On Swimming, Biking, and Running

First of all, I have to give a HUGE, GINORMOUS shout out to my two coaches. Sami, my Ironman coach, just completed the World Championship 70.2 in Austria and is only a few weeks away from making her way to Kona. Hello, Awesome! She has been a huge inspiration to me and has helped me navigate this crazy thing called Ironman.

Sami finishing IM France

Sami finishing IM France

My other coach, Kristen, has helped me train through some crazy races (that means I was crazy at the time, not the race), including my first half iron last fall. She was the one who had me ready to kick Boston’s butt before it kicked mine, and who will hopefully help me get another BQ come January. This nutty girl and her equally nutty friend made it into Otillo, the absolute swim/run endurance event this weekend in Sweden. This race entails swimming a total of 10k and running a total of 65k. Oh, but it’s not just that, it’s swimming to an island WITH YOUR RUN GEAR, running across it WITH ALL YOUR SWIM GEAR, then swimming to the next island, and so on and so forth. Check out the website because it’s proof people do crazy stuff. Ha! Best of luck to you my friend, Kristen.


Otherwise, I’m still here, chugging away at this crazy train called Ironman training and life.  Honestly, I’m not sure which one takes up more time.  Training feels like it’s all-encompassing. It’s very different from the half iron, and I’m not sure if it’s this way for everyone else, or if I’m the anomaly, or if it’s a factor of being a first-time Ironman participant.

I was trying to describe it to my husband, because I feel guilty that my training is taking up about 90% of my brain. I think about training, the race, nutrition, equipment, the next workout, the last workout, sharks, should I have an extra pair of goggles in my wetsuit, what if it rains, I don’t like hills, all that stuff, whirling around in my head all the time. All. The. Time. ALL THE FREAKING TIME. I’m sure he’s tired of it, heck, I am tired of hearing myself talk or think about it. In explaining to him how I was feeling,  and evidently I’m still in pre-school, because the only way I could accurately describe how I was feeling was by pictures.

So this depicts the Beach 2 Battleship half last fall. We were super busy, but I got all my training in. It seemed time consuming at the time, but I was sure to have fun with it and not stress out.

Half iron training.

Half iron training. Do you like my flamingos?

You can see the Beach 2 Battleship on the left but it’s on the side. It’s clearly there, but everything else in the picture is clear and it takes up more space in my vision than B2B.

Then there’s Ironman.

Clearly, my focus is on IM.

Clearly, my focus is on IM.

The Ironman is the main focus. Everything else is there, but it’s blurry, and the IM clearly takes precedence. This is how I feel 99% of the time. I can’t stop thinking about it, focusing on it, and chewing on it, spitting it out. But it’s always there, and everything else is in the background and fuzzy. Sure, I’m getting everything taken care of and it’s not like I’m ignoring my kids while I stare at the wall or something, but when we talk about something, my mind drifts to 1) training 2) the race itself. Considering how much time it takes me to train, it’s pretty clear why I’m always thinking about it, but I certainly gets annoying. Visualizing is good, but I’m sure visualizing the heck out of this race.

On swimming, biking, and running.

Swimming. Oh, that pesky swim. The event that has me tied up in knots, the one I hope to get through, the one that scares me the most. There’s no reason to believe I can’t finish this swim in plenty of time. But crazy things happen, I know, so I’m doing my best to prepare for it.  Except swimming open water. Yeah, there’s a jellyfish and shark convention going on this summer, so I’ve been out for a few weeks. A few weeks ago, I was going to try and swim in my wetsuit because there was a seriously jellyfish issue and tons of people were getting stung. Then my friend posted this picture.

Yeah, a few miles from where I swim.

Yeah, a few miles from where I swim.

I basically had a panic attack. I know sharks are out there. I KNOW that, but this summer in the ocean is weird and these pictures were taken VERY CLOSE to my house, in the inlet, and a few miles from where we swim. I decided against swimming, which is good, since both the ladies I was going to swim with got stung up, even with full wetsuits on.

Me. Totally me.

Me. Totally me.

So I’ve been to the pool and have been swimming on my swim tether at my house. I have to say it’s going well. I can swim for 90 minutes without dying and being sore. I’m not fast, am not getting any faster, but, barring any weird race situations, I think I should be able to finish this swim in 1:45 or less and feel good.


Ahhh, biking. This is relatively new for me, this thing called biking. I’ve found to enjoy it, minus the cars going two millimeters away from me at 55 mph. I knew that I needed to really gain some strength on the bike. I’ve put in a lot of hard intervals, long rides, and it’s finally starting to pay off. I can now do 80 miles at 18+ mph after a tough week of workouts. This past weekend was the biggest confidence booster where I went 82.5 miles in 4 1/2 hours then ran 6 miles with every other mile at a tempo pace with negative splits, ending on a sub-8:00. Yeah, the legs were shredded after that workout, but I think I felt a rush of what it was like to really push yourself past the zone of uncomfortable. I pushed harder in that workout than I probably have ever, for sure harder than any other brick workouts. All I could think was that the harder I push, the stronger I will get and the better I will feel when I race.

The road. The road that goes for miles and miles and miles.

The road. The road that goes for miles and miles and miles.

One thing I really enjoy about biking on Sunday mornings is seeing the gorgeous sunrises. I’ve been so blessed to have good weather so far, but the sunrises? One of my favorite things. I love the sounds, the bugs as they welcome the morning and then move into the symphonies of summer. I’m out there for hours and hours, so at least I have something to listen to.

This holiday weekend, I’m heading to central North Carolina, where there’s HILLZ. Oy, I’m not used to hills, but it’s time to do what it is that scares me, which is a 100 mile bike ride in da hills. Yup, that’ll be me on Monday. Wish me luck. To say that I’m intimidated would be a pretty big underestimate.


I haven’t missed running. I’m getting long runs in, but I haven’t enjoyed them. Why? Because I can’t breathe. I’m losing 85% of my fluids in ten minutes of running. It’s so humid. It’s so hot. I know, it’s summer, fall is coming, but I dread my long run on Saturday because I know I’m going to soak through 2 pairs of my running shoes and be so covered in sweat, I look like I just got done with my swim. I miss you, cool weather, and I miss enjoying my running. This makes me re-think trying to get into the Chicago marathon because running in soup at pace is just, well, not fun!  BUT, like I mentioned before, I’ve pushed past the comfort zone, and even when my legs are tired, I have sweat coming out of my eyebrows, I push. I have a marathon to train for after IM Florida, and every little bit faster and stronger I get now will only help me later when it’s time to push the gas to the floor.

So there. That’s the deal. Focus. Drive. Hard work. It’s been fun, I’m truly enjoying this crazy thing, and I look forward to the next few months. It really has been a journey so far.





Categories: anything is possible, beach 2 battleship triathlon, being epic, Boston Marathon, coaching, half iron distance, interval training, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, marathon training, no fear, open water swimming, qualifying for boston marathon, swimming, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

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17 thoughts on “On Swimming, Biking, and Running

  1. Not sure how you squeeze it all in, especially with kids and other obligations.

  2. It isn’t just you. I nearly ALWAYS have Ironman brain…even in the “off season” I am thinking about the coming training cycle, etc. I. LOVE. THE. IRONMAN. DISTANCE!! We have vowed to take 2016 off from the 140.6 distance, but I have convinced the Iron Hippie to do the aqua bike portions of this distance. This will allow us to still be training for the long swim and bike to keep those disciplines up to par. I am also already thinking about speed work and trying to get faster on both the bike and run to set myself up for a solid 2017 Ironman race 🙂 You are going to crush IMFL and I can’t wait to cheer you on! Stay safe my friend and have fun during the remainder of this journey!!

    • Thank you so much for your encouraging words! I had marathon brain pretty bad, but this is ridiculous! And I wish I could do a bike/run event instead of aqua bike 🙂 Oh, that swim. I hope you’re settling back into school and can get your races trained for with crazy Iowa fall weather. Have you yet dreamed of what you’ll do in ’17? 😉

      • I have so many dreams for 2017 and still hope I can change Tim’s mind to do a full IM in 2106 😉

      • Are you considering events outside of the “Ironman” brand? If the one here was better supported for the full, I’d totally go into advertisement mode, but I think it’s a little lackluster in crowd support. The half is awesome though 🙂 Good luck with the Hipster!

      • I still have a few more Ironman brand races that I want to do…mostly because of their location, so I’ll stick with them for a few more races 😉

      • I like the support!

  3. Yikes! Bull sharks are mean.

    The humidity has to go. It’s sad when I’m feeling like humidity in the high 50% range feels like a huge relief. I’m eyeing the weather for my long run on Sunday, and it’s looking ugly.

    Sharing the road with cars is what scares me too much to ever train on a bike for a tri. Heck, I run in a park where cars are almost a non-issue except in a couple places where I have to use a crosswalk.

    I would dear if my husband knows about that swim/run event. He’s joked (I hope he’s joking) about doing the Arch to Arc that goes from London to Paris with a run, swim and English Channel crossing. I forget the total distance.

    • Ugh. I meant run, English Channel swim and Bike. I looked up the distances and it’s 87 mile run starting in London and ending in Dover, whatever it takes to cross the Channel (distance varies by tides and speed of the swimmer) and 181 mile bike ride from Calais to Paris.

    • I thought that Ironman races were crazy. Wow, if your husband did that, he’s the nuttiest one of all, except for maybe the Iron Cowboy of course. Our humidity lowered this morning since I didn’t have soaked shoes when I was done with my 6 miles of speed work. Yay!!! September has benefits!
      And when I ride on the road, there’s not one ride where I don’t think it could be my last, I try to be very careful, and stopped flipping off A-hole drivers after I saw a video of a guy that basically attacked a biker that flipped him off. Sigh. People. And sharks.

  4. Sounds about right. Ironman was an obsession for 2 years and took over my life for 30 weeks. The final 2 months of peak training had a minimum of 23 hours/week with the final week at 29 hours. It was crazy. I loved the event and the accomplishment…but I will never do it again. I need balence. I could train for a 70.3 with minimal family disruptions. Ditto for a marathon. But not a 140.6. I will be moving to shorter distances only next year (nothing longer then 2 hours…so sprint triathlons and 5k-half marathon runs). I doubt that I have another 70.3 in me, but maybe someday. All I can say in embrace the training as much as you can and enjoy the race. There will be a post-IM depression and you will have an urge to sign up for another race right away. Give it some time, get back to a family routine, then make a decision about future IM’s (is this a lifestyle, or a one time challenge). Everyone’s road is different. Enjoy the journey.

    • Haha, post race depression. I have that with marathons, so I can’t imagine the Ironman depression. I took a preemptive strike and have a marathon planned already, so I can’t go nuts and sign up for “all the races” when I’m home after the IM. I know I can’t do another IM for a LONG time, if ever, since it does pretty much take over your life, financially and time wise. I knew it would be a big sacrifice, thankfully, but it’s a big one that I don’t want to repeat. It will be worth it though! Balance is very good 🙂 Thanks so much for your comment – it makes me feel more “normal”, if Ironman people are normal at all! Ha!

  5. I just can’t wrap my brain around any of it. This is such an amazing journey that you are on!

  6. All the reasons why I don’t like open water swimming are written in this post. I am so afraid of the sea creatures and even the most capable swimmer can get attacked. So pool it is for me and no triathlons at the moment or maybe ever. Thank goodness I can enjoy a bike ride here and there and somw pool swimming and most of all, running! Can’t wait to follow your races this fall.

    • I can get past a lot of things, but this year is just very weird so statistics are pretty much out the window. I have to be careful but I’ll keep going back out in the open water 🙂 It’s beautiful.

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