Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Questioning My Sanity Again

WHY did I sign up for this stupid half-Ironman again? I swear, this training is ruining my life.

I live in a constant state of dread regarding the training schedule, which is entering its highest-volume weeks. It has totally taken over my life. Eleven workouts per week, some of them very, very long. I hate the pool. I still suck at swimming. Not only am I not getting better, I am actually getting WORSE if I look at my times for the same distance between March and now. I hate riding on Michigan roads (because they are dangerous), but not quite as much as I hate riding on the bike at the gym (which isn't the same as road riding anyway) and I also hate driving my bike anywhere to ride it. For those who know how I just love to run (said in a voice of deep sarcasm for those who don't know how much I hate to run), it should be very telling when I say that the run is the thing I dread the least. Well, that was true until I got a giant blister on the side of my foot and finally accepted the inevitable and switched to the men's version of my Mizunos. Now I dread running too.

Saturday was a great day involving canoeing, an island, a hammock, and a shady and flat 10-mile trail run on a surface of crushed leaves. Paradise. I would've loved a repeat of Saturday on Sunday. Instead I was supposed to ride 50 miles, but it was raining in the morning and in the afternoon I was going to go to a new puppy welcome party. I turned over in bed and went back to sleep when the alarm went off Sunday morning and I heard the steady rain outside. Then, wracked with guilt over skipping a 50-mile ride, I headed to the pool before the party, figuring I would punish myself by doing the 2250 swim on the books for next week since I hadn't done the ride. (The rain, by the way, disappeared and was replaced by sun and cool breeze exactly at the time when I knew it was too late to start a 50-mile ride and still make it to the party.) Anyway, the pool was cold. 74 degrees. I swam 100 and got out. Forget it! I went and bought my new running shoes instead.

The next morning I made it 500 yards before quitting. But they were 500 yards of misery. I couldn't get my breath -- had to stop and stand up in the lane a few times, which I pretty much never do -- and pause at the end of each length to catch my breath again. I have no idea why that was happening -- unless maybe my brain just hates swimming so much that it was like, screw you, I am just not going to regulate your breathing anymore. I will regulate it again when you get out of this water and back into bed with a book where you belong.

After that swim fail I was really ready to quit. Just say screw the whole thing, eat the cost of registration, and decide I do not have to have Ironman on my bucket list anyway. I mean, aren't life goals always subject to revision? I have totally backed out on races and training before when there was too much else going on in life, and never felt the least bit of shame or regret about it. I allowed myself the day to fantasize about it, about how good it would feel to just tear up that training schedule and throw it in the trash. Michigan summers are like sweet dreams, beautiful but fleeting. Why not enjoy this one while it lasts by hanging out with the dogs, sitting outside and reading and writing, actually saying yes to the nine out of ten invitations to social events I turn down now? You know, doing the things I enjoy rather than the things I don't enjoy. There's a swim cutoff time in the race that, in all honesty, I am probably not going to make, considering I have never made it in the pool. If I bail out now, who cares about the swim cutoff? I ordered a wetsuit but am intimidated at the thought of putting it on, let alone using it in a real lake. I mean, how will I see where I'm going, what if I swim at Stoney and bump into, like, a detached finger from that guy who drowned in there last weekend? How about just send the wetsuit back and forget the whole thing?

I was supposed to ride 35 miles after work yesterday and that almost, almost did not happen. I sat at my desk as the work day came to a close and thought about how much nicer it would be to take the dogs down to Clinton River and let them swim, or read a book till I fell asleep. But then the thought of my winter coat of fat sprang to mind. I have lost 9 lbs of it, and even though I still have 8 more lbs to go, I feel so much better than I did in March. That thought got me on the bike and out the door. And once I was out the door, things improved. I did the whole ride on the Macomb-Orchard Trail, which is a flat, shady, paved multi-use path that goes out into farm country. By the end of the ride, I had to admit that I had enjoyed it and that it is impossible to get the post-workout feeling from anything else. Nothing makes me feel as virtuous as I feel at the end of a day that started with getting up at 3:30 to go to the gym before work, then walking six to eight miles at work training my dogs, then busting out another workout after work. True, I am so tired when I get home that I have to race to eat dinner before I pass out, and in the morning it feels like the alarm goes off two minutes after I have gone to sleep. But still... I am tired because I am Virtuous Ironman Training Woman! (Okay, Virtuous HALF Ironman Training Woman.) I figure that even if I don't make the swim cutoff, I will at least have survived that horrible training schedule, and gotten rid of a little more fat, right?

Besides, one reason I have this blog is as proof that liking to work out is not at all required in order to do even hardcore endurance sports. I mean, is there ANYONE who hates exercise more than I do or who would rather be ass-to-couch all day long? No! I HATE this sh*t... but I do it anyway. So. No bailing on the race yet. I will continue to train for it and get myself to that start line, and if I don't make the swim cutoff then I will have to reevaluate just how important it is that I some day be able to call myself an Ironman. (I.e., is it worth committing to a winter of swim lessons and focused swim practice. Ugh. I hope I just make the cutoff and do not have to answer that question.)

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