This last week we took a family vacation testing out our new camper and enjoying some well deserved family time. We spent the first four days at Chain O’ Lakes State Park in Indiana. Our site was isolated and close to the showers, which was very convenient yet we felt like we had our own space. We love having the camper and I see us getting a lot of use out it. We spent the days at the beach, renting a row-boat, eating smores, playing cards, and just enjoying each other.The purpose of this trip was two-fold. It was important for us to spent time together as a family, but it was also important for my Ironman training. The part of the triathlon I am the weakest and lack the most confidence is the bike. In every triathlon distance the bike is always the longest portion by distance and time. In the Ironman I will easily be on the bike for over six hours and probably closer to seven. I know I have the endurance to ride the 112 miles required to finish, but what is making me nervous is how slow I ride as well as the fear of something going terribly wrong. Unlike swimming and running you are reliant on not only on yourself to power the bike forward, but also your bike to not break down. The time I will spend on the bike is one thing, but the fear of a flat tire gives me even more anxiety.
For the second part of our trip we ventured to Delaware, Ohio just outside of Columbus. We spent two nights in a hotel, which gave us a chance to regroup and do some laundry. As for me, I was preparing to race a half Ironman distance. I was SOOO nervous. I was more nervous than I was for my first marathon. I haven’t raced a triathlon, other than by myself in Afghanistan, in over two years. And I’ve never raced more than the international distance which is a one mile swim, 25 mile bike, and 10K run. The bike was giving me so much anxiety. TJ said he had never seen me like that.
On the morning of the race, we all woke at 4:30 to get me to the start. TJ then took the kids back to the hotel to go back to sleep and check us out and pack us up before the 11 o’clock check out. I arrived at the swim start at around 5 am with plenty of time to get myself situated for the 7 am start. The swim went well, or I had to problems in the water and finished the distance with no issues. Although right before the last turn to the finish someone did deliberately shove me out of his way, like picked me up and threw me. I’m not sure what his problem was and his rudeness has stuck with me. The swim is tight and you will get kicked, swam on, and grabbed, so I’m not sure what his problem was and why he took it out on me.
Then it was off to the part I fear the most. I quickly put on my bike shoes, helmet, sun screen, ate a Gu and headed out. Less than 5 miles in I was falling into a rhythm and feeling confident, as in I wasn’t getting passed as frequently as I thought I would and I was even doing a little passing my self. Although that quickly left when all the nutrition I had strapped to my bike flew off and when I took a drink of my water bottle with my nutrition mixture in it I missed tha cage putting it back and it flew off too. Within less than 10 miles I had no calories left on my bike, but at least I still had my front handle bar water. If you know me, you know I love to eat and being without food was going to start to be a problem real fast. This meant in the first aid station around mile 20 I got off my bike grabbed some Gus, a Gatorade, and ate a Cliff bar and got back on my bike to keep going. Other than that the bike was rather flat, smooth, and there was little wind. I felt good and got some really good practice riding in groups, going through aid stations and I rode about 2 miles an hour faster than I thought I would. Now I just need to repeat this twice in October with hills. No problem…RIGHT!?
I was so happy to be running. I smiled the entire run. I had some cramping on my right side, but the salt tablets I was taking seemed to help and I continued those every three miles. For the run you were either running up or down almost the entire time. For the entirety of the run I passed people (if only I could bike like I run!). I made a point of saying good job or some encouraging words to every person I passed. It kept me smiling and I hope I gave some hope to those out there struggling on the run like I struggle on the bike. My smile was noticed multiple times throughout the run and at the finish the volunteer who gave me my medal said I looked like I was in excellent spirits. I told him I just didn’t have words to describe how great I felt. I met up with my family shortly after I excited the finish line. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, my family didn’t see me finish because I finished 45 minutes faster than I thought I would. They were there to greet me and walk me to the car! All of this training has been a sacrifice for them and for TJ to negotiate three little kids at four in the morning and around a race site is something amazing. I can’t thank TJ enough for the support he gives me through all this. I could not ask for a better partner to do life with!
Now it’s time to push through these last eleven weeks of Ironman training. I am still scared of the bike, but I learned a lot from this race. I’m also scared that this may have been my peak. One hope I have is the day after I felt really good and not like a raced the day before. I just felt like I had a really good training day, so I hope that means my training is on track and will all pay off in October.
After the race we took the camper to another camp ground in Ohio for two more days. On our last morning I got up early to get in a run before we left. As I ran I came upon a trail so I started running down it. I quickly noticed it was called the Moses run and as you ran along the Ten Commandments were posted along the trail. There was something kind of nice about running this trail, in the rain, after a long race that calmed me and gave me some much-needed reminders.
Right now I may only be half of an Ironman, but I’m getting closer. It also does feel pretty good being half of one! I’m scared about what October has to bring. I’m scared about having the time to train like I should. I’m scared that my children won’t ever understand how significant an effort this last year has been. But despite all these fears I know it’s ok to be scared. I need to take this energy and use it to reach my goals!