It is a truth universally acknowledged that a blogger with many things worth blogging about happening in her life is a blogger without the time and energy necessary to actually blog about them. (Okay, maybe that’s not a universally acknowledged truth, but it ought to be.)
For the past few months, this has been me. My job is already one that’s fairly psychologically demanding, and then on top of that I’ve been trying new things and pushing my boundaries as an athlete. Each time that happens, I’ve vaguely thought, “Huh, this would make a good blog post,” but when it comes time to actually blog? I can usually find a dozen other things to do, like do the laundry, look at makeup videos, go out for dinner with friends, weed the backyard, etc. etc.
(And here’s another thing, that I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to basically turn out masterpieces – even though my most popular posts are consistently little rantlets that take, like, thirty minutes to dash off – and so my brain just sort of wilts under all that pressure, and the end result is tumbleweeds rolling through the blog. “Perfect is the enemy of good” is a lesson I can’t quite seem to learn. Ah well.)
So anyway rather than doing one huge post in which I detail everything I’ve been doing lately – trail races at night! open water swims! joining a racing team! FULL PUSH-UPS LIKE A BOSS! – I decided to start with the big one that has been the focus of my attentions lately: my first half-Ironman.
I was reluctant to write about this initially because part of me recognized the recklessness of signing up for a half-Ironman that would take place about four months after my first 50-miler, but alas, as Brian is fond of pointing out, I suffer from a perpetual case of FOMO-itis.
I’ve wanted to try the half-Iron distance for a while, maybe since watching Brian complete his first half-Ironman in Miami a couple of years ago. So when we heard toward the end of last year that Ironman was launching a 70.3 distance event in Princeton, it seemed almost serendipitous, as he has a lot of family in New Jersey, including some in – yep – Princeton. So we signed up, and then his sister, brother and brother-in-law all decided to sign up as a relay team (Team Constantine!). It’ll be a whole family affair.
And now here we are, five and a half weeks out from the race. I’ve been following this plan from TriNewbies with about 80-85 percent adherence, which I have learned is the best I can expect of myself for any training plan, whether its for a marathon or a triathlon or an ultra. Perfect adherence to a plan almost always seems to result either in injury or exhaustion. I take the saying, that it’s better to be undertrained than injured, to heart.
My biggest limiter is, by far, the bicycle, and so I have spent an enormous amount of time on my bike, to the point that the nylon seat cover over my saddle has almost completely flaked away. I even have a saddle sore, for crying out loud. If it’s not 50-mile rides on the weekend, it’s sessions on the indoor trainer that last about as long as your average movie (last night it was “Bend It Like Beckham,” last week “Empire Records”).
I’m actually really proud of how far I’ve come with the bike, as I started out at the beginning of the training cycle on the verge of tears at the prospect of a 17-mile ride up and down the trail, and now I’m at the point where I can semi-confidently handle riding on some of Pinellas County’s busier roads.
And here’s the most important part: I actually have come to enjoy being on the bike. It took a while, and admittedly there are times when I hate it, like this past weekend when we were riding into head-winds and cross-winds for almost the whole ride, but for the most part, I dig it. I have moments when I’m down in aero and the trail is clear ahead of me and my legs are pumping like pistons and I feel – for a moment – like I understand what it’s like to fly.
I expect that as the day gets closer I will feel more nervous about the race, but so far that hasn’t hit me. Part of me wonders if my lack of nerves is just a severe underestimation about the race and an equally severe overestimation about my abilities, but I’ll tell you what I really think. I think that crossing the finish line of the Keys 50 was like jamming a needle full of PEDs into the confidence centers of my brain.
Consequently the outsized fears I used to experience before taking new challenges – like laying awake all night long because I was afraid of swimming ninth-tenths of a mile in a murky lake – have shrunk considerably, to sizes I’d say are more in proportion to the actual challenges themselves. And of course, it makes a lot of the non-athletic challenges I have to deal with manageable as well. I guess it’s hard to be intimidated by something like, say, giving a presentation at work, when you know deep inside that you can do – and have done – things that are way harder than that.
There’s more to say, but like I said, I think I’d rather just split it all up into smaller posts. I have a lot to say about learning to ride a bike (as well as a review of some how-to books!), a couple of projects by blog readers that I hope to showcase, and my observations about the experience of being part of a racing team. I promise not to wait another two weeks before I post about these things, either.