Tomorrow is 8 weeks to Kona. I know this because 1. people on Facebook keep saying it and 2. it’s a Saturday, so that sort of makes sense.
People ask me a lot of questions about Kona training. Am I ready? (No, duh, I have 8 weeks still.) What’s training with Hillary like? (Hard.) How much do I train? (A normal amount for someone going to Kona.) I must train so much. (Not really.) What is that like? (Hard. Normal.) Am I excited? (Sure. And tired.)
I was reading this amazingly hilarious running diary of the opening Olympics weekend in Rio by a Sports Illustrated writer, and I thought that’s perfect for capturing the flavor of it all. I should do that. I should just do a running diary of these last 8 weeks and it will answer all these questions, which really all come down to one question: No, really, what’s it like?
So, this post will just be a running post from here until Oct. 8. (Just had to look up that date; blissful ignorance is my secret sauce.) I’ll add short notes and thoughts to the top, below this intro, maybe every day, maybe every few days. We’ll see. Maybe I’ll be so tired, it’ll just be a weird jumble of words. Welcome to the journey.
Friday, Aug. 26
We’re about to get on a plane and wake up in Australia. Except we’ll have missed Saturday completely. It’s like really boring time travel.
We didn’t have to pay for our bikes when we checked our bags in, so I’m pretty convinced right now that everything is going to go right in the next six weeks.
The last few days have been a chaos storm of trying to finish work and pack bags and make sure a long list of things that need to be done get done before I leave until mid-October. And the last thing that needed to happen was I needed to ride my road bike before we left. (My TT bike is already packed.) It’s not an exciting ride. It’s not hard. It just needs to get done.
And then halfway though I realize what it feels like. It feels like one of those regular meetings you have at work to check-in. And there’s nothing wrong with the meeting and you like everyone there, but you still would rather do the other things you have to do after it’s over. It’s just a meeting whose box needs to be checked.
That’s what this ride feels like. A meeting my bike and I have to have, not good or bad or exciting or anything. Just check it off.
Thursday, Aug. 25
People definitely don’t understand what I do. Generally speaking. For work or life.
Today I had to go to a press event, where we demo’d new devices and did a workout. The work people there kept asking me if I was ready to do my workout for the day. And I was like, well, actually…
Also. Also. The back of my neck still hurts from being ripped open by my wetsuit during Alcatraz on Sunday. I tried to take a picture behind my head. Here’s how it turned out:
You get the idea.
Now my throat still feels dry, and also scalded from the hot water.
Also. I am worried I’m getting sick. I think my throat is hard to swallow. *swallows* Definitely. I’ll get a tea. That sounds like a thing people do.
Why, yes, I did look directly into the spray sunscreen to see if it was working, and then spray it straight into my eyes. It is that kind of morning.
Wednesday, Aug. 24
I have to finish a work thing tonight, so I can leave for my workouts first thing tomorrow morning. And, of course, the site went down, so I’m sitting here pressing refresh. And refresh. And refresh.
In 48 hours I leave for 6.5 weeks for Australia + Hawaii. (Yes, it is nice. Also, yes, you too can live this lifestyle. It’s easy. All you have to give up in exchange is benefits, stability, long-term security, and possible career promotions.) I am over everything.
Tuesday, Aug. 23
Sometimes when I’m doing dishes, one of the veins in my biceps bulges distractingly. This seems not normal.
I am swimming. I don’t have much to say about it. This is earlier than my usual afternoon/evening workout time. Turns out it’s basically the same, but earlier.
Monday, Aug. 22
Even with a sweatshirt, sweatpants, and slippers on, I’m freezing. Sometimes this happens after races or when I’m messed up or getting sick. God, I hope I’m not getting sick.
Sunday, Aug. 21
I raced today. TriCal’s Alcatraz race. I love Alcatraz. And when Escape from Alcatraz increased its price to $750 earlier this year, I wanted to support TriCal’s more grassroots and cheaper version. And Steve had never done the swim at all. So, four months ago signing us both up sounded like a great idea.
This week I was not so thrilled about that decision. God, I didn’t want to race. But that happens. You come around. Stop thinking about it. I figured once I’d hit the water it’d all come back to me.
It did and it didn’t.
I swam awful. The worst I’ve swum since I got fast. I took some crazy route to get from the boat to the beach, and ended up off near Fort Mason I think, by myself. I started to suspect this was not going well about halfway through. And then I started to think it might be going really badly when I came out of the water in 15th? 20th? At some point after they stop counting. As I ran to my bike, Steve was running out with his. Sigh.
I wallowed a bit. Or is it wallowing if you’re simply acknowledging facts? It was unlikely I could make up whatever 3-5 minutes I was down. It was not going to be possible to have the kind of race I wanted at this point. It’d take some amazing biking and I was not biking amazing.
I was thinking about mental tricks and what to do and that I just wanted to quit and this sucked. I knew I couldn’t tell myself this was going well, because it wasn’t. And I knew I couldn’t really quit, but I couldn’t find anything to make it be worthwhile either. And then I decided this was an opportunity. I am going to have races where my swim is not what I think it should be, where it sucks. What am I going to do then? Wallow every time? This was an opportunity to practice recovering from an awful swim.
Not sure if I actually believed that or not. But saying it in my head counted for something. At least then I started pulling it back together. I stopped worrying. Just go hard. Do what you can. I cheered for Steve when he was headed back in. I got off my bike in 3rd or 4th, wasn’t sure, and I just started running more or less hard. I don’t think I really believed I’d catch any of the women ahead of me, but I’d do what I could.
Eventually, I made up time and there was one of the women right in front of me with 1.5 miles to go. Then I really started going to the well. I was pounding down the trails, eyes rolling up some, head tilting to one side, and finally I caught her. I tried to make it stick, almost fell down the stairs, and came out on Crissy Field. And, suddenly, there was another girl just 20 feet ahead. I had less than a mile left, but I could do it! I can do it. I picked it up to go by her and she stuck with me. We were running shoulder-to-shoulder and I thought, I can’t hold this, I’m going to throw up, I just picked up the pace to pass her.
But. And this may be the thing I am most proud of in many many races. I realized, deep down, that she was struggling too, that we both were hurting. So I went harder.
I crossed the line second with the fastest run of the day. Ultimately, I ended up third overall, because one of those women jumped off the boat after me, so had a slightly faster time. Oh well. What are you going to do. Only what you can. Race the race in front of you.