Thursday, October 22, 2009

We're all normal

Alex and I feel like our child has gone to kindergarten. With a recovery week and then 4 weeks of taper to the race we are starting to regain our previous life. Dinner hopefully will no longer be a rotation of omelets, spaghetti and meatballs and steak sandwiches.

I’m tired, not doubt, but, today I’m feeling pretty good about the race. I love the level of fitness that I’ve brought my body to, I feel honoured by the people who I know that are finding inspiration in what we’re doing and not matter what happens on November 22 I know I’ve become a better person on this journey.

This was the weekend of the big ride. Saturday, at Duke’s cycle I picked up what I presumed to be chamois butter – let’s not mince words, it was butt butter. Sunday morning I applied said butter to my riding shorts. I pulled said shorts up. I experienced a sensation not at all like the cooling feeling that butt butter gives. My first clue should have been the distinctly mentholyptus smell but, it was really early. I wasn’t smelling yet.

Having been overly warmed by what was indeed warming balm, I decided a quick shower would take care of matters. In case you’re wondering applying hot water to warming balm is counter productive unless the effect desired is more warming.

I have one pair of 7 hour shorts. They were now tainted. Quick thinking had me add a pair of compression shorts as a base layer to put a firewall between heat and tender bits.

So, off we go to met up with our local IMAZ posse to do our ride. Three loops were planned with a Subaru aid station. When we left Toronto, as I recall, it was 2 degrees Celsius. When we arrived in Hamilton it was 1. But, it was clear, sunny and the leaves were glorious. I piled on the short sleeve jersey I had brought over my long sleeve, added arm warmers and a quilted wind stopper top. Three layers on the bottom completed the overstuffed package. The temperature was invigorating.

After two laps we met up with a couple of friends of our IMAZ peeps. One, who we had met briefly before, had brought doughnuts. DOUGHNUTS. Ah, sweet sweet sugar. After the required time to have introductions I started eating expressing my love of sugar, my realization that Iron eating had to end soon, and my most profound thanks. This appears to have been the right thing to do as, unknown to me, one of the friends had been literally sick worrying about riding with us. “You’re normal” she said and then gave me a hug. I told her I remember so well starting out and going for rides with people with Ironman tattoos. It WAS intimidating but, now, on the other side, I can say that triathlon is about inclusion and welcome.

The last lap was tough, my Garmin ran out of battery but I had nothing to prove. I saw, for the third time, the pretty little cat hanging in the ditch at the side of the road, I turned for the last time onto what I now think of as Dead Raccoon Road and I rode past a white domesticated turkey that looked to be just the tiniest bit lost. I did resort to some 99 bottles on the last 10 k but I felt strong and alive. Alex had added larger front rings and new crank to Doris Day the day before and I loved having those extra gears to push.

Now, with a week off for recovery and then the four weeks of taper I know that I’ve done everything I can to prepare. I am looking forward to a less time intensive off season but there is no way that I ever want to change this lifestyle. Ask me again November 23rd but I really think that I want to go Iron again. In a couple of years.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

6 weeks to go.

So, with one more week of build, one week of recovery and a 6 week taper left I’m addicted to Iron fitness. Alex and I did a triple brick yesterday – 30k ride/10 k run times three. It was incredible. The feeling of flying along country roads then running steadily down the rail trail through farmers’ fields was about as serene as I can get these days. At one point I had a goose flying at my speed beside me along a stretch of road that is lovely and smooth and virtually car free. I could almost feel the sensation of flight.

It’s funny, having just written that I now remember how Alex and I are finding the workouts actually kinda boring. The short ones don’t challenge and the long ones are just so repetitive. Yet, I’m left with that image of the bird.

I think that maybe, like flight, fitness is freeing. There is nothing right now that I can’t do physically. Having just seen Zombieland, for instance, I’m pretty sure I can outrun the living dead.

Back to boring. Right. The truth is that races can get boring and the ability to transcend that will really help me through Ironman. Right now 99 bottles of beer on the wall is my friend. Alex tells me that he doesn’t think about anything on the run, that he just zones out chalking it up to evolution of hunting men. I remember reading that Peter Reid would count to 20 over and over again during the marathon. There is no doubt that arithmetic makes the brain happy. For me it’s those endless bottles of beer.

I’m getting excited about the race. There seems to be a big crew of family coming down with our co-racers. One of the women racing with us is the mother of our Pilates instructor/friend and she and her sister are coming, more family with the other athlete and there is a rumour that the friend who started all this will be flying in from California where he lives now. As well, I hope to get to meet my new Facebook pen-pals.

A couple of years ago I had the year of the blog. I was throwing myself into racing and dealing with the anxiety that I was suffering through. I knew that fitness and triathlon was the way to a better life but with panic attacks in races during the swim, on the bike when training and horrible claustrophobic heart pounding episodes in the middle of the night, I wasn’t sure that I had the strength of character to overcome what, for me, was a terrible barrier to joy. I came across countless personal accounts of the journey to sub 12 hour Ironmen while mourning the death of a beloved wife,, to escaping a past of childhood abuse, and also to a man who summoned up the courage to stand up and declare himself an tri-athlete when most would have laughed him off a course. I hope to shake that man’s hand in Arizona. We all carry a cross and it’s only when we lift up someone else’s that we realize how light our own is. Triathlon introduced me to so many people with heavier crosses to bear.

It’s Thanksgiving weekend and I’m so very thankful for fitness, for a calm mind, and for my wonderful husband. What I don’t have really doesn’t matter. Family is what you define for yourself and my connections to others deepen every year that I’m involved in this wonderful community.

Friday, October 2, 2009

How do I hold onto this fitness?

I love getting through training sessions that I couldn’t even contemplate a couple months ago. I love feeling like I’m 25 again. (I’d really like it if I had the body I had at 25 but I’m willing to trade wisdom and serenity for that waist of old.) I love how great food tastes and deep deep sleeps.

The thing is, I don’t think this level of fitness is very much outside of what my body considers its normal operating standard but I’m not sure how the heck I’m going to be able to keep it up, little less improve again for next year’s session. At some point I’m not going to want to be exhausted at 9 o’clock every night. I don't want to be missing friends’ baby showers because I have a 6 hour workout that day. There is some television that I think is worth watching and I have to be awake and on the couch to see it.

In the meantime I’m eating whatever I want, not worrying about making what I though would be race weight. I can get through the next 7 weeks, 2 days with fall’s new shows piling up on the PVR. The storage room at work is adequate for my lunchtime napping needs. I can do all this because I AM GOING TO BE AN IRONMAN