It’s 8 am and I am 8 months and 4 days away from competing in the mother load of races: Ironman Chattanooga. Just opening up the website creates a knot in my stomach. I’ve got time. The knot will loosen. It will tighten again, but I am not afraid anymore. For now, I am focusing on the training-putting in my time. Eleven scheduled workouts per week. I can’t honestly say I complete them all EVERY week, but I do a pretty good job. At 55 years old, I have never put myself through this type of sustained physical effort or concentration. I’m breaking through old self imposed limits and finding where the new ones reside. They won’t live there long though, because I’m starting to relish the shattering sound of them crashing beneath me as I crush them and shove them behind me. Don’t bother looking back Patty, they no longer exist! As a self proclaimed mediocre athlete, I must confess, I struggle with training. Sometimes I train too hard. (To the chagrin of my coach) Sometimes my head gets in the way, and negative thoughts sabotage the day. Other times, I cruise through with the confidence of a champion. Most days are not glamorous. They all end in sweaty, stinky clothes, and I do laundry by the ton.
There are moments of agony, while I’m cycling past the ability or will to keep my legs spinning, or swimming exhausted, knowing I have another thousand yards left, while wheezing on the verge of another asthma attack. Then I break through realizing a second wind is coming,and through the pain, a smile forms on my lips, even though the tears may already be spilling. I put my head down and continue. Eye on the prize and all that.
Currently, the phase of my training is called “Base Training”. I’m mostly putting in time and training my body aerobically, to get it used to the hours it will need to sustain. There are lessons learned along the journey and one that I am (not too) happy to be learning now, is how to sustain the work load without running myself into the ground. I am in the throws of my second sinus infection in two months, and not enjoying a single minute of it. I think it has to do with insufficient nutrition and lack of rest. Seems logical! I’m working with the best people I know, and learning more about becoming a successful endurance athlete, but I am making rookie mistakes and paying for them. My goal as I heal from this setback, is to improve my nutrition and to listen to my body. My coach turned me on to MyFitnessPal. I’ve just started playing with it, and I love how it calculates the categories of foods you should eat, based on your weight and the amount of time you exercise per week. I’m also paying better attention to the supplements I should be taking. It’s a journey!
I just finished the book Running Past Midnight by Molly Sheridan. This woman started running at age 50 and has since run in over 45 ultra marathons, including the 150 mile race through the Sahara Desert, (Marathon Des Sables), the 135 mile race through Death Valley, (Badwater Ultramarathon), and she is the first American woman to finish a 138 mile race through the Himalayas over TWO 18,000 feet peaks. (La Ultra-The High) One particular paragraph spoke to me, and echo’s my thoughts about training for my Ironman. Molly was attempting Ancient Oaks for the fourth time and an injury sidelined her 13.5 miles short of the 100 mile finish.
“…but if I’m invited back, I’ll have a new game plan. I am considering carrying my Dalai Lama prayer beads, wearing a rosary, and listening to African Women warrior drumbeats as I chant and pray my way through the Queen’s territory. Some might call me mad. Along that fine line of madness is my desire to reach past my physical and mental limitations. I want to go beyond what I think is possible. Is there really a big Queen oak tree out there purposefully stopping my progress, or is it my own internal Queen telling me I can’t make it? Whether she is in my head or out in nature, it makes no difference. I still need to overcome her.”
(Quote used with Molly’s permission.)
Rock on, Molly. I’m in your corner and whether you know it or not, I just put you in mine. Thanks for the inspiration.
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