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One Time at Tri Camp…..

Well, it happened. Just like I said I would, I returned home from Camp Sufferfest with a renewed spirit. It was fun! In a twisted kind of way. All sorts of super top-secret ninja Ironman execution information was bestowed upon us by our trusty coach from Endurance Nation. Lot’s of new friendships were established. Most notably with this rock star.
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Sweet Jodi from Valdosta. Seven years my senior and she challenged my fitness all weekend. She made the training fun, the heat tolerable and both shared in the misery of what 160+ miles will do to certain body parts.

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#icequeen
Uncommon joy was not expected this weekend but it came anyway through the blessings of this friendship and the feeling of accomplishment in completing a daunting training schedule. I’m letting myself be proud of executing, in a very good way, a 116 and a 47 mile bike and a long run all in a 72 hr time period. It’s the exact boost I needed to bust through the remaining part of my training. 32 more days folks! The last piece of the puzzle left to dial in is my long run. Tomorrow I have a 2.5hr run on tap and I’m tailoring my route to mirror the race course. Another benefit of attending a camp at the race venue.

So this is not where you want to be 4 weeks out from a race.

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But, this where I found myself on Monday. Dr. Wang Chung again. My nerve issue has come back. The second round of cortisone did the trick for a couple of months but my nerve flared up again mid-July. It may have been from all the traveling for baseball and sleeping in all the crappy beds. Anyway, we decided to try another injection in hopes that by race day it will have calmed down. Right now it’s tolerable but I’d rather not test it over a 14 hour day. But if it doesn’t work, well, it is what it is. Meanwhile, I’m done worrying and I’m done feeling yucky about what I can or can’t do. I have climbed out of the pit and am enjoying the view of my blessings.

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Ironthing2

happy camper

Happy? Camper

So I’m going to camp tomorrow. Yes, me. I haven’t been to camp since 7th grade. I remember how excited I was back then. I’d like to say that I’m as excited as I was back then but the reality is that it’s likely to be more akin to Boot Camp. It seemed like a wonderful idea for birthday gift from Charming back in January. Why wouldn’t going to Ironman Training Camp held at the race course be a fabulous idea? Why wouldn’t signing up for your 3rd Ironman be a fabulous idea? It all sounds awesome when you are a year out and have fresh legs and an unbroken spirit. Today….well, not so much.

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Hangover or 4,300 yards? Looks the same doesn’t it? I look like my father in this picture. Why would I post such an unflattering picture for all of you to see? I’m keeping it real folks. Ironman training isn’t pretty. It’s messy, stinky, hard, stinky, mind numbing, did I say stinky? Not to mention wet. I spend most days either wet from sweat, wet from the pool or wet from the shower.

Anyway, back to the bright idea of IM training camp. The camp schedule goes like this:

Thurs evening – seminar on Ironman Execution specifically tailored to the Ironman Chattanooga course. (insert Endurance Nation Secret Sauce here ;-))

Friday 7am – race rehearsal bike. Ride 112 miles on the course. (It’s really 114 miles but who’s counting?)
3-6 mile post ride run

Friday evening – more seminar stuff

Saturday 7am – ANOTHER 112 (114) mile bike (shoot me now)

Saturday evening – call an ambulance

Sunday 8am – Long Run 9-13 miles. (should play out  more like a zombie walk)

Sunday afternoon – drive 2.5hrs home and resume parental duties

Ooof. Did I mention that they are calling for ridiculous heat? The heat index is going to be in the triple digits. Should be a genuine sufferfest. Good times. Kumbaya.

Suck it up Buttercup you say? You have rich people problems and you asked for this. You are right. The way I see this situation in front of me is that I need to approach this weekend at camp as an opportunity to gain a bunch of fitness, knowledge and overall badassery. I have to leave my current worn out, beaten spirit at home and seek out renewal through the suffering. Starting…..now.

On a bright note, I traveled up to Chattanooga last weekend to participate in an organized 2.4 mile practice swim on the race course. Priceless experience. The swim was fast and beautiful. Yup I said beautiful. Never thought I would use the words beautiful and swim in the same sentence but I’m evolving, what can I say? I PR’d the swim by 24 minutes. I was pretty freakin happy. They claim there was very little current but I wouldn’t care even if there was. I was happy to be in the water for only 1 hour 11 minutes vs. 1 hour 35 minutes. Here’s what it looks like.

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That is the lead swimmer. He was probably finished 20 minutes before me ;-) Isn’t it pretty?

While finishing a 2.4 mile “fast-for-me” swim was pretty joyful. It was not the greatest source of my uncommon joy this past weekend. Sitting on the side of a fisherman’s pond watching Ironthing1 pursue one of his passions was. It doesn’t really matter if I swim slower than most, can’t run a 7/min mile or bike 112 miles in under 6 hours. What matters are the gifts that God has blessed me with as a wife, mother and friend. It was a solid reminder that there is life beyond Ironman.

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Where The Rubber Meets The Road

This is the point in training for an Ironman distance race where it get’s HARD.  Not just physically, but in the mental sense. I am in week 13 of 20.  54 days until race day, and it is the point in time where the enormity of the distance starts to really set in (for me at least). This past weekend my Endurance Nation training plan called for a 6 hour day consisting of a 1 hour swim, 4 hour bike and a 1 hour run. All back-to-back.  Not terribly intimidating for me since this is not my first rodeo and I’ve done several of these big days before. This day is designed to see how your body responds to the stress of performing the disciplines all together over an extended period of time. As well as to start to fine tune your nutrition plan/requirements for a long day. So I get it. I buy into it. I know it’s necessary. But what is funny to me is that the hardest part of this kind of day (other than the logistical planning piece) is the mental aspect. Not necessarily imagining how I will get through the assignment but it’s the space where my mind goes DURING it.  It’s when the Queen (the name my friend Meredith Atwood over at Swim Bike Mom has named the lady parts) starts screaming to get off the bike and the point where the mind realizes that at the end of 4 hours I will still have a good 2.5-3 hours left to go on race day. And then during the 1 hour run it’s all mental self destruction happening when I’m thinking to myself, “this hurts and it’s hard, and on race day I will have 4 more hours of running to do! How in the world will I ever do this?!

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Well, I have, and I will….get it done. Somehow.

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It’s not only the act of performing the training outing du jour, but the time spent PRIOR to it thinking about how/when/where I will get it done that exhausts me. Geesh, the mental gymnastics that we go through should be identified as a fourth discipline. Where will I ride 5 hours? How many loops will I have to do? What time of day should I go? What will be the traffic? The weather? What will my family do while I’m out?

And we do this for ……fun?

I’m very much looking forward to resting after the race, mentally. I will revel in the fact that my first waking thought of the day will NOT be about what I have to do for training that day.

But until then…..this is where the rubber meets the road.

 

 

 

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Testing

I haven’t posted much about training lately folks but do not fear, it’s been getting done. For the last 8 weeks I’ve been in the General Prep Phase of my Ironman training. More specifically I have been suffering through the Endurance Nation Get Faster program. Why? Well, to get faster of course. It’s one of many secret sauces EN has in it’s menu of plans, but only available to it’s team members. So I get to feel special while suffering.  Part of EN’s philosophy is to keep you out of the mindset of “Ironman Training” for as long as possible to maintain your sanity. So the last 8 weeks have had a shorter/more intense flavor to it. For example, long runs would be done with 3 or 4 miles at a zone 4 pace, for a total of 75-85 minutes vs. 90 minutes at zone 1 or 2 pace. Same idea with the long bike. Ouch.

This week is test week. I get to do a series of workouts that will allow me to measure whether/how much I have raised the ceiling of my fitness house and dial those benchmarks into my training going forward. At the same time I have been at the beach for Ironthing I’s end of season baseball tournament. This meant hauling the bike and the trainer with me and having my training schedule at the mercy of the baseball schedule and family time (and catching sharks/whiting).

All balls in the air….trying not to fail tests.

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What’s Your Strength?

“What are you strongest in?” I get this question a lot when talking about doing an Ironman.  My reply is always a snort, followed by an, “……uhhhhh…..”. No matter how much I have contemplated this question and tried to formulate an intelligent response, my natural reaction is to stumble. I guess it is because I do not believe I am strong in any of the three disciplines. I can certainly tell you that my weakest link is the swim. Having taught myself how to swim, in a non recreational way, only six months before my first triathlon, a swimming background is absolutely not where I come from.  As for the other two disciplines, I had only run 5 miles on a treadmill and didn’t own a bike the day I decided to enter the triathlon world.  My strength I guess is in my will to finish and my willingness to put myself in an uncomfortable place. I’m not fast but I am strong in will…..at least most days.   I guess this is what fascinates me most about the Ironman. It is available to ANYONE. Anyone who has the commitment to train, sweat and be uncomfortable. I love being out there on race day seeing so many different types of people all going the distance, young, old, big and small. When people try to tell me how impressed they are that I compete in Ironman races I can not bring myself to be impressed. I’m not special. I can only tell them that anyone can do it if they commit to it. Strength is in the commitment. If only commitment could transfer into a  12 hour finish time…..

Light out

The Empty Space

A few month’s ago our oldest child, Giggles, moved out on her own and instantly a light went out in our home. Giggles came to live with us six years ago. She was struggling to find her way after graduating from high school and it broke our hearts to see how her spirit had been broken. Giggles has always been the loudest, most gregarious kid. She lights up a room when she enters it. But not so much back then.  So we provided her with a soft place to land and she will say that it was the best decision she has made for herself in her life but I will say it was one of the biggest blessings God has ever provided to her father and I.  It took time for her to realize she could trust, be honest and love freely but over time Giggles has educated herself in a profession, manages people and has matured into a beautiful young woman.

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And I miss her so. I miss her laughter, I miss watching her hang out with her brothers and I miss all the little shared looks and understandings we exchanged on a daily basis. But I have to cast my eyes to the positive. We were truly blessed to have had an opportunity to develop a deeply loving relationship with this child. The dynamics of the divorce and geography limited the relationships with the Girls when they were growing up. It’s simply not the same when you do not share a roof together 100% of the time. Divorce stinks.  The positive is that Giggles has been able to truly find out who her father is and develop a deep bond with him. And I have known uncommon joy from being able to love on a truly special person. Now, don’t roll your eyes, it hasn’t been all rainbows and unicorns and I may be on the verge of waxing poetic, but my heart is full and Giggles is a big reason for that.  So I suppose for now I will have to get used to having the house fully lit just once a week.

 

 

Day 1

Well folks, it’s here. Day one of the 20 week Ironman training cycle. D’oh! I am actually starting one week early to build in a week off while I am away at Cooperstown in July for round two of the Holy Grail of baseball. I am entering what we call the General Prep phase which looks a lot like the Outseason but with volume and swimming. Today was a little zone 3 run and a swim. I decided to get these done at the gym. On the way I encountered a rude man in traffic with whom I exchanged a few hand gestures with and subsequently met again while walking into the gym. Yeah, awesome. He definitely was skulking back a bit to avoid me. It must have been all my Ironman gear exuding badassery…..or the hand gestures.

Upon mounting my trusty stead Mr. Dreadmill, I look up to see this.

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Ummmm….whaaat iiiiss this? Are you trying to break an ankle? To further the madness, she turned around and ran backwards. I don’t know, I have a hard enough time running straight. This just seemed a little nutty. But after my brief visit to critical land (I was still a little puffed up from Mr. Rude Road Man), I chuckled (well snorted really) and decided to be thankful for the distraction. By the time the run was done, I had totally forgotten about the pre workout yuck, crazy lady was gone, and I felt accomplished and fantastic. It’s amazing how a good sweat can change your perspective!

Tomorrow I am slated for a 30 minute run and a 3 hour bike. That should feel real good and have me walking like I have ridden in the Kentucky Derby. Giddee up!