Summer trainin'....had me a blast,
Summer trainin'....went by too fast.
Rode my bike, thousands of miles!
Ran and swam, changed up my style!
Summer Dreams, ripped at the seams,
'cause now-ow, the cold fall is HERE!
(to the tune of Olivia Newton John and John Travolta's "Summer Lovin'" from Grease of course!)
I have absolutely LOVED training for the Ironman all summer. In fact, I'm finishing week 22 of my training and at long last entering the 2 week taper period before race day. For years I contemplated attempting the Ironman distance but could hardly stand the thought of giving up my 6 days of running every week. I would miss that so much, there's just no way I could cut my running days. I was so wrong! Now I don't know how I can go back to "just running." Well, actually, with the cold weather here, I cannot wait to wrap my bike in bubble plastic for the winter-more on that topic in a moment!
Honestly, it has been tremendous fun to be swimming, biking and running. I've been so invested in all of my training I didn't have time to miss my running! Besides, I still ran 3-4 days a week, including a weekly long run. Additionally, I biked 3-4 times a week and swam 3 times a week. Yes, that's a lot of time! Two to four plus hours a day in fact! I know people with full time jobs who put in the training and complete Ironman triathlons and I am truly amazed by them! As a result of the time spent training and following my plan diligently, I do feel confident in reaching the finish line of my first Ironman. It will likely be my biggest challenge, but if I can get my nutrition right and stay focused, I believe I am ready. I'm working on my mental race plan and will blog about that sometime before race day.
Since week number 1 of IM training, I have biked 2500 miles which is insane for me! My first road bike doesn't even have 2000 miles on the odometer and I've had that bike since 2002! I trained exclusively on my tri bike all summer, a great find on eBay, and it is a much better fit for me then my road bike. (turns out I've been riding a bike that doesn't fit me until this summer...)
A few experiences on the bike to remember: Getting whacked in the face and helmut by bugs on almost every ride all summer until the temps cooled down. Having bugs, flies or bees end up down my shirt while riding, stung once! The beautiful scenery and wind on your face while cruising down open road. Max speed of 39 mph on a scary downhill. (Lots of people have gone much faster then that!) Most rides my top speed is in the low 30's from a downhill. Riding in rain, thunder (once), sunshine, warmth, and cold! Mastering the aero-bars and new shifters on my bike. Lots of solo rides, but also rides with Colin, and my tri buddy, Kim.
This will always be my true passion! I'm not giving up marathons even though I do possibly see more Ironmans in my future simply because I loved the training so much. My plantar fasciitus is officially gone after two years, turns out less days of pounding the pavement was good for treating injury, hmmmm. I still got to meet my friends most Tuesdays and Saturdays for group runs which is a huge highlight in training.
I managed to get one open water swim in almost every week during the summer months which was great training. Kim swam with me too for quite a few workouts! I followed specific pool workouts from my training plan and got help on technique from coaches at the Master Swim practice I went to last spring and again this fall. Swimming is my most challenging event since I have never been on a swim team, but I am so thankful for those kiddie swim lessons! Thanks Mom and Dad! Since last winter, my stroke number is down from 27 strokes in 25 yards, to 18 strokes in 25 yards. Now I have to work really hard to get it there, but I can do it. I still have tons to work on in my swimming and am very average if not less. However, it feels good to see improvement.
Yes! I had some serious whining issues in weeks 19-21 when it got colder here! I was biking in 40's and rain and hating life on two wheels. My last long bike ride was on a very wet, rainy day in 37 degrees with Colin for 5 and a half hours. Definitely our most miserable ride ever, but comical now. Kim came out with me too on the bike in some cold temps complete with endless layers of clothing. In fact, Kim came to my rescue with some reminder words to bring me back to reality and out of my selfish pity party! They helped so much that I typed them up and they became my mantra! Here are Kim's words sent to me via email:
"Just think of everyone who doesn't have the ability to exercise. (I'm not talking about the people making excuses.) Maybe that will help you wrap your mind around these last grueling weeks of training.
This is a choice, no one is holding a gun to my head.
Being able to participate in an event of this magnitude (the IM) is a privilege:
1. Because you could afford it.
2. Because you have the physical ability to do it.
3. You have the discipline to do it (which is a gift).
4. Your husband and your friends are willing to be dragged along with you for parts of it!!"
Those words made my day and are so true! I am blessed to have friends and family that donated to the charity so I could gain entry into the race after it was full. I have loved the training and easily completed the workouts all summer. I have amazing friends who came with me when it was easy and when it got tough in the bad weather! After this email, I quit whining and got serious again! This week has miraculously warmed up to the 50's and 60's, making biking fun again! And I used to think biking in the 50's was cold, hmmmmph! Not anymore!
Endurance training and racing always turns out to be a metaphor for life in my mind. Life is never a guaranteed picnic with only good times and smooth sailing. It's an up and down, ever changing road with unexpected challenges mixed in with the easy times. Training and races can be that way, one moment it's easy and you're full of energy, the next you think you might just end up in a pile on the concrete. Circumstances in training, workouts, and in life will always change. What is your motivation to keep going? What inspires you? What makes it worth it? Where does your strength come from? Sadly, just this week a dear friend of mine lost her husband at the young age of 33. She is only 30 herself and has a beautiful 3 year old little girl and a baby on the way. I know all too well the road ahead for her will be a surreal and painful one to travel. But I know she has a strong faith in the Lord and the hope to see her husband again in a perfect place. God will be her constant source for strength and will faithfully see her to the end. I know this because of my own experience. That is how I know I can make it through Ironman too, with spiritual strength that comes from only one place. So if you're in a hard spot in life, or maybe in a race, or a physical challenge-hang on to hope and know that in just a short while, things may be the exact opposite that they are now. Just like in a marathon, sometimes you run 17 miles and suddenly feel miserable and then you're strong again for that last 4 miles. How does that happen??? it just does... Life, my friend, is like marathon.
Isaiah 40:31 They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.