the ancient Olympic games, athletes were supposed to stop their regular mode of making a living, and undergo a minimum of ten months of intensive training. The idea was that the athlete would train full time to get their bodies to an extraordinary level of fitness. In showing up at the Olympic games, the athlete would have to certify that he had undergone the required level of training in order to be allowed to participate in the games. To some degree, national Olympic committees today require a level of fitness and conditioning to participate in various Olympic events by having qualifying standards that must be met in order to be eligible to compete for a spot on that country's Olympic team.

I am ready to attest that training buddy John and I are certifiable to participate in the Arizona Ironman next Sunday. Yes, I know what you're thinking: certifiably crazy! I'm not sure I'd argue that point. Perhaps it is a bit nutty to connect up a 2.4 mile open water swim with a 112 mile bike ride, and topping it all off with a marathon for good measure. But its been done before. Thousands have done so before us. We call them "Ironmen." In any event, it truly is a crazy and amazing endeavor to attempt and achieve. We both have huge respect for the men and women who accomplished this goal. It still kind of boggles the mind that anyone can complete an event that starts at sunrise and goes on for 10 plus hours.

I'm not exactly sure how we even got to the mental place that got us to think that doing an Ironman was even within the realm of our achievement. I guess its doing the events leading up to this crazy distance. We've both done many marathons. That's about a 3 1/2 hour to 4 1/2 hour endeavor, depending on the course and our conditioning. Then, we started doing sprint triathlons, events that take in the range (for us) from around 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. That opened the door to the question of which was more demanding: a marathon or a half ironman. The half ironman is about a 6 to 7 hour endurance event (again, for us at least). Of course, there was only one way to answer that question. So about a year ago, John & I did the Miami Man Half Ironman. Low and behold, it could be done. I guess that only opens yet another door of whether we were up to the full ironman distance.

Knowing full ironman events fill up quickly, we registered last November for the Ironman Arizona. We then started researching a training plan, nutrition plans, and questioned all of our buddies that had done ironman events and came up with a training plan. For the last 10 months or so, we dedicated ourselves to training for IMAZ. We threw in a summer marathon, did several Olympic distance triathlon events, and a half ironman in September as a gut check on our training. We did three 2 1/2 mile swims, 3 century rides, and two 2o mile runs in preparation for this event. We have other friends that completed ironman events on less training than this, but this was what we figured was appropriate training for this distance. We did each and every scheduled long training event, never skipping a major workout. Unlike Olympic athletes that train pretty much full time for their events, we did all this while trying our best to maintain our work and family lives. This level of training does suck up a ton, if not all, of your free time. But I'm here to certify that we did all the training we planned to do in preparation for this event. We are ready for this event.

But like all athletes that do all the hard work to get to the Olympic, we can still mess up our event by failing to follow our game plan. John & I both scuba dive and one of the rules of diving is to "plan your dive" and "dive your plan." John is very good at following his game plan to a tee; me, I have a history of going rogue. I usually pay for this mistake. Thus, I plan to not let any feelings that I'm doing well cause me to change the plan. I have no time goal in mind. I simply want to complete this event. In playing it conservatively, I'm budgeting 14 to 15 hours to complete the event. If I do better, great; if it takes longer, that's OK too. At this point, I simply want to get the hoped for payoff for all this hard work: crossing the finish line.

This is probably my last posting before next Sunday's event. I want to thank all of you that have given John & me guidance and advice in preparing for this event. Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to read my somewhat longish blog entries. Thanks mostly to buddy John for all the virtual and actual training together. I know it would have been immensely harder to get all this training in without knowing he was either meeting me for a ride or run, meeting at the pool, or doing a separate workout that I needed to match. Finally, thanks to my family for putting up with this whole endeavor. Now, we just need to fly out to Arizona and get this thing done. At this point, I'm excited, nervous and itching to go.


Linda said...

Bill and John,
I will be thinking about you guys. You are awesome!!!! I can't wait to hear about the experience!
All the best,

Missy said...

I'm so excited for you. It's going to be great. Truly enjoy the day. An extra 5 minutes to high five some kids, kiss a wife or any passersby will NOT make a difference. It will add to your enjoyment and memories of the day. Take it all in. You're gonna love it.