Hopes, Dreams & Aspirations

A half marathon completed 3 months after Baby #3.

A half marathon completed 3 months after Baby #3.

OH CRAP!  I just realized something.  Maintaining intense physical activity for 6 – 7 hours without stopping is just crazy.  It is like “fall over in your grave before you make it to the finish line” crazy.  What the hell was I thinking when I signed up for this thing??  And to think that it could actually take even longer if I feel the need to crawl during the final 5 miles of the half marathon!  

Why would a part-time working mother of 3 small children do something like this?  I am not so sure about the answer to that question any more.  Why in the world would someone with thalassemia (low hemoglobin) AND hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) do something like this?  It’s not enough that being a mother makes you fatigued… let alone anemia and a slow metabolism.  Then add on 2 – 3 hours of working out.  Okay, now I know what I was supposed to say here.  If I can do this, then you sure as heck can!

Everyone has their own personal hopes, dreams and aspirations.  Running marathons and finishing (hopefully) half ironmans just happens to be mine.  I can’t let the little things get in the way of my dreams now can I?  So, you may not want to run a marathon, but what are your dreams?  Do you pursue them or do you make excuses?  I believe that you don’t really want it if you aren’t willing to go for it.

I watch my friends and family set goals and reach high.  They inspire me to do the same.  They may or may not run marathons or bike 50 miles like I do, but they take risks and make things happen.  I see the beautiful work of an aspiring photographer.  I know dedicated teachers who are a positive influence on the lives of children.  I hear about the friends that advocate for the causes they believe in.  I have family and friends that risk their lives so that others may live.  I watch stories unfold right before my eyes.  People who do remarkable things are all around us.  It might be easy to say that someone who runs a marathon or finishes an ironman is amazing because it is right there in front of you.  But take a closer look and you will see other dreams coming true.

My headline for this blog is: “my mother inspired me to run… now I am a mother inspiring others to run!”  Sure, that is what I hope to do.  But maybe they will be inspired to do something that they have always dreamed of doing, not necessarily running.  That’s okay too.

Mental Fatigue

The hard work is worth it when I can experience days like these...

The hard work is worth it when I can experience days like these…

Now I know why only less than one percent of the world’s population has completed an Ironman (70.3 or 140.6… and I am talking the distance, not just the IM brand).  I don’t really know how accurate that percentage is since I really just googled it, but I have a feeling it is pretty close to accurate.  I mean, I do live in Colorado (supposedley the fittest state… think I read that on the internet too) and I was out riding in an area well-known for cycling.  I encountered about 100 cyclists during my 3.5 hour ride.  I was the only one on a triathlon bike.  Not sure if it is because I am the only crazy one training for a triathlon that is held in May or what the deal is.  Maybe that’s it.  Whenever I mention that my triathlon is in May (in Colorado) people assume that I must be completing the swim portion in an indoor pool.  I didn’t think it was such a crazy idea when I signed up back in December because I figured that it would stop snowing by the end of February so I would have plenty of time to train outside.  That blew back in my face.  It is April 22nd and it is currently snowing.

It is really hard (and very boring) to complete 4 hours on a bike trainer.  Even if I am watching a movie (or two).  And I don’t really push myself (since I am supposed to be relaxing while watching a movie, right??).  Sure, I can run outside regardless of the conditions, but there comes a point when you become tired of running in below freezing temperatures.  It takes way to much effort to get dressed in all of that gear.  Somehow I managed to do okay and make it through the winter months of training.  Wait, I am still in the winter months of training.  My mind is starting to deteriorate.  When I hear the weather report I just feel like curling up into a ball and crying my eyes out.  Once in a great while I manage to get out on a day where it is near perfect.  If you call 45 degrees perfect (which I don’t, especially while riding a bike with the wind chill of below freezing).  Last weekend was a rough ride because I was so cold that I couldn’t feel my fingers and toes.  It was hard for me to eat because I kept dropping the food as I attempted to bring it to my mouth while steering the bike.  The temperatures were slightly warmer this past weekend, but nature had to bring me wind to contend with.  Okay, I know that conditions aren’t always perfect, but come on, cut me some slack here!   I’m still somehow disciplined to do it, but I don’t know for how much longer.

My workouts are only getting longer as I reach the peak before the taper to event day.  I have my plan and I stick to it (for the most part).  I work out 6 days a week and rejoice when the rest day is here.   I still manage to go to work, take care of the kids and keep my house in order (okay, I may have sacrificed in that department just a little, but the kids are always fed, wearing clean clothes and smell like roses).  Sometimes I just want to turn off my alarm and hide under the blankets.  Other times I want to just drop off the kids at school/daycare and just go get a haircut.  I spent the past month trying to figure out a time when I could go buy a new pair of running shoes… it finally happened, but came at the cost of dealing with rush hour traffic.  My hair is another story.  That will have to wait.

I don’t give in because I want to succeed.  I want to be ready to finish that 70.3.  I want to finish it in good form.  I want to cross that finish line and still be able to drive home.  I am getting tired (mentally and physically), but I do see the end in sight.  Wait, is there an end?  Maybe I don’t want an end.  What will I do without my crazy routine?  Get a haircut maybe?

My mind can start to play tricks on me when it is in fatigue mode.  I often put things in places where they do not belong and I forget to do things that need my attention (fortunately my kids are smart enough to remind me that I need to fasten their seatbelts before we start moving).  I consider just throwing my phone across the room when the alarm goes off or driving to a place where I can just walk.  Then my senses kick back in and I am off in overdrive again.

Maybe I should do one of those fitness apps where you can get paid for completing your workouts.  Wouldn’t I be rich by now?

Even if this race is the crappiest race ever because I nearly drown, get a flat tire, acquire some road rash or finish in last place, I will still be able to say that I have succeeded.  With all of these training hours, I have already done at least 10 Ironmans (or close enough).  I am proud of the fact that I DO wake up early to go workout, that I DO stay on my bike for 3 hours, that I DO keep running on tired legs, and that I DO swim countless boring laps in the pool.  Why DO I DO it?  Well, because I secretly love it.  And, above all else, it has given me strength to persevere through the mental and physical fatigue.  That strength will be required later on down the road and I will be ready.

Spending Money is Motivation

Not many people in the water with me... this is how I like it

Not many people in the water with me… this is how I like it

Rather should I say that when you spend money on a race, you are one step further at being more motivated to actually complete the race.  There was only one race that I missed.  The reason was illness.  Normally, I don’t mind running when I have the sniffles, but this was the full on nasty flu where my body felt so limp that I could barely get out of bed.  Otherwise, when I spend money on a race I make sure that money doesn’t go to waste!

So, I have been thinking about doing a Half Ironman for quite some time… since this past summer when I completed my first two sprint triathlons.  I was considering the next step, an Olympic distance, but for some reason I just decided to skip that step.  I don’t know, I guess I figured that I might as well go the distance on this one.  And it’s not like I did a 10K or a 15K before my first half marathon.  I managed a 5K, but that would be similar to the sprint triathlon in this situation.

 

The constant debate in my head wasn’t about whether or not I would do a Half Ironman (eventually followed by a full IM of course), but about when I would do it.  I knew it would be during the summer at some point, but I was really opposed to completing one during our vacation or even after our vacation.  I’m sure my husband would love me to pieces if I woke up at 5:00 AM in our little camper to go train for 4 or 5 hours.  I’m sure I would be able to find some nice lakes to swim in though.  Okay, so it would be ideal to find a race that I can complete before our vacation.  Then I could just relax (you know, relax while on vacation with 3 little kids).

 

That was settled.  I needed to find a Half that I could do in May or June.  Well, one popped up on my radar right away.  It was a Half Ironman in Kansas.  Yay Toto!  It is at the beginning of June (right around my birthday… but just after it so I could race with the next age group and have a better chance of not coming in last).  Then I started reading the reviews.  Lots of hills on the bike.  Wind, lots of wind.  Choppy lake… waves about 3 feet high.  Running in circles.  Running in 95 degree heat.  Wow!  That sounds like fun!  Sign me up!  I do love challenges right?  Sure.

 

Aha!  I was waiting for this.  Another triathlon series, HITS, was considering it’s Colorado date and location.  I was waiting, patiently, because I am so very patient.  Okay, I was about ready to sign up for Kansas and an 8 hour drive across no man’s land when I noticed that HITS had posted its date and location:  Grand Junction in May!  Whew!  I had been so worried that they were going to hold their event in July.  I’m all over that.

 

 

Wait, I just realized something.  This HITS triathlon venue is not Ironman.  Everyone knows the big wigs… you know, the IRONMAN folks.  But lets not get ahead of ourselves.  This HITS Half Triathlon is the SAME distance as a Half IM.  Seriously people, it is the same thing!  I know those hardheaded IM folks would beg to disagree.  Okay, so maybe I will only be getting in the water with 700 people instead of 2,000 people!  I guess that means that I am not tough enough to call myself a Half Ironman!  (not that anyone really calls themselves half of an Ironman, but you know what I mean… you have to start somewhere).  Whatever, I am just a beginner.  I will stick with the smaller event for now.  I don’t really like crowds anyway.  But, I am thinking that I may have to consider an IM event for my FULL.  Okay, that’s settled.  I will eventually be able to put the sticker on my truck after all.  No worries about finding that tatoo parlor… that big red M insignia doesn’t do my skin justice.  I might have to figure something else out.  Ideas anyone?

 

So, I will be in Grand Junction in May.  Too bad I won’t be able to let loose at sea level, but at least it is about 2,000 feet lower than where I am now.  I don’t think I will need to worry about scalding temperatures during the run, but I will have to deal with freezing my tushy off in the lake.  Let’s do this!  1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run here I come!