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.
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.
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.
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.