Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Who am I???

It's the week before the week of.
On my training peaks plan, I am cautioned to 'keep my emotions in check' the day before the race. What about the week before the week of?
I woke up in the middle of the night last night sobbing. I was crying and crying. I had had a dream. I remember parts of it and now, in retrospect, it was silly. Of course it was. Mark and I laughed at the scene this morning. He had to calm me down and assure me that everything was ok. The dream had nothing to do with Triathlon.  But apparently, my emotions aren't fully in check.

I'm getting there. This race is on my mind 100% of the time. It's all I can think about. And yet, I feel very very scattered. I can't seem to get it all organized. The plan is swirling around in my brain.

I have lists half written on the left of my desk. I have lists printed out in color and bold print on the floor by my bed. I have calendars with notes of what to do each day printed and stuffed in my purse.
It's time to Get it ALL together!!! 

I was thinking through my race plan while I rode today. I was thinking about the day as I talked to a friend. I was thinking about that day as I did the laundry and put aside my favorite bike socks.  It led me to this though.
What is this all about?
Why does this matter so much to me?
Who am I after all?

Well, I'm Mommy to these 3 handsome guys.  Pretty lucky aren't I?

And, I'm the wife of this hot guy.

Those are my primary roles in life. The four guys above keep things in perspective for me and make me want to be the best person I can be.  They really are my world. I love them all.

But deep inside me is an athlete that just can't stop. I just can't seem give in to the idea that age will stop me or slow me down. I refuse to go there. I've been at this game in one form or another for a really long time now but the fire is still smoldering.

I'm aware that it seems insanely  hard core to some. I am aware that the tough sacrifices I make aren't forced upon me. I am not under contract with a college sport any longer. I am not part of a team that I am committed to and thus perform well for at the 'big meet.'
This is my choice. This way of life is something I jumped into 6 years ago and now feel fully engulfed in. 

So....why then?

Why do I wake up at 4:30 most days? Why am I ok with cutting out my morning coffee for a few weeks? Why am I ok with going to bed early on a Saturday night when the rest of my crew wants to stay up 'til the wee hrs?
Those things are just the tip of the iceburg. Just the tip.

I'm ok with it because of what happens here:

and here

and this moment rocks:

Ahh---the Finish line. The best of all.

For me, there is nothing like training and racing. It is who I am. Simple as that.

But that's a bit boring so I'll get a little more into it.

The 9 year old son of some good friends of ours recently said, "Mommy, everybody has something that they are the best at." 
Pretty cool view for a little guy.
While I'm not the best, this is my skill. I love to challenge my mind and my body beyond what I thought it could do. There was a time a while back that I was certain I could not ever ever run a marathon. Now, I've done 9. And I'm about to do my 3rd marathon After swimming 2.4 miles then riding 112 miles.  I squashed that 'I can't' right off my list. 

There is nothing like the feeling of accomplishment.
When racing an Ironman, you have to accept that it's not a normal race. It's a process. It's an entire day. It's an event that requires months and months of physical preparation. It requires months and months if not a full year of training your mind and body to accept that it can go the distance. Nobody just jumps into an Ironman at the last minute. 
The final weeks before Ironman day become almost ritualistic. We try to sleep more. We eat perfectly. We stretch religiously. Roll the muslces. Complete workouts exactly as they are recommended with race specific paces and watts and intervals.  We fine tune. We hold on. We grab the energy.

I can't explain why it's who I am. I feel the pain out on the course. I feel the fatigue. The burning, aching, throbbing quads that are inevitable on the final 10 miles of the run.  I feel the stabbing pain in the gut that sometimes creeps in after 86 miles of riding in a hunched over aero position while attempting to consume 300 calories each hour. I feel the tedium. The digust and the intense need to just get off. the. damn. bike. already after nearly 6 hours of riding at the perfect pace and intesity. I feel the fear and weakness when my competitor is chasing me down. I have those urges to just give up and let it go. I fall into the who cares, I did the best I could mindset. Sure....all that nastiness happens. And those are just the things I can talk about. On Ironman day there's oh- so so much more that happens out there on that course.

Then what keeps me here? What makes it so great?

Ahh... you see those moments are just moments. You know, good always trumps evil right? Yes, it does.
The good stuff?
Go back to those pictures.
The surge of adrenaline as you tread in the water with 3000 other highly tuned athletes ready to launch with all their might towards the end of the lake. You listen to the National anthem, you watch the 1000s of people lining the shores for You.  At that moment, there's a silence. The whole day is ahead and those people are all there to carry you along. Families and friends spend endless hours running to various spots just for a glimpse and to offer their critical support.
There is Nothing like that feeling at the start line. It's overwhelming and it's incredibly invigorating all at once.

The day moves on and on and on and amidst those lows I noted, you have fantastic highs. The hours upon hours upon hours of hard training in all elements pay their dividends. You remember that 90 mile ride in 30mph winds that forced you to reach deeper than you knew was there. You remember the 100 miles you rode in the cold nasty rain mixed with snow. Your legs respond. You fly up hills that just months ago forced you to yank on your bars and waiver around the road.  You hit the run and your legs are There! You can run and it's all good!! You have 1000s of people lining nearly every road cheering for you!!!  Mile 13 comes and you see the faces of the 3 best little boys on earth and they are watching THEIR MOM attack 140.6 miles with a smile. They are learning that nothing can stop you if you want it. Someday, they will get it. I know they will. 

The high that surges into you after fighthing through race day lows ( and they always happen ) is euphoric I think. It leaves you with more drive and fight and makes the final mile so incredibly rewarding. To work and work and work day after day after day after day for something that is really really tough to accomplish, is like nothing else.

That is what keeps me in check this week. I remember the hard work. I know I have put in the time and effort. I will come around the corner into the Olympic Oval of Lake Placid and feel that incredible emotion of accomplishment.
I know I can do it. I have this in me. I have big goals for that day. This is Ironman #3 for me. If I follow my plan, the distance will happen. I need to make the rest of it fall into place this time.  It's a big challenge.
I'm ready and I'm excited.
This is who I am.


Emilie said...

By the end of this post I could barely see the words b/c I was all teared up. I am in a completely different league than you and yet I get it too. The silence before the race when you've worked so hard...such a beautiful thing.

I love following you and Mary as you train for this and can't wait to read your reports. So excited for you girls! Thanks for such a beautiful post!

Mary IronMatron said...

This post put to words many of my thoughts on racing and training. Thanks for that. We are going to have a great race. :) xoxoxox

donna furse said...

Yeah, that's how you made me feel. Yes this is why we do this and train hard and sacrifice. Good luck and I hope you achieve everything you seek for the day

Kurt P. said...

Hi maine neighbor. I follow your blog.

what race are you doing?

I kinda like to treat them all similar. You know. Prepare for them. Get stuff ready. Think positive and visualize how I want to execute my race day. I sometimes avoid other athletes who are high stress and passing negative vibes.

I try to rest really well too. you know sit down, watch movies, eat some of that carbohydrate stuff. drink some water.

I've heard you want to have a basic and simple race plan, then be able to think on your feet if need be. I think that's how I race, when I do race.

If it is a big race sometimes they will have water stops with stuff in case you dont have enough of your own stuff too. that is really nice of them.

I hope your race goes well. sounds like you have prepared about as best as you can.

Hope your friends race fast too.

maine tri racer dude.

MaineSport said...

That KP dude sounds boring- keep it simple, watch TV, drink water...what does he know?

I look forward to following you and the others on race day. You've done all of the prep work, now it's time to execute. Try to have fun.

Michelle Simmons said...

YES! I love this. I love Ironman. Totally with you here, Ange. And your coach is right about keeping your emotions in check... you've done all the training so it really is just about going out and executing your plan. You don't even have to feel super all day in an Ironman to have a great race. So go get it done! And then come swim out to the coffee boat in Kona and say hi to me! :)

Christy said...

Love this post! I'm going to have my hubby and family read your post because it best describes who we are. We aren't obsessed (well maybe) people, this is who we are. Everyone is obsessed about something but I like to call it passion.

Thanks for sharing....

Marni Sumbal, MS, RD said...

Ange this was the best post ever...LOVE IT! I have known you for many years now, as both an athlete and a mom and I know this blog is written from the heart. I am so excited for you! When it starts to hurt or your emotions get the best of you, just know that you have lots of us "fans" cheering for you from afar on race day! YIPPEE...have fun and trust your plan!

Marcille Sibley said...

Hi, Ange,

Truly, I cannot imagine how hard you push yourself physically, but I could still relate to this post. I have my own passion. And that's what this is about. Passion. How blessed you are to have one and the support of that beautiful family. Keep going strong, kiddo. I really admire you.


keo said...

Love reading your posts leading into ironman! Have a great race!!! Thanks for such a great post - though I have not done an Ironman, YET, I get many of those feelings leading into most of my races. Have a terrific race! So exciting! Go rock it!

Melissa said...

Great post, Ang.

Jennifer Harrison said...

YOU are ready, ANGE. stay relaxed and calm and have the race you are capable of - a great one!