As the 2014 year began and I plotted in my head my goals for the year. Some of the goals were influenced by which sport I would be competing in going forward towards the Rio 2016 Paralympics. The problem with this thought process was that I didn’t know what sports would even be offered to my category in Rio. As mentioned in earlier blogs, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) decided for some unexplainable reason that only three medal events for male and three events for females would be offered for the inaugural games for the sport of paratriathlon and since there are currently five sport classes, two classes would therefore be cut from the games. This meant that all paratriathletes including myself would be waiting until mid October on the decision from the IPC as to which classes would compete. This also meant that I had to figure out a backup plan. After researching other sports that I had chances to podium in, I figured that the longer distance running events would probably be my best option but there was a caveat to this as well. In the Paralympic marathon, only B1 (most impaired) and B2 (moderately impaired) categories can compete and I hadn’t been classified in years. My vision has declined over the past year or so and I knew that by definition I should be a B2 but I was concerned they may try to classify me based on my functional level and say I was a B3 (least impaired). It wouldn’t be until August 30th at the ITU World Championships for Paratriathlon that I was finally classified and I was in fact determined to be a B2.
What did this all mean? What did this have to do with defining my goals for 2014? What this all meant was that I was going to attempt a very daunting task. One that most people would say is not totally realistic but do I normally care what people think? Nope normally not. I decided that I wanted to attempt to do what very few and quite possibly no paralympic athlete has ever done and that is to qualify n two sports for a single Paralympic games. In order to make this a possibility I set two goals.
#1. Win Gold at the ITU Paratriathlon World Championships in Edmonton on August 30th.
#2. Meet the US Paralympic B standard for the marathon of under 2:40:00 at the Chicago Marathon on October 12th.
Why is this a daunting task you ask? Those that fully understand exercise physiology can appreciate the difficulty of doing such a thing. Paratriathlon in Rio will be a sprint triathlon consisting of a 750m swim, 20K bike and 5K run. This is an event that is about an hour long of all out sprint effort, taxing your anaerobic systems to their limit. Marathon on the other hand lasts greater than 2hrs and primarily challenges the aerobic system.
Winning gold at the ITU Paratriathlon World Championships was of highest priority and therefore I spent the five months following the Boston Marathon focusing on shorter distance high intensity training. I may have only ran three times per week but they were all short and hard. There was no 12+ mile long run each week and my mileage per week was rarely over 26 miles total.
As many of you know, I achieved goal #1 on August 30th in Edmonton. With the help of amazing guide Colin Riley, I had one of the best races of my career. On September 1st, the tables turned and my focus flipped. Those 800m repeats on the track turned into 5K repeats and those sub 26mile weeks became 50+ mile weeks. It is true that I have a 14 year base of training in endurance sports but I pretty much had five weeks to go from an elite anaerobic athlete to an elite aerobic athlete. All those type 2 muscle fibers that morphed to function more like fast twitch Type 1 fibers would now need to morph back to slow twitch Type 2 fibers in a short period of time.
The feat of running a marathon five weeks after the paratriathlon world championships would not be difficult at all but to run my fastest marathon ever five weeks after the paratriathlon world championships is a daunting dual task. A 2:40:00 marathon is faster than a 6:05 per mile pace so its no walk in the park. Is this realistic? I don’t even know the answer to this question. We will have to wait until next week at the Chicago Marathon to find out whether it can be done or if Aaron is off his rocker once again.
I will need support from all of you, my fans (CDWA Nation). All those that live near the Chicago area, I need you to come out in herds. I need more eye chart shirts on the course than ever before and I need a social media frenzy to be started on Facebook and Twitter to get the excitement building. Those of you that know me know that I am a very passionate person and I feed off your energy. I need CDWA Nation to fuel me with the competitive fire to conquer round two of this daunting dual task. Tell all your friends to hump on the bandwagon and rally CDWA Nation in Chicago next week.
In addition to getting involved on social media and coming out to the race, why not try to win some free stuff. Yes that's right, Tick Tock Guess Aaron's Clock is back once again and time is running out so get your guess in before the gun goes off at 7:30am CST on Sunday October 12th to start the Chicago Marathon. Go to my website www.cdifferentwithaaron.com and put in your guess for a chance to win great prizes. Its super easy and quick.