“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Last November, on the day after Ironman Florida 2009, I took the single step to begin MY journey to become an Ironman when I got in line to register for Ironman Florida 2010. After covering thousands of miles in the pool, on the bike, and on foot, my journey is closer to becoming a reality. In 25 days, I will be participating in Ironman Florida with the goal of crossing the finish line before midnight.
With 25 days to go, I thought I would share with you 25 things that I have learned along this journey.
1. Your body is capable of doing more than you think it is. In the past when I would train for just a marathon (no swimming or biking), I would follow the plan, but still not reach 100 miles of running a month. With Ironman training, I have hit over 100 miles of running in a month several times, in addition to the swimming and biking. And my body seems to be handling it ok.
2. Getting up at 4am to get in a workout sucks. But once you are up, it’s really not that bad. And running at 4am when it’s dark and quiet outside is actually kind of peaceful. Unless you encounter skunks, or dogs, or the crazy paper boy/man.
3. Speaking of said paper boy – he is a crazy driver and it is best to jump up on the sidewalk when you see him coming. He does not stop at stop signs, nor does he obey the speed limit sign. At least not in my neighborhood.
4. I should have asked Chick-fil-a to sponsor me and hope for free food. That seems to be my choice of post-long-ride refueling these days. I know it is weird for a vegetarian to love Chick-fil-a so much, but the side salad, cole slaw, fries and a coke are perfect for re-energizing my body.
5. Compression socks and sleeves are my friend. The hot pink ones are the best for embarrassing the kids.
6. I’ve always loved college football, but I love it even more because it provides a perfect excuse to lay around on Saturday afternoon and evenings (in compression socks) and recover. No one cares that I am unproductive because everyone else is laying around watching college football, too.
7. Massages are not a luxury, they are a necessity.
8. Time management is critical. I have been able to work my job, get in my workouts, and still make almost all of my kids’ volleyball, soccer and football games. The few that I have missed have been missed because I had a race scheduled before I knew of the game, or because I’m at the other kid’s game. I still haven’t figured out how to be two places at once.
9. Sometimes you have to choose between eating, stretching or sleeping. There just aren’t enough hours.
10. You don’t have to be old to go to bed early. There have been nights where I have been in bed by 8:30 or 9:00. And I’m ok with that. Sleep is good.
11. When you sign up for an Ironman a year in advance you think you have time to do all kinds of things. Next thing you know, you have 25 days and lots to do!
12. Either spend a fortune on a bathing suit or buy a LOT of cheap ones. The chlorine of the pool will make certain parts of your suit very thin and you will NOT want to wear it to the pool.
13. Race wheels for the bike ROCK!
14. Chipseal roads are not fun to ride on. Period. And neither are roads with potholes or huge cracks. If I wanted to ride on those kinds of roads, I’d ride my mountain bike.
15. Headwinds and hills can be brutal (in cycling or running), but they will make you stronger.
16. Skipping a workout every now and then will not be detrimental to your training. Your mind may think so, but your body will thank you.
17. It is next to impossible to find a hot pink and/or lime green tri top. I knew I wanted something that would stand out so that family and friends can spot me on the course easier. I happen to like hot pink and lime green and the search was on. I found some cycling jerseys in those colors, but nothing in a tri jersey that was sleeveless. I settled on an outfit with those colors in it. I did, however, find some hot pink arm warmers if I need them.
18. You can try to be as prepared as possible, but there are things that you just can’t prepare for. Like the weather. But also, course changes. We just found out the Ironman Florida bike course is changed for this year. I drove it last year so I would know what to expect. Now I will need to drive it again this year when I get there.
19. You will have good days and you will have bad days. That’s why it’s called TRAINING. If you have faced it all in training, hopefully when race day gets here you will know what to do and you WILL cross that finish line.
20. Most people who ask you about your Ironman will tell you that you are crazy. Just smile and say “yes, I am”.
21. Your kids will hate it when their coach finds out what you are doing, because they will expect your child to have the stamina and endurance you have.
22. Some foods can be eaten before a big workout and some cannot. Stay away from the ones than cannot.
23. It’s ok to walk during some of your run. Chances are you aren’t going to make it through the whole 26.2 miles without walking on race day, so it’s ok to practice during training. Plus, it makes recovery a little easier.
24. Everyone will have an opinion about what you should or should not be doing. Trust in YOUR plan. You picked it for a reason.
25. You can’t get to the destination without the journey. My journey is almost over. Final destination – Panama City Beach, Florida, November 6, 2010.
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