After winning my age group at Rev3 Anderson, SC, I decided to take a break from training for two weeks. The weather was changing, and I wasn't motivated to be training in the cold. I was healthy, injury free and won my last two races which was a great way to end the season. My body and my instincts were telling me that I had had enough and it was time to rest even though I had one more race scheduled. I also had business commitments to attend to. I needed to write scripts for and shoot the final Fitness Trucking videos for Prime, Inc. And I needed to prepare for the birth of my son TaNihisi, who is due to arrive in the Baleka family in early November. All this before beginning my training for Ironman South Africa.
So this off season has been pretty busy! The first thing I did was eat! Yep! After that last race I ate whatever I wanted for five days. That's about all I could handle, too! Five days without working out and stuffing myself made me feel awful! It was then that it dawned on me, if I am going to rest and heal my body, particularly my muscles, why not rest and heal everything else? I decided this was the perfect time for a fast and a cleanse. What better way to start Ironman training than to be squeaky clean? So I went to GNC and bought a 14-day total body cleanse kit and cut out all meat and dairy products for the first few days, and now I am on just fruits, nuts, avocadoes, salsa and blue corn chips along with various powders and pills from the cleanse kit. A few days before the Rev3 race I was 144.8 lbs, 6.3% body fat and my muscle mass was 128.8 lbs. Sixteen days later I am 144.4 lbs, 6.8% body fat and my muscle mass is 128.0 lbs. So I am happy to say that I didn't gain any weight this off season!
Reflecting on the past season, it is just amazing to think that I didn't even start thinking about doing a triathlon until February of this year! One of the first things I did was purchase the Endurance Films DVD Triathlon: Through The Eyes Of The Elite. Seriously! This was before I knew anything about triathlons let alone Endurance Films...
Well, I did 8 races in this my first season - 4 sprint and 4 Olympic. I managed one win in my age group at each distance, a 2nd place finish at each distance, a 4th, a 9th, a 16th, and an 87th. My fastest Sprint distance paces were: Swim :58 , Bike 21.3, Run 6:39. My fastest Olympic distance paces were: Swim 1:10, Bike 20.68 Run 6:46. Based off of this, my season goals for next year are
Sprint pace: Swim sub-1 minute, Bike 23.5, and Run sub-6 minute.
Olympic pace: Swim 1:08, Bike 22.5 and Run 6:15.
Next season, my goal is a sub-2:15 Olympic and to win my age group at the USAT Sprint National Championships, becoming the first African American to claim a USAT title . That 7 minute improvement at the Olympic distance will come primarily from improving my weak bike!
I checked my USAT ranking and got excited to see that they added two more races! This caused my score to jump from 79.0 to 81.568! Wow! That's actually huge. My performance at Age Group Nationals was 84.756, four points higher than my next best score, proving what I already knew - I had my best race when it counted the most against the best competition in the USA! I still have two more races to be calculated, and I did well in those races so I am hoping to move up to getting an Honorable Mention recognition. I am currently ranked 23 out of 989 men in my age group in the state of Indiana! Not bad for season #1.
Dominating my off season, however, has been planning for Ironman South Africa, both in terms of training and fundraising. I just finished my 25-week training plan. There are three swim workouts, four bike workouts, and four run workouts each week. The volume is:
Swim 211,400 yds (45h 48m)
Bike 2,813.4 miles (140h 42m)
Run 610.4 miles (81 36m)
Total hours: 266
Compare that five and a half month volume to this year (ten months):
||133h 55m 50s - 2292.63 Mi
||73h 50m 34s - 515.49 Mi
||71h 38m 48s - 253267.6 Yd
So, basically I will be doubling my training volume. Since I complete my truck lease in December, I will be off the truck and at home to train and be with my family. To handle the increase in training volume, I have switched from a 3 week build, 1 week recover cycle to a 2 week build, 1 week recover cycle. Mondays are short swim, short bike, and short run; Tuesdays are long run and strength training; Wednesdays are medium swim and medium bike; Thursdays are medium bike and medium run; Fridays are long swim and strength training; Saturday are long bike and medium run brick.
After watching the Endurance Films Triathlon Training DVD series, I have added the 15 minute Neuromuscular Activation and Dymamic Warm-up to my workouts. I will also be following a strength training routine twice a week (that's another 50 hrs!). After watching the Evolution Running DVD, I have also added 15 minutes of run drills to Mondays workout. Finally, I reserved Sundays for the yoga routines found in The Athlete's Guide to Yoga DVD.
Now that I have a plan, I am feeling a bit more confident. My main goal is to finish. However, I think I am capable of swimming a comfortable 1 hr swim (1:25 pace), biking a 5:45 (19.48 mph) and running 3:45 (8:35 pace). That gives me a 30 minute window for transitions and race mishaps for a sub-11 hr Ironman. That's my goal.
As if doing that training and racing wasn't hard enough, I want to make sure my family is there, too! That's a lot of passports, visas, food, hotel rooms, etc. As I already posted, I estimated the total cost at $22,900. My plan is to get 5000 truck drivers to support my effort by buying a case of my Fitness Trucking 140.6 energy bars (www.youbars.com
enter code "i57px" in "Build-A-Bar" re-order code box ). I am also going to seek some support from Pilot/Flying J which is a major truck stop (franchise?) that sponsors the Rev3 races. They are featuring me in the December issue of their Challenge magazine and perhaps they can sell my energy bars and my Fitness Trucking workout DVD. I have a few other ideas, too, But these are the main fundraisers as of now.
I have also contacted the World Triathlon Corp (Ironman) to find out if they know of any other African American triathletes that have traveled to Africa to compete in an Ironman. As far as I know, I may be the first which is a significant (and marketable) distinction. I have asked Ironman South Africa about arranging a home stay for me and my family in order to provide a deeply profound spiritual and cultural experience that goes way beyond an athletic event.
So all this combined, training on the road, first Ironman, traveling to Africa, bringing my whole family ... all of it is a once-in-a-lifetime massive project that brings every aspect of my life together. For this reason, I am also hoping to use Endurance Films production services to make a documentary film about it. I have mentioned the idea to Danny and he suggested that we ought to try Kickstarter which is an online fundraising platform for various artistic projects including filmmaking (I will let you know if and when we get that going). If I am succesful in raising those funds, I will be able to share this experience with the world and hopefully, inspire someone else.
This is my dream.
Now, I am coming to the end of my two week off-season . . . I am crossing the bridge from last year's dream to this year's dream.