Today's post may be one big ramble; I'm just writing down my stream of consciousness, so please bear with me. (All images found on pinterest). I am going to go out on a limb and bare my deep thoughts and fears here. I need to write it out....because I think it will help me process all of my emotions.
With my big race just a few weeks away (in 6 weeks; only 5 more training weekends, including a taper) my thoughts and emotions have been running the gamut. Sometimes I feel empowered and bad-ass and ready; other times I feel scared and overwhelmed and have a panic attack about it. It's not unusual for these opposite thoughts and feelings to course through me not only all in the same day, but in the same minute. I may start to freak out about the race, and a few seconds later successfully self-talk some positivity, or I may feel great about it and then start to dwell on my self-doubt.
The biggest doubt in my mind is my training. Have I been doing enough? I'm not sure. I've been training as hard as I could, ever since I first signed up for this half-Ironman back at the end of March, but have been plagued by some injuries that have made me pull back a bit. At the beginning of July I wrenched my back very badly, and for most of July I couldn't bike, as my back couldn't take it. I spent a lot of time resting, rolling my back on my foam roller, and going to the chiropractor. I lost valuable training time there. The past few weeks it felt better, but then this past Saturday morning it started to ache again (not badly, but I felt it was the precursor to it going out) so I canceled my planned long ride. I'm not making excuses; it is what it is. I'd rather go into the race maybe not as trained as I could have been than do a risky training ride (or run) when I'm in pain and put myself out of the race for good.
The bike is scaring me to death. I am planning on taking 4 hours for the ride, and hope I don't go over. A cursory look over the last few years' results of the race show no one took over 4 hours. Some people took almost that amount of time, but no one hit the 4 hour mark. I really can't do more than 4 hours, else I may get kicked off the course. I know a lot of people reading this may laugh...surely 56 miles won't take 4 hours? Well, the one time I did 56 miles in training, it took me roughly 3:55. I'm slow, very slow, on the bike. I have had one 56- mile bike ride, and several in the 40-45 mile range. I am planning on a few more long rides--between 50-65 miles each--in the next few weeks. Will this be enough? Not sure. But again, at this point, 6 weeks out, it's all I can do. I was diligent getting my mileage up before my back injury, and also after recovery. I can do nothing about the times when my body rebels and won't let me do what I want, or need, to do.
The swim and run make me nervous too, of course, but not as anxious as the bike. I've been doing my long swims in the pool, almost always swimming between 40-50 laps (2000-2500 yards), even doing a 3000 yard swim a few weeks ago, which I'll be doing again soon. I've done some open-water swim practices, and am now borrowing a friend's sleeveless wetsuit because I think it will be easier on my shoulders to swim in. My runs have been increasing again (I hadn't run LONG since the beginning of June, when I set my PR in the Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Half Marathon). Last week I ran 10 miles, my longest run since Rock 'n ' Roll. I will do at least one more 10 miler before my triathlon. I've also done a few runs on the beach (SuperFrog has many miles run on sand) and will do more before the race. Additionally, I've done many bricks, always trying to run at least 1 mile off most bike rides. I plan on a mega-brick a few weeks before the race, ideally a 50 mile bike and maybe a 7 mile run.
Will all this be enough? I don't know. The test will come on race day.
I think, however, that my biggest challenge is not the physical aspect. I CAN do the distance, I've covered all three distances in training, and putting it all together is going to be the hardest thing ever but I can DO it. For me, the biggest challenge will be mental. Here's some examples of the self-talk I do to try to combat my negativity:
Thought: I haven't been training enough.
Counterthought: I HAVE been training, and hard! Look at your training logs, both in your notebook and on your dailymile account. Yes, you've been sidelined some with injury, and yes, you have to balance your training with the obligations of being a mother to two young kids, so given those two things, you've put in as much training as you can.
Thought: I will come in last place.
Counterthought: Well, this might be true, but who cares? You will still cross the finish line, you will still be a half-Ironman. There's the saying, "What do you call the person who comes in last place at triathlon? A triathlete." Plus, as my best friend wisely told me, "Hey, you're beating me, I didn't even sign up!"
Thought: I'm crazy for signing up for this.
Counterthought: Yes, I am. And being crazy is good. It's good to break out of your comfort zone, to see what you are made of. A line in the book (and musical), Wicked, says "Those who don't try never look foolish.". So if I look foolish, who gives a crap? I'm trying.
Thought: This is going to hurt.
Counterthought: Yes, it's likely to be the most painful thing you ever endure. But remember the pain of childbirth? The pain of having epidurals and recovering from 2 c-sections wasn't easy--but you got two beautiful children out of it. Every cell of your body may scream during the race, but it WILL end, you WILL finish, the pain WILL subside, and you WILL cherish the memory of the race--of finishing-- forever.
Thought: I will be so slow I get pulled of the course (I won't make their time restrictions).
Counterthought: Well, I can only do the best I can do. If I get pulled, either from the bike or run (or heck, the swim!) it won't be for lack of having tried. And I can always try again another time.
Thought: You are not ready to do a 70.3 triathlon (half-Ironman distance).
Counterthought: Oh, yes you are! You've done 7 triathlons, one of which was an Olympic-distance. While you might not be an elite athlete, you're an athlete all the same. You've been training, and all you have to do is try this. If not now, when?
Counterthought: Don't get cocky. It's going to be tough....but you have it in you to go the distance.
I don't know if I'll ever do this long a distance again (we'll see how I feel after September 30!) but I do know that I'll finish, and be so proud of myself. I can only do the best I can do, in spite of injury, in spite of time constraints with the rest of my life, in spite of having to balance being a mother and being a wife and following through with the myriad of obligations I have. I need to spend the next 6 weeks not only training diligently, but also reinforcing the above counterthoughts. I'm going to finish....and man, I'm going to be so bad-ass when I do!