Friday, May 16, 2008

The One Thing..

Before I did IMFL in 2004, I found this article. My training partner at the time, Michael and I mused about our "One Thing" over 100's of cycling miles. Although I can't remember my "one thing" for that race, I am contemplating mine for IMCDA. What is your "One Thing"?

The One Thing (by Rich Strauss of Crucible Fitness)
The run is where the rubber meets the road. Let's consider the entire Ironman starting field and the likelihood of these athletes running to their full potential on race day. A percentage will be eliminated due to improper training. The classic example is training for a marathon, not a 26.2 mile run after a 112 mile bike ride. Another percentage will be eliminated by nutritional and pacing mistakes that begin to express themselves either late in the bike, or mid way through the run.
So when we reach T2, we have a small subset of the entire field who have created the opportunity for a successful run through the skillful manipulation of many variables: training, physical fitness, nutrition and pacing. Of this subset, what then determines who runs to their potential and who does not? The One Thing.
First, a successful Ironman run = slowing down as little as possible. Not slowing down is almost entirely a function of maintaining focus, not fitness. If you are not cramping up on the run, you don't need to be running very fast to have a successful marathon, by Ironman standards. Despite what you might think, the difference between a good and bad marathon time is just continuing to move forward, as best you can, for the entire 26.2 miles. Sorry, but that's about as sexy as it gets out there.
You MUST expect your body to have a conversation with your head at some point during the run:
Body to Mind: "Ok, I'm truly suffering here. I can keep going, but you need to give me a very good reason to continue suffering like this."
Mind to Body: "We suffer because of the One Thing. The pain won't last forever. Just keep doing the best you can do and we'll get there."
My One Thing
The One Thing is whatever has motivated you to do this to yourself in the first place. Before the race you need to take a long, hard look in the mirror and identify what your One Thing is. And this is no time for bullshit. Be completely honest because your body will play your bluff when the chips are down. You can't lie to yourself out there.
After four Ironman finishes, I have identified my One Thing as very concrete goals, time or place based.
Ironman Florida, '00: I came off the bike with a shot at going sub 11hrs for my first IM. I used this goal to maintain complete focus on my run and had a successful day, despite donating blood 18 days before the race and to this day not remembering miles 13 through 22. One Thing = sub 11:00, determined in T2.
Ironman California, '01: 30-34 AG qualifying time in 2000 was 10:20. I wanted to qualify but wasn't completely committed to it. At about mile 10 of the run I had seen many 30-34 calves pass me and knew I wasn't going to qualify. I began to lose my focus and ran into some nutritional issues by mile 22. Picked myself up and finished in...10:19. Just below the qualifying standard but a year too late :-) One Thing = Kona, but I wasn't completely honest with myself. After that goal become unrealistic, I should have set an alternate objective of sub 10:10, as a tool to maintain my focus.
Ironman Wisconsin, '02: Not confident in my run fitness and expecting a dogfight with Pedder. However, I came off the bike 15th overall, with a very good chance of qualifying or even standing on the AG podium. Maintained complete focus and ran 3:45 on about 3:30 marathon fitness. One Thing = Kona and AG podium, determined in T2.
Ironman Hawaii, '03: Injury and first time on the island combine to set my goal at having a successful race. One Thing = no execution errors. Without a concrete, quantifiable goal I struggled to maintain my focus and failed to do so, relative to my performances at Florida and Wisconsin. I was a machine on those days, but not in Kona. My One Thing became pain and the desire to make it stop. I had a strong last 5 miles, considering.
Your One Thing
My One Thing may or may not be yours. I know what mine is now and will plan my race goals around it to increase my potential for a successful race.
How do you determine your One Thing?
Identify why you want to do the race before signing up. Are you doing it for you or to prove something to someone else? Be completely honest with yourself. "I'm a doing this Ironman so I can earn a unique title that is mine forever." One Thing = title of Ironman.
Take that One Thing and mate it with your race goals and expectations: "The title is important to me, not the time. I want to finish with a smile on my face."
Remind yourself, daily, of your One Thing and the race goals and expectations you have built around it. Through this process your One Thing will provide clarity of purpose to your training. When the Phunometer is pegged during a 6 hour long ride, you'll know why you are still out there.
In your mental rehearsals before the race, visualize the conversation between Mind and Body when the Body begins to question the Mind's commitment to the One Thing. Prepare your rebuttal beforehand.
On race day, continually remind yourself of the One Thing. Focus completely on its accomplishment. Remember, you can never disappoint your friends or family. They will be proud of you regardless. However, you can let yourself down. In the end, the best we can do is follow our commitment to our One Thing.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A great example of denial..

Being retired from the mental health field, I am all too familiar with this defense mechanism but never really related it to training before..but come to think of it, we must have to use it often to train for Ironman..

Denial: An unconscious defense mechanism used to reduce anxiety by denying thoughts, feelings, or facts that are consciously intolerable.

7:30 this AM:

H: Why are you dressed in bike clothes?

Me: Why I am going on my 3 hour bike ride that I missed yesterday. (I was tired, took an unscheduled day off).

H: Are you kidding me? It is raining outside!

Me: No it's not.

H: The ground is wet-it is freezing and raining!

Me: Oh, I don't think it is still raining. I am going to ride no matter what!

Now this is where Ironman insanity comes in. At this point in the training, it is like I have to get in all my workouts, no matter what! I spent the first hour and a half, riding in the rain, wind and cold-all denying it was happening and kept telling myself: This will let up any minute now. Afterall, this is New Mexico-it never rains all day here. The weather man got it wrong, etc..

That turned into praying: Please let it stop raining, please!

The longer I rode, the harder it rained, the colder it got and then the wind started really howling. At first I thought what great bad weather training! time went on.. it wasn't fun anymore so I decided to ride to the gym, with the wind hoping to run into my hubby there. As I stood shivering in the gym lobby, I picked up the phone.

Me: Uh, are you at the gym?

H: No I am not going til this afternoon.

Me (in my best martyr voice): Oh, I guess I will have to wait until then for you to pick me up then..

H (in somewhat of an annoyed tone): I'll come get you..

Now I must admit this was a little crazy even for me. I am a fair weather biker, that is for sure. But there is this sense of urgency in me to get these last 30 days of workouts in, just in case. I mean this could be the one bike ride that makes me or breaks me at IMCDA!

Is this nuts or what?

Well, I only got 2 hours in of riding in the rain. So I went on to do my weight workout, then 3500 yd swim, just to punish myself, I think.

Geez...are we there yet?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

How I survived Triathlon Boot Camp..

I just couldn't resist the song thing..that tune was stuck in my mind all weekend.

It all started on Friday night, when we arrived in Boulder straight off the high of seeing my new grandchild via sonogram in Denver. After checking into the hotel, we immediately were brought back to earth by the call that H's mom was in a car accident at home-it was not serious but the car was totalled, she was shaken and the reality about not being able to drive anymore was setting in.

With daughter Heather taking care of mom at this end, we dusted ourselves and tried to get it together to go to camp. We arrived at the venue of the camp, which was a health club in Boulder, where I am pretty sure there was a requirement that you had to be beautiful and have a flat stomach to belong there. We met the other campers (11) and got some good info on bike fit from Luis, my coach and camp leader for the weekend. We got our bike fit and met the guys from Zipp on Friday night. They gave us demo wheels to ride on Saturday, which was such a treat. I now have Zipp-envy of course and have to have some!

After a very short night's sleep, we all met at an outdoor pool at 6:30 AM on Saturday morning. Now this would not be so bad except the outside temp was barely above freezing. I jumped in the heated pool and thought, oh well H and I will just take our own little lane and swim our pace, etc..Luis, however, had other ideas for this 3000 meter swim in the wee hours of the morning. Immediately I got moved up a lane so now I was swimming as one of the big kids. Not the fastest lane, but one of the faster ones. So that meant I actually had to swim fast to keep up. Wow-this brought back some fine memories of swim team as a kid and breathing hard for an hour straight. Finally after all the fun in the cold was over, we got dressed and back to the club for lectures and food. By this time the wind had started blowing about 30 MPH so the "long bike" was off for the day but we did head out to Boulder Dam to do a run in the near hurricane force winds. I actually felt pretty good considering. H and I ran together for 2 hours. I kept my HR in the zone. Just to put some perspective on our fellow campers, we did 10.5 miles in those 2 hours, others did 16 miles. These are what I call the "Kona" campers-the ones that win their age group in Hawaii. That's right-that Hawaii Ironman. These people were my idols. Then there was the guy that was on the cover of Runners World a couple of years ago. I was a little out of my league for the most part but H and I did our thing and Luis was great about keeping us all involved. The really fast kids were so nice and I felt included, even with my slow ass 53 year old body.

After the run you would think the day was done but we still had those damn Zipps to demo so we went out for a "short recovery ride". Ha! The "short ride" was actually 2 hours. That was when I started to lose it. Out in the Boulder fields I was struggling to keep up, my chain was giving me problems on my new tri-bike still (I had just had parts replaced). I thought-this is it! I am too old for this, too slow, in general a pity party on the bike. Wow-I was ready to throw my bike and scream again, just like at Rage a couple of weeks ago. What is up with that?? I managed to reason my way out of my foul mood, really just settled my thoughts down-that was good.

Saturday was a very long training, lecture day, which by the way, included really good info from Luis on training, Ironman racing, nutrition-you name it. The info part was priceless...
We opted out of the dinner with the other campers Saturday night. We were pooped!! I ate god knows how much Italian food that evening in our hotel room. We were zombies.

Sunday began at 7:00 AM on the bike. Oh thank you god, the weather finally warmed up to the 40s and sunny-no wind!! We did a beautiful ride up the mountain by running streams and gorgeous scenery-round trip 35 miles. I had done my long ride on Wed so didn't go with the 5 hour people. If I had, I would still be out there, I think. I saw at least 300 other cyclists in the athlete mecca of the world of Boulder that day. I felt much better mentally and physically Sunday. We had more lectures then got our run and swim video taped and critiqued. At one point in that session, Luis called everyone over to look at my video. Oh, please don't let me be bad example here, I thought to myself. He actually said I had very good swim form-oh man, that felt good.

By the end of the day, we were all laughing and joking about training and racing. I learned so much about triathlon and racing this weekend. Just being around all that talent was amazing.
The best news is they are sending me a new bike!! Yea!!! I am so tired of being that customer that complains all the time-I really think I had a defective frame all along, but who knows? I will have the new baby by next week..

OK, so this song comes to mind..

I think you have to be over the age of 50 to remember this song:

Hello muddah, hello faddah
Here I am at Camp Mark Allen
Camp is very entertaining
And they say we'll have some fun if it stops blowing/freezing/raining.
I went swimming with some athletes
They developed near pneumonia
You remember Kona winners
They only got faster after dinner.
Take me home, oh muddah, faddah
Take me home, I hate Camp Ironman
Don't leave me out in Boulder where I might get eaten by a hippy.
All the counselors hate the BOP-ers
And the heart rate makes me slower
And the head coach wants no losers
So he tells us to be nutrition users
Wow I don't want this should scare ya
But my husband is
becoming faster,
And my running looks more like a disaster.
Take me home...I promise I will not make complain
Or be negative anymore.
Oh please don't make me stay
I've been here one whole day.
Dearest faddah, darling muddah,
How's my precious little road bike,
Let me come home, if you miss me
I would even do Jay Benson.
Wait a minute, I start liking,
Guys are swimming, girls are biking
Running videos, gee that's better
Muddah, faddah kindly disregard this letter.

Camp MAO Online report to follow..