I recently got to sit down and interview a good friend of mine, Jarrod Charbonneau, about his latest fitness endeavour- a Half Ironman. An avid cyclist, newly hooked to multi-sport events, Jarrod participated in his first triathlon in the summer of 2012 in his hometown of New Bedford, MA. His competitive side was immediately hungry for more; in January 2013 Jarrod registered for his first Half Ironman, and began his grueling training process. After he completed the event, I was excited to hear about how it all went.L13F: Congratulations on the completion of your first Half Ironman. That event is no easy feat! In one word, how would you describe the Half Ironman experience?
L13F: This event undoubtedly required a lot of training. How did you choose to train for this event? Did you consult a triathlon coach? Or devise your own plan?
JC: I wasn’t able to afford a coach so I did a great deal of research on 18 week training programs because although I am an experience cyclist and runner I was not a swimmer and figured I needed as much time swimming as possible. I chose a plan that seemed reasonably within the grasp of a 50+ hour a week working professional that was 2 a days 6 days a week (taking the 7th day completely off where I took yoga to get a great stretch I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT) for the first 8 weeks then for the next 8 weeks was 2 a days 6 days a week with a light swim and run on the 7th day and finally a 2 week taper. The workouts were on a schedule where they would get progressively more difficult for 3 weeks then a light week and by the end my first “taper week” was pretty intense (see below)
- Mon- 60 minute walk
- Tues- 40 mile bike
- Wed- 2,500 yard swim and 60 minute run
- Thur- 20 mile bike
- Fri- 1,500 yard swim and 40 minute run
- Sat- 1,000 yard swim and 50 mile bike
- Sun- 75 minute run
JC: The biggest obstacle was doing extremely difficult workouts day after day after day, not fully recovering from the previous day and having to go at it even tougher the following day.
L13F: What changes did you make to your diet while training for the event?
JC: I sought a professional opinion in this category and what I did was simple, MINIMUM 3,000 calories a day with at least 1,500 cals of carbs and 1,000 cals of protein. This was very difficult to do in 3 meals a day so I adopted the Hobbit meal schedule- It’s a thing!!
2. Second Breakfast
5. Afternoon Tea
L13F: How did you prepare yourself for the inevitable nervous jitters the night before, and the morning of the race?
JC: I barely ever sleep before a race and it has been the bane of my existence for quite some time. The night before I watched a little TV then prepared my bags for transition and simply read a book in bed until I dozed off. This helps get your mind focused on something other than the event which coincided with my heart rate rising.
L13F: What was the most memorable part of the event?
JC: My most memorable part of the event was during the swim for a few reasons. They let the age group waves go every 8 minutes and each wave is clearly marked by a different color swim cap, and before the swim started I took note of the two waves that went off before me. When I was roughly 1/2 way through the swim I started passing people with swim caps of the wave before me which meant I had an 8 minute lead on them then to my absolute surprise when I was about 3/4 through I started to pass people with swim caps from TWO waves ahead of me! As I mentioned earlier I wasn’t the greatest swimmer when I started training and to see myself pass two heats made me feel like I was invincible.
L13F: What was the most challenging part of the event?
JC: The most challenging part of the race for me was at one point when I started the run where I realized I was extremely tired and had 10 miles to go. At this point I felt very dehydrated and malnourished so I knew I had to eat light and drink often and that’s what I did.
L13F: What did training for, and completing a Half Ironman mean to you? What did you learn about yourself?
JC: To me it truly meant that determination is everything. If you think the training is impossible you aren’t thinking outside the box of balancing a social life while training and getting sufficient sleep. I learned two things about myself in this training: (1) I am comfortable taking on new challenges and excelling at them i.e. swimming 1.2 miles. and more importantly (2) My body can take a lot more of a beating than I ever thought possible
L13F: What, if anything, would you do differently next time?
JC: More Bricks all the time! During training with relatively fresh legs I could do 7 minute miles all day long but during the race I was around 8 and a half to 9 minute miles. Had I done more bike to run transitions, or Bricks, I think I would have been able to keep my average closer to that 7 minute mile pace. A good friend of mine who is a full iron man triathlete said that even if I ride 100 miles on my bike when I am done get of and immediately run even 1 mile.
L13F: What advice would you give to someone thinking about registering and training for a Half Ironman?
JC: My absolute best advice is that this isn’t an event where you can half ass your training and wing it. You have to be able to do each of these individual events before the actual race and feel great after doing them because when all three are stacked up, winging it is not an option. Know how much time it is going to take to train and then follow through with that training because you are just cheating yourself. Lastly, learn to love your alarm clock reading 4:30am.
Jarrod’s Final Half Ironman Times:
Swim 1.2 miles: 43 min 1 sec
T1: 2 min 34 sec
Bike 56 miles: 2 hours 48 min 40 sec
T2: 2 min 56 sec
Run 13.1 miles: 2 hours 2 min 47 sec
Total time: 5:39:56
If you are interested in training for your first triathlon or other sporting event, Lucky13Fitness can help! We are experienced in training for marathons, triathlons, obstacle/mud runs, and more! Contact us today by visiting our website: www.lucky13fitness.com.