Friday, February 3, 2012

Reality Check

Ironman is a strong word. I remember a few years back, when I was still living in Mexico, I googled Ironman. What EXACTLY is Ironman? For some reason, swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112, and running 26.2 didn't seem that hard to me. "I can TOTALLY do it if I train a little." Yeah, right...

For starters I had never run a mile. I'd ran MANY kilometers, but running in miles is different. Kilometers go by super fast (even if it's more of them, it's easier for my brain to process). I had never been on a road bike... so, hmm. And ok, I was a swimmer, so that was not intimidating at all. At the time, I was runnning, swimming or spinning every day of the week. So, yep, I can totally do this.

When I moved to Boulder, I became more of a runner. I was in great shape and running every day. I signed up for my first full marathon. Finished. But it was a death march after mile 17. Reality Check #1: Ok, maybe running 26 miles isn't so easy. The Ironman idea seemed to fade... so I stuck to marathon running. But one day, I can't even remember how, I decided to give triathlons a shot.

I signed up for my first triathlon, a half Ironman distance... but as a relay. Of course, I was the runner. Reality Check #2: Starting to run a half marathon at noon is PAINFUL. Not proud of that run. That had been my slowest half marathon of all times. "Well, maybe I need to train harder". When you do a triathlon, especially the long ones, your run will most likely be during the hottest part of the day. I apparently don't do so well in the heat.

The following spring, I signed up for my second triathlon. One that I'd do all by myself. An olympic distance. It was a hard course out in California, but to be honest, it was not the course that seemed challenging to me. It was again, a lack of training. Reality Check #3: Swimming in open water is painful. Maybe underestimating the swim isn't such a good idea either. So I started training in open water.

After a few other triathlons, I had my half Ironman debut in my own backyard. Ironman Boulder 70.3. The same race I did a year prior as a relay before it officially became an Ironman-branded event. And again, painful. Reality Check #4: I have to eat some more food and fuel my body DURING my race. That was the most painful run of my life. And yet again, this was the setting of my slowest half marathon distance run.

After the Boulder race in 2010, I did many other races and triathlons and I'm slowly getting better. I could ramble on about many other reality checks over the years and races, but it's an endless list. I truly believe, I'm still not done learning. But while I skipped this amazing half Ironman in 2011, I'm back to racing it in 2012. I registered last night and while I don't expect to win it, I expect a big improvement. After all, I am now an Ironman.

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