Welcome, 2017

After a year of sorely neglecting this space, I snuck in at the last minute and have already recapped this year twice, but as the hours left in it dwindle down, with not even a full one left, I just can't let it go without saying some things.

I thought that I didn't have many good memories from this year, but the more I think back on it, I think that it's less that I don't have good memories and more that this year was just such a crazy rollercoaster and that now that it's coming to an end I am just tired. I'm tired because there were so many bad things, so many things that just didn't make sense, so many things that I just couldn't get to add up, and so many times that I was scared or anxious or sad, but there were also so many good things and so many good times.

There was the last day of February, the extra day that only comes four times a year, and the Universe must have known that I really needed an extra day this year. It was a gray morning when I ran through the streets of downtown D.C. and I wondered to myself, "Could this be home?"

There was the interview I went on that afternoon and the quiet hope that I didn't dare breathe a word of on the drive home.

There was the unseasonably warm and sunny first day of March an and email in my inbox.

There, in that offer, was the fulfilment of my dreams and the validation that my resignation from teaching and all of those Post-its strewn across my kitchen table two years earlier hadn't all been for naught.

There was the realization that the Universe doesn't owe me anything, and the unexpected peace that came from accepting that I will just never know some of the answers.

There was the new apartment in the city, in a neighborhood and on a street corner that ended up being the most perfect one in all the city, and the only place I could imagine living.

There was the most crowded but the happiest Prius that has ever driven out of an Ikea parking lot.

There was exploring so many pockets of the city, all on foot, and the solitude of the early hours that made me forget just how busy the streets can get.

There was the village that helped me keep it all together, or at least to be there to help me pick up the pieces when things fell apart.

There were the races that made me feel like me, that reminded me who I am and who I'm not and who I want to be.

There were milestones celebrated, successful years of our lives and of our marriage, and the wish for a million more.

There was Mike Reilly high-fiving me on the Riverwalk in Wilmington under one of the brightest, bluest October skies.

There were too-quick but much-needed visits with friends and family, filled with love and laughter.

There were plenty of things that I'd rather soon forget, but before I turn my back on them completely, let me acknowledge them, learn from them, embrace them, and move on from them.

With greater understanding, hope, and acceptance than ever,

welcome, 2017.

People, Places, and Things of 2016

When I think back on this year I just see fragments, like the thousand pieces of a partially-completed puzzle all strewn across a table. I feel like every year for the past few years has been like that, but I especially feel it this year. This year I felt like I was always a step behind and couldn't catch up no matter how hard I tried. I look back on this year and see how nearly all of my actions were reactive, not proactive. Through really no fault of my own, nothing I did was totally intentional. I constantly tried to correct and to adjust - to getting a job in a new field, to moving to a city I had never really planned to live in, to getting injured  and figuring out how or even if my big race plans would proceed, to training for an Ironman and how it flipped my already-chaotic world upside-down, to losing a grandparent for the first and then second time and a pet for the I-don't-want-to-count-th time. With every turn I felt like I was living in a new reality and just when I started to get used to it, something else would change or throw me for a loop. 

And I don't mean to make it sound so depressing, because so many things of those things were just as good as they were difficult. I got a job in a new field! I moved to a new city! I trained for an Ironman! So many big things that I've wanted and have been working toward for years came to fruition this year, and though they brought a lot of challenges on the way, I am so grateful for that. 

2016 Running & Triathlon in Review

Going into this year, I knew it would be big. I signed up for my first Ironman just 11 days before the year began, but even with that on my mind as the calendar turned, I still never could have predicted the year I'd have.

My two big races of 2016 were to be the Big Sur Marathon in April and Ironman North Carolina in October. I spent the winter preparing for Big Surr and all was going well - I even PRed in the half marathon by almost a minute - until, almost literally overnight, I developed a foot injury that left me unable to walk for a couple weeks and unable to run for a couple months. I canceled my Big Sur plans and as the weeks of no running went on, I started to wonder how, or if at all, I was going to be able to make it through the 26.2 run of an Ironman. 

While I wasn't running I was swimming, biking, and supplementing my run miles on the elliptical. After almost two months and a couple of unsuccessful short run attempts, my physical therapist gave me her blessing to try to ease back into running. I actually just recently found the note from that appointment, with my prescription to try a 15-minute run 10 days after my appointment, and I laughed out loud to myself when I read it. It seems like a lifetime ago now, but I remember how anxious I was in those ten days and how nervous I was lacing up my shoes when the day finally came. FIFTEEN whole minutes. Was it even possible?! That first run back, I could tell that something was still definitely off. Not painful per se, just...off, and it felt off for more runs than not for a while. But as long as I wasn't in pain, I kept running.

What's New: Post-Ironman Life

I thought it had been two months since the last time I linked up with Kristen and Gretchen, but then I realized that now it's December and September was actually 3 months ago, so that's a little indicative of what life has been like lately! Since the last time I wrote one of these my Ironman(ish) has come and gone, and I'm finally getting to experience what post-Ironman life is like!

Everyday Life

My first post-Ironman weekend I had absolutely nothing planned - no workouts, no travel, no social plans, absolutely nothing - for the first time in months and it was glorious! It was gorgeous out so I ended up going out for a short run through my neighborhood, going wherever I pleased, and then I met up with Christy and Holly for drinks! The next day was the Marine Corps Marathon and we had some friends running, so Ben and I went out to spectate for a bit. I don't think I have ever spectated a race I didn't participate in in any capacity (except Cherry Blossom this year, but that was different because I had planned to run and got injured), and it was SO FUN! Seriously, it was a dream of mine to stand on the sidelines with a cup of coffee in my hand and cheer as runners went by. I should really try it more often.

Ironman North Carolina: Final Thoughts

On Training
Training for an Ironman sucked. I don't think there is any other way to describe it, and I know that might be confusing because why would you purposely do something that sucks? To be honest, I asked myself that question constantly. I was unhappy throughout a lot of my training because it was just so demanding and I was so tired and really had no time for anything except working, training, eating, and sleeping. Looking back now, though, I realize that there were a lot of factors that played into it that I couldn't really see at the time. Life has been a complete whirlwind this year and right up until IMNC, I was going all day every day at 100%. My training started at the same time that I finished school, moved to a new city 2 days later, and started a new job 4 days after that. I realize now that that was just...a lot to take on all at one time. That's not to say that it wouldn't have been hard even without all of those other moving parts, but they certainly added to my already-full plate.

I have said many times that I knew training for an Ironman would be tough, but I never knew how tough. I am just now getting back to normal life - and well, really living a normal life for the first time all year - and every normal day makes me realize how insane training was and how it completely flipped things upside down. It was without a doubt the hardest thing I have ever done, for so many reasons, but I’m really, really proud to be able to say that I did it and I made it through. I knew that the actual Ironman would be a 12+ hour day, but I don’t think I really envisioned 6-8 hour training days. I felt so weak at the time, but looking back now I can see how much stronger it made me.

On Doubts
It’s actually a little hard for me to look back at my training, because while I’m really proud of the fact that it happened, it didn’t happen gracefully and I’m a little bit embarrassed by that. I was plagued with fear and doubt and that overshadowed a lot of the months I spent training. An Ironman was a lot to take on, and I know that, but looking back I was just so…afraid. All the time. Afraid of so many things - of having to share my lane in the pool, of being by myself on the bike, of reinjuring my foot, of not getting to spend time with my family, of not getting to go do fun things - and that negativity really affected a lot of my training. I still managed to get it done, but I didn’t enjoy a lot of it and I think it was largely because I was just so scared, both of the work I needed to put in and of the idea of failing anyway. 

I have never been afraid of taking on challenges before this, no matter how unlikely they might seem, because I always believed deep down that I could do them. Even when I couldn’t run to the end of my block, somewhere in my heart I knew that if I just kept at it, I could eventually run long enough to do a 5k. I wasn’t even afraid of doing an Ironman when I signed up, but the more I trained and the harder I got, I felt like I was just barely getting by and that there was no way I could make it through the race. I said that, out loud, many times, and I honestly think I might have quit if I didn’t have 3 other people in this with me. The fear overwhelmed me and for the first time since I started all of this stuff about 5 years ago, I really thought I might have finally found my limit. 

On Overcoming
There is a reason for the saying, “Trust your training.” All of those months I spent doubting myself but pushing through anyway finally paid off on race day. I didn’t get to do the full race course so I’ll never know what would have happened with an additional 56 miles out on the course that day (and in that headwind, ugh), but I do know that the 9 hours I did spend on it were a testament to my training, my coaching, and my ultimate unwillingness to give up (despite the number of times I strongly considered it during training). 

I had hoped the bike would be my story of triumph, but with the shortened course and the strong winds, that’s not the story I get to tell. Instead, the run ended up being my story of triumph that day. I ran consistently and was training for the Big Sur Marathon up until March of this year, but then I abruptly stopped running when I injured my foot during the Shamrock Half Marathon, so by the time I started official Ironman training, instead of the solid running base I'd planned to have, I had to work back up from basically nothing. When my 20-week training plan started in June I'd only been back to running for about 3 weeks. I was still supplementing a lot of my runs with the elliptical and my longest "long" run was up to 5.5 miles. I think back to those two months from March to May when my foot just didn't seem to be getting any better, when it would feel kind of okay so I'd optimistically try to do a test "run" of a few steps in my parking lot only to be completely dejected when I felt immediate sharp pain, when I seriously tried to come to terms with the very real possibility that I might have to walk all 26.2 miles of the Ironman marathon if things continued the way they were. But by some miracle over the last 5 months I was able to get back to running, train for, and complete a marathon! I was so worried I wasn't going to be prepared for it, but I was able to run it pain-free (well, as pain-free as a marathon can be, I guess) in just under 4.5 hours. It wasn’t the PR I was hoping for, but it was closer to my PR than the other 2, standalone marathons I’ve run, so I was over the moon.

On My Journey
I don't know when my Ironman dream was born. I started participating in triathlons about 3.5 years ago and by the end of my first season, with one Olympic under my belt, I knew I would most likely do a half Ironman one day, and from there it followed that maybe, maybe, a full Ironman would be in the picture eventually. Then it took me 2 years to a 70.3, and training for that was the hardest, most-time consuming thing I'd ever done. I had a great race, but knowing how much work the training had been made me question whether I really had what it took to ever do a full, and it wasn't something I planned on doing for at least a year or two.

There aren't many full IM races on the east coast of the U.S. (I've never had to fly to a race and really didn't want the added stress of air travel and the associated logistics for an already high-stress event), and surprisingly few in the U.S. really, and none of the ones offered every really appealed to me. I knew what my options would be for the far-off scenario when I might want to do a full, but I figured I would cross that bridge when I came to it and pick the least uninteresting option. 

But then...the Universe spoke. Or at least I thought it did (more on that later). One of the major requirements I had if I were even going to consider doing a full was that it had to be put on by Ironman and not an independent race organization. I was browsing Reddit on my phone at dinner last December when I read that Ironman was buying Beach2Battleship, the independently owned race that had been my first half Ironman, and the rest, as they say, is history. I’ve had the idea of a full Ironman in my head as a one day, far away goal for a while now, but I don’t know that I ever really saw myself here. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I actually made it this far.

On the IMNC Shortened Course Debacle
Time to face the music on this one. Let me just set the stage, though: it’s 4 days until race day. I’ve been tapering for 2.5 weeks and my emotions are running high. One second I can’t wait to get to Wilmington, the next second I want to crawl under my covers and never come out. I’m at work, and all I can think about is going home and packing in preparation for my drive to North Carolina the following day. It’s been 10 days since Hurricane Matthew hit and although rumors about how that may have affected the race have been flying around, they seem to have quieted. I mean, it’s 4 days before the race, it’s go time, right?

Getting the email about the shortened bike course less than FOUR DAYS before I was supposed to be riding it felt like I got sucker punched. I had been training for this race for ten months, with the last four of those being my intensive, official training. I had given up any semblance of a social life, had started getting up at 3:50am, and had hardly done anything except work, swim, bike, run, eat, or sleep since June, for one goal: to be an Ironman. Finding out that that all of that work, all of those sacrifices had been in vain, that at the end of the day I would have gone through all of that and still wouldn’t be an Ironman - and there was nothing I could do about it - yeah, it was devastating.

I was in a really bad mood the couple of days before the race. I tried to put on a happy face but I just couldn’t. Doing all of the pre-race activities felt like going through the motions, and not the exciting and nerve-wracking experience it should have been. Fortunately by race morning I had given in and accepted my fate: it wasn’t a full Ironman, but it was my Ironman. 

I put a lot of energy into hearing, “You are an Ironman!” at the finish, into being an Ironman, and at the end of the day…I don’t know how much it mattered. I thought that those things were important, but I learned and grew so much from my training and from race day itself, and from showing up despite it not being the day that I wanted, and ultimately that’s what I’m taking from this experience. And I know that sounds like something people say to make themselves feel better, and maybe it is, but I honestly just don’t care anymore whether I’m an Ironman or not. I had a great day and a great race and I was happy the whole time (okay maybe not that happy during the 25mph headwind on the bike) and even if it wasn't the full Ironman I trained and planned for, it was 14.6 miles and over 3 hours longer than anything I've ever done before. The biggest thing I got from this experience wasn’t a title, it was a lifestyle.

With that said…having completed 83% of a full Ironman, I hesitate to call or think of myself as one. I don’t really want to tell anyone I did it because I don’t want to have to explain how I didn’t do the full course, and no not because I didn’t finish or something like that, but because 84.6 miles was how long the course was that day. I bought a finisher’s jacket (even though I SWORE I wasn’t going to but ugh, I had to go by the convention center the day after and the expo was still set up and I was still under Ironman’s magic spell and it was really cute…) and I feel weird wearing it because I know it should have an asterisk or something. The story of my first Ironman will always be a weird experience that will have to come with a disclaimer, and there’s nothing I can do about that. I’m not an Ironman, but I am an Ironman*. Ironmanish? Something like that.

On What’s Next
It’s been my experience that the natural reaction to finishing a big race is, “Okay so when’s the next one?!” Although I knew this wasn't going to be a one-and-done for me, I was excited about not training so intensely for a while and wasn't planning on doing another Ironman next year. But with our first full IM not really being a full IM, that conversation actually started among our group during our pre-race prep. We talked a lot about pros and cons, and the discussion this time was so different than last time. We were so excited about IMNC last year - we were already familiar with the course from doing the half, it’s fast and flat, it’s in a coastal location that we love - but I personally wasn’t excited about coming back to Wilmington for a third time. My main consideration this time was actually the bike course. Since I hate the bike I think I’ve always been like well, I don’t like to bike so it’s probably going to suck no matter where it is, but then I started to think the opposite. The bike course in IMNC may lack hills but it is SO boring and not scenic at all, and I really wanted something different this time. I figured I could deal with whatever the run course is - IMNC was nice but not amazing. And of course, another down current swim would be nice but it wouldn’t be the end of the world if we had a more (but still not super) challenging swim. And, not that it’s a huge consideration considering it makes up like 30 seconds of the whole day, but the finish line at IMNC was pretty lackluster tbh.

We talked about a few difference possibilities and quickly narrowed it down to two choices: Louisville and Chattanooga. Louisville’s swim is against the current for the first 1/3, but then with current, while Chattanooga is all down river with current. Both bikes are hilly. The run is hilly in Chattanooga but flat(ish? I seriously don’t believe people who use this word) in Louisville. I don’t know that much about the finish line at Chattanooga, but Louisville has one of the best finish lines in all of Ironman.  And the bike course at Louisville goes through horse country so….see you in 2017, IM Louisville!

Ironman North Carolina: The Run

Just like with T1, the first thing we did in T2 was grab our run gear bags and head into the changing tent. I immediately sat down on a chair and started digging through my bag. I’d packed shorts, capris, long pants, a short sleeved shirt, and a long sleeved shirt because I had no clue if I was going to want to change or what I was going to want to wear. I decided to keep on my tri kit and just throw on a long sleeve top - the one I purchased at Walmart for $10 two days before the race, intending to put it in my special needs bag as a throwaway (those bags are available at mile 13 of the run, and you don’t get them back), but at the last minute put in my run gear bag thinking it might be the perfect weight for the temperature. Turns out, it was! It wasn't fashionable and I hate my pictures from the run because my whole outfit looked so stupid, but it was functional. Other than that all I changed were my socks (at least I think I changed my socks?). My toes had been frozen for the entire duration of the bike and all I could think about for the last several miles of the bike was getting to the changing tent and warming them up! 

There are volunteers in the tent who will actually help you change and get your stuff out of your bags, and a woman came over to me and immediately started helping me. I didn’t need a ton of help since I wasn't changing al my clothes, but she helped me go through my bag to find what I wanted to wear, and when I had a pile of clothes and bike stuff I’d taken off piled up in a chair next to my bag, she told me to go ahead and that she’d take care of packing it back up for me. For some reason I was totally taken aback and I asked her, "Are you sure?" And she said, "Yes." I asked her her name to thank her, and when she told me her name was Cindy, I started laugh-crying and told her that’s my mom’s name and then I was crying trying to tell her that my mom wasn’t there, and she gave me a hug before I left the tent. It surprised me that I was so emotional, although it probably shouldn't have - it had already been a long day and I was about to go run a marathon and I knew I would get to see my family when I got out on the run and I just had a lot of feelings! And all day I was so thankful for all the volunteers and tried to thank as many as I could, and in that moment I was so emotional and just so grateful for her being there and it was honestly one of the best parts of the whole day. 

Ironman North Carolina: The Bike

If you're just picking up here, it's IMNC day and I've already checked in, racked my bike, and swam!

I entered T1 and immediately went to get my bike gear bag. Unlike past races I’ve done, including B2B last year, literally the only thing we had set up in our transition spot were our bikes. All of our bike gear - shoes, helmet, everything - were placed in a bag that we dropped off the day before and were waiting for us that morning. You have to write your number on the bags but people decorate them with markers, duct tape, etc. to try to make them stand out more so they’re easier to find. I had colored in my M dot in the Ironman logo on my bag just because I got bored when we were decorating ours the night before, but that actually turned out to be awesome because no one else had done that and mine was easy to spot! 

I grabbed my bag and ran into the women’s changing tent - everyone has to go through the changing tent whether you want to change or not - and put on my socks, shoes, helmet, sunglasses, and a long sleeved cycling jersey. It was hard getting that jersey on since I was a little wet! I had also brought long pants but ultimately decided I didn’t want to wear them. I handed my bag to a volunteer and I’m only like 40% sure because I don’t remember her name, but I think I asked what it was and thanked her by name (thanks for that tip, Rebecca Jo!).

I ran out to get my bike, talked to myself out loud a couple times so I could remember my number and where my bike was, and then I got it quickly and was off! I saw Ben one more time as I was heading to the bike out.

Ironman North Carolina: The Swim

If you're just picking up here, it's IMNC day and I've already checked in and racked my bike!

As I raced on Saturday and thought about writing this recap I thought, “Hmm, I don’t think I have that much to say. I can probably fit it all into one post…” Um. NOT. Here’s part 1/3: 

We arrived to T1 when it was still dark and had just enough time to put water bottles and nutrition on our bikes, drop off our run special needs bags, and get in line for the bus to the swim start. The swim is point-to-point, with the start about 2.5 miles away from T1 at the southern tip of Wrightsville Beach, so the race runs shuttles all morning for the athletes. As I was standing in line I realized that we’d had to jump out of the car so quickly when Ben dropped us off that I hadn’t even said goodbye to him! I was pretty sure he would be at the swim start but I didn’t know that for sure. Luckily Tracy had his phone with him so I was able to call Ben and leave him a voicemail telling him I loved him and I was thankful for all of his support and I hoped I’d make him proud.

We ended up on the last shuttle, which I think was actually one of the charter buses used to take athletes from hotels in downtown Wilmington to T1, and I don’t think was intended to take athletes to the swim start as well. Because the bus was larger than the shuttles, we actually had to be dropped off a half mile or so from the swim start, so we got a bit of a warmup walking down there!

Ironman North Carolina: Bike and Run Gear Check-In

Bike and Run Gear Check-In

Although we picked up our packets on Thursday, we couldn't actually check in any gear until Friday. As it was when it was Beach2Battleship, IMNC (both half and full) the race is set up so that there are 2 different transitions about a 20-minute drive apart from each other. Logistically, that means that all bike gear (including bikes) has to be dropped off at T1 in Wrightsville Beach, and all run gear has to be dropped off at T2 in downtown Wilmington. Having done this race before and gone through those motions was hugely helpful the second time around! The logistics were really overwhelming to me last year, but this year I was cool as a cucumber. I had even already divvied up my bike and run gear into separate bags at home when I was packing (I used these Ziploc ones that I saw recommended somewhere, I think in one of the IMNC Facebook groups I was in?) and it made getting my actual gear bags together super easy!

Ironman North Carolina: Athlete Check-In and Expo

And so it begins: my series of Ironman North Carolina race recaps. I will go ahead and tell you now that there is an embarrassingly high number of five recap posts coming over the next week. I was going to start with the pre-race stuff but considering there were two days of prep and I just don't want to forget any details (as mundane and snooze-inducing as I'm sure they are for others), the pre-race post quickly turned into two posts, one for each pre-race day. And then there are the posts for the race itself (one for each event). And to think, I originally thought I could fit this entire experience into one post!

Athlete Check-In and Expo
I'm not going to lie: I was a sad panda the couple of days leading up to the race. I found out about the shortened course on Tuesday, and when I woke up on Wednesday and Thursday morning it felt like it had been a bad dream, and then it hurt all over again when I remembered it wasn't.

IMNC: All These Things That I've Done

It's here. The day before Ironman. I slept in this morning, a real rarity since I started training back in early summer. I'm sitting on the wraparound porch of the beach house we rented for the week, sipping coffee, writing my training wrap-up. It's the morning I've been looking forward for months, the last calm before the storm, and everything is as it should be. Except for one thing.

I'm allowing my emotions to go where they please and not passing any judgment about where they end up or how wildly they swing back and forth. This is a huge loss for me, and while its impacts might not last as long as more serious and permanent losses, it's still a loss. Ironman training became another member of our family, and not just any member but the most important member. Ben and I both worked so hard every day to do everything we could so that it survived - and we did! We made it. We made it all the way to the end, when all we had to do was set it free and watch it fly. Instead we watched it fall to the ground, by no fault of our own and with absolutely no recourse. It's going to take me a while to process that. I know it's not going to happen this week or maybe even this month and I accept that reality. It's sad. It's just going to be sad for a while.

But it's not all doom and gloom. It's been better being with my team, and not just because misery loves company. Our coach came down yesterday en route to Florida for IM 70.3 Miami this weekend, and he spent the day with us as we went to athlete check-in and checked out some of the course. We enjoyed a great lunch together (including dessert, coach-approved!) and walked around Wilmington and saw Mike Reilly speak at the welcome ceremony and, aside from the times when I felt like I got punched in the stomach, it was a really good day. 

But today isn't about the race. Today I wanted to talk about my training. Especially now, because even if I don't get to use all of it for a full distance race, I still completed it and that is still something. The news of the shortened course happened 4 days before the race. All of the training was done at that point. It's really been done for the last couple of weeks since I've been tapering, but this week especially wasn't true training. I had a few short workouts just for maintenance and mental sanity reasons, but the training was already done by the time I found out I hadn't been training for a full Ironman after all. 

I registered for this race on December 20, 2015 and my official 20-week training plan kicked off on June 6, 2016. The breakdown of the 20-week plan is as follows:

You Don't Know What You Got Til It's Gone

Well, this is not the post I expected to write today. Although my posts have been scarce lately, and non-workout recap even more so, I've been planning a few Ironman training wrap-up posts for weeks. Today I had actually planned to do something a little different and talk about the music that has inspired me, motivated me, and kept me going throughout training - my IMNC playlist of sorts (even though music isn't allowed on the course so I'll just be singing the songs in my head rather than listening to them). Something light and fun before delving into my long, thoughtful race plan and my final training post before the big day.

But that's not what I'm writing this morning. Instead, I'm trying to process the 12-hour-old news that Ironman North Carolina will, in fact, not be a full Ironman. Due to flooding in the area from Hurricane Matthew, the bike course has been shortened to 50 miles, making the race total 78.6 miles rather than 140.6. It's not a full Ironman. It's not even close. Ten months of waking up every day with this goal in mind, and it's going to end over 60 miles short. I can't believe it. I don't want to believe it.

Hokie Half Marathon 2016 Race Recap

Oh my gosh I have so much to say about this race but all I really want to say is that it was the BEST race. THE BEST. I was so happy and my heart was so full I thought it might actually burst. It was so much more than I was expecting - because what did I really have to expect from a little ol' half marathon after training for an Ironman for 4 months? - and not in any ways that are quantifiable but it was a rare day for me when numbers truly did not matter.

Recent Revelations

On Owning It
A few weeks ago I ran with Christy, who's training for the Richmond Marathon, just a few weeks after I do IMNC. Over a few miles we caught up on life and training, and both reflected that our training cycles have not gone exactly as planned. We talked about our goal races and how we think they'll shape up, and she said something I've been thinking about ever since. She told me she had recently come into a very zen place with her training and racing goals, and had accepted that she hasn't been able to train the way she would have liked and that she isn't sure if she'll get the sub-4 she's been working at for the last several years. 

It took me a while to process that, but after several days, it started to sink in. Although I'm sure that she's battled some conflicting feelings, and maybe even still is, when I listened to her tell me she had accepted whatever race she's given, I believed her. She owned the training that she had done while also owning her shortcomings, and owning whatever comes out of that. 

Ironman 70.3 Atlantic City Race Recap

I signed up for this race way way back before a 2016 Ironman was on my radar. I saw an ad for it sometime right before or right after my first half Ironman in October of last year, the Beach2Battleship half, and something about it jumped out at me. I had never been to AC but from looking at the pictures it looked like it would be a fun venue, and it would give me an excuse to go to New Jersey and hang out with Alyssa. Registration opened at noon on November 1 of last year, and an hour later when I remembered to register nearly half of the spots were already sold out!

After I signed up it was always in the back of my mind, but since it was so far away and I was preoccupied with other races this year (initially, Big Sur, then Ironman North Carolina), it got pushed to the back burner. It honestly didn’t hit me that I was really doing this one until I arrived at packet pickup the day before! I think I tried to avoid thinking about it the week prior because both of my feet started being total assholes and I wasn't sure I could trust either of them.

Ironman North Carolina Training: Week 16

Nation's Triathlon 2016 Recap

I signed up for this race right after I moved to DC. I had heard of it previously but had never done it, so when I moved here, it seemed like a fun opportunity to do a race in my new city. I got my IMNC group on board and even managed to talk Ben and my brother-in-law into doing it (first tri for both of them)!

There is a sprint and an Olympic distance race, which both run concurrently, and we chose the Olympic. That distance was still pretty light for those of us in Ironman training, but after several long, hard weekends I was looking forward to having a distance a little more familiar to tackle. The others all made their travel plans, and all week we discussed weekend logistics. I was so looking forward to having a weekend with some of my favorite people doing an activity I love in a city I come to love a little more every day.

I'm Here.

Remember when I used to write about feelings and things that were important to me, and how fitness things weren't really fitness things at all because they were so much more than that? I do, and I'm not sure what happened to that blog or when or why it turned into how I swam or rode or ran a million miles (please hear me out and don't just click out because I said "Ironman" for the 40 millionth time this year). My Ironman journey is one I want to share, I just haven't been sure how to do it, or if anyone will even want to come along. I have so many posts floating around in my head that, admittedly, do pertain to Ironman training, but they are so much more than that. They're full of the thoughts and the feelings that I have that relate not just to Ironman training, but to life. They're the types of posts I used to write, the ones that I thought just about anybody could relate to, whether you get your cardio in from ultramarathons or running to the kitchen from the couch during a commercial break. They're the ones that stem from my own personal adventures in fitness but aren't really about fitness. They're about what I'm going through and what it feels like to chase my dreams and to both succeed and fail, the highs and the lows and all the in betweens and what I learned at each step.

To be honest, training for an Ironman has had me wondering where I fit now. I worry that I seem too far removed from the Beginners Club to be relatable, but at the same time all of this stuff is way too freakin' hard for me and I'm in way over my head to be a part of the Real Athletes Club (not that they'd have me anyway). One of the reasons I started this blog was to be yet another voice on the Internet telling anyone who would listen that hey, if I can do this, so can you! "This" being anything you think you absolutely can't do. The only problem with that now is that I don't feel qualified to spread that message anymore, because for the first time since I started turning my can'ts into cans, I found something that I thought I really, actually, might not be able to do. I just didn't feel like I could continue to preach that gospel when I didn't believe it myself anymore. I'm not sure if I ever stopped believing it, or if I just hardened myself to it. I got so frustrated when I struggled, and so afraid of failure, that I stopped letting myself go to those places of, "What if....?" I stopped dreaming of all the things I could do and I stopped writing about them because I just wanted to wall myself off from the possibility that I might have finally bitten off more than I could chew. 

How could I blog about my experiences and share them openly and transparently if I couldn't even be honest with myself about them? Where could I go from there? What should I do? I haven't quite been able to find the words to do this until now, but I think I just....write. Write about my experiences and my struggles and try to make them as real and relatable as possible. I still have workout recaps and race recaps to write, and I do want to write them because I have some irrational fear that future me will be really upset with past me if I don't (although present you would be just fine if I didn't, I'm sure), but right now I just want to share what's on my heart and what's really going on.

I've honestly felt like I've lost myself over these last 17 weeks. I have no idea who I am outside of Ironman training anymore (which I realize sounds ridiculous - it's been 3 months for crying out loud), but I also haven't really felt like myself since I've been in Ironman training. I've completely lost sight of where I started and why and how I got here and why I wanted to be here in the first place.

Maybe it's just that literally all of my energy - physical, emotional, mental - has gone into training over the last few months, but I honestly haven't even had the emotional capacity to feel what this training and achieving this goal mean to me - or what it meant to me when I signed up, anyway. I have been going through the motions and while that's gotten me to a place where I feel physically ready to tackle this (some days, anyway...other days I think about all the miles I haven't covered in training but maybe should have and I just want to puke), I would be remiss if I didn't take some time I wasn't ready to do it before now, and I'm not sure what's changed - possibly the fact that I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel now, and I can feel the days left slipping away - but I'm ready now. I'm ready to explore what this really means to me, to open myself to reflecting on the good and the bad that has gotten me here, to being vulnerable again and sharing that vulnerability and telling you I am really, really scared and I have no idea what on earth made me ever think I could be an Ironman but that I am also so excited and so ready and so full of hope despite all my fears. I'm ready to come out of the fog I've been in and start to dig through the feelings and clearing out the emotional baggage swimming around in my head and my heart. I'm just ready to feel what endurance sports mean to me in the first place and to tell you all the things they teach me because it's about so much more than just swimming, biking, and running. I'm ready to embrace this as the life-changing journey it is and should be. 

That's all I wanted to say today. That I'm here. I'm really here. For the first time in months, I am really here. 

The Beginning of the End

I already wrote an update at the halfway point, and it's only been 3 weeks since then, but I'm feeling like I'm at another pivotal point. Maybe even the most pivotal point. Twenty weeks of training divides almost into thirds, putting me now in the final third. I can't decide if I feel like I should be farther than roughly 67% of the way through training or if I'm not where I should be yet, but in reality this last third will be about half work and half taper, leaving me just a few more weeks to get in as much training as I can before I start to rest up.

I've experienced significant mental fatigue and burnout over the last several weeks, so I wanted to break down the first two thirds of training to make a plan for how to successfully tackle this final third. All of my successes and failures thus far are worthless if I don't learn from them. 

If You Go Straight Long Enough You'll End Up Where You Were

I started running to see if I could prove the, "No you can't"s in my head wrong. I kept running because I kept proving them wrong. By the time I decided to train for an Ironman, I thought they were all but gone. I thought I had literally outrun them. But they have started creeping back in, and the more they ask, "What makes you think you can do an Ironman?" the more I have to concede that I don't know.

I just posted a few weeks ago that I have never quit a swim. It's the one thing I never give up on. I don't make it to the pool as consistently as I get in the saddle or on the road, but when I am in the water I don't get out until I have completed the task at hand. I have different strengths and weaknesses in each discipline, with none of them being something I'm overwhelmingly good at, but swimming is the one that I feel most comfortable doing, even if I don't always want to do it.

I was supposed to swim at the pool on Wednesday and Friday last week, but I made some poor training decisions early in the week that snowballed into me lifting weights at the gym on Wednesday night right before heading to the pool. After an hour of legs and core (including a total of 90 push-ups), my body was tired and if I went to swim I'd be looking at about 5 hours of sleep before getting up at 3:50am the next morning for a 2.5 hour brick before work. So, the snowballing continued and I decided to pass on the swim to go to bed instead.

When Friday rolled around, I really had to swim. No choice. I'd swam once in 2.5 weeks (pool was closed the week prior) when I normally swim 2-3 times per week. I got off from work a little early and went home with some pep in my step, ready to get back in the water. Ben and I had some chores to take care of first that took a little longer than expected, but we finally got to the gym around the same time I'd normally get home from work, and I was feeling ahead of the game. 

The pool is in the back of the gym but you can see it from the front door. As soon as we walked in we could already tell it was very full. I really don't like swimming in pools and get weird pool anxiety, which is how I roped Ben into swimming in the first place and how he ended up signing up for his first triathlon (coming up this weekend!). The lanes make me feel claustrophobic and I hate sharing with anyone because then I feel even more claustrophobic and I just find the whole thing very stressful. I'll share if I have to, but I really don't like to share with anyone other than Ben because I'm just constantly worrying about where they are and what they're doing that I can't calm down. I know it's weird, but give me open water over a pool any day.

Sometimes the pool is crowded when we first get there but then people start getting out, and since we usually go around 8 or 9pm, not a lot of people come in after we get there, so we just wait for a lane to open up (Ben is the only person I feel comfortable sharing with). On Friday we went at 6pm so not only were people not leaving, but more just kept coming in. We ended up having to share a lane, and this story is already getting ridiculously long and it gave me anxiety typing it once already in my training recap from last week, so I'll just cut to the chase and tell you that I had a full on meltdown over this. My anxiety was already high because the pool was super crowded, and then a guy jumped in the lane I was already sharing with Ben and I kept getting stuck behind him and I got really frustrated and upset and my heart rate was through the rough and after stopping twice and telling Ben I was going to quit...on the third time, I finally did it. Before I even realized what was happening I was taking my googles off and hopping out.

And then I went and cried in the locker room because if I'm going to freak out when things don't go as planned then how am I ever going to get through 140.6 miles? And I don't just mean let out a few tears. I sobbed. I was so, so upset. At everything. At other people in the pool. At myself for quitting. At myself for ever even thinking I had a chance of having the mental strength to get through this. At training taking over my life and making me feel bad about myself.

I went to dinner with Ben instead and he helped talk me through what I was feeling and made me feel a little better, but I was still pretty down. I managed to make it through a 10 mile run on Saturday (after doing everything under the sun to procrastinate), but Sunday turned out to be even worse. I had to ride my bike 40 miles, which should have been easy after 110 the week before, but it wasn't. Not even close. Every pedal stroke felt hard and every mile felt like 10 and I just couldn't see the point anymore. I was ready to quit training right then and there. In that moment it didn't matter to me if I stopped training for the next 7 weeks and showed up on race day completely undertrained. And really, if give the option, I would have rather completed the whole race right then just to get it over with. I just wanted to be done. If my only choices were to either keep going or to get off my bike and forfeit ever being an Ironman, I am almost certain I would have taken the latter. I have thought this many times over the last few weeks, and on Sunday I was almost certain of it: if I didn't have three other people in this thing with me, I would probably have quit a long time ago. So I guess the only thing keeping me (barely) going at this point is Ironman FOMO.

This is the part of training I feel like no one really talks about. No one talks about the mental part and how hard it is to convince yourself to keep going when your brain is screaming at you to stop. Or how to tell when you should listen to that screaming, which is what I did on Sunday - when I did eventually get off my bike I took the rest of the afternoon off instead of running and swimming like I was supposed to. I read a lot of training and racing blogs and follow a lot of runners and triathletes on Twitter and Instagram, and while some are more transparent than others, there are far more stories of success than failure. But even the ones that do acknowledge failure don't seem to be affected by it the way that I do. Do they really not have the same negative emotions I do? When they do, do they just not allow those emotions to affect them as deeply as I do? Are they just not able to find the words to describe them, as I'm also unable to a lot of times?

I've always shared my running on my personal social media accounts whenever I felt like I had something to share, but I've deliberately chosen to document as much of my ironman training as possible this year on Instagram. I've tried to strike a balance between finding beauty in something that isn't always beautiful, and remaining as real and transparent as possible. I do share a lot of highs but I don't intentionally hide the lows or try to minimize them. Still, I often wonder if I am unintentionally contributing to this social media culture where everything is perfect and running is easy and I'm just over here powering through 15+ hour training weeks like its no big deal. I would hope that anyone who knows me or has read my blog knows that that is far from the truth and that I struggle, quite a lot sometimes, but I am still always curious how what I present online comes across. If I've ever downplayed how hard this is on me, it's only because I am trying to do my best to remind myself that this is a choice, it's something I am voluntarily putting myself through and for that reason I try not to publicly complain.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this or what the point is. I've had a few days of better training and some time to process the burnout, and I'm feeling a little bit better. I knew this would be an uphill battle so I can't say I'm surprised, but I just don't think I had the capacity to imagine just how much my limits would be tested during this training. I really didn't know, I couldn't know. Like I said at the beginning, I started running to prove to myself that the voice in my head was wrong, that I could do hard things. So when I've swam and biked and run hundreds or thousands of miles and find myself having and succumbing to those same thoughts telling me I can't, that I'm weak, that I'm worthless...I can't help but wonder what the point is. I can't help but wonder why I'm pushing myself toward a goal that I now really believe may truly be impossible for me to accomplish, if the only outcome is me feeling just as bad about myself as I used to before any of this started. 

I know I need a change of perspective, and that's what I'm working on moving forward. The one thing that slightly helped me get through the weekend was remembering that this is my journey. It is not my  training group's journey. It's not my coach's journey. Not the people who tell me I'm strong or brave for doing this. Not the people who tell me I'm crazy or think I'm stupid for doing this. Not my friends', not my family's, not my coworkers'. Not the people probably laughing at me running into the wall of the pool every lap because I left my goggles at home. Not the Instagrammers or the bloggers who make training always look like fun. Not anyone who has ever in any way made me feel like this could be an attainable goal (or not). Part of the reason I signed up in the first place was because I wanted this to be another road of self-discovery, the way my other really big goals and accomplishments have been, but so far if anything, I've lost myself. All of those people may contribute to my success to some degree, but at the end of the day, this is my journey. It's my swim, my bike, my run, my day, my Ironman, my iron year. No one else's but mine, and I have to rediscover my iron will if I'm going to make it to the finish line. 

If I Blogged, Vol. 2

What's New With You

I'd tell you that I'm realizing that sometimes I just have some tidbits to share, and that its okay if none of them grow into standalone posts. These aren't the type of posts I really like to write (or read for that matter), but they're what I got right now. And from the looks of my feed, I'm not the only one.

My Village

I've always trained for races solo. I've been lucky to always have family and friends who cheer me on through training and on race day, but as for the training itself, it's usually just me, myself, and I. I don't have anyone to meet for a run at 6am. I don't have anyone to talk to when I get bored, or to push me when I think I can't keep going. I'm the one that gets myself out of bed. I'm the one that gives myself the pep talks to keep going. For a long time, I really prided myself on that, that discipline and that self-motivation to get through training for everything from a half marathon to a half Ironman, but the closer I get to Ironman the harder it gets to do it alone.

If you follow me on social media, you may have noticed that Ironman training was...difficult this week. From the moment I opened my training plan last Sunday night, the resounding words in my head were, "I can't do this. No freakin' way. I can't do this." And when I slept through core on Monday morning, that voice got a little louder. "See, you can't even get up to work out for 20 measly minutes - how do you think you're going to get through 18+ hours this week?" Some time during work that day I decided that no, that voice was wrong, and I was going to make it through training this week. All 18 hours of it. With a feigned motivation I swam that night and it went well - swimming is really the only thing I feel kind of good at and confident about - but that was just one workout, and I still had so many left to do.

Tuesday was actually a fun day of training - I had a really nice morning run, then Ben and I biked together after work. But I knew the hard parts were coming, and they were just going to get harder. By Wednesday I was feeling more unsure than ever, so I took to Snapchat (as you do):

My swim that night wasn't great, and I was barely hanging on. The next morning things came crashing down when, once again, I was unable to complete a workout before work. This time I had 2.5 hours of biking and running to do, which is hard enough to get through before work, but I woke up 10 minutes late and my whole plan just crumbled. Instead I worked out after work, without eating dinner, which was horrible and miserable. But I did it, and I made it up to 8 hours total for the week (and I let Snapchat know but I forgot to save it). It had to get better, right?

Then came Saturday. It was...umm....I don't actually know what word would adequately describe how bad it was. The sad part is I was actually kind of looking forward to this! The trail where I ride is an old railroad that was converted to a multi-use paved trail, and it's 45 miles long. I park at MP 3.5 and the farthest I've ridden out is to MP 33.5. I remember the first time I rode out there, a 30-mile ride, thinking that eventually during my training I'd get to ride the whole thing. So I was kind of looking forward to it, at least as much as I can look forward to riding my bike 90 miles. So I got up this morning - I was on time and not even tired! - and things were going well. I got to the trail before it was light out so I had to wait about 30 minutes, but when the sun started coming up I got my things all set up and set off.

Usually I ride north because I'm only 3.5 miles from the south end, but today I went south first since I had to ride the whole thing either way. So I was on a part of the trail I hadn't been on before, looking around, admiring the scenery, when all of a sudden I saw a raccoon run out a little bit ahead of me. It ran out from the right side, the same side I was riding on, so it was basically directly in my path. I'm not sure what I was thinking at the time, but since it had run out from the right and was facing toward the left side, I guess I thought maybe it would keep crossing the trail? So because of that, I decided to try to pass it on the right, behind it, instead of on the left, in front of it. I was honestly equal parts afraid of hitting it and getting attacked by it. So I went to the right and as I passed I could see it run toward me (not sure if it was trying to get me or just trying to get back into the bushes) and I'm pretty sure I hit it but to what degree or how badly, I don't know. 

So this raccoon is running either under or just behind my bike, and I'm screaming, and the next thing I knew I was in the bushes on the side of the trail with my bike on top of me. I have never crashed my bike before - I've fallen a couple times just because I've forgotten to clip out when stopping - and the whole thing really, really freaked me out. Luckily both my bike and I were okay - in hindsight I guess it was a good thing that I tried to pass it on the right, because that way I crashed into bushes instead of asphalt. And one of my feet came out of my pedals so I didn't break my legs or anything. I have always wondered how people get thrown over their handlebars since, you know, their feet are clipped into the pedals. I do know that my cleats are pretty worn out so my feet slip out of my pedals all the time, which is usually quite annoying, and I don't know if that had anything to do with it, but if so I am really glad I haven't replaced those cleats. 

I jumped out of the bushes as fast as I could because I really didn't know where the raccoon was and I didn't want it coming after me (I don't think they do that, but it was a very disorienting experience). I got up and my bike was still laying there bushes because it had gotten tangled up in the bushes, and my whole body was shaking uncontrollably. Like I said, I wasn't hurt, just really freaked out. I called Ben just to tell him what happened - I didn't need help and there was nothing he could do anyway, I just wanted to tell someone. I talked to him for a few minutes and he helped calm me down.

You guys. This was a mile and a half into a NINETY mile ride. I had been riding for all of six minutes. After I pulled my bike out from the bushes and finished texting my training group and Tweeting about the incident, I was on my way again, just praying the rest of the ride would be uneventful. 

Unfortunately, that just wasn't in the fates today. Things went okay for a while after that. I made it to the trailhead, and then I was off to cover the 45 miles to get to the other end. I don't even really know how to explain what happened the rest of the way, except that I think I just let my fear get the best of me. In a perfect world, riding 90 miles would take about 5 hours and 15 minutes. Even on an extraordinary day, it would take 5 hours of pedaling to get through that kind of distance. This ended up being a sub-par day (even without the raccoon), so I was looking at more 5.5+ hours to finish. That's a LONG time to be out on a bike by yourself. I'm not even a very social person and like my alone time, but that's a long time even for me. And I just couldn't stop thinking about that as I was riding, even though time was ticking by I still had SO much farther to go. It just got to me. 

At about 35 miles in, a little over 2 hours, I just couldn't take it anymore. I pulled over on the side of the trail. I don't know what my plan was - I don't think I really had one. I just had to get off that bike. I called Ben (or texted? Or both?) and we talked for a while. I also texted my coach telling him what was going on. I'm not sure what I wanted to hear from him, I just wanted him to know.

More tweets.

And funny enough, I checked Facebook only to see that there was a conversation going on in my IMNC group about burnout. So I contributed.

I am not a person who posts on Facebook. If it weren't for these IMNC groups and posts I don't think I would check it at all. That's how badly I needed to reach out to anyone who would understand at that moment.

I had been feeling on the verge of burnout all week and stopping on the side of the trail was pretty much the culmination of that. I thought about turning around, but what would that do? I was 27 miles from the car. It wasn't like I could just call it quits right then and there. I was 14 miles from the north end of the trail - remember that getting to it had been my goal for the day. I decided to keep going at least that far and figure out what to do when I got there.

I got some texts from my training group.

(These are my people so I don't care if you know their names, haha. But from here on out I will refer to them by their initials, except for Jay because I already have a nickname for him and it's Dad)

And Ben.

And, understandably, there was a lot of ugly crying over the next 10 miles. My legs felt like lead weights and it was just so hard to keep going and ugh, even if I did keep going when I got to the end I had to turn around and go all the way back?

With about 3 miles to go until I got to the trailhead, my coach finally texted back telling me to shut it down and try again next weekend when we all do a group ride together. I pulled over again to call him to talk and told him I was almost to the end, 40 miles away from my car, so I really had no choice but to keep going. He asked me if I had enough food - he is super concerned about nutrition, which is good because I seriously suck at it - and I didn't. I had already eaten a banana and apple and had raisins and a banana left, which wasn't really enough for another 3 hours. I had meant to pack a PBJ but I forgot, and I was definitely hungry. Then he told me that he often gets a cup of coffee and a candy bar in the middle of a long ride, so you better believe that once I made it to the trailhead and turned around, I made a beeline to the nearest 7-Eleven. I almost had a meltdown when they were out of iced coffee, but I compromised and settled on this instead and stood outside for about 10 minutes basking in my spoils.

I also posted this on Instagram (along with a caption that was more like an essay), and I have never been more thankful that my Garmin gets smart notifications than I was in the next hour or so. I got a rush of Instagram comments and Tweets during those miles and they seriously helped me power through. I felt so much better on the way back (could have just been the coffee and the candy bar, though). 

The one from Becky about the brewery is the best and worst. There are seriously at least 5, maybe 10? breweries right off this trail - no lie, I passed a different one as she tweeted that - and I never get to stop. One day!

The ride back went much more smoothly than the ride out, until I hit a headwind with about 20 miles left to go. It wasn't super strong, but after the day I'd had, it was strong enough to wear me down. I stopped for water and texted my coach some more. 

At mile 73, T (yes we have the same name but he's a 55-year-old guy and I'm a 28-year-old girl so it's not actually that confusing) called me. "Whatcha doing?" "Oh, just riding my bike..." He's done one Ironman before and was just calling to help me get through. He told me that he had done a 90-miler alone during his training for his last IM and that it was super depressing, so he knew how I felt. We talked about our training for a couple miles before hanging up. I actually called him during his Ironman a couple years ago - I had been tracking him all day and my heart was just about to burst I was so proud of him. He had a really hard time on the run and struggled really, really badly, so I called him around mile 15 or 20 to leave a voicemail to say how proud of him I was. I guess it was his turn to return the favor.

I would say that the last 5 miles were the hardest I've ever ridden, but I once rode 5 miles 2000ft to the top of a mountain, so I can't say that. But they were nearly as tough as the previous 85 miles had been. I was tired, and sometimes I would slow down almost to a complete stop and just cry because it was so hard. 

By the time I finished, I had been in the saddle, pedaling, for 5.5 hours, and out on the trail for over 7.5. I started at 6:20am and didn't get back to my car until just before 2pm. And I didn't even do the hour run I had scheduled for after the bike. I had planned on a long day, but not that long. I thought I'd be back home and showered and napping by 2pm. From the minute I maybe (probably?) hit that raccoon, nothing went according to plan.

Ben initially did the Couch25k program with me and trained for our first 5k and 10k, and sometimes I run with other people in training or just for fun - and I don't want to diminish that in any way - but 95% of the time, it's just me. I don't have a problem with that, and most of the time, I prefer it. I'm not a very social person and I enjoy the alone time. But 5.5 hours on a bike is a long time to be alone, even for the most introverted of us introverts. It's clear from the amount of cellular data that I used between 6:30am-2pm yesterday that I really, really needed people to get me through.

We all know the saying, "It takes a village," and I knew that would be true for Ironman training, but I didn't know to what extent until Saturday. I knew before I even dared attempt an Ironman that I would at least need one other person to be in it with me - to suffer with me, to celebrate with me, to help me pick up the pieces, to encourage me - but I didn't know just how many people I'd need.
"I didn't know how hard this would be" has been a recurring theme for me throughout this training. I just...didn't know. I knew it would be hard on me physically, but I underestimated how hard it would be on me mentally and emotionally. I underestimated how draining it would be to come straight home from work, eat a quick dinner, work out for 2.5 hours, then go to bed only to wake up to do it all over again. I underestimated how hard it would be to be away from my family during the only free days we get together. I underestimated how hard it would be to say, "No, I can't, I have to work out." But I underestimated how many people I have in my life who understand, and encourage me, and believe in me - even when I don't believe in myself. 

So, if you're reading, thanks. Thanks for helping me get through. Thanks for being a part of my village.


Halfway. Ten weeks. Out of twenty. Beginning on June 6, ending on October 22.

I will no doubt post a summary of my Ironman training when it's all over, but I thought it would be interesting to post one at the halfway point as well and then compare at the end. I'm actually a week late posting this - of course - but only including everything up to the halfway point!

On being halfway: It definitely feels like it. It feels like a million years have passed since I started training, and like I have a million more to go until I get to mid-October. This is the longest training cycle I've ever had at 20 weeks, plus 8 weeks of pre-training if you count that. I guess technically I trained for my first marathon for 7 months, but I was also training for my first Olympic tri so the first 3 months of that we're focused on the tri, then the next 4 were focused solely on the marathon. I havent really have any other races that have been training goals this time, so it's 6 months of focusing on one race at the end.