Race Coverage

Iron-Reality Check...



By Nathan Ansbaugh (nathanansbaugh.blogspot.com - 9/26)


IRONMAN WISCONSIN Race Report - Before every Ironman I have raced, I like to read back through my race reports from prior IM events... in particular my Kona Recap 2011. While this may sound a bit self-fulfilling, its actually more the opposite. I know I need more humility heading into an Ironman that I emotionally have. The buildup before an Ironman is different than any other race, where in the sprints and olympics early season I can't wait to take that excited energy and just explode out of the gate and hammer it throughout, where as the buildup for an Ironman involves so much more and yet I really have to reign it in mentally from the get go to make sure I don't blow it. Mainly, I look back at these prior posts because I need a reminder that Ironman is REALLY REALLY hard. It is so easy to forget the feeling of emotional and physical exhaustion that sets in somewhere around 90 miles into the bike with another 22 to go and marathon to boot. Ironman triathlon is a humility check, training check, and reality check that truly puts you face to face with your fitness, your insecurities, your preparation, and your resilience... but one day after every Ironman, you start to tell yourself, "It really wasn't THAT bad." Well... it is THAT bad...


My biggest concern heading into Madison was that the busy schedule of my emergency medicine residency had kept me from really accomplishing a lot of the work I would ideally do on the bike in preparation for what many people had told me was one of the toughest bike courses at the Ironman distance. When people ask me how I do Ironman training during residency, I think about my teammates like Sean Cooley (anesthesiology resident at University of Minnesota) and Matt Bender (neurosurgery resident at Johns Hopkins) and wonder the same thing. Honestly, we all do it differently. What I can tell you is that Sean and I basically train for this kind of run regardless of doing an Ironman because run fitness transfers to the rest of the race better than anything in my opinion, and a 2-3 hour run is easier to squeeze in than a 6 hour ride. So how do I do Ironman training during residency? Well, I skimp where I can and hope I don't pay for it too badly the day of. I tell myself that I can skimp a bit in the swim training and still muster a reasonable swim without loosing a ton of energy, that I can play it conservative on the bike and hopefully hang on, but that I can't skimp on the run. The truth is, over this entire summer, I was able to get in two rides longer than five hours, and many other times I settled for a few hours on the trainer if not less. It is much easier to get in a 2-3 hour run every week in the middle of residency than it is to get in a 5-6 hour ride, so runs took precedent. Recovery is a whole other issue. Between an erratic sleep schedule, lots of hours, minimal time for recovery, I haven't found a great alternative to simply skimping a bit in certain areas above to give myself some time to heal. Last season, I tried to slam some more intense run and bike training in preparation for Superior Man with minimal recovery and ended up injured late in the season because I wasn't really taking care of the big picture. I think most people hear the term "recovery" and think "rest." While resting is part of it, recovery takes energy as well. Its the easy slow spinouts on the bike, minimal paced form running, rolling out on the foam roller, yoga, strength training, and these things add up, too. Last but not least, when I used to race full time, we put in enough effort and time focussed on climbing outside the "safe zone" during a race and knowing how big of a risk we could take in any given moment of a race without ruining the race as a whole. I knew these limits because we practiced them over and over. This also takes time, real recovery, and intentionality, and allowed me to feel better prepared for the low points in races and moments in races where I really needed to step it up. The big picture is that as we drove to meet my folks at our rental home just outside of Madison through the big rolling hills, I was well aware of the skimping I'd done in certain areas of training, my lack of familiarity with my "risk taking capabilities," and I ultimately knew I needed to play things extra safe come race day.  READ MORE

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