on setting goals, ironman and going long…

Ok, so confession time: I’m really not much of a “One day…” type of goal setter. I don’t look real far off into the future. Never have. I have always had a hard time with that question, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” It’s always been that way – when I was just a wee little tyke and grownups would ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, I NEVER knew what to say. I think I usually either changed the subject (they probably though I was ADD before it was an official diagnosis…) or just said “Teacher” or something I’d heard one of the other kids say.

I’m a “hey, I think I’m gonna do that” type of person. Not “one day” or “some day”.  Usually as soon as legitimately possible. NOW, if at all possible. Decisions to move cross country? Yup, do it this week. Going back to grad school? This fall, pretty please. True stories – that’s how I roll.

Those “One day goals”? “Some day I’ll…” to me means, whatever, you’re never gonna do it.

M-dot sticker – just a little reminder of what’s coming up.

I can’t confess that I started this process two years ago with the explicit goal of doing an Ironman. I don’t want to say it’s been inevitable. But I will say that with the local Ironman race rolling through here each year since we moved here and watching some of the people roll across the finish line at 14, 15, 16 hours, and especially those who roll through at 16:55, mere minutes before they yank you from the course, you find yourself thinking and sometimes even saying out loud, “Hey, if they could do that, I could do that…probably…”. Let’s just say we get a little closer to signing up each time. Plus, the longer we live here, the more people you know that do it.  And not to mention, we’re not getting any younger… it’s not going to get any easier…and all of this training that I’ve been done over the past couple of years and the training we’re currently doing for the 70.3, it’s the question that’s been swirling around our household these past few weeks. And it gets to be a slippery slope.

So, you might as well know that today, the first day of open registration for Ironman 2013, I pulled the trigger. Hubby and I are signed up. That’s right. Ironman? 2013. We’re in and we’re going long and it’s gonna be awful and epic and tortuous and painful and amazing and likely the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I wanted to throw up a little bit just thinking about it. Honestly. But the cool thing is, I know there is a lot that can happen between now and then, but I really think I can definitely do it. And once I do it, that’s something I’ll always be able to say: “I’m an Ironman.”

I may not be able to tell you what I want to be when I grow up (the real answer is RETIRED on a beach somewhere in between international trips with an airport close by and a passport full of stamps), but I can tell you that in 363 days, I will be on the beach in a neon pink swim cap with 2800 other wetsuit-clad crazies ready to dive into a cold (but hopefully not freezing cold) lake hoping that before midnight I will hear “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!” over the loud speakers as I cross the finish line. And that’s good enough for me. All of the rest of the stuff will work itself out. My journey will unfold in front of me as I go. That’s what keeps it exciting.

This will be hanging on our wall for the next 363 days as a reminder!


the 15 minute rule…

Ever have one of those days? You know the ones, don’t you?  When it’s hard enough to convince yourself to change into your gym clothes, let alone leave the house and go workout. The days where you get to the trailhead or the pool or the gym and you’re not sure you have the willpower to even start. The days when you sit with your gym bag on the bench next to you, staring at the locker, just willing yourself to put your socks on. Change your shoes. You know the days.

Yesterday I had one. I made it to the pool. I did. I got that far. I even got into my swimsuit and cap, ready to roll. And I had the place ALL to myself and a quiet, calm water surface that was mine, all mine. Usually a place of extreme peace and serenity for me. Bodes well and I thought I was golden, but on this particular day, it was all downhill from there.

Physically, I felt fine. Well, a little tired. (But really what do you expect?)  But I thought I’d be able to push through. And that’s when the mental tired hit me. Really, I can usually push through that too. I consider myself to be pretty steely. Pretty mentally tough. Very much a mind-over-matter type of gal. It’s a point of pride for me. A hallmark of my character, if you will.

Yet yesterday, lap after lap, all I could think of was “i don’t wanna i don’t wanna i don’t wanna i don’t wanna.” Ugh.

And sometimes, this just happens to me. So every once in a while, I give myself permission to pack it in for the day. There are rules, however (can’t have myself just willy nilly throwing in the towel EVERY day, now can we? Talk about chaos…). Well actually there is just 1 rule. You ready for it?


I have to at least make an attempt.  If I’m still not feeling it when the chrono hits 15, then I can call it a day. Running, biking, swimming, whatever. And hey, at least I got 15 minutes of exercise (better than none at all…).

Here’s the beauty of this rule. For me, I almost always feel much better right around 12 or 13 minutes and then I’m in it for the long haul and able to finish whatever workout was on the books for the day. It’s practically like clockwork. But not quite. Almost always.

Yesterday’s swim was more like 25-30 grueling and mentally demanding minutes. But when just could not pull another 50 yards out, let alone another 1000+, I gave myself permission to jump out and hit the showers. And just like back in the high school swimming days, a long hot shower after some pool time makes everything better.

I got back on the horse today. And while it wasn’t a-mazing, you’ll be pleased to know that today’s swim was better. Much, much better.


SWIM 5/10/2012

2x {50 free, 50 back, 50 breast, 50 fly}
4×50 scull drill
5×300 (sight 1x per 25)
2×100 Cool down

Total 2300

on speedwork and ‘sprints’…

This week – Week 5- marks the start of the speed workouts. At least for the run part. Raise your hand if you like sprint workouts… I hear crickets. Anyone else hear that? 

Funny thing about us humans – we like being comfortable, right? I’m no different. Pushing those limits? Nah. I’m good here. On this couch. With this beer. And these salt and vinegar chips (What?! Where?). But in pushing ourselves, we improve. Somewhere between sweating and gasping for air and screaming lungs and wanting to cry (maybe just a little) – somewhere in there is something that allows us to become faster, stronger, better suited to compete, to survive and thrive.

Here’s the deal – generally speaking, speed workouts are a necessity if you want to get faster. And I do. Always. I’m always trying to beat myself. Old PRs? They’re only there so I can beat ‘em. Plus, over the years, I’ve found that speed workouts are a great way to mix up your runs and keep them from getting mundane (especially if you’re unfortunate enough to be relegated to the indoors for some awful reason… more on that later though).

Yesterday’s workout was a 15 minute warm up, and then 11 (yes, ELEVEN) 1 minute sprints with 2 minutes of active recovery in between each. Closed it out with a cool down (mine was about 10 or 12 minutes… I forgot to stop my watch so I’m not exactly sure). In all, 50-something minutes of running for me today.  Good stuff. 

Here’s a little snippet of conversation from inside my head today as I completed speed workout numero uno for the season (warning: the things that go on up here are commonly viewed by many as “crazy talk”. But we won’t let them get to us, now will we?).

Ummm, does this count as sprinting? 

It’s only a minute.

I wonder if I could outrun a squirrel…?

You only have to make it to that tree up there. See it? No, double-psych, now the next tree.

Finish this and you can have two whole minutes of recovery…!

Don’t think about the next one or the next two. Think about the fact that you’ve gotten one or two or five under your belt around.

Whoa, look at all of these worms half-squished on the trail. I could definitely outrun a worm. Definitely. 

One minute at a time.

Man, I’m breathing LOUD.

So what if passersby think you’re dying?

Good thing there’s no passersby…

Don’t be a wuss, you can take it. It’s only a minute. (sensing a theme?)

Fast feet fast feet!

Ok, it’s DEFINITELY been a minute now…

One more probably won’t kill you… but if it did, it would probably take DAYS for them to find you out here huh?

Man, I could use a nap.

What?! Only 32 seconds? @#%^!

So what if they can hear you breathing a mile away?

I FEEL fast. I wonder what I look like – do I LOOK fast? Ha, probably not…

This is how I survive – by telling my brain that even though my heart is pumping out 180 beats per minute and my lungs are heaving, this is a victory. I distract myself with baby steps – one sprint at a time, one minute at a time, one tree at a time. Oh look, a bird! If you ever feel overwhelmed with a workout, or heck, a work week (as we sometimes are), try to think small. Small milestones make it easier to achieve things and at the end of it you’ll be surprised at what you’ve managed to do despite yourself!  Good luck out there. Think positive and happy running! 

(PS- On a more serious side note, and in a somewhat of a disclaimer-type fashion, I’m not a physician and I’m not a personal trainer. I’m just a girl who happens to like running and who happens to be very familiar with my own personal limits (including just how capable my heart, lungs and legs are of pushing things to the limit). If you’re just starting out, don’t be afraid to consult your doctor or an exercise professional or even a fit friend before you embark on any kind of super-intense workout or training program. Ask questions. And definitely don’t be afraid to start small and work your way up. One hundred and eighty beats per minute is not good stuff for everyone… know your limits and know where your “one hundred and eighty beats per minute” is… it’s different for everyone.)