Tag Archives: hills

Training Weekend in Tahoe

Thanks to a good friend, I trained in Lake Tahoe this past weekend.  Nineteen of us checked out the Ironman Lake Tahoe race course.  (This race is the Ironman I signed up for.)   It’s a great time to start getting the lay of the land since the race is one year from now.   I was able to get a good idea of what to expect on race day as well as a good sense of the altitude and potential issues I may encounter racing that high above sea level.   I now know what the terrain will be like and can start preparing for it.  Yes I’m still in my off-season so I didn’t push myself too hard nor go the full Ironman distance.

I had an awesome time!

I met some more amazing triathletes.  Most of them are Ironmen already, and all of them are racing Lake Tahoe.  I enjoyed training and hanging out with them.  There were a couple of times when it was challenging.  At one point a discussion about heart related deaths came up and folks got into the finer points of heart issues.  I tried to zone out and busy myself as best I could.  Also I was asked about my silver bracelet which I wear all of the time except when I’m training and racing.  It has Noah’s name, birth date and death date engraved on it.  I guess I can’t expect to go an entire weekend with the same people without encountering a couple of uncomfortable moments.

My favorite aspect of the weekend was feeling Noah’s presence; we had our special time together as I swam, biked and ran.  Climbing the hardest of the two hills — there are two significant hills with one having athletes climb 1000 feet over just three miles — on the bike course, I found myself struggling a lot.  It was so hard I thought about stopping several times, and I wasn’t sure if I could reach the top.  But as I’ve done in the past, I dug in deep.  And with Noah right there with me, I reached the summit without stopping.  In fact I was the 4th person in our group to reach it!  A few folks commented on how fast I climbed it.  I was flattered, especially given the caliber of this group of athletes.  I told them as much as it hurts, I really like climbing hills; there’s something about digging in.  Several of them commented that having less weight helps.  (I’m on the lighter end of the spectrum.)  And passing people provides positive reinforcement.  I just smiled as these comments were made.  While both of these points are true, I know the main reason why I was able to climb that hill as fast as I did.  I didn’t tell them because I don’t know them that well and I didn’t want to risk being a downer.  As I get to know this group better at some point I’ll tell them about Noah and the fact that I’m not climbing alone.

While my official training for the 2013 season doesn’t start until late January, I’m already super excited about it.  And as hard — actually I don’t know how hard because I’ve never trained for an Ironman before but I know it’s going to be really hard — as training for and racing Ironman Lake Tahoe will be I’m very much looking forward to all of it!

What a great weekend!

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Honu 70.3: Thoughts & Feelings

It’s been almost two weeks since Ironman 70.3 Hawaii.  And I’ve been struggling with writing down my feelings and thoughts about racing Honu 70.3.  I feel overwhelmed and intimidated.  I question whether I’m capable of appropriately articulating what I experienced during and right after this race.  Nevertheless, I believe it’s important to write down as much as possible.  Doing so is therapeutic as well as a way to record this.  So here it goes…

A wedding determined the location of my first Half Ironman race.  (A couple of good friends married on Oahu the following week.)  Nevertheless Noah inspired me to compete in a Half Ironman.  While in Hawaii during race week I found a great deal of comfort from this.  I had a lot of time to think and just be.  With the beauty of the Big Island and many opportunities to be surrounded by calm and quiet except for the sounds of waves, birds and far away muffled voices, transitioning into a peaceful state was relatively seamless.

As mentioned before, race week is also taper week so by the time I arrived in Hawaii my training was over.  In addition to resting and completing lighter workouts, I shifted my focus to preparing mentally and emotionally for race day.  I still had some anxiety (about possible flats, GI issues, etc.) going into the race but I also had some confidence, more than I thought I’d have.  I had confidence in my coach, his training plan and support.  I had confidence that I would push myself extremely hard during the race.  I had confidence that whatever happened on the course I’d somehow get through it.  I had confidence in my support system, most notably MLH.  I had confidence that the reason I was racing was the best reason I will ever have.  And I had confidence that Noah would be with me.

During the swim I didn’t really think about Noah because I was so focused on making sure I was swimming the actual course.  However, during the bike, I spent a lot of time thinking of Noah and in fact I found myself talking to him.  I had a couple of moments when I thought about stopping because the crosswinds were so bad; I was scared. But I managed to move past these moments by thinking back to Noah in the CICU.  I felt silly, a little pathetic and then immediately emboldened.  “So what if I’m blown off the road,” I thought.  “I’ll probably get some scratches and maybe a bruise or two and even more severely injured but that all can heal.  It doesn’t compare at all to having a congenital heart defect, struggling to breathe, constantly dealing with throwing up or pangs of hunger because having food in the stomach before surgery or a test isn’t allowed.”  Yep, once again I was greatly humbled.

I had moments when I knew I needed to push harder.  It’s almost as if I trained for this because digging deeper and deeper came very naturally; I seem to have developed a switch.  By flipping it “on” my mind, heart and spirit knew exactly what to do.  And I dug down.  Riding hills were actually fun; I embraced such opportunities.  (I’m not saying I’m really good on hills; I just like them!)  I remember passing many folks as I climbed.  My attitude was: “bring it on – the steeper the better!”

With the race taking place along the Kohala Coast, I had the ocean on one side of me for a good chunk of the ride.  I made a point to look out and take in the ocean view as much I could anyway.  During these moments I talked to Noah.  I found myself talking out loud to him.  Who knows if others heard me; I really didn’t care.  I wanted to enjoy the amazing setting with him and I did.  The notion that water brings peace was reinforced.  Even as I fought heavy winds, climbed hills, navigated amongst other cyclists and managed my body and nutrition, my moments when I enjoyed the view with my son were moments of peace and comfort.

The run course was not as beautiful as the bike or swim.  The ocean was not in sight until around the last quarter-mile.  While the wind, heat and humidity were very challenging, I felt like my entire body knew what it needed to do and it did it.  Once again I connected with my son to help me dig way down.

After the race I felt a major high.  I still can’t believe I actually raced 70.3 miles!  And it boggles my mind that I did this for a little over six hours.  It’s not that it took about six hours but that I actually lasted this long!  I felt proud.  I felt proud to finish.  I felt proud to race for my son.

Looking back on my race week I now sense something shifted ever so slightly in me then.  And almost two weeks later I still feel this shift.  Perhaps it’s permanent.  I’m not quite sure how to describe it.  All I can say at this time is when I think back to Honu 70.3, I feel good.

Tagged , , , , , , ,
Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: