I'm actually not totally freaking out

Saturday, September 09, 2017

So I've made it to race day eve. The past few weeks haven't been easy -- I had a meltdown on the trainer two weeks ago (everything hurt and suddenly I was crying uncontrollably -- the kind of crying where you know you really have nothing to cry about but you are just so damn tired you can't control your emotions anymore) and then took a day off of training to sit on the couch and do nothing. (Although I did leave the house to buy this amazing painting at a flea market and then I put it in Big Ginger's home office while he was out of town and then he came home and saw it and yelled: "What the fuck is that?!" and it was so funny and so worth it and this was basically the best $25 I've ever spent in my life.)

Anyway, after that hiccup, I went back to it. Had some nice wins, like my very first sub-2:00 100 without any pool toys. (And I didn't feel like I was going to have a heart attack afterward.)

And on my last big(-ish) training ride, I found a teddy bear on a picnic bench at Pine Point Park, and I felt bad for him, so I stuffed him in my jersey and decided to take him with me. (In case you're wondering, it's totally possible to ride in aero with a bear in your shirt.)

I named him Barlow Bear.

And now I'm here in Madison. The bike is checked in, the gear bags are dropped off, and Layla and I are currently sitting in lounge chairs on the back deck of our hotel, watching people kayak through a bunch of algae.

I feel pretty calm. I'm happy to be reunited with my friends (Arvan and Andrew are here too, along with a good group of Coeur teammates, and Big Ginger is on his way -- he's currently on the bus from Minneapolis and we're all hoping he doesn't sleep through his stop and end up in Chicago on accident).

So we'll see what tomorrow brings. The work is done now, and it's time to have some fun out there.

what I watch on the trainer

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Today I woke up at 5 a.m. to get on the trainer (for the record, this "taper" doesn't feel very much like tapering). To keep me company on the bike, I watched "The Leftovers", a show about how 2 percent of the world's population just suddenly vanishes one day and then the people who are left are consumed by grief and angst and religious cults. Good times!

When I got off the trainer, I couldn't find Maček. I opened all the closets, checked under all the furniture, lifted up the all the blankets. Mari and Mouse were there, but no Maček. And all I could think was: Holy shit, Maček has departed! She's left us all behind! But then she jumped down off the bookshelf and everything was fine -- grief and angst and religious cults averted. And then I did my transition run.

"I am the chosen one!"

Anyway, here's a list of what I've been watching on the trainer recently:

"Girls": So awkward (especially every time Hannah gets naked), so annoying (Marnie and Desi), yet so entertaining, and when an episode is brilliant, it's really freaking brilliant (like the one where Hannah goes to surf school). Also the soundtrack is awesome. And Shosh makes me want to move to Japan.

"13 Reasons Why": Yeah, it's depressing as hell, and I feel like it glamorizes suicide, and if I had a teenage kid (Mouse doesn't count), I wouldn't want her to watch this show. But each episode left me wanting to know what happens next. (And now I'm reading the book, which I actually don't like as much as the show.)

"Anne with an E": If you're a kindred spirit, then you've read L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables books, too. This Anne's past seems much darker than I remember. Also, she talks a lot. Did Anne really talk this much?

"Voltron: Legendary Defender": When I was a child growing up in the '80s, I had the biggest crush on Prince Lotor. I'm not kidding. Purple skin, white hair -- what a hot piece of evil alien ass. And he returns in the third season of this Netflix remake. Hell, yes.

"Outlander": And speaking of hot men. This one is a ginger and wears a kilt. Also: Time travel is cool. And I really liked these books.

"American Horror Story": I liked the first three seasons quite a bit (especially the coven one), but I'm having trouble making it through the freakshow season. There's just something about a man-child dressed as a creepy clown that doesn't quite do it for me.

blame the flying wieners

Monday, August 21, 2017

You guys, it's finally taper. Holy shit, I'm so grateful.

These two lovely ladies should be known as The Climber (Steena) and Speedy (Megan).

My last big push was this weekend. Megan and I drove to Madison and met up with Steena for the Prairie Athletic Club's "big brick": A swim in Lake Monona, the full Ironman bike course, and a transition run afterward. (So basically one long-ass training day.)

Look at all my new friends!

The swim was fine -- I went for an hour. My neck and left arm hurt, but I seem to always have this pain now, so I've embraced it as part of my identity. (This is likely not healthy, but whatever.)

The bike, however, was anything but fine. About 10 miles in, I dropped some of my nutrition (yes, wieners flew out of my jersey) and had to turn around. The group I was riding with kept going, and I ended up alone. And since I've never ridden this course before, I had no idea where I was, so I had to stop a few times to check the turn-by-turn directions.

Barlow was a beast as expected. I rode most of it, but walked the steepest part. I'm glad I did because I still had two-thirds of the course left to ride, with so many more hills to go, and my legs were already tired. If I had ridden Barlow, I think I would've blown up and possibly not finished the ride.

I got lost trying to start the second loop and ended up cutting some of the course short, only to make it into Verona and promptly get lost again. With the exception of riding a few miles with Megan (who had also gotten lost), eventually finding the rest of the group, and flying down some incredible descents (44 mph at one point -- amazing!), the rest of the ride was a slog. I dropped more nutrition going over a pothole, I wasn't taking in enough calories or hydration, and my legs were shot.

For all of two seconds, I kept up with Megan. This photo was the result.

Diane, one of the PAC athletes (and quite possibly the world's kindest person), stayed with me to make sure I finished. And somehow I got it done. I was beat up mentally and physically and felt like I had nothing in the tank, but I still managed to get off the bike and do a 40-minute transition run.

I spent much of my drive back from Madison this morning thinking about what went wrong and what I need to fix for race day.

This is what I need to do:

  • Above all, eat and drink. I wasn't eating or drinking enough in the days leading up to this brick, and I took in fewer calories on this ride than on my previous long training rides -- basically I set myself up for failure this weekend.
  • The bike is probably going to take me about eight hours to complete, which means that with my slow swimming, I won't have much wiggle room. (Yes, I still have PTSD from Arizona, when I almost didn't make the bike cutoff.) I have to be efficient with my transitions.
  • Better secure my nutrition so it doesn't go flying off of my bike.
  • Plan to walk Barlow again on race day.
  • Get a massage and possibly some acupuncture and try to get rid of as much of my neck and arm pain as possible.
  • Make sleep a priority.

And hopefully I won't get lost anymore because the course will be marked and there will be volunteers and support out there on race day and if I do still somehow manage to get lost, I have a serious problem.

Onward: Less than three weeks left!
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