Saturday, July 26, 2014

What I'm Thinking for 2015...

It's pure craziness really.  This is a sickness.  I should've known six years ago that that little Naperville Tri would be my gateway drug... 

So on Friday I emailed WTC to withdraw and get my big 'ol "refund" of $150.  I'm not sure you can really even call it a refund if it is less than 25% of the original entry fee, but I digress.  Since then the relief I initially felt has already faded and it has crossed my mind a million times that maybe that was a mistake- maybe I can still be ready.  So many times in the past 24 hrs have I thought of emailing them back- "WAIT! Nevermind! I will still do it!"  But then I try to lift my arm and that reminds me.  Not this year.  Or I try to run a bit to catch a bus, and I still have some pain in my thigh (is that the same as the hip? Who knows...).  Yes, Ironman on September 28 would be dumb. 

But when you take a dream away, you need something to fill the void.  Once I was talked out of the fall marathon, I started looking towards next season.  The logical choice would be Ironman Wisconsin.  It is closest, allowing training on the course.  While it has hills for sure, they are none of the long climbs I am so unaccustomed to.  The race is at the end of the summer, giving me ample training time once winter ends in May or whatever it may be next year. 

I'm not sure if it's that more than a year seems so long to wait, or I just want to reach out beyond IMWI, or I feel a need to make up for Chattanooga.  Likely, all of the above.  Ironman Coeur d'Alene has always appealed to me for some reason, even with the water temperatures advertised as 55-65 degrees.  Actually, as I melt in my apartment right now, that sounds quite nice.  Yet, IMWI still makes too much sense to pass up...  So then I lost myself in pure stupidity...  could I do them both? 

I did the dumb thing of posting that question on the EN boards.  Sort of like asking a group of alcoholics at the bar if you should have another drink.  Only one person voted nay, with reasons of losing the support you have of friends/family/coworkers once the first is done.  I mapped out the training and it seems doable.  I am so so close to sending some more money to WTC and signing up for CdA. 

The cons are definitely there.  First, it is a lot of money.  Not just the $1300 I would pay in race fees alone, but the travel, hotel, etc.  There's the fact that this will include two ironman builds, meaning more 4+ hour rides and totally lost weekends than I want to think about right now.  There is the energy it will take from work, and next summer may be crazy with the final push before the dissertation.  There's all the stuff you miss with so much training, and the guilt you feel if you do prioritize work or family or friends above a big workout.  Specific to IMCdA is the fact that big training volume will start at the end of March, which will likely mean lots of long trainer rides.  There's also that scary cold water. And then there is that very important fact that I've been missing the motivation to train for one race a year, how the heck will I avoid burnout with two? 

As ironic as it may be, I think the last point might just be the secret to making this a success.  Something appeals to me to see in one year, how hard can I push myself and how much can I achieve.  I would not be doing this half-ass as I have been, but full steam ahead.  Do I have the discipline to do this?  It will obviously not be fun 100% of the time or maybe even 50%.  I will miss out of other things in the process.  But what could I accomplish if I do this right?  Nothing sums it up like this-

“To accomplish something extraordinary, one must have an extraordinary dream.  A goal so high, a journey so demanding, that it’s achievement to most seems impossible.  Ironman inspires us to re-imagine our limits, to set sights higher, to go farther than we ever have before. Ironman is a statement of excellence, passion, commitment; it is a test of physical toughness and mental strength. Ironman is about persevering, enduring, and being a part of something larger than ourselves.

It shows the heights that can be achieved when we push beyond our boundaries and go the distance to earn the title IRONMAN.”

I am longing for that feeling of knowing I committed myself to something big, and pushed as hard as I could, and see what happens. 

So right now, here is the plan:
Next two weeks- get out of funk, bike, run, do something. Every day.  Oh, and eat like an athlete!
Starting 8/11- Half Marathon using Hal Higdon's Intermediate Plan.  Chose the Intermediate as the mileage will allow me to more slowly (smartly) build up my running legs again.  I may extend a few of the early runs a bit, but we'll see.  I also like that it isn't totally demanding so I can put in a couple bike rides a week as well.
November 1- Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon 
November- Start EN "Outseason" Plan- really committing to it this year!
January 25- F3 Half Marathon 
March 30- Start 12 week Race Prep Phase for IMCdA
April 30-March 3- Blue Ridge Parkway Training Camp- build confidence for CdA long climbs!
May 24- Rev3 Knoxville 70.3
June 28- IM Couer d'Alene
mid-late July- Half Ironman TBD
early August- IMWI Training Camp
September 13- IM Wisconsin

Totally doable, right?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Change in Plans

It's been 11 days since my bike accident and washing my hair still makes me want to cry.  In other words, no real improvement with the shoulder. There will be moments where I think I can lift it a bit more, but then I do something like try to roll over in bed, and want to scream in pain. 

Right after the accident it seemed temporary.  So I wouldn't be able to swim for a bit, but I could run one-armed, and bike on the trainer.  Except running, while going ok right now, hasn't really been solid this year.  And biking on the trainer doesn't get me all the hours I need.  If I had been nailing my training up to this point, things would be different.  But this whole year has been a one step forward, two steps back in terms of injury and training.  I haven't been training with the respect I believe Ironman deserves.  

Time to face the music...  there will be no IM Chattanooga this year.  Mike Reilly won't call my name.  I won't get to take part in the inaugural event.  I won't get to experience every thing about an Ironman weekend that makes it epic and magical and unable to put into words.  I won't be going to Madison next weekend for a big training block, and I won't be driving the 9+ hrs each way down to Chattanooga to train on the course in mid-August.  I won't be putting in 14+ hr training weeks and giving my Saturdays away to to the bike.  I won't be asked about my training by my friends and co-workers.  And in a way, it feels like I just won't be anything special. 

But here's the good news.  Ironman isn't going anywhere.  As long as races can fill up in minutes with folks paying $700, Ironman will be there waiting for me when I'm ready.  And while there are all these things I won't be doing, there is so much that I will be.  I will be able to go on vacation with my family.  I will be able to give my body the rehab it deserves.  I will be able to hang out with my friend all weekend before she moves away.  I will be able to do things I want to in the moment, without the guilt of skipping a workout.  I will be able to have a life. 

While it wasn't an easy decision, I'm pretty confident it is the right one.  I am also pretty confident I would still be able to pull of the training necessary to finish.  But I know I can finish, that wasn't the point of Ironman #2.  I want to do better.  And that wasn't so certain.  And trying for it wasn't so fun.  One of my favorite things about Endurance Nation is that the coaches frequently point out that this is all a game.  If it isn't fun, don't do it.  If other things need to take precedence (job, family, recovering from injury, etc), they should.  While I'm now way behind on TdF, I did watch Cavendish, then Froome, then Contador, all have early exits due to crashes.  Unlike me, their sport is their life and their livelihood.  And yet, they still have to face that this isn't their year.  It is heartbreaking and really puts my challenges, if I can even call them that, into perspective. 

As for where to go from here, I'm not quite sure.  My first "Plan B" was going to be a fall marathon.  But the EN coaches knocked some sense into me, or at least reminded me that as a PT, I should realize how dumb an idea it is to have a huge running goal when I am just coming back from a hip injury.  Perhaps a half would be a better plan.  However, even though logically the marathon is dumb, having another "big goal" is making this whole no Ironman thing a bit easier to swallow.  On the other hand, I know my marathon time would be disappointing.  My last open marathon was a 3:32.  I weighted 20 lbs less than I do now and was an "athlete" in all ways.  I'm not that girl at the moment, and while a marathon might push me in that direction, I might self-destruct in the process or have my confidence destroyed.

While I don't know my immediate plans, I really want to do things "right" in 2015.  As almost everything I write seems to come back to, it's been a couple years since I trained how I want to.  Part of my lack of motivation has been due to being out of shape, as that creates a cycle where workouts suck, you feel bad about yourself, you skip workouts because you dread them, and so forth.  I think this bit of unstructured time might help recharge the batteries.  I've already signed up for the Blue Ridge Parkway bike camp next spring.  I'm also toying with a winter training camp, either in Tucson or Florida.  As for races, it seems IMWI makes the most sense location-wise, but Mont Tremblant is really appealing to me.  Lake Placid also has an allure, if I could get in.  IM CDA?  Two in one year?  Hmm... 

At the moment, being bored has never felt better.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Week of False Starts

Last week was the 12 weeks to go until Ironman Chattanooga, and the official start of my "Race Prep" phase.  Being one that loves fresh starts, I was looking forward to nailing all workouts from here on out, especially after an awesome big day I had last Sunday.  What I got instead was a lot of false starts. 

Monday morning I got my butt out of bed and was at the pool by 5:30am.  This is a good start, I told myself.  But then I started swimming.  The great swim I had on Saturday seemed like a distant memory.  There was no power in my stroke.  I had no energy.  My form was abysmal.  I thought maybe I just needed to warm up, but I never got my stride (stride? stroke?).  I bailed on the first interval and decided to just get in a light 1000 yd recovery swim.  I'm glad I got something in, but it definitely felt like a "false start" to the week and the training plan.  The "oops" was that I never made it back to the pool last week. 

Tuesday I had a great run in that my hip felt good, but my right knee was a little less than thrilled. If it isn't one thing, it's another.  Or, the more scientific/correct mindset is "wow that leg is weak, do you darn exercises or don't complain about continued injuries!". 

Wednesday I got on the trainer to do my interval bike.  No power once again.  Felt 100% flat, and bailed after a few minutes.  However, Thursday morning I woke up and nailed my bike.  Not easy, but it isn't suppose to be.  Got it done.  We'll call Wednesday another false start. 

By the time Friday rolled around, my training week was looking far from impressive.  No worries though, lots planned for the weekend.

Saturday morning I started a long run, only to be stopped by knee pain a half mile in.  That evening, I talked myself into trying just a short easy jog, to see if the pain got better or worse.  I had planned on 20 minutes and ended up getting 4 miles in.  The knee was a bit sore, but not bad and didn't get worse during the run.  Glad I got that run in, but not the big bike and swim I had also planned.  Did I mention I have a grant deadline coming up?  Apparently that has to be a priority.

Sunday is the true "false start" of my week.  I was planning on going out to Dekalb to do an 80 mile ride with "Biking with Beanzie".  I rented a car and everything.  The car was parked about 2 blocks away, so instead of walking my bike, I decided to ride to the car.  All good, except the bag with my gear fell off my shoulder, got caught in the front tire, and over the handlebars I went.  I have crashed on my bike before, but never the over the handlebars type.  It sure shakes you up!  Thank GOD I was wearing a helmet for that 2 block jaunt, as I hit my head.  I sulked back home, high on the adrenaline and not realizing how sore I was.  Then the shoulder pain started.  Not too bad at rest, but forward flexion is crazy limited and hurts like hell.  Rotator cuff? Muscle strain? I went to the doctor today (internist) who ordered xrays of my scapula (where the pain is located), which were not surprisingly, clear.  I wasn't thinking a fracture, but good to rule out.  The plan now is to see how things evolve in the next few days, and take it from there. 

So I'm not sure where I'm at.  Once again, the rest of my season is a big question mark.  Part of me was relieved that this just might be the determining factor.  I'd have more time for research stuff, be able to go see family and friends, just plain old enjoy summer and not in the 5 hr ride way.  Even just the fact that I was feeling relief about ending my season made me think I should end my season. 

Then tonight I decided to go for a run.  I was going to just do a couple miles.  But it felt good (as long as I only swung my good arm).  Ten miles later, the Ironman dreams are rekindled.  I still don't know if it will be possible.  But I figure I'll go until I know it's not.  I think this might just be another False Start.