Tuesday, August 21, 2007

19 Days…

The countdown continues and the weather is not making this better. It’s been pretty much a washout since Friday evening. The rain comes and goes and it hasn’t exactly been a warm rain either. No it’s been the more if you go out there is a good chance you might get sick rain. Something I’m not exactly willing to test this late in the game.

With nothing really new to talk about because of good old Mother Nature I thought I’d share some of what has been happening during my post draughts.

July 29th – Chisago Half Ironman
At the end of July I finally got my first chance to do an actual race. After coaching for so many months it was time to get back to the race course. This was a big day on many fronts. For one it was going to be an indication of if I could pull of the full Ironman even with my minimal training. The second and even bigger part was this was going to be Ms. R’s first ½ Iron.

Race morning was full of people buzzing around as usual. This race also featured a sprint course which many TNT folks were doing. It was fun to be there amongst everyone instead of on the sidelines helping people get ready. Ms. R seemed to be pretty relaxed as she readied herself for the race. I was in my usual race mode with the music in my ears going over my mental checklists. I was probably more nervous then she was as she’d been training and racing more then I had. Kimmi was on site to cheer everyone on which was a big help. She stationed herself outside of transition and watched gear as people came and went. She also became the official photographer for the day.

Ms. R started in the wave before me along with SafetyBob. Up until the start she was very calm and collective. Standing a wave back I was able to watch her final preparation and see her go fully into race mode. All I wanted for her was a good race and a great experience at the new distance. As I saw her wave start I knew she was going to do well.

After Ms. R started her race it was quick back into go mode for me as I prepared for my own race to start. With Kimmi screaming to my right I tried to fight the nerves and focus. The gun went off and my wave jumped into the water. Within 4 strokes I got kicked in the face. It was a medium strength kick, but it sure woke me up and welcomed me back to racing. The out and back course was interesting as you had to dodge the people swimming in every direction and then make sure you were out of the way of those hugging the line on the way back in. Plus with the out and back it was hard to sight as it was just a somewhat straight line out and back. It didn’t make things easier with the swim caps and buoys being the same color. Overall I had a good swim. Things felt good, but as always I was glad to be done. My race always starts when I hit solid ground.

Transition went by without any big snags as I headed out for the bike. I heard Kimmi as I came up to my bike. The report was that Ms. R had a good swim and was a few minutes a head of me. It was great to get out on the bike. The only issue is that nature was calling. This has never happened on the bike before. I put it off as I passed some of the TNTer doing the sprint. Finally I had to pull over after about 15 miles. I didn’t like having to stop but I reminded myself that this really was just training and stopping for a minute or two was not a bid deal. The first part of the course was really nice with good roads. After descending down into the valley and finding the old bumpy road I caught up to Ms. R around mile 25. We played leap frog for awhile and checked on each other. It was fun and I could tell that she was feeling good. Once we started the climbs I moved on pass her a bit. The climbs were not steep, but they were long slow grinders. The kind that just beat you up and it didn’t help just getting off a really bad road that you were on for over 5 miles. Finally there was a long straight drag on the backside of the course. At this point you just wanted to be done as the physical and mental fatigue set in. Finally after the long hot stretch the roads curved around for the last 10 miles before the finish. Coming back into transition all the TNTers who had done the sprint had finished and were cheering. It was a great boost to her all the familiar voices.

As I came into transition I was stunned to realize that I didn’t know exactly where my race was. What! What the heck! Somehow I had forgotten to walk the route from the bike in to my rack. Eventually I found it, a little embarrassed. Ms. R’s parents were right there cheering and asking how she was going. I quickly told them as I slipped on my shoes and grab my visor and number. With the TNTers still cheering I headed out of transition and on to the hot run course. My legs were tight after the ride and I was just waiting for them to get into the rhythm they would eventually find.

Unfortunately the rhythm that they found was short lived. Within a few miles I knew things were not right. The course was wide open with no shade. I was starting to over heat and goose-bumps were starting to form. I decided I’d better walk and allow my body to cool down. I ran and walked another mile before Ms. R came up behind me. She could tell that I wasn’t doing well and decided to stay with me. She’s so amazing! Next the cramps set in. Both my calves were solid knots. For the next 9 miles we jogged until they ceased up, stopped to stretch, and then walked to the next water stop. Luckily they were every mile. If they hadn’t been there would have been a lot of people in really bad shape with the excessive heat. I wanted noting more then to quit. I’d never had a run go so badly. My legs would not loosen up not mater what I tried. I had taken plenty of water and salt throughout the day, but they would not relent. Finally with the help of Ms. R we neared the finish and jogged toward the end. We heard the TNTer scream as we came into view and ran up the chute. Finally hands clasped together we crossed the finish line. Finally it was over.

Besides being in really bad shape physically I was beaming for Ms. R and how well she had done. She had moved up in the world on triathlon and taken on a long course and done amazingly well. It just goes to show what type of person and athlete she is as she basically carried me on her shoulder the entire run. I will forever be grateful…

Chisago pictures

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

25 Days...

5 work weeks, approximately 600 hours. Anyway you look at it I’ve got less then a month before the big day. A day that seemed so far in the future only a short time ago is knocking at my door. There will always be the desire to change how some things turned out over the last six months as far as training is concerned, but that’s really not an option. The only option I have is to use the little time I have left to the best of my abilities.

Without the ability to stop or go back in time, I can only strive to put my best in every minute and hour of training I can muster before the race. Though it is limited I must take the time to rest and mentally prepare for the longest day I may ever know. In that preparation I must fully come to terms with being ok with what I couldn’t accomplish. I must be able to let go of the “what ifs” and “if I onlys” If I am to succeed in Madison there can be no room for these debilitating negative thoughts/attitudes.

I have 25 days to put the final pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together…