How to Eat an Elephant: Looking Ahead in 2014

Posted: January 1, 2014 in In Transition, The Plan, Training
Tags: , ,
  • Long Run (click to see stats)
  • 21.1k (1:53:33)
  • Avg. Heart Rate = 153 bpm
  • Max. Heart Rate = 165 bpm
  • Avg. Pace = 5:23 min/km
  • Best Pace = 4:15 min/km
  • Calories = 2254
  • Temp-9°C
  • SOFD = First Tube  by Phish

The new year is just about upon us and my Facebook feed – as well as just about every other social media medium I suspect – is already a buzz with all the latest inspirational and motivational videos and sound bites, all serving to gear us up for a productive and successful 2014.  So as I’m beginning to think of and plan out my next 2014 competition season, and being as much of a sucker for a well-made Nike video as anyone, I am trying to rehash what happened over this past 2013 year to determine how I can use these lessons to propel me successfully into 2014.  My dream of eventually qualifying for Kona is still alive, it may have just deviated from the initial plan a little bit, that’s all; in other words, the elephant is still there, but the strategy on how to go forward has now changed somewhat.  So, to paraphrase an old parable: how does one eat an elephant?

The answer, you ask?  Piece by fucking piece…that’s how.

First, let’s start at the beginning.  What did I learn this year?  Well, upon finishing Ironman Wales back in September of 2012 and the subsequent Ironfunk that followed, I still had some lofty goals to either maintain my long distance endurance, or become a short-course speed demon (neither of which really transpired successfully as I was still blindly riding that wave of accomplishment) leading up to another run at Ironman in 2014.  Instead, I fell victim to injury upon injury, became frustrated with my seemingly backward progress, and ultimately came to the conclusion that I needed to take a year off from serious competition altogether.  So a new plan was born during a less than stellar run back in April where 2013 would instead become the year to have some fun.  This new ‘fun’ strategy seemed smart in that I felt I needed time to regain my confidence as well as my physical abilities, and ultimate, spend some time to reflect on what my plan for eating that elephant needed to be realistically.

So the 2013 year was not an entire write off – far from actually.  In fact, it might have just been the smartest thing I’ve ever done.  While I let my running injuries heal, I spent lots of time in the pool working on my stroke and swim technique instead.  As a result, I am now bi-lateral breathing comfortably as well as finally getting a handle on those damn elusive flip-turns.  The results being that even though my running form may have suffered, my swim times improved significantly.  I completed my first “endurance swim” at the ‘Frank & Friends 10k Swim for Strong Kids in 2:35:30 – not too shabby for a first outing and largely unplanned event.  At the Welland Triathlon Weekend, I shaved off nearly a minute off my previous best effort during the sprint on Day One exiting the water in 11:47, and then a full 2 minutes off my 2k swim best the next day as part of the Half Iron relay in 31:48.  My biggest success, however, came in August at the ‘1000 Island Olympic Triathlon’ in Brockville, Ontario where I exited – get this – in second place overall in 26:55 (this also takes into account the ridiculously long run from the swim finish to the bike start, AND, swimming off course in a stupidly laid out swim course).  It was my first real taste of “leading” a field of triathletes in the water and it felt, well, it felt freakin’ awesome to be honest.  I’ve used this success then to kick start my current off-season training program and am already swimming longer, faster and I am even planning a few open water swims into my race schedule for 2014 to maintain this developing swim form.

My bike, while still experiencing some setbacks as far as comfort is concerned, was also successful in that Kelly and I completed our epic 1000k ‘Tour du Lac’ journey around Lake Ontario in July, which, hands down, was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.  We rode together for at least 2/3 of the entire route, with me having the opportunity to ride off alone on the fourth day through the challenging 151k worth of hills, heat, humidity and torrential downpours en route to Oswego, NY.  In many ways, this ride was every bit as challenging as the extremely difficult Ironman Wales ride itself.  I was also fortunate enough to get more cycling done away from home in Brockville and the surrounding rural townships and, likewise, completed my fourth sweep ride as a volunteer for the Big Move.  My lingering comfort issues, namely ‘hot spots’ in my feet, will hopefully get straightened out soon given I have a new pair of properly fitting spin shoes thanks to my sweetie for Christmas.  So, all in all, the bike is also good and I’ve already started my Masters Spin classes, and have just begun to initiate a more detailed bike strengthening strategy for the New Year.

I’ve already mentioned the troubles I’ve had with my running last year. However, I am coming through into the light at the end of tunnel now and am once again running comfortably, today being my first official half marathon distance run in nearly a year.  In order to do this, I launched myself headfirst into a ‘We Can Rebuild Him plan beginning in September to address those injuries and the weaknesses from which they stemmed.  I’ve changed my diet to that of gluten free and started a functional strength and core program, all designed to turn me into a lean, mean, running machine and, so far so good.  Improving my run this year will be what I consider to be key to my improvement in this sport and, ultimately, paramount with me ever making it to Kona.

However, my absolutely favorite memories of 2013 will be in getting to see and be a part of our eight-year-olds first foray into triathlon.  We went from doing a few laps in the pool, to a few laps around the track at the gym, to a few – sometimes unsuccessful – bike rides.   All in all, her first SunRype Tri-Kids event was a smashing success with her enjoying every second of it.  Best of all, I think she may have just found a little more appreciation for my own triathlon passion and, quite possibly, is looking forward to a completing few more events herself in 2014.

So how does this all translate to the New Year?  What’s the plan?  What are my goals?  Where do I go from here?  What the fuck is with that elephant?  Well, in short, it’s onward and upward.

First and foremost, my primary goal this year is to reacquire my pre-Ironman ‘mental toughness’ that I’ve since lost in lieu of these more personal fun goals this year.  Yup, it’s time to begin refocusing on getting hard again anticipating another run at the Big Show (Ironman) in 2015.  To do this, my strategy is to break that elephant into specific events in 2014 whose sole purpose will be to ultimately cater to this overall objective, including another crack at achieving a personal best at both ‘Around the Bay 30k’ (March) and ‘Frank & Friends 10k Swim’ (April), plus a return to the half-iron distance triathlon in Welland and – get this – back-to-back triathlons (including a Spring on Day One, and a Half-Iron on Day Two).  Yes, I’m truly a special kind of crazy – it’s true.  Oh, and I may even contemplate attempting my first ever stand-alone marathon.  So, yeah, everything from this point on is aimed at getting my long distance chops back, both physical and mental.  You can view my tentative race schedule above in the ‘Events’ tab.

But there’s another component that equally important and, potentially, much more challenging.  When I first entered into the Ironman arena two years ago, it was all about me; the total “Terry Show”.  But now it’s different.  It’s not about just me anymore – it’s about “us”.  So instead of simply being a better triathlete, I’m also striving to be a better person; a better boyfriend, a better step-dad, and subsequently, a better partner and triathlete as a result of successfully accomplishing these things – and none of my 2014 aspiration will be possible without the support of my family.  End of story.  Full stop.  That’s the biggest piece of the elephant right there, requiring a pretty big fork I might add.  But I’m up for this.  In fact, it already started this morning with a cold, long run out to Sherkston and back (my longest run since the ‘fit hit the shan’ last February).  Likewise, I have begun to surround myself with those positive (and inspirational) influences that I believe will help me choke this puppy down, including the good people at Legacy Health & Performance, Liberty Bicycles!, my TryForce group, the Kiwanis Aquatic Center Masters Swim group, the Fort Erie Masters Spin group and, yes, my ever-present coach and close friend (a special thank you Saskia for all you do!).

So stay tuned readers and tie a king-size napkin around your neck, as there’s plenty of elephant to go around.

Bring.  It.  On.

  1. Adam says:


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