Saturday, September 02, 2006

ironman bipolar

Swim - 2.5 miles, 1:17 - ironman course swim with 4 x 0.6 miles @ race pace on 30 sec recovery

One day I feel like I am not prepared for Ironman, and the next day I feel like I have things in the bag. Ironman bipolar. Today's swim was reassuring. I swam the course at a hard but sustainable pace and took three 30 second rest intervals. Including the rest and going completely off course at the end, I still came in just above my target race time. I now feel confident that I will have no trouble going under 1:15 on race day. Whew! I know I shouldn't split hairs over my swim time since a few minutes is insignificant over the course of a 13 hour race, but I feel like I am on a personal mission to achieve my swim goal regardless of how little the time matters to the rest of the race. After the swim I striped off my wetsuit and ran up the spiral of the Monona Terrace barefoot in my swimsuit as though it were the race. Then I got yelled at by a parking attendant who thought I should not be doing that. She had no idea what Ironman is when I told her what I was doing, and no sympathy whatsoever.

Lots of iron people were out swimming the course this morning. Many of them also had their bikes in their cars in order to do a post-swim ride on the course. I like this sense of community. It gets a little intense knowing that all these people are probably just as stressed out as me with ironman bipolar as they are getting in their final brick workouts this weekend.

I had a personal issue come up after my workout due to a very odd coincidence of two people who happened to be standing on the shore at the same exact moment. I don't usually share these sorts of details on this blog, but suffice it to say that dealing with these things amidst my training is what I consider my fourth discipline of triathlon.

Friday, September 01, 2006

self-doubt creeping in

Swim - 3000yd, 57 min - main set: 5 x 400 with first 200 moderate, second 200 at sprint race pace, 30 seconds recovery between
Bike - 14.5 miles, 60 min - easy recovery ride
Yoga - 60 minutes, Hatha

My Zipp 606 race wheels came today and I took them out on a test ride. They are fast! I feel like I can go about 1 mph faster on them using the same effort as before. Over 112 miles, that is a large time savings. They also look cool. I also put new cleats on my bike shoes, which was a while overdue.

As the race gets closer, now only 9 days away, the more I question if I am ready for it. I haven't trained long in 2 weeks now... what if I am losing my fitness? I know that this is normal pre-race nerves. I know that many first-time Ironman athletes worry a lot during the taper. With more time for rest, I am getting out of the triathlon-obsessed mode of living that I am used to. Will I be able to do the most intense race of my life when at this point I wonder whether my head is there? I have visualized the race so many times during training that maybe I can go on autopilot. I know the course inside and out. I know my comfortable training paces, but will I be able to stick with them and not go out too hard so that I can still have a good run? Will my nutrition work? Will my stomach get upset? Will I get enough calories on the bike so that I don't crash on the run? If I do crash on the run, will gels and energy drinks be able to get me through or will I crash even more from all the sugar? Will I get a flat tire? If I do get a flat tire, will I be able to change it quickly and will my CO2 cartridge work? And then I think, why I am doing this anyway? Why does it matter to me if I do well? Couldn't I just be happy with finishing at all? This is not the mental state I want to take to the race. I have worked too hard for this to give up now.

What will I do after Ironman is over? I am feeling depressed about the end of the training season and am wondering what I will do to keep myself from sinking into despair during my recovery period. All this training fills a lot of space in my life that I will have to immediately fill with other things. My eating and sleeping patterns will also change. These are things I have come to rely on. There are many difficult mental aspects of Ironman. For me, the peak of training was about having the strength to push myself to keep going when I was exhausted. Now, the taper is filled with self-doubt and constantly changing emotions. I must continue to have the strength to turn doubt into positivity until Ironman is over, and then deal with the aftermath when it arrives.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

... turnaround ...

Run - 7 miles, 1:02 - speed workout: 4 x 1 mile @ 7:34, 7:27, 7:02, 7:25 w/ 90 second recovery on rolling hills

i used to run after you
in desperation for admiration
of another but now
i run after you
in the inspiration of your admiration
and a lingering goodbye

who knew that hilly
mile repeats
could be
so good

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

mountain biking diversion

Bike - 14 miles, 1:08 - mountain biking (road/trails)

i saw you smile
and then i saw the stream
still flowing calmly
like she said it would
but only in that moment
did i feel calm

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Swim - 1.2 miles, 39 min - lake monona
Run - around 5.5 miles, 47:55

early morning and evening
down at the lake
the bittersweet irony of life
can rip a heart in two

Monday, August 28, 2006

what's harder - racing or spectating?

Bikram yoga - 90 minute class

I have often wondered what is harder - racing the Ironman or being an all-day spectator? Last year, spectating exhausted me. I was out there from 6am to midnight cheering for people, following a friend of mine who was racing, and staying at the finish line until the bitter end. When you are an athlete, you have a race plan that is well laid out and all you have to do is execute it. It is clear where you need to be going, thousands of people think you are awesome, and food and drink are all laid out for you. As a spectator, you run around parking and re-parking hoping to see your athlete, wondering if you should leave the course to go eat meals, not being able to carry all the water you need for the day, wondering exactly how your athlete is getting through it, and seeing lots of athletes struggle. Don't get me wrong, spectating is one of the most fun experiences I have ever had, but it is not a day on the couch. This year I will find out for certain if it is harder to be an athlete or a spectator. Stay tuned.

My quads are sore and my hamstrings are tight from yesterday's workout. What else is new? The yoga helps this somewhat. Tonight was my third class so far, and I can already tell that I am getting used to the heat. It doesn't freak me out to sweat so much, and I don't feel like I need to drink 2 gallons of water to survive. The weather forecast is not available for race day yet, but says 72 and sunny for the few days before it. If it doesn't get hot, oh well, I will know I was prepared. At this point, I am more concerned about rain but I guess anything could happen.

[8/27/06 Sunday]
Swim - 4000yd, 1:17 - pool
Bike - 53 miles, 3:28 - Hilly course, modified Bombay "Daleyville Dip"
Run - 13.7 miles, 1:55 - 1 loop Ironman run course plus a little

I am enjoying getting back in the pool for the first time in a while. I have been beginning to lose the feel of certain swim paces and the pool is always a good place to figure that out with precision. I can think about my form better in the pool somehow. I feel slow in the lake, but pool swims remind me that I am not slow after all.

The bike and run today were fabulous. My friend TL and I worked out together for the first time. We got lost a few times on the bike route, and it turned out to be a really hilly course... Horribly Hilly kind-of hilly. I wanted some good hills, and that is what I got. They went by quickly while chatting though. We drove back to Madison to do the Ironman run course, which also has a few good hills. I started the run a bit fast and hadn't paid close enough attention to my nutrition on the bike, so I didn't feel so great for the last 5 miles. I didn't have enough water to take my gel and all I could think about was food. I hadn't eaten enough. TL is a stronger runner than me and lucky for me, she was feeling good enough to lighten things up with her sense of humor all the way to the end. When we got back to the Capitol, I thought of Ironman day where that would have been the turnaround point to go do another 13 miles and was very very grateful that I was done for the day. Back at the car, I inhaled a bagel with peanut butter and jelly and had some water. Then we went to the store to get some Oatscream, a vegan ice cream that is a particular favorite of mine.

So, today's workout was an Ironman swim with a half-Ironman bike and run. I have gotten to the point where that is no big deal. It is a long training day, but I know that all I have to do is keep going. I have gone through a few mental stages in reaching the end of the Ironman preparation. Two weeks ago I realized for the first time that I am going to be able to finish, and the run won't be as bad as I was fearing. Today I am realizing that it is just going to be a normal but really long workout. I know my body pretty well for managing different types of discomfort, and I have a good idea about what signals my body sends for different types of nutritional needs.

[8/26/06 Saturday]
Swim - 2500yd, 48 min - pool
Bike - 60 minute spin class, ascending intervals

I have a new favorite Saturday morning ritual - the cornmeal crepe breakfast burrito from Ingrid's Lunchbox stand at the Farmer's Market. These are only available on Saturday mornings and only at the Farmer's Market. The crepe is slightly sweet and works like a tortilla for a black bean and egg burrito with sour cream, salsa, and avocado. I discovered this last weekend and plan to eat one every week until the Farmer's Market closes for the winter.

[8/25/06 Friday]
Swim - 3300yd, 1:01
Run - 10 miles, 1:33
Bikram Yoga - 90 minute class