Ironman 1 vs Ironman 2

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.