October in Triathlon: Championship Season
Just like that it is October, championship month for those in the Ironnman (or full 140.6) distance world of triathlon. Athletes are making their way to the Island and my Instagram is blowing up with photos and stories of everyone landing in Kona. Truth: I am insanely jealous. In retrospect I really wish we had decided to head to the island two weeks early. As soon as mid-September hits in Spokane the weather changes, and it is not great for prepping for being blasted by heat and humidity. However, I cannot sit here and dwell on retrospect or wishing I was somewhere else! I will be there on Tuesday and I can just look forward to that!!
This years Road to Kona started in late December when I made the decision to go after Ironman Texas, so it has been almost a ten month long journey. While the focus at Texas was merely to run the fastest and best race I could, I was blessed to have a Kona slot come out of it. However, while I say I was focused on Ironman Texas lets face it Kona is always the goal so it is always what you are working towards.
I will have to admit that I am a little bit tired, its been an amazing 10 months of training but I can tell its been a full year. On top of that fall has hit in the Pacific Northwest, which for all the pumpkin spice lovers out there is a blessing but for those who bask in the long hot dog days of summer (me) it is an instant mood shift. Don’t get me wrong fall can be absolutely gorgeous in the Pacific Northwest but when you are someone who loves the 90+ degree heat, sun staying up until 9:30 pm, and waking up to it already being 75 degrees out knowing that is coming to an end is always mentally brutal for me. Honestly, this shift in temperature and sunlight availability is probably the biggest piece that is contributing to my mood, lack of motivation, and the tired. My family can attest that I am very susceptible to the S.A.D and changes in weather away from warmth and sunshine.
Besides the tired and having a head to head confrontation with swimming, swimming and I are currently having a separation in order to work out our differences, the nerves are starting to set in. My husband, bless his patience, can always tell when I am around the three week out time frame of a really big race as I become a lot more withdrawn, spending a lot more time in my head, and a little bit edgy. Now I am a fairly quiet person to begin with I despise talking on the phone, rarely ask questions, don’t talk to humans before about 8:00 am (or until about 2 cups of coffee), and spend a lot time by myself so when it is three weeks out that is amplified to what could come off as a very standoffish point. I promise it is not on purpose but my focus tends to shift to being all about race day and it is just how I cope.
But that is enough of my neurosis as I can’t really complain all that much this is Ironman training, if you aren’t tired, nervous, anxious, and excited you aren’t doing it right ;) Besides the nerves and slightly obnoxious act of being very much in my head I am really looking forward to being in Kona. Almost anyone who has raced at Kona multiple times has said that while this race is never easy, it is a Championship after all, the second time around is always a little bite easier. For those of you that are newer to my journey you should know that last year’s Kona was a fairly large failure, not in the sense that I didn’t complete or that something bad happened, but in the sense that everything that I planned for did not go right. It came down to being the absolute hardest day of my life from a competition standpoint. However, it is this failure that caused me to chose to try again. It is this sense of failure that has fueled me throughout each and every minute of training these past 10 months.
So what have these last ten months looked like. They were awesome! As mentioned despite the lack of motivation I am struggling with, which I attribute 100% to the weather, these last 10 months have been awesome. When I made the decision to take on Ironman Texas I went to my coach and said that I wanted to really go for it; I wanted bigger, faster, stronger, and more!! I wanted to train as close Pro level as my body could handle, and I think we did a pretty good job of doing so and now that my body is more adapted to that I think next year could even be better from a training standpoint.
The differences that we made this year compared to last year are a couple of things:
A lot more swimming! Last year the most I swam was four days a week and that was only during some of the biggest blocks. This year we swam 4-5 days a week on a consistent basis, no matter what the building block we were in was. Now this didn’t mean we swam 4,000+ yds every single day, in fact most of the days were around the 2,000-2,600 yds distance but they were consistent. My body, and my brain, cannot handle at this time frame 4,000+ yds of swimming every single day it would have crushed me!
More biking combined with more structured biking. The theme of the differences really is more, as we just did a lot more, however it was also a lot more structured. Most of bike rides were on the trainer. This was a for a couple of reasons 1) being I had to train in the winter for Texas and winter in Spokane is nasty 2) the trainer provided a safe environment to not get hit by cars and 3) you could really target specific systems to build on - hello 95% FTP intervals!! I also did a lot more longer rides. For last years Kona race I only hit 100 miles three times, this year I road 100+ miles somewhere around 10 times - if you count both the Ironman Texas and Ironman Kona build. This was key for me, and I really am glad we did this.
Running pretty much stayed the same we just trained me at a faster rate, and with a lot more speed work and longer runs at race pace effort. I can honestly tell you I loved almost every minute of the run training.
On top of all the physical training I really focused on changing my mindset and focusing on becoming as tough as I can during a race. I spent each workout, especially as I have gotten closer to October, remembering the final 20 miles after making the turn back onto the Queen K from Hawi, remembering the Energy lab, and remembering how I was feeling last year at Kona and changing my mindset towards those moments. Rather than giving into the pain I have been feeling I focused on changing my brain, took the race from last year and changed the outcome. Will that work? No clue, but I am going to give it everything I’ve got change it.
We, I always say we because while I may be the one physically doing the training it is a team that gets me through it (from my coach who works really hard to push me to my limit, my husband who puts up with me, my family (immediate and in-laws) who love and support me, my athletes I coach who believe in me, and everyone else who follows the journey), really worked hard this year and the gains are showing.
I am very excited to head to the island, so much that I am struggling to remain patient that I don’t leave until the 9th. Remind me next time I head to the big island that I would like to spend two weeks prior to the race on the island! Don’t worry, because I know many of you are, Brandon will be in full force on race day with his standard Instagram takeover. I can almost guarantee you he will be running around (shirtless in standard fashion) yelling at me to run faster. He has already rented a bike, as well as purchased a blue-tooth speaker that will sit in the water bottle holder of the bike, so that he can access more of the course easily. He has built a Kona playlist full of all sorts of songs for everyone out there, not just me! He is ready! If you see him out there on the course give him a shout, and maybe he’ll play a song for you!!
With that, I am going to sign off for the day and I will see you all on the ISLAND!!!!