2016 was another year of firsts for me, and most importantly, my first attempt at a full Ironman. I completed Ironman Maryland, but due to bad weather and flooding, the course had been shortened from 140.6 miles to 126.2 miles. That included a complete cancellation of the 2.4 mile swim. I’d hit my pacing goals for the bike and the run portions – even with a flooded run course – but it was still bittersweet. I had trouble calling myself a true Ironman and ended up deciding against getting the M-dot tattoo. Even though I’d promised not to do a full distance Ironman in 2017, my wife had pity on me. By the end of the year she had agreed to let me to sign up for Ironman Chattanooga on September 24, 2017.
My other big first in 2016 was signing up for coaching services with Karen Holloway and Erin Wittwer through ProK Racing and Sweet Spot Cycling respectively. I quickly learned that I hadn’t been training as hard as I thought I had, and they increased my training volume and intensity beyond my prior levels very early on. There was also a new accountability factor, so workouts were only missed when I had a really good reason. In fact, I found myself developing a phobia of yellow and red when it came to my Training Peaks account. Anything other than green meant that I wasn’t doing a workout as prescribed.
From a training standpoint, I had increased my swim/bike/run volume from 228.79 hours in 2015 to 305.37 hours in 2016. That was a jump from 4.4 hours per week to 5.9 hours per week. The majority of that difference came after May once I began working with Karen and Erin, and my volume peaked in August 2016 as I prepared for IMMD.
The goals for 2017 were to make some additional age group podiums in the local spring triathlons and then to prepare for a sub-12 hour effort at Ironman Chattanooga. Other than recovering from IMMD and the Richmond Marathon, and then a week-long break during my Haiti mission trip in December, I really had no plan to take a hiatus from training. I’d battled nagging injuries (piriformis and metatarsalgia) for most of 2016, but was mostly injury-free by the end of the year. Hopefully the injury bug wouldn’t bite in 2017.