I signed up for Ironman St. George this past week. The event is two months away. Eight weeks. Five weeks of build and peak training left.
When I write these sentences and stare at the screen, I wonder what the heck I was thinking. And how it seemed like such a good idea at the time.
So, what the heck was I thinking?!
First and foremost, Ironman St. George has always called to me. It's arguably the toughest Ironman in the continental US -- even with the more forgiving run course. Ever since "tri-asshole" told me I could have picked a harder Ironman when I was getting ready for Ironman Arizona in 2010, I knew I had to prove something more to myself. I knew I couldn't quite feel satisfied with my Ironman accomplishments until I tackled IM St. George.
This entire line of thought was supposed to be put on hold until 2013. I wrote in Lava Magazine Online that I wanted to focus on speed this year and save another Ironman for next season instead. Besides, I knew I'd have a busy 2012 at work and thought the timing might be better next year.
Then, over the last week or so I realized my work schedule was changing for this spring. I was going to have a little more time than I anticipated. And what started as a tiny thought nugget turned into an inescapable roar in my head. If I trained hard, I still had time to be ready for the starting line in St. George, Utah.
I formulated a plan in my head. If I ran and recovered well from the Bandit Trail Run on February 19, I would consider that an indicator that my fitness was strong and that I could become Ironman-ready in short order. After all, I had been training consistently at a challenging level since this past October with no real breaks. My fitness was consistent if not at a plateau, why not put it to good use?
Finally, and most important, I had what amounted to a very short talk with Stephanie about doing another Ironman this year even though I said I wouldn't. Steph was all-in as long as I kept my training hours manageable and not at a level where I was absent on weekends the way I trained for IMAZ. I thought that was totally fair and took the idea to my coach, Gerardo. The real question was: Could I continue to train 11-15 hours a week and become ready for Ironman St. George in two months with my current fitness level?
Gerardo gave me the thumbs-up with the caveat that I'll need to hit up a few century rides between now and then. He also agreed that my finish-time goals were reasonable -- which means no PR for me but simply finishing the race in a way that I won't embarrass myself.
Yes, I do have goal times in mind. No, I'm not ready to share them just yet. I don't want to be held to them just yet.
Here's why. My bike ride yesterday scared the crap out of me.
If I could have added one wrinkle to my Ironman St. George decision-making process it would have been going on a five-hour, 82-mile ride with 6,500 feet of climbing in 85 degree weather with 30 miles of headwinds BEFOREHAND! I had conveniently forgotten about the screeching pain of adductor cramps on long ascents. Or the heart-rate spikes trying to run afterwards in the heat of the afternoon. I had forgotten how strong winds erode my power and sap my confidence.
In short, while I forgot a lot of the pain, I was reminded of my brash desire to go after huge challenges sometimes without thinking the consequences all the way through.
This weekend's ride was very eye-opening. I am not ready for IM St. George yet. I'm not sure if I'll become ready in time for the race. But there's no turning back at this point. It's time to make the best of what feels metaphorically equivalent to what my parents called "eating with my eyes" when I was a little kid. Simply put, it meant biting off more than I could chew.
Now all I can do is keep chewing and gnawing. I'm sure as hell not going to choke or gag. And the last thing I'm going to do is release my grip on this thing. It's too late for that.
For better or worse, I have too much pride.