It’s All Fun and Games Until The Bib Numbers Come Out!

It’s All Fun and Games Until The Bib Numbers Come Out!

About 11 months ago, my dear training BFF, Meg, and I got the bright idea to register for Ironman Texas in 2019. We had such a fine time at Ironman Florida in 2016, it seemed only natural that we reprise our roles and jump into the insanity that is Ironman once again.

We waited… And we waited… And we waited some more until the glorious day – July 18, 2018 – when registration finally opened for the 2019 race. We held our breath, put in our credit card numbers and hit the submit button.

DONE!

I updated the “Countdown” on my Garmin screen and it read 283 days. 283 days… It sounded like all the time in the world! My training block wouldn’t officially start until October – everything seemed so FUTURE!

But, as time has a way of doing – especially once you hit middle-age – those 283 days have blown past – well, 247 of them anyhow – and here I sit 36 days away from the start of my 2nd Ironman 140.6 race. Tomorrow, I have a 4 hour bike ride… The next 14 days are the “peak” of the peak training block – century rides, 3 hour runs, long, long swims. It’s both terrifying and exciting, all at the same time.

This morning, I noticed that the Athlete Guide for the 2019 race had been uploaded to the race site. This afternoon, the Bib List was uploaded. You know, it’s all shits and giggles until they assign you a bib number!

So, 36 days to go… hundreds of miles of training hay still to put in the barn. There is only one thing that I know for sure… Everything being equal and disasters aside, I CAN DO THIS! I’ve done it before. I’ve overcome A LOT to get to this point and I’m 15 pounds lighter and a world more experienced than I was in 2016. Will I be fast? Probably not… Will I finish? Oh yeah, just watch me!

What’s Next!

What’s Next!

“What’s Next?”  It’s a question I’ve been asking myself for a couple of months now.  Trying to figure out what my “A” Race for 2017 should be was not nearly as simple as it has been in year’s past.  At the end of 2014 I knew I wanted to step up to a half-iron distance race (or two), so I easily chose Gulf Coast Triathlon 70.3 and Beach 2 Battleship 70.3.  At the end of 2015, I knew I wanted to fulfill my Ironman dreams, so (albeit with some angst and stress) I registered for Ironman Florida for 2016.

But this year is different – and difficult!  Signing up for another Ironman feels like the most normal and natural thing to do, but as I teased apart in my post on the Post-Ironman Blues, that’s not a good enough reason to put my body, my business, and my family through another Iron-year!  So, I was looking for a race that would be a challenge, but not require the ridiculous time commitment of a full iron-distance race.  I thought about just making 2017 the year of the sprint triathlon, but even though they are fun, I prefer long-course and I have a hard time getting myself motivated to train properly for them.  I know that I could embrace it if I focused on the right things, but I’m just not feeling it.  I thought about registering for one or two 70.3 races, but the ones I really WANT to race are not a good match with my calendar (IM Gulf Coast 70.3 is on the same day as our daughter’s college graduation, and IM Eagleman 70.3 and IM Augusta 70.3 are both on days when our non-profit holds races).

gft-logoI hemmed and hawed… I thought about not racing at all and just plowing into our business this year – afterall, I took so much time away from it this year, it seems only fair.  Then, I positively GRIEVED over the thought of not having a nice, juicy race goal on my schedule, so Deb told me I HAD to race SOMETHING!  Then, one day about a month ago, I got an email marketing piece from Sommer Sports advertising the Great Floridian Triathlon on October 21, 2017.  This race is marketed as the 2nd oldest full iron distance triathlon in the continental US.  But it’s not just a full iron race!  There are also 1/3 and 2/3 distance races on the same day.

Essentially, the GFT course in Clermont, FL is broken down into a 0.8 mile triangular swim in Lake Minneola, a 37.3 mile bike loop (described as a “hilly beast” in one review I read – yes, there ARE hills in Florida and apparently, they are ALL in Clermont!), and a 8.73 mile run course.  The 1/3 distance racers make 1 loop of each… the 2/3 racers, make 2 loops, and the ultra (full-iron) racers make 3 loops.

swim       bike     run

My training buddy, Megan, had done the bike and run legs of the 1/3 distance in October on a relay team as a lead up to Ironman Florida and she said it was a tough course – a lot like this year’s modified IM Augusta 70.3.  My iron-friends, Beth and Malachi, said it was very similar to the IMLOU course.  The more I thought about it, the more it resonated with me.  I liked the thought of the 2/3 distance!  It was longer than a 70.3 ( it’s 92.6 miles) so it would still require a stout training effort.  It had a very hilly bike course and I’ve never raced in hills before.  And, as a bonus, Clermont is only 90 minutes from my house, so I can train on the actual course and we don’t have to travel far for the race.  And let’s discuss that the registration fee was only $250 (as opposed to $380 for IM Augusta 70.3)…

I messaged Megan, who has been going through her own “What’s Next” battle, and asked “How do we feel about GFT 2/3?”  We bantered a bit and she liked the idea too.  So, yet another year of training together is set to commence.  I am terrific-ly excited about this!  I went ahead and pushed the “Register” button yesterday morning.  Here we go again!  T-minus 305 days to go!!!gft

Things I Wish I Had Known BEFORE I Signed Up For An Ironman…

ironmanlogoWell, here we are in mid-August and it’s been 3 full months since I posted on this blog.  Why?  IRONMAN

See, that’s my blanket response for everything that has gone wrong, everything I have forgotten, procrastinated, messed up, or otherwise needed to come up with an excuse for.

Seriously, it’s a joke in my family about now…
Deb: “Ang, did you get those mushrooms at the market?”
Me:  “Oh crap, I totally forgot!”
Deb:  “I know, I know… IRONMAN…”

Ugh!

As of today, there are 82 days before I get this particular monkey off my back and can hopefully rejoin the world of productive adults.  Until then?  Well, it is what it is!

I have learned a lot over the past 4 months and there are some things that I wish I had known BEFORE I ever registered for an Ironman.  I mean, some of them are kinda “duh” things, but I guess I never really teased it all apart in my brain beforehand.  So, for those of you who may be interested in climbing the Ironman mountain at some point, here’s my list:

  1. repeatIt’s a part-time job…  Only it’s harder than any job I’ve EVER had in my life!!  I just started the “peak” phase of my training plan this morning.  This week, I will work out for 18-1/2 HOURS. That doesn’t count the time involved in packing bags, filling bottles, commuting to/from the gym, doing laundry, showering (more on that later)…  and this is only Week #1 of Peak…  It just gets better (worse) from here… At the “peak” of “Peak” it’s 22 hours.  LAWD!  And before you say “Oh boo hoo, poor you…” I know, I totally signed up for this myself – no one was twisting my arm.  I own it all!  I’m just putting it out there – Ironman takes a TON of time.
  2. im-sorry-post-itYou will fuck up… A LOT!  I can’t tell you the number of times I have said “I’m sorry” to Deb or one of our kids or Freddie or my Mom or a client, because I have Ironman brain and can’t keep a thought in my head to save my life.  Case in point:  My son’s first day of 8th grade was today.  Yesterday Deb asked me if all was good to go with the morning bus schedule.  Wide-eyed, I just blinked at her… Bus schedule?  Was I supposed to do something there?  I quickly banged out a web address and sure enough, Josh was not assigned to a bus.  SHIT!  Fortunately, there are a lot of middle-schoolers in our neighborhood, so the bus did indeed stop this morning and he did make it to school… Whew!
  3. You will miss out on stuff…  Because training takes a lot of time, you’re going to miss some stuff – maybe even important stuff.  I’ve missed swim meets, kisses goodbye in the morning, meetings, travel opportunities, parties, dinners out, and more because I was either training or going to bed while the sun was still up so I could get up the next morning to train…  This morning was Josh’s first day of school… and I missed sending him off to the bus for the first time ever… Yeah, put me up for Mom of the Year, stat!
  4. tiredYou will be tired…  I think this kind of goes without saying, and of course I knew I would be tired, but I was ill-prepared for the type of bone-crushing exhaustion that I feel almost every day.  I do sleep in on my Rest Days, but OMG!  I’m TIRED!!  Most mornings I wake up at 3:15am so I can do my personal development (don’t ask, it’s just my jam) before I head to the pool at 5am or get on the trainer.  I try to get to my desk in the office by 9am, work until 5pm, pick up Josh from swim team, eat dinner, and go to bed by 8:00pm, so I can do it all again the next day.
  5. You will stink… Dear LORD, why didn’t anyone tell me about the SMELL?  So today, I had a brick workout that went from 5am-8am and then I had errands to run.  I skidded into my office at 9:03 and sat down to work.  Shower?  I had no time for a shower… And so, I minimized my contact with people and grabbed a shower at lunch time.  :/  Triathlon STINKS!
  6. hungryYou will be constantly hungry…  I thought I was hungry when I was pregnant with Josh.  Pregnancy hunger has NOTHING on Ironman hunger!  I feel like I eat all the time.  It is not uncommon to catch me with my head in the refrigerator with a rice cake in one hand and an open container of hummus in the other double dipping like a crazy person!
  7. You will be bi-polar…  While we’re on the subject of pregnancy, you know how emotional pregnant women are?  Yeah, THAT!  I find myself in a heap in my closet or in the shower WAY too often, just crying it out.  Trying to figure out how the hell I got myself into this mess.  Wondering if there is a way I can get OUT of this mess without eating crow.   Pretty sure that I am losing my ever-loving mind!  I guess it goes hand in hand with #4.  And I thought it was just me, but I got a text from my training partner this weekend who was packing for a century ride and was sitting on the floor of her garage sobbing.  I guess it’s not just me…  Then there are other days when I feel like the Queen of the World and NOTHING can bring me down.
  8. You will feel so guilty and selfish… I don’t know how you get around this one.  You’re going to take time away from your family – you just will, so make peace with it or feel guilty about it.  I feel guilty about this all the time – and I have the most supportive group of cheerleaders EVER (my family) in my corner.  And yet, every time I head out in the dark on a  Saturday morning and know that I’m not going to be home until late afternoon, I feel so guilty about it.  Triathlon is a very selfish sport.
  9. Malachi-MegIt takes a village…  There may be those people who can survive an Ironman training cycle on their own, but I am not one of them.  I am 51 years old, people, and I have a freaking TEAM of people who routinely put Humpty-Dumpty back together again!  My training partner, Megan, keeps me sane and motivated and tells me that I “can,” even when I’m pretty sure that I “can’t.”  My chiropractor, Malachi, keeps me rolling and running on feet that do not like this whole running/biking thing. And then there’s a whole legion of people in my Swim-Bike-Fuel community who keep me grounded and eating what I should rather than what I want in any given moment (pizza/ice cream/cake/donuts/froyo…).
  10. You will amaze yourself time after time…  I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have been dumbfounded at the end of a workout.  Maybe it was just because I lived through it… Maybe it was a new PR time in the pool… Maybe (like on my birthday) it was averaging 20 mph over 60 miles on the bike (thanks Malachi 🙂 )…  I have shocked the hell out of myself over and over again.  It truly is amazing what the human body is capable of if we just get out of our own way!

Look, I’m just a middle of the pack age-grouper.  I’m never going to win a long-course triathlon – EVER.  I’m never going to qualify for Kona.  And that’s okay.  Triathlon is HARD!  Ironman is HARDER!  But, as Tom Hanks said in A League of Their Own, the hard is what makes it GREAT!  I’m really looking forward to crossing the finish line on November 5th and joining a club to which only 0.01% of the people on Planet Earth can claim membership.  That will really put an exclamation point on the major transformation I’ve undergone over the past 6-1/2 years.  It may not be fast and it may not be pretty, but one way or another, I’ll get there.

So even though I’m stinky and scatter-brained and walk around like a starving zombie most of the time and cry at the drop of a hat and feel like a horrible Mom and partner sometimes, at the end of the day I am pretty damned proud of myself.

Oh, and if I can do it, ANYONE can do it!!

ironman florida 230x120

#82days #iCANdothis #IMFL2016

Here We Grow!

13119690_mIt’s been a while since I last posted.  To say it’s been busy around here is the understatement of the century.  Deb and I spent the month of March on the road with a terrific group of folks from Ambit Energy, traveling around the country training their team.  It was great fun and we met some amazing people, but WOW, was it exhausting!  And the piles that we returned home to – OMG!  I am happy to say that I have just about caught up with everything… Finally… Mostly…

See me fly?

See me fly?

So, when we last met, I had just returned from our awesome (but unseasonably chilly and rainy) trip to Key West.  We had a really good time.  And for the most part, I achieved my goal of not eating my way across the island.  There was one slight mishap on the exercise front though.  On the first day of our trip I woke up bright and early to head our for a 1 hour run.  I had mapped out a beautiful route along the water before we left home and all was well until about 30 minutes in I found myself face down on the pavement out of nowhere.  My first thought – as I was falling – was that I had tripped on something, but no, that wasn’t quite right because I was flying through the air…  In actuality I had been plowed into from behind by a kid (maybe 12-13 years old) on a bike who was trying to avoid a puddle on the sidewalk on his way to school and he just didn’t see me.  I came down hard on my left hand and knee (one would think after doing all those front falls in karate over the years, that would have been my default, but notsomuch 😦 ).

After making sure we were both okay, the boy and I parted ways and I did what any sane, normal person would do.  I turned my bloody, sore self around and ran the other half of my workout back to our condo.  My knee was fine – just a nasty scrape.  My wrist was not so fine.  Any lateral or backward bending hurt – a lot.  We went to Walgreens and I bought a wrist support and then I texted my chiropractor friend, Malachi, and asked for his advice.  He recommended a trip to urgent care for an x-ray.  So, the next morning – on Deb’s birthday – we spent several hours at Advanced Urgent Care.  The x-ray did not show a break and I got another super-cool wrist splint and was told not to use it for a week).

Anyhow, that was my excitement.  To be honest, it’s just now (over 2 months later) that my wrist doesn’t hurt.  I’m not so sure the x-rays weren’t wrong, but it’s all good now.

Pics from the trip (yep, mostly food…):

KW-collage

Did more treats slip in than I would have liked?  Yes, of course (case in point, the frozen slice of key lime pie dipped in dark chocolate that I conveniently forgot to snap a picture of… 😉  If you haven’t tried this, you must – it was AH-MAZING!!!).  But all in all, I was pretty pleased with the decisions I made.

Then we launched into March with travel to Stockton, CA; Chicago, IL; Houston, TX; and Erie, PA.  Crazy busy, but so, so fun!

SBF        M-and-M

Fun and games came to a screeching halt on April 1st!  I signed up for “Swim-Bike-Fuel” – a one month nutritional training program for triathletes presented by USAT Triathlon Coach, Meredith Atwood (aka SwimBikeMom) and Sports Nutritionist, Meredith Vieceli.  We’re not even half way through the month and I have learned so much terrific information.  Some of it is new.  Most of it supports what I already knew, but had forgotten, or just wasn’t being consistent with.  I need to be very intentional, not just with my training, but also with my fueling to get me to the finish line at Ironman Florida in 205 days (but who’s counting… 😮 ) and I will do whatever I have to do to show up as my very best self on race day.

On April 11th, my 30 week Ironman training program started and next Sunday (4/24) I have my first triathlon of the season at St. Anthony’s in St. Pete Beach, FL.  It’s been a stout training week and I just finished a 9 mile run that my body just didn’t want to do.  I told my friends that it was like a toddler in Target who didn’t get the toy they wanted – every part of me was bitching and whining and crying to stop, but I just kept moving forward… slowly, but forward nonetheless, and soon enough it was over.  I kinda want to curl up into the fetal position when I think about having to do that run 2 more times after more than 100 miles on a bike and more than 2 miles of swimming.  It seems impossible in the present moment, but every worthy goal always does until you grow into the person who achieves those goals.  I have 205 days to grow baby, GROW!!

grow

The Law of Relativity

normal-illusion-spider-fly-quoteTwo weeks ago, I felt the need to invoke the Law of Relativity.

You know, that universal law that states that nothing has meaning until we compare it to something else.

As my 2nd 70.3 triathlon approached, I NEEDED to have something much worse to compare my measly 1.2 mile swim and 56 mile bike to that made it seem… EASY (a half marathon sucks all the time, I don’t care who you are) by comparison.

So, my BTF (best triathlon friend), Megan, and I decided to do 2/3 of an Ironman triathlon.

2-4-swimOn Friday morning, we met at the pool and swam 2.4 miles – and it was hard, but it wasn’t hard at all until about the 3500 yd point (refer to my previous post on the 75% Rule of The Suck), so 1.2 miles (or 2,112 yds) is a piece of cake – especially at Beach 2 Battleship where the swim is with the tidal current.

Then on Saturday morning, we over near Orlando to a trail system and rode 2 56 mile loops – 112 miles on the bike.  And it sucked and was really hard and really hilly!  But it wasn’t hard until about the 85 mile mark.  So my measly 56 mile bike on flat roads at Beach 2 Battleship should be a piece of cake, right?

112-milesPiece of cake swim + piece of cake bike + hang on for dear life on the run = PR 70.3, right?

Well, that’s the plan, anyhow.  We’ll see how it actually goes down next Saturday.

I ran 6 miles this morning and it felt terrific.  If I can manage to pull together a decent run next week, I have a really good shot at a sub-6 hour half-iron race, which would be pretty cool indeed!

After tomorrow’s ride and Sunday’s swim/run we’re in Taperville and all bets are off.

Tune in next week to see if I manage to keep my sanity or if I completely self-sabotage – there’s a 50/50 shot!

T-minus 7 days to go!Beach2Battleship-Iron-Distance-Triathlon

The 75% Rule of “The Suck”

the-suckI have been playing around with endurance athletic events for a couple of years now.  I’ve run several half-marathons (Disney Princess 2014, Lighthouse Loop 2014, Reindeer Racer 2014, Melbourne Music 2015, Tomoka Half 2015), a full marathon (Space Coast 2014), a half iron-distance triathlon (Gulf Coast Triathlon 70.3 2015), and I’m about to tackle my 2nd 70.3 at Beach2Battleship in 2 weeks and then embark upon training for Ironman Florida (or other 140.6) in 2016.  To prepare for these events, I’ve logged thousands of training/racing miles (to be precise:  Swimming: 120.63 miles; Biking:  3,699.48 miles; Running:  1,079.74 miles) and I have come to the conclusion that there is a phenomenon in play that I have dubbed “The 75% Rule of ‘The Suck.'”

The 75% Rule states that any workout/race will feel awesome up to the 75% of total time and/or distance prescribed, at which point it will SUCK!

I have looked back over my own training logs and blog entries and this rule seems to bear out over and over again – whether it is a 2 mile training run, a 5K race, a marathon or a 70.3.

Of course, I am a completely unscientific sample size of ONE, but the rule tends to hold.

At Space Coast Marathon last year, I felt AWESOME until about the 19.5 mile mark… 75%

At GCT in May, I was golden until about mile 43 of the bike when my feet started going numb… 75% (the run sucked the entire way because of cramping – another story)

Last Wednesday, I had a 12 mile training run and everything was awesome until 9 miles – then I was pretty sure death was imminent… 75%

On Saturday, Megan and I went over to Clermont and rode 112 miles.  I felt FANTASTIC through the entire first loop (56 miles) and even into the 2nd loop.  The wheels started coming off at about 85 miles, when I really just wanted to throw my bike in a ditch and walk back to the car… 75%

Heck, even yesterday I had a simple 3 mile run and I swore I was going to die at the 2-1/4 mile mark… 75%

womens-running-t-shirt-embrace-the-suck_designObviously there is a major mindset thing at work here.  I need to come up with a way to honestly fool myself into thinking I have to go further than I really have to go.  If I could persuade my mind to believe that I have to run 10 miles when I really only have to run 7 or that I have to ride 75 miles when I really only have to go 56…

I’m usually pretty good with the mind games, but I would love to hear how you “trick” your mind during long (or short) workouts.  Leave your thoughts in the “Comments” section below.

Of course, at the end of the day, I know that the point at which the workout begins to “suck” is the point at which I start improving.  So, while I look for this magic mindset that will conquer the 75% Rule, I will take solace in the fact that every day, with every workout, I get just a little bit better.

embrace-the-suck

Bubble Wrap and My Love of The Bike Trainer

bubble-wrapIt seems that my friends on the Swim Bike Mom Ambassador Team are slowly trying to kill themselves!  In the past couple of weeks there have been multiple bike crashes with potentially race cancelling results, a busted toe, cuts, scrapes, contusions…  It’s enough to make me want to wrap myself in bubble wrap until October 17th!

THIS, my people, is one of the many reasons why I choose to do 80% of my cycling training on the trainer.  There are plenty of people, including a lot of my friends, who think I am doing myself a disservice by spending so much time on the trainer.  And they may be right, but the trainer works for ME!  Could I be a better technical cyclist if I rode outdoors more?  Probably.  Will I ever win a triathlon with or without more on the road time?  Uhm, NO!

pottsdellcary

Gratuitous pic of Andy coming up out of the swim…. Soooo pretty!

Pro triathlete, Andy Potts, trains almost exclusively on trainer. He’s won a bunch of 70.3 and 140.6 distance races over the past years.  He says, “The only time I ride outside is when I race; otherwise I am always on my CompuTrainer.”  Why?  He’s a professional triathlete, he can train where he likes, why does he choose a trainer.  Because, if you do a trainer session right (and note I said IF), it can be a more effective cycling workout than out on the road.2012_03_Power_Up_Andy_Potts_16

 

Think about it, you control your cycling workout – 100%!  There are no stop lights… no intersections… no cars or trucks buzzing by you with only inches to spare… no rough pavement…  no animals running out in front of your path… you don’t have to worry about the weather or getting stuck miles from home with a flat or a mechanical issue… you can test out new hydration and fueling strategies without worrying about “issues” popping up… you are always working since there is not coasting… and so on.  It’s very controllable.

Now, you can’t put your bike up on the trainer, hop on and spin with zero intention and little or no resistance and expect to get better.  I have specific workouts that I do on the trainer and I am a sopping wet MESS at the end.

AND, I can hear my tri-friends saying that you HAVE to ride outdoors to prepare for race day conditions – what if it’s windy… what if it’s raining… yada, yada, yada.

I DO ride outdoors sometimes… I just ride on the trainer MOST of the time.

IMAG0053Plus, I think riding on the trainer builds mental toughness like nothing else.  I know people who would rather gouge their eyes out with a spoon than ride their bike on the trainer.  I get it – It’s BORING as F–K!!!  But ride 112 miles on your trainer and tell me you don’t feel like a major badass when it’s over!  Like there’s NOTHING you can’t do!

Another big plus FOR ME about riding on the trainer is that I can get up early and get a long ride in before my family wakes up.  THIS IS HUGE FOR ME!!!  My family is awesome and they are so supportive of this crazy triathlon thing I’m doing.  I train between 10-15 hours per week preparing for a half-iron distance race and I don’t feel right about stealing that time away from my partner and my son when I already work 50-60 hours per week in my business.

I will NOT ride in the dark – it scares the hell out of me.  God love you people who do it, but I can’t make myself go there.

And at the end of the day, I am a safe cyclist on race day – I follow the race rules, I keep my distance from other riders, I pass appropriately, I am mindful of traffic, I am respectful of what CAN happen on a bike course.

And I train 80% of the time in my living room.

Hey, if it’s good enough for Andy, it’s certainly good enough for me!

Okay, just one more

Okay, just one more