Race week is here. And so am I after a long hiatus from the blog. It’s been a monstrous spring spreading my time between work, training, and family life. I just wrapped up another term at OSU, and for the first time in a while was able to sit back and put pen to paper to write this post. Yes, I prefer to draft my blog posts the old fashioned way by putting actual pen to actual paper. It feels good write again, as it always does. The timing could not be better with Ironman 70.3 Coeur d’Alene quickly approaching this weekend. This will be my first triathlon this year, though I am very familiar with the CdA course, having done both the 70.3 and full distances last year. I love the little town of Coeur d’Alene and the course, so it was a no brainer as I penciled out my schedule for 2017.
So far, training this year has been both challenging and inspiring. I’ve been more determined and focused that ever before and can honestly say that I have poured my heart and soul into every mile and minute, making each one of them count. Most importantly, I’m having fun. I continue to step more and more out of my comfort zone with hopes that the change in dynamics from the norm will help me fill in the gaps and bolster my areas of weakness. I’ve become more social, connected, and open minded, which has helped me tremendously to stay levelheaded and grounded. I’ve made some amazing new friends, including one in particular, Meg, who has shared in the ups, downs, exhaustion, and joy of triathlon training. Many would argue that triathletes are a unique breed, and it provides a breath of fresh air having a friend in my life who truly gets it. She is my person. We even took our beat up feet, with their blisters, cracks, dying toenails, and all, to get pre-race pedicures (she is also racing at IM 70.3 CdA) this week. If that’s not friendship, I don’t know what is. 😉
So what’s been going on with me lately? A lot of swim, bike, and run. I said at the beginning of the year that I wanted to swim more and get faster. Though I can’t say the volume has significantly increased compared to last year, I did follow through on my intention to swim with people who are better than me and attend a tri-masters class once a week. Swimming with others has definitely helped push me and allowed me to build more confidence and better technique in the water. I try to swim at least three times a week as my schedule allows (why does swimming take up SO MUCH time?) and at least two of those swims involve swimming with other people. More than anything, I’ve been focusing on technique and efficiency, so that when I come out of the water I am fresh and ready to start picking people off on the bike and run. I may never be the fastest swimmer, but that’s okay as it actually works to my advantage, as I love to chase and come from behind.
Biking this year has been a blast. I spent a lot of time on the trainer riding on Zwift this past winter and spring, so as soon as the decent weather finally made its way to Bend, I immediately found my way to the roads and had quite a bit of fitness already in the bank. We had a looong winter in Bend, and Zwift was a game changer for me. I’ve had some huge weeks training on my bike, more so than ever before, and have participated in a number of organized rides and time trials around the region to keep things interesting and fun.
A couple weeks ago I did an organized ride called the Central Oregon 500, and participated in 3 days of riding with a great group of people. I had thought about doing all five days (100 miles each day) but we had a bout of cold, frosty weather and I decided to swim and do a long 18-mile run instead. Besides, 500 miles in five days with tons of climbing is a bit masochistic if you ask me. I have never done back-to-back centuries before and was pleasantly surprised at how well my body handled the distance. This was mixed with two long runs and a few swims, which made me feel assured that my body is getting stronger and acclimating to the increased level of training. It also doesn’t hurt that I purchased a set of Normatec leg and glute compression boots, which make a huge difference by allowing me to recover and rebound from big training days much more quickly.
I also did my first solo century of the year and rode an area outside of town that is similar to the IM Canada bike course. I’ve been trying to do a lot of longer rides on hillier terrain, as the Canada course has two major climbs, one of which occurs during the last 20 miles of the race. Riding up to Mt. Bachelor and around the Cascades simulates the course pretty well, and if anything I’m trying to make my long rides harder than the Canada bike course so come race day it won’t seem so bad. More than anything, I want to be mentally ready to take on the last 20 miles back to Whistler, as I know they will undoubtedly be some of the most challenging miles I have faced to date in a race scenario.
All in all, I feel like my bike strength is exactly where it’s supposed to be at this point in the season. The combination of riding solo for the majority of my rides, plus riding with those who are stronger than me, have both contributed to my growth as a cyclist.
In the running department, I’ve had a few ups and downs mentally, but can turn on the speed when it counts. The weather for most of spring was a little disheartening as I got caught up in stormy weather on multiple occasions during my long runs, but it’s been good mental training. Train in all conditions, and don’t worry about the things you can’t control (i.e. the weather), right?
A few weeks ago I participated in the Pole Pedal Paddle as part of a relay women’s team and ran my fastest five miles ever! And that was in a one-piece bathing suit, which was part of the “costumes” we wore on team Synchronized Winning.
Of course there are also days when an 8:30 pace feels like a struggle, especially during my long runs. I’m honestly not sure what is going to transpire this weekend in CdA. I would like to see a 1:3#:## for the first time ever, but I don’t know where I am at with my half marathon pace after the bike. It’s supposed to be a HOT race, so hopefully my body is ready for a little salt and sunshine!
The most challenging part of training this year? The exhaustion and never feeling as though I have down time (hence ignoring my blog for months at a time). Now that Axel is in full on toddler mode, it is high energy in the Yax household from 6am to 7pm. Axel is now in daycare from 8:30am to 3:30pm five days a week (Justin drops him off on his way to work, and I pick him up after “school”) but those seven hours of quiet time are often the busiest part of my day. My days consist of work, train, work, clean, pick up Axel, play play play, pick up toys, laundry, glass of wine, and crash. I am typically running on fumes by the end of most days, but that’s the sacrifice of doing something that I love, and I wouldn’t have it any other day.
The most rewarding? Still being able to fit in a little time for me each day. I know I have a lot of obligations aside from training and family life. I know there is a lot in my life that needs my attention and energy, but if I don’t fit myself in there somewhere the end result is pretty discouraging. It makes me feel good – feel ALIVE – each and every day having the power and determination to jump in the water at the pool, hit the pavement on my bike, or seek out a trail around town. I couldn’t do it without the support of my family and friends – most of all, my husband.
My goal for Ironman CdA 70.3 is to put massive amounts of hard work to the test and leave everything out on the course. However, this race is only to prepare me and work out the kinks before I toe the line at Ironman Canada next month. Everything I have done this year, and continue to do, is to prepare me for a battle at Ironman Canada. A battle for the podium. A battle for that ticket to Kona. Something I have dreamed of now for years. Last year that dream eluded me by a mere four minutes – this year, I can taste it and will do everything I can to make this beautiful dream a reality.