Monday, June 28, 2010

Training for an Iron Man is a lot like being Pregnant

No Really-- bear with me for a minute.

We are 30 weeks into my 42 week training season and I've got a few observations.
For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of either training for an Iron Man or being pregnant, I will explain.

So, as some of you may not know, the human pregnancy period is 40 weeks (we all say 9 months, but when you're pregnant, it is more like 10 months because you have to wait 40 weeks). Many pregnancies go at least one, if not 2 weeks over the 40 weeks--- this leads us to the 42 weeks of Iron Man training.

At the beginning of both-- actually for the first few months; you are thinking, "This isn't so bad. I can handle this." If you've got morning sickness (or you are super sore from some workouts) you know that this too will pass and you will be rewarded for your efforts. Your body doesn't change much-- in fact, most people can't tell you are pregnant-- or training for an iron man.

Then, in the second trimester (the second 3 months); your body starts to change for good and for ill: you notice your growing round belly, your full shiny hair, your glowing face (pregnancy) and your new muscles, your lack of soreness, your endurance going up (iron man). Near the end, you start thinking about how this child is a lot easier to take care of now than it is going to be when it gets out. . . (or this ironman thing isn't so bad).
You start to prepare: You take classes (both), you visit the hospital (both for some people, like my teammates who've had falls); you do longer workouts and practice triathlons. You create a plan (a birth plan, which, in my years of med mal defense, my OB clients were quick to point out that the longer and more detailed the birth plan, the sooner everything went to hell during delivery or a nutrition plan (which I'm hoping doesn't create the same results)).

Finally you start to reach the third trimester: all bets are off. Your body is changing: "Wow! are those really my thighs that don't fit in my jeans anymore" (both); "Seriously? That is MY ass?" You start to get sick and darned tired of the whole thing. You are hungry all the time. You are TIRED. Your body feels heavy. You JUST WANT IT TO END. YOU count the days-- at least with pregnancy you have the hope that the baby could come early. You re-count the days. You are READY READY READY to be done with this whole thing. And then you realize:

No matter how much you've prepared, no matter how ready you are: it is still going to hurt.

Double Brick Weekend:
Sunday we headed out for our double/triple brick weekend. Those of us participating at Canada or Louisville were only to do a double brick while our friends competing in Vineman had a triple brick--their race is 4 weeks earlier-- those lucky bastards.

A brick, in triathlon language is not what it sounds like-- its not how you feel doing it; it is actually a bike workout followed by a run and is named for the guy who first started doing it.
Our bricks were to be 2 hour (30 mile) bike rides followed by 1 hour (5) mile runs. Doesn't sound so bad does it? A total of 60 miles on the bike and 10 miles of running (doesn't sound as good does it?).

I pulled up to Yountville in Napa County at 7:30 to be ready to ride by 8. I'd already discovered that I'd forgotten my Garmin (the one for my wrist) and would be computer-less on both the bike and the run. As usual, I was apprehensive-- I'd not been feeling the workouts lately-- been feeling slow and heavy-- I've been trying my best to get them all in, but with my kids out of school and my aunt here (and insert excuse here) I'd fallen off for a week or so. But here I was: ready as I was going to be.

After a quick trip to the potty to apply my Chamois Butter (use your imagination) it was time to get directions from the coaches. "Turn around a 1 hour on the bike a 30 minutes on the run. It is supposed to be hot hot hot out here today so be sure you are adjusting your nutrition plan accordingly." We were rolling. We were off. I started out riding with Liz: our honoree captain. She lost her brother to Leukemia years ago and has been a TNT member ever since. This was her second consecutive TNT season and is approaching exhaustion. That being said: she is always a pleasure to ride with. After the first 9 miles, I picked it up a bit and pulled forward. I'd borrowed a watch from one of my coaches and was surprised to see that I was at the hour mark and still hadn't it the turn around; but, since I was supposed to turn around (and was afraid not to) around I went.

Heading back into town was fun: we had all turned around at the one hour interval and we had the pleasure of following each other back into town. We rolled in with a pack of about 10--all decked out in our fancy "flames" (purple and lime green flames that say IRONTEAM on the back). As we rolled past one couple, the woman asked how far we were going. "90 mile bike and 15 mile run" responded Coach Mike. Seriously, the woman started to gag. (I actually felt guilty since I was only biking 60 and running 10.

Off on the first run. OK, so I admit I didn't pay enough attention when the coaches were giving instructions in the morning. In fact, I didn't pay any attention. This would come to bite me in the ass about 4 miles into this run. I headed out without any water, thinking there would be a water stop at 1.2 miles (there was) AND at 2.5 (the turn around). Arriving at the turn around-- there was NO WATER. Yikes. It was getting hot and while this Georgia Girl LOVES hot weather, its been a while since I've run in 90 degree temps. It was also about mile 2.4 that I realized something pretty important: I'd forgotten to change out of my bike shorts. (you know you're iron when it takes 2.4 miles of a run to realize that you haven't changed out of your bike shorts). Back at the only water stop on the course I guzzled a few cups and headed home. I was pretty happy with this run: I was supposed to hold my Iron Man Marathon Pace (11:39/mile) and held about 10:50's. It is just hard to run that slow on a normal run.

Sucking down some water and electrolytes and switching shoes, I was back on the bike. This time I rolled out with Susie and Coach Sedonia. We started a bit of the pregnancy analogy above and then settled in for a nice discussion of the season. There was a bit of discussion about motivation and how different people are motivated in different ways. As an offhand comment, I mentioned that I thought that Coach Dave didn't know what to do when he saw me crying after finishing the 100 miles at Clearlake (all 45 seconds of waterworks). Sedonia laughed and agreed with me. In fact, she mentioned that he must have told her about it 3 times and even said "that's the first emotion we've seen out of Paula all season." Completely amused, I mentioned that it just wasn't my style to emote-- bitch and complain-- yes, cry and emote-- no. Sedonia agreed with me and said it was actually one of the reasons why the coaches don't really worry about me: I may get the workout Turrets (pretty often) but I get the job done. It made me feel pretty good.

Sedonia turned off to help Rocky with a flat and I was on my own. I was hoping to get all the way to the turn around this time: I wanted to go faster and I wanted to get there. Apparently it was not to be. At the 1 hour mark I was exactly at the same spot I was the first time. Frustrating Yes; but also kind of heartening since I hadn't lost pace the second 30 miles.

Can't say the same for the run: This run was UGLY. I was smart, and brought water and I made the turn around and I stuck to my readily improvised 1 minute walk 1 minute run strategy so, it could have been worse: but pace wise? This time I did the 5 miles in 70 minutes (please don't calculate the pace per mile-- and if you do, don't tell me. I don't want to know.).

It was a great day. I sort of wish I'd tried the 3x brick (don't worry, I'll get my chance in a few weeks) but also realized that some salt tabs would be WONDERFUL to have if I need them (when the mercury hits 101 like it did yesterday some salt to go with all that water would have been great). Do I still think I can do this?
Of course, with all of you, my donors and loyal readers, to help.

Speaking of which-- I'm 500 dollars short of my fundraising minimum. 500 by JULY 1. If you can help (from small to large) please do: I need your help, those with cancer need your help.
Thanks so much for reading and donating.


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