This might seem a little extreme for a blog post but I promise I have a good reason. Working with two coaches this season has resulted in a suddenly very noticeable increase in both volume and intensity over the past few months (as well as, you know, training for a half Ironman!). I’ve been working with Coach Gerry for years, but Coach Jim is a very recent addition. What’s great about working with the two of them together is the way that the workouts tend to work in tandem––Coach Jim is also a disciple of Gerry’s (along with several other high performing professional athletes), so he has insight into the full scope of my training. And with Jim to push me along now, I’m putting in much more volume than I have before, and making gains in ways I hadn’t expect to make them.
I’m freaking out. I’ve got about 5 weeks to go until the first large scale test of my athletic abilities (Ironman 70.3 Santa Rosa!). Too many thoughts are going through my mind. Do I remember how to transition? Should I go back to gels? I haven’t climbed enough. I need to climb more. How good is my run, really? My hydration system sucks.
If you’re a close friend or family member, then I apologize for having blown up your phone at some point over the past couple days with my freak out texts. Strangely enough, I remember a similar period of freaking out ahead of Tahoe, but by then I was so burned out on training that I just wanted it to be over. This time, I don’t want it to be over. I want a time machine.
This weekend I did something that I’ve only done once before. I woke up early, loaded up the car and took a pre-dawn drive down to Oceanside to watch my fellow Tower 26 teammates race in the Oceanside 70.3 Ironman.
As paradoxical as it seems, recovery can sometimes be just as hard as training.
I’m slogging my way through the middle of a recovery week, forcing my heart rate into unfamiliar zones, embracing my pull buoy, and spinning out my miles. It’s the most boring thing ever. What keeps me coming back to training is the challenge of a new day––what can I do now that I couldn’t before? What can I do again even better than last time? I can be an intense person, so the adrenaline filled, fast twitch, heart-racing action is what keeps me entertained.
But training can’t always be about going fast and I’m realizing how important it is to learn how to go slow.
It’s hard to be consistent. This is true for training, working, and anything else worth doing in life, which is why I’m only just now getting back to writing. 2017 is shaping up to be a bigger year than I anticipated, not that I didn’t see it coming. In fact, it should have been obvious the moment I scribbled my digital signature over the registration iPad in Arizona, standing just a few steps away from what had been the finish line only hours earlier. But I had a year then. Now I’ve got just over seven months.
With the prospect of two (possibly 3) Ironman events looming on this year’s calendar, I spent a lot of time going back and forth on whether or not to use a coach this year. In theory, it’s easy to know what a race will consist of – my next race in Santa Rosa is a half-Ironman. And, in theory it’s simple to determine how your body will adapt in order to get you there. But in the end I decided that professional guidance was a bit like insurance––you might not need it, but you know you’ll be taken care of if you do.
I’m not sure what it was, but something happened in August. Maybe it was the changing of seasons or the tilt in the air as we slipped from summer into fall. Maybe after half a year of tracking candidates and following campaigns, I was ready for a new challenge. Or maybe, simply enough, it was just unfinished business.
Somewhere along Mile 11, an excited stranger jogged up alongside me, announcing that this was the farthest he had ever run in his life and that we were almost finished. He asked if it was also my first half marathon. I awkwardly negotiated my response.
“Yes,” I replied. “But…I also did LA Marathon…”
“What??” he called back, a judging sting of disbelief in voice. “This should be easy for you!”
“Yeah,” I said. “It should be. But it’s really not…”
A lot of people were surprised to hear that I had signed up for the half Ironman at Lake Tahoe this year, and assumed that it was a last minute decision. I had actually signed up in April shortly after the 70.3 race was announced, but I didn’t tell anyone, save for a select inner circle of need to know personnel. I like to think that I kept it under wraps because I tend to be a fairly quiet and private person, preferring not to draw attention to myself. But the deeper truth is one that I’m ashamed to admit — I didn’t think I could do it.