When I planned my tri season last winter it seemed brilliant to me to set my base training through the spring and conclude it with a half ironman race in June, then maintain my base but drop the intensity through June and July, completing a second 70.3 in August to commence the final push to Florida in November. Here is what I learned (for the record, the post below is more important to me, and I can't wait to help Soap and HG blog their race reports, but I learned some lessons this weekend, so I'll share) and my apologies in advance for not setting all the names to follow as links-boo to me-but, I'm in the process of updating my sidebar-so booyah for all of you-
1) It pays to have friends in virtual places. Thanks to Spence who turned my racing image into an action figure, and to Spandex King for the stickers of the Kahuna and Trimama, I carried these two with me from beginning to end. No, I'm not that vain. TGD epitomizes the battle of the common person to take on these races and overcome everything life throws at them, and still cross the line- I pIan to carry these stickers at IM, but I'll use a sharpie to add all of my bloggie buddies names to them. I was carrying my blog family with me in those two stickers. They were even in my bento box and they carried me over a lot of tough miles
2) It pays to train with a tri club or dedicated group of partners. Thanks to them I'll never race alone.
3) Note to self: Buck Naked Boy is now six, and is bigger and longer, it is not a good idea to press him up on your shoulders and hold him there for 15 or 20 minutes, wiggling to get a view of his sisters, the day before a half ironman. It will torque your lousy lower back and you will pay immensely on the bike. Duly noted.
4) Snakes in the water. Not a campy action film, but a reality. Which I thankfully didn't know about until the following day at breakfast when our waiter informed us that the large family of water snakes that reside in Plesant Lake don't like visitors.
5) Swimming in a straight line rocks. I ran into 2 buoys and grazed a few more. Mission accomplished on swim!
6) Averaging one swim per week through the summer is not going to cut it for Ironman, but holding your 1.2 swim pace through the summer and still being around for the Tribe makes the lack of extra effort worthwhile.
7) Transitions with little changing rock!
8) Note to biker guy. Tri uniforms wear thin through the summer. Perhaps a look in the mirror at your buck naked self is in order before you dress. If you see big and hairy it might be a good idea, for all of us behind you, not to wear the transparent singlet on race day.
9) If you ask 30 athletes about the difficulty of a bike course you will get 30 answers-those who are wearing IMWI, IMCA, IMUSA, or IMCdA garb do not count. Profile charts mean nothing if you don't know how to read them. Knowing the course is priceless.
10) Cowboy up! Races in Iowa are marvelous and if a cowboy had really crossed at the two "Cowboy Crossing" signs I would have stopped my bike a snapped a pic with my cell phone.
11) Nutrition really does count when the race passes two hours, especially when hours 3-4 cover more climbing hills.
12) Pain that approximates stabbing knives in your lower back while on the bike really suck. Pain that intensifies over hills on a hilly course can be downright debilitating, particularly when you aren't minding #11.
13) Sunflower seeds provide a carnival for the mind in the middle bike miles.
14) M & M's are a great mental reward when you crest the holy sh#@ did I really just go from 22 to 8 mph hill.
15) M & M's comingled with sunflower seeds can be entertaining as you try to sort them in your mouth, amusing your loopy mind at mile 45, particularly when allergies make nose breathing an impossibilty.
16) laughing at yourself on the course is priceless
17) until it distracts you from your nutrition and you, sick to death of sweet powerade, switch to water, and duh, cause a glucose swing that makes you incapable of dealing with the knives slicing your back with every hill climb.
18) Historical demons suck, especially when they are waiting on your shoulder, ready to pounce on a mind already weakened by a fear of how you will rate in comparison to the other phenomonal athletes on the course-they are particularly potent against a glucose starved mind.
19) Thinking at mile 20 that you aren't going to look at the results, and therefore disarm the demons only works for so long.
20) Discovering that some of the demons are still there in a "c" training race, unbelievably valuable. That's what the throw away races are for, to test for weaknesses.
21) It really is true that you need to race with the nutrition you train with- duh.
22) A 20 avs for the first 20 miles, 16.5 second (ugh hills) and a final avs of 18.? just plain rocks for this stay at home mom who has only been tri biking for months.
23) Throwing out the time and distance for the final half mile of a bike course that is a traffic/people/runners/boats/campers mess to give yourself credit for your actual output is worthwhile.
24) A final half mile which takes four minutes to navigate because you are beginning to hypeventilate and cry profusely because the pain in your back and lack of nutrition has blown you away, and you are ready to DNF because you know you can run 13 miles but there would be no use in doing that and laying out your back for a week is unnerving. I've never DNF'd-but I've never cried either. For the record, I haven't known that level of pain since going through the early stages of labor.
25) Wearing your Florida uniform (just to assure that there would be no surprises on IM day) and gaining huge motivation to not quit because of the bad omen that would hold for race day was inspiring.
26) Reaching Trihubby by cell phone, who "just had a feeling" all morning that I would be calling in tears, and had been praying for me, and having him talk me down off the DNF ledge reaffirms my belief in marriage and the Big Guy looking out for me.
27) Oranges, pretzels and smiling volunteers make aid stations an oasis along the miles of sweltering black top.
28) Throwing out your PR ambition to walk with a teammate who is hurting is worth it every time.
29) "I love you mom" at mile 4 from HG gives priceless encouragement-the race was no longer in doubt.
30) Crossing the finish line with HG and SG, golden.
31) Being able to write a race report with the knowledge that many will never get the chance is humbling
32) Having a little extra weight on your key chain will make the long training miles to Florida that much lighter