It was definitely a summer of firsts, notably:
- my first time being flipped by the wind like a piece of lettuce on my new triathlon bike, resulting in me quitting the sport immediately and subsequently being coaxed back onto my bike by my training partners;
- my first 20 hour training week;
- my first big bonk (root beer at the Bear fruit stand, anyone?);
- my first time abandoning a workout in favor of pie;
- and best of all, my first Ironman finish.
Being a rookie was terrifying and enchanting in equal parts. While there was definitely a fear of the unknown (i.e., can I really swim/ride/run/crawl 140 miles before midnight?), there was consolation in the fact that many of my friends and training partners had previously completed Ironman Canada and were more than willing to share their tips. Though it was a new experience to me, I had a lot of strong advice backing me up that I am grateful for in retrospect.
Three years later, and with less than a month to go until Ironman Canada in its inaugural location in Whistler, I am still consuming root beer during hard long rides, training ridiculous amounts, being flipped around by wind and regularly motivated through my workouts by dreams of ____(insert here: pie, cupcake, slurpee, popsicle, burger). There is comfort in knowing that I am supposed to feel this way: endlessly hungry, tired, irritable and ready for the whole damn thing to be over with. But I'm pretty okay with all of that. It's just Iron-normal.
The "first" this year is not the race distance or the training leading up to it, but the course itself. And this time, there is no experienced advice to rely on.
Having trained in Whistler on several occasions over the last month, I have a pretty good idea what the race has in store. While I certainly do not want to understate the difficulty of the venue, this is, after all, a race constituting 140 miles in a mountainous area (ahem...it's not supposed to be easy). And yet, if I were to truly believe all the blog posts and course preview notes, I would be a total nervous wreck.
The hype is unreal...and terribly amusing. There are complaints about everything from swimmer's itch to wind to rough road conditions. Too hot. Too cold. Too hilly. The water tastes funny. (what?!) Scary triathlete-eating bears. (Do you see any lycra in that bear scat? No. Just berries!). Posted elevation not accurate compared to GPS. Run route not lit with twinkly lights. Seriously!
It's all enough for me to declare a personal moratorium against all of this nonsense.
The one lesson I have learned about racing is to simply aim to deal with that which is under my control: training, sleep, recovery. Execute the plan, embrace the dark moments, deal with issues as they arise. Accept that everyone else is racing the exact same course at the exact same time, and train to enable myself to race to best of my abilities on that day. And as for the hype and the blogs and the facebook posts...it's time to forget about the things that simply are out of my influence.
So, off to Whistler I go for one last long training weekend. Hills, heat, wind...bring it! :)