Like we always do at this time . . . or not

Like we always do at this time
I go for mine, I got to shine
(Now throw your hands up in the sky)
I, I go for mine, I got to shine
(Now throw your hands up in the sky)
I'ma get on this TV mama, I'ma
I'ma put shit down
Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey
Hey, I'm good . . . .

Ok, so whether or not you like Kanye West (or hip-hop), the lyrics to the song above are in my head. The overall message is crystal clear - this is the Good Life. In 6 days, I'm going to be living my dream of competing in an Ironman event. {Maybe it's just a Half Ironman, but the closest I can get for now.} And the first lines are pretty obvious, but there are a couple in there that probably don't make sense because, before my races, I some times listen to this song and sing my own lyrics. (Yes, I'm that much of a dork.) For St. Anthony's, it was "I'ma get in Tampa Bay, mama, I'ma, I'ma put shit down", but now it really IS "I'ma get on this TV," because FL 70.3 could be televised. And the whole "mama" part is significant because my mom will be there. So will my favorite aunt, who is like my second mother. Mom and Dad were here for my first Olympic-distance race, so it's fitting that they're here for the next big step. And for my brother and Aunt Jane to be there us icing on the cake. It's like the universe has finally aligned to bring together all the support that I need for this momentous occasion.

I could be talking out of my ass here (and, if so, my ass is remarkably coordinated to be able to type so proficiently), but I am starting to get the feeling that this race is going to be something massive for me. And, when I say massive, I mean MASSIVE. The day I saw that Meggan Kantz was racing, I got the chills. How often do you race with someone who has the same unusual name spelling, same age group, and has also overcome huge obstacles to finish a long-distance race? Then, when I got my race number, I felt as if that number was DESTINED to be mine. And I ususally HATE quadruple-digit race numbers.

Then I went out to ride the course on Saturday afternoon (I had already swam an OW km in SW Orange County) and forgot my course map (and sunglasses and GU, but that's another story). So I had to ride the area by instinct alone. There was a point where I almost turned around, but I decided I did NOT want to make the ride an out-and-back, so I kept going to where I thought the course would end. This took me across some really busy highways, and I was getting some bizarre looks because the "bike race next weekend, delays likely" signs were up, and I was lookin' uber-dorky still wearing my St. A's number on my bike and helmet (I'm just a forgetful beeyotch). I got to where I thought I was done (which was shy of 50 miles and I wanted to do 60, but whatever), got in the car with Sherpa and looked at the map, and realized I'd ridden the course almost METER FOR METER, in REVERSE, without even REALIZING it. I was feeling rough, because my rear brake or wheel is still dragging some times and at points it slowed me down from 17-20mph to 10-13. (I'm taking the bike for a tune up today or tomorrow - the works - so I'm not terribly worried about it for the race.) I was also bummed that I didn't make it a full 60 miles, but Sherpa told me to get in the car and stop being a hero, because I already understood the course, it was 95 degrees out, I needed lunch, and the weekend before the biggest race of my life (SO FAR) is NOT the weekend to push myself. I hate it when that m'f'er is right.

Yesterday's run was supposed to be 13 miles or 3 hours (whichever came first), so I aimed for anywhere between 10 and 15 miles. I couldn't access the race course, because the Disney Nazis want you to pay to enter the Fort Wilderness area, so I just ran on that side of town in the late afternoon to mimic race conditions. My muscles and heart were both acting really weird (I couldn't get my heart rate under zone 3 or 4 unless I walked and I had cramps and aches all over my body, so I had to walk most of it). I only made it 8.5 miles in about 2.5 hrs (including two stops to pee and get water, at two different Walgreens, on opposite sides of the street, and at least TWELVE STOPS for street lights.) I did get about half of that mileage in on packed sand or grass, which I understand I will face on the race course.

As far as energy and health, this week was a record low for me. The fact that I got all this work in is nothing short of miraculous.

So, this brings us back to the song lyrics - like we always do at this time. What do I always do at this time (this time being taper week)? Get sick. Guess what I'm not (as of right now, knock on wood)? I'm not sick (except for my usual daily nonsense). THIS IS THE FIRST TIME EVER that I'VE NOT GOTTEN SICK ON A TAPER WEEK. To top it all off, I step out the door this morning to find we've had a cold front, which in Orlando means it's only 80-something, which means race day should be 90 degrees or less with very little humidity. Oh, and Meggan Kantz and one of my tri-friends have bib numbers within the same 10 digits as me.

If these aren't all signs, I don't know what IS.

That isn't to say that I'm not still scared shitless about this race. It's not because of health or undertraining, though - I'm beyond the point where I can worry about my training or medications. I'm not worried about the pain, either. I've said it, everyone else has said it: there's going to be pain at some point. It's part of racing.

No, I'm scared because this is the real deal. It even trumps St. Anthony's. This is a WORLD-CLASS, HARD-CORE, IRONMAN-BRANDED, $30,000-PRIZE-MONEY event. And, more than that: this is the first race I've ever entered where I actually HAVE to be FAST ENOUGH TO FINISH. Just finishing is NOT good enough - I have to finish in under 8 hours to be considered an official finisher. To split hairs: I have to make the swim before 9:20am (not a big deal, really, because my wave goes out at 6:53am), and I have to make the bike before 1:30pm (again, as long as I don't totally bonk on the bike and I get out of the water in around an hour, I'm good). But here's where it gets sticky: I have to be on the last lap of the run by 3pm and FINISHED with it before 4pm. If I get out on the bike just around 8am, totally hit the wall and take more than 4 hours to finish, that puts me out on the run course at 12:30 with three loops of 4.366666 miles to run. Which means there is a disgustingly real chance that it will take me until 3pm to hit that last loop. If I have to walk - AT ALL - I could very easily DNF.

I'm telling this to Sherpa on Saturday, after the ride, when he tells me something weird. He says, "I have a feeling about this race."

So I'm like, "What do you mean?" (But secretly I'm thinking, I have lots of feelings about this race, Tony, and most of them involve heatstroke and defecating on myself.)

He stuffs his face with a bite of his sandwich before he points at me and says, "I think you're going to win your age group."

I don't drink soda, folks, but if I did, it would have spurted out of my nose right then and there. I mean, the sheer ridiculousness of it! "I'm not racing Athena, T. That's not humanly possible.". And then, bless his little heart, he tried to argue me into believing it was possible, which failed miserably. (But I got what he was saying.)

After all the workouts, there were Mother's Day Shenanigans all weekend and lots of trampoline jumping with Sherpa's nephew and niece at Sherpa's family's house. Then there were items to pick up at different stores, a short night's sleep leaving me no real rest or foam-roller time before one work day ended and another one lies ahead in 9 hours. The puppy peed on the bed while petting/playing, I haven't had 8 hours in days and I'm in need of 9-12 a night, I spent the whole evening feeling like I was going to vomit (not any worse than usual, just the standard routine that makes me want to drive my car off a bridge.)

But Sunday night I got an email from My #1 Fan. And - without even knowing what I was going through or what I was feeling or what everyone else was telling me - she told me almost exactly the same thing Sherpa did: that she can't explain it, but she has this weird feeling that this is MY day. That this *is* the race for me to shine.

I keep re-reading that email. I keep thinking about Sherpa telling me I'm going to win my age group. And, while the two range from preposterous to downright doable, I find myself grounded somewhere in the middle. I've never had so many people believe in me so honestly, with no real reason to do so. I mean, I'm not strong or fast or experienced. But I'm slowly starting to believe that this many trustworthy people can't be wrong.

I may not win my age group, but something miraculous is going to happen out there on that race course this weekend. I'm not sure yet what that will be, but I'm prepared for it.

6 tidbits of wizdom:

Joy | Love | Chaos said...

You're going to do great! Now you need to do some actual TAPER, as in no more long distances draining your legs and the Walgreens toilet paper supply! Just a few short sessions with bursts of spin ups or faster legs....just enough to keep the blood flowing. And SLEEP!! I love that you're feeling great this week -- totally good sign!

I'm excited for you!

CCP said...

MAJ - this is you're race. You're going to do fabulous! Finish strong, have fun, and do your best. I'll be thinking of you!

Unknown said...


I may be in town for the event. I will be down in Fort Lauderdale and may come up to check it out.



Tribrit said...

Just think, next week youll be decked out in all that IM finisher gear! I have friends doing the race so I'll be thinking of you this weekend!!
(Just tell the Disney Nazis that you are having breakfast at the Wilderness Lodge - that way you can get in there to run without paying!!) The things you learn when your neighbour is a "cast member"

Tea said...

MAJ--Let me tell you why I love you so much.

Because you're like the sister I never had. I have a sister. A sister who is WAAAAYYYY overweight and has significant health issues. Health issues that she allows to rule her life and keeps her in a constant state of misery and negativity.

Think about how the difference in perspective affects your life.
You have overcome so much and will continue to do so.

Of course, you're going to have a great race. Of course, it will be hard. Of course, you will pull on that inner strength to get through, just like you always do.

FunFitandHappy said...

Good luck this weekend - I'm sure you'll do great

Here's my unsolicited advice, having blown up in that race last year:

Keep your hr under control on the bike. I found out the hard way that even if it feels ok, biking in zone 4 the whole time - disaster on the run.

Have a great time!