So, my first no-joke triathlon is Sunday.
(Insert panic heeeeeeeere!)
But really though, I think I’m ready. Last week (which was similar in volume to the 3 weeks prior) was 75 on the bike, 46 on the run (I’m still marathon training, after all) and 5950 meters in the pool.
I’ve been hungry ALL THE TIME lately, if you’re wondering.
This past Sunday marked my final long run before heading to Chicago (22 miles) and I didn’t have high hopes. Nearly every run that I’ve done outside since moving to Houston has been awful at best, and I hadn’t had a good long run since 4th of July weekend. And then on Sunday, something magical happened. I got stronger as the time went by. I ran the last 2 miles faster than goal pace and my heart rate stayed low. I finished feeling like I could definitely go for 4.2 more miles.
So maybe a solid marathon isn’t out of the question for me on October 10th. No idea if going after that BQ is even realistic right now, but you know what? I’m ok with that. I’ve discovered over the past couple months that I used to obsess over my running because it was taking the place of other things in my life. These days, I do it because it feels good. Because I can. Not because it keeps me hanging on by a thread.
So the biggest thing on my mind right now is obviously the swim. Last night I headed to the lake where they’re holding the race with a handsome fellow (we’ll call him Mr. Engineer) who spent many years as a lifeguard and promised not to laugh at whatever happened when I hit the water. Here’s how it went:
Mr. E: This is it. I’m pretty sure the start is right here.
Me (trembling): Um, no, this can’t be it. There isn’t even a shore. (internally panicking and contemplating bagging the whole thing and running back to the car.)
Mr. E: (studies iPhone map) No, this is it. Come on, let’s get in.
So I timidly made my way down to the water. Once I was waist-deep, I started sobbing uncontrollably. No joke.
I remember saying “What the hell was I thinking?” and “I can’t swim!” and having very serious thoughts about getting the hell out of the water and selling my bike and ridding myself of the awful demon that had possessed me to become an Ironman someday.
Instead, Mr. E let me latch on to him and cry for a few minutes. Then I dried my eyes, put my goggles on, and swam a few strokes. And treaded water. And swam a little more. And popped my head up and used the side stroke when my breathing was a little sloppy. He chased me around and kept cooing comforting things about breathing and the fact that I absolutely would not be allowed to drown during the race, so there was nothing to worry about.
So I’m not saying I’m a champ open-water swimmer yet, but boy do I feel better about it. I’m going back on Saturday to scope out the course and splash around a little more, and I’ve been told that getting in the water before the gun goes off on race morning is a good panic-controller too. So that’s my plan. I know this is mental. In looking over my log, I’ve put in almost 30,000 meters in the last month. I’m not fast, and my technique is far from perfect, but I can swim. I can.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m scared, but in a good way. Sunday won’t just be my first tri, it’ll be me facing my fears. It’ll be me taking steps towards that big scary Ironman goal. It’ll be me proving to myself that I can do it.
I asked Coach if he had any insider tips on managing the swim, and his answer was very simple.
“Relax,” he said. “And breathe.”
Catch you on the flip side. Happy running.