It is Monday morning and I am sitting at the kitchen table of my homestay here in Oz reflecting a bit on the last year while simultaneously getting myself into “race mode” and mixing in a bit of online Christmas shopping!! Talk about multi-tasking at its finest (how can you go wrong with Xmass shopping?!?!)
This coming Sunday (December 6th) I will be closing out my 2015 season with Ironman Western Australia. It was at this race 12 months ago that I returned to Ironman racing after my injury. Coming back here makes it hard NOT to sit back and reflect upon the journey we have taken over the last 12 months. A year ago I was still in pain; the longest run I had done was less than 10 miles; I felt wildly under-prepared for this race. I was far from fit. And I was in a financially tenuous position after having spent 8 months dishing out money to pay for not just every day expenses but also my recovery. I finished 8th in this race, just out of the money and walking away a little more wide-eyed then when I arrived, realizing I had a LOT of work to do to make it back to being able to make a living out of this sport.
Over the course of the last year I rebounded – getting stronger and stronger throughout the season and making my way back. I had an early season break-out run; I won a 70.3 and podiumed in 3 others. I broke a bike and overall course record at a 70.3. I ran a 3:00 marathon and posted my fastest ever Ironman (9:03). I finished 6th in an exceptionally strong field at the Ironman North American Championships. And at the Ironman World Championships I placed 7th, posting the 2nd fastest run in field stacked with amazing runners.
Beyond the results, I feel that I have pushed new limits, reached new heights in my training, created a better and increasingly more productive relationship with my coaches, and I have matured as an athlete in ways I had not been able to before.
I am beyond proud of this season – for all that we – as a team – have accomplished.
Despite all of this, there are two goals we didn’t achieve – to win my first Ironman and to go under 9 hours in a race.
Leading into Kona (The Ironman World Championships) I felt the most prepared and the most confident I have ever felt. I was training with the kind of consistency I could only dream of – to the point that I was almost paranoid of when I was going to “lose” it. I felt fresh –mentally and physically.
After Kona Matt Dixon (My coach, and head of Purplepatch Fitness) and I sat down and decided to race once more – to head back to where it all began… or at least re-started for me – Busselton, Australia to race Ironman WA.
To say my training has been anything but consistent in my prep for this race is somewhat of an understatement. It took me a LONG time to recover from Kona – probably 6 weeks (As a total side note – I have NO idea how people recover from Kona so quickly and race within a few weeks after!! My body was a wreck!). My body just didn’t want to come around. One day I would feel great, the next I’d be completed shattered from my efforts and my recovery from hard sessions took longer than usual. I truly underestimated the toll Kona was going to take on my body – the harshness of the conditions, the intensity of the race, the stress of being the biggest race of the season, the sponsor and race commitments – they all play a role in how long it can take to recover. I KNOW this, yet I was still surprised at the time it was taking me to come good. This made mentally re-focusing when the body wasn’t always agreeing an added challenge.
In light of my yo-yo of a prep, I am SO excited to be racing. I’m going into this race with some big goals, big dreams and big beliefs in what is possible and what I want to achieve on the day. I have the confidence that I am fit and in what my body can do. I’ve learned over the last 8 weeks to take the good with the bad, to roll with the punches a bit, and to (TRY!!) not worry about the ups and downs. As Matt said to me in one e-mail recently
“The absolute black hole of all this is comparison figures and analysis between a prime IM build, and a follow up IM that occurs within 2 months of the one prior. #2 is much harder to find rhythm and pattern going into, as it is a build based OFF the fitness of the previous build, and requires a recovery component from race #1 (Kona), an aim to maintain fitness from the previous build (August and Sept work), and a sharpening component. You (the royal you) requires LESS load and specific prep for number two… but it is entirely normal to feel weird and funky.”
Matt and Paul have been wonderful – reminding me that I am neither better nor worse athlete since Kona. The ups and downs are NORMAL, and that the focus should be less on the numbers, and more about doing everything possible to heal my body – focus on the hydration, the recovery, the sleep, the nutrition and the strength work and activation.
So… it is race week and I am headed into “The Poo Cave” – the nickname that my friends and family have so endearingly labeled my pre-race mental zone. From here on out it is about staying relaxed, enjoying being here in Oz, and prepping myself to get the most out of my body come race day!
Thanks for reading and I’ll check in post race! Here we go – closing out the 2015 season! Wish me luck!
Until Next Time – Don’t Dream it. Be it.