It Was Never Random

Greetings from Louisville, Kentucky! I was going to do a final recap of my training with all kinds of numbers and statistics, as is my custom, but I couldn't do it. This race is so much more than the last 20 weeks of official training.

This race is YEARS in the making. Six and a half of them, in fact.

This race is three months of Couch to 5k, when I started from square one and learned to run for the first time, just for one minute at a time. It's one minute turning in to two and then three and then eventually 30 straight. 

This race is four more months of getting more comfortable with running. It's three months after that of training for my first half marathon, and finishing long runs week after week, astonished by the distance I had just covered.

This race is another year of running, of training, of getting up the courage to try the half marathon for a second time.

This race is three months of off and on running through an injury, and getting my first road bike so I wouldn't lose my fitness or sight of my goals. This race is six more months coming back from my first injury.

This race is three months of training for my first sprint triathlon, and three more of training for my second one, my third one, my fourth one, and my first Olympic triathlon all in the same summer.

This race six months of training for my first full marathon, and two months of training for my next one. This race is three more months of training for another marathon and reevaluating my goals, which turned out to actually be three months of accidentally training for my first sub-2 half marathon.

This race is four months of training for my third marathon, three months of getting back into triathlon training, and four months of training for my first half Ironman, which was by far the hardest training I'd ever done.

This race is five months of training for what was supposed to be my fifth marathon, which led me to two months completely off from running because of another injury.

This race is four miraculous post-injury months of training for my first full Ironman. This race is four months of training for my first sub-4 marathon and two months of training for my third half Ironman leading to, finally, four months of training for my first second first full Ironman.

I've trained much, much longer than these past 20 weeks. These past four months may have been the ones officially designated on my calendar as "Ironman training," but I have been training for this since before I knew what an Ironman was, or what any triathlon really was. Every step, every stroke, every pedal of these last 6.5 years since that first day of C25K has in some way contributed to and shaped my race on Sunday. The past 20 weeks were an important part of the puzzle, but they were certainly not the only part of the puzzle. It's all cumulative. It's all there. All the highs, the lows, the successes, the failures, the triumphs, the disappointments.

It was never, ever, ever random.

You can track me on Sunday here or by downloading the Ironman Tracker app. My bib number is 449 and the race starts at 7:30am!

Ironman Louisville Race Plan + Goals

Two summers ago, literally the day before I started training before my first half Ironman, I took a class with yoga teacher and endurance athlete Sage Rountree. I found out afterward that Sage is also an Ironman and triathlon coach, and she has a book called Racing Wisely, which covers everything from choosing a race to recovering from it. As someone who tends to overthink and worry about pretty much everything (in racing and life in general), Sage's guidance to mindfulness throughout training and racing has been hugely beneficial to me in the past. One of my favorite parts is guidance for creating a race plan (worksheets available in PDF format here), and I've been writing them for big races ever since that first one nearly two years ago. 

I've been waiting ever since then for the day that I could write a race plan for a full Ironman, and even though I'll be holding my breath at least until I actually get in the water because of what happened last year, I think I'm ready to finally put this one together.

The Years They Felt Short, But the Days Were Long

Race week is here. After 20 weeks of Ironman Training Round 2, 16 months since I started Ironman Training Round 1, with 4 half marathons, 3 half Ironmans (Ironmen?), 2 century rides, a marathon, and thousands of miles's finally race week. This day has been a long time coming. 

I'm finally coming out of hiding this week to finish this journey, and that includes documenting it. Part of the reason I stopped updating was that once I felt behind, it was so daunting to think about catching up. Week after week piled up until I had more weeks absent than not. I won’t bore you with every detail of every workout of the last 9 weeks but I do think I’d like to take a quick (or not) little trip down memory lane.

Week 9: I had my first big breakdown of this training cycle and took 2 unplanned rest days. I went to Target and bought new sheets instead of training one night and it actually might have been the best thing I did all training cycle because I woke up the next day feeling like a new person. I also completed the Farm to Fork Fondo (53 miles) in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. It was my first time ever visiting Amish country and the hills were challenging, but it was breathtakingly gorgeous and one of my favorite rides I’ve ever done.

I Think I'm Doing Okay.

So it's been over a month since I last updated and as some of you noticed, I made my blog private for a little while since then. I had kind of stopped updating and wasn't sure if I really wanted to keep writing here, which is something I've gone back and forth on for a while now, but that's another story for another day. I just wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it anyway, and I started getting a lot of spam comments that I just didn't have the time or energy to deal with, so I just thought it would be easier to shut it down for now, at least temporarily, until I figured out what I wanted to do with it. And I'm still not sure what I ultimately want to do with it, but I have had the urge to update about my Ironman training. I've heard from a few of you wondering what was going on, and I do miss updating in this space and, to be honest, time and energy are big reasons why I haven't been updating but honestly, I just haven't really...wanted to? And the times when I have wanted to post have been sporadic and fleeting and I haven't been able to string together enough of those thoughts to actually post something. So I don't know for sure if I want to keep writing or not, and I've kind of gotten to the point where I'm not not really interested in writing about my everyday life, and I'm also not really interested in writing a hardcore fitness blog. At this point it's really just a training/race log, primarily because I like to have a record of that stuff. I think it's cool that other people read it, and I definitely read other people's, so I get that that's a thing that some people find interesting to read, so that's where I'm at right now. I don't really see that changing anytime soon, and it may just all fall away after this Ironman thing is over anyway, I don't really know. We'll see.

Ironman Louisville Training: Week 8

Not much to report this was mostly good with a couple of low points: my two missed swims. I've now missed four of my last six scheduled swims - two were out of my control, one was intentional, and one was my fault - which is, you know, not great, but swimming is one of my stronger disciplines (all relative since I'm not particularly strong at any of them!) so I'm not too concerned.

On the bright side, I handled my bike ride this weekend like a champ! It always helps to have company, and I actually enjoyed almost all six of those hours I spent pedaling on Sunday. This Ironman thing may not be a lost cause after all.

In other news, this week I finally started to feel like I was making a breakthrough in my IMNC anxiety/disappointment, but by the end of the week I felt like I had taken two steps forward and one step back and didn't really end up much farther than where I started. I know I keep being vague about all these feelings and it's really not intentional. I do want to get them out and talk about them but every time I try I just don't know what to say. I know the words are in there somewhere and I hope to find them soon.

Ironman Louisville Training: Week 7

This week was...a doozy. I'm really emotional about my training, too emotional maybe. I always have been. It was the emotional side that sucked me in in my early C25k days, and that hasn't changed. Most days and weeks that's a good thing - that emotional side is my lifeblood and why I stick with this sport at all - but sometimes it throws me for a loop and that was this week. I struggled with motivation after coming back from vacation, and I had to do some serious soul-searching over why I am even training for this race in the first place. After last year (a phrase I have vowed to now remove from my vocabulary) I'm finally feeling ready to start facing the facts, admitting some ugly truths to myself, and moving on. I want to talk about it more, and I need to talk about it more. Hoping to get some these swirling thoughts of my head and into this white space sooner rather than later.

This week I finally had the realization that Ironman training, by this point, is hard. It just is. It's hard whether I work out at 5am or at 5pm. It's hard to spend over an hour in the pool. It's hard to spend a handful of hours on my bike. It's hard to run on tired legs and when the heat index is approaching 100 degrees. It doesn't get any easier just because I pack my lunch the night before or I make an effort to put my laundry in the washing machine when I take my clothes off or I use my commute home to double as a workout. I mean, that stuff doesn't hurt, but it's not a magical solution to make training easy. Because it's just really hard. That's #ironmanlife (the coach I used last year put notes at the beginning of my weekly plans - which I'm recycling this year -  and that was literally the only note for this year's plan, which I found hilarious yet appropriate). And that's not going to change.

Race Bucket List Update

I've been thinking a lot lately about races - looking back with nostalgia on races past, looking forward to upcoming races, and adding new races daily to the list of races I want to run (seriously, so many races, so little time). Three years ago I posted a list of big races I hoped to one day run - my Race Bucket List, if you will - and only a few years later, it's in serious need of a revamp. There are some races I've completed, some that are still waiting to be checked off, and some that I'm not really even interested in running anymore. This original list was never a binding nor a comprehensive collection of finish lines I hoped to eventually see, but it's clear that now my race priorities and preferences have changed quite a bit over the last few years!