Tuesday, August 08, 2006

How Far I've Come

"Don't run the second :30 minute run today. Scratch that. Given what's going on, just do the 2:30. And if the 2:30 is not in the cards, just do 2. Your heart rate might be elevated due to the stress you're dealing with. If you notice your heart rate is high, I'd rather have you do 2 and call it a day. It's not worth it at this point in the game. Your running is one of your stronger points and you'll be fine. Listen to your body."

These were the words of my coach today on the drive back from PA. The words following a 2 day break from workouts. The words following 2 consecutive 4 hour nights of sleep--not very good sleep, either. The kind of sleep where you wake up and your mind is racing. Where your head is so heavy because you've cried a lot. I did my 4600 yard swim and 106 mile ride/3 mile run on this sleep, and I just knew last Sunday that doing a 3 hour run was not a good idea given my circumstances.

My coach agreed. So today, 2 days later, she sent me out on a cautious run. I felt ready. I needed this.

Running is what I do to relieve stress. Running makes me feel better. Always.

But today, it wasn't working.

Today, my heart rate, just like she said, was up. High. REALLY high. I kept slowing down, and it would barely dip into Zone 2. And then shoot up again.

I ran the first hour frustrated, thinking about things, and running with that lump in your throat that you feel when you're about to lose it. I realized that this is not the way to attempt a long run.

So I turned around. She said I could, right? I sucked down an Apple Cinnamon Hammer Gel, and I started to think about how I could turn things around.

See, this is my last hard week. That's what my coach said on my plan, and I knew that before she even said it. This is it, folks. I just have to make it through this week and then I'm in taper.


I can barely believe it even when I see it on the screen.

So I started to think about the stuff I've been dealing with in the past 2 weeks. The stuff keeping me up at night, and making me cry more than I have in a long time. And I'm not much of a cryer, either. Just when I'm going up that damn hill on the Greater Cleveland Tri Course at Mile 10....I'll admit, on rare occasions on that hill I've let a few squirt out. Alright? It happens.

I have a lot that is draining me, physically, mentally, and emotionally this month. I am tired. I am scared of a few things I will find out soon. I am dealing with some work stuff and some emotional stuff on top of this. I have a presentation on Friday.

The training, quite frankly, is the least of my worries.

So as I was running, for the first hour, I just kept feeling this overwhelmed sense that things were out of control. Why this week? I muttered in my head. Why does this all have to come to a head now?

So I turned around at an hour, and I thought, OK. This has got to change. I can't go through this week like this. How can I change how I'm dealing with all this stuff that's hitting me now?

And I think I got it. Finally.

When people ask me when I started training, I usually say the answer in my journal: December 1, 2005. That's when I started my official training for this thing that is now 4 weeks away.

But that's not really true.

As I ran back to my house today, I realized that the training started long before that.

I started my training sometime in June of 1980, when I took my first swim lesson.

Sometime in the summer of 1982, when I was riding my bike in the Cahoon Soccer Fields, and I looked behind me to see my Dad about 300 feet behind me. He took his hand off the seat. I was riding alone, and I can still remember how blue the sky was that day and how I screamed with fear and delight and shock.

It began in June of 1985, at my first swim meet.

It began in 1998, when I signed up for my first 5K. In 2002, when I crossed the finish line of my first marathon.

I've been training for a LONG time.

So now, it's August 8, 2006. I've got a rough week ahead, in many aspects of my life. BUT--when I think about how long I've been training, I'm reminded that I've been through MUCH worse weeks than this. I can remember moments in time when things happened that shook me to my core between 1980 and now.

June, 1986.

October, 1998 and April, 1999.

August, 2001.

September 11, 2001.

September 12, 2001.

These are just a few that I can think of now. There are more. I could explain them, but I won't. Just trust me--they were trying days. All of them more complicated and hard then this week.

And then, after I realized that, I thought of my favorite Bible verse, which also happens to be one of my favorite quotes--it just played through my head:

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."--Psalm 139: 13-15

I remembered that I signed up to do some volunteering for my church this week--that I will have some good time with my Mom tomorrow--that I just had a wonderful weekend celebrating my 2nd anniversary with my husband. These things will get me through anything else that I might have thrown at me this week.

I remembered that my friends helped get me through my longest ride ever this weekend. That I got to spend some good time with one of my best friends Saturday night.

I remembered the sense of acceptance and amazement I finally have with my body--not because of how it looks, but because of what it is doing. And it made me realize that I will bounce back from this.

And I negative split my run, running the last 2 miles at about an 8:15 pace. It felt great. I finally felt better.

So when all was said and done, I ran 12 miles today--not the 15 like I had hoped. But I got a lot accomplished by cutting my run short. And I will deal with things as they come this week, and get through it.

Because, when I think about it, I've been training for a very long time.

And I've overcome a LOT more than this week in my training.


Fe-lady said...

I have been thinking the same thoughts lately and have been fooling with a post in my head but haven't gotten it together yet. So you beat me to it...and you KNOW how I love competition, so I will just have to get on my site (probably tomorrow!) and talk about stuff I experienced as a kid that made me who I am and what I do today!
Liked the bible verse...nice post!
Get some rest now! (Don't get SICK!)

Wes said...

Don't know what you are going through T, but it helps to have a plan. Then when you stick to the plan, like training, you can break it up into managable chunks. Our thoughts are with you.

Eric said...

Take a deep breath and know that you are more than ready for IM MOO. You are trained in body and soul to live the Ironman cread, Anything is Possible. Your riding looked good on Saturday, so once you make it past that you will be sailing towards that finish line.

qcmier said...

Sob =`) Such true words of wisdom. You're absolutely right to no sweat being a few miles or minutes short. I've done it many times this year too.

Donald said...

A Scripture-quoting Irongirl in the making - you are totally powerful. Carry that with you to the race.

TryAthlete said...

Good work with the training, and keep it up. It's only a matter of time, and it's not you having to go to the Ironman, it's the Ironman having to come to you.

Kate said...

Hi Sara,
Great post. I have been reading for awhile and find your attitude so uplifting and inspiring. You make me feel like I can succeed and your faith and enthusiasm are SO great. You will absolutely smoke IM Wisconsin and whatever else you decide to do.

Robb said...

You are a terrific writer. I appreciate your honest take on life and training. Good job.

Kim said...


"We think sometimes when things don’t go the right way, when we suffer a defeat, that all has ended. Not true: It is only a beginning, always. Greatness comes not when things always go good for you, but the greatness comes when you are really tested, when you take some knocks, some disappointments, when sadness comes. Because only if you have been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain."

—Richard M. Nixon

Flatman said...

wow. not sure how to comment, except to say thanks for the insight and reminder that life is good.

jkrunning--Just Keep Running said...

Oh Sara,
I don't know what is going on, but you are going to be in my prayers. You are right, you have been training for a long time. Now it's just time to put those plans into action.

Chris said...

Way to keep things in perspective. It's easy to get down on yourself, but in light of everything else going on in the world sometimes we forget how good we really have it. Hang in there!

PS. I had that apple cinnemon hammer gel for the first time yesterday. That stuff ROCKS! It's like apple pie in a squeeze container. :)

Jodi said...

You are such an amazing source of inspiration for all of us bloggers! Just hang in there and do what you can. You are absolutely ready for this physically, so take the time to recover mentally. And remember- you have an entire community behind you for whatever you need!

Batman said...

This is such a strong post. After you reach the summit of your long climb, let us know just how sweet the air smells.

greyhound said...

The hay is in the barn because you've got your head (and heart) on straight.

"Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:31)

JeffM said...

Beautiful post! You have an amazing training regimen- you'll do great.

xt4 said...

Crazy...not the first time it's happened that I've found whatever I'm thinking/feeling is well aligned at the same time with the thoughts and processes of fellow IMers...like this thing has some landmarks familiar to each and all of us...and so often so many comment that "I was just thinking the same thing"...makes me wonder if we sort of have to go through these kinds of explorations, each of us in our own ways. Anyway, it was really nice hearing from you and I felt that kinship reading this...and whatever's going on with you, I wish you peace, truly. Stay strong...30 days...

Papa Louie said...

Amen, Sister!
One more quote," And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Rom. 8:28)
Thanks for sharing your experiences.

DaisyDuc said...

Sara, your words really resonate with me in your post and I am so glad you shared this. Wishing you the very best in that all will work out for you soon!

Yes, clearly WI s/b the least of your concerns as I am confident you are well-prepared.

rice said...

When I have a hard time clearing my head on a run I think about my toes. There something that you never really think about. They are always there helping you along and its like we never acknowledge them unless we stub them. So I try and feel each and every one of them and how they are helping me to run. Sometimes I lay in bed and pull my foot out from under the covers and look at my toes. Then I try and wiggle just the little toe a little.. Just something to keep my mind off things and get me back to what it important… ME!



Cliff said...

wow...good post trisaratops...

this post has so much depth...

thanks for sharing ..nad make me thinking about my training...

trifrog said...

Your coach is really in tune with you - keep her!

RunBubbaRun said...

Great post. truely, IM training is a journey in so many ways. Way to listen to your body during your training. Wow "taper", the magic word we all want to hear after all these weeks.

Rachel said...

Isn't it ironic when we can't enjoy a good taper? Try anyway!

BuckeyeRunner said...

Great post, Sara!