I'm one step closer to the finish line at Ironman Kansas 70.3. Last week, local triathletes tested their readiness in the open waters of Longview Lake where the weekend's upcoming triathlon was to be held. My friends Katie and Tim joined me for our first adventure in the cool early spring waters. We had all recently acquired sleeveless wetsuits to assist us in our transition to outdoor open water swimming. Katie and Tim kept their cool while I was literally shaking with anxiety (and colder air temps). I hadn't been this nervous since I interviewed for my personal training position in New York a couple years ago.
After listening to a short clinic of tips, the three of us got in, fully submerged ourselves and then we were off! To my surprise, the water clarity was better than I had imagined. (I had been swimming with my eyes closed for a few strokes here and there in the the pool at the J.) Sighting the buoy proved to be more challenging than I had anticipated, though. I had tinted goggles on and the skies were cloudy so our environment was less bright than if it were a sunny day.
I swam a couple laps after realizing it wasn't so bad and I felt the anxiety quickly melt away. I felt as though I was 20 pounds lighter now that I was conquering the new world of open water swimming. I can't imagine not having done this considering my first triathlon was less than four days away...
The endorphins are flowing following Sunday's long ride which somehow didn't give me an endurance hangover on Monday. I started to research how to train for an Ironman. Surprisingly, I think I would only need to squeeze in about 3-7 more hours per week of training. Hmmm…..
I have never considered myself obsessive-compulsive although I've always "needed" something to train for to avoid feeling like I was bored and on a one-way street to nowhere. This training has changed my mind. It feels good to do something I've never done before, even if it makes me OCD.
7 months ago I couldn't swim. In one month, I will be swimming in open water for (hopefully) 50 minutes. Who's to say that in a year I can't go twice as long? I'm completely adjusted physically as long as I get enough rest. I officially have no social life and somehow I'm okay with that. Seeing my friends once a month is unacceptable but I'm lucky to have ones that understand what I'm doing.
I'm a self-diagnoser and this time I must have Ironman Disease. Less than 5 weeks to go!
Now entering into our fifth month of specific 70.3 training, Team Katie and Sarah (we need a better name) are feeling more confident than ever with our training. I'd like to mention a few epic moments in the past few weeks of training.
Katie and I met for our first ride together a few weeks ago at the downtown airport. We had been planning our family and work schedules around this ride and as the day approached, the forecast was looking downright dreadful. This was the perfect time to realize how TOUGH my training partner is because not only did we go out on a limb and do the ride anyway, we survived fierce periods of rain, wind, and even hail.
About a half mile into the bike, the rains came. By the end of the first loop, it was hailing. Luckily after toughing it out and not stopping, we hit a huge dry spot in the sky. Granted, the winds were blowing up to 40 mph and the temperature was a little chilly for my tank and shorts. After about 30 miles, I saw legitamate lightning and raced back toward the car. Once we arrived, we were SO close to hitting our 40 mile goal that we kept going and finished safely. I packed a little light for the aftermath of soaked clothes and shoes so I had to sit on a paper bag from Hen House on the way home. Nonetheless, I felt like we had accomplished a lot by not only hitting our mileage goal, but also from doing it in very tough conditions. Katie is a freakishly fast little cycler!
I hit 50 miles on the bike easily, riding on Easter weekend in Des Moines on the Great Western Trail. I hope people in Des Moines don't take their trails for granted because it is a MUCH more bike-friendly city.
I wanted to continue to do 50 miles each Sunday, so last weekend I did my loops around Leawood Country Club until the threatening clouds moved in. I headed back toward my place and started doing 4 mile loops on Tomahawk Creek Parkway and Mission Road. 40 miles down and 10 miles to go, I was entering a roundabout headed east and a huge gust of wind coming from the south literally blew me off of my bike. (I've been told this doesn't really happen….) I hit the grass pretty hard, obviously shocked that this happened so suddenly. I got up almost immediately to assess the damage. I came out with a few scrapes on my shoulder and elbow. My right handlebar is a little bent but I think it is fixable. The next day my shoulder and arm were sore and my left ankle was sore because it was forced to unclip as my bike fell. I really wish I could have seen it on camera. Of course, I laughed for a few minutes trying to decide if I should finish my ride. I decided to top it off with the last ten miles and I'm glad I did. I came upon a guy riding a little slower and as I approached, I noticed he was wearing a Coe College Kohawk bike jersey!!! I told him how cool his jersey was and that no one around here has ever heard of the college and that I was a 2007 graduate. I finished biking (slower) with him and finally got to retire after a rollercoaster of a ride.
Today, I just got back from our trip to Clinton State Park to preview the bike course we were up against in a month. I've had athletes who have done this 70.3 before and claim it's a very, very tough course. We cruised through 60 miles of course terrain and now we refuse to share the same sentiment. We got up and down the hills feeling great and without struggle! After a few additional miles we accidentally added on because we forgot where we parked (the sun fried our brains), our legs were still feeling fresh. I felt like I could ride 30 more!
The next obstacle will be open water swimming. If we can get comfortable with that, we will do well and leave this experience feeling motivated to do more… maybe even twice as much!?