2019 – Tri It Out
The start of 2019 brings to an end a few months of trying out Tri training and begins the start of a more focussed and dedicated iron(wo)man training plan, and with it a chance for me to return to more regularly scheduled blogging.
Remember that time I decided to don my swim cap and cleats, and leave my running shoes to the side (well almost). I had 9 months when I had this crazy notion and that 9 months is turning rapidly in to 6 months. Time quite literally flying by, unlike my cycling. My training last year was really about getting my body and mind used to what this next 6 month period is going to be like. Training 3 disciplines to the level I need to be at is not an easy undertaking, especially when you have no idea what is going on.
I let myself miss workouts and training days in the lead up to the new year, life and work (both the real kind and the RU2C kind) have been stressful and difficult, and I knew I had a good base level going in to this thing. That all ends now as I enter the toughest and craziest cycle of training, where I fall off things quite regularly! So here is where I am at right now heading into my 6 month countdown to Ironing:
I’m pretty sure swim endurance is mostly mental, and I don’t mean crazy, wild, or unruly. I mean once you get the technique down it’s mostly about convincing your brain that turning 80/90/100 times in a pool is totally natural; and that although there is an edge which you can quite easily stop at for a chat, you shouldn’t. I’m by no means saying I have the technique down, I can swim, and some days that feels comfortable. I rarely have a panic attack and think I might drown these days, yet still a random midweek flip out can occur (that’s not a fancy move), where I convince myself I can swim no more than 400m and I will in fact die in this lake come July. I have no idea if I’ll like swimming in a lake or not, I’ve never done it. But for the most part I can get in the pool and swim at a pace that doesn’t make me feel totally useless, for as long as my brain holds out. Once the brain goes, it is all over. I have a swim cap with a snowman on for winter, I must invest in something new for spring. A wet suit is the next big purchase, and getting in something without 4 walls the next big focus.
Riding a bike is possibly the scariest thing I have to do every week. For the most part I stay up right, yet riding throws about 7 million hazards at you every minute, it seems that everyone and everything is out to kill you, make you fall off, and then mock you (small children are in on it). I’m pretty certain that all people hate cyclists, apart from other cyclists and they might just be being nice to me because I’m so truly terrible at cycling. I now clip in and clip out successfully, apart from the time a small child rode his bike straight at me, and I opted to fall off rather than take him out (can we get a HERO!), and that time (today) I thought I was good enough to ride up a really big hill, spoiler alert I wasn’t and fell off. I now spend my days googling things like “how to clip out quickly on a steep ascent”.
Cycling is expensive, extremely confusing, and people seem to be SO much faster than me. I’m pretty fit guys and gals, I workout 6 days a week, how is santa clauses double taking me on a downhill! Oh and I am petrified of going down hills, almost as much as going up hills, oh and the flat is no better! I honestly have no idea what I am doing, I mostly get covered in oil, and buy things to keep my toes warm. I get one practice at a long ride every week, lots of shorter harder efforts in between, but that’s it, 30 practices to get to 112 miles (FUUCCCKKK). I’m up to about 70k which means you know only 110km more to find. to be honest though it’s not the distance that frightens me, Im a stubborn mule and can keep my legs turning, it’s more the reaching down to grab my water bottle bit that scares me. Any way I cycled over 100 miles this week and that’s something that I wouldn’t have ever thought I’d say. Plan is really just to keep showing up and hoping/praying that something clicks between now and then, and if that could be my cleats in to the pedal on a first attempt that’d be ace!
Oh sweet sweet running! Running is and forever will be my safety blanket. It’s like an old friend it doesn’t matter how long we haven’t seen each other, when we’re together it all just falls in to place. My running focus was always gonna drop, I have two disciplines that I know very little about, and one that I know intimately. At the moment that means practicing short runs off the bike and the occasional long run as I love/have brighton marathon fast approaching. Running off the bike is weird, but for me it’s joyous, I get out of the saddle where I feel utterly terrified for the most part, and on to my feet that I trust implicitly to do what they need to, they’ve never let me down and don’t show any signs of doing that now. Basically if I get through the swim and the bike, I know I’ll finish it. That might sound braggy, it’s not meant to. I’ve just devoted so much time to running, my legs and my heart and my whole everything know it and love it. It’s my home.
Every one it seems is marathoning, which is incredible for the sport and for the individuals, because marathons are great and life changing and wonderful, and there are so many people to talk to who have been there and done that! Every one is not Ironmanning, which means I have 74 million questions rattling around in my head and very few answers that don’t contradict each other. The one thing that seems to be a universal truth is that Ironman training is a lonely place.
I wanted to get out of my comfort zone for so many reasons and I can say I am well and truly out of it. Although I jest (quite honestly) about the terrors that I face on my training plan every week, I am loving it. I am learning new things, using new muscles and meeting new people. My brain and body, although tired, are being tested in every way. When I’m asked how I find time, amongst the crazy schedule of work and starting a business and everything else, the honest answer is this is the bit I love. The training, the getting out early in the morning and pushing yourself. Those moments more than any other, when my lungs are full of fresh air, and my eyes are wide, those are the moments I feel most like me. Every single time I finish a workout and I’ve managed to do something a little bit extra, be it an extra mile, an extra rep, an extra length! I feel unstoppable, proud, happy and like I wanna push on.
And sure parts of me feel like I will never make it to the start line, that 6 months is not enough time, and all of that might be true. The other parts however know that I’m made of some pretty gnarly stuff, and that if I can just keep showing up every week for the next 30 weeks, then I’m gonna have the most incredible experience.
Worst case scenario I learn a whole bunch of new skills, and get super fit doing it. Best case, become an Iron Woman before the years out.
Oh and if you want to come on a very snail paced ride with me then please do, it really is ever so lonely!