What It Takes To Train For An Ironman 70.3

It takes everything you’ve got.

Well it actually depends on several factors, the person’s fitness level, experience level, race goals, etc. For me, my goal is to finish and my background in cycling and swimming is none. I’ve ran several marathons and they didn’t kill me so I thought about doing something crazier. Why not an Ironman 70.3? So I picked a relatively flat course and signed up. It was then, after I signed up, I realized what I was doing, and thought WTF do I do now? So I got a swimming coach, bought a road bike and joined a cycling group.

My advantage over other absolute beginners is that I have lots of time available for training. My entire family is in a time zone 13 hours ahead and I barely know anyone outside the running/cycling community, so I have no need to attend people’s wedding/birthday/baby shower etc, my entire social life is done either on the run or on the bike.

But a lot of things still changed in my life. I have many other hobbies, but except taking Spanish classes, I stopped doing everything else completely. It’s not just training time, most of the time I’m simply too tired to do anything else other than my training.

Mondays and Tuesdays became my longest days. I wake up at 7:30am on Monday, and because of freestyle training from 7:45pm to 9pm, I won’t be back home until 10:30pm; Tuesday I wake up at 5am for a morning interval run, then I have Spanish class from 6pm to 9pm after work, and get home around 10:30pm again.

I stopped eating at home completely. Though I don’t know how to cook, I used to drink instant coffee and heat up oatmeal in microwave for breakfast. Now I have no time. My breakfast and lunch is at my work desk, and dinner is ate quickly at the buffet bar of Whole Foods Market before swim/bike/run.

I stopped doing my laundry. I use an online pickup and delivery service now.

I stopped reading books. The only time I have is during my commute on the train, so I listen to books from audible now.

I stopped watching all the shows I liked: Narcos, The Strain, The Americans, Bordertown, American Dad, Family Guy, Taboo, Criminal Minds. All of them.

On weekends I wake up earlier than weekdays, and besides long runs, swim and long bikes rides, I sleep. Sometimes on weekends I go to sleep at 7 or 8 when I can.

I stopped taking weekend road trips. I used to spend a lot of weekend in Lancaster, PA. And I haven’t gone at least once this year.

I enjoy my training so far and made a lot of new friends. But sometimes I do wish I have more time to hang out with people outside my running/cycling groups.

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2017 Race Calendar

Last Update: March 09, 2017, added two marathons

2017 will be a year full of challenges. Besides marathons and half marathons, I will also do an Ironman 70.3 (half the distance of an Ironman), start learning Arabic and maybe do a metric century bike ride.

I also plan to do the 9+1 with NYRR* to earn an entry into the 2018 NYC Marathon (which will be on my 28th birthday as well). I get bored easily, thus the biggest challenge for me in the NYRR races is to do loops in Central Park. I can’t loop anything more than once; in the second loop I slow down, lose motivation, and want to drop out. So I will mainly do the 4mile and 5K races that don’t require me to loop.

January

Walt Disney World Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge (1/7/2017 – 1/8/2017)

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Due to weather condition, the half was canceled, so I only ran the full marathon. I was of course disappointed, because I took days off and traveled all the way to Orlando for 39.3 miles. But I was happy at the same time because at least I still ran the full marathon.

It was miserable to be standing in the freezing wind in shorts and tank top (under a trash bag) for 2 hours before the race. My fingers were numb even after crossing the finish line. After I finish, I didn’t wait to engrave the medal; I was so traumatized by the cold that I went straight back to the hotel and hid under the blanket sipping turmeric tea for a full hour before coming out to get food. I also had a fever for a few days after the race from the freezing wind.

Does it worth it? Yeah, of course, everyone needs to do a Disney Marathon in their lifetime.

February

Prospect Park Cherry Tree 10 Mile (2/19/2017)

Running three loops of anything is more of a mental than a physical challenge. It was unusually warm that day. I enjoyed running in Prospect Park, though this is probably my only time running this race. I simply can’t loop things.

March

Rock’n’Roll Mexico City Half Marathon (3/19/2017)

Caesar Rodney Half Marathon (3/26/2017)

It’s a half marathon in Wilmington, DE. This race benefits the American Lung Association, and Wilmington is less than three hours away, so I’m in! I drove through Wilmington a dozen times and finally stopped here to check out the town.

May

Five Borough Bike Tour (5/7/2017)

There were too many cyclists at the bike tour. I think it definitely worth it to do it for the first time, but afterwards, this should be a escape NYC road trip kind of weekend.

Airbnb Brooklyn Half (5/20/2017)

Coeur d’Alene Marathon (5/28/2017)

June

IRONMAN 70.3 Eagleman (6/11/2017)

Changchun Jingyuetan Forest Half Marathon (6/18/2017)

This will be the most challenging race I ever run. Back in 2015 this guy did a mountain biking race on the same course, and here’s the map. The course has a total 750 meter elevation gain, which is roughly 2460 ft., similar to that of North Face Endurance Challenge at Bear Mountain. I almost never run trail, and it’s absolutely crazy to run this after an Ironman 70.3 and more than 13 hours on a plane. But it’s in my hometown, and I simply cannot pass it.

August

Maratón Ciudad de México (8/27/2017)

This past August I visited CDMX for the first time and cheered the “I” edition of this Marathon, and became friends with some Mexican marathoners. In 2017 we’ll run the “C” edition together.

September

Amish Country Classic Bike Ride (9/9/2017, Tentative)

October

Mohawk Hudson River Marathon (10/8/2017)

I went to college in Upstate New York. This marathon is my homecoming.

November

Rock’n’Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon (11/12/2017)

Marabana (11/19/2017)

I want to do a marathon in November because it’s my birthday month.

For The Love Of The Long Run

I signed up for an Ironman 70.3 yesterday and was in denial for the rest of the day. What have I done?

Even though I’ve been running for more than a year, I barely know how to swim freestyle and I don’t even own a bike. I swam a lot in college but my background is in breaststroke. As for biking, my background is none. I rode a bike to school when I lived in Japan. But it was a commuter bike with no gear, and I have no knowledge of how to fix a bike either. Something even worse is that I actually hate indoor cycling: went to my first SoulCycle class two years ago and left half way because I just couldn’t take it anymore.

An old Chinese proverb says that sometimes people are brave because they are ignorant (无知者无畏). And I’m sure that is my case. I don’t know what it takes to complete an Ironman 70.3 so I thought it’s manageable.

Perhaps this is insanity at its purest level.

The real  reason for signing up an Ironman 70.3, besides showing off and being insane, is that I always skip cross training in order to do more long runs, because I simply love running anywhere for more than 15 miles. A triathlon will force me into swimming and cross training more, and it enables me to challenge myself while experiencing an amazing, healthy lifestyle. Having to train in 3 disciplines gives me much needed structure while challenging me to be a better athlete every single workout, every single day. I don’t know what had happened but I fell in love with running after my first treadmill class at Mile High Run Club, in May 2015. At the age of 24, I started running for the first time. Within a year of running, I did my first marathon and fell in love with the distance. While training for my second marathon, I had an injury and that led to my first DNS for the Rock’n’Roll Brooklyn Half. Though eventually I crossed the finish line of my second marathon healthy and happy, I don’t ever want to repeat another DNS like this again, so I decided to run less for some time and training for an Ironman 70.3.