The 2014 Ironman 70.3 in Oceanside was targeted as my first Half Ironman a long time ago, I don’t remember exactly but it was at least 9 months. Once I finished the Santa Barbara Long Course in August I began to focus my thoughts on this race. This was going to be my first shot at a HIM and I really wanted to do well. None of this, "I just want to finish crap". I wanted to race and perform at Oceanside. In order to do this I knew I needed to make a big change to my training, one that would require me to not skip Strength Training anymore. I had learned to be okay with red boxes in Training Peaks for strength workouts, but I had come to learn, from experience, that late in the race I would need the strength to fight off fatigue, cramps and general doubt. So I committed myself to two strength sessions a week from August to March. I immediately felt the difference as I was stronger in all my races during the winter and had the strength to finish races, something I lacked in 2013. Leading up to Oceanside I had very strong workouts in my final bricks. I was doing excellent on the bike and then just hammering it on the runs. I felt so strong and my confidence was sky high. Because of this I was not nervous at all or experiencing any of the common pre-race freak outs. I was calm and confident that I not only earned my place at the starting line but I was there to show off my months of hard work. There are no secrets in this sport, if you want to race well you need to train and train hard. In addition to all the hard work leading up to the race I put together, along with the help of my coach, a race plan detailing everything starting with my day before the race, including meals and amount of sleep, all the way through to crossing the finish line. I printed out this report and took it with me, reading it over before dinner Friday night, before I went to bed Friday night and once more while eating breakfast on race morning.
I took a big risk when I planned out my winter running racing calendar and had the Bandit 50k Ultra Trail Race culminate an 8 week period with a 50 Miler, a road marathon and a trail marathon. I took two weeks off after Ironman Lake Tahoe and then got ready for the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Miler in 8 weeks. I expected to have a strong base to run Carlsbad Marathon on January 19th and then two weeks later the Sean O'Brien Trail Marathon.
From October 1st until February 1st I ran just under 700 miles. 80% was on trails. I ran a very fast trail half marathon 2 weeks before my 50 miler and I felt some of the fatigue from that race. Then I ran Carlsbad Marathon on January 19th and was confident I could qualify for Boston by running 3:24 or better. Three of my previous four marathons were Boston-qualifying and the only race that wasn’t came down to the brutal heatwave that hit Boston for only the 2nd time in its 117 year history. I ran a 3:14 and ran a solid race, steady at my expected pace for the first 23 miles and slowed down the last 2 miles before I found a little extra speed to finish within a minute of a personal best. Nutrition was a factor that I needed to address in the next two races.
On February 1st, I ran the Sean O’Brien Trail Marathon at Malibu Creek State Park. I knew most of the course pretty well and all I wanted to do was run a solid long run to get me ready for Bandit. When I found out I was in the lead at mile seven that idea dissipated and I went for the win. I pushed the first 20 miles and limped the last 7 miles to finish in first place by 2 minutes. After that race I had already made up my my mind that I would skip Bandit since I had achieved my goal of winning SOB26 and felt like I had had enough of running. My foot was in more pain at the end of the race. After two days of doing as much as I could to recover quickly, including a massage, I was still riding the high of the win at SOB and I decided to run Bandit after all.
As a coach, I know that there is no way I can go into these events and perform at my best. I knew it wasn't going to be easy and I didn't want easy. I needed a challenge that I could learn from. My goal was to see how far I could push my body and mind with limited running. My last 3 seasons have been mostly injury free and I have increased my mileage dramatically in that time running over 1000 miles each of the last 2 full year. I have been doing the bulk of my base training in the fall and winter running mostly trails and during the triathlon year, just maintaining for endurance and race efforts for half and full ironman races.
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more about Gerardo
January 26, 2014 Fortius/SMMC Bike Maintenance Clinic
February 1, 2014 Sean O'Brien Trail Race Fortius Coaching Aid StationFebruary 16, 2014 Bandit Ultra Trail Races
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