Monday, September 12, 2016

All the Eggs Are in the Basket

As you know, I've selected my target races for the 12-month period over which I intend to:

  • Qualify for the Boston Marathon
  • Qualify for Kona (Ironman Hawaii)
I officially began training for these things on September 5. Yesterday was the first race I did for the period. Races will calibrate where my actual fitness is, which then is used to plan my training and ensure that I am capable of meeting my goals.

The Naperville Trails 1/2 marathon was well run and took place in the Danada Equestrian Reserve, which is not too far from my house. I met my friend, Matt, there. The race started at 8:30, which was a bit late for our liking, but nothing you can do about it. The race was 100% on crushed limestone except for the last about 1/2 mile, where you run in on the grass horse track! There were some rolling hills, but nothing I would call "hilly."

My last 1/2 marathon was 4/12/2015 in Denver and I went 2:20. Yesterday I went 2:13. Not great for me, but the good thing is that my right foot didn't hurt one iota! In fact, yesterday was the first 1/2 marathon or more where my foot hasn't hurt since 2011! So actually I was ecstatic about my result, especially since I didn't taper and I went in with sore legs from last weekend's biking festival (50 miles fast with the A group of my bike club on Saturday, then 3 hours of Sufferfest videos on Sunday) plus 2 duathlon workouts last week. So to expect my best run would have been foolish. Still, I did visit the hurt locker, but it was nice in that Matt ran most of the way with me as did a 2:15 pacer girl. How great that was! I basically had my own personal pacers! Here are Matt and I before the race:
Now as to the eggs thing, after I raced yesterday (and I was 4/15 F55-59 by USATF age group classification, but if they used USAT age groups, I was first in 60-64 by 17 minutes!), I drove up to Madison, Wisconsin to cheer at the Ironman while spending time with one of my best buds, William. Here we are eating at the Badger Grill in the Doubletree Hotel, where we both have stayed previously and I already reserved for next year:
I think we met in 2003 originally, but William argued with me about that. William is an uber-ultra athlete. He's done a Triple Ironman. I love him and we try and spend time together whenever it's possible. That's really why I went up to Wisconsin, since I don't see him very often.

I wasn't in primo spectating mode, as my legs hurt like mofos from the race, but I did the best I could. I would ask people looking a bit shattered if there was anything they needed. I had brought gels, salt tablets, candy and HTFU. One guy said, "Albuterol." And I said I have it! I really hope that giving that guy a couple of puffs from my inhaler enabled him to feel better and get moving again. I know how awful it can feel when your lungs feel like they just can't work properly.

I stayed overnight with a friend, Emily, that I met 2 years ago at Tyranena Beer Run, another 1/2 marathon where I went 2:10. So I know I can go at least that fast (and maybe faster). I need my 1/2 marathon pace to be about 2:07 to really lock in on that Boston qualification. That's only 2 VDOT points from where I'm at now, and I've been that fast, so I feel confident in achieving the BQ. At Disney? Who knows? But if not there then certainly at Los Angeles marathon.

I have to admit, every day when I wake up, this BQ and KQ stuff is on my mind. Sometimes I say to myself, "Don't do anything stupid." But much of what I do is on autopilot, for example, driving fast in the left lane on a highway. But I've learned to give focus to whatever I'm doing, so when I'm driving, I'm driving, except when I need emergency McDonald's so that I don't starve to death:
OMG that was good. I was so happy to see that the McGriddle is back! But I digress.

Just because I've done so many triathlons and trained so hard for so many years doesn't mean I don't get nervous about races or goals looming on the horizon. I am already visualizing my finish at Ironman Wisconsin 2017. I signed up for it today, and I got the chills doing it:

There has been only one other time when I thought I might be able to get a Kona slot--it was in 2006. I was very well trained for Ironman Brazil. I was in fantastic shape. But then my Mom died a month before the race, and I still went. And I bawled my eyes out in transition before the race started. I felt so lost and alone. And I had caught a sinus infection and I was dizzy standing on the beach before the swim start. And then I got kicked in the face during the swim and didn't know until I was finished that my nose was bloody and my eyes were black and blue. But I finished, and of course, there was no Kona slot that day. The next year my Dad died, and after that I sort of just put the whole Kona thing on the back burner. I did a bunch of NothingMans, enjoyed that, and then I did Ultraman Canada in 2010 and am still very proud of that accomplishment--I was the oldest female finisher!

So it's not like I had given up on stretch goals, but early this summer I decided it was time to reach for the stars once again, and so here I am and it's fucking scary. I yell at my brothers to pay attention to their health--I don't want anything bad to happen to them in the next year. But you never know what life has in store for you!

Does that mean it's folly to put all your eggs in the one big, fucking basket anyway? NO! If you don't dream, you don't achieve. And even if you don't accomplish the dream, it is always worth the journey to have tried. Each time I do a major race, I learn something new about myself and find new satisfaction in doing it. And I absolutely love sharing my own knowledge with others. Over the years, I've mentored people who became faster than me (which is as it should be since they are younger than me!), and am truly happy for them. But I've had helpers along the way, too--people who have pushed me when I needed it--people who have stood by me when I've suffered emotionally, and people who might not be close friends, but they are always there to notice when I've done something good. And that's what this stuff is really all about.

So whether or not I cross the Ironman Wisconsin finish line in first place in my AG, I can say it will have been well worth my time and effort to give it a go. I am so lucky to even think about this! I am so unbelievably happy how all of this has come together for me, and honestly, I get all teary eyed at least once a day lately. Does that mean I'm weak? I don't think so. I think it means I really appreciate my life and fitness.

So when you get a bunch of eggs, PUT THEM ALL IN ONE BIG FUCKING BASKET. Your basket may just be to finish an Ironman or to get a degree or to get in better shape, but at some point you have to go for it. You will not regret it! 

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