In just a few days I'll be starting to do an Ironman triathlon race. It consists of a 2.4 mile swim down a river (which has some decent current), a 116 mile bike ride (which has some rolling hills), and a 26.2 mile run (aka a marathon, which has some pretty decent hills as well). It's kind of a big deal, it will take me more hours than I'd like to admit and when you think about it, I'll be basically spending the entire day that day working out from sunrise to sunset at the very least and potentially much longer depending on how it goes.
The big deal isn't necessarily that I'll be doing that all in one day, as much as how big of a deal it is that I have put in so many hours to train for it. Waking up at the wee hours of the morning to ride my bike and run before the sun came out, going to the pool countless times where I dreaded even getting in. The amount of hours I spent training for this race far exceeds a normal number of hours per week for a person to 'work out'. I don't even know exactly what those numbers are but they averaged around 15 hours per week, the majority of which took place over the weekends on my long rides and runs. As crazy as the race seems, when you're surrounded by a community of athletes who have done it themselves or aspire to do it, it tends to become quite normal. Yes I may spend 3-4 more hours riding my bike than the group does on a typical Saturday morning but at least I got to start with them.
I decided I wanted to write down my thoughts about this race before it happened so I could glimpse back at my before thoughts as well as my after thoughts later on and compare. I am sure that when I am finished I will wonder why I started, or at least in the middle of the race I will wonder what I'm doing; in fact I think it will become rather clear at the end why I did it. I presume the joy and satisfaction will make it all worthwhile. Maybe it won't and maybe I am crazy, but at least I will have tried something, life has so many opportunities to get involved in things if we only make a conscious decision to do so. We all have things that bring us joy, or at least we should, and if we don't then we should start trying new things until we find something that brings us joy because without joy what is there?
So on Sunday I'll be racing, I'll have to constantly remind myself that it will get better, because it will, that's one thing about doing such a long race is that my mood will change throughout the course of the day. More than likely I will be afraid at the swim start and have anxiety, I will then get frustrated with the swim about halfway through probably not because I'm tired but because I hate swimming, I will then get on the bike and be relieved, I will settle in and at one point get bored, I will then start to feel some sort of pain likely in the form of exhaustion especially when climbing the hills. Then getting off the bike my legs will feel like jelly and I'll try and remember how to run on them, I'll run and probably go way too fast to start out and then realize it about a mile into it and slow down considerably, on purpose to try and pace myself.
Then I'll start to pass the aid stations, which are basically like mini party zones approximately every 1-3 miles on the course, I will be tempted to stop at all of them but need to remember that on a typical long run I only get to stop about 4 times so stopping every single mile might get a little out of hand, especially considering that every time I stop and walk it talks me a long time to get my pace back up to normal and usually that pace goes down over time; I'm much better off just keeping going unless I actually feel like I need something (or it has been 30 minutes, in which case my body needs something whether I realize it or not). The run is deceiving, because you see so many people walking at a certain point and the runners are few and far between, as everyone is just doing a run-walk after a certain point in their race, and everyone is at a different point in their race so it's hard to tell. I guess that's why it's important to just always run your own race. I'll try my best to find someone that ends up near me on the run that seems to be going my pace consistently, that worked last year until about the halfway point when I let him keep going, that is probably my only regret of the Ironman last year that I did, was letting that running buddy leave me and not forcing myself to stick with him, especially since we had developed a friendship over the 12+ miles and he would've been an easy person to allow myself to be accountable to. I know that the hills on this run course will be tough, but everyone will be in the same boat facing the same conditions and all I'm really worried about it surviving the swim, even though everyone tells me I'll do much better than I think, I just want to make sure I can calm my nerves enough to get over the new environment, the masses of bodies swimming around me, and the sheer distance of the swim.
I assume these next few days leading up to the race will be much like the days leading up to Hurricane Irma that hit us just about a week ago, where there's not much more you can do other than worry, research, and find motivation. Right now it's a waiting game as the 'hay is in the barn' as they say and there's nothing more I can do to get any better for the race at this point, I just have to do everything in my power to not hurt myself before getting to that start line.
She believed she could...