TFP Muscles







Ironman Matt Petersen
Ironman Madison 2007
Matt Petersen

Ironman may be thought of as one day that people spend a crazy amount of time swimming, biking and running... but, oh it is so much more than that. The journey itself is how the iron is put into the man.

Getting to Ironman:
I once said that I didn’t plan to do the Ironman again for a long time. However, this was before some of my clients decided to take on the journey themselves. As I assessed what kind of coaching they would need, I figured that they might want some interactive sessions with myself in tow. I would likely need to spend many hours with them, helping them to understand pacing, fueling, mental fortitude, etc. So, I planned to surprise them five months later when I signed up to do the race right alongside them.

Well 44 minutes after the registration opened, I attempted to sign up and was shut out. Darn it! However, my clients secretly set up a massive plan to get me registered for Ironman. Dozens of my clients put together a collection to help pay for a camp that would not only help me to prep for the race, but would also guarantee me a spot. I am so grateful to those who got me here by chipping in. No words can adequately describe this place, and it is all because of you!  

About nine months before the event, the “serious” training began. After moving into a new house, I had managed to lose some fitness and gain some weight! This did not make me happy, so I aggressively increased my mileage and monitored my diet early on. I needed to get body fat percentage back down to racing levels, so that I could begin to improve my performance early without added stress.

As the months went by, I spent a lot of time with four of my five IM athletes following a very regular and strategic plan. The other athlete lived halfway across the country in DC, and I virtually followed the plan with him from afar. For those in the area, I set up a monthly plan to help them improve fitness. This included assessments that identified limiters, which we worked to break down little by little.

My own training consisted of 22 to 35 hours per week starting late in the summer until reached a peak in mid-August. Balancing the coaching of my 4 IM athletes with other coaching sessions, summer fitness programs, and my own IM workouts was difficult at times. I really tried to plan ahead so I could minimize the stress on my body. I think I only lost control twice, and had to act fast in order to keep injuries and health issues at bay. I made 5 trips to Madison in order to help me really get to know the course - especially the bike route. These trips were full of personal struggles, including cold, rain, heat, wind, long rides, painful runs, waves, and crazy boats in the lakes. However, these were the experiences that allowed me to learn, so that I could better prepare myself and my athletes for Race Day.

Prerace Packing:
Ugh, this is the part that I hate the most! In addition to planning for every possible situation for myself, I think about every possible situation that can happen to one of my athletes! What if a client needs help with this or that? Now you can understand why I drive a van! I need room for all of this stuff! My first Ironman in 2005 taught me some important lessons in proper packing. Ironman 2006 surprised competitors with a cold, rainy day and many underpacked. On race day, you really need to be ready for anything. Swim, bike and run bags need to be packed, along with "special needs" bags that can be set up at the bike and run midpoints. These bags can contain anything you might need during the ride or run, such as extra nutrients, or extra stuff you'd rather not carry with you in the first half of the section due to weight, etc. Some of these bags are set up the day before the race, and others are set up on Race Day. With all of these factors and variables, packing for the Ironman is much more complicated than laying out a clean transition area at your standard triathlon!

Race Morning
I woke up, had a quick shower, checked the weather (looked perfect!), ate, packed up the last of my stuff, and made my way over to the bike setup. I had the chance to help many of my clients prep their bike tires... no pressure, ehhhh???? Of course, if they get the pressure wrong, they get a flat. If they are too confident and refuse the help... they get a flat, right Mark? :-) I had some time to put the final pieces together in my race bags, which included sun block, blistex and fuel. We all headed to the swim start to have some last words with each other and talk through the game plan. We're here!

The Swim - 2.4 miles
The game plan I created for my athletes was based on what I had experienced in this race in 2005. Faster swimmers were placed upfront, and we set up at the inside edge in order to avoid ending up in the middle of 2,300 swimmers. This strategy is legal, as long as you make it around all four corners. Yes, in Ironman, we all start at once, so it can be pretty crazy.

With 10 minutes to go, the pros were released. 9/8/08s why they increased the delay from two to ten minutes. As the kayaks continued to hold us back and the announcer began to shout commands, the remaining ten minutes dragged on forever. Everyone just seemed to pack in tighter and tighter, and my space started to disappear. I decided 9/8/08elf out in a sky diving position to claim more space! People began moving away from the weirdo (me), which is exactly what I wanted!

Finally, the cannon went off and Ironman began! 2,300 people began moving for the corner buoy all at once. I tucked in as best as I could and defended my space. This inside position was so much better than being in the middle of the swim, where I was in 2005. Plus, my super intense warm-up helped to burn off my nervousness and got me going right away. For the first 12 minutes, I thought I might be swimming too intensely, but I could not figure out how to slow down without getting clobbered by the hundreds of swimmers who were gaining on me. So, I just tried to follow the feet in front of me to allow for some easier swimming in the draft line. Click to continue to Page 2...







Copyright © 2008 The Fitness Pursuit, Inc. - Last updated 9/8/08