Monday, October 3, 2011

Almost to the Taper...

Just one more week to go till I start my 4 week taper before the Beach to Battleship Iron length triathlon.  Which will be my first race of that distance.  I've often read in various blogs and internet forums that its the journey towards an ironman more than the race itself that will leave a lasting impact.  Of course when you haevn't actually trained for one you don't really understand this.  And now, as I am ever so close to the taper I can really begin to understand what people mean when they say that.  Training for an Ironman is like nothing else I've ever done.  Its HARD, and its ALWAYS there, and its ALWAYS on your mind.  When you start to get to the point when your 8 or 9 weeks out from the race and the workouts start to get longer and longer it begins to completely dominate your life.  Here's some snippets and random thoughts that have gone through my mind in the last few weeks which have been the hardest by far.

-for every workout session (and many days have 2 sessions a day) there is at least 20-30 minutes of prep required.  Mixing nutrition, checking the weather, packing appropritate clothes, figuring out when in the day you can get the workout in, checking in with training partners to see if you can line your workouts up.  Then of course there is another 30 minutes on the backside of the workout to rinse bottles, hang up sweaty clothes, take a shower, eat some recovery food, and maybe if you have time do some stretching.  So thats almost an additional hour in every day for every single workout.

-I've consumed a horrifying amount of gatorade and hammer gel.  I finally gave up and ordered six giant tubs of gatorade endurance drink powder and six giant jugs of hammer gel.  I know I've gone through at least 4 jugs of gel and at least 4 or 5 tubs of gatorade powder this summer.  I've also consumed easily 100 powerbars and another 100-200 balance bars.  And its not that I love this stuff... but it works, and it fuels me, and so I drink it. 

-I'm tired of being tired.  The girl will often ask me how I'm doing...  I seem to always respond "I'm tired".  Its become a joke at this point... but I am often tired.  Theres just a lot to do every single day between training, work, and life.  And its tiring.  And I wouldn't change it for the world.  The girl has been on vacation with her girlfriends for a 2.5 week trip.  What have I done with my time in the evenings with her away?  I've slept.  I've gone to bed by 8pm most nights and slept up to 10 hours a night when I can.  And when I can't I still stay in bed for 10 hours and read and relax.

-Some other random things I seem to be going through a lot of are...   ibuprofen, laundry detergent, simple green (to clean bikes), paper towels, tires (I finally switched to gatorskins for training in order to make them last the rest of the season), chain lube (oh how I wish it would stop raining so I didn't have to constantly clean and relube my bike), goggles, tubes (I need to start patching them), and gas to drive to workouts all over the place.This is just a small list...   if you are thinking about training for an Ironman you should know that the cost of the training will far outweigh the hotel and race entry fees. 

-I've had some of my highest highs and lowest lows going through this training and after a while your emotions become unseperable from your training.  When I have a workout go to crap I feel awful for the entire day.  I had a planned 100 mile ride that was made up of two 50 mile loops.  After 30 miles of loop one I fell apart.  I softpedalled the last 20 miles back to the car at an embarrasingly slow pace.  Real life had caught up with me, I hadn't slept enough, I'd worked too much and I'd trained to much and my body had enough.  So I had to call it a day and go home with my tail between my legs.  This of course happens on the girls birthday.  I had a really really hard time keeping my emotions to myself that day... coming home and sulking was not an option, but on the inside I was miserable.  And of course I was also really really angry at myself for being mad about a workout on her birthday.  But after a while you just can't control it.  A new wattage high on a workout and you feel like a million bucks!  A crappy swim workout and you want to curl up in a ball and feel sorry for yourself.  Its been quite the emotional roller coaster.  And I'm sorry...  if you are reading this thinking you are some kind of tough guy who can seperate training and emotion and I'm some kind of pussy who can't...   well....  You're a liar...  you feel these things too...   you're just in denial.  At least for your first Ironman anyway.

-On Saturday of last week I swam 4,000 yards in the pool and then went and rode 120 miles 30 minutes later.  I had company for the first sixty miles and then did the last sixty by myself.  At hour 2 of that ride I realized I still had five hours to go.  That was hard.  At hour 5 I felt pretty good knowing I was almost done, just two hours to go.  At six hours in I was literally going insane.  My brain was YELLING at me to stop pedalling and go sit down somewhere.  I was literally reduced to repeatedly counting to 100 over and over and over again to get through that last hour.  I just pedalled, and counted and ignored my brain.  Mentally I'm very strong, but I have to say the Ironman is a whole new animal, and I'm only just starting to learn how to control it.  I still can't imagine what mile 20 of that marathon is going to feel like on race day.  I just know I've got a large mental toolkit ready to fight whatever my brain puts up.

-Sometimes I start to panic that I haven't trained enough.  But I have a fantastic progression of volume, and I've worked my longest efforts up to 2.4 mile swims, 120 mile rides, and 20 mile runs.  On paper there is nothing to worry about...  and yet I can't help but worry that I haven't trained enough.  This thing just feels larger than life and its hard to feel confident about it.

-I'm starting to put together a race plan based solidly on training results.  I'm optimistic for a strong day, but I'm not ready to say anything out loud yet.

-I think I might be the only person in the world who can train for an ironman and put in anywhere from 16-20 hours of training a week and still gain weight.  Some of the weight I've gained is muscle.  I can see it in my chest and legs and can see the improvements in my bike fitness as well.  And some of it is not.  I'm 10lbs heavier now than I was at the FIRM half ironman last year.  I can't stop eating.  All this training just leaves me feeling absolutely STARVED all the time no matter how much I put down.  Sometimes I make great healthy choices... some days I fail epicly.  But I'm doing the best I can.  But it could be better.

-I'd write more....   but I'm tired.  And its 8:30...   which is past my bedtime, and I have a 2.4 mile swim and a 20 mile run to do tomorrow before coming home and working on my wedding invitations.  Its going to be a busy day!  Goodnight!

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