I’ve decided to write a post or two about the lead-up to Kona. This first one is about the ‘final build’ into the race, from 6 weeks to 2 weeks out. Here's a lot of text bulletpoints. And lots of pictures of the food that went in, and pictures and a short video of me sweating it all out.
Another post could include topics such as the training taper, the hype, the reality, the expectations, the town hosting and the athletes participating in the World Championship event. But this post is all about the 'final build' into an A-race, in this case Ironman Kona.
Many hours on the trainer or spin bike. Hours. Days. Here's a few seconds of it. ^^
Today is Thursday, October 12th. The race is in 2 days, Saturday, September 14th. I wrote most of this post two weeks ago, when the race was 2-ish weeks out and I was in the depths of fatigue from a huge ‘final build’. I don’t think I could write it today – I’ve already forgotten the physical feeling and mental condition that you reach by the end of an Ironman build. I really believe that, if you didn’t forget or downplay the effort, fatigue and commitment required by an Ironman build, you might not ever do it again.
When I say an Ironman build, I mean the final block of training to race an Ironman at an elite level. Everyone that decides and fully commits can train for and finish an Ironman without tearing themselves and their lives to pieces. To actually race Ironman, to compete at the top of the amateur or within the pro field, is a different undertaking, especially during the last couple months preceding the race.
I recently heard someone say that we spend most of the year ‘training to train’. That, most of the year, you are building the fitness, durability and efficiency needed to thrive during the final big weeks of training before a race. Come race day, those final weeks are what matters most, but you can’t complete those big weeks without a solid base. The base training is a prerequisite to the ‘final build’ training that is a prerequisite to an elite-level race.
Base training comprises most of the year, and it is great and quite enjoyable. Base training is physically and mentally healthy. The final build is not. It asks you to do things you would never do just for the sake of health or for fun, things you are only willing to do in order to better compete. No way is it good for you, but it certainly does make you fit and prepared for the rigors of the race.
It’s hard for me to convey what it’s like. So instead of comparing it to other experiences, or trying to explain it some other way, I’ll just relate some of things I’ve experienced and that I know some other people have experienced as well.
The build is great. It’s physically and often mentally uncomfortable, but it is in pursuit of something and it is something that is worthwhile in of itself. I could go on about how it is so challenging that it becomes a special, worthwhile, lifetime experience, but instead here a just a few bullet points: