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

Filling in the Fall

battle-bridgesMy friend, Rich, and I both started in the sport of triathlon last year.  My 2nd tri was his 1st last November.  We are both passionate about the sport and enjoy bantering about the various aspects of training and such.

my-footI may be the stronger runner, but he has a sweet, fast bike and has been swimming with a Masters group for almost a year now and is GOOD!  And he’s fearless when it comes to open water – unlike your’s truly, who looks more like the horse in the picture!

Since my very much planned triathlon training hiatus began in early March, I have been having trouble maintaining the necessary motivation to work out on the bike and run.  I did have an epic trainer ride back in March, but mostly it’s just been blah – and very much when I felt like it, because there was no immediate end game.  That’s not cool!

I KNOW I train better with a goal to stretch for – and other than my blackbelt test in July (which I have been training for vigorously), I don’t have one.  Ironman Florida in 2015 is too far away to be anything more than just terrifying.

So, yesterday when Rich pinged me on Facebook and said “Find us an Olympic Distance Tri for the Fall” I got to work and found the Battle of the Bridges Triathlon in Melbourne on September 28th.

This will be a fantastic way to wrap up our Remarkable River Run 5K that will be held on September 20th – the weekend before!

The swim is a 1500m intercoastal swim; the bike is a tad over 40km that goes mainland and beachside; and the run is a 10km mainland loop with a hint of bridge in it.

BBT-swim     BBT-bike        BBT-run

I can’t wait!!  This will be a great goal to return from blackbelt testing and jump on.  I’m in Ormond Beach at Masters Swim at 5:30am on Monday, July 28th!

And it will be even more fun to race with a friend!!

See, I told you he had a sweet bike!!

See, I told you he had a sweet bike!!

 

No Wine-ing

tootI just have to toot my own horn for a second (as if I don’t already do enough of that on this blog 🙂 )!

It has been 10 months to the day since I have had a glass of wine – or a thimble of wine for that matter.

Now that might not sound like a big deal to some of you out there, but anyone who has known me for any length of time knows what a HUGE thing this is for me!

I’m not saying I was/am an alcoholic, because honestly, I don’t think I am.  I have never had an issue with hard liquor or beer, but wine has been a weakness for most of my adult life.

And that, in and of itself, is not a bad thing.  I mean, red wine (my particular favorite was a nice dry Cabernet Sauvignon) has a number of health properties, so having a glass every once in a while may actually prove beneficial.

Except that I could never just stop at one glass.  For me, it was the bottle or why bother…

Back in my previous life, I would drink a bottle of wine more nights than not each week.  If my husband was out of the house, I drank wine.  It makes me very sad to think about the example that set for my son in his very early life.

It was a bad path…

Then, I met Deb and started down my current path and wine was an indulgence for Free Days only.  And indulge I did!!  Keep the food, on Free Days I wanted a nice bottle of Kenwood Cab – all for ME!!!!

Then last year, I got the notion to register for a triathlon and I decided that I was going to train hard and eat clean for the 90+ days leading up to the event.

no-wineAnd THEN I decided that this would be the perfect time to quit drinking my beloved wine – although my intention was to just stop until after the triathlon.

Monday, May 6, 2013, was the first day of my new lifestyle.

nervousIt was hard at first, I am NOT gonna lie!!

About 30 days in, Deb and I went to our favorite oceanfront restaurant and we ordered our favorite appetizers and she ordered a glass of wine – at my urging.  After all, what good was it to not drink in the vacuum of my home where there was no temptation.  I had to be able to function in social situations and handle the “peer pressure” of others drinking around me.

As time went on it got easier and easier.  The triathlon came and went and Deb and I went on a vacation and I made the advance decision that if I really, really wanted a glass of wine, I would have one.

The funny thing is, I never REALLY wanted one, so I didn’t have any.

Then came another triathlon – so I just kept on not drinking.

Then a half marathon, so I kept going…

funny-pictures-i-haz-a-proudAnd today it is March 6, 2014 and it has been 10 months since I have had even a sip of wine.

I am proud of that fact.  I am proud that the example I am setting for my son is of health and fitness and setting big, huge crazy goals and then figuring out a way to make them my reality.  THAT is a legacy to be proud of.

So, I think I’ll keep going!

Tri-Mantra

A friend on a Triathlon forum shared this poem by Olivier Blanchard today and I thought I would share it with you!

Tri-mantra
(to be hissed or groaned at any unfriendly hill)

by

Olivier Blanchard (Greenville, SC)

In my world,
The water is cold,
The wind is hard,
And the road never ends.

In my world,
There are no losers.
Only competitors
still on their way,
And spectators
waiting to be inspired.

In my world,
Victory is not weighed in gold,
But in determination and courage.

In my world,
There are no boundaries,
No limits,
There is no end.
Every day is the last day of my life,
And the first.

In my world,
The word “can’t” does not exist,
And nothing is impossible.


I love it!!  It summarizes my feelings about triathlon perfectly!  It’s never been about “winning” – unless I’m beating the crap out of the “old me.”

It’s about just getting out there and being better today than you were yesterday – and BELIEVING in yourself and all that your magnificent body is capable of.

Hope you have a fantastic day!!

Don’t Stop Believin’

old_meSeveral days ago, I passed a younger man (mid-30’s if I were to guess) during my run.  He was jogging on the path in the same direction as me, but I was in the last mile of a fast interval set, so I was moving quickly (for me).

As I passed him, he asked, “What are you training for?”

Without much thought I said, “An Ironman.”

He shook his head, laughed, wished me luck and that was that.

It occurred to me that I get A LOT of head shakes and giggles when I share my goal with folks.

Shoot, I still shake my head and laugh at myself half the time!  It’s such a crazy goal – so far beyond ANYTHING I have ever done before.

And I know there are those people who don’t believe I will actually do it – plenty of them.

It’s one thing to SAY you’re going to race an Ironman…

It’s quite another to do what it takes to actually TRAIN for one (and I’ve barely even begun upon the path)…

And if the stars align just right and you actually FINISH in under 17 hours, well then, that’s just MONEY!  No one will ever be able to take that finish away from me, no matter what!!

I know Ironman Florida in 2015 is a great goal for me for several reasons:

  1. I just don’t see the path to get there.
  2. I want to hear Mike Reilly say “Angie Flynn, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!” as badly as I want to breathe!!  (YOU are an Ironman)
  3. i-willI live to do things people tell me I just can’t do!  There is not a more satisfying feeling in the world – even if it is not proper to say “Nanny-nanny-boo-boo” 😉
  4. I will grow into the person who can call herself an Ironman along the journey – and really now, isn’t that the purpose of any worthy goal?  The person you become along the way?
  5. I want the M-dot tattoo!!! 😉

I believe in myself.

good-enoughMy family believes in me and supports my goal (even if they think I’m silly and foolish half the time).

And yet I still have to shake my head, laugh, and just tell myself “Good Luck with THAT!!”

21 months to go!!

Hurry Up and … WAIT!

chickenpatienceToday is my day “off” (snicker… snort)!

No exercise (a good thing because it is raining cats and dogs), no “work” to speak of scheduled, but it is my errand day.

  • Food shopping
  • Bike Fitting Part II
  • Delivery service to daughter #2 at college
  • Oil change at BMW Service
  • Pick up Josh and take him to swim team
  • Grab some sundries at Target
  • Home to make dinner
  • Collapse!

Presently, I am hunkered down in the customer lounge at Fields BMW in Daytona Beach – and from the sounds of things, I will be here for quite a while.

Now this is not a complaint, it’s just a statement of fact, I really hate waiting on things – I am a completely impatient person (have I mentioned that before?).

I am most impatient with myself – always feeling like I should be progressing faster than I am.

I am REALLY impatient while I’m training… Well, if I just go faster, I’ll be finished sooner… often to my detriment.

My level of patience (or lack thereof) is one of Coach Pam’s biggest challenges with me.

I am forever receiving texts/emails like the one I got last night:

“Let me know how the 14 miler goes – good night champion! I know you will rock it and love it – coaching tip of the day… if you decide to skip intervals in the 14 miler – make it the final 6 not the first 6  🙂  Patience my little distance rocket!  and Pacing…”

She is so good to me!

14-mile-mapSo, tomorrow is my longest run to date – 14 miles! I have a hard time wrapping my head around that one – I’m running farther than I BIKED in the sprint triathlon last summer!!!

CRAZY!!!!

I’m psyched for it though, and I will do my very best to be patient – although I really do want to attempt to run the entire distance – at Pam’s pacing plan.  Hmmmmm, what to do?

The “Intuitive” Run

intuitionYesterday I was supposed to run 14 miles; however, upon careful examination of my schedule, there was no way in the world to shoehorn a run that would likely take me 2-1/2 -ish hours to complete into an already jam-packed work and family schedule.

I tried to finagle it, but it just wouldn’t work unless I ran in the dark, which I would do if the street were lit, but it’s not and I just feel creeped out by the idea of running when I can’t see what’s around me.

So, rationalizations aside, I DID run.  I just reconfigured my training around a crazy work week.

Instead of yesterday’s 14 mile run, I swapped in Friday’s “intuitive” 3 mile run.

Here were my instructions…  Program a workout with 3 1-mile intervals without a pace target.  Use your Garmin only for the beeps to tell you when the miles pass, DO NOT LOOK at the watch at all!  Listen to your body.  Run negative splits and keep the entire run at recovery pace – never uncomfortable or all out.

So, that’s what I did.  Having no clue how fast I was going, I just went a little bit faster each time the Garmin beeped.  I was always within my comfort zone – always feeling like I had lots more to give.

intuitive-splitsIt was fun, but really weird at the same time!!  I was shooting for 10 seconds faster on each mile.  I missed!  It was more like 30 seconds faster, but that was okay.

I find that I am VERY dependent on my Garmin.  I WANTED to look at it so bad!

I felt like I NEEDED its digital confirmation that I was doing the right thing.

Kinda silly when you think about it, huh?

The idea behind this workout, again, is for me to learn to run by feel, not by watch.

What would happen if I were so dependent on my electronics during a marathon and the battery died during the run?  What would I do then without my “plan?”

So, all-in-all a fine effort.  I give myself a B+!

P.S.  On day 2 of no complaining – YAY ME!  And no more chocolate binges – I have been very, very clean! 🙂