The last 5 weeks are the toughest. During the three-week you literally try to do yourself in with every workout. You find a way to push yourself past your limit every time. You start off each workout a little tired, a little sore, but you keep pushing. And it is almost a surprise to discover that somehow you keep going further. In spite of the pain and soreness, your body responds and keeps moving, as if it believes you when you tell it that everything is going to be all right.
It’s almost funny to me, this half-Ironman/Ironman thing. Two years ago I did three races: two off-road sprint races and one Olympic distance road race. My longest bike ride was 30 miles, my longest run 5 miles. And the Olympic course was even completely flat.
But this half-Ironman thing is almost untouchable. I say almost only because most of us can wrap our minds around 70.3 miles. We figure that it is the distance to the next major city from wherever we live. The 140.6 miles of the Ironman is another story. You really can’t wrap your head around that one. It’s just too far.
I’m in the middle of my 3-week build. Then I enter a two-week taper. I’ll finish the 3 weeks battered, beat up, worn out, and just plain sore. During the two-week taper, my body will heal and grow strong again. The energy will return and I will be ready for the event. It almost sounds too simple. Simple perhaps, but not easy.
I woke up this morning, sore from the waist down, stiff from the waist up. But I was in the water by 6:30am and knocked out 2200 yards in great time. As soon as I touched the water, I forgot about the pain and just swam. My 4-mile run this evening was the same. It’s as if as soon as I start moving, the pain goes away and the only thing that matters is moving forward.
Tonight I will crawl into bed and wonder how I’ll feel when I wake up tomorrow morning and ride to work. But it won’t matter; I’ll wake up, put on my gear and ride.
Come race day all this training will pay off. When I encounter a rough spot and feel like I can’t go any further, I’ll draw strength from weekends like this past one.
I can cover the distance.
We all can.