Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wow, Ironman Isn't for the Poor

On a lark, I checked out the Coeur d'Alene Ironman, held next June. I couldn't really imagine doing an Ironman, but then I used to say the same thing about a marathon. Pretty much anything is possible, I figure, so long as your choice is finishing or risking embarrassment. In any case, the race is nearly sold out. The entry fee: $550. Really? Marathons are like $80. I think the triathlon I just did was $120. I paid like $20 to do a 50k in Brooklyn -- and it came with a post-race pizza party. $550 is a whole lot of money, isn't it? Then again, the thing would probably take me 11 hours, so it's like $50 an hour. I'm sure there's a good reason for the pricing with the infrastructure needed to run such a long race. Still, it's pretty eye opening. It says something about triathlons overall. The demographics are so high end. Even the Ironman has an "executive challenge series." Alas. That's a reason why, if we're talking about endurance stuff, my heart is with the ultramarathons, which tend to attract more weirdos than corporate bigwigs.

What's Next: Philly Marathon

Even before the triathlon, I got to thinking what's next. The tri training was great. It's refreshing to do several different sports, rather than just one. No matter what, it got me to believe in the power of cross-training, something that probably could've saved me from injuries. A few friends are running the Philly Marathon in November, so I decided to aim for that. The timing is perfect: it's in about 16 weeks. My fittness base is pretty good right now. The main concern is how much I can ramp up the running safely. That's why I decided to take an unusual approach to my training.

Unlike last summer, I'm not going to do a high-mileage training program. I'm still a believer in the idea that if you want to run well you need to run lots. I'm also a realist. I can't start doing 60-mile weeks. And I'm not sure I want to. Instead, I'm crafting a training program around Pfitzinger's 55-mile plan with some important caveats. One is I'll only run four times a week. Just a year ago, this would be blasphemy for me. A couple years ago, I'd probably sneer at runners who prepared for marathons with so few workouts. Times change. The big difference is I'm not going to work out less. Instead, I'll ride once a week and swim two times per week. What I hope is this will mean a comparable fittness level and more quality runs. I want to eliminate junk miles and workouts where I'm going through the motions. Another change that will be tougher: run half my miles on soft surfaces. I'm committed to avoiding injuries this time around, even if it means sacrificing performance.

All these changes mean my goals for the race are different. I doubt I'll come anywhere close to three hours in the marathon. Right now, my guess is 3:20 is a much more doable goal, although I'm going to see where this new training regimen will take me. So far, so good. I've had some great workout this week and felt remarkably fresh. We'll see how the 45-mile bike ride in the morning goes.