Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cold to Hot and Back Again

It occurred to me last week that I’m getting mighty close to my Half Iron race.  Like, it’s a mere 46 days away.  Holy crap, how did that happen??  Apparently, while I was sitting on the sidelines, time was still passing.  Who knew?

I think the thing that struck me the most is how completely and utterly unprepared I feel for this distance.  Not the swimming so much, thank goodness, but anything over an hour on my bike still feels like work to me and my current long run is only 3 miles.  Yikes!  Obviously, I knew I wasn’t going to be fully trained for this race because of the injury rehab and whatnot, but now that the clock is ticking down, I’m starting to feel a little worried about my ability to pull it off at all.

So, how do I handle the nagging doubts?  By stacking the long, slim odds as much in my favor as I can with some race-specific training, of course.  Case in point, today’s workouts:  a one mile swim and a three mile run. 

Rather than driving to the oh-so-cozy gym pool this morning, I suited up in neoprene and jumped into my 60 degree backyard pool.  Cha-cha-chilly, for sure, but not as bad as I thought it would be.  The pool is much warmer than it was back in January, and – as it turned out – I am a much better swimmer now, too.  Not only is this good training for the WTH in May, but I’m doing my first open water swim of the season this Saturday in the Open Division (as opposed to the competitive division – I don’t care how many hours I’ve put in at the pool, I am not in any way, shape or form a “competitive” swimmer!) of a local swimming-only race called the Ice Breaker.  I am completely panic-stricken about this race and I knew that this morning’s little jaunt in the pool would be an indicator of my readiness to swim in icy waters.  Honestly, you would have thought that today was race day the way I was carrying on this morning.  I procrastinated getting in the pool, I whined to my husband that I couldn’t do it, I had a nervous stomach and I seriously wanted to cry.  In my head, I have never swum in my life.  My brain has no clue that I’ve been training for this sort of thing for months.  My body, of course, knew exactly what to do as soon as I got in the water and 39 minutes later I was done with the fastest mile I’ve ever swum.  (Yes, even with a wetsuit, I am the slowest swimmer alive).

There was lots of good news to come from this swim.  First of all, even though the water was quite cold, it wasn’t unbearable until the very end of my swim.  The lake I’ll be swimming in this weekend should be more or less the same temperature as my pool, so now I know I can handle it.  Second of all, swimming a mile felt like a piece of cake.  I wasn’t tired or otherwise ready to get out of the water except for the fact that my face and hands had gone numb. Talk about a confidence-booster!  I’m sure I’ll still be procrastinating, whining and ready to cry this weekend (because that’s pretty much how I always feel on race days), but somewhere in my head, I’ll know it can be done.

To further simulate race-day conditions, I waited until this afternoon (after five hours on my feet at work) to run my three miles.  This is way outside my normal routine, but that was pretty much the point.  On race day, even if I am having the best day of my entire life – somehow managing to swim like a fish and ride like Lance – I will be running 13.1 exhausting miles in the heat of a late May afternoon.  Blech.  I am not a fan of running in the heat.  I would rather get up at 3 am to run than slog my way through anything over 60 degrees, but I did it anyway.  Today was about 75 degrees, but there was a nice breeze and some cloud cover, so the run went a lot better than I thought it might.  I wasn’t fast, by any means, but I felt good and I managed very even splits, so I’m happy with the accomplishment.  When I got home, I waded back into my pool to cool down, which made me laugh.  The water that was so cold this morning felt mighty nice after a hot run!

How do you prepare for a race that you’re pretty much unprepared for?


Candice @ I Have Run said...

Way to go on the mile. I bet you're faster than I would be.

And oh how I relate to the whining and crying. That sounds like my kind of preparation, so I'm not much help =)

Alma said...

Let me run something by you...did you really say this:

"...swimming a mile felt like a piece of cake."


Caratunk Girl said...

I can't remember what your injury is/was...but can you get more bike time? The thing is, you can walk the freaking 13.2 if you have to. I would actually have a plan of walk/run given your situation. But the bike, you need to feel at least once (my opinion) a long (3hr+) ride. More than once is better. You don't want to try that stuff out the first time in a race really. AND also. Focus on nutrition - that is so key. Take in calories on the bike, practice that on your long rides. Key. Eat on the bike. Eat on the bike. I mean gels or liquid type food because solid food will give me cramps. You got this, just try to get on the bike if the injury allows for a few long rides. You will finish, you totally have this.

Jogging with Fiction said...

I always feel like I'm unprepared for races even when I've been training hard, so no suggestions here! You seem to be on the right track though!

Amber said...

We can both be the slowest swimmers alive! 39 minutes was about what it took me when I did a Olympic tri last summer. :) YOU CAN DO THIS!!!

One Crazy Penguin said...

Even if you're under trained, you're going to rock it. It's amazing to me how much of races are simple will power. Training will make it suck a lot less, but will power will get you to the finish line.

I'm looking at doing my first tri and 70.3 sometime soon so I can't wait to hear about your experience in 46 days :)

RockStarTri said...

When you aren't prepared physically you need to adjust yourself mentally. All you can do is all you can do. Make sure you are realistic and content with that beforehand.

You've got this.

ajh said...

I have a feeling you can do anything you set your mind to.

Lancer!! said...

Well, I signed up for the 100th Bay to Breakers, which I have not run since 1984. I am finding that my cycling and gym routine has not prepared my knees for the 5K Beginner training program I downloaded from NewBalance.com, so I had to scale back the "jog" portion [of the walk/jog/walk routine] to 1-2 min., rather than 5 minutes. Hopefully, this, and more strength workouts for quads, hams and calves will help build strength to stabilize my knees so I don't cripple myself in the effort this May. B-)

Good luck on your swim, P. You can do it!

Colleen said...

You so aren't alone... I have a HIM in less than 40 days and the longest I've biked is 30 miles and only once outside all season! YIKES!

Sounds like you are creating conditions similar to the race as best you can. Great job!

The Green Girl said...

You can do it, P. I believe in you. You are more prepared than you think you are.