Thursday, December 13, 2012

Planning Ahead

Now that my 2012 race season has come to a close it's time to start thinking about the gameplan for 2013.  Though I had company during some of my workouts this past season (and had the Miami Tri Locos alongside me in spirit), on the whole I trained on my own. 2013 will be a different story.

A couple of nights ago my buddy and I huddled up to plan out our race season.  It was a long process, full of lots of distractions and sidebars, but in the end we have a decently laid out schedule for the year ahead.  I was initially unimpressed with the race selection, but once we expanded our searching off of Long Island and into a larger area we had more than enough options. Our race planning session was an exercise in balance; among the factors were race scheduling, distances, locations, courses, and last but not least race fees.  With our Timberman 70.3 registrations on the books (and designated as the year's "A"' race) our goal was to fill in the season with variety of other races both triathlons and other types events.

Next up is a 10-mile race in January and then our next event will likely be the Prospect Park duathlon (in Brooklyn) in March.  Now it's time to start saving up for the race fees!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Stay Hungry my Friends

The first week or so after Ironman Arizona was all about recovery (both mental and physical); the soreness disapated in just a few days but it was a few days after that before I began to feel myself again. Training hours on end had become the norm for me during IMAZ training.  In the race's wake I found myself completely out of sorts, a funk if you will; my energy level was noticeably down and I even bordered on irritable. Not until after the first few workouts did the fog begin to lift and I began to return to normal.

My training over the past few weeks has been a major shift from what I was doing before the race.  For one thing the northeast has settled into the early stages of winter, complete with short daylight hours and temperatures trending downwards. The days of riding outside are over for several months, as are open water swims (except for the upcoming Polar Bear Plunge).  I'll keep running outside through the winter, but the rest of my workouts will be moved indoors.  Without the pressure of having to log countless miles I've already begun to get back into the weight room and the yoga studio is next.

With Ironman Arizona behind me, and no imminent race plans, I can't deny that I've been slightly less motivated during my last few weeks of workouts.  Perhaps there is still just some lingering fatigue but I think I can attribute it mostly to reaching my lofty goal. I ate, slept, and dreamt for months about crossing that finish line (it still seems surreal that it actually went down).  Because so much of my energy was spent taking the necessary steps to help me reach my goal I guess I can't help but think: "what now?"  In fact, many family members, friends, and coworkers have asked that very question. 

For now I have my sights set on some new short- and long-term achievements: drastically improve my swimming, running a sub 20-minute 5K, qualifying for the Boston Marathon (this one is probably years down the road, if at all), improving my climbing ability on the bike, besting my previous PRs (I'm likely not alone with this one), and continuing my progression as an athlete/triathlete.

My next immediate step is to lay out next year's racing/training schedule (which already includes Timberman).  I'm sure that once I start looking ahead to next season it won't be hard to bring up my energy and intensity.

Monday, December 3, 2012

I am (an) Ironman!

The final weeks before Ironman Arizona and the post-mordem period after the race were sadly lacking in the writing department, but this is my attempt to ease back into the ink-flow. A full race report for IMAZ is in the works; in the meantime here's what happened:

In case you didn't get the memo, see the skywriting, or here Brian Williams announce it on the evening news: I am an IRONMAN! 

I can still remember those first persuasive arguments about why I should triathlon and clearly recall thinking that I'd just do a couple of sprint distance races and call it a wrap.  Umm....yeah.  Not so much.  Even after those first few events (what with their agonizing, breast stroke-filled swims) I had no intentions of making the leap into long-course events.  It wasn't long though before I signed up for my first Olympic-distance race (which I'd ultimately have to skip because of a business trip) and then for Miami 70.3.  It was after I completed the half-Iron that I began to set my sights higher and had my first thoughts of taking on an Ironman. 

As the Tri Locos began to plan for Ironman Arizona as their big 2012 race I wondered whether I would be up for the challenge.  I was assured by Coach and the other Iron Locos that a year was plenty of time for me to ready my body for the monumental task.  I think it's fair to say that the year of training (6 months on a formal plan) for IMAZ was physically and mentally the hardest thing I've ever done.  It was also the most rewarding of my life.

As I reached the peak training phase I pushed my body and mind further each week.  My weekends consisted of grueling workouts (often by myself) and I made many sacrifices in other aspects of life.  Monday mornings though were filled with pride.  As I settled in to work each Monday, I couldn't help but think about the miles I'd logged on Saturday and Sunday.  Hardly removed from being a drowning, anti-runner, I had been reborn as a passionate triathlete.

I'll dole out some specific "thank yous" in my race report but in the meantime I'd like to throw out a general thanks to all those who helped me along the way.  Whether you were a training partner, someone who donated to my cause, a random runner on a trail who made me work just a little bit harder, a family member, or a friend, everyone I've come in contact with has helped me in some way.  Triathlon may be an individual sport but without all the help and support of those around me I'd never have heard Mike Reilly say: "Andrew Zitofsky, you are an Ironman!"