The Calm that Brings the Storm
Less than 2 weeks until race day and I’m feeling amazingly calm. At least about the race. I’ve finished my packing list and race plan. Hell, I’ve pretty much done most of my packing already (only because I have to drop my gear bag and bike off tonight – I’m really not that OCD, honest). So, what’s left? “The hay is in the barn” as they say.
I know I can do the swim. I’ve done 2 full IMs and an AV of that distance. Moreover, most of my swims the last few weeks have been over 4000 meters. No problem there. I can do the distance. I think I may have even improved and might be faster than I expect. We’ll see. The only unknown is the freezing cold water (last reading I saw last week was 53 degrees – damn, that’s frickin cold), but I’m doing what I can to acclimate – translation: taking cold showers from now until then. And I plan to get in the water every day I’m in Idaho leading up to the race. I’ll be fine. I hope. I’m definitely incentivized to swim fast to get the hell out of the water.
The bike. Again, I know I can do it. I’ve done the distance in 3 races already. On top of that, I’ve done a lot of very, very hard riding this spring. I’ve even trained on the course and it is so much easier than I expected. The bike shouldn’t be a problem. My objective is to follow my plan, watch my watts and stay in my zone, and nail my nutrition. I’ll have extra tubes and CO2. Fingers crossed I don’t have to use them. I’ve done the change a flat in an IM before and it’s less than pleasant. Hopefully I’ve done my penance and will have an incident-free ride. That’s all I really ever hope for when I ride any more, to not do anything stupid and to not have any mechanical problems.
The run. Well, I wouldn’t say I’m confident about my run. My longest run this training season has been just a hair over 2 hours. A bit unconventional… I was slated to do at least one three-hour run but because of my traveling and recovery from trips and testing and race rehearsals it just never worked itself into the schedule as my coach wanted to be sure I’d have the appropriate amount of time to recover from it. So, that’s that. In the last few weeks instead of running longer, I’ve been running more often. Getting the time on my legs but not so much that I can do any damage at this stage. So, I’m going into the IM never running even 13 miles in one stretch. Yeah, not exactly what I would have hoped for but not much I can do about it. Thinking back to last summer, though, I don’t think I ever got up to a 2.5 hour run before PF struck in my second foot and I didn’t run for 6 weeks going into the race. So, in the grand scheme of things I’m leaps and bounds ahead of where I was last season. But I’m still super nervous.
The one thing that keeps me going is that I KNOW I can do it. I’ve done it twice before. The first year I ran the whole marathon. The next I ran/walked as long as I could before the pain was overwhelming at which point I just walked until even that pain was too intense… when faced with that dilemma instead of quitting I started jogging again – if it was gonna hurt either way I might as well get there more quickly to put myself out of my misery. I know I can suffer through just about anything. I know I’m stubborn as hell and will suffer through just about anything. Really, that’s all it takes to be an Ironman. Perseverance (and a lot of time training) and mental toughness. I’ve got that covered.
Well, I should say I’m mentally tough when it comes to training and racing. For some reason I can’t hold it together when it comes to personal stuff. I’m a total mess. I think tapering, as much as my body needs it, is bad for me. I have way too much time on my hands to think about how much time I have on my hands. Training is my drug of choice (a much healthier alternative to red wine and/or Ben and Jerry’s). And now it has scaled way down I can’t help but face the realization that I don’t have a heck of a lot going on in my life… and I’m sad and lonely.
I’m at the age where most folks are married with round 2 or 3 of kids on the way. I have very few single friends (and even fewer who are single and unattached). I can’t help but wonder what’s wrong with me. My friends tell me I’m smart and funny and attractive. So what’s the problem? I’ve been reading various articles and books of all sorts about trying to find yourself and be happy (I’m also crazy-bored at work and contemplating a career change… I guess women go through mid-life crises, too … so these books are multi-purposed). The big picture bottom line is that I need to love myself; people are attracted to genuinely happy and confident people. Not exactly earth shattering information. The questions remains, though, how do I become a happy and confident person when I know I’m going home on Friday night to an empty condo? When the phone isn’t ringing – when neither my friends not potential suitors are beating down the door to see me? It’s not exactly fodder for a strong ego.
The last few months I’ve actually been amazingly happy and care free. And thinking about it, it’s because I’ve been doing what I love. Sure I took a 2 week vacation to Italy and vacations typically make people happy. But I was riding every day and having a great time. 99% of the people on the trip were men and of them 99% were married, but I had a blast and I got my fair share of attention from them. Then I got home and headed out to train in ID. I was with another woman, but I talked to men on the course and had a ball. One even stopped at a turn around point for no apparent reason and we chatted it up until my friend joined us. Interesting. I wasn’t even trying. I was doing what I enjoy and it was just falling into my lap. I’ve always been told that’s how it works. I guess there’s something to that.
I even went on a few dates [with the same person] this spring. Shocking! And it happened when I wasn’t trying or looking… it happened when I was working a race. I spent some time talking to one of the athletes at the training triathlon I helped organize in early May and we hit it off. Next thing I know we’re emailing. And we kept in touch while I was in Italy and we had our first date between my trips. It was a lot of fun. Then I skipped town again and he kept tabs on me and we went out again the night after I returned and again that weekend… I’m tapering, I’m home, I’m thinking about the fun stuff we can do since he also swims, bikes, and runs… and then the other shoe drops.
He’s skipping town for a week-long business trip and then the entire summer. Yup. Out of town for 3 solid months. What’s really whacked is that he was very attentive the entire time I was gone (almost 3 weeks) and then I get back, we have 3 good dates (or so I thought), I get the “the timing is bad” and “I don’t know what I want” schpeel (as well as having my hand held throughout a movie followed by a very nice good night kiss – talk about mixed signals) and he goes silent.
I so do not understand men. Or dating. Or the rules. Now I’m left to scratch my head and practice my resolve of not calling, emailing, or texting – him or Mr. Ex or anyone. I have to try to not let it bug me and make me question my self worth as I keep my chin up and resume the fun I was having. Only it’s not so easy. In fact, it’s impossible. I no longer have training to “look forward to” after work. I no longer have the excuse of getting up before the sun for a 6-hour training day to keep me in on a Friday or Saturday night. I am now forced to realize that my social circle has shrunk this past few years and I am going home to an empty condo on Friday nights.
I left private practice to find balance. I found and fell in love with endurance sports as a result. Now I wonder if that has taken the place of the crutch that my job used to be. I’ve met a lot of new and really fun people, but I haven’t become close to many and I am still suffering from the same depression, self-esteem, and self-image issues I have always suffered from. Growing up I assumed that if I were thin and pretty life would be perfect. I’m told I’m thin and pretty now and you know what, life still sucks. I need to work on myself. I always have and I never understood that. It’s about being comfortable with who I am.
People (men and women alike) are attracted to confidence. I never had any. At least not when it came to interpersonal and social skills. When I’m busy – at work, at play, in life – I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself or to ponder these questions. I just go and do and usually have fun and then good things just sort of happen. When I’m bored and left to my own devices I’m dangerous to myself. It’s the calm that brings the storm as far as I’m concerned. It’s not that I want drama, but I need to keep myself busy. I want this race to be done so I can move on to the next big thing (the NYC marathon). I need a circle on the calendar and something to work towards so I’m not left alone and thinking and feeling sorry for myself. But, I also know that I need to keep working on the getting to love myself thing. I am pretty smart and interesting and dynamic. I’m also pretty strong and fun. Damn, I’m a pretty good catch. Men are just dense, I guess. 🙂 Hopefully a smart one will find me… soon… but I have to leave my condo or he won’t be able to.