Ironmother Week: The Body

More or less, total miles in the pool since I started training. I forgot my Garmin pretty regularly at swim practices—at least once every two weeks. The most notable time I forgot it was in the thick of training, when I had to swim 4,200 meters. Pre-swim, I was at home, thinking I'd write my coach, "Did this, but forgot my Garmin. Sorry." Then, I really did forget my Garmin.
More or less, total miles in the pool since I started training. I forgot my Garmin 910XT pretty regularly at swim practices—at least once every two weeks. The most notable time I forgot it was in the thick of training, when I had to swim 4,200 meters. I put off the workout and put it off some more.  I thought of writing to my coach, "I did this workout, but forgot my Garmin. Sorry." But not really doing it. I finally got my badass in the water, and realized I really did forget my Garmin.

So 8 months of training comes down to one day for me—Dimity—on Sunday. I'm going to go all Shark Week on you, and to take the opportunity to write three Ironmother pre-race posts: body, mind (Tuesday), and spirit (Friday). If that's too much blood and iron for you, no worries; just check back next week. Oh, but then I'll have a race report or two. So hang in there and then we'll be back to regularly scheduled programming.

Almost 6.5 years ago, I crossed the Nike Women's Marathon finish line with my sister Sarah. In order to get myself there, I had to limp, cry, bargain, plead, walk, shuffle, run, and tell myself, "This is one hour of your whole life. You can do this." (The drama set in around mile 20; because of a heel fracture mid-training, I had only run 16 miles before race day.)

We saw the other Sarah (SBS) shortly after my sis Sarah dragged me across, and I spat at SBS, "I'm never doing another marathon." And then my tone softened. "Unless it's at the end of an Ironman."

And here I am, kind of not believing that this whole thing is going to go down in less than a week.

My body, I must admit, is the easiest part of the Dimi-tri (get it? works on both triathlon and triumvirate). Even though I'm fairly injury prone and on the other side of 40 years old, my muscles are usually game to jump in a game. The problem comes in because my apparent strength belies my body's sensitivity. For me, there is a dental-floss thin line between feeling good and being overtrained. There is one hill repeat session between badass and wiped out; one too-tough bike workout between soaring and crashing; one crappy sleep between fine and decidedly not fine; one missed Pilates session between aligned and broken.

So for me, Ironmother training wasn't about powering through a gazillion miles. It was about being deliberate and thoughtful with my schedule so that I could meet the goal I set out when I first talked to my coach, Briana Boehmer, last fall: to enjoy the race and finish feeling strong.

photo (60)
The hours are pretty accurate on the bike, but the Garmin doesn't record miles when I'm on the trainer in the basement. No idea how many miles I've ridden total, but I've pedaled through a season of House of Cards, at least 20 episodes of Parks and Rec, a few documentaries, and plenty of  other random entertainment.

On weekdays, I only did one cardio session. (Many triathletes do two workouts daily.) Granted, some of those workouts were a swim then a run, or a bike then a run, or run then strength, and most of them were at least 90 combined minutes, but I only had to shower once a day. Which makes a huge difference in the life (and dry skin) of an Ironmother. The weekend workouts were longer, of course, but I always knew I could finish the workout if I completed it as prescribed and didn't go out too fast or think too far ahead.

I had some great days, and I had some are-you-kidding-me days. Mostly, I had a lot of ho-hum days, when I just got up, and got it done because I've wanted to do Ironman for as long as I can remember.

And I listened to my body as best I could; I tried to allow things, instead of  hammer them—my usual M.O.

So I went to Pilates twice a week, most weeks, for a gentle realignment of my spine, my shoulders, my neck from my fave teacher, Ann Crammond. I got my roll on with my Trigger Point Therapy tools regularly. (Read: at least once a week, about four fewer times than Bri prescribed. Sorry, Bri, if you're reading, but at least I never told you I was doing it daily.) Some nights the idea of the X-Factor Massage Ball in my hip flexors had me fleeing for my bed.

I rested my spine on a full length foam-roller at least twice a week to open my chest. I just about kissed Kati Schwabe, my chiropractor, on my first visit, when after I told her that I could, if need be, ride my road bike instead of my tri bike because of the shoulder pain it was causing me, she said with total confidence, "Of course not. We're going to get you on your tri bike." And then she did. I threw on my 110% Juggler Knickers with ice after every weekend workout; I even wore them to a soccer tournament, then changed in the car in a crowded parking lot. My kids were not pleased with me.

I skipped workouts once in a while, mostly because of scheduling (or oversleeping), but one Monday morning, all I wanted to do was go back to bed—and it was a rest day. I was sitting at my desk wondering how I was ever going to get through the day, let alone concentrate, and I emailed Bri and told her. We took about 4 hours out of workout week, which was totally the right call.

Still, I definitely had my doubts of whether or not my body would hold up. I didn't swim for over two months because of my tweaked shoulder. On at least three occasions for multiple days, I could barely turn my head more than 5 degrees in each direction. I fractured my foot on a typical Dimity klutz move, and had to start again, in early March, from ground zero in running.

The most accurate of the batch.
The most accurate of the batch.

Thanks to Bri's guidance, I feel ready but not overworked. I still am not positively sure how long 2.4 miles is in yards and meters in the pool, but I hit 4,000 meters (or yards) enough (5 maybe?) times to know I'll be fine in the swim if I don't drink half the lake. I've ridden 100+ miles on my bike twice, which is plenty for me to get familiar with how much I like to get off my bike after I've racked up triple digits. And the run? My longest runs went from 10 to 13.1 to 15 to 18, which is p.l.e.n.t.y. for my finish-it marathon goals. During our last conversation, Bri kept bringing up a 20-miler. "I have no interest in running 20 miles before the race," I told her multiple times. Thankfully, coaching is just like fashion: the client is always right. (I kid.)

And so here is my body, six days before Coeur d'Alene. I'm fitter than I've ever been, but more importantly, I feel more solid than I've ever felt. I have weak links, of course: my lower back, my left hip, my still-healing foot, to name a few. But the difference now is that they're not breakable. They're just not quite as capable as the rest of my body.

So I just need to shave my legs and pits, get my brows and upper lip waxed—gotta be as streamlined as possible, right?—paint my toenails, and rest. Then this body will be ready to hum on Sunday.



40 responses to “Ironmother Week: The Body

  1. I’m so glad I waited to read all the CDA posts at one time. I’ve been training for my 1st IM (Lake Tahoe on 9/22). I was sidelined with a shoulder issue until recently. All I could really do was the spin bike (anything on the real bike set me back too far/hurt too much). I’m on track again and starting to feel strong enough to “at least” finish. These posts are all so very inspiring–as usual!! 😀

  2. You are so ready for this thing! I can’t wait to hear about all the post race recap. Enjoy the experience that is the Ironman and after you finish, make sure you go back for the last hour of the race to watch the final finishers come in. Best part of the Ironman and you won’t regret it no matter how tired you are. Have Fun!

  3. I am SOOOOOO excited for this race for you Dimity! And YAY for two post about ironmother in one week – can wait to read the one from today.

    I just did the Ironman 70.3 in a relay team in Raleigh and got a taste for IronMotherhood. It was terrific. Living vicariously through you!

    Cheers Cheers Cheers!

  4. I hope to follow your progress during the race and I know you will do well! It has been so fun listening to your podcasts. 🙂 I live in CDA and wondering if you are going to do any talks at IM village?

  5. Good luck this weekend! Your injury life sounds alot like mine ! But way to keep up with sticking with and reaching this goal! Re: your Garmin, I have the same watch and love it ! Not sure if you know this or not but all you need is the speed / cadence sensor for your bike ( $30) and turn your GPS off when on your trainer and you will be able to track those dreaded trainer miles !

  6. First, WOW. I seriously am so excited for you! Talk about A LOT of work. On a side note…isn’t House of Cards awesome!? I hope they are doing another season! LOVE IT!

  7. I wish you could wear a camera to your head and film the entire thing live so we could “be there” in real time. And that you could hear us cheering you on the entire time. Enjoy this week of rest!

  8. You SO got this! Your confidence is commendable, and well earned! Enjoy your victory lap, hope you can feel all the mother vibes Sunday!

  9. I love this! You know I love you & SBS the same, but I gotta say – your ironmother posts make me stop what I’m doing & read!!! Can’t wait to read the report and listen to the podcast! :))))

  10. Dimity, you are going to totally ROCK Sunday! How can you not with all of the hard work you’ve put in and the mother runners with you in spirit, cheering you on? You are such an inspiration to us ALL! Like many others, I cannot wait to hear every. single. detail.! Remember to be in the moment and just savor every second, even the ones that might not be so sunshiney. YOU’VE SO GOT THIS!!!!

  11. I live in Spokane, WA. This mother runner will be heading over to Coeur d Alene on Sunday to cheer you on. My boys and I are working on a sign this week and can’t wait to stack out a fun spot. I just finished my first 1/2 Marathon over in Vancouver, WA this past weekend. I absolutely loved having crowds around to cheer me through the tough spots. Show us your BRAVE Dimity!! (love that song)

  12. You are going to do great Dimity! I know it’s so easy to second guess every training run/bike/swim, but you’ve put in tons of time and worked hard to get your body ready without getting hurt. That’s an accomplishment in itself. Come race day, it will all fall into place what ever is meant to be and with a reminder to enjoy the day, it will be an event of a lifetime. Have fun!

  13. Dimity, you totally rock!! I am so so SO excited for you, and can hardly wait to hear how it all goes. I’m sure you are going to be amazing! And to think, this is something you have dreamed of for such a LONG time, and you are actually going to do it! Not very many of us can say that – it’s so easy to keep dreaming and talking, and not actually do it. You are such an inspiration!! Good luck!! Many mother runners will be thinking of you and sending good vibes your way!

  14. I think you are seriously underestimating how much we want to hear about Iron-mother training, anticipation and preparation! I love reading all about it and I am in awe of what you are about to undertake!

  15. I am so excited for you to visit CDA! It is so beautiful here and the crowds are welcoming and we will cheer LOUDLY for your! I really hope I am able to catch a glimpse of your face somewhere along the course. Thankfully your height will perhaps make you a little easier to find!

  16. Love this! I’m so excited for you Dimity. Following your training on line (and on my ipod) I’m thrilled for your race day. I’ll be cheering for you!

  17. Go Dimity! I’ll be sending you all my biking and running mojo (sorry but I’m not a great swimmer) on Sunday! Can’t wait to hear about your victory lap!!!

  18. From one soon-to-be Iron Mother to another… I am in AWE of your running mileage. I laughed out loud at all the lists of the things you have done—-because I make those lists too—- “Okay, Mere, here are the things you have done and the things you can control” so then I don’t think about what all the others are doing, and what I can’t control.

    Remember that this race is going to be AWESOME. The weather on tap could not be better. The whole town and crowd support is going to be a-maz-ing…

    Oh, and we’ll get to see each other again! Woot. How bout that.

    Rooting for you girl. We got this. #thatisall #bamr #sbms

  19. I’m just in awe after reading this. You are soooo ready. I know you’re going to have a great race!!!! Go Dimity Go!

  20. I am so excited for you! This is the calmest and most positive taper blog I’ve ever read. You are about the live a dream and that is amazing. And now you’ve got me thinking I could do it too…

  21. I’m so excited for these posts Dimity! Woo hoo! You go! And I want to hear ALL about it! You’ve got this, take your victory lap BAMR/ IRONMOTHER!

  22. Love the training recap. You’ve done the work, now you just have to let it happen. The best race day advice I have ever gotten was from one of my friends, who completed an Ironman…she told me to just “go with what the day brings you”. You’ve got this. I can’t wait to read the race report!!

  23. Can’t wait to hear all about your TRI-umph. (see what I did there?) It feels almost as if we are all doing this with you and in a way, I guess we are. So go out there and be the rock star that you are and know that the entire tribe of BAMRs and their BAMR babies are behind you. 🙂

  24. Wow what an inspiration you are! Part of your story felt like my life (injury prone). I know your going to kill that ironman on Sunday andim wishing you all the best. God speed

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