Friday, November 27, 2009

2009 Additional Thoughts

At the request of a friend, I've been asked to analyze my racing schedule in relation to my desired outcome. If my desire is to PR the IM, then I might need to reconsider my current race schedule. If my desire is to win a bunch of local races most of which are short-course, then I might be setting myself up for a good IM but nothing stellar. This led me to look at what other successful Wisconsin athletes have done to peak for an IM.

The fastest non-pro in Wisconsin is Thomas Brunold. This is how his IM career has played out:

2004 - Marathon (2:35); IMWI (9:12); IMKONA (9:49)
2005 - Marathon (2:31); 20K (1:06)
2006 - Marathon (2:46); HIM (4:14); IMWI (9:38)
2007 - IMWI (9:14); IMKONA (9:12)
2008 - IMWI (9:20)
2009 - 20K (1:15); Syttenda Mai (2:01); IMWI 9:31

And that's it. The guy only shows up to race IM and usually one or two long distance running races. Interesting. Lets look at his protege Joe Kurian. I included only the relevant races:

2001 - IMLP (11:53 or 11:04)
2003 - IMWI (10:34)
2004 - IMKONA (12:02)
2005 - Marathon (2:33); IMWI (10:42)
2007 - Marathons (2:31; 2:39)
2008 - Marathon (2:39); 20KM (1:06); IMWI (9:39)
2009 - Marathon (2:39); 20KM (1:10); IMWI (9:10); IMKONA (10:02)

Another to look at is Terry Labinski, long-time fast guy in Wisconsin. His fastest year was 2003. Let's look at the number of races he did that year and the distances:

2003 - Odd distance tri; 3 HIMS; 1 Sprint tri; IMWI (9:23)

Next is Scott Bowe who did a lot of racing leading up to IMWI in September 2006, then over the next seven months until IMAZ in April 2007, did only four running races to have a breakthrough race and qualify for Kona:

2006 - IMWI (10:26)
2007 - 15K; 15K; 10K; 5K; then IMAZ (9:46)

Finally, lets look at up and comer Jeff Tarkowski from Green Bay. He seems to follow the Brunold Approach: only two races a year both of which are triathlons.

2007 - IMAZ (10:10); HIM (4:30)
2008 - IMAZ (9:54); HIM (4:18)
2009 - HIM (4:01); HIM (3:54); IMAZ (9:36)

On the other hand, I can think of a number of guys who continuely crumble at IM distance but rock the short-course stuff. There certainly seems to be a dividing line between HIM and IM.

Why are these athletes racing so little? I suspect its because they trade the short-lived glories of winning multiple short-course races for the long-term benefits of getting another high volume workout in. With Ironman dependent more upon stamina than quickness, it makes sense to prioritize the season that way. Add in the responsibilities of work and family, one finds it too difficult to get in the necessary long workouts during the week hence the weekend is too valuable for training to be wasted away by a short-course race.

This limited amount of evidence suggests that I need to reconsider my 2010 strategy. I didn't sign up again for IMWI to simply participate. The Brunold Approach of doing only one race, IMWI, is extreme. I would love to hear his rationale behind it. I suspect that his teaching & working schedule might be some of the reason. Another might be that with an Olympic background, he has a natural inclination for focusing on one big "A" each year as a matter of personal experience. Besides an IM is so long that the technicalities of fast transitions is irrelevant. You simply have to slug your way across 140.6 miles. Additionally, when reviewing the front of the pack IM racers at the international scene, especially the pros, one sees a complete dedication to the distance. The local races are seen as low-key opportunities for weekend warriors infected with the triathlon bug to participate in the sport; mere diversions from the task at hand for serious IM racers. Initially, I saw such non-participation at the local races as elitism by Wisconsin's fastest IM racers and it really turned me off. But now, I'm beginning to see things differently. I'm convinced that the unfortunate promixity of many highly enjoyable triathlon races here in Wisconsin are too close to IMWI for proper race execution. Expect to see me a lot less at the local racing scene this year.

Monday, November 9, 2009

2009 Whistlestop Half Marathon

October 2009
Whistlestop Half Marathon
Ashland, WI

Matthew Amman
1:21:25 (6:12 pace)
7th Overall

Good race considering it was 22 degrees and the seven hour drive to get there the night before caused havoc to my right hamstring. I was hoping to go a few minutes faster but still chalk it up as a good performance. I held fairly strong at 6:00/mile until mile eight when the leg started complaining and I had to stop and stretch it out a few times.