August 26, 2011

Come on Irene

I can't seem to catch a break this season. Let's see, I had the treacherous winter that led to a slip on the ice groin pull, full on GI shut down during the monsoon that was the LA Marathon (fondly referred to as the Hell-A Marathon), extended marathon recovery that led to 8 pounds weight gain, slow start to the season due to work/travel, more work/travel followed by a deep chest cold and tear gassing, a lovely bout with the stomach flu... for 12 days, finally getting back in the saddle only to be constantly derailed by weather, generally in the form of rain. And that leads me to the present.

This is my final build week. The last long training sessions before the big day on September 11. I'd had a pretty remarkable week until today, nailing a long ride Monday, two solid rides Tuesday, my best long run yet Wednesday, and a decent recovery ride yesterday. We had plans to drive to Lake Placid today where I'd do my final long ride tomorrow and head back on Sunday. Only Hurricane Irene decide to mess with our plans. Early this morning over coffee and English muffins we decided it wasn't wise to leave town today and risk not getting back safely on Sunday, or even Monday.

The forecast starting late tonight is all rain all the time so I had to head out and attempt my final long ride today. Totally unprepared. I felt ok, but 9 miles in I realized I wasn't. I was weak, dizzy, loopy, not really all there. A 3% grade felt like 20% and I was exhausted. I really needed another day to rest, to recharge, and most importantly, to mentally prepare. Being thrown into this with no thought was not going to work. I texted my good friend Laura, who is also doing IMWI, Mark, and my coach, and waited for permission to quit. Laura's reply came quickly and I found myself standing in Riverside Park in Manhattan in tears. I wasn't necessarily upset, I was just so utterly exhausted. Mark told me to be safe and my coach told me to pull the plug. So I continued over the GW Bridge into New Jersey and did a very short 30 mile ride that included several pauses, a muffin and a coffee. I felt so flat at times it was as if I were floating on someone else's bike. But I still enjoyed being out in the sun, on a beautiful day, enjoying the last of the summer. I logged 60 very slow miles instead of the 100 I was aiming for.

Upon arriving home I was bombarded with news of evacuations and Irene preparedness plans. It occurred to me that I might not be taking the situation seriously so I went to the market and stocked up on non-perishables. Mark suggested I pack up myself and Otis and spend the weekend at his place and I decided it was a good idea. I live near the water and am therefore on the border of zone B, which is unlikely to evacuate, but means the storm will be worse here. He's further inland in a larger, more stable building, so Otis and I can tuck in for the weekend and ride out the storm.

So my final build has been cut short, but it's far beyond my control. I'm going to attempt a trip into Manhattan tomorrow morning before the mass transit shut down to get in a final long swim, and will try to fit in a trainer ride before rolling up the carpets, moving the furniture and evacuating my apartment. At least I finally get to sleep in on Sunday!

August 24, 2011

The Home Stretch

When you sign up for Ironman 12 months in advance it feels like the day will never come. This week marks my final build before taper yet the race still felt somewhat distant... until bib numbers were released today. On September 11 I'll be racing my third Ironman Wisconsin as athlete number 517. If the third time is really a charm, 517 will be my new lucky number.

This last build week is a beast, but I'm enjoying these final moments. With all my struggles for consistency and more missed training than I can count, it feels good to nail the final, huge workouts. Here's what I've done so far this week:

Monday - Biked 80.91 miles on what might have been the nicest day yet this summer. It was sunny, warm and absolutely beautiful. It felt like a gift to be on my bike all afternoon.

Tuesday - Biked 39.85 miles in two rides, one in the morning and one after work. Again, gorgeous day.

Today - Ran 17.19 miles before work, my final long run. I've really struggled with running this time around but this run was great. Despite the huge training load already on my tired legs I felt fantastic throughout.

Here's what's still to come:

Thursday - Bike 1-1.5 hours easy, definitely will not be pushing after the big run.

Friday - Bike 1.5 hours, swim 1.5 hours. Drive to Lake Placid!

Saturday - Bike 100 miles, run 30 minutes. Swim if I have time.

Sunday - I'm supposed to rest but will likely get one final LP ride in before heading home.

There is a lot less hay in the barn this year, but I feel relatively prepared and am starting to really look forward to race day. I can't turn back the clock and make up all the missed training, I can only focus on what I've been able to accomplish and enjoy the experience. Ironman Wisconsin hasn't let me down yet so I am anticipating a really great day out there.

August 22, 2011

My Sister: My Hero

For as long as I can remember, my sister, Jamie, has been my best friend. We share a lot - hair color, eye color, a love of cooking, food and wine. Over time we both took up running and we started doing races together. Then last year Jamie decided to learn how to swim. Like me she was comfortable in the water, but had not taken lessons. We talked about doing a tri together and thought the Columbia Iron Girl Sprint would be perfect. It was a little too close timing wise so the race came and went but the seed had been planted.

Last November we signed up for the race and with that Jamie's swim training kicked into high gear. Having just learned to swim myself in 2008, I know how challenging, frustrating and humbling it can be. She texted me updates along the way, some about progress and others about how hard it was. But she kept at it and eventually had her breakthrough.

After all the hard work and anticipation, yesterday was the race. We couldn't have asked for a better day, except for maybe skipping the torrential downpour just as we finished setting up transition. We were already soaked before even getting in the water!

A little rain aside, everything went incredibly well. I never got a chance to see her on the course because our waves were so far apart, but I quickly found her husband after I finished and we waited for her together. He let me know that she looked great after the swim and bike and was feeling good. Seeing her run down the finish chute was amazing because I know how hard she worked to be there. Triathlon is a daunting sport to dive into. It's scary. And in life it's so much easier to avoid the scary things even though tackling them is so rewarding. I've never started a tri and felt I was guaranteed to finish. So many things can go wrong and keep you from crossing that line, so every finish is a huge victory. But on that perfect Sunday, two sisters crossed the same line and were there to celebrate together. It was a really special day. Congrats to Jamie and welcome to the crazy world of triathlon!

August 18, 2011

Burn Out

If the first step to recovery is acceptance, I have a confession to make. I'm burned out - both physically and mentally. Those of you who know me or who have followed me for awhile know how hard it is for me to admit this. I went from couch potato to Ironman in about 18 months and have been at it guns blazing ever since. I was the girl who'd get on the trainer at 10pm after a long work day just to log those precious minutes that everyone loves to post and brag about. I never gave up. Even when I tore my plantar fascia just days before my first Ironman I refused to take no for an answer and somehow willed my body and mind to endure an agonizing 7+ hour marathon because I never quit. I hate the word "can't."

But I've slowly discovered that I've reached a temporary limit and my desire to suffer and sacrifice for something that is no longer new has diminished. I couldn't care less about the hours and miles I've logged and almost never share it here or elsewhere. I place more value on enjoying the time I spend training vs. giving everything up to cram it into an already busy life. I don't stress or feel guilt over the many missed workouts I've had. On one hand all of that is good, but on the other it's not, because the fire I had to push me through this grueling sport is just about extinguished and the only way to reignite it is to take a break.

I recently shared my decision to withdraw from Ironman Arizona in November. At the time I thought I'd do the New York City Marathon, but the last couple weeks of training have made it clear I won't be doing that race either. Beginning September 12, I will be a normal person with a normal workout schedule, resting and recharging for however long it takes.

I don't think this burn out is the result of simply doing too many long races. I think it's from a series of poor choices I've made that might not have been detrimental on their own, but bound together became bigger issues.

Bad Choice #1 - How I handled my offseason after Ironman Wisconsin last year. I was going through a difficult time personally and wanted to escape. I essentially went from full throttle to nothing on the training front and ended up having such an extended period off it required starting from scratch.

Bad Choice #2 - The Los Angeles Marathon. In theory this seemed like a great idea, but in execution it was a disaster. We had one of the worst winters on record so training for a March marathon was pure misery. A slip on the ice caused a nagging groin injury that still hurts occasionally. In the extended recovery I was forced to take, I gained 8 pounds that have not gone away and have crushed my running pace and caused a host of aches and pains.

Bad Choice #3 - Signing up for two Ironmans without really thinking through the scheduling. I know myself and should have known I'd never be motivated to train long during fall, my favorite season. Having IMAZ on the schedule caused my IMWI training to be different and now that I'm only doing IMWI, I'm not as well prepared and it's causing a last-minute training frenzy that is exhausting.

So there we have it. I admit I'm burned out. I admit I need a break. And I'm looking forward to taking it. I have 10 more hard training days ahead of me and will get through it knowing there is a beautiful, bright light at the end of the tunnel. Instead of the NYC Marathon I'll be going to London with really good friends. Instead of Ironman Arizona I'll be spending a week in Italy with my boyfriend. The training for these events should be much more enjoyable than my previous schedule.

August 5, 2011

Following Your Heart

After you've been racing for multiple hours and 120+ miles, the journey to continue isn't driven solely by the number of miles you logged training and how fit you may be. It's largely driven by your heart and your desire to push beyond limits and keep moving forward. I've completed three Ironmans since September 2009 and each was challenging and rewarding in its own way. My level of preparedness, fitness and health varied for each race, but the common denominator was that my heart was 100% in it and regardless of the obstacles each presented, I knew I wanted to be out there pushing to the finish.

After completing two Ironmans last year, I decided to do it again this season. I loved finishing Lake Placid knowing I had another incredible day around the corner at Wisconsin. The second race turned out to be my best yet so signing up for Wisconsin and Arizona seemed perfect. At the time I wasn't planning a 2012 Ironman so a late season race seemed ideal. But then I signed up for Ironman Mont-Tremblant and have experienced a change in the amount of time I have to dedicate to training. It's been a very difficult season and I'm struggling to fit it all in.

There has been a nagging thought in the back of my mind for weeks about how committed I am to Arizona. Fall is my favorite season, a time for long hikes, bike rides with no real purpose but the enjoyment of being outside and perhaps stopping for donuts, and cool-weather running. I started to worry about how I'd keep up the motivation to train while the days got shorter and everyone around me was enjoying the offseason. Several times I logged on to book a flight or sort out accommodations and couldn't pull the trigger. Then it hit me. Deep down I didn't want to race an Ironman in November, regardless of what year or race it was. It's just not the right race for how I want to live my life.

So while biking for seven hours last Friday I spent at least three of them thinking about my choice. I've never dropped out of a race unless I absolutely had to. I've run marathons with a broken arm or after being hit by a car, I did my first Ironman with a torn plantar fascia. Certainly I could and should do this.... right? But I finally allowed myself to admit the decision was already made. I love this sport and for some crazy reason I love the 140.6 distance. But I didn't love the idea of competing in Arizona and I don't want to risk burning out and not loving this anymore.

It was a hard decision, but the right one. It's caused a bit of last-minute cramming for Ironman Wisconsin since I was supposed to go in undertrained to build for the second race, but it's worth it and there is a finite end in sight. I'm going to use my guaranteed entry to the New York City Marathon instead and will spend a week in Italy for Thanksgiving. Feels like a great compromise to me.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...