Saturday, October 27, 2012

Laced up in Satisfaction

You can go through an entire year of triathlons and feel overwhelmed by a sense of accomplishment. I embrace the notion that I can swim across a lake, lock my feet in the pedals and churn my way to transition into a run that finally leads me to the finish line. Three sports. Three reasons to race. Three times the feeling of satisfaction.

Yet my triathlon season ended back in early September, and I realized satisfaction had not yet swept me off my feet…literally. I still found myself lacing up my running shoes, the couch my butt was supposed to occupy hardly indented by my weight. The television lay quiet. The Runner’s World magazines stacked unopened after months of falling behind in my reading. My new pair of Brooks Adrenaline from Runners Soul ready to head out the door. I looked down and realized they did not represent an impulse buy. They served a purpose: my reason to keep running.

The week after Las Vegas World Championships, I realized I had one last goal to reach. I had set some goals in the beginning of 2012 to guide me through the year:

  • Finish a full Half Ironman.
  • If I finish, try to qualify for World Championships.
  • If I qualify, survive it.
  • If I survive it, start training for a marathon.
  • If my body holds out through 6 weeks of marathon training, race Tri Cities Marathon.
  • If I race Tri Cities Marathon, I damn well better qualify for Boston.

This past month has truly raked me across the coals. It feels as though the expression “when shit hits the fan” doesn’t even begin to describe the obstacles I’m currently working through. Training for this marathon, however—with friends—is what has held me together. I’ve never enjoyed speed work, yet every Tuesday I could rely on Jayne Anderson and Bryan Rowe to show up at the track, ready to tackle the set of 400s or 800s or whatever crazy intervals our training plan had scheduled. I may have walked up to that track with a dismal outlook on what the next hour would hold, but I always walked away from it with a lighter step (barring my knee, shin, and back pain) and a feeling of accomplishment that ultimately carried me through the next day.

It wouldn’t be marathon training without the weekly long runs. Bryan and I did a pretty good job of scheduling them on Saturdays or Sundays when local half marathons were held. We would shuffle off to tease out up to nine miles before the start of the race itself, then attempt to pretend the nine miles we just finished had nothing on us as we started out on courses like the Spokane half marathon. “Hilly course? Pshh, whatever. Doomsday hill at mile 8? Heh, feels even better at mile 18.” I don’t think it’s accurate to say the miles have gotten easier; we’ve just gotten better at tolerating them.

Tomorrow will be the day when all that speed work and all those long runs will finally pay off. I can only pray our stomachs cooperate, our muscles endure, and our minds stay numb. Most importantly, I hope to be swept off my feet…literally. 

Here's to... 

...Elements Massage, for getting me here injury-free (relatively speaking, of course).

...Josh Hadway at Runners Soul, for selling me out on the Brooks Adrenaline shoes that kept me at it this fall.

...GU Energy, for helping me keep up with Bryan on all those long runs and will likely make this marathon far better than my first two years ago.

...Timex GPS run trainer, for recording faster run splits that Bryan's Garmin always seemed to lengthen by 10-15 seconds.

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