My first and most far-fetched goal was to qualify for Hawaii. I never seriously thought I could make it given how poor a swimmer (and runner) I was, but I nonetheless managed to get tantalizingly close. In Canada in 2006 I came to within 4 minutes or one slot, and if that isn't in the noise, what is? But in all fairness, someone who swims as slowly as I do is not really a top 5% performer in triathlon. So it is just as well. I probably would have been dropped in Kona.
Furthermore, while it used to be fairly easy to get in (in the nineties it was trivial), it is getting harder each year as more competitors enter and more races are competing for precious spots. So in essence I am losing ground when it comes to Hawaii. My best chance was probably Canada '06 and it seems unlikely another chance will materialize unless I dramatically reduce my swim time. And that is not something I want to concentrate on now.
My second, and perhaps more realistic goal was to improve in a significant way over time and hopefully reach a finishing time that read 10:something. I consider that goal met, even though my true best finishing time was 11:04:55. We'll call it a rounding error. What matters most here is that I performed consistently and got better over time.
I managed to solve nearly all my problems (and if you add in Canada of '09, even my swim eventually budged) and that is great. It shows my training work formulas work and I am on the right path. It also shows that improvement in the over-50 age group is possible. The fact that I set a PR in the Boston marathon this year further confirms that the trend is real and durable.
So now I want to concentrate on something I really like. Something that does not involve swimming and may not even involve much running. Something I would do if I had a chance to pick what I genuinely like best, i.e. cycling. I will find a endurance challenge in cycling and concentrate on that for 2010.
My "theoretically" best ironman. These are actual times:
Swim 1:18:33 (Canada 09)
T1 2:47 (Switzerland 06)
Bike 5:21:04 (Arizona 08)
T2 2:59 (Arizona 08)
Run 4:00:34 (Canada 07)
Ironically that would have been enough for a top 10 finish and a slot for Hawaii in Canada 09!