So, we now have 13 days to go until Ironman Arizona. This past weekend of training was a bit emotional for me. First of all, Saturday was the last brick (bike-run) workout on our Ironman training plan, and I was hoping to feel really good – but only felt so-so. Secondly, several of our friends were doing Ironman Florida that day. So I was nervous and excited for them, while simultaneously feeling nervous and unsure about my own ability to do what they were doing.
As for the brick workout, we just did 46 miles on the bike, followed by a 3-ish-mile run. This should feel like a piece of cake by now. I was feeling okay, and definitely better than I did when we rode in severe winds out in Cambridge the week before. But I wasn’t keeping up with Craig the way I normally do. I had practiced changing my tires that morning and had trouble getting the back wheel on. Once I finally did, the brakes were rubbing, and Craig had to show me how to get them back to normal. It was a good thing — to repeat those things mentally — but a bad thing that I had to be told that stuff again. Plus, I think my brakes might have still been rubbing a tiny bit after that. I’m not sure. That might explain my poor performance. (Or is that just the excuse I’m giving myself?) The run went okay, but again, I was way behind Craig the whole time. I am definitely happy that he is doing so well with his run. I just hope my run will be there when I need it to be. (I didn’t run with any music, since I can’t have it in the race. And I’m used to doing that by now. But I do think it slows down my pace some. I have to accept that.)
So, I had this mediocre brick workout and felt grumpy about it. But a couple other things happened that day that gave me an odd sense of hope. At the end of our ride, when I was just about to pull my bike into our fenced yard, a yellow butterfly landed on it. It was such an amazing moment – in the middle of a fall day – to have a butterfly come out of nowhere. For that fleeting second, I snapped out of my grouchy mood and was filled with wonder. I wanted to hold on to that feeling, but it seemed to be gone as quickly as it came. I know that from now until race day, I will have butterflies in my stomach. But seeing that butterfly land so gracefully on my bike and sit there briefly was just magical in a goofy way.
This kind of wonder happened a bit later in the day as well… After our workout and a shower, we checked online to see how our friends were doing at Ironman Florida. Our friend Alli, who is an AMAZING triathlete (–like if you look triathlete up in the dictionary, her picture is there — that’s how amazing…) anyway, she had done the swim in 1:05! And, later in the day, when friends had posted a picture of her on the run, she had this huge smile on her face. So, you just knew she was having a great race… And our other friends were doing well also. Everyone had a fabulous swim, despite very challenging and choppy conditions in the ocean. I was thoroughly impressed and excited for them!
But back in the reality of my world, we were off to the bike shop to see if they could tell me what was wrong with my power meter. Truth be told, I waited WAY too late in my training to start using a power meter, and I had hardly any time to set a baseline or figure out power zones and stuff like that. So, it was already a bad idea that I bought it when I did. But, then, after trying to use it a few times, it became clear that – either something was wrong with it – or something was wrong with what I was doing with it. So, we thought we’d take it in and see if there was any hope for it. I fully expected the bike shop people to say, “Oh, you just have to do XYZ, and it will work.” But that’s not what happened. They couldn’t get it to work either. And believe me, they tried. They were very attentive and as helpful as can be. But the power meter just wouldn’t come alive. (The person who was helping us at the bike shop was none other than Dana Dobbs, triathlete-superman. His picture is next to Alli’s in the dictionary… and he’s so nice also. He couldn’t have spent more time trying to help us. I was very appreciative!!)
So, I will have to call the power meter manufacturer today and see what’s up. But on the good side, we got a tip on what to do about my brakes rubbing. So, Craig planned to work on that Sunday. And then, another moment of wonder happened on the way home… Just as we were about to turn down our street, I saw the smallest sliver of a rainbow in the sky. It was like this hint that even though things seem cloudy and uncertain now, everything is going to be okay…
I so wanted to hold onto that feeling. It’s weird how your emotions work. Sometimes you can be really down in the dumps even though you can clearly look at your life and see how blessed you are. But for some reason, you can’t pull yourself out of that silly mood you’re in. The butterflies and rainbows were there, though. Like *really* there. I wasn’t imagining them. I knew I just needed to see them and at least acknowledge them, despite my mood.
We got back home and it was almost time to start watching the online, finish-line camera at Ironman Florida. I called my parents to walk them through the process as well — so they will be prepared to do the same thing when Ironman Arizona rolls around. Since our friend Alli is so amazing and was set to finish pretty early in the day, it wasn’t long before we were studying that finish-line cam like a hawk — waiting to see her come flying down the shoot. I have to insert here that this finish-line-cam exercise is not complete without the Facebook element. We have a group on FB dedicated to our tri club. And, when a race is going on, that is the place to be to get updates from those who are on the scene at the race. You feel this tension building among all who are paying attention… everyone is passing on what they know about who’s where on the course and when we can expect them to finish. It’s electrifying! When Alli finally came down the finishing shoot, we all knew when it would be — because of FB. And she looked fabulous and still had that huge smile on her face. Everyone on FB was just exultant along with her! And the same was true when our friends Jeff, Harry, John, and Brian all finished a bit later. In fact, they all finished with such great times, there wasn’t a lot of waiting involved. If you’ve ever been a spectator at an Ironman — you know that waiting is part of the game. But I felt like these guys all rocked it so much, it was over in a flash! I really feel like I will be lucky to finish as well as they did. It was simply awe-inspiring! And, to top it off, some people from our tri club were volunteering and able to be there as “catchers” at the finish line for some of our friends. They were there to congratulate them and give them their medals (and in some cases, a cold beer). How cool is that!?
On Sunday, we went to the gym and did a swim workout, followed by a treadmill run. That all went fine, but I was still feeling doubts here and there. However, my sister Michelle sent me this very touching email about what she has learned while listening to me talk about my training and reading a book about people preparing to do an Ironman. It really lifted me up and helped me reflect on everything the right way. I will have to write about it all in a separate post. But suffice it to say that she really helped me pull out of my slump. The rest of the day, I spent cleaning up my bike, “Mrs. Toad II”, so that she will be ready to ship off via TriBike Transport later this week. I put my custom name decal on her and the Jens Voigt mantra “Shut Up Legs” on the top tube. Now she is ready to go! I just hope I am 🙂
Until the next post…