Must get to sleep…

I’ve had a hard time getting to bed early this week.  The Olympics are keeping me up!  Right now I’m watching men’s figure skating.  I don’t know these folks. I don’t know the back stories.  But I watched the leading American skate a beautiful program, so now I need to watch the last two skaters before I can call it a night.  Otherwise it would be like watching General Hospital except for the closing hook.  That would just feel all wrong.

But, no matter how late I stay awake, I must get up in the morning to swim.  I skipped Monday and and Wednesday to give my body a rest after the marathon.  I did walk and lift on Tuesday, and I ran and lifted today, but that’s an astonishingly light week for me.  A good hard swim is just what I need.

By the way, the Japanese skater just had a skate lace problem that forced him to stop his program.  He fixed it and finished beautifully with no problem.  It was an unusual bit of drama that I’m glad I didn’t miss.  Now, just one more skater and I can call it a night.  Oh wait, I was wrong.  I thought we were down to the final three, but we weren’t.

Looks like I’ll be up a bit longer…

Love hurts.

That was the slogan for the Austin Marathon today.  I thought it was pretty clever.

I had a good day today.  I felt the weight of my workouts this week, particularly during the second half of my race.  But I still managed to be twenty minutes faster than I was last year, so I’m pleased.  I’m still slow (at nearly six hours), but the goal today was to prove myself stronger than where I was a year ago, and I did that. 

Two marathons down for the year, and one more to go.  That’s NYC.  I’m thinking that I’ll try to find a training group for the NYC marathon.  I think having people to consistently do long runs with would be good for me. 

For now, my focus shifts to getting on the bike as much as possible to prepare for St. George.  I’d like to improve my bike time, despite the tougher course.  I feel stronger on the bike, and I think the indoor trainer workouts have actually helped strengthen me, but I’d like to increase my volune both on the bike and on the road (verses the trainer).  Just 11 weeks to go!


My body is sore this week.  Normally, I would taper for a marathon, but I’m treating tomorrow’s marathon as a training run.  My volume this week wasn’t terribly high, but the workouts were tough.  I did three hard swims, two moderate runs, two hard lifting sessions, and two hours of biking on a trainer, including four hard ten minute intervals.  My intention was and is to run on somewhat unfresh legs in the morning.  So far I’m on track, as my legs feel unfresh.

I’m actually mentally excited about this race.  Last year, I had an emotional meltdown on the Great Northern part of the run.  True to our friendship, Jeanie was on that part of the course and helped encourage me out of it.  Last year, I felt weak and desperate to finish.  I’m confident this year will be different.  I know I’m in better shape, and I’m coming off a marathon from just over a month ago so I have a little mental boost from having done this distance recently.  I want my results to show me to be significantly stronger than where I was this time last year.

Come to think of it – just that I’m excited is progress.  Yay me!

Ah the pool…

Life has improved dramatically since I re-entered the pool.  This morning was freezing cold and I was a mere head on the pillow away from skipping my swim, but because I have joined a group that gives me three solid chances to swim each week, I got my butt out of bed and made it to the pool at 5:45.  And I’m so glad I did.  I love the feeling of a hard swim and the dryness and scent that lingers on my hands and skin for the rest of the day.  They are a reminder of my accomplishment and the progress that is sure to follow.

A friend asked me recently why I put so much into the triathlon thing.  Why bother with doing another Ironman?  Why try to do two in one year?  I was somewhat dismissive of the question at the time, saying only that it’s fun.  But it’s much more than that.  Much more.  Here’s my best attempt to put the why into words.

Life is hard sometimes.  People often disappoint, whether intentionally or unintentionally.  For many of us, life is a bit of a solo effort and that sometimes feels like a disappointment in and of itself.  Work can be rewarding but, like many, I don’t want to be defined by my work.  Family is wonderful, but I don’t want to be defined by my family – as great as mine is – any more than I want to be defined by my work.  Family had a lot of say in who I was and what I did when I was growing up.  My adult life is my time to be my own self.  But who is that?  Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t know who I was designed up be or what I was designed to do.  I don’t yet know my highest and best purpose.  I believe I have one.  I believe we all do.  But what is that for me?  I have no idea.

What I know about myself right now is that the day to day of a solo life is not enough for me.  I need big goals.  I need a mission.  I need something to get me out of my own head a bit and give me something to focus my heart on. Maybe if I had a family – husband and kids – I’d want to put my effort elsewhere, but right now, it’s just me, and I need something more.  The Ironman gives me that something more.  I like planning my training.  I like working my body.  I like having a big red letter day on the calendar and putting my heart and soul into making that day happen.  I like doing something I didn’t believe I could do – something many others didn’t believe I could do.  I like doing something that most people are not willing even to try.  The Ironman makes me feel like I’m doing something big.  Grand even.

I made the decision to do Coeur d’Alene shortly after getting my heart broken.  To call it heartbreak diminishes it.  I made the decision to do Coeur d’Alene shortly after giving the best I had to offer to another person only to have that person choose someone else and lie to me for over a year with no regret.  At the time, I felt small.  Worse, I felt I couldn’t trust my own judgment.  I had been very wrong for a very long time and that was very hard to stomach.  But I had to rebuild myself.  When the opportunity to do Coeur d’Alene came up, I saw it as an opportunity to rebuild myself a million times stronger than I had ever been.  It proved to be that and more.

Until you have been there, you cannot know the experience of walking into an Ironman town as one of them, of starting that race in a terrifying mass of bodies, of talking yourself through the swim, the bike and the run, and of finishing – officially finishing – with a nightime crowd cheering so loudly for you that you can’t hear anything negative in your own mind.  All you can think is how proud you are of yourself and how worth it every minute of training was and how you can’t wait to eat something and go to bed and get up the next day and start the rest of your life with a different sense of faith in who you are and what you can accomplish.

That is the Ironman experience for me.  It is something I want to experience again and again, no matter the “cost.”  So I had to skip some concerts and go home early some nights?  So I had to wake up early nearly every day of the week to get my workouts in? So I had to get myself out of my warm bed and go out into the freezing cold for a swim?  So what?  I get to be an Ironman.  I get to do another race on May 1, and, God willing, I will get to cross that finish line and experience that sense of bliss and peace and renewal again. 

I can’t wait.

I have found my new swim program.

When I moved to Dripping Springs, I lost my swim program.  I had been at Nitro in Cedar Park and absolutely loved it.  When I moved down here, I swam a little alone at the Y.  Then I focused on running and stopped swimming altogether.  But it’s been on my mind to get back in the pool, so last week, I got in the water alone.  This morning, I went to a swim program at the Circle C pool.  There were maybe 20 or so of us.  We swam 3200, I think.  It was hard for me because I couldn’t feel the water at all.  I could only feel my heart pounding in my chest the whole time.  It was fun though.  Really fun.  I’m glad I found them.  I know I couldn’t do that kind of workout on my own, so I’m in.  I’m joining.  Today.