By: Brian Reynolds, Team OAM NOW triathlete
During the Fall of 2015 I decided to pursue one of my ultimate goals which was to quality for the Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. The Hawaii Ironman is the most prestigious race in the Triathlon World. In fact this race inspired me to get into triathlons. I remember during high school watching the NBC documentary coverage of the race and thinking to myself “I want to do this race someday.” That someday could be October 14th, 2017 if everything goes according to plan.
To qualify for Kona I will be doing the 2016 Wisconsin Ironman which will be my first Ironman distance. There are 50 Kona slots available at Wisconsin. In my age group (25-29) it has historically been the top 3 that have qualified. Last year’s 3rd place overall time was 9:41 hours which is a very doable time for me if training goes well.
Achieving a Kona slot will take hard work, dedication, and more importantly a smart training plan. When my coach Mark Olson and I sat down to review the game plan it was obvious that I needed to work on my biking. The bike leg of the triathlon has always been my weaker discipline. In the Ironman distance the bike leg will make up over 50% or roughly 5 hours of the race so it’s very important to be a strong cyclist.
The game plan was to dedicate more time to biking early in the season which meant significantly reducing my running mileage. During the late fall and winter I was putting in 10+ hour weeks on the bike which was the most I’ve ever done. My biking improved significantly; however, my running was getting worst. I was only doing 10-15 miles per week which is very low. This low mileage was making me lose running fitness. Being a runner my entire career I was not used to being out of running shape. However, my coach had confidence that once I started to pick up the running miles in the late winter my running would come back. I had to remind myself that the goal was not to run fast during the winter but rather be the best triathlete I could be at the Wisconsin Ironman.
My first triathlon of the season was the Seahorse Olympic distance. The Seahorse would be the first true test to see if the bike training was paying off. At the race I had my best power average for the bike split by over 30 watts. The game plan was working! In addition, my running was quickly improving and I was looking forward to my next race which was the Grand Rapids Triathlon.
The Half Iron distance at the Grand Rapids Triathlon was my first “A” race of the year. I did this race last year so it would be a good comparison to measure my improvements. At this year’s race we had perfect weather conditions. Besides my swim being a little slower than last year I set a new Half Iron PR of 4:09:33. I was very happy with my bike split which was the 11th best bike split in the field whereas last year I was 23rd. My power average was 40 watts better than last year which was a significant improvement. In addition, I was able to pull off a personal best run split in the half-marathon split by a few seconds.
After the Grand Rapids Triathlon I have more confidence in my biking and am looking forward to the Wisconsin Ironman. So far this season has shown me that in order to become a better triathlete you need to try different things. However, trying different things may mean some areas being sacrificed temporarily. In my case that was sacrificing my running fitness to improve my biking. Working on your weaknesses is best utilized early in the training season so there is time to refocus on the other two disciplines before race season. Right now I have 5 weeks to go until the Wisconsin Ironman. My training is more balanced to ensure I have good fitness in all three disciplines on race day. Keep in mind that I still need swim for 2.4 miles and run a marathon which makes up roughly 4 hours of the race. Hopefully everything comes together on race day and I’ll be sure to post a blog on my results.