Last year, towards the end of the season Steve asked his athletes if they were interested in Ironman. I have always been enamored with the idea of Ironman but thought it would be years before Steve thought I was ready to attempt one, so I never even brought it up. When he brought it up as Michelle, Steve, Steve's son, and I were driving to a triathlon my response was "Yes, me, oohh me, please me, pick me, pick me". He told me after that he was thinking about it as well. I like the way that he approached the question with his athletes. He set it up so that we had to decide yes or no without knowing that others were doing one. Our team likes to train, and race together, but Ironman is such a big commitment that you can't base your decision on whether your friends are doing it. You have to be willing to go it alone. Ernie owns the local put-put mini golf place in Penticton and we hung out with him a ton while volunteering for IM Canada 2008.
I was willing. So was Steve, Anthony, and Andrea. At that point the four of us made plans to travel to Penticton, Canada to volunteer at the 2008 Ironman Canada event, and to stand in line to sign up in person for the 2009 event. The four of us had what was one of the most hilarious weekends I have ever experienced. We drove the course, hung out in Penticton, got caught up in the Ironman nerves, woke up at 3:45am to volunteer for the swim portion of the course, watched as 6 participants did not make the swim cut off, hunted for next years lodging, watched the pros take off on the run, had lunch while watching more runners, watched the top men finish, drove to the turn around spot on the marathon and watched the 13-ish hour finishers come through, went to dinner and came back to the turn-around and saw the final finisher come through (she did not make the 17 hour cutoff but she did complete the mileage). We came home inspired and refreshed. We were all on the road to our first Ironman together.
Because of my unique knot tying ability I got to help the race organizers set up all the buoys for the swim early on race morning. I got a very unique perspective being out on the water before the race started.
We had several meetings where Steve and Andrea talked to us about their approach. Both of them as our coaches and first time Ironman athletes themselves had a lot of ideas rolling around. The big question mark in Steve's head pertained to "Why is is that athletes training for Ironman always train below the distance.?" When we train for Olympic races we often put in 6 hour bike rides, even though we race for about 1.25 hours. Same with the swimming and running, we double the distance OFTEN. Why is it that age group Ironman competitors don't (or rarely) even hit the distance they plan to race?
An idea was formed and thus stemmed: What about a 17 hour training day? The funny thing is, Anthony and I got so excited. We were so completely on board with this logic that we wanted to know why as well. And as a result, a study was born.
Some outlines were made, some races and schedules tentatively set, and off we went down the path of ultra-distance training for Ironman. You, as readers of this blog, have already witnessed some of the training I have been doing. As you can tell I am having the time of my life.
As Steve and Andrea started talking to colleagues the concept of proper recovery has come into serious play. We have to recover well to absorb high mileage. Steve and Andrea worked very hard and were able to secure valuable support from Normatec MVP for the four of us during the next 8 months to aid in the 17 hour training day study. The Normatec MVP is used by the Garmin Chipotle team and is an amazing resource for us.
So, all in all, the 17 hour training day study is picking up some steam. We have a website and all four of us are blogging our training routines. I wanted to share the site with you so that you can follow our progress along the way. You will get many tid-bits from me here on GoSonja.com as well. If you are interested in seeing the nuts and bolts of our training, send your browsers on over to www.17hourtrainingday.com.