December 2004 By Gordo Byrn
“I’ve known most the guys that won Hawaii and they all have one thing in common, year-round they thought about that race on a daily basis.” – Scott Molina
Well, I’m back in Christchurch for the “Southern Summer” and it’s been a doozy so far. We’ve had the last two triathlons on the local calendar rained – hailed – blown - frozen out. A few weeks ago I rolled up to the flooded race site and when I stepped out of my car noticed piles of hail on the ground from the previous evening’s thunderstorm. By the time they got around to formally canceling the race, I was back in Christchurch working out in the gym.
The challenging weather is probably for the best as I might have been getting a bit soft after taking my longest training break for two years. I kept my swimming and running going after IMC but cut the cycling way back – a dozen rides in as many weeks. I finished that twelve week transition period with four weeks of single figure training volume. My world didn’t end, I didn’t turn to goo and I was feeling pretty peppy.
I could try to tell you that it was part of some master plan but the truth is that I did try to keep things going with a very solid swim - run camp in September. That went well but in early October I found myself quite tired (OK, totally shelled) with a couple of blown out calves – so it was time to rest. I really enjoyed reducing the volume and I spent more time on the non-tri part of my life. I re-discovered that it’s possible to keep a reasonable level of fitness by focusing on eating right and having a little training every day.
Another thing I did over the break was spend some time to reflect on the last four years, since I left my former life as a venture capital guy in Hong Kong. I dug through some of my diaries and found a Top Ten list from March 2000. I’d written ten goals down when I was still in the corporate world. I’ll share them with you:
1 - Touch someone with my writing
I’d forgotten about #4 – it represented my personal definition of smokin’ fast back in 2000. It’s worth remembering that if you are wondering just how much you might be able to improve! Most of October was spent figuring out my next Top Ten list. Four weeks of very low stress were required with a lot of unscheduled activity. Towards the end of the month I wrote it down and devoted November to putting as much time as possible into the non-tri items on that list.
Racing Ironman at the elite level means that I don’t have many periods in my year where I can devote a large share of mind to items not directly related to triathlon. Getting my mind back on-line after a summer of total swim-bike-run dedication also took a few weeks but perhaps that was due to the Pina Coladas in Hawaii. There were certainly a few nights that had more in common with Spring Break in Daytona Beach than athletic excellence.
So now it’s December and I’m back on it. The first two weeks were tough, I was probably sleeping an average of eleven hours per night, but I did manage to avoid eating the house down – a common end of year risk! Weeks three and four saw my training performance rocket right across the board. It was pretty surprising as I’d become accustomed to being completely blown out for my first few months in New Zealand. Perhaps there is something to this end of season recovery stuff.
One of the things that I’ve found on this journey is that knowing what it takes can make it more difficult to commit to a goal. There are only a few people that truly understand what’s required to rip an Ironman. The level of commitment and dedication to come close to reaching our potential for an event is pretty extreme. I think this is why athletic performance tends to cycle for most athletes. It is very difficult to sustain the level of focus required at the highest level across many years. You need to have a “special” personality, and a bit of luck to stay healthy.
But, hey, you only live once and I’m ready to give it a go again. Scott and Dave figure that there’s a bit left to be wrung out of me yet!
And what of Scott’s quote? Well, the quote goes with the photos that should be linked up in the right sidebar. Taking sixteen minutes out of my 2003 time didn’t prove to be enough for 2004. So I’ll just have to improve some more.
Good, better, best -- never rest