Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Full Time Job - Full Time Mom - Full Time Ironman

I’ve been an “athlete” for going on 12 years now.  I began running in 2002 just having turned 35 and with a 17 month old son.  Many of you know that I started running (again…regularly) with a life-long friend of mine who had been told by her sister “it was time to get back in shape” and that she should do so by running.  But, not just any running, she should target a half marathon.  Yep, that somewhat magical 13.1 number.  She called me early that November and gave me the run down, and said she needed my help:  to be her training partner.  I hemmed and hawed and told her that I was a Mountain Biker (you can stop laughing now) and I HATED running.  Needless to say, the next day I went out and bought running shoes.  It’s pretty much been “full on” since then.

I’ve run, and run, and run some more.  Once upon a time, I said I “never wanted to run a marathon.”  Well, “never” is a very, very, very long time.  And then along came 26.2 with Donna:  The Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer the same year I turned 40.  Kaboom!  Sure, I’ll run a marathon to celebrate my fortieth birthday AND to recognize all those I knew who had been touched by breast cancer.  But, wait, first let me mentor the marathon group of the North Florida Chapter of Team In Training and run the Goofy Challenge a month beforehand.  Can you say, “Not the brightest bulb in the box?”  That was 2008.  So, I kept running, and bought a road bike so I could add some cross training.  In 2009, I followed the same schedule of madness:  Goofy in January followed by “Donna” in February.  That makes FOUR marathons in about 14 months’ time.  Along about October of 2009 I thought I might have it in me to attempt the elusive BQ.  Now, I wasn’t sure that I could actually qualify for Boston, but I had the time to train properly and some awesome people to train with so I went for it.  In February, 2010, at the Tallahassee Marathon I nailed that BQ time on my first attempt.  My husband and sons were at the finish line along with my training partners.  It was a “mountain top” kind of moment.  Since that first BQ I have qualified for the Boston Marathon 3 times, and run it twice.

Pre-Race Transition Set-Up:  Red Hills Triathlon 2010
My older son had been dabbling in triathlon for a couple of years at this point.  2010 was his third year racing Tallahassee's very own Red Hills Sprint Triathlon, and his father completed his first triathlon of any distance at the same event.  I had begun participating in the shorter distance triathlons because I needed something to do while I waited for Colin to finish.  I found it fun in the summer, but not something that I wanted to devote myself to on a full time training level.  Then along came another friend…

This friend has a bucket list.  Her bucket list includes finishing an “iron distance” triathlon.  You all know that one:  2.4 mile swim, 112 mile ride, 26.2 run.  INSANE!  CRAZY!  Stooooopid!  So not what I had ever considered, thought about, or planned.  Thank God for a great coach, a relative healthy and injury-free body, and an extremely understanding and supportive husband.  We started training a week after the Breast Cancer Marathon with a target race in October.  Last year when I trained for that first 140.6 event I was blessed with the good fortune of being able to train “long” whenever the schedule said to do so.  I had a job that allowed me to put in 2-3 hours of training on a daily basis if need be.  In retrospect, even with the inclusion of 1 or 2 off days, I feel like I was always tired.  Always hungry.  And always tight or sore to some degree … All. The. Time.  Flash forward to race day:  I finished in almost exactly what I predicted putting in a solid day on the race course.  When I woke up the next morning I was tired and hungry, yes.  But, I was not sore or broken.  It seems that the training, my nutrition, and my recovery had been spot on the entire 32 weeks.  Whew.

Beach2Battleship 2013 - 2nd Loop on the run course
That was 2013.  This is 2014 and it’s a “whole new world.”  In January I took on a new job that mandates the traditional Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. schedule.  2-3 hour workouts during the week are not an option.  Well, I suppose they could be if I got out of bed every morning at 3:00 a.m. in order to be finished by 6:30 to be out the door to work by 7:25 a.m.  Riiiiiiiight.  That’s going to happen.  NOT!  What does happen is a 60-90 minute workout before work with a 45-60 minute swim three evenings a week after work.  The other evolution is that very few “off days” exist.  For example, if today calls for a “mid-long” brick (90 minutes or longer), the bike leg is today and the run is tomorrow.  And the workouts move out by one day accordingly.  Thus, the off days are almost always eliminated.  Is this going to work?  I’m not sure yet.  However, I can tell you that the soreness rating has been lowered by a degree or two (I wonder why…HA!), and I don’t feel as if I am always starving.  I will be interested to see how the change in approach affects performance on race day.  And, I am anxious to see if overall recovery is as speedy as last year.  

2014 has brought with it a lot of changes.  Not just in careers, but in community and team involvement.  I have been a member of the 2014 Big Sexy Amateur Racing team and thoroughly enjoying my time on the team.  The team has afforded me the opportunity to meet and race with great new people; to test out some new products; and work with some fabulous athletes.  I hope that trend will continue into 2015.  ;-)

2013 Ironman World Championship - Finish Area
I can tell you that it is possible to train for the “iron” distance without alienating your family; nodding off at your desk; or falling asleep in your dinner and really making your spouse unhappy.  However, I am reserving judgment on what kind of outcome this approach to training will produce on race day.  All I can say is, “So far, so good.”  See you at the finish line.

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Mac's "SwimSTRONG" Foundation

Mac's "SwimSTRONG" Foundation
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