Guess I should probably blog about my upcoming half-Ironman

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a blogger with many things worth blogging about happening in her life is a blogger without the time and energy necessary to actually blog about them.  (Okay, maybe that’s not a universally acknowledged truth, but it ought to be.) 

For the past few months, this has been me. My job is already one that’s fairly psychologically demanding, and then on top of that I’ve been trying new things and pushing my boundaries as an athlete. Each time that happens, I’ve vaguely thought, “Huh, this would make a good blog post,” but when it comes time to actually blog? I can usually find a dozen other things to do, like do the laundry, look at makeup videos, go out for dinner with friends, weed the backyard, etc. etc.

(And here’s another thing, that I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to basically turn out masterpieces – even though my most popular posts are consistently little rantlets that take, like, thirty minutes to dash off – and so my brain just sort of wilts under all that pressure, and the end result is tumbleweeds rolling through the blog.  “Perfect is the enemy of good” is a lesson I can’t quite seem to learn.  Ah well.)

So anyway rather than doing one huge post in which I detail everything I’ve been doing lately – trail races at night! open water swims! joining a racing team! FULL PUSH-UPS LIKE A BOSS! – I decided to start with the big one that has been the focus of my attentions lately: my first half-Ironman.

I was reluctant to write about this initially because part of me recognized the recklessness of signing up for a half-Ironman that would take place about four months after my first 50-miler, but alas, as Brian is fond of pointing out, I suffer from a perpetual case of FOMO-itis. 

I’ve wanted to try the half-Iron distance for a while, maybe since watching Brian complete his first half-Ironman in Miami a couple of years ago.  So when we heard toward the end of last year that Ironman was launching a 70.3 distance event in Princeton, it seemed almost serendipitous, as he has a lot of family in New Jersey, including some in – yep – Princeton. So we signed up, and then his sister, brother and brother-in-law all decided to sign up as a relay team (Team Constantine!).  It’ll be a whole family affair.

And now here we are, five and a half weeks out from the race.  I’ve been following this plan from TriNewbies with about 80-85 percent adherence, which I have learned is the best I can expect of myself for any training plan, whether its for a marathon or a triathlon or an ultra.  Perfect adherence to a plan almost always seems to result either in injury or exhaustion.  I take the saying, that it’s better to be undertrained than injured, to heart.

My biggest limiter is, by far, the bicycle, and so I have spent an enormous amount of time on my bike, to the point that the nylon seat cover over my saddle has almost completely flaked away.  I even have a saddle sore, for crying out loud.  If it’s not 50-mile rides on the weekend, it’s sessions on the indoor trainer that last about as long as your average movie (last night it was “Bend It Like Beckham,” last week “Empire Records”).

I’m actually really proud of how far I’ve come with the bike, as I started out at the beginning of the training cycle on the verge of tears at the prospect of a 17-mile ride up and down the trail, and now I’m at the point where I can semi-confidently handle riding on some of Pinellas County’s busier roads. 

And here’s the most important part: I actually have come to enjoy being on the bike.  It took a while, and admittedly there are times when I hate it, like this past weekend when we were riding into head-winds and cross-winds for almost the whole ride, but for the most part, I dig it.  I have moments when I’m down in aero and the trail is clear ahead of me and my legs are pumping like pistons and I feel – for a moment – like I understand what it’s like to fly.

I expect that as the day gets closer I will feel more nervous about the race, but so far that hasn’t hit me. Part of me wonders if my lack of nerves is just a severe underestimation about the race and an equally severe overestimation about my abilities, but I’ll tell you what I really think.  I think that crossing the finish line of the Keys 50 was like jamming a needle full of PEDs into the confidence centers of my brain.

Consequently the outsized fears I used to experience before taking new challenges – like laying awake all night long because I was afraid of swimming ninth-tenths of a mile in a murky lake – have shrunk considerably, to sizes I’d say are more in proportion to the actual challenges themselves.   And of course, it makes a lot of the non-athletic challenges I have to deal with manageable as well.  I guess it’s hard to be intimidated by something like, say, giving a presentation at work, when you know deep inside that you can do – and have done – things that are way harder than that.

There’s more to say, but like I said, I think I’d rather just split it all up into smaller posts.  I have a lot to say about learning to ride a bike (as well as a review of some how-to books!), a couple of projects by blog readers that I hope to showcase, and my observations about the experience of being part of a racing team.  I promise not to wait another two weeks before I post about these things, either.

15 responses to “Guess I should probably blog about my upcoming half-Ironman

  1. I’m definitely interested to hear about your bike experience. I’ve secretly held the notion that one day I want to ride a century. I don’t even own a bike (or really have anywhere to KEEP one) and the thought of riding in busy city traffic is harrowing. So I am always interested to hear experiences of those who got over it and did it.

    • I will make a point to write more about it very soon. Riding on the streets still makes me feel nervous but I’m becoming more confident with my ability to actually handle them, particularly now that I’m riding with clipless pedals.

      One thing I’ve noticed is that the vast majority of drivers – like 9,999 out of every 10,000 – go out of their way to give us cyclists a ton of space. Considering that my part of Florida is consistently named one of the most dangerous in the U.S. for cyclists and pedestrians, I think that’s worth noting, and it’s definitely something I did not expect when I first started riding, that’s for sure.

  2. I’m training for my first Olympic tri (next Saturday!) and have had a similar experience on the bike (minus being in aero). It is also my biggest limiter, but I am beginning to truly love it. Also loving the posts on the FB page about the intersection of women and bikes.

    • Good luck! I think that learning to love the bike is key to overcoming it as a limiter. And of course, it helps to enjoy it because you have to spend so much time on it when you are training, and who wants to spend all that time feeling miserable?

  3. I’m doing this too, mine is in 2.5 weeks and I’m starting to actually feel excited over terrified! Still not sure the sheer duration of it has sunk in though!

  4. Eek! Good luck! I would like to try a tri, but I am also terrified of the bike. I was a swimmer in high school and I run now, but I’ve always hated biking. I’d love to see a post on your experience!

  5. Oh good luck! That’s quite an accomplishment! I just did my first tri about 2 wks ago & did pretty well for my first race ever if I do say so myself! The girl I did it with, her husband is doing the Cedar Point half ironman in September for the 2nd time. He makes a sprint look like no effort. Crazy business. I’m sure you do too! 😉 I’m going to check out that tri-newbies link for my next race. I have the tri fever! Thanks!

  6. Oh wow. For some reason I had it in my head that you’d already done a 70.3 (must be because you’re Xena…). Good luck! I’d love to hear how team training is going, and look forward to your race report.

    I’m staring down the barrel of my first Olympic-distance tri 3.5 weeks from now. And the bike thing…well, I’m starting to fall in love with cycling. Did not expect that one.

  7. I can so relate to that “truth universally acknowledged” and also hella love the literary reference!

    So much to admire and inspire in what you’ve written–my challenges are SO much less objectively hardcore, but psychologically, we all have our fears… so hearing how you’ve been pushing through, staying determined, and getting more and more comfortable and confident gives hope to some of your less athletically inclined readers like me!

  8. Good luck on the race. After doing several sprints and Olys, I have decided to do a HIM next summer. I love the bike but am very concerned about the run.

    On an unrelated note, but this goes back to the first blog of yours that I read. It was about women having bruises and showing “flaws” (I don’t consider them to be flaw, but society does) that result from exercise. Have you seen the latest cover of “Adventure Cyclist?” Not only is the woman not airbrushed, but she has obvious bruises and scars on her legs. I love it! Between mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, you name it, my legs are always covered with testimonies to my activity level. It is so nice to see a realistic portrayal of an active woman on a magazine cover.

  9. Per usual, I can relate to so much of what you are saying. And likewise, I should probably be significantly more terrified for my first half tomorrow, but is hate to ruin the fun! 😉

  10. It’s great that you’re doing a halfa, congratulations! You’ve come further than me 🙂 The training plan you have looks sound and you seem to making good progress with any obstacle you come across. Would love to hear an update on your biking performance/any problems in the coming days.

  11. Ha! I am in the same place with my blog. Lots and lots of things have happened recently – things I would love to write about, but as you say, laundry needs to be done, food needs to be cooked, and a gal’s got to sleep sometime. We just have to try to keep in mind that they they are our blogs – we can write if we want to. 🙂

  12. I can totally agree about cycling, but I just got a great boost after getting back from overseas where in Denmark, the streets are superbly marked for cyclists, and motorists have no ability to cross into the cycling lane. It’s still really open too, so it doesn’t feel closed off from the world just because it has a barrier from motorists. It’s nice to hear that they are more aware of us out there, but I still see too many texting while they drive and talking, or eating and paying no attention to anything in front of them. I’m working on building that bravery to cross into events locally here, where I’m not protected as I was there. I’m with ya on that one.

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