You heard right. Ironman. 140.6. 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run… that Ironman.
I haven’t blogged in forever. I guess I took a long hiatus that I needed. When I go back and read some of my race reports or look at blog entries… I’m even surprised at the things I’ve done! I’ve always tried to stay in the positive. To encourage others to participate in activities that perhaps they thought they could NEVER do because of physical limitations. This Athena Triathlete knows that is not true.
How in Lord’s name did I get the idea to even give a full Ironman a try? It just evolved over the years I’ve spent swimming, biking and running. I’ve ticked off finish lines over time. My first century and double century rides, my first triathlon, my first half-marathon, my first half-Ironman, my Olympic distance race that I sign up for every year to try to improve, my first full marathon, my first 2-mile open water swim… I’ve done each and every component of a full Ironman.
Then, last year my oldest brother (I have two brothers and one sister) texted me at the end of summer. “I’m going down to Arizona to volunteer for IMAZ and sign up for 2014, do you want to do it with me?” The line was cast. I knew it was on my list… but maybe this was a little too soon. I noodled on it for a few days… and then I decided, yes. I’m probably not the most likely person you’d think of when you think of an Ironman. At 45 years of age, I decided I would go for it. My brother would be on the course and my sister was also able to secure a spot, registering through the Ironman Foundation program.
Ironman Arizona sells out, so my brother and I signed up to volunteer at the race. (He traveled to Arizona from Texas and me from Washington State.) The venue and race course was electric. The fittest collection of people in one place you could think of with the most expensive gear in tow. After our race shifts we woke up the next day, pre-dawn, to get in line. Although volunteering for the race gave us a priority wristband to sign up, we still needed to wait in line. Luckily, we were able to secure spots.
I also decided the timing should be now because if I’m honest, I’m done with running. (Have you heard my knees?) I love to swim, I love to bike.. but at my weight, and with my body seemingly built for endurance but not speed… I don’t find the joy in running that others do. I RESPECT running. I’ve felt a great sense of accomplishment at each milestone… of running a half-marathon and a full-marathon. Running can be cathartic, symbolic and parallel a lot of other things that happen in your life. Running has been a key part of my other brother’s recovery from addiction – for that I am thankful BEYOND MEASURE.
But running a 12, 13, or 14 minute mile is not the same in comparison to someone that can run a 10 minute mile or under. I’m out on courses forever. They are folding up tables when I finish. So after Ironman, I’ll leave the running up to those better suited.
Fast forward and it is now officially less than SIX WEEKS from race day.
I’ve been training under the radar 6 days a week and working through a frustrating back injury in the process. Actually, when I’m moving is the only time when my back feels better. I usually look forward to training. (Although with the volume of training required this close to the race and working full-time… I’m exhausted.) The TIME commitment to do this right has pulled me from time with my family for sure. I try to squeeze training into time when people won’t miss me. I would never in a million years set my alarm for 5 am for a workout or get up early on a weekend. But for this, it’s required to fit everything in.
You can’t fake Ironman and I don’t intend to.
Some of my workouts have been amazing. I feel like I’ve made breakthroughs in swimming and running. Other times exhaustion or poor attention to nutrition/hydration can cause a total workout breakdown. These are the times when you say, “what the hell am I doing?” It’s a cycle of accomplishments and doubt — but all preparing me to toe the starting line in November.
This is getting REAL.