Getting to the Ironman Start Line: A Series of Unfortunate Events

In case you want to know how most people would advise NOT to go into your first-ever Ironman, here are some tips:

First, you should definitely move to LA and start a fellowship program the day after you get back from doing the international race — and you should make it as logistically complicated as possible, so that you have to get everything done in the weeks before your Ironman. That will make prep easy and stress-free.

Then, you should work A LOT so that you have money once you move to LA. The extra work will help ensure that you don’t get overly rested and relaxed. You don’t want that.

About two weeks before your Ironman, when you decide to do a get-the-legs-moving race, it would be ideal if your car could break down on the way just to add some personal obstacles to overcome.

Then, once you pay $750 to have the alternator fixed in the car (even though the car has a limited lifespan since you crashed it back in January), it would help if you could have it fail smog check. Ideally, not because it actually has any emissions, but because the state changed the list of approved catalytic converters and your’s is no longer approved for this model of this car. While you’re arguing with the used car dealer you bought it from, you should drive it to a wedding just so on your way home the back tire can blow out on the freeway and start smoking. Nothing like learning to deal with adversity to get ready for triathlon.

You should also get pretty sick at the wedding, just to make sure you don’t overtrain. Call it a taper.

When you go to fix all those things in the car, try to make sure that the steel wire sticking out of the blown tire punctures your hand and you get a weird blood bruise across your palm. Get some oil in it while you’re trying to wipe up the the quart that spilled in the trunk during this. That’ll take your mind off the fact that your left knee has been hurting since the one long run you managed to do two weeks earlier.

If the car stalls while you’re driving to the airport it’ll just give you a chance to practice your powerful positive thinking and not crying. Think at the car ‘you can make it to the airport, come on, just do this’ over and over until you get there.

Once you’re at the airport for your flight to Seattle, try to wait until the last possible second to remember that you need a passport to drive from Seattle to Canada, since you didn’t need a passport the last three times you went to Canada. Have a small panic attack while trying to Google whether or not you’d be able to talk your way across the border. Walk around Seattle for a day, refreshing the FedEx tracking page to see when the passports will arrive and checking the Ironman schedule over and over as you worry if you’ll make it before check-in closes.

Once you finally arrive at your race, you’ll be so on edge and tired and relieved to have made it that you won’t even worry anymore about the bears, even when Steve runs right by one on the trail.

But, at least you’re there and ready to go.

I’m trying to remember that even though we arrived in Whistler 38 hours later than planned, it’s still the earliest I’ve ever showed up for a race. And, maybe I’ve gotten at least some of the shit going wrong out of my system. And, when more things go wrong (because they will), maybe I’ll be able to deal with it because I certainly know how to deal with things. Except for my left knee hurting still. That could be a problem.

I’m trying to just get the (GIANT) list of things done that need to be done before the start and rest the rest of the time and remember that I’m ready to go.

Because it is time to go. IM Canada starts at 7 a.m. tomorrow morning. I am #427. You can track me online or I’ll probably tweet and facebook when I’m done. Which will hopefully be sometime before midnight. I have some time goals, but they’re sort of general and I’m not really sure what’s going to happen. I actually don’t know what’s going to happen at all. One guy today tried to tell me that KFC chicken in my bike special needs bag is the secret. (Also smoking pot on the run?? He was full of advice.) Let’s hope he was not 100% right, because I think this is going to be hard enough without KFC and pot.

The two things I’m telling myself over and over are:

– You don’t have to move fast. You just have to keep moving.

AND

– Everyone else feels like shit too. (Unless they’re smoking pot, probably. But then they may not be following piece of advice #1 – keep moving.)

So, I will keep moving and it will feel awful and then I will be done. Ideally. And, none of this other stuff that happened before and sucked will matter. Because it doesn’t matter how you get to the start line as long as you get to the finish line too.

Ironman Training Week 28: June 30 – July 6

Last night, I ended up pouring over all my training logs and race reports from this spring as some sort of way to remind myself that I’ve put in the work and can go fast when the mood strikes. Of course, it also reminded me that I was a mess three months ago and it’s a little amazing this trainwreck ever got back on the track.

So, that was productive.

After reading all the training I’ve done, I then spent all night trying to decide what I should do for my last hard race, shakeout thing before IM Canada. I’d been planning on Tri for Real, but that was sounding shitty. Then, I thought about doing the 5K in San Rafael, but that sounded a different kind of shitty. Then, I concocted different schemes to do my own time trials to test my bike set up and my legs and why my arms feel so heavy. All at 1 a.m. last night.

Unsurprisingly, I had another crap workout this morning. I’m pretty sure I was swimming with those stupid leg weights tied onto my legs and arms. Invisible ones. Reading last night also reminded me there were two brief weeks in mid-March when I was swimming stunningly fast, faster than I’ve ever swum. That was nice.

This somehow inspired me to go home and sign up for Tri for Real. Logically.

That makes this officially a taper. Last week was a rest and recovery from the last big training block. This week was supposed to be the start of my two week taper. That taper’s so far included my longest run to date (which the rereading my training logs reminded me I hadn’t done) and me feeling like shit. Hopefully, tomorrow snaps me out of that.

Monday

Swam 800 yards easy and some yoga after the super hard all-day workout.

Tuesday

REST

Wednesday

Biked 18 miles in the morning before biking over to the fair and working all day — where yes I did eat crappy fair food and it was disappointing. The bike was not really anything, just a moderate ride on the TT.

Swam 1,000 yards easy in the evening.

Thursday

TRX class after the fair, followed by:

Swimming 1,400 yards moderately. I don’t know what your YMCA is like, but mine is like this. I am used to being the fastest person in the pool at the Y. So, I jumped in and started sharing a lane with a nice-looking 13-year-old girl. When I flipped turned I realized she was passing me — dolphin-kicking on her back. She then proceeded to lap me, repeatedly. It was alarming.

Friday

Accidental rest day, more working at the fair.

Saturday

Biked 25 miles up in the mountains. Like up, up. It was a long climb and then a long descent and then some wondering where I was exactly. Oh, and also some wheezing. As if there was less air. I had to take a nap afterwards.

Swam 1,700 yards or something tangentially across the lake. Steve swam with me, or near me until I dropped him. It was a nice, clear lake, but I forgot there are motor boats on the lake. So that was fun.

Sunday

Steve decided to take the previous day out on me during our run around the lake. Or else he didn’t quite believe me when I said I can’t breathe in the mountains when running. Oh, and also, my stupid left toe bone spur has been making trails hard and my ankle has been weak since falling during the Dipsea. All in all, it meant that I was having to pay close attention to my footing and working hard to not fall and also struggling to breathe, which made it harder to pay attention and not fall. It was an exhausting 5.5 mile run.

Swam another 1,000 yards easy in the lake.

TOTAL: 7:10

Alright, no freaking out tonight. Maybe.

Am I Losing My Shit?

My mom sent me this on Facebook. In this analogy, I am the owl.
My mom sent me this on Facebook. In this analogy, I am the owl.

Yeah, maybe.

On July 29, I move to LA. People keep asking me if I’m all packed up. My reaction to this is basically the same as my reaction to all those questions people kept asking before our wedding: Oh my god, aren’t you so stressed? Isn’t it so hard to pick out all the details? Did you hire a planner? That reaction, in case you were wondering, is that I want to be like ‘Hi, I’m Kelly. Have we met.’

What would I wear for the next two weeks if I had packed? And, how would I even find stuff for my Ironman? And, oh yeah, there is an Ironman first you know, after which I’m home for about 18 hours before flying to LA, so what exactly am I supposed to pack? The one suitcase I’m bringing with me? Because, anyway, I’m coming home after the first three week orientation and driving back down with more stuff — which won’t even be all my stuff, because OH YEAH, it’s only 10 months and Steve is staying up here, so. Hi, I’m Kelly, have we even met.

There has been a decent amount of stuff to do to get ready for USC, though. Stuff like filling out paperwork, and figuring out IMAP settings for my email account, and signing up for half my classes and wondering why the other half are full already and realizing that means I’ll have to hope my powers of persuasion are as good with professors as they are with security guards.

Mostly, though, I’ve been worrying more about the Ironman first. There are a lot of things to worry about. Why is the internal hydration system impossible to get inside my Shiv (*my fancy bike, mom)? If I decide not to use it because I hate drinking out of straws, even if I can get it installed eventually, then where will I put extra water bottles? If I put the extra bottle on the frame, so I can access it better than on the back of the seat, then that’ll take the place of the aero-fuel-box that’s on the frame, so where will I store food? If I put food in between the bars, because a regular bento box won’t fit, then where will I put my computer? It’s like a more annoying and less cute version of ‘if you give a mouse a cookie.’

I also tried to work double last month, so when I get paid for that work in August (when I won’t be working), I’ll have money to buy stuff like food. This plan may not be working out great, though, because last week I worked three tiring days straight at the county fair, then was in the mountains for three days, then my sister visited for three days, and then I had to take a nap before we go to a wedding for three days. Today, I finally finished one story that was super overdue. Tomorrow, I have to finish the other. (Sorry, Mario, I promise, it’s coming.) This is exhausting.

Which brings us to what I’m mostly freaking out about. I do not feel ready for an Ironman. I feel exhausted. Of course, I’m used to feeling shitty right before a race, but not two weeks before, more like 1 to 4 days before. I haven’t even really started tapering. I just recovered last week from my big training block, then messed myself up at elevation running with Steve. And, now, I can barely run and swam terrible yesterday and my legs hurt and I think I need another nap. My current plan to solve this problem and the problem of having a stomachache for two weeks is to eat lots of red meat. And more vegetables. And less beer. And definitely less wine. Like Paleo, but still with some beer and chocolate-covered Oreos.

So, no, I haven’t packed yet.