Tuesday, May 22, 2012

it's not all puppies shitting rainbows

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 88ยบ 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.  

28 comments:

  1. Amazing post, Katie! Thank you for sharing. I'm very inspired - sometimes just getting through the day feels like "just logging the data, slamming the book shut, and moving forward." Thank you for keeping it real!

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  2. Don't get too excited - but I have ordered puppies (some shitting rainbows) to not only greet you at the finish of the swim, but also to be placed along Skyline at various places :)

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  3. God I wish my dogs shat rainbows. Their arses really are the gift that keeps giving.

    In other news, go, girl.

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  4. Really, really realistic post. I could almost see the bike shoes go flying into the bushes :) You hit the nail on the head on so many levels, there are so many ups and downs during something as long and intense as Ironman training, you just have to ride out the wave when things get bad and when things are good and you are in love with the training, bottle up those thoughts, memories, and feelings to fall back on during the rough patches. And I do think Ironman training gets easier over time-not so much in a physical sense but mentally. I'm doing my 6th one this summer and while there are still frustrations and days I want to throw my bike in the pool with my running shoes following shortly thereafter, the training has become daily life and I now just view May and June as the months with really long bike rides and the rest of the year with more reasonable stuff. Oh and during the race itself, just live in the moment-DO NOT think about running a marathon while you are on the bike.

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  5. Great post! Ahhh yes I've had many a tired cranky melt downs glad to see I'm not the only one :-) I actually just told someone very close to me last weekend "it's not always rainbows and sunshine that come out of my orifices!"

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  6. Some days, training is "WHY did I do this???" and others, it's "THIS is why I did this." But little is more annoying than people saying "WHO MADE ME DO THIS??" as if they didn't click register themselves.

    I'd say you're in exactly the right place.

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  7. Husbands? We have them? I would have never knows with the insanity that IM training is. Keep it up - you're doing the right thing.

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  8. Reading about your ironman journey is very inspiring. I'm glad you are sharing your ups and downs along the way.

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  9. I will say that this shit changes your life forever. I thought on those hard days that it was impossible. Then on the easy days I thought I could do this forever. It is the combination of both of those feelings that helps to put this journey and make no mistake this is a journey in perspective. This ain't training for a 5K where you run 3.1 miles in 30 minutes and are done. This is long, hard, tough shit. You grind and you grind and you grind. You sacrifice and you get to the edge and look over and when it seems that falling off that cliff is going to be easy the floor your standing on extends.....why? Because you got stronger that day. You forged some more iron at that moment. You were better because of the melt-down even if you don't know it. These are all memories to be cherished and they will all come flooding back when you are on the course. At some point during the bike you'll remember this and it will push you. At some point on the run you will remember those 11:XXs and it will push you. You will never give up because you are a fighter. You are tough and you will battle this to the end and come June 24th at some point when you cross that finish line you will know why you did it.

    Then the puppy's will shit rainbows and the unicorns carrying leprechauns will dance with you......

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  10. Way to keep it real! Very inspiring, even after reading the hard brick you had after a century, I still want to do an ironman - I think we have a bolt loose in the brain :) Keep on moving you are almost there!!!

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  11. man, i love your honesty. this is why i like your blog. you are honest. i'm sure this is brutal training for you, but it will totally pay off next month. go get 'em!

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  12. Hey, we have a Hasher named 'Heavy Load'. Iyou are preaching to the choir....... AGRHHHHHHHH

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  13. I love your blog for that very reason. You are straight to point, clear cut and hilarious. You don't beat around the bush and I'm glad to hear though training is not going the best you are staying hella strong.

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  14. Anyone who says they never have a bad workout is clearly lying. I like to think (pretend?) that these bad workouts are sometimes better at preparing me for a race than the good ones. Because in any long race you are going to have rough patches and you have to be ready to deal with them and keep going.

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  15. I love your honesty. Ironman is such an odd journey and this post really summarized it well! I actually had the thought cross my mind during my first 100 mile bike ride that it might be nice to crash so that I could take a ride home in an ambulance and go to sleep and NOT ride anymore.

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  16. It sounds like your training is going just as it should. You are making the best of it though and that is all that matters. Keep it up!

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  17. Chica, I hear ya, my 8 miles on Sunday were slow as molasses, I tried to do a one hour interval run this morning with 6 minutes at 90%/3 min at 65% * 3 and my heart rate never climbed above 140 for the whole damn workout, and my spin last night was at a blazing heartrate of 105. That hilly ass century ride took it all out of me. You're still going to kill the Ironman. And then we shall drink beer in July.

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  18. I've never trained for an Ironman but I have to think that it's about a zillion times more time consuming than a marathon, and that in itself is tough. I am so proud of you Katie and your determination is what is going to propel you through the tough spots on race day and though your biggest support network might be the one you forget to look at sometimes, but he's going to be there for you at the finish line, probably crying his face off at how proud he is of you too. Keep at it girl, these are the moments that make you tougher!

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  19. Great post!!!! Love it!!!!!

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  20. This level of training is equivalent to a PT job - most of us can't begin to imagine the mental exhaustion that becomes part of this game, let alone the soreness, fatigue & um, saddle sores...(omg omg your crotch). The best part of this all is that you have no doubt why you signed up for this, and that you WILL finish it. Keep that for you, it's admirable.

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  21. You have your head on right -- and THAT is what will get you through all the tough, the disappointing, and the exhausting.

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  22. You capture the extreme fatigue and challenge of peak IM training perfectly here, and who can resist PSRs? As another CdA'er, I thank you for keeping us smiling, and relating.

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    1. another CdA'er? Hello, new friend!

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  23. I've never had saddle sores that lead to my crotch coming apart (gaaaarrrghhh!), but I have to say that they're probably worth it for this major life lesson: That it's important to log the data, slam the book shut, and move forward. This will serve you well on race day, but also in the rest of life's trials.

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  24. Awesome post... great reality check, very inspiring and a good reminder to embrace the suck, GSD and move on. You're a rockstar.

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  25. I can relate to every single word here. Great read :)

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