Wednesday, September 5, 2012

it's time to get scary

So, I'm racing this weekend.  You probably didn't know that because I haven't mentioned it fifty times in the past three hours.
I'm taking the fourth crack at racing 70.3 miles, and I'm hoping that this will be the time that I finally can release my demons of this distance into the past.  Looking back at my first three attempts, I've walked the back five miles of the run after coming back from injury way too quickly, I've crashed my bike and I've puked for an entire half marathon.  Worse than what the clock has said, I've had two pretty rough and unhappy days as an athlete through these miles, and that is the history that I would really like to just wash away.

I think that a lot of my mental problems stemmed from a significant amount of pressure I was putting on myself, and I've done everything I can to let the pressure just simmer down this round.  For one, I will be racing this distance twice this fall, which means that while I do have goals for this race, if I don't meet them I'll be excited to troubleshoot and try again a month later instead of being pissed that I won't get another jump at it until the spring.  I also pretty seriously considered not talking about the race or my goals here, because I feel like talking about these things in a public forum adds pressure.  But the flip side of that is, talking about my life in a public forum, no matter how dull the topic, is how I roll.  And if I'm going to force you to read blog posts on granola bars and look at eight million pictures of my dogs, not to mention my ass, then I sure am going to reward you with a goals post so you can scramble to your google chat with mean-spirited glee when I fall on my face and fail to meet any of them Sunday morning.
So let's start by talking some numbers.  

Swim, 1.2 miles
In my three races, I've shown steady and solid improvement on the swim at each race (spoiler: this is the only leg where this occurs).  38:43, 36:06, and 33:46.  But the swim is also the one place where it's hard to make time goals, because you never know how far you're going to have to run out of the water until you hit the timing mat or if the guy dropping the buoys is drunk or asleep or just in a pissy mood.  So while I think I'm in shape to whack another serious hunk of time off of this distance, I'm not going to be mad if I don't due to factors having nothing to do with how quickly I move through the water.  At Knoxville I was the fifteenth woman out of the water, fifth in my AG.  Not having any clue at all about who is showing up to race, my goal is to be one of the first ten women out of the lake.  I'm going to try to make this happen by not freaking the fuck out the first thirty seconds of the race, going out too fast, having a heart attack and breaststroking for five minutes until I've calmed down.  Instead, I'm going to try and find some feet, swim strong but not at the redline, and flip over zero times to bring my panicking heart rate under 200.  Hopefully the entire cast of Stanford swim team alumni won't be in Ohio this weekend to beat the living crap out of me in the water.
Bike, 56 miles
My first 70.3 race was the Kinetic Half, which has a magical bike course and still holds my PR of 3:05:48.  The crash at Waterman's resulted in a 3:18:21 and the trying-not-to-shit-my-pants at Knoxville resulted in a 3:13:01.  I was pretty happy at Druid Hill to roll in on the fastest female bike split of the day, but I am very pointedly NOT trying to do this on Sunday.  The last thing I want to do is bike a 2:35 and then walk the back half of the run.  However, the time has come and gone for me to break 3 hours, so that's all I want to do.  Do I think that I can bike 56 miles at a much faster average speed than 18.7mph?  Absolutely.  Do I want to try and find out how hard I can hammer through those miles this weekend?  Absolutely not.  I'd be thrilled with a 2:59:59.  Anything else will just be unicorn poop to roll around in.
Other than that, not much to think about on the bike.  My nutrition is so ingrained that I don't even notice it happening anymore, and I feel pretty confident that I know what half-IM effort feels like in my legs.  I've got a heart rate window, but I'm not going to nail myself to it.  Instead, I'm going to check in every so often to make sure that I'm not overriding and spend the rest of the ride with my nose down, pushing the pedals around and around, emptying my head over and over and getting ready to really hurt on the run.

Run, 13.1 miles
Even I am weary of talking about this leg of this distance, my GOD I am tired of these numbers.  The fastest I've ever run this distance off the bike is 2:26:55, also at Kinetic.  Severely undertrained and walking the better part of the last five miles still gave me a better run split than stomping my angry little feet around Maryland (2:35:58) and puking through Tennessee (2:47:12, and looking it up for this post was the first time I knew either of those last two times).  My stand-alone PR was almost a year ago in Philadelphia in a really poorly-executed attempt to race my brains out (2:01:02).  I am terrified of how much it is going to hurt, I'm scared to even think about what it is going to feel like, but I am going after that PR.  And the only way I'm going to be ready to hurt that hard is to not think about it at all between now and then, so that is ALL I really have to say about that.
I've done the math - and you can too! - so I know what a perfect day would look like, but I only sorta kinda care about what the total clock time looks like when I cross the finish line.  I also know that even if I have the greatest day of my triathlon life, I'm not setting world records or getting on any podiums, so you probably should have stopped reading a long time ago if you think I'm that kind of athlete.  Because I'm not.  I'm the kind of athlete who loves the crap out of this sport and just wants to keep figuring out how to do it a little faster, a little smarter, with a little more joy in the day.  I've been able to find that joy quite a few times already this season, and I'm ready to take on what is for me a scary distance with some scary goals.  And if I don't PR every leg like I want to, I will try pretty hard to not stomp around being pissed about it.  Because in the end, I get to wake up and spend my day racing, and waiting for me at the finish line is my fantastic and mostly-furry family.  Who will love me even if I fall down, even if I crash, even if I make mistakes and fail to crush the living shit out of these miles yet again.  I'll try and remember two years ago, when this same weekend I decided to have surgery because I couldn't stand not being able to run for longer than 25 seconds one more day.  Or three years ago, when I was getting ready to go to court to finalize my divorce, or four years ago when I was 45lbs heavier than I am right now, trapped in an unhappy marriage with no idea how to get out.  I'll try to remember all those things, and I'll try to find joy in the moments I can, because in remembering the story of my life, it will never, ever matter what my half-ironman PR is.  It will matter that I was happy, and lucky, and loved.

38 comments:

  1. BOOOOOOOOOOBS.

    haha, you just need to remember that quote and you'll be fine. you're [ ] legit, don't you forget it.

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  2. Gah! Although I'm thrilled to be living in Phx I wish I was back in Ohio racing this weekend. Enjoy and good luck!

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  3. You are going to tear. it. up!

    This bike course is super flat! There is one "hill", but from what you are used to you will probably see it and laugh. It is on Findley (or something like that, can't remember the exact name) around the 30 mile mark. If you look at the elevation chart, it looks like it is uphill for a long stretch, but it really just goes up 300 feet over like 15 miles.

    Plus!!!! Possible finish line crossing with the pups! How could the race get any better???

    Looking forward to meeting you!!!

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  4. Good luck my friend! May you have a strong current (in a lake no less) and a good tailwind :)

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  5. I have all the confidence in the world that this is going to be the 70.3 where you put some serious demons to rest. You're in amazing shape and you've got experience under your belt. I know you have goals (as we all do) but one of the things I've learned from you is to keep those goals in mind but don't let them make you crazy. And have fun. Don't forget what you taught me! Best of luck. I can't wait to hear/read/tweet all about it. Love u!

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  6. I like everything about this goals post! Go get 'em, Katie!!

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  7. GOOD LUCK!! You are totally going to rock it! Have fun, and enjoy the ride (and the swim and the run).

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  8. Great attitude, now get out there and HURT!

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  9. HOLY "letter to your 16 year old self." WOW, good for you and look how far you have come. WOW.

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  10. "I'm the kind of athlete who loves the crap out of this sport and just wants to keep figuring out how to do it a little faster, a little smarter, with a little more joy in the day. " - a thousand times YES. Thank you for this, you inspire me every day.

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  11. Good luck! I hope #4 is the one where everything comes together!

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  12. Good luck! I really hope you took enough time off after CdA. that's a quick time to race a half so close to a full. I hope the day goes smoothly. just take it easy and enjoy the moment.

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  13. Crush it! But no pressure, of course.

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  14. Best of luck to you! I think it's great that you put your race goals out there. I've done the same thing for my first marathon, only I've hedged my bets because I have 5 levels of goals (#1: finish!)

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  15. You're awesome and are going to have a fantastic race this weekend. Best of luck, and enjoy every single second of it!

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  16. 1.)You should win a "Best Blog Photos" award!
    2.) GOOD LUCK this weekend! Breaking 3 hours on the bike? Nice work speedy!
    3.) I hear you on that half-marathon. I can hammer the bike, but whoa...the run bites me in the ass if I do! I always have to remind myself that I'm here for a half-marathon and the bike is just a warm up.
    4.) Congrats on the weight loss, life changes, and all that. Being grateful never gets old. Never!

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  17. How are those fur babies of yours? Especially Graham, how is he doing?

    You are amazing. And you are right about "finding the joy." I need to remember that more when races don't go my way. Good luck this weekend!

    The Kidless Kronicles

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  18. Love this! Have a super day on Sunday! I find that if you force yourself to smile and high five little kids on the run, it gives you energy in return and you'll run faster. :)

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  19. Good luck, Katie! You are going to do great! My Mom lives about 20 minutes from Cedar Point on Catawba Island. If you guys have any spare time, it's worth taking a drive over to Marblehead and walking around the Marblehead Lighthouse...or if you have more time, it's fun to take the ferry over to Put-In-Bay or Kelley's Island. Sandusky isn't all that beautiful, but there are many spectacular places around there. I will be thinking about you...sending you good vibes!

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  20. May the wind be at your back! Keep on keepin on my friend. And continue to have fun xoxo.

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  21. Seriously, you are going to kill this race. You are ready to rock it AND you've got your head together for this one and your priorities in line.

    PS I'm glad I'm not the only one who had a stupid starter marriage. We should swap stories one of these days.

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  22. So, do you get to ride all the Cedar Point roller coasters for free after this race? Have fun and go kill it. Then ride Millennium Force and make me reeeeal jealous.

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  23. I will be cheering you on from San Diego this weekend! You are going to rock this - I know it! Your body cooperated well at the Ironman and I know it will for this too. But like you said, even if it doesn't, life's meaning doesn't revolve around PRs. :)

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  24. GET ER DONE!!!! Good luck this weekend!

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  25. You came out of IMCdA a whole new athlete. I feel confident that you will kick this 70.3 in the throat - whatever that looks like!

    Cheering for you from Texas!!!

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  26. This weekend!!! :) Good luck!!!!

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  27. Good luck this weekend. This will be my first 70.3. It's a favorable bike course and you sould crush that PR. Some roads are chipped, so you may have to search around for the smoothest part. Lake Erie is a fickle beast though.

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  28. Each year keeps getting better! I didn't know you lost so much weight. Good for you. And have fun no matter what. Hope you meet your goals but you are smart to have another race lined up so everything isn't riding on this one. And I agree - triathlons are fun!

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  29. I just found your blog and I love it. This post hits home for me as your splits are near my goals. Best of luck this weekend. I'll send the ju Ju your way. Btw...2 adorable pugs in this house! Doing my first Olympic in January!

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  30. Focus on one PR at a time and at the end it will add up to one huge ass PR overall. Good luck chica, believe to achieve!

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  31. Just have fun with it! It's such a PR friendly course, provided the water isn't choppy (it was like glass for me, and wetsuit legal!) and the weather cools off a bit. I seriously loved that race so much I might just jump into your trunk and come with you. I will send thoughts of low humidity and calm waters!

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  32. Have a great race this weekend at CP. I know a lot of people doing this race and many that have done it before. Have fun and PR you ass off!

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  33. Good luck! Have a great weekend and make sure the puppies are warmed up (and shirted up) and ready to go for the sprint across the finish line. :)

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  34. Good luck! I love how you talk about being the kind of athlete who loves the sport and just wants to keep working on doing it faster, smarter, and with more joy. I've primarily been a swimmer, but in pursuit of my goal of just completing a half-marathon, I've fallen in love with running, and the desire to continue on to triathlons eventually. Your blog is very inspiring!

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  35. Random question about your SOAS kit... how big are the leg openings?? I've been eyeing their kits for a while but am scared to pull the trigger, for fear that my legs will ONCE AGAIN look like sausages in women's tri shorts.

    Oh. And. Have a great time racing this weekend!

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  36. One question: How do you nail anything to a window? Wouldn't that window shatter?

    RUN ANGRY!

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