2010 was intended to be a BIG year. I had a boatload of fun with IMLP in 2008, and the pain train continued with Wildflower and RAAM in 2009. What better way to go big and have a lot more fun than to do an Ironman and RAAM in the same year, right? Well, I think my eyes & dream crushing were a little over zealous, and things kind of caught up to me. 2010 ended up having a couple different themes, some of which were about imbalance and how to not live a sane life, and is broken up into 2 sections: the first 6 months, and the second 6 months.
The first 6 months was tipped towards the "major athletic endeavors" side in trying to achieve a piece of the BAMF pie: Ironman St. George on May 1st, then Race Across America 6 weeks (to the day!). A bike race across the continent is kind of a big deal, yet Chuckie called it a "mid season reset". HA. This was the same guy that encouraged me to do T-run's after my RAAM shift's too! Easily the most absurd "encouragement" I have ever received. He is a funny guy I tell ya.
One of the lessons learned over the year was around motivation. When I signed up to do IMLP in '08, it was partly because I had an interest in doing an Ironman, but also b/c my good friend Jeff was recovering from his 2nd bout of cancer, and was signed up, along with some other friends of ours. It was a cool motivating factor that helped get my butt outta bed in the morning, but I also learned something about myself at mile 12 on the marathon when I was "hurtin". A second wind, mental reset, philosophical conversation with myself and 5 minutes later, I went from "this sucks" to "life is effing great" and negative split my first run over 14 miles by 14 minutes. My stance & advice for those who were thinking of signing up for an Ironman was that you better know some real reasons for signing up for such a thing, because when things get tough in training and during the race, you will want that/those reason(s) to fall back on for motivation to keep the fire hot. At that time, I personally thought that signing up for an Ironman because all one's friends were doing it was a dumb idea since I had such a "epiphany" during mine. Some people say that doing an Ironman is a life changing experience. In some ways - not necessarily for the accomplishment, but THE PROCESS, did so for me.
Fast forward a year. Boy meets girl who was signed up for an Ironman, Boy's friends are signing up for the same Ironman, Ironman falls on the weekend of Boy's favorite race (Wildflower), and so what does Boy do? Sign up for an Ironman because all his friends are doing one.
Training through this past shit winter was tough, and when things got tough, I didn't have that key motivator to keep the fire burning (partly because socal rain was putting it out every weekend!). That, I ended up doing most of my training solo. Now, I actually prefer that most of the time - but after months and months of it - it gets old. It's funny, there was a bunch of people from TCSD signed up for the race, and there was an training email group. I think if I was like "most" people and if some dude wrote an email saying "Hey, I'm riding 100 miles on Saturday, and doing 3 repeats up Palomar with a transition run afterwards on Sunday" in the middle of February - I'd be hitting the delete button.
Anyways, HTFU, It's an Ironman, a metaphor for life, I know. Once Chuckie and I got me out of my comfort zone, I pushed through, and when things really picked up, the training for IMSG became EPIC and I loved it! It was at this point when I realized (maybe, again) that I am all about the big/long/hard training - there's something about it, and it was getting me fired up! There was some chatter on the TCSD mailing list about people being scared b/c some USAT "coach" had to get off of his bike on a 12% grade during a course preview and people were freakin the eff out. My reply to everyone (and I don't reply often) was simply:
"Obviously, there is some level of fear for just about everyone going into this thing. But, fear is a good thing, so long as it is channeled in the right direction.
Think the course is gonna be hard? Train hard. Better yet - train harder. Think the course is gonna be the hardest thing you've ever done? Be stronger than you have ever been.
Train the body, train the mind. Get comfortable, with being uncomfortable. (and any other quote that will help motivate)"
Anyways, some highlights of training include numerous 5-7 hour quad busting hikes, leaving every part (well, not that part) of my lower body sore for days, Gnarly hill repeats (Torrey Pines x 10 @ LT one Tuesday afternoon and 2 weeks later I did 8 one day, then 6 the next), 10,000 yards of swimming in a 24 hour period (ugh), a 57 degree pool morning (!!), and my favorite: Making Palomar Mountain my bitch, repeatedly (Mountain repeats workout: 3 times in 3 months, with 2 times in ONE week!). The garmin graphic of my 4 repeat, 10,000ft day in February outing says it all:
Onto the race, IMSG didn't yield the results I was capable of, thanks to an unhappy left knee whose bark and bite due to bursitis (the first time I have ever been injured) was too much for me at mile 15, forcing a walk for the rest of the way. Grr.
Over the next 6 weeks, despite bad and conflicting advice saying cycling was OK when it really wasn't, I somehow salvaged enough fitness and the right amount of acute therapy modalities to get me to the start and finish line of RAAM. The mental challenge of dealing with the injury and inconsistencies proved most frustrating, but I did what I had to (and kicked major ass along the way, if I do say so myself). Regardless of the unblogged drama that happened, my "I'm just stoked to be here and kicking massive ass" perspective kept me above the fray.
In hindsight, RAAM 2010 is still kinda hard to describe how much that week freakin ROCKED. Getting to the start line was a race in and of itself. Regardless, that race is just SO MUCH FUN. I was known as "the linchpin" on the team - amongst other names like an "underpants wearing, sippy cup sportin, little cotton ball womans' sock wearin, try-athlete" reserved only for the true roadies of the team - because a couple guys who said they'd never do it again, belted out in January "I'm in if Denner's in" - and all the sudden we have the best team we've ever had. It put a little pressure on me to commit to the race, but I'm really glad I did. There's a certain team aspect that I didn't get with triathlon training that makes me want to join some sort of team/squad/something (next post type stuff right there).
After RAAM, it was time to figure this injury thing out for good, rather than putting on some figurative band-aids, which is the second half of my year. This set off a many month expedition of exploring the importance of physical balance, anatomical versus functional limb length discrepancies, flexibility, and overall physical conditioning (not just the sagittal plane [front, back] that is triathlon/endurance training) - that is still on going. This resulted in minimal training (and even exercising in general), which happened to coincide with too much work (stress). Add those 2 things together, and I was not a happy camper throughout the fall (hence the lack of posts), but used it as a time to pick up my oft neglected camera and spend some time thinking about future goals. Lemons, meet lemonade (kinda)
For the past 5 years, I had an "A" race planned at least a year in advance (ie. in '07, I was already committed to IMLP in '08; in '08, I was already committed to RAAM in '09), which gave me a goal and something to aspire to many months in advance. As of now, I don't have even a 5K on my calendar, and I'm quite OK with that.
Next post: 2011 - Onward.
Congratulations if you made it this far!
ps- I age up to M3034 next Thursday. Time to get to work!