Thursday, December 03, 2009

Ironman Utah Training Has Commenced


Monday was the official beginning of a new era for me: Ironman Utah training. I hadn't planned on doing an Ironman in 2010. Then, I found out that they were going to have an Ironman in the beautiful city of St. George. I had always wanted to run the St. George Marathon (held every October). The area just calls to me. Besides, Zion is only an hour away. When I found out they were going to have Ironman Utah in St. George, I was one of the first to sign up.

My horse, George, died in January of 2005. Horses have always been a part of my life, and he was no exception. He was my best friend, my teammate, and my partner. We shared some wonderful times together: competing in shows, jumping cross country in the snow, bucking exuberantly in the chill of the autumn air beneath a canopy of orange-leaved maples, galloping through plowed cornfields so fast that I could no longer feel his feet hit the ground and my eyes forced shut by the stinging wind burning my face.

When arthritis forced George's retirement, I continued caring for him at a nearby barn with green pastures and lots of other horses to play with. He was like a big puppy dog; the barn manager would let him roam free to graze all day, and everyone smothered him with attention and treats. He neighed repeatedly every time he heard me enter the barn, even before he could see me. He licked me constantly and everywhere--hands, arms, chest, face, ears. He loved children. I taught him tricks: shake hooves, nod "yes" or "no", peek-a-boo, and bowing before an audience (he was quite the ham). He played tug-of-war with the other horses, using a stick or ball. His intelligence was unlike any other horse I have ever met; I swear he could understand every word I spoke. When he no longer enjoyed going out to the pasture and was having a hard time walking, I made the difficult decision to put him down. It was one of the hardest decisions I've every made, and it weighs on me to this day.

While I was grieving, a flock of mourning doves sat shiva in my backyard (a 7-day period of mourning in the Jewish tradition after the death of a loved one). It was January, it was cold, there was snow on the ground, and I hadn't filled the feeder in months. In my shock and grief, I was oblivious to the tens of twenties of birds in the yard, until I walked from the house to the garage. All of a sudden, hundreds of doves flew up into the air at once. The air was so thick with doves, I could feel the wind from their beating wings on my face. I was comforted by their presence and felt a strange calm fill me. I knew George was okay; he was in a better place now, in a place with no pain. I filled the bird feeder every day. The mourning doves (funny, I had always previously believed they were "morning" doves), kept me company for about a week. Then, as quickly as they had come, they were gone, despite a fully stocked bird feeder. Their disappearance reminded me of how amazing and mystical their company had been. To this day, whenever I'm feeling doubtful or jaded, I remind myself of the mourning doves that sat shiva with me, and I am filled with hope.

After George died, I decided to take a hiatus from horses, vowing to return to them again one day. There was a giant void in my life. Then, I discovered triathlon. It has been an incredible journey, and I don't know where my adventures will take me next. When I found out there was going to be an Ironman in St. George, I felt a calling. I am doing this Ironman in his memory. The fact that it is one of the toughest (if not THE toughest) courses in North America makes it all that more special for me. Ironman St. George. Could it be more perfect?

My training has commenced. I am filled with excitment. I love Ironman training. I know that no matter what happens with my life between now and May, I have that Ironman (God-willing, as long as I'm healthy and not injured). Having that on my calendar comforts me. I have the stability and positive-reward system of my training routine. Ah, Ironman training. Coming to the rescue again.

Below is an overview of my 22-week training plan (click on the image to enlarge it to make it easier to read):

Happy Training!

--from the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot last week as I run down the chute. Yes, I'm going anaerobic. Did you know I PR'ed for not just this race but also my 10K time?! Whoo-hoo!!!


20 comments:

don said...

Ooooh. You are causing me stress because I have not started training for Utah yet. I am still finishing my 2009 race schedule. Sigh..

Sarah said...

George sounded like a magnificent horse who lived a full and happy life. Horses have always had a dominant place in my heart as well, and I just quit riding this summer to discover triathlon.

Good luck in your Ironman training!

bunnygirl said...

What a lovely story about your horse! They're amazing creatures and you were lucky to have had each other.

Wes said...

Losing a loved one always hurts, but I like to think that their is pride and joy in helping another living creature live its life to the fullest. Well done!

Terrish B said...

What a great way to celebrate the life of George the amazing horse! Happy Training, you are amazing!

Alisa said...

What a great way to celebrate a memory of George.

Nice job on the PR.

I'm starting to think about putting together my training plan for my first 70.3. I still have several weeks but it's not too early to start planning.

Jessica said...

Your post makes me so excited to get started on my Ironman Louisville training...which doesn't even officially start until March!

Good luck with all the fun!

Mary Eggers said...

Beautiful reason to commence Ironman Training..... one of the things I love about the Ironman is that so many of us come to it to honor another life..... and in turn it enriches our own!

teacherwoman said...

Growing up, I always wanted a horse, and when my parents moved out of city limits, a part of me thought I was going to get a horse, but it never happened. What a great tribute to a wonderful friend.

Good luck with training. I hope to learn a thing or two from following you on your wonderful journey... :)

LG said...

welcome back to training! what a wonderful way to pay tribute to george and carry his memory into your new everyday passions

Diana said...

Sweet story. It is the best feeling in doing any kind of training when you're training for something that means so much. Even if its a city that calls, or a month that calls or whatever. That "thing" is sooooo damn important to us, it makes all the hard work incredibly enjoyable and rewarding!
Best of luck and so looking forward to reading all about the training and then the actual event!

Colleen said...

What a great post! :) Best of luck as you start your new journey for Utah!

RoadBunner said...

What a fitting tribute to George this will be! He sounds like a wonderful horse and friend.

I rode horses for over 10 years when I was younger. I miss being around them, too. Hopefully one day. But for now there are the marathons :)

You're on you way to another Ironman!

dsw126 said...

I really enjoyed reading your post about your horse. I did have a quick question regarding your schedule as I prepare for the spring sason. I have a 70.3 in Macon, Ga the first week in June. The first couple of weeks you have longest swim 1(which I assume is 1 mile) but then you have total distance 3.5 miles. How is that possible when you are doing each event 3 times per week. That would mean total swim distance should be 3. I am just trying to incorporate your schedule with my own. I look forward to hearing from you. Again I enjoy reading about all your training....Good luck with your next ironman!!!!

Rachel said...

Dsw126:

To answer your question, my "longest" swim (or bike or run) means continuous without stopping. So a 1-mile long swim is like a 1-mile time trial in the pool or ocean. But the other 2x/week, I swim masters, where I swim about 2500 meters total, after it's all said and done. Those are longer than 1 mile. Therefore, the total volume is longer than "longest" swim. Does that help?

dsw126 said...

thank you very much for getting back to me so quickly...
One last question..do you do any weights during your training, if so what type of exercises do you do?

Hope you have a nice weekend

Rachel said...

Yes,

I do weights 2x/week for ~40 minutes, usually immediately after a mid-week ride or run. I try to incorporate large muscle groups like rows, lat pull downs, push-ups, lots of abdominal work on the exercise ball, etc. Hope this helps!

dsw126 said...

Thanks, that was a help...I just wish I had more hours in a day or did not require sleep to fit it all in.It is difficult having 3 boys ages from 5, 11 and 12 plus working,and a bar-mitzvah in a month...o-yeah can not forget the dog who is a little over a year. Good luck with all your workouts..

When you do two workouts do you do them back to back or one in morning and one at night...

Christi said...

Good Luck with the St George Training! I look forward to reading all about it!

IronVince: IM WI 2009 and Beyond said...

Good luck with the training. Will be watching!