Since I started writing in January, 2009, things have never been busier in my athletic life, but I’ve been slow to write about it. When I was just running, I liked to write about little quirky things that I noticed about running, my training, how I felt about my progress, and the running community. Over time, as the training cycles became longer and more complicated, my posts became more about telling the chronological story of my training and racing. When so many things are happening, it’s more daunting to tell the story with enough detail to make sense but to keep it concise. Since it became more challenging, I put off posting and that just compounded the problem of having too much to write about.
With Ironman Florida just 8 days away I’m finally getting to taper a little bit and I have time to get my blog back on track. So first, the quick story catch-up. I’ve been training well the past month, staying healthy and following my schedule. Mike got out of his boot and two weeks ago was cleared to start running. While his bone is healed, his leg is stiff and sore and still healing. He’s been swimming and biking well and should be healthy enough to race. While his foot won’t be 100% and is painful, he sounds like he’s ready to get out there and see what the day brings. He has a great attitude and he’s been a good sport about his bad luck.
What’s it like to be 8 days out from a race like a first Ironman? What’s it like to spend a year training and thinking about a single race and have it just around the corner?
When I was training for my first marathon, I made a mental error. When things got tough on a training running, I would tell myself that, on race day, I would be thankful that I gutted it out. If I was tired and didn’t want to run, I motivated myself with race day. Race day would be my reward. On race day, I would cross the finish line and I would celebrate a job well done. What happened on race day? From mile four on I struggled and, although I finished, it was disappointing. If all of the training was for race day and race day was terrible, what was it all for?
This time, I know better. When I decided to sign up for IM Florida, I signed up because I wanted to challenge myself with the training. Training for an Ironman is a 3o week puzzle with nutrition, sleep, strength, patience, endurance, equipment, hydration and mental toughness all as pieces. Every day, I made it a point to focus on the training for the day, the step in the process, and just doing my best for the sake of doing my best. That’s it. No race day as a carrot or hopes that crossing the line would be the reward. On the biggest weekend of training, I wasn’t thinking about race day. I was thinking about how many weeks I had stared at that the long brick workout on Saturday followed by the long run on Sunday and wondered if I could do it. When it was over, I was proud of myself. I didn’t think about what it meant for race day, only that I knew that each day leading up to it I had done my best to make good decisions. Finishing each workout over the course of the 30 weeks has been like crossing a little finish line, and it’s been a blast.
Now that race day is coming, I’m just excited. The training has been rewarding beyond what I could have expected. I feel better physically better than I ever have before a race. I’m at my racing weight and my heart rate training has paid off and I’m running a little faster than last fall with a heart rate about 15 beats lower. I’ve been surprised by how much I’ve enjoyed swimming almost four hours a week. While I’ve been slower on the bike this season, I did the best that I could with my injuries. Not every moment has been fun but it has been rewarding.
Just one more week until it’s time for my longest training day of all. I don’t know how it’s going to go, but that’s okay. I know I’ll be nervous standing on that beach, and that’s okay. I may not finish and feel sad or I may finish with a smile. It’s all good. As long as I finish the day healthy to go on to the next adventure, I’ll be glad I tried.