Monday, August 20, 2012

Some Final Thoughts before Heading Out to Canada

So it’s almost here, 6 days until Ironman Canada and it’s hard to believe that this goal I have been working towards for over 8 months has finally arrived.

You can probably tell based on the lack of posting here on my blog that I have busy. In addition to training I’ve also had some projects that I have been participating in at work have also gone into production. And there has been all the organization and finalizing details for my trip to Canada. While the workout time has been cut way back in the past few weeks (aka the taper), the day to day stresses have not been. And then there’s sleep – I’ve been getting lots and lots of sleep. Between 8-10 hours a night and often a nap at lunch time or at 5pm.

I expected to feel fantastic during the taper as I usually do when I am training for a half ironman. My typical taper pattern over the last couple of years was to feel rested and energetic. Not this time, I generally felt lethargic and irritable. The irritability could definitely have a lot to do with the stress going on at work and personally but the lethargy was definitely bringing me down. I also have just a lot of little ouchies going on, my typical shin splints but also a sore left knee, tight calves, sore right shoulder, etc. Coach Mary reassured me that this was normal and that I was only experiencing what a lot of other people do during a taper. Lesson learned: ironman tapering doesn’t necessarily compare to previous experience and don’t expect it to.

Do I feel ready? Absolutely! I have put in the training and I feel confident of my ability to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2. This training has been KILLER and I have had some training sessions that tested me to my limits but I know I can do all of this even in tough heat so I feel ready to go in that regard.

During my last long-ish taper ride a couple of weekends ago I experienced one of my most dramatic low blood sugar episodes of the season. It was my own fault in a way, I had forgotten to turn down the basal rate on my pump before leaving the park lot but I still ended up getting an uncharacteristic drastic drop very quickly. I think a lot of people have heard stories about diabetics who get very angry when they have low blood sugar, to the point where they get outright violent. Well, I wasn’t violent but I was very ANGRY about the situation. My trusty training partner and friend, Sarah, recognized that I had a low blood sugar and tried to suggest that it might be time for a break but I wasn’t having it. Sarah had to pretty much scold me off the bike because she began to get concerned for my safety when I was weaving on the white line when it was a little wet outside. It took about 10 minutes for me to recover and Sarah had to endure about 5 minutes of my negative attitude and thoughts. Here’s a picture we took to commemorate the experience, keep in mind that this is after I recovered so I actually do have a little smirk on my face.

Don't let this be your low blood sugar face.

And finally, my thoughts about what is coming up in 6 days…

I have thought a lot about what might happen if something goes wrong race day. I have a plan for almost every scenario but I have also been giving some thought to the biggest question of all – what happens if I don’t finish? I feel like this is a little taboo to talk about. Like it’s a thought that I shouldn’t even entertain but I will none the less.

So there is a lot that could go wrong for me on race day. I’ve got plan A, B, C, and D for all the potential diabetes issues but a ‘perfect storm’ of issues could happen that I can’t recover from. I’ve occasionally had some stomach cramping during the past few months that has been very painful and very intense, if that issue rears its ugly head on race day it may be too much to bear.

But the biggest challenge I see now is my fear of descents. I think it must be really hard for people who are not familiar with anxiety and fear to understand how a person can be so debilitated by fear but it is worse for me to experience that fear than it is for me to experience pain. My plan is to just take the course as it comes and to pull over to the side of the road if the fear gets so great that my body and bike begin shaking.

On the bright side though, I really think once I get on the run that the hardest MENTAL part of the race for me will be over. That is not to say that I will not suffer on the run since I most definitely will but there won’t be any fear and that will be a tremendous mental boost for me.

But what if I don’t finish? I have given it some thought and I am ultimately OK with that and here’s why.
 In the list of words that describe who I am - ironman won’t be in the top 5 and possibly not in the top 10. Some of those words are:
Care Giver

I have completed this training and had to bear through a lot of difficulty. No one gets to the end of ironman training, if they’re training sincerely, without perseverance and difficulty. But they were already found qualities and they aren’t qualities that will go away if I don’t finish my race in 17 hours on Sunday, August 26th. So if I don’t make it – that’s really OK. I’ve already completed – an won – this not so literal race.

Race day updates will be provided in real time on Facebook via the Susan.K Ironman Canada Tracker page. It will be pretty late for those of you on ET since I will be on the West Coast so feel free to wake up on Monday morning to the news of how it went. I will be posting some pictures and maybe some brief thoughts pre-race on the Facebook page but this will likely be the last blog post until the full race report.

Thank you, thank  you, thank you for all the positive thoughts, energy, and prayers. I will take all I can get.

Much Love,