Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Self reminder: I am badass.

So I had a different post to post today that I had written up over the weekend, but I am going to have to hold that because something sort of random happened today. And that sparked a lot of thoughts.

Okay, well the thoughts have been going on regardless, but I thought this was kind of funny.

Today I got an e-mail notification that I had a new comment on the blog. However, it wasn't from one of my usual commenters and it wasn't on a post that was recently published. In fact, when I read the e-mail and the comment, I didn't even remember what the post was about. The comment was on a post titled "A day for me" and its nature was... a little odd... at best.

"The left foot still pretty, you think the right foot can become as before?" -- Huh??

So I clicked on the post and scrolled through which entry it was, and saw that it was from right before my 20-mile run training for Paris Marathon and it included a picture of my beaten up toenail (damn you, marathon training!) I never know how people end up finding my older blog posts or what prompts them to comment. Especially this guy who was inspired to post an comment about my foot being pretty. And no, Max, my right nail has never totally recovered as before (thanks to repeated marathons and repeatedly losing my right big toenail...)

BUT ANYWAYS, the comment isn't the interesting part to me, believe it or not. The interesting part came when I decided to read the blog entry, "A Day for Me" that I wrote on March 14, 2014, more than two years ago. In the entry, I wrote about reading some articles in Runner's World that had me feeling incredibly sappy leading up to my first marathon. I remember those tears and that sappy feeling leading up to my first marathon. In the weeks before I was reading and listening to and watching everything I could get my hands on to help inspire me.  And I was so emotional moving towards my first marathon that everything made me cry. Everything somewhat inspirational or that reminded me of the race, put me into tears. [And I wish I could say that went away, but leading up to Chicago Marathon, I was an anxiousy cry-y mess too]

One of the articles I wrote about in that blog entry that I mentioned as being inspirational to me, was actually about Ironman training. I had completely forgotten about it until I reread this blog entry today, but the old Runner's World article was by a woman who wrote about training for her first Ironman and how she was "going big" for the first time with Ironman. She wrote how she was emotional leading up to the race, cried during training rides, cried after training rides, and because she truly did not know if she could do it or not. That SO resonated with me at the time.

I wrote this before I had ever even run 20 miles before and I wrote that I was already having thoughts of a second marathon, which freaked me out.  Three marathons later and being signed up for my fourth, it is funny to me to reread those words, not truly realizing how hooked I would become.

But then the oddest thing to me, as I stumbled upon this old blog of mine today, were what I had written about Ironman and how I wondered to myself (and out loud) if I would ever do an Ironman. And how I took a quiz in the magazine about what "going big" accomplishment I should go after next, and it told me "Half Ironman." I wrote for the first time that the "wheels were turning..." in my mind about doing one.

Two years later and I am now under two weeks from my first Half Ironman in Chattanooga!

One thing that feels odd to me is that I haven't had those weepy tears leading up to the race. I am not that emotional person I was before my first marathon, and realistically, before Chicago too. I wonder if it will come over the next week. But mostly, I have just been feeling nervous and worried. I am working to get myself to excited and pumped. And reading this article helped - and I did cry reading it, in case you're wondering :)

This race has been a long time coming for me. This race is something that was a thought in my mind for years. I may have forgotten that, but reading it today reminded me.

The thing with marathons is that I never had it in my line of sight to do one. When Dani asked me to run Paris Marathon with her, it had only been a SLIGHT inclining in my mind for under a year. It was in April of 2013 that I even THOUGHT of running a marathon, still thinking of it being in the far future, and then fall of 2013 that I signed up for one. It was a pretty quick turnaround for me, to be honest. Whereas I have been doing sprint triathlons for years and sprint tri was my first toe dip into the water of endurance racing. When I learned to run a 5K, I went out and worked towards a sprint triathlon because that was ALWAYS something I wanted to do. As a swimmer and a biker, the running was what held me back and a triathlon - just a sprint - was a lifelong dream for me.

And look at me now! I would have never thought to myself that I could do what I am about to do. What I HAVE done during training.

When I look back at how much I prepared for that sprint triathlon, it is incredible how much I have grown. And I forget that sometimes. And it's helpful to remind myself.

I've been having a lot of mixed feelings as I head into the final week and a half before my race. Part of me is upset that I was not more diligent about eating healthy while I was traveling and wishing I pushed through all those long runs where I gave up and walked. And the other part of me is thinking, look how far you've come! Think of that girl who never dreamed of doing these things and who thought 5 days a week in the gym was incredible, who now worked out often 7 days a week, multiple times a day. Think of the hours and the commitment and all the things that you DID do and the fears that you DID overcome throughout this training. Riding with groups. Running on tired legs. Learning and trying new things and pushing yourself every day.

Despite all that, I guess, somehow, I imagined that I would feel differently going into my race. I imagined the beginning of this year being a little different. I pictured Half Ironman training would have me running faster and my stomach flatter and me feeling like a badass every day. When I trained for Paris Marathon and Chicago Marathon, I felt badass every day.  I rarely got those feelings during training for Chattanooga and I am not sure why. Is it because I have just been too hard on myself?

I thought that I would feel stronger, fitter, and more prepared. I've missed the tangible results I have been able to see as I have trained for other races... times improving, fitness progressing, losing weight, hitting new distances, etc. I haven't gotten the same training highs as I have from pure running races. Part of it is that the running distances have been very manageable based off of what I have done before, yet they have been a huge challenge. It's been disheartening to get slower and slower on my runs and have them feel harder and harder to finish. My times have gotten much closer and I had to walk during a few of my runs, which is something I usually forbid. I've struggled to feel excited at the end of the weekend even if I hit a new bike distance, because of my poor runs. And then as I have gone up on my bike distances and ridden on the rodes more and with hills, my average pace has dropped.  I know that is normal, but it has still left me feeling empty at times. I think back to the days during Chicago Marathon training in the fall when I ran 15 miles, or 16, or 18, or 20, and I felt such elation after finishing those runs. I wrote after my 15 mile run, "The training cycle could end here and I would be happy!" I haven't had that feeling throughout training for Chattanooga.

This training cycle has taken a lot out of me - mentally and physically. I did most of the training alone and I became pretty antisocial with my weekends. Due to my fears and nervousness about the new sports, I wanted to be on my own for the training - much like my training for my first half marathon. I didn't feel comfortable being with people to train, even when I did have the opportunity. Then due to double weekend workouts, I either stayed in both weekend nights, or I went out and had a subpar workout the next day. I was always sacrificing something, and that was a struggle. The same with travel. I could either stay for weekends in Atlanta and get a long bike ride in, and miss out on some sort of weekend travel. Or I could travel a weekend and not be able to fully train. I always felt like I was losing no matter what.

When I trained for my first marathon, I felt like a superhero every single day. I felt badass every run I did. Whereas now, double workouts or triple workouts, still had me feeling anxious that I wasn't doing enough.

Over the next couple of weeks I am going to do my best to reread some of my old blog posts to remind myself just how far I have come. And to remind myself that I am badass. I've become a lot harder on myself as I have progressed as an athlete. And at the same time, I've sometimes let over-confidence to maybe allow me to train as hard as I should have.

I know that the Half Ironman will be a huge mental struggle and I will need to be focused for the days and moments before and the whole 7 hours or however long it takes me to actually do the damn thing. As I rest my body and taper over the next week and a half, I am going to be really focusing on my mental game. And I am also going to reread a couple of times the advice I got from a friend and fellow triathlete today (who will be in Chattanooga doing the race as part of a relay team!) She told me:

"Not everything can be measured in times, scores and races. Sometimes you measure other things... I may not lose weight, but I have muscle. I may not PR, but I conquered a fear. I may not do my best, but I TRY. And those are the things that you have to celebrate and be thankful for first. And then in time, the times and the awards and the other things will come. We are still amateur to this sport. Those people who podium do this for YEARS. I ran in middle, high school and college and people see what I do and think I'm amazing, but they don't know the work that I've put in over the years for this. I've been a runner for my whole life.  Sometimes you may feel like you aren't doing well and you aren't as encouraged, but you need to chill out. You are great and you will do great. You CAN'T lose when you do what we do every day. So smile."

I can't tell you guys how much that meant to me. I am going to be reminding myself over and over again the next week and a half - I am badass. I am ready for this race. I worked HARD for this race. And I have come a ridiculous long way since I first started doing sprint triathlons.

I am going to remind myself that this is new to me. Being an "athlete" in general is something new to me. I just barely started using that word and even felt the need to put it in quotation marks just there. I didn't grow up with the spirit of pushing myself, this is new. A year ago at this time I didn't even own a road bike. I didn't clip in on my shoes until last August. When I started doing sprint triathlons, I never thought I would be winning in my age group. It still blows my mind that I was able to do that a number of time last season. Some of those things left me feeling confident at this sport, but you know what? 70.3 is NEW. It is not the same sport I have been doing the past few seasons. I need to separate those in my mind and go after this NEW thing with my very best. 11 days to go!


  1. Training for the longer distances it is easy to get lost in what you're doing and lose touch with friends and family. When I did my first 140.6 last year my training basically took over my life. I was very lucky to have good friends who were training for the same race (or similar ones) that I could bike with or go open water swimming with otherwise I feel I would have just completely withdrawn. I'm not the most social person, but even I need some contact. Now that I've done a few 70.3s, though, it seems a bit easier to stay in touch with people. I'm also doing Chattanooga this year (both the 70.3 and 144.6) and I'm really looking forward to it. I'm pretty much at the point where I'm just about to give up on my time goals for the race and just see what I can do. But, even if I am slower than ever before, just being able to get out there and do it is bad ass enough. Best of luck with your race and maybe I'll see you out on the course. :-)

  2. I'm late reading this post, but I'm glad I waited because it provides an interesting perspective knowing that you absolutely crushed your half ironman. It's a shame you didn't feel as amazing and confident in your training as for your marathons. But you still plan on tackling another HIM, so I wonder whether you'll make some adjustments in your training to become more confident?