IM Louiville

IM Louiville
Bikes racked at Ironman Louisville 2010

Thursday, October 04, 2007

One More Month

Just one month from today will be Ironman Florida. Nervousness has not set in, though I know it will. The thing about Ironman is that it is an event that you typically sign up for a year in advance. In fact, the last several IM North America races (North America is like the "big daddy" of Ironman races) have filled up within just hours. That's right, hours. And then the event just looms in front of you for the next 364 days. Oh sure, you go on about your normal daily business, but always somewhere in the back of your mind you think, "I'm doing an Ironman." The thoughts of the Ironman get more and more frequent as the days slip by.

It wasn't that long ago when I thought, "Gee, I might want to actually start training for the Ironman." Don't laugh, it's true. Yes, sure, I've been working out year 'round. My first half ironman this season was in April. And I've continued to race regularly throughout the season (or at least until the shin splint injury struck).

But make no mistake, just swimming, biking and running isn't technically "training" for the Ironman. There's a big difference between working out and actually training for the race. It's sorta like saying that if you just go out and run every day, you're ready for a marathon. The truth is, you're not. And though the training plan doesn't need to be a big, long, meticulous plan, there does need to be a plan.

The swim - well, as confident of a swimmer that I am, I actually dread the ironman swim. Oh no, it's not the length. 2.4 miles? Heck, make it 5 miles, I don't care. No, see the big fear I have (from past experience) is getting knocked around so much so that it feels like you are drowning.

Within minutes of my start at Ironman Coeur d'Alene, I was panicking, out of breath and the adrenaline was shooting throughout my body. I wanted to cry. This is so not how I wanted my day to start. Sometimes I wonder if it's because I try to situate myself toward the front of the pack, with the more aggressive swimmers. But as I talk to anyone who has done an Ironman, it seems this feeling happens to just about everyone (well, maybe not the pros). The sad part about this is that the swim should be the "warm up" to what is supposed to be a great day. The swim is my strength and I really want to enjoy this part of the race. Unfortunately, I don't. If I'm really lucky, by about half way through the swim, the field opens up or I swing wide to get away from all the bodies kicking and flailing their arms (well, that's what it feels like their doing!). I wonder why the hell the guy next to me won't move over and I have to remind myself he's probably boxed in just like I am. I try very hard not to waste energy on getting angry and frustrated. See this, I'm already thinking about how dreadful the swim will be and I still have 30 days left to go through this wonderful experience!

Bike - I don't care who you are, 112 miles on a bike isn't fun. Oh yeah, it's great in the beginning...and if you're lucky, the middle is pretty good, too. But then, just like the "wall" in the marathon, I guess we have a "mountain" on the bike. It typically comes around mile 80 or 90 when nothing feels good and you just want to be off the bike. If you're reading this thinking, "well, at that point, you don't have much more to go," just stop yourself. 20 or 30 miles is a very LONG way to go when you're feeling spent and you're sore from being in the aero position not to mention your crotch (yes, I said it). It takes a very strong mental attitude to push through this time and at Couer d'Alene, I almost didn't make it. My mental will was weak. Thankfully, there was no aid station at my low point, or I would've pulled over and called it a day. I couldn't just stop in the middle of nowhere. By the time I got to the next aid station, I was feeling a little better. But it was pure happiness when I pulled into T2 and was able to get off that bike!!

The run - ah, the run. Er, um, run/walk. Or, uh, just walk. Also known as "the death march." If you're lucky, you can start off running. I think many people need to start off walking just to get their legs used to being off the bike. And if you're even luckier, you can continue to run. When I set out to do this upcoming Ironman, my goal was not to walk during the marathon portion. After the injury in July, I considered pulling out of this race. Once I decided, just a few weeks ago, that I could still do this race, my goal then changed to just being able to finish. And that's so not me. But with the lack of run training, I have no idea how this will go. It's too late to turn back now. I'm doin' this.


Anonymous said...

Why don't you go with the shuffle strategery?

Crackhead said...

Hey, glad to hear you are still going. Some people run just fine even if they haven't trained it. You are tough. Going in without expectations is fine--you could end up with a wonderful race!