Now that Ironman Florida is behind me and I’ve had a chance to reflect on what was such an awesome day way over and beyond any previous attempts at that distance, here are a few thoughts on what I think contributed to my “perfect” race.
1. This was my first flat course Ironman. I live in a flat and windy part of the country. Why I wasted my time on hilly Ironman courses prior to this proves how much of an idiot I am at heart. I’m much better suited to tucking into my aero position and maintaining an effort, and I was able to train really well for that here at home. Now, I had been told that on those hilly courses, “You’ll do great in the hills because you’re a strong cyclist.” I don’t think I quite get that. I really am not suited for uphill cycling (though I enjoy it immensely!).
2. My plan was to crush the bike leg of the race, no matter what the consequences were on the run. Every prior Ironman I held back or gave up with fatigue on the bike leg, yet felt great on the run. I told myself “not this time” and that’s how I trained.
3. Combine 1 and 2, and I was able to nail a few sub-5 hr 112 bike sessions followed by a goal-pace run. So, on race day it wasn’t a guess. Those hilly Ironman races prior, I had to show up on unfamiliar terrain thinking, “I guess I can do this. I dunno.” At IMFL, I toed the line thinking, “Just do what you did in training.”
4. I put a lot more time on the bike in training. In my last Ironman, I only did four rides over 100 miles and the longest was 120 miles. This time, I did seven and the longest was 134. My weekly mileage increased too. During the long rides, there was a clear plan in the form of lengthy intervals (for example, 6x40 min @ IM to HIM pace, w/ 10 min RI) or a complete time trial effort over the entire length of the ride. None of them were just “trash miles” as perhaps I was guilty of in previous Ironman training seasons.
5. I dipped down to uncharted territory on my weight. I got down to 5.6% body fat. I’ve never been there before. My last Ironman I got down to about 7% body fat at best. It was a gamble and it took a ton of sacrifices and perhaps a voluntary eating disorder, but as long as I felt healthy and was turning in good workouts and felt energetic it felt right.
6. Can I give some mad props to God without turning anyone off? At the very least, He dealt with me constantly bugging him for a second wind, for the pain to go away, etc. Maybe He just said, “Fine, Richter. Here’s your breakthrough Ironman. Now leave me alone so I can solve this world hunger thing.”
7. And, finally, I think I put together a lot of little nitty gritty things that hopefully all added up to a second here and a second there. Those you can piece together in my race report, which occurs below.