Registering for the race made it seem real for the first time. The money was paid, registration signed, now I had to put in the work to get to that start line. The six month training program I followed started on the 1st of January with about eight hours of training a week, building from there it peaked a few weeks before the race at about 20 hours. As long as I looked at just the week ahead of me I was able to keep it in perspective and it felt manageable. Once in a while I would make the mistake of flipping ahead in the plan and would look at the weeks to come with a slight sense of panic. To keep my head on straight I started training with 3 goals.
1) Push yourself but don’t get hurt.
2)Be gentle with yourself about what you can and can’t do.
3) This is a big deal, enjoy all of it.
The ins and outs of training are many, the runs, rides, and swims challenged me mentally as well as physically. The preparation for this race was filled with monumental highs – finishing my first 100 mile bike ride. As well as exhausting lows – having a panic attack on my first open water swim of the season. Six months of bouncing between “This is the greatest thing I have ever done.” and “What the hell was I thinking.”
When I started the year I had grand ideas about my ability to work full time, start a business, train for an Ironman, and be a good mom and partner all at the same time. In theory it all played out so nicely,I just told myself I have to delegate, communicate and maintain a sense of balance. In reality, I would get to work and realize I forgot to wear socks and I only had deodorant under one arm and couldn’t remember how to spell the word maybe. I was braiding hair and helping with homework while biking on my trainer. Emails sat unanswered in my inbox and I was struggling to stay awake by 7:30 most nights.
Through all of it, what sticks with me most about training is that for every moment of it, I had an incredible circle of support. I have this amazing little running community, we are small and informal, but man are we dedicated, to our goals and to each other. My friend Alan completed the race with me, he had done an Ironman a few years earlier so his knowledge of the process was invaluable to this rookie. We spent hours and hours each week pedaling all across Western New York. I can’t imagine how much more challenging it would have been if I was out there alone. When one of us was struggling we had the other to boost us up and keep us moving.
Although it was the two of us getting ready for Lake Placid, we had the rest of our running crew with us for a good portion of the training. We had people joining in on the open water swims, either as swimmers or kayaking guides. During the long runs after the long bike rides having company made the miles go so much quicker and the distance feel less daunting. It is much easier to get up before the sun day after day when you know you have people crazy enough to meet you.
There is a running quote that says- “If you want to run fast, go alone, If you want to run far, go together.” Every moment of training proved that to me. Whenever someone asks me about the Ironman and how I did it, my answer is always the same. It is the incredible people I have in my corner. Not everyone is lucky enough to have friends that will train at that level for a race they aren’t doing, I have several of them.
With their help and support combined with miles of sweat and more than a few tears, I managed to accomplish my top three training goals before I stepped foot on the course.