Saturday, July 9, 2016

Finding Aloha in the Journey

13 weeks.

13 weeks from today I will be racing the Ironman World Championships.

13 weeks from right this very moment I will be mere minutes into the 2.4 mile swim.

Every time I think about my journey and everything that has gotten me to this point I am overwhelmed with joy and gratitude.  As slow as the first half of the year went, time has now sped up and I want to maximize every workout, every opportunity for rest and recovery, every everything that can help me get through race day in 13 weeks.

Many people have asked me my goals for Kona.  I have avoided setting time goals for this race because time goals in general are useless and I think setting them is really silly.  For me.  This is my first time racing on the Big Island.  It's my first time competing in a major championship race.  I do have a rough idea of what I am capable of on a "perfect day".  But I also know that I need to get to the finish line no. matter. what.  Unlike racing in Arizona, I cannot completely throw caution to the wind.  However if I focus on doing what I do every single day in training, and stay in the moment, and stay on top of my hydration and nutrition, everything will be fine.

I'm going to be very honest here and say that the Ironman World Championships scare the sh*t out of me.  I ran the Kona Marathon in 2005 and it was great.  My sister and I were vacationing on Kauai, flew over for the night to run it and then flew back.  It was the same course as Ironman except you started/ ended at the far end of Ali'i Drive (where the run course at IM does the first out-n-back).  It's comforting to know that I've run through the energy lab, granted much earlier in the day, but I did it.  And at the time, I ran a marathon PR.

A few years later when my husband raced in Kona for the first time (2009) I took my bike to maintain my training for IMAZ.  I was absolutely destroyed by the heat and humidity.  I remember going out for a ride one afternoon.  Just an hour shake out.  Nothing major.  I seriously bonked within 15 minutes.  Like, had to sit on the side of the road in the shade of a vehicle to recover, destroyed.  I did my long ride during race week on the Ironman course and it was absolutely the worst 75 mile ride I've ever done.  I remember getting back to our condo and telling the hubs that I never, EVER, wanted to race in Kona.

Obviously a lot has changed since then.  I'm a different athlete, and by the time we went back to the Big Island in 2011 I thought, I could do this.  And that's when I decided to start pursuing the goal (initially chasing the Legacy).

I have worked really hard to change my approach mentally and this past week I was watching the broadcast from last year's race while on my trainer and I thought to myself, there have literally been 40,000+ who have finished this race.  For real.  (Almost) 40 years x 1000 finisher average (this is way low for a majority of years)= 40k.  There is absolutely no reason in the world that if I am on the start line on October 8 I can't be one of them.  None.  Not a single reason.

I will be prepared.  I have a heat acclimation program set in place.  I work every day on making sure my nutrition and hydration are working for me.  I am practicing with all of the gear and methods that I might want to use to help keep myself cool on race day.  There will be nothing left to chance.

The meat of my training is just beginning.  From now until the end of September I will be in full Ironman build mode.  These are the weeks I've waited for and looked forward to all year.  Every day I wake excited and ready to tackle whatever awaits me in WorkoutLog.

I told Hillary after Oceanside that I thought this year was going to be special because I no longer felt afraid, I felt free.  And that freedom propelled me to another podium finish at Ironman CDA 70.3 two weekends ago.  When she asked me my plan for the race, I told her I was going to go as hard as I could on the bike and hold it together for the run.  And I did!  After being first out of the water in my age group, I absolutely attacked the bike course, held higher watts than I've ever raced at before, and still managed to tick off the miles on foot feeling strong.

A few pics of our weekend in Idaho (my favorite race venue!!!):

Post race spin taking in the scenery! #ilovemybike

Pre race dinner.  Ready to smash it!

A little selfie fun at packet pickup.

My gem racked in transition.  Rock star parking!

Ceiling art at Taphouse Unchained.  Post race celebration!

2nd Place Women 40-44!

Next up:  Tahoe Rim Trail 55k!  Finding Aloha in my favorite place to run!

(P.S.  13 weeks from right now I'll be an hour into the 112 mile bike ride....)

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