Today’s blog is going to be a bit of a circle back to one of my earlier posts for the year. I’m up in Lake Placid, NY currently and gearing up for my big race tomorrow. If you got a chance to read my post titled “Fishkill to the finish line” it will give you some idea of how I got up here this weekend. Tomorrow is Ironman Lake Placid, my first triathlon for the year! I say first because I’m signed up for another one at the end of August, a shorter one, and then most likely another Ironman in November. When I mentioned possibly racing Ironman Florida in November, Vanessa kinda gave me that look like “you should get your head checked out” but my powers of deductive reasoning are strong and thats not a “no” people! So here I am, one day away from Ironman Lake Placid and hopefully going to use this to gain some momentum for the rest of the year. And to actually follow some training, but more on that later.
First things first, I’ll briefly go over the triathlon. A lot of my patients and friends ask what the Ironman entails so for those of you that aren’t familiar with the triathlon setup, this will give a brief run down, and for those of you that are familiar, you’ll get a sense of my take on this multi-sport event.
The splash comes first. In triathlon, you swim, bike, and run all in the same race. You also do it in that order also. Thats what gives this setup the chance to play some tricks on you as far as strategy when the race comes. It also helps guide you towards training approaches as well. But anyway, thats it. Splash, pedal, and shuffle those feet.
The swim is the shortest component of the race itself. I am NOT a strong swimmer. I love the water and I could stay out there all day long, but as far as the stroke goes, I am built and well-suited for sprinting and kicking a round ball, my ankles drag like rudders, and my upper body has seen stronger years. Anyway, the best advice I ever got was to just get through the swim. It is a right of passage to the rest of the race. So for most of us “adult-onset” swimmers we have to play it smart and put in the time to get efficient as possible in the water. And lots of people I know are fast, real fast in the water. I maintain that I would be a lot better if pools were open later in the day. I’m not a 5am kinda guy.
Next is the bike. After a poor swimmer like myself stumbles back up the beach, I’m ecstatic to get on the bike and do something I’m pretty good at. My legs aren’t built for skinny jeans, but they can peddle a bike if I train properly! On the bike is where the planning comes in. For me, its not just about surviving like the swim, instead the bike requires more attention on my part. My two goals are to bike smart enough (read easy enough) and take in enough calories to supply myself for the run. In triathlon, theres no such thing as a “good bike segment” and this is because its very easy to fall victim to seeing the speed only. Its not about how fast you can go the entire time. In fact, the bike should feel somewhat easy, almost like you’re intentionally backing off the gas pedal. Because if you over-bike, you overwork your legs and may not have enough left in the gas tank to finish the run as planned. Basically, I’ve done it myself where you bike harder to finish minutes faster but you end up running slower because your legs are more tired. So it may hinder you in the end. My plan is to eat or drink up to 300 calories an hour and keep my effort level in the 75% range for my long races. Then its on to the run.
As happy as I was to start peddling, hours laters I’m equally as ecstatic to get my butt off of that saddle. I grab my running shoes and hope I’ve executed my bike plan well-enough. I always go out slow and smart in the beginning. Usually my adrenaline is up and my legs are feeling fresh, but I have to tell myself that this is the freshest they will feel for the next X miles and that feeling DOES fade. My first big competitive race I remember looking down and I ran my first mile at a sub-7 minute pace and my plan was for almost 8…that wasn’t fun 10 miles later. Since I started in 2012 my advice was always to be consistent and smart on the run. No big fluctuations in pace, be conservative going up hills, fast foot turnover, and run a negative split, where my second half of the run is faster than my first half. I’ll get about 100-150 calories an hour in per hour and I always walk the aid stations. This ensures that I get some rest and my heart rate can come down for a minute or so. It also makes sure I can grab the calories or fluids I’m supposed to have. Then stick to my plan! Wave to the rowdy sidewalk fans, find my wife and family in the crowd, and try and ignore my legs screaming at me.
For this weekend, the Ironman is 2.4 miles of swimming, 112miles on the bike, and 26.2 miles running. I may not have trained the way I had hoped the past few months, but the venue is incredible, and the company is perfect. My wife, Vanessa, is my sherpa extraordinaire (phew), and my life-long friend, Dan, is also toeing the start line too. His wife and son will be cheering us on as well. Dan is looking fit and will no doubt crush the competition, so my plan is to hit cruise control and save enough energy for the celebration afterwards. His son Aidan turns 2 years old on race day so I need to be able to eat pizza AND cake once I stop moving.
Vanessa and I have gotten a bunch of messages over the past few days from friends, family, and her co-workers all wishing me luck and to have a good time. I can’t thank you enough!
Now seems like a good time to call out a few people. Some of you have expressed interest in racing an Ironman one day, or who I feel like would get a rise out of me stirring the pot. Nick McGarry, Daniel Satter, Nichole Murphy, and Rob Figueroa II…you should probably start training. =)
Now I need to give my shout outs! This is the team that keeps this racer going. They don’t call me John “the snooze button” Nunez for nothing. #ittakesavillage Justin &Ashley for never letting me forget that I DNF’d ONE race halfway through (Edit added by Justin…Now 2), the Nunez family for the support and laughs, Daniel Ricci for the motivation and as a teammate, Julie Dunkle and D3 Multi-Sport for my coaching and training, and my wife Vanessa for all of the support and love during training, and on the sidelines, and for responding to messages from random strangers’ phone numbers while I’m out on my training rides and runs.
I also need to thank all of my patients who are genuinely interested in my training and who have wished me good luck this weekend!
Time to hit the pavement.