After racing Mountain Man 70.3 mid summer, I took some time "off." Coaches orders, and I was not going to disagree at all. A complete week off, then a week of just swimming: 25,000 yards in one week. By the end of it, I had a new appreciation for swimming. I started to slip/slide through the water---less effort, fast pace, comfortable breathing...for the first time ever I felt like I belonged in the water versus entering this foreign environment for about an hour at a time to get a workout in. The coolest feeling came during the warmup: that feeling of losing your breath while warming up was gone, completely...I had become a swimmer! 200's felt like 100's, and 400's felt like 200's. So I think it is fair to say my swim fitness is doing pretty well.
Chris has always been my sports psychologist when I've needed it, and I've needed it a lot this year. The one belief that has carried me through this year: If you are not failing in "some" workouts, you are not getting the desired effect of the training load. Another way to put it: those feelings of wanting to quit the sport mid ride or run are normal and part of the "brick walls" you have to overcome to move ahead of your competition, improve a PR, or for those trying to get to Kona, get YOU to Kona. Another Chris classic (luckily never referring to me...) "you can train today, or you can 'workout' tomorrow." To state the obvious: you train to excel in a sport, you workout to stay in shape. I have come to thrive on the training versus the racing...the dedication, the hard work; for me, the challenge makes the difficult times in life seem petty no matter how big of a lemon you are dealt.
After the week off, and then the "swim week," the hunger to train came back, and was probably driven more by the 5 pounds I added. You can take the IM'er from his training, but you can't take him from his appetite ;-) I put in a couple of decent weeks while the training load was light---maybe 11-14 hours a week, and I started asking myself why I was training without a race in mind. Yeah, Nathan's Olympic was coming up, but I don't consider an Olympic-length race a goal race. I had a tentative, unlikely plan though....I had contacted Endurance Sports Travel (who took great care of me for IM Texas) back in June regarding a slot for IMAZ, and I've trained all summer with IMAZ 2012 in the back of my mind. They were sold out of slots for the race, but I put myself on the wait list anyways (people takes slots, but then back out later...). Who knows what would develop, but I wanted to have the option of a "next" race.
I've known all along that my window of opportunity for IM racing would close; Sophia is already half way to 5, Andrew's walking and now trying to talk, and Jenny has just been an Angel putting up with my selfish hobby that consumes A LOT of family time that could be spent exploring with the kids versus papa SBR'ing all over town. I knew that IMAZ was going to be a stretch and push the envelope that I have already stuffed full of reasons/excuses to race another IM. It's one thing to race an IM once in a while, but this thing of doing 5 inside of 2 years is a different, huge beast. But I wouldn't have wanted to do it any other way. Being the "all-in" type, as Chris has stated, "either the switch is on, or the switch is off." Chris' IM Louisville RR here.
So as Nathan's approached, this end-of-season-defining crossroads was in front of me; I use races like Nathan's to test where I am at, and without a need for a test, I doubted my desire to race at all. Emails that week started to sound promising for the IMAZ slot, so I registered for Nathan's saturday at 3:00pm, which was about an hour after I decided to race. The test race was on, and more importantly, the idea of IMAZ was becoming a possibility. I was actually a bit nervous pre-race for the first time in a while---I had to convince myself I was ready for this race without any speed work heading into it...none! It was a surreal day as raceday was my 40th, Jenny and the kids were there, along with my mom who completely surprised me by flying in for my birthday. We are our own worst critics, and having raced this course ~5 times, it is a litmus test for sure...and my last time out I went 2:05...PR, and 3rd overall. I knew I wouldn't hit that (non-wetsuit, and considering my fitness/training), but how far would I fall?
So, here's the quick RR:
Nathans: 2:11:14 14th Overall, 2nd out of 84 in 40-44 AG...lots of young speed out there!
|Top 4 in the 40-44...dunno why it lists me as the 3rd fastest swim in the AG...I was first ;-) Those swim courses have to be long. Bike: nice ride Coffen! Must be that Kona prep paying a dividend. Run: RUSS!!|
My 40th passed, Nathan's gave me some encouragement, I heard back from Endurance Sports Travel the next day and I was in!!! I've been fired up ever since...which included a serious begging of Jenny to agree with 7 weeks of IM training. In that begging, we both decided that IMAZ 2012 would be my last IM "for a while" at the very least. Since the decision, "The Fence" has existed...friends and family have fallen into 2 specific categories: those that are saying "about time" and those that are saying "seriously, your last???" What's important, is that myself, Jenny, Sophia if she understood, and Andrew if he could talk, are on the "about time" side of this Fence....my body and mind are there and I think they have been there since Texas, but I just want a good effort, a good result, to go out on. 10 years down the road, if IM Texas 2012 was my last race, I would still have the feeling that I left IM racing unfinished. There isn't anything I need to prove to myself or anyone else, I just want to go out "on top" rather than the memory that is permanently marked on my left elbow, hip, knee, and ankle because of a stupid bike crash at the mile 10 aid station there.
Moving forward, I'm excited to see what I can pull off in less than adequate preparation time, surrounded by friends and family, on a course that I have become attached to because of my 2010 race and the challenge it gave me in 2011 six weeks after Kona. I've learned a lot about myself over those 19 hours 10 minutes of racing...and I have a feeling IMAZ 2012 will be right up there with those experiences. While Kona is a definite NO for 2013, it will be fun to race without regard for "the slot" for the first time--no fear of missing the mark or protecting a position, but just finding more about myself that will carry me though the rest of my life. This past 2 years has been a life changing event for me; I went into it a bit lost and misguided, but come out a stronger, appreciative, dedicated, and hopefully inspiring person. To steal a quote from Chris:
Become fully engaged In whatever it is you’re doing, whenever you’re doing it. You will find value in this experience…CH