Ironman Tahoe – So hard that everybody DNF’ed

Ironman Lake Tahoe 2014 Cancelled

I have a lot of disappointments in my life.  My parents didn’t always get me the GI Joe’s I wanted, I didn’t actually become a Major League baseball player, and much to my chagrin Bruce Willis was dead at the end of Sixth Sense.  Sorry for no spoiler alert.  Time to add one more to the list. Hey you remember that year that you sacrificed your strength and mass, sacrificed your time and most of your weekends, never got out to the mountains to run, hike, or climb because you were too busy sucking exhaust fumes on local streets, and teetered precariously on the knife’s edge of too much endurance training volume leaving you exhausted and beat up at the end of every day just so you could perform your best on one magical fall day, and then that fall day never happened?  Yeah.  That was awesome!

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Alright. So maybe I’ve had a charmed life if this is the worst it gets. That was pretty disappointing though. I had trained A LOT for me. I didn’t do a lot of the things I wanted to do because I had to do monster bike rides, runs, and/or swims on the weekends.  Not only that, but I was excited about doing what many say is the hardest Ironman in the Ironman circuit. I was in Squaw Valley for a week, and when that day finally arrived, I was pretty nervous. I trusted in my training, but it was still something I had never done before. I got to T1 that morning, set everything up, and then started reading the paper trying to calm my nerves. Finally it was about 30 minutes before the start, so I got into wetsuit and headed out to the water practically vibrating with nervous energy.  Then I started my warm up swim.  My heart slowed, my breathing had to be strong and even out of necessity, and I calmed down greatly.  I started feeling pretty damn good, and I even thought to myself, “Wow. I’m feeling pretty strong right now. This is actually going to be a really good day.”  Not even 20 seconds after I thought that, I hear the cancellation message.

My heart still breaks listening to that.  That said, I’m in excellent cardiovascular shape. It’s been quite a journey where I’ve learned a lot about myself, my body, and proper training for endurance events (I had been training all wrong for a long time).  Never in my life would I have thought I could swim 2+ miles, bike 100+ miles, and run 20+ mile for a single training session, and then head out for drinks after like I just went on a 10k run.  I may have to wait a year to get my Ironman ambitions out of the way, but it will be easier to maintain this level of fitness than it was to build it. I can once again train to get strong, and next spring and summer I’m going to experiment with long trail running and mountain biking sessions in replacement for many of my long runs and triathlon bike sessions.  If it works, great.  If not, I don’t see my times being affected *that* greatly.  I’m not going win the thing anyway.

AQI

AQI for 5 days ending on race day

WTC (Ironman’s parent corp) made the right call.  The smoke, which had all of us questioning whether there would be a race all week, was very bad race morning.  They needed to wait until the last second because if they cancelled early and winds shifted for a beautiful day, there would be hell to pay.  They extended an olive branch to the athletes too to race again this year for $100, race Tahoe next year for $100, or race another Ironman next year for 50% of registration fees. It would have been nice to have the $100 option for an alternative race too, but what can you do?

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Picture taken 80 minutes apart when smoke rolled in

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View of the smoke from across the lake

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Picture from Squaw Village the night before

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Very awesome people cheering for us on the way back to Squaw

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The first of many shots with other disappointed triathletes in the bar at 10am

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My first view of the lovely swim start. I was so excited when I took this.

5 Comments on “Ironman Tahoe – So hard that everybody DNF’ed

  1. Wow. Sorry about the cancellation. What a heart break, even if it was the right call. Have you picked your next race or still drinking this one off? Thanks for sharing. Joe.

  2. I’m sorry your race was cancelled, thats always a tough decision to make for race organizers and heart breaking for the athletes. Sounds like IM is doing right by the athletes though. A lot of companies would just tell you you’re S.O.L. I am wondering though what training and nutrition program you are following. I am getting more heavily into Ultras and wnt to try my hand at Tris within the next year or so but my body feels like crap after training for the Chicago Marathon the past 4 months.

    • Thanks. It was definitely the right decision for Ironman, and I can’t complain about the options they gave us. It could be better, but it could easily be a lot worse.

      I don’t have a specific diet or training plan. For diet, I have a guideline of only eating things I could kill or pick in nature (natural, unprocessed food), but I’m not militant about it and will have pizza and beer when I want. For training, I utilize a HR monitor to guide intensities. I spend 80-90% of my total training time for each event in zone 1 or zone 2. The other 10-20% of the time is mostly spent doing zone 4 intervals, but I’ll mix in some really intense zone 5 intervals or just zone 3 long sessions at times as well. For strength training, I followed Jim Wendler’s 5-3-1 approach with back squats, deadlifts, bench press, and military press. For both strength and endurance, I programmed it in 4 week blocks. I’d build for for 3 weeks, and then have a layoff week where I cut way back on volume or weight. I’d start the next block a tiny bit higher than the previous one, so I was always systematically making small but measured progress. This approach combined with prehab work allowed to stay relatively injury free all year despite training for IM and competing in marathons, ultras, and half IM’s. It’s a lot to go into in a comment, so feel free to message me if you want to talk more about it.

  3. Pingback: Ironman 70.3 Timberman – It’s official. Triathlons hate me. | Will Work For Adventure

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