Week Seven of Ironman Training: Courage

Late last December my family and I shared a fabulous evening with our dear friends, the Reeder-Riechels. As we were leaving, I noticed a colorful flyer taped to their kitchen wall. The message at the top simply said, “Take what you need in the new year,” and at the bottom it had strips of paper to rip off, like you’d normally see for a lost cat or an item for sale. Instead of a phone number to call, however, it had words like Patience, Determination, Creativity, and Compassion.

I chose Courage.

I knew courage is what I would need most as I took on my Ironman journey this year.

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This word has been taped to my mirror since I started training, and I look at it every morning when I wake up.

I snapped this picture on a particularly tough morning to remind myself what it was going to take to get my long run completed when every ounce of my tired being wanted to go back to bed. I just have to laugh at what a train wreck I look like. That’s life, baby!

 

Before I even launched my official Ironman training I had to dig for some courage to believe that I could, and should, chase after this dream; then even more to take the next step and hit the registration button for Arizona. In fact, I hovered over that button for a good long time before I finally took a deep breath and hit SUBMIT. You’ve all been there too, I’m sure, so you’ll understand the tingles of excitement that flooded my body while simultaneous waves of disbelief washed over me: “Holy #&%! did I really just do that? Ok, I guess I’m really doing this. Here we go!”

“What you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic and power in it.” ~Goethe

I also had to build up my courage to ask Mike Swan if he’d coach me. He coaches many top-notch athletes in our town so I had visions of him telling me I wasn’t ready for an Ironman. Instead, he was more than positive and said, “I think Ironman is absolutely doable for you.”

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The other thing I knew would take courage is to ask people to donate to my Smile Train fundraising, as asking people for moolah is one of my least favorite things. Even though it has gotten off to a good start, I still find this challenging. Knowing that I’m helping vulnerable kiddos who have very few resources though, gives me the courage to keep asking, even if it’s uncomfortable. I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am to those of you who have already donated! You are making a big difference!

Of course, every person has his or her own idea of what courage means, as it comes in all shapes and forms. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of believing in yourself. Sometimes it’s being open to possibility and making the decision to say yes to new things when the easier thing is to say no. Other times it’s believing in the work and the process so there’s no room for fear or “what ifs.” And of course, it’s being afraid and taking the plunge anyway.

“Courage is more exhilarating than fear and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down.”  ~Eleanor Roosevelt

That’s what I’m going to keep in mind as I shake off last week’s fatigue and start afresh with this week’s schedule. Here’s what’s on tap:
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Week Two of Ironman Training: The Power of Friends

IMAZLogoIt’s full speed ahead into my second “official” week of Ironman training and it has brought nothing but joy. Who knew acquiring so many tired muscles could be this much fun? I just keep taking it one day, one workout at a time. That’s how I’m going to get to the starting line of Ironman Arizona in November. #ithinkican #ithinkican #ithinkican

Here’s what this week’s schedule looks like:

Monday: Rest (aaaaah), core and stretching pm

Tuesday: Run 35 minutes, (Killer)Kate’s strength & stretch class, more core and stretching pm

Wednesday: Swim 1900 y followed by 2 back-to-back spinning classes, core and stretching pm

Thursday: Run 40 minutes, core and stretching pm

Friday: Swim 1600 y, core and stretching pm

Saturday: Run 60 minutes, upper body strength, core and stretching pm

Sunday: Bike 3 hours, core and stretching pm

Celebrating: Last week I celebrated turning the Big 5-0 by riding 50 miles in spinning class then having more fitness fun with friends the following day, on my actual birthday. “Keep Calm and BRING IT ON!” is what I say, and yes, every girl should run with a tiara on her birthday.

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Photo credit: Randy Weiss Presidio Sports

Gratitude: I already have so many people I’m grateful for on this Ironman Journey. There isn’t a day that goes by that somebody doesn’t do or say something nice. My friend and Moms in Motion tri coach, Whitney Bruice, took time out of her busy morning last week to come help me try to improve my swim stroke. Coach Whitney is a phenomenal swimmer and triathlete (not to mention a mother of two and a busy working professional), so it was exciting to hear she thought my stroke looked fairly solid, with the exception of a slight cross-over on my left side. I have A LOT more time ahead of me in the pool working on technique and building up my speed, strength and endurance, but it was reassuring to know that at least I’m headed in the right direction. Thank you Whitney!

JenniMillerThe other person who has been exceptionally helpful this week is my friend Jenni Miller, who is also a busy mother of two, an attorney, activist/philanthropist (Strides for SMS) and an outstanding athlete. She completed her first Ironman last summer (and CRUSHED IT by the way–top 10% in her age group), and she has been giving me great advice and tons of encouragement. It’s often the smallest details that make the biggest difference–from goggle selections to fueling to fav bike shorts. Her generosity and enthusiasm have added a huge dollop of happy in my happiness jar. Jenni is currently training for Ironman Lake Placid, which will take place in July, and is sure to rip that up too! Go girl!

I’m also grateful for all the people who have contributed to my Smile Train fundraising! With the support of Ana, Hensley, Jessica, Namita, Tim and Jo, the Clyne girls, the Rybniceck Family and the Whelan Family, we have already raised $1,075! That means four kids are already going to get life-changing cleft palate/lip surgery. My goal is 20 kids. Each surgery costs as little as $250 and only takes 45 minutes, but has enormous implications for improving the life of a child and his or her family. If you want to be part of making a big difference in somebody’s life, you can click HERE to donate.

Spinning forward: Yesterday I got aero bars and a bike fit from Bruce Davis at Hazard’s Cyclesport using the Guru Fit System. What I like most about Hazard’s is that you don’t have to be a gearhead to be treated like an awesome athlete (even if you’re a work-in-progress like me). Bruce had me up and running in no time and explained all the details along the way about geometry, balance and power. I’m excited to get out on the road and gobble up some miles. Bruce told me not to smile for this picture, which was hard, so I look like I swallowed a bird. I guess that just means I’m ready to fly, baby!

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Challenges: Sleep. I know how important sleep is for recovery, but damn if it isn’t elusive for this chiquita. If it isn’t one thing, it’s another. I’m trying to force myself to take naps, but it’s never easy.

Breakthroughs: Learning to change a flat and patch a tube with confidence. I haven’t had a flat in 20 years (I know, crazy, huh?), so I haven’t had any practice doing it. Last Sunday, right before I was about to join some friends for a long ride, I was putting air in my tire and the top of the stem valve broke off. Batta boom, that’s all she wrote. Fortunately, it happened in my garage so I didn’t have to bumble through it on the side of the road on a cold, rainy day or be the ridiculous damsel in distress who called for a pick-up. YouTube videos are the bomb, I tell you.

What I’ve learned: Always check your gear the night before so you don’t have any obstacles the morning of training. It’s hard enough to get out the door sometimes without gear problems, so make sure you’re ready to go. Because of my flat tire, I missed riding with a group of friends, which would have been fun. I also learned to keep experimenting with eating while training as it’s a little bit of an art and a science figuring out how much food your stomach can tolerate. On my last 3 hour bike ride I was running low on energy, but I overdid it a little on Wednesday’s swim/double-spin workout so the banana I ate sat like a rock in my stomach. Fortunately, I have ample opportunities to keep experimenting. I will get there.

Looking forward to: Getting a new triathlon watch. I’m leaning toward getting a Suunto Ambit 3, but I’m also considering a Garmin 920xt. Any thoughts?

 

You can help make a child smile by donating to my Team Empower Smile Train fundraising page HERE.