Andrew Raynor Dover New Hampshire NH

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The Decision Behind “The Decision 2018”

Andrew Raynor Dover

By Mike Tarrolly for Crushing Iron

As many of you saw on Facebook Live Friday June 5th at Noon CST, I have decided to once again tackle Ironman Louisville this year. It’s the second year in a row I will be running past Churchill Downs and the third time overall.

(If you can’t see the Facebook link, please join our closed group by searching “Crushing Iron Group”)

This race has had my number.

The first time was back in the August days and Coach Robbie and I experienced the wrath of running an Ironman marathon in 98 degree heat with no shade. It nearly broke my soul, but I finished in what is my slowest Ironman time to date.

Last year it was in October and nearly a polar opposite experience. From the opening cannon the wind was fierce and I remember looking at the river on the last few miles of that bike and seeing white caps. It was also “cold” but that wasn’t the problem. It was the run.

Something about that flat run gets me good. Louisville owns both of my worst run times and that’s more than a little puzzling because it’s supposed to be the “easiest” run course of the three.

Sadly, I don’t think I even wrote about it, which is another thing that is starting to change with me. Writing is absolutely my best weapon for this sport. It clears the air and most importantly helps me remember the little things.

But . . . back to the Decision 2018.

One of the main reasons I decided (honestly 20 minutes before the announcement) to do a Full again is because I didn’t have a good reason NOT to do one. Training for Ironman changed my life back when I was 49 and I don’t want to lose the momentum of what’s been built.

I’m doing it because I CAN.

Another reason is simply wrapped up in the concept of doing something hard. We can easily get caught up in the idea that relaxing means be lazy and lounge around. I do it all the time. But relaxing in its best definition means clearing the mind and doing things that you love. That make you feel better.

Admittedly, some of the training makes me feel like shit, but most of the time I love heading out on a run or a ride. For the days that suck, see “do something hard, so the other things in life are easy.”

I’m doing it because It’s HARD.

Finally, it’s just a big part of who I am now. It’s easy to think the best thing for me is to back off and gather my bearings. But sometimes I just think that’s feeling sorry. Sorry that I actually have to LIVE. That’s a sticky piece of real estate for the mind to live in.

I think back to a blog I wrote about my mom while training for my first Ironman. It is honestly one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned in life and I try to remember it every time I fade back into taking the easy way out by doing nothing.

I’m doing it because it makes me feel ALIVE.

After I made the decision on Facebook Live, Coach Robbie made a simple comment: “Good decision. Now go for a run.”

That’s exactly what I did, and while out there in the sweltering heat I remembered a very important part of training that gave me relief as I turn my mind back into the full Ironman mode. I truly think it will help me to enjoy training more, and ultimately help me race better.

Running Slow To Get Fast

My Running Woes

First off, let me acknowledge that I can be misguided at times, oh, like how I convinced myself before IM 70.3 Chattanooga that I was going to bike like a madman and take my chances on the run. Well, it didn’t work.

Going into IM Louisville, it has to be largely about the run for me. I’ve rarely performed well after T2 and I really want that to happen. I think actually my best run ever was IM Chattanooga. It was by far the hardest and I ran my customary 4:20ish.

While it’s not overly fast, as I think back, that was probably the best run shape I’ve been in before an Ironman. For sure I’d put out some of my longest runs. I also remember enjoying it more after I got in shape for it . . . So . . . . . . . . .

The Beauty in Running Slow

After today’s Decision, the first thing I did was go out for a run. It was one o’clock in the afternoon, 93 degrees, and sunny. I said to myself . . . oh, what a wonderful world. Actually, I didn’t say that at all, I said, just go take a nice little hour long run and try to finish feeling like you could keep going. Take it slow, Mike!

So, what did I do? I went out slow. And about a mile in, I looked at my pace. 9:00/min miles.

I’m convinced that nine minute miles are my natural cadence. So, for the first 3 or 4 miles, 9 minutes seems right in the wheel house. Nine is normal, even easy. I will find myself creeping into the 8:30 without thinking much, like today, but that’s when running starts to get hard. Especially when it’s hot.

We did a podcast called “Running Slow To Get Fast” and while I think our podcasts are gold, sometimes things don’t click with me. But today, that’s when I think I figured it out.

The 10/17 Run

My problem is impatience. Even today when I thought I was running for time, an hour was the target, I got to the halfway point at 38 minutes. Since it was a turnaround, I was basically screwed.

I did what I always do, turned up the speed to get done faster, but I was really struggling. I stopped once to cool down and hydrate in the shade. Then I thought, what if I slowed way down to a 10 minute pace and if I ever got lower, I had to walk until I’m at a 17 minute pace?

The Power of Patience

That means the dilemma is, if you go too fast, you have to slow down even more, elongating an already long run. It happened twice over the last 25 minutes and, frankly, it was awesome.

It dawned on me that a 9 minute pace is natural without effort, but if I’m not strong enough to hold that pace it doesn’t really matter how “fast” I am. Slow running is harder and builds the durability muscles. Strengthens the frame. That’s what I need.

For the next month or so I’m really going to try and slow it down. Build the chassis as coach calls it. Then see if I can move the speed. But even then, I have my doubts because how fast will I really go during a full Ironman? It’s better to be durable and strong.

Thanks for the support!

Here’s Our Crushing Iron Podcast on Ironman Louisville Course Strategy


Have YOU been thinking about an Ironman, half or any kind of triathlon, but don’t know how to start, please consider us for coaching. We’ve been through most every situation regarding this sport, including starting from scratch. We’ve also taken athletes from their “stuck point” and helped get them on the Ironman podium. We love working with beginners and athletes that want to push it to the next level. Check out our coaching page for more information, including philosophy and pricing.

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Andy Raynor Dover

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