I realized after posting my ride recap yesterday that I might be giving off an overly positive view of how ironman training is going. And while I'm trying to stay positive, I also believe in being honest and raw with a side of cussing. That's who I am, that's why you are here.
So the truth is yes, I did have a fantastic century on Saturday. Everything clicked, everything happened in the right order at the right time and while the prominent thought in my head when getting off the bike was, "Wow, I really don't want to run a marathon right now," I felt pretty brilliant. But then it rolled over to Sunday, and I had another huge workout to tackle. And the flip side of that is everything did not go as planned, everything did not fucking "click." Along with many other annoying distractions of the day, I couldn't even get remotely close to the heart rate window I was supposed to be riding in for the first interval. For the most part, I've stopped being mad when this happens and instead just hammer my hardest to get as close as I can, but on Sunday I got frustrated, and then I started getting upset at myself for being frustrated. And when I rolled back to my car at the close of the first loop, 2 hours into a 3.5 hour ride, I had a bit of a meltdown. I was exhausted. (But we're all exhausted). I had ridden the first 2 hours in my tri shorts and they made my 100-mile saddle sores about a billion times worse. (But we all have saddle sores). I was head-to-foot covered with EFS that splashed out of my now-soon-to-be-replaced-by-something-else aero bottle and dead bugs and smelled completely disgusting and the last thing I wanted to do was ride another 1.5 hours, then run. (We would ALL rather be on a beach somewhere eating bon-bons and drinking frosty margs).
I have no idea what got me back on the bike and rolling again, other than the very clear thought that a meltdown like this was probably normal and expected and it's actually a little surprising that it hasn't shown up sooner. I decided to ditch my HR plan and just rode steady for the remainder of the ride, talking nice to myself and looking around at the turtle and the snake and the cow and all the other creatures that wandered by while I was riding. But I have never so badly wanted to rip off my bike shoes and throw them in the bushes, followed by my bike. When I got back to the car, I took the time to change into run shorts and when I peeled my bike chamois away from my crotch, my sticky sweaty bike shorts pulled away about 7 layers of skin off as well and I shrieked in the parking lot like I was being murdered. I took off running at a blistering 10:40 pace and it took me 2 miles to find a spot on the trail where I wasn't being boiled by 88º heat and a cloudless sky and when I found it, I ran back-and-forth on that quarter-mile stretch until my time was up.
So no, training isn't all perfection, it's not unicorn fairies and shiny PRs every day. On most days, it's not hard, it's not impossible, it's just hot and tired and really needs a shower and a nap. But sometimes it IS hard. Sometimes it's standing in front of the refrigerator at 2am drinking Powerade Zero in your underwear like some crazy electroylteaholic because your body woke you up with twitchy legs from dehydration. Sometimes it's wearing a long-sleeved shirt on your run just so you will really have no idea how slowly you are moving forward, because you just can't stand to watch the 11s roll past yet again. Sometimes it's calling your coach after climbing out of the pool halfway through your long swim and trying to not let your voice crack into tears from exhaustion while you talk. Sometimes it's spending two hours and forty-two minutes puking your brains out at the end of a race that you busted ass for, that you worked hard for all winter because you desperately wanted to have the day you feel you deserve. Sometimes it's being angry, really angry, at all the people in your life who you thought were your unfailing support system but instead have let you down. And you can't even deal with stress in your life by throwing on your running shoes and heading out for a mind-clearing run, because that's not on the schedule today, what's on the schedule today is two hours of swimming followed by intervals on the bike followed by falling asleep on your foam roller on the living room floor after looking at your husband just long enough to be reminded that he exists.
But the other side of it is, it's taking responsibility for your own decisions that have led you to that day. I decided to sign up for an ironman. I didn't decide because someone else signed up and it sounded like a good idea or I didn't want to be out-enduranced or any other meaningless reason. I signed up because I wanted to do it. I picked CdA because the race drew me in, not because of the people that were going to be there. I decided to be coached by Sonja, knowing fully well that she would whip my ass but also that I would be unrecognizable by the time June 24th rolled around. And while she makes my schedule, I choose to follow it. I chose to ride a tough and hilly century on Saturday and follow that with a hard brick on Sunday. I also understand that one bad workout, no matter how important it seems on paper, is not going to make or break my ironman. The decisions I have made for the past six months, those will decide. All those times that I decided to obey my HR monitor and chug along at 10:55 pace instead of running the 9-minute pace I wanted to be running, all those times that I turned down the beer and put spinach in my smoothie instead, all those times I turned down the crazy group workouts that weren't on my schedule so I could recover, all those times I chose to go to bed early instead of reading one more chapter, all those days and weekends upon weekends that I chose to leave my family at home alone without me and spend time swimming, biking or running. Those are the choices that will shape my day.
So yes, sometimes ironman training is shitty. Sometimes bad workouts happen. But how I react, the way I choose to respond, I think that says more about the kind of race I'm hoping to have. More importantly, I think it says more about how much I've changed, about how much a good influence on my outlook Sonja has been for me these past months. Instead of searching for external factors - people or places or things - to blame, I'm getting better at just logging the data, slamming the book shut, and moving forward. Because if I had to carry around all those negative thoughts along with everything else I'm going through, I'm not sure I would make it. The load would just be too heavy to bear.