"For here on in, it really gets grim. For 99% of the people still left a this point, they're possessed with one thing: finishing. They're saying to themselves, 'If I can be standing at the finish, I've won.' ...And they're right.
But for the gifted few, for our 1% that are still competing; that are still racing. They're more than standing. They're wondering, 'Can I catch that guy up there? What about the guys behind me? Are they going to get me? Are they coming on me? Are they picking up on me? Can I get him?'
Because let me tell you something.
This is it.
The last hour of this triathlon.
On the pavement at 110 degrees.
That's when we're going to find out who the hell the Ironman really is."
--Mark AllenSound Byte from Competitor Radio
--me last Sunday at the Carlsbad 5000. Hope I'll still be smiling when I cross the finish on Sunday!
Weather Forecast in Tempe, Arizona:
Sunday, April 13, 2008
High: 98 °F
Winds SE at 10 to 15 mph.
Unseasonably hot with sizzling sunshine.
Looks like Tempe will be HOT on Sunday!!! The weather is forecasted to be anywhere from a high of 90 to 98. I feel like I'm playing roulette. Give me 87! Give me 87! C'mon 85! Anyone want to take a vote on what the high will be on Sunday? Cast your vote in the comments--lock it in before midnight Saturday and whoever gets closest gets a free visor, complete with a personalized autograph from your Amateur Tri Grrl. The tie breaker will be my predicted finishing time so don't forget to include that as well.
"The gun goes off and everthing changes... the world changes... and nothing else really matters."
--Patti Sue Plummer
4 days away. 4 days left. I cannot fathom this. It's all come down to this. I remember signing up for IMAZ a year ago, shortly after my first half-Ironman (CA 70.3). I somehow finished that race after suffering severe GI distress, consuming only 400 calories, and becoming severely dehydrated. Oh, and I showed up on the start line with a sinus infection (which become chronic and plagued me afterwards for the next 8 weeks). The highlight of that race was when I became so disoriented on the run that I tried to dispose of a sponge by putting it in a mailbox. I was a broken woman afterwards. How could I ever do an Ironman? What was I thinking? That's just impossible. Not me.
Somehow, my brain has a way of erasing the bad and exaggerating the good. When registration opened for IMAZ 3 short weeks later, I was ready and waiting; one of the first to lock in my entry. I went through several ups and downs over the next several months. I had planned on doing my first marathon last summer to prepare. My chronic sinus infection sidelined me and took me out for the entire spring and early summer. Doubt clouded my vision. I decided to forget about IMAZ completely. I wasn't going to be able to do it. I focused, instead, on healing, recovering and getting well.
After many weeks of bedrest, antibiotics and prednisone, I started running again. Just to be outside, breathing the fresh air and on my face was pure bliss. I did not wear a watch. I had no goals. I was not training. I was simply enjoying the purity of a healthy, able body and mind. I rediscovered why I had started training in the first place. After only 4 weeks of resuming regular exercise, I did Camp Pendleton International for a lark. I just wanted to have a good time. I knew I was in no shape to do it. It was the best Olympic distance tri of my life. I felt strong and fast and PR'ed by several minutes.
I began training again. IMAZ was suddenly in my sights again. I signed up for the Soma Half Ironman in Tempe (late October) to help build my base and preview the race site. I was much stronger for this half and even though it was 97 degrees (an anomaly--hmmm, I seem to have a strange effect on the weather in Tempe), I felt much better at the finish line. I paced myself, hydrated and took in calories much better. When I got overheated on the 2nd lap of the run and my stomach shut down, I walked for 20 minutes....and was able to run across the finish line. I learned something much more valuable than if I had PR'ed--how to persevere when the going gets tough. And how to race in the heat.
After Soma, I began concentrating on IMAZ and following an Ironman specific training plan. I did my first century ride (Stagecoach Century) , and it was awesome. The training was important for me mentally too. When I got off the bike after 100 miles, and the sun was setting, I realized Ironman day would be a loooong day. My key long rides and runs on Saturday and Sunday, week after week, really strengthened (and exhausted me). All in all, my most important key workouts boiled down to 4 centuries (2 in the desert and 1 accidental hundred), 2 20-mile runs (1 in the desert) and 1 single 3-mile ocean swim. Borrego Springs training weekend was probably the most important part of my whole training.
My training has gone AMAZINGLY well. I am still shaking my head in disbelief. My body absorbed the training somehow, some way without injury or illness (knock on wood). I know I was walking that fine line. But what amazed me the most was how much I enjoyed the training. I absolutely loved it. I know I can't do that month after month, year after year. But I've come to realize that I race to train, not train to race. I'm all about the journey. The experience. Am I excited about Sunday? I can't even begin to tell you. It will be so emotional for me. I want to enjoy every moment, every step.
Thank you SO much for your support. I will be needing it on race day when I'm out there on Sunday--just me and the road. I will be thinking of you. It will help me get to that finish line.
See you on the other side.
"The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep."
For those of you who want to follow me on race day:
You can follow me on Ironmanlive on race day, using the website below:
Real Time Athlete Tracking:
Follow your athletes progress through the course, with split times, pace, transition, and position information. Our goal is to keep you connected to the race, from anywhere around the globe. At the start of the race you will see a link for the Athlete Tracker under the coverage tab of the event on the home page of Ironman.com. You can also access the coverage by navigating to "Events", then choosing the race you are interested in.