9/09 – 25 days til the IM
6:50am – The alarm is ringing. I am exhausted and have no desire to get out of bed. I could shut my eyes go back to sleep for another three hours with no problem at all. Eight months of training has finally caught up to me! But there is no time to waste getting up today because I have to be at work, squeezing my workout in during my lunch period. It was going to be a tough one, requiring that I do my swim after being on my feet for a few hours and when I would be hungry. Driving to the pool, I have to mentally prepare for the swim workout ahead of me. I am already feeling fatigued and dreading this practice. I have to pump myself up to get ready to go. But the minute I put my cap and goggles on, I know it is game time!
I focus on the warm up and feel myself gliding through the water more easily than before. A sign of progress – hurray! I use this enthusiasm to continue my swim with more energy and determination. I hit my hardest sets fast and end up averaging a quicker time than usual with less effort! My goal is finally becoming a reality!
But as I get closer to the end, each set becomes progressively harder to the point where I want to stop or take more rest. I try not to focus on the discomfort, channeling my thoughts toward finishing the task at hand, breaking it down into manageable increments, and finishing the workout. Finally I complete my 3000m swim with a faster-than-usual time. I still have much to work on, but I can see improvements and feel the change in my performance! Working with Coach T has made a big difference in my preparation for this segment of the race.
9/10 – Thursday, my long run; 24 days to go.
Realizing how close it is to the event causes me to have a momentary freak out. I begin to worry about everything that could go wrong and whether I am truly ready. I get nervous before I do any type of long workout but it is especially bad this morning since it is the last of the big runs until race day. I feel anxious about the weather, the humidity, the overall temperature, my fuel and hydration, my speed, running gait, cadence and more. Knowing it is my last big training run creates even more pressure to do well. Whatever I do today sets the stage for what I will do in the race. Hitting the snooze button is not an option – I have to hit the ground running, even though it is raining outside. I luck out when the rain stops, but then the humidity is so bad that I am drenched with sweat only two miles into the run. This is definitely going to be a tough run to get through mentally!
I am off to a slower start than last week. I am already frustrated with how I am performing, but at this stage of my training, there is no point in fighting that. I take a few deep breaths and tried not to panic over it. On the plus side, I feel more comfortable at this speed and 4 miles turns into 8 in no time. I am still going strong but beginning to feel thirsty as I continue to run through what feels like a thick film of heat. My socks are now so soaked that sweat splashes out of them with each step. As tired and gross as I feel, I am too far from home to quit. This workout has to get done. I need to settle into my zone and find my “happy place.” I think of something I read yesterday about the ability to control the thoughts in our minds, how having the power to create our thoughts gives us the ability to bring our thoughts, goals and dreams into alignment. Now is the perfect opportunity to try it! The challenging part is getting control of my mind! Clearing my mind of all negative thoughts, I begin to focus on all the reasons I am running. What is the purpose of this run? How will it benefit me? What do I need to do to accomplish it? I decide I have to finish this run stronger than I started to stick to the training plan. It is time to bring on the intensity and get after it.
It works! The fatigue and discomfort fade away. I chug along concentrating solely on my footsteps and movements. I chant, “not home, keep running,” for the last 2-3 miles. I finish my run clocking more distance in less time than last week! I achieve my goal. I have a great run! It is the first time in a few weeks that my last miles are faster than my first. I can’t help but smile, so happy that I stayed the course and didn’t quit.
9/11 – The countdown continues.
23 days to go and I can’t get myself out of bed to hit the trainer. Just the idea of biking makes me want to fall back to sleep. Teaching two high-intensity fitness classes on top of my 15-mile run has left me exhausted. I am not ready to wake up! Without realizing it, I fall back to sleep until it is too late to bike before work. Now I have to squeeze it in between client blocks in the middle of the day. When the time comes, I consider napping instead, but somehow manage to find the courage to face my bike. My legs take much longer to wake up today and I feel heavy and slow. I have three high intensity intervals that are fairly long to get through but thankfully I have 5 minutes to recover between them. I struggle to complete them, blocking as many thoughts of discomfort and boredom as possible.
The minutes pass in alternating waves of ease and painful exhaustion. Sometimes time flies, while at other times it crawls. Despite the challenges, I can feel how much stronger I am than I was months before. I finish the ride holding on to those thoughts and reflect on my progress during this training. I really have seen a significant change in my bike abilities. Everything is coming together – the swims, the long rides, the runs, the intervals and the builds. They have all played a role in getting me to the fitness level I am at 23 days before the Ironman!