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As I posted a few months ago, the decision to pursue a second Ironman was not an easy one.  Between the time, cost (event registration, food, gear, lodging, transportation, etc) and emotional expenditure, the Ironman is not a race to be taken lightly.  Above all else, training for and racing Ironman Lake Tahoe will bring a new set of highs and lows; I simply can’t recreate the high that I had during my first training cycle and subsequent finish.  During a massage last week, my masseuse asked me what I’m hoping to get out of this experience, and it’s an excellent question that’s helped me shape my approach to next year.  Here are my top goals for Ironman Lake Tahoe:

1. Less time, more effort: my training cycle for Ironman Lake Placid in 2012 happened to come at the perfect time: I was in between major projects for work, and I hit a 6-month stride where I could devote 2+ hours a day to training.  Two years later, I have a new job, less free time, and increased travel commitments: I need to do more with less.  When I train next year, my sessions will be shorter and more intense, with the weekends reserved for long rides and runs.

2. Three events are better than one: instead of approaching the Ironman as a massive 12+ hour event, I’m going to hone in on each leg individually.  Unlike last time where I focused on putting it all together, I’m going to work up to each of the distances this year now that I can handle the volume.  I’ll be racing a 2.4 mile swim in Lake Tahoe a month before the event, cycling 100+ miles during my longest ride, and running a full marathon – San Francisco Marathon 2014 with Ambassador Taylor.

6 months of training and 13:40 later - at the finish line of Ironman Lake Placid 2012.

6 months of training and 13:40 later – at the finish line of Ironman Lake Placid 2012.

3. Run the marathon: my pace has increased dramatically, and I’ve posted PRs in every distance from the 5K to marathon this year.  I want to capitalize on my running form and avoid walking as much as possible at Ironman Lake Tahoe.  It’s a long reach at this point, but a sub-4 marathon at an Ironman is a long-term goal of mine.

4. Don’t focus on time: although I have obvious room for improvements, Ironman Lake Tahoe is a completely different beast than Ironman Lake Placid. In its first year, Ironman Lake Tahoe managed to earn the distinction of slowest average finish time of any event on the circuit.  While most popular Ironman events sell out on the first day of open registration, Ironman Lake Tahoe is still open three months after registration started.  The elevation means all bets are off.  The water is colder, the bike leg is mountainous, and the run is…a marathon at high altitude after logging 7+ hours of hard effort.  Instead of focusing on time, I’m going to focus on my perceived exertion and keeping my heart rate down so I feel good from the starting cannon through celebratory beers.