I’ve made it. Made it to the coveted ironman taper. I’m happy to say I’m still married (thanks to my husband Sam for his unwavering support! J), my kids and dog are still alive and thriving, and my body doesn’t seem to despise me for all that I’ve put it through over the past 8 months. I’ve survived. The very long rides, the runs, the hard swims, and the 5:00 AM (or earlier) daily wakeup calls are slowly winding down. It’s taper time. From here, it’s all downhill until race day. Two more weeks until I toe that starting line at Mirror Lake. Until I line up with all the other hopeful ironman athletes. It all seems so surreal. The event that I have been targeting for months on end is just around the corner. And I feel an odd sense of relief.
Even though the ironman is fast approaching, the race has actually taken a bit of a backseat in my mind. This morning on my twelve-mile run, I let my mind wander and mull over why this might be the case. Ironically the race is finally on the horizon and my anxiety level seems to have diminished. Instinctively, you would think it would be the other way around. But for me, it feels like the hard part is over. I’ve survived the training. I’ve found a way to manage it — the constant juggling of life, work, and family with the heavy demands of the training. And somehow I came out the other side feeling healthy, well trained and optimistic about the upcoming race. From here on out, I don’t have to worry about taking time away from the kids to get in my long rides. I don’t have to study weather.com on a daily basis wondering how I’m going to manage if it pours on my six-hour ride. I don’t have to worry about surviving the constant rat race; trying to keep all the balls up in the air without something important falling off of the precipice. The hard part is over. Now all I have to do is show up on race day and let the day unfold.
Even though the anxiety surrounding training is greatly lessened, thoughts of race day certainly permeate my mind. Sometimes emotions of nervousness pervade, but more often it’s feelings of excitement. My training has been scripted to the T. I’ve managed to fit in as much training as I had hoped for, haven’t had any major set backs (knock on wood – still two weeks to go…), and have been feeling reasonably strong and optimistic. I’m excited to see the final result of all of this training. Of course, it is instinctual to break down the race into the three components. Based on training, I should be able to swim 2.4 miles in xxx, bike 112 in xxx and run 26.2 in xxx. Add 5-10 minutes for transitions and bathroom stops, and I’ve got a projected finish time. Of course I have thought about the race this way. It’s impossible not to script out the perfect race. But the ironman is a race like no other. The master plan rarely unfolds the way it’s projected to unfold. It is such a LONG day out there on the race course, allowing so many opportunities for your perfectly laid race plan to go awry, taking twists and turns in various unexpected directions. I expect this to happen – these forced deviations from my plan. And I’m mentally prepared for this to happen. All I expect of myself is to do the best I can do with every given situation. Hopefully that will give me the opportunity to accomplish my one true goal for this race – cross that finish line with a smile on my face.
Don’t expect to see a Facebook or Instagram post of my bib number soliciting people to track me during the race (although I know some of you will hunt me down regardless!). I’ve embarked on this journey and am competing in this race for me, myself, and I. No one else. It’s a personal quest to discover where all my hard work and discipline in training gets me on race day.
A friend of mine approaches ironman race day with the mindset of “letting the mystery unfold.” The hard part is over. Now it’s just about showing up to race and seeing how the day plays out. Thanks to all who have supported me throughout this journey. I’m sure I will have further thoughts to share after this race, as the questions of “what next” have already started to invade my mind. For now, I will enjoy the taper where I get to spend more time with my family! And then I look forward to putting all of this training to the test on race day in just two short weeks. IMLP — bring it on. Let the mystery unfold!