There's much to reflect upon in the final few days of Ironman Number 2. Today, I think I'm going to write about the differences between training for my first and my second Ironman. -- During my first Ironman, I trained exactly to specifications prescribed by my coach. During my second Ironman, I shaved roughly 10-15 minutes off many or even most workouts to preserve energy overall. I also trained less in general due to injury and some illness. In fact, I completed merely 76% of my workouts this time, compared to 90% for my first Ironman.
-- During my first Ironman, I obsessed over my diet. I avoided red meat. I essentially counted calories. In so doing, and through the very aspect of obsessing over food, I raced at 127 pounds -- my lightest weight since college. This time around, I ate what I wanted, when I wanted (within reason). I'm eight pounds heavier, look better and think I'll perform better with some extra fat to burn! (At least I keep telling myself that.)
-- During my first Ironman, I stressed about every detail of the race -- yet didn't prepare a mental plan going into it. I freaked out all the time, pretty much about everything you can freak out over. In case you don't believe me, just pick a post from mid-2010 and read away! This year, while I've certainly had my doubts and moments, I'm a lot more relaxed. What will be will be. However, I DID write a mental race strategy plan, as I noted in last night's post. So, perhaps the stress level is the same, but I'm managing it differently.
-- During my first Ironman, I stayed awake at night thinking about crossing the finish line, but worse yet, what would happen if I didn't cross the finish line! This time, I'm not worried at all. Even if I do DNF, I'm still an Ironman. It's under my belt already. However, I've prepared less for bike mechanical problems -- which has me concerned.
-- During my first Ironman, every workout was a challenge in its own way, simply because it was all new. This meant I was whiny, grumpy and exhausted. Oftentimes I'd complain to my coach or blog about my training misery. This time, I simply kept my head down, knew what to expect and did the work. As a result, mentally I've been much fresher overall. GI Joe was wrong, "knowing" is way more than half the battle.
I think, in the end, that's the best thing I can say about training for the second Ironman compared to the first: You know what you're getting yourself into. It's immeasurably easier and more comforting as a result. I don't know how it will play out on race day, but getting to this day was nowhere near as stressful as my first Ironman.
The moral, of course, is this: Once you complete your first Ironman, don't make it your last! There's more magic around the next corner. And it will get a little easier.
6 days and counting.