A quick check of the countdown clock shows just under 112 days. Sixteen weeks. In college basketball, that would be called The Sweet 16. And if Dick Vitale is saying it, it's "Sweet 16, baayyybeeeeeee!"
In this prospective Ironman, 16 is significant for a couple reasons. First and foremost, the official Ironman training program commences, today. Oddly, this first week is a bit of a step back. Last week, the final week of an 8-week bridge between a swim focus schedule and the IM schedule, was moderately tough. This week is much lighter, and actually includes two rest days.
Normally, I would automatically insert some type of workouts on my own. This week, I might just honor that second rest day and get some yard work completed and take a nap. After all, we have to honor the program, right?
Sixteen weeks from Iroman puts me two weeks out of the first race of the year. Thirteen days from today, I will be a running aid station for a co-worker in his first full marathon. It's taking the idea of being a sherpa to extremes. I'll be running with a full load of supplies on my Amphipod ready to address any issues my training partner might face.
After that, it's a 5-4-5 schedule between races. Five weeks after the marathon is my sprint triathlon. Four weeks later is the half-IM race. And five weeks after that is IM Louisville.
Viewed in days, my first attempt at IM seems ages away. Viewed in weeks, it's frighteningly closer. Viewed in terms of races and weeks, I may as well start packing, now! The sense of urgency raises the training bar just a notch higher.
Sweet 16. Sixteen weeks to prepare physically. Sixteen weeks to prepare mentally. Sixteen weeks of returning to the fire in the hopes of forging iron.