Tuesday, February 11, 2014

(Half) Ironwoman

The Camino is part I of 2014 adventures in turning 30. 

Part II is the Eagleman 70.3, better known as a half ironman.  The full ironman is a ridiculously challenging triathlon distance; I am dipping my toe into the shallow end of that pool, swimming 1.2 miles, biking 56 miles, and rounding the day out with a brisk half marathon (13.1 miles), for an overall total distance of....as you may have guessed, 70.3 miles.

I have toyed with the idea of a half IM for a few years now, but never really committed or made it a priority.  In early October, Morgan, one of my close friends from Denver, said she was eager to do an east coast Half IM and asked if I would be interested.   After exploring a few races together, we settled for one on the eastern shore of Maryland; the Eagleman 70.3.

Me and Mo!

So once I paid my race fee (and my credit card stopped weeping), I started thinking about training.  It is wonderfully easy to think about a race when it is still a safe 9 months away.  You think of all the wonderful runs you will have and how much you enjoy being on your bike all over the city.  And then you actually start training.

In my case, I got a coach.  Katie and I have been friends since we were little and then again when we were somewhat bigger and both living in northern Virginia.  She is the reason I started running and I am the reason she started swimming.  Soon, triathlons lit her on fire and she got a coach to help her train without getting injured.  When she said she got a coach, in all honesty I thought "a coach?  like in high school?  really?" but I was happy for her and watched her dramatically improve.  Eventually she turned a passion into a profession and a new way of life and began to coach as well.  So when it came time for me to actually start training, I went to her. 

This was all in late October.  I thought, oh I'll just begin in January and that will give me 5 months.  Katie had different plans for me.  Within a day, I was training with her, building up my heart and lung strength and getting my generally out of shape body parts to start moving again.  My first week, I couldn't hold a plank or run a mile.  But slowly, over the fall, I got stronger.  And just slightly less pudgy.

It's not easy.  And I'm still not nearly as dedicated as I should be.  And there are many days where I want to stay in the warmth of my covers (and some days, I do).  And when you see your Sunday workout includes 5,200 yards in the pool, you whimper softly to yourself while putting on your suit.  Many times, especially during this horribly cold January, I have questioned "Why am I doing this?"  Why.  I don't have to.  I can quit anytime I want.  There is no one forcing me to do this.  Somewhere deep down, my Scottish stubbornness is yelling "GET OUT OF BED and just DO IT"  And at the end of a long run or strong swim or strong lifting workout, I know why I am doing this.  It's scary.  And I'm only at the tip of the massive amounts of training to come and sometimes, I'm still a big failure at fitting everything in.  But the strength and pride that you feel after doing something you weren't able to do even a month ago, its irreplaceable.   I can plank, heck, I can SIDE plank with minimal falling.  My fear of the weight room has been replaced with swagger.  I can run all the way to Virginia from my house. 

And its worth it.

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