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Saturday, April 27, 2013


    I have no idea what's going to happen in three weeks.  I've seen the tentative pro list; there's the usual mix of a handful of women who I know will beat me, another handful who will probably beat me, and a whole bunch that I should be pretty competitive with.  Basically, I could fall within a wide range of places, but that's beyond my control and not something I'm going to obsess over (perhaps, finally, a sign of triathlon/racing maturity?).  I'll hopefully swim under 1:05, but I'm not going to let it ruin my day if I don't.  Swimming is weird.  I'll hopefully have the kind of ride that reflects the increased volume and intensity that I've been putting in over the past couple of months, but I also could end up changing a flat by the side of the road (which I'm not exactly speedy at).  I'll hopefully throw down the run I feel that these legs have in them, but I also could end up having the sort of gut-it-out fest I did in Florida last fall.  Anyways, regardless of what goes down in the Ironman, here's what I do know: that I've taken my body and my mind to places during this past training block that I wouldn't have believed existed before getting the first couple of Ironmans under my belt. 

   They're those deep, dark places (and I'm not just talking about the trainer in the basement).  Places where time can be a friend or an enemy, where I can bargain myself to just take it minute by minute, but where a minute seems just so tantalizingly long.  Places where I don't know what's going on outside of my little realm of pain anymore, and I just have ceased to care.  Places where I'm questioning the "why" of it all with every fiber of my being-I could be outside in the yard, I could be laying on the couch, I could be actually getting around to the laundry that's everywhere, and remember when I was "just" a runner and a long workout was an hour and a half?  Places that I swear I hate visiting while I'm there, and yet the second I leave, I realize that...I actually love it.  It's something I've lost the ability to explain, but that all endurance athletes somehow understand.  I recognize how many people have had the opportunity to take themselves there taken away from them, and I refuse to let myself forget this.  I'm down to my last day of overload (basically, two weeks of killer training-this time around, proceeded by another big week) tomorrow.  I spent five hours on my bike today cajoling and bargaining myself to just make it through the next half an hour, up the next hill.  My body just wasn't having any of what I wanted it to do.  At one point, I was imagining myself laying on a mattress, flying back to the car, sort of Aladdin on his magic carpet style.  But, because this A. wouldn't get me to the finish line in Texas any more quickly and B. is physically impossible.  So I kept on pedalling, even if the numbers weren't great and the pace was slow, because I trust, I know that some day, somehow, it'll all be worth it.

   And now?  My body is just sore everywhere.  I'm sprawled on the couch in my Normatecs, not accomplishing much of anything.  The laundry is still exploded all over the bedroom.  The lawn is starting to look a little overgrown.  A whole bunch of nothing else got accomplished today (well, I did clean the toilet this morning).  Did I mention that everything is sore?  But I love this feeling.  The day after Placid, when I could barely walk was somehow awesome.  Way back during my senior year of college when I was injured and redshirting and not really training, I guess you could say that I had more of what's considered "fun".  But for me, training and racing and exercise and accomplishment just enrich "fun" for me (especially if it makes my whole body hurt)-that brief little experience with a "normal" life was all it took for me to realize that.  When in San Juan, Dave and I were watching some 20-somethings on a "real" vacation, laughing and screwing around by the pool and sipping their drinks.  We chatted for a bit, and both realized...we just weren't jealous of them anymore.  At that time, it was post-race, and we were just sitting on lounge chairs, reading and eating mangoes (and in Dave's case, drinking a couple of beers).  And in that moment, I was 100% happy and relaxed.  Sure, I could go to San Juan and sit in a lounge chair reading and eating mangoes without getting up at 4:30am to turn myself inside out for 4.5 hours beforehand, and I'd still enjoy myself-but it'd be without that deeper sense of...something, that something that we torture ourselves day in and day out to achieve, that something that we're willing to push ourselves to the absolute brink to get to. 

    And so, my relationship with training can sometimes be hate/love.  I don't clip into my pedals for every ride and outwardly proclaim that I'm having the time of my life, because often, I'm struggling and panting, my quads are burning as I try to keep up with Dave, and my sweat is burning my eyes.  Yet, at some point, some love comes out of it all.  I've had those moments at the end of long rides where fatigue takes over and I just start tearing up, because I've gone so freaking far, but look at what my body is still letting me do!  Or sometimes it's when I've gotten through the hilly part of my favorite long run route and back onto the flat area at the end, and a mile split that I'm particularly pleased with flashes across the Garmin.  Or, reluctantly, I'll admit that there's those days in the pool where I'll glance up at the clock 200y into an interval, and realize it's working.  It's those days here and there where it just feels smooth, strong, good.  These are the moments where I know that all of the times I've just been toughing it out are paying off on a smaller, day-to-day basis. 

   Of course, on the bigger level, the love is what happens at the finish line-not just at Ironmans, but that line always represents a little something extra.  It seems a bit crazy, that I'm preparing myself to dig down through the depths of everything in me for hours on end in order to experience the fleeting moments of emotion that come with running down the finishing straight, crossing a line, and being handed a medal, a t shirt, and a hat.  Yet, we all have something that makes us come alive, that in the end is somehow, in some small way, always worth it.  While I might not love every second of training while it's happening, I end up loving it after it's done, and in time, even if for some reason it doesn't happen in Texas, I will love some result of sooner or later.  With that, I have one more day of overload, and then, while it won't quite get easy yet, it'll get easier.  I'm fully prepared to go somewhere deep and dark tomorrow, but I know that when it's all over, I'll be all that much more satisfied of a person for it. 



  1. Agree.. on all of it! Great blog Jennie! I needed this before my last day of overload which just happens to be a 6 hr 40 min ride on Monday. Here we go.. oh.. and it's SOLO.. haha! Time to dig!

  2. Thanks, Kim! Good luck with that ride-I'll be thinking of you, so you're not alone in spirit-you can make it!