Tuesday, April 17, 2018

I guess we are Ironman training now!

After my marathon in March, I needed a break. Heck, if we're being honest, BEFORE my marathon in March, I needed a break. Which may be partially to blame for why the race went the way it did. But I needed some time off and I wasn't ready to think about what next. But at the same time, I know myself well and determining "What next?" is one of the ways to get myself passed what just was. The rebound race, if you will.

I do better with a plan, so I met with my coach and we set the plan to not have a plan for a couple months. The goal was to return my training to just having fun. I wanted to stay active, I wanted to recover, and I wanted to do what I felt like doing and what felt like fun. During training for Albany Marathon, running stopped being fun and my workouts were things I "had to" do for the goal I had set. I needed a break from that mentality so wanted to spend some time mainly avoiding that feeling of anything was something I "needed" to do.

So that's what I did. And have been doing. For March and April the "goal" has been to go the direction my body told me to. I wanted to get out on my bike and go on bike rides with friends. I wanted to do a full swim set in the pool, actually pushing myself instead of just swimming for recovery. I wanted to maybe try some new classes in the gym. Do yoga. Strength work. Run easy without a plan with friends. I just wanted to have fun. And it's been great.

I have had some really nice days biking with friends, I have gotten to know people better or connected with new friends while running easy. I have pushed myself to go further in the pool when I was feeling it. I ran a 10K with friends, stopping to take pictures along the way. I also DIDN'T run some races, volunteering or supporting others towards their goals. And I tried new to me workouts like climbing stadium steps with November Project's Atlanta tribe!

But at the end of March, my mind was telling me I had to plan ahead. I figured in my "down" time, that my body and my mind would start to tell me what it was that I wanted to do. I assumed that I'd figure it out as it went along. And figure it out I did. My mind kept coming to one thing I wanted to do. It kept thinking of the same race over and over. When I was driving in my car, when I was swimming, when I had a few moments to think. I kept thinking of one thing.

Ironman Chattanooga.

Now, wait, what?! I said I would wait! I said I was going to take a break! That I needed a break! I said I was going to go a bit without a plan! The plan was to have no plan! Right?! Well, my body and mind figured it out for me and I did what felt right.

At the end of March after saying back and forth over and over to Jonathan, my coach, and others: "Do you think I should do it?!" I finally got the push I needed from Jonathan saying, "Yes. So you can stop asking me if I think you should every day!" And just like that, I signed up for my first Ironman! I knew right away after clicking that button that I had made the right choice. I had some moments of doubt and fear in the hours afterwards. Qualifying for Boston is still a major goal of mine, something I want in the near future and didn't want to compromise too much. I got scared that maybe the marathon I was thinking of doing was too close after Chattanooga. But I knew that signing up for this race was the right thing to do. I felt happy with the decision and excited for the challenge.

Now, if you're friends with me on Facebook or follow me on Instagram, you've seen my posts about this. And many of you may have seen this coming, long before I saw it in my own future. For years, I insisted I could never do a full marathon. And for years I insisted I could never do a full Ironman. It's not like I had contemplated it before though - I just literally so firmly believed that these things were not in my wheelhouse or my realm of capabilities. It wasn't that I was being playful pushing it off, I literally just didn't think I could do it. However, here I am, signed up for my first full distance Ironman, Ironman Chattanooga, on September 30th of this year. The race that decided that the 140.6 distance is a bit tooooooo short, so it tacked on an extra 4 miles for a total distance of 144.6.

I love the city of Chattanooga. I have done two Half Ironmans there, a number of bike rides, and an Olympic distance race. I have been to spectate and volunteer at the full in 2016 and I was there for the Half Ironman World Championships in 2017. I love racing in Chattanooga, being in Chattanooga, and I love the crowds in Chattanooga. When I first started thinking about doing a full, this wasn't one that I was contemplating, but I am honestly and truly really excited for this location to be the home to another new athletic experience for me.

With signing up for this race, I feel like this is how you SHOULD feel when you sign up for a new thing. I am excited. I am a bit scared. I am intimidated in a good way and I just all around can't wait to experience the new challenges with training and the feeling on race day. It is going to be a fun summer ahead.

So how is training going?

Well, this is where that "break" still does come into play. I have got a great relationship with my coach and right now we still have been spending March and April to be "fun" months. And even parts of May. He is helping me stay focused and build a base, but I am also pointing out things I have on my schedule that I want to do, workouts that interest me, and days that I need rest. Heading into June, July and August we will really be building. I am working to keep my schedule as free as I can make it and starting to carve out when my big training weekends will be so I can have them on my calendar.

I am working to spend more time swimming and biking right now, and my runs have been really easy beyond track - because that's what has felt right. My running has not been great lately. My HR gets high, I feel crummy, and since spring really hasn't hit us yet... I still just have no desire to be out running in the cold. I feel slow and sluggish and I feel heavy, overweight and unfit right now. However, I am enjoying going out on my bike with friends. I am enjoying getting super sweaty on my trainer biking indoors. I am enjoying swimming in the mornings and a few times have gone Ironman distance on the swims just because I can. I'm trying to focus on my diet a bit more and get back to my clothing fitting a bit more comfortably as well.

I can't wait for open water swims. I am looking forward to fun organized bike rides. I am excited to push myself to new limits and work to squeeze in workouts (and recovery) whenever I can. It's going to be a fun summer.

Back in November, I mentioned I bought a new triathlon bike - the Cervelo P3 with Di2 shifting. And that was all a part of this long term plan so I have also been working to get comfortable and finish fixing up my new bike. I had bought it, rode it 2-3 times, then promptly let it sit collecting dust as I ran and ran only all winter long.

The switch from my road bike to my triathlon bike has not been an easy one for me. I thought it would be seamless and a love affair with the tri bike from the start - feeling speedy and professional and unstoppable. But instead I have felt sluggish, slow, and lacking almost every time I get on it. Some days I love it and some days I am mad at myself for thinking I was so cool and buying this fancy bike that I barely know how to work. It's a work in progress and we are growing together. I share these mixed feelings on my bike because I like to keep this a place of openness and honestly. And honestly, I was so excited to buy the tri bike and make what felt like a big step forward - but a lot of times as I have been out riding I have wished I just was on my road bike. For example, this past weekend when it was the first gorgeous, beautiful, sunny, warm day we had and all my friends and I went out on a big organized group ITL bike ride - and my battery went dead (seemingly) on my Di2 battery so I couldn't shift gears and had to turn around and go back 45 minutes in to the ride. That was a frustrating day.

I am sure the journey to Ironman will include lots more ups and downs from this point out and I hope to share many of those here. Hopefully no more of them include dead batteries, but I promise to be open and honest as I make my way through training for my first full Ironman on September 30th! Thank you to everyone who has always believed in me long before I have believed in myself. Thank you to everyone who has responded with such excitement and support. And thank you to all the people who make training and all this stuff so much fun and something I want to do. Looking forward to it!

Chattanooga, I'm coming back!