Monday, February 06, 2012

Countdown to Ironman, Week 20: Gearing Up

It's getting to be that time in the training cycle: time to start thinking about gear for the race. For a sprint distance race, you can get away with wearing almost anything, eating almost anything, and drinking almost anything. I mean, how else can you explain this:

What was I thinking? Okay, to be fair, that was circa 1989. Everyone wore neon-colored balloon shorts. No, really. It sure makes you appreciate the tri suits of today, doesn't it?

But for an Iron distance race, every gear choice is important. The wrong socks can be 26.2 miles of blisters, the wrong drink mix can mean puking behind every porta-potty. The wrong saddle can mean a world of hurt in the nether regions for far-too-many hours.

So, it's time to start doing my training rides and runs with the clothing, gear, and nutrition that I'll be using on race day. In a couple of weeks I'm going to put a bunch of miles on my bike in what's known as a "big bike week". I'll be doing some comparisons between my favorite tri shorts to see which ones make the cut. One thing I discovered last time is that getting used to a thin pad instead of a traditional biking short with a thick pad makes life a whole lot easier in Iron land. For one thing, you don't have to change your shorts in T1, a feat which only people who have tried to pull on lycra over wet flesh with cold, shaking hands can truly appreciate. For another thing, I have learned that thicker pads don't really make for more comfort in the long haul, and in a day spent largely on the aerobars, a tri short is more comfortable for me. You'll be happy to know that nothing I am wearing will be in the color range of neon.

Next up on the agenda is to order some Infinit, an all-in-one nutrition solution that eliminates all of those messy gels from the bike. Last time I felt like I was carrying an entire garage sale in the back pockets of my jersey, and after hearing from numerous athletes who are Infinit fans, I am definitely willing to give it a try.

My biggest decision is probably going to be shoes. I've been doing all of my training runs so far in my Vibram Five Fingers, but do I want to go 26.2 miles on pavement in those? I'm not sure. My alternate shoes are Nike Frees, but now there are a lot more brands of minimalist running shoes out there. I'll have to go shoe shopping and see what looks like it will work best. I can always stick my Five Fingers in my Run Special Needs bag in case I need to go back to them.

I'm sure there's a million more details I'll need to work out in the coming months, but these are the ones to start with. Once I start thinking about all of this, it really brings home the sheer lunacy of the entire Ironman enterprise. All this gear, all these decisions, all this training, for one crazy idea. And yet, here I am, doing it again. Sometimes I don't understand myself, yet when I'm out there training I can tell you one thing: I love it. I ran to work today, and ran home, and it felt so darned good. I was just loving the pure feeling of running. And the feeling of the sweat running off of my body today on the bike trainer, where it's just you and the interval timer and the pain of it all. When you're done, it feels like nothing else. I know what it will feel like to finish the Ironman, and I can't wait.

1 comment:

jtrimom said...

I love reading your weekly countdown posts! they get me geared up in a positive mental way. Even though we're not training "together" for CdA, I feel like we're in the same boat...and as we know, misery loves company ;), but really, I am loving it too. It's great to have a big goal to work towards. Happy training!