I signed up for Ironman 70.3 Steelhead, and now I'm committed.
I have just embarked on an 18-week training plan for this race, which takes place on August 10, and already my body is sore and achy. I'm telling myself this is because I have essentially been idle all winter and the soreness comes from my body grinding itself back into shape.
It also doesn't help that I screwed up the first week of training by mangling the schedule. The schedule includes a total of nine workouts per week (three swim, three bike, three run) until, I think, Week Nine, when it adds one more swim. This means that three days a week are double workouts -- swim in the morning and run or bike in the afternoon. Those three days are supposed to be Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, with Friday being a rest day. I managed the Monday morning swim but not the Monday afternoon bike. (I had to take both of my bikes to the bike shop for tune-ups, and by the time I was done with that I felt too guilty about leaving my dogs in the kennel for too long and couldn't bring myself to leave them longer.) Tuesday I screwed up again, the same way, made the a.m. swim but not the p.m. run because I had a dentist appointment. Wednesday afternoon I finally got to the bike for the first time since October other than a couple spin classes here and there. Because both bikes are still in the shop, I had no choice but to do my bike miles at Lifetime. So, so tedious. Thank God for Netflix on my iPhone. Thursday was a double-workout day with swim in the morning and run in the afternoon. I have been slacking on running too for the past couple weeks. I was pleased to see I can still do close to 8:00 pace despite all my fat and lack of training, but sad too because it is now undeniable that my feet have expanded a size. The five miles I ran in the brand-new Newtons I bought in January gave me two black toenails. I am now positive that my feet have grown a size. I mean, I hadn't run a quarter-mile before they started hurting, so I can't even blame it on swelling. (I will not think about how I bought close to $500 worth of new shoes, including Merrells for work and two pairs of Mizunos and one pair of Newtons in January and now NONE of them fit and I walk around with toes curled up inside my shoes every day.) Anyway, Friday was supposed to be my rest day but because I had slacked on Monday and Tuesday, it now became a double workout day with 20 miles on the bike in the morning and four miles of running in the afternoon. My legs were toast and my toenails were throbbing as I headed out the door (in a pair of old, stretched-out but totally dead Mizunos) and I wondered if I would even get through the run at all. I did, and even stayed pretty close to 8:00 pace, but this morning I am so sore that walking the dogs hurt. And I have 25 miles on the bike to look forward to today and six miles of running at Stoney with the triathletes tomorrow, and then back to double workouts on Monday and hopefully I will remember the pain of cramming bike and run into the same day and follow the schedule next week so that doesn't happen again.
Anyway! About the race. Steelhead is in Benton Harbor, which is a town in western Michigan. The swim is in Lake Michigan, which honestly looks just like the ocean to me when I'm standing on the shore. I have been to Benton Harbor once and wasn't very impressed with it -- I have vague memories of shabby neighborhoods and the nicest restaurant being the IHOP -- but at least I know there is a Red Roof Inn there so I have somewhere to stay with the dogs. Benton Harbor is not really a nice town, but it is close enough that I can drive out there to practice on the course before the race. Also, I don't have to fly so don't have to worry about shipping my bike. It takes place at a time far enough away from class at Leader that I won't have to worry about being distracted in my training, and it is an Ironman-brand race. That is important to me and I don't exactly know why.
The way I understand it -- triathlon people, feel free to correct me on this -- is that iron distance in a triathlon is 140.6 and half-iron distance is 70.3, but only races put on by Ironman can call themselves Ironman races. There are lots of other race companies that put on triathlons of the same distances, and I would never minimize the accomplishments of anyone who completed an off-brand 70.3 or 140.6, but for myself I want the name-brand. If that's shallow, I don't care!
This race has gotten generally good reviews with the exception being that the swim has been cancelled two years out of the past seven or eight due to rough waters on Lake Michigan. When that happens, the event becomes a duathlon. So there is somewhere around a 25% chance that I will finish all my training and still not be able to say that I finished 70.3. I decided that was an acceptable risk given all the logistical advantages of this race. (Plus, there is no denying that a part of me wouldn't be all that upset if the swim were cancelled. Hey, it wouldn't be my fault!)
So, no marathons for a while and lots of pool and bike time. (As I look out the window at a new dusting of snow that was NOT in the forecast and think to myself, will it EVER be warm again?)