I wrote this last Thursday. It's interesting what a week's reflection will do. Incidentally, I'm no longer worried about having a herniated disc. It's just my hips (always the hips!). Shouldn't be anything some diligent stretching won't take care of.
I had decided a while back that I would only attempt another ironman if I felt my fitness was such that, in a year's time, I'd be able to put myself in a position to go sub-12. In the summer of '08, I felt I was fit enough to do that between '08-'09.
Then I got injured (IT band). Then I got injured again (rotator cuff). And now I'm a little nervous that I have a herniated disc. I've only had pain in my back twice -- both times after my longest runs and both times using a Nathan hydration vest. I need to do a very long run without the vest to find out. Of course, I'm writing this a day after my longest run this season and my back is killing me. So I'm not in any huge rush to go test things any time soon.
I'm not so sure that the sub-12 goal is going to happen this year. It's not really just my injuries/lost training time (although that doesn't help). Mostly, it's that my training results aren't matching up with what it would take to go sub-12. I used to think that you can rise above your training efforts, peak with a good taper and pop out a lifetime best performance.
After training under the Endurance Corner program, I realize that's not actually the case for ultra-distance events. Sure, for a shorter race (even including a marathon), there's the ability to transcend what you've regularly put out in training. But the transcendence in an ironman is really about pulling everything together in one day. Right now, the individual components aren't fast enough -- I won't get magically faster when I'm 10 hours into my day.
Do I still believe sub-12 can happen? Yes. But I'm basing that on the fact that I'm consistently throwing down workouts that I couldn't even comprehend two years ago. I'm also counting on the crappy chip-seal road surface in Texas slowing me down at least a mile per hour and that there will be a "magical" difference in Lake Placid. Here's hoping...