On Saturday, February 25, 2012 I rode 91.45 miles and never left my house! I am getting there. Long rides, long runs. This is the real deal, the real stuff of Ironman training, and I am doing it. I am becomming an Ironman. That week, #17 (Build 2) of 25 weeks of training, I did a long run of 15.31 miles (8:51 avg pace), a 3,000 yd swim (easy 1:22 avg pace), a 10 mile run at (7:18 avg pace), a main swim set of 6x450 yds on 1 minute rest holding 5:35 or better (1:14 pace), and then the 91.45 miles at a comfortable 18.14 avg pace. All my training is in the proper heart rate zone and I am the fittest I have ever been. Physically, I have gained the confidence that, yes, I can cover the distance. Physically. So it is ironic (?) that at such time, I suffered doubt. Mentally, I started to question myself. Why am I doing this? Several Ironman finishers that I have talked to, including my EFRT teammate Nick Logan, have all said that at some point, either during my training or in the race itself, I will come to the proverbial "wall". There will be no movies to entertain me during the six hours on the bike, no music to distract me while running the 26.2 miles . . . it will just be me out there, alone with my thoughts. And as Nick told me, when I am faced to face with the "wall", I better have an answer to the question, "Why am I really doing this?" Well, I had something of an epiphany. It all started with a business trip I had planned in Springfield, MO at the end of Week #15 of my training. We decided to turn that trip into a family vacation of sorts with all of the boys (the girls stayed at home with Grandma). It wasn't much of a vacation, however. I had a lot of important work to do and the sibling rivalry between boys ages 6, 9, 11 and 14 being what it is . . . . well, I ended up feeling very stressed, my wife felt stressed as well, I missed workouts, and when the boys misbehaved, I didn't handle it well.  "If it goes like this and I feel like this just going out of town for three days, how on earth are we going to go half way around the world and back for three weeks?" To be honest, I didn't like the crabby person I had become on that trip. My original idea, fantasy actually, was to race Ironman South Africa and have my family there to watch me and what a great experience this would be for all of us. Now, however, visions of my kids running around in the airport, getting restless and fighting with each other on the plane, trying to make my stressed out (and sometimes lonely) wife happy, and paying an enormous sum of money for this, began to creep into my mind, replacing the fantasy with a nightmare. What is that old saying, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions. . . ." I felt like I was being unrealistic, setting myself up for failure instead of triumph. I finally had a heart-to-heart talk with my wife and told her how I was feeling. It was a good thing I did because what she told me transformed everything. She suggested I change my thinking. Instead of visualizing the experience as doing Ironman South Africa and bringing my family with, I should  visualize the experience as bringing my family to South Africa and doing an Ironman. As simple as this sounds, it was brilliant and it worked. After thinking about it, it instantly took the pressure off. If its the journey that is the valuable part, then focusing on the journey and not the race makes sense. I was on a path that would have totally missed the valuable part for the sake of training and racing. Deeper reflection. however yielded another revelation. My true motivation for this entire Ironman South Africa thing is a misguided attempt to find happiness in accomplishment and acquisition. An honest assessment of my life shows that my overachieving, oftentimes extreme endeavors and public persona is programmed or learned behavior that falsely equates happiness and even self worth with external success, albeit with the moral virtues of hard work, discipline and good sportsmanship. This is in stark contrast to the notions of  True Happiness as defined by the world's major religions and spiritual systems. To wit, if true happiness is oneness with God, and God is peace, or stillness, then trying to find happiness in activity is futile. This is why meditation and fasting is a part of so many higher levels of spiritual systems. Not because of self mastery, but because in meditation, for example, one has to still the mind and rid themselves of all thinking activity before one can transcend one's boundaries and mege into the collective consciousness of the All and the One, which is to say, the mind of God. This state of consciousness is perfect peace, it is perfectly still. It knows no desires, no ambition, no goals, no definitions. To cultivate this state of rest and oneness with all things, at all times, is happiness. Anyway, the point is that I dreamed up my Ironman South Africa fantasy thinking it would bring great happiness, and when the reality of eight other personalities intrudes on my fantasy, I get upset. To me, all these things were robbing me of the energy needed to focus and train when in fact training was robbing me of the energy and focus my family needs. It got to the point that I actually even quit - just didn't have the energy or motivation or desire to train and do the race. My wife, however, got me back on track. I confessed that I couldn't do it without her blessing, and its true. Knowing my wife and family are there for me is what allows me to embark on such an adventure. If I didn't have them, my energy would be directed at finding them! So my outlook has changed and I am less aprehensive about the challenges of a thirty hour travel day and almost three weeks on the road. I am looking forward to experiencing my boys first airplane ride, and riding elephants, and seeing giraffes, and walking the beach and nature trail with my wife, and lastly, just finishing the race. Week #18 was a recovery week and I am now into the two hardest weeks of training. Yesterday I ran 16.2 miles. Below is my lap data: (my heart rate monitor started acting up so the AHR and especially the MHR are  high)

Lap Data
Lap Time Distance Pace/Speed AHR MHR
1 07m 41s 1.00 miles 07m 41s /mile 172 204
2 08m 17s 1.00 miles 08m 17s /mile 169 207
3 09m 36s 1.00 miles 09m 36s /mile 155 172
4 07m 05s 1.00 miles 07m 05s /mile 161 177
5 07m 29s 1.00 miles 07m 29s /mile 165 178
6 08m 35s 1.00 miles 08m 35s /mile 160 165
7 07m 59s 1.00 miles 07m 59s /mile 157 166
8 07m 53s 1.00 miles 07m 53s /mile 155 161
9 07m 51s 1.00 miles 07m 51s /mile 158 200
10 07m 38s 1.00 miles 07m 38s /mile 156 163
11 07m 14s 1.00 miles 07m 14s /mile 164 184
12 07m 11s 1.00 miles 07m 11s /mile 165 181
13 07m 31s 1.00 miles 07m 31s /mile 164 170
14 07m 58s 1.00 miles 07m 58s /mile 166 169
15 07m 59s 1.00 miles 07m 59s /mile 169 176
16 08m 13s 1.00 miles 08m 13s /mile 171 176
17 01m 45s 0.20 miles 08m 46s /mile 169 171
 I was happy with my time, 2h 07m 53s and 7:53 pace. I managed to stay in Zone 2 the whole time. I did the run with no injuries or pain, though my ankles hurt after the run. My goal is to run under 4 hours at the race (9:09 pace), so based on my training I feel confident that I can do that. I am swimming well, too. My swim set of 6x450 yds on 1 minute rest holding 5:35 or better (1:14 pace) is a good sign. Today I swam 3100 yds straight at a comfortable and moderate pace averaging 1:24 per 100 yds and earlier I swam a 3,000 while less fatigued holding a 1:22 pace. That's a 58:30 2.4 mile swim. If the water in Port Elizabeth is as calm as last year, I think under an hour without a hard stroke is possible. Finally, I made my last adjustment to the powercranks, moving from 150mm to 170mm crank length. It feels more comfortable and I am riding better than ever. I can ride (on my trainer) for hours comfortably at 19 mph at the low end of zone 2 and ride 10 mile blocks at 21 mph without getting out of zone 3. My race goal of a 6 hour bike ride is 18.66 mph pace, so, provided there are good conditions on race day, this is reasonable. So, my training is on pace for a 1 hour swim, 6 hour bike, and 4 hour run. That's 11 hours plus transitions, etc. . . .


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