People often refer to Ironman training as a 'journey,' and I think it's appropriate. There's more to it than just swimming, biking and running. You have to sign up for the race one year in advance, so you have 12 months to train. A lot can happen in one year. There are a lot of sacrifices to make, a lot of decisions to make. There are highs and lows. There is also a lot of self discovery, which I think is where the 'journey' analogy comes from. You learn a great deal about yourself through a year of training for an event many believe to be downright crazy (wondering if you are in fact crazy is often part of this journey).
Your discipline and dedication is tested constantly, in the winter when you have to drag yourself out of bed on a cold, snowy morning to swim, in the summer when friends are cooking out and lounging in the pool and you have to bike 100 miles under the scorching sun. There are easy workouts, and tough workouts. There are aches and pains, but hopefully no injuries.
The Ironman isn't just about race day; it's mainly about the training. Race day is just the culmination of 12 months of training. That's when you find out what you're capable of, but mainly it's a test of your dedication the previous 12 months. It's easy to train the weeks leading up to the race. It's hard to train in 9 months prior to the race. It's even tougher to train hard 9 months before race day, to dig deep, to suffer....all in the hopes of being only slightly faster/stronger in your next workout.
So I'm about to embark on another Ironman journey in a few days, and this one promises to be different from the others. Will it be better or worse? Only time will tell. All I know right now is that it will be different. The race is the same as two years ago, but the stage is different. I have two IMs under my belt so this time I'm not training out of fear of not finishing (this fear is an incredible motivator). I know I can do the distance so my goals are different: Kona. I need to be fast, which means there is no room for mistakes or weaknesses. This journey will be challenging, that much I know.
The Ironman journey is not a solo endeavor, and I think I have better support this time. As much work as there is ahead of me, I'm looking forward to seeing where this journey takes me. Even if it doesn't lead to Kona, I'm going to do everything I can to enjoy the ride. It's guaranteed to be an adventure. The stage is set.
With IM training still a few days off, I've been taking a lot of rest days, eating anything I want and generally taking it easy. This weekend I didn't do any workouts. Last week I biked once and swam twice. I haven't run in more than 2 weeks. I've gained weight and feel out of shape, but I think that's a good thing. My body needs to recover from the past two years of training.
Yesterday I went hiking around Devils Lake.....