Thursday, September 26, 2013

Taper Madness

As the days tick away, and race day approaches rapidly, I have become one horrible person to live with (just ask my husband, he will nod his head enthusiastically).  My training has tapered WAY DOWN, and my body aches from the shock of not punishing it with 4-hour megaworkouts.  My mind is racing constantly with fears, worries, scenarios, and images of the FINISH LINE on Sunday.  I am positively irrational with my husband and kids, and I know they think I have lost my mind.  I have gone from defiance to denial to downright depression to finally, excitement, all in the span of about 7 days.  But, the fact remains, 


I think - no, I know - I am ready.  The bike ride still scares me to death.  I worry most about getting a flat, getting flustered and taking 3 hours to change it, causing me to get swept off the course by the clock police.

The run scares me a bit, too.  But only because it will feel like an eternity after sitting on my bike for 3 1/2+ hours.  I just hope my legs and brain can work together to get me to the end!

I keep envisioning the finish line.  If I don't puke, I will cry.  Like a baby.  Ugly crying, too.

I've been thinking a lot about my dad lately.  Always my biggest critic - and loudest cheerleader - my dad would have doubted my ability to do this, but would have supported me to the very end.  I wonder if he would understand and respect what an undertaking this has been, what a physical and emotional trip I have taken?  Probably not.  But I hope that he will be with me on Sunday, shouting at me to "GO Goddamn it!", just like he did when I wasn't swimming fast enough for his liking so many years ago.

Two years ago I did my first triathlon.  Two years ago, I did that little sprint race, and it changed me.  I was scared then, and I showed myself that I was made of more than I ever knew.  I crossed the finish line that day and fell into the arms of my husband and my kids, and they celebrated with me.  Sunday, when I cross the finish line in Augusta, my husband and my kids will be there, and I will remember that feeling I had at that first race, and I am sure that I will be overwhelmed and exhausted and elated and about 100 other things that I have yet to experience.  But, above everything, I will be grateful.  Because, you know, I am just a 40-year-old mom, an ordinary old lady who hopes that her kids can take something away from watching their mom suffer a little bit.  

See you again in 70.3 miles!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What's so wrong about being afraid?

Wow.  I've been gone a while.  All 2 of my readers have undoubtedly abandoned me, so I guess I am left to blog at a blank wall.  It has been a long couple of months, but here I am, a mere 10 days (10 DAYS!) out from the race that I have put my life on hold to do.  Ironman 70.3 Augusta is almost here, and I have to be at the starting line on September 29, ready or not.  Am I ready?  That remains to be seen.

I have been training.  Hard.  Hard for me, anyway.  Bike ride after bike ride, and run after run, and swim after swim have left me mentally and physically drained.  I've discovered new limits for myself, and I just hope that I will have the capacity to bust through them on race day.

I've made no secret to friends and family about just how scared I am to do this race.  And I have taken a bit of crap for expressing this feeling.  Among my favorite (note sarcasm here) comments are:

  • What are you so scared for?  It's easy! I doubt you'll find a long course triathlete ANYWHERE that would say that what they do can be described as easy.
  • Noone is making you do this.  NO shit.  I entered into this willingly.  I also entered into childbirth willingly, and I was scared to death of that the first time, too.
  • It is supposed to be fun.  It is fun.  Otherwise, I would have taken up knitting (which would likely NOT be fun and end with me shoving the needles in my eyes from boredom) or raising chickens or puppies or something else.  But I like to race, and I love the finish line!  
  • Don't give in to the fear monster.  New age crap like that really annoys me.

First off, let me begin by saying that it warms me when anyone cares enough about me to make an attempt to help me assuage my neuroses.  With that being said, it is obvious that you don't know me.

I am not a quitter.  I have not suffered through months of injury, given up weekends with my kids, and awakened at 3:30 in the morning for workouts in order to run in the opposite direction of this race.  I am not a fall-down-and-die kind of gal when things seem tough or frightening.

But, if you are afraid of something, it is OK to say it, write it, and feel it.  Boys and girls, fear doesn't define you if it resides in you.  Fear is just renting space until you kick it to the curb by showing it the door.

The fear that I feel is very palpable, and it is sitting squarely on my bicycle.  About halfway through my training, I began to experience terrible back pain during even short bike rides.  Soon, I was rendered pretty much immobile.  I couldn't bend over, reach, lift anything at all, or sit upright for even a few minutes.  Icing, heating, stretching, NOTHING helped.  Except for training.  Training - running, mostly - made the pain go away temporarily, but it would return a few hours after my workouts.  After having to take a week off from my training when the pain got unbearable - missing a few key long rides - I went to an Orthopedist, who x-rayed my back.  As it turns out, I have a stress fracture in one of my lumbar vertebrae, which I have probably had for years and years.  When the volume of my training jacked up, it irritated the fracture, and caused me the intense back pain along with severe sciatica.  I powered through workouts (medicated, mind you), despite the pain, and eventually the pain subsided.  I got my bike adjusted, too, which has helped tremendously.

Because my long rides have been so extremely painful, thanks to the achy breaky back, I am seriously dreading sitting in the saddle for 3 1/2 + hours on race day.  I worry that I will be in that same terrible pain, with no strength to do the most mundane things after I cross the finish line.  And it makes me wonder if all of this has been worth it.  So, you see, I'm not just a scaredy cat because it is new and unknown - that fear is there, of course - but I am afraid that I won't be able to do it again if I choose to.  I am afraid that my body is going to fail. 

But I will not quit the race.

What is so wrong with being scared of something?  Better yet, what is so terrible about acknowledging it aloud?  Fear is a powerful force, motivating even.  It's true, some people would avoid, run, and hide from fear.  But that's not me.  But I am also not going to ignore the "fear monster" that is lurking inside my head.  Ignoring it doesn't make it go away.  Acknowledging it means that I am ready to put up a fight.  Without the gloves.  So FEAR better be ready to rumble come September 29.