>Are you serious? No, I’m for real.

November 24, 2010 § Leave a comment

>I know I owe myself a Week 2 training post, but I am going to combine weeks 2 and 3 for next week in the interest of saving my fingers some typing because I have a lot of blog posts racking up in my brain. I wanted to get this one out first because it’s something I’m really excited about. Last Thursday I flew out to Tempe, Arizona. This trip was for one main reason: to spectate and support Ryan as he ran his first Ironman. Not only was Ryan there for my first Ironman finish but he has been integral in my successes this year, and I have sincerely enjoyed and been inspired as I’ve watched the fire get lit under him as he made his comeback to triathlon.

Before the race on Sunday, however, I did have a few things to accomplish. One was my own training. I opted for my long run on Friday, and headed out from Tempe to the McDowell Mountain Regional Park. This is also the site of several ultra’s throughout the year, most noteably the Javelina Jundred just about a month ago. The trails here are true desert running – dry, sandy, cacti, dry brush, and rocky. Did I mention dry? It was a different experience for me, but what was the best was how well-kept the trails are and how well they are marked. The Pemberton Trail is a 15.4 mile loop and I opted for 2 of these. When I arrived at the park I realized that I had a slight issue – while I was super prepared with maps, food, and water, I didn’t have one very important thing….socks. I didn’t want to spend much time mulling over this so I figured whatever, just get through it. I could feel blisters forming as I made my way through the first loop, but there wasn’t really anything I could do. At mile 12 I ran into Shannon. It turns out, Shannon was trying to get through an 18 mile run (her longest ever!) in prep for the Rock’n’Roll Marathon in AZ in January, but she was hurting a little bit. I know company can make a huge difference, so I offered to run with her the last few miles. She gratefully took me up on the offer and I’m glad she did because it turns out she grew up in Charlottesville so we had plenty to talk about. By the end of the 3 miles she was basically an old friend. And you know what old friends do for each other? They give each other socks. Yes, that’s right, I took her socks. And I’m really glad I did because my feet were already in bad shape. The second lap I ran clockwise and despite the heat getting stronger I ran about 15 minutes faster than the first loop. Maybe it was the socks.

My second run of the weekend was Saturday at the South Mountain area. I had 3 x 15 minute hill repeats scheduled, so I opted for the Holbert trail. Again, everything was really well marked and there was plenty of access to bathrooms and water at the trailhead. This area was much more crowded but still very pleasant, and the 2.5 rocky trail up the mountain turned out to be the perfect choice for the workout. Two hours later I was done and it was time to relax and help the Ironmen-to-be get psyched for their race.

I’ll admit it, I complain about the sport of triathlon. It’s expensive, time consuming, mentally and physically draining, and for as many people who seem to do tris nowadays, very few truly understand what it is like to train for this event. In the months leading up to the race it can often seem like you’re on an island of one trying to make this thing happen.

But, even just getting the opportunity to spectate one of these events make all of that goes away. The Ironman, while it can be a pain to travel with all the gear, buy all the gear, etc, really is a beautiful event. Putting together a 2.4 mile swim, hopping on the bike for 5+ hours (for most of us!) and then running a marathon is an amazing thing. Getting to do it yourself is one thing; be able to watch a friend accomplish their dream of finishing one is just as fulfilling. Ryan and Claire will put their race reports on their blogs – it’s not my job to tell those stories. What I can say is that I saw amazing things out of all 2500 people who toed the line on Sunday. In no other sport will the Champions return to the finish line after their own race to run in with the final finishers, as Chrissie Wellington and Linsey Corbin did. In no other sport will the pro’s bring In-and-Out Burger in mass quantities to feed the volunteers who man the finish line for 17 hours. The Ironman requires determination, mental strength, a physical ability, and most of all, heart. Even the pro’s know that. The Ironman family is a special one, and one that I can say I am proud to be a part of.

Chrissie Wellington rocking out to the YMCA.
Linsey Corbin chatting with a fan as she welcomes in the final finishers.
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