Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Dream in Numbers

Some people dream of money, some dream of fame, supermodels, to-do lists, past memories, what’s to come. But us triathletes, we dream in numbers.

Case and point - the other night I had a dream. It was about Kona.

It was one of those early morning, easy to recollect dreams so vivid that you sit there stunned for a moment trying to convince yourself that you have just woken up from the land of make believe and that you didn’t just spend the night running through a hall or cutting up a doll or looking for your husband. All strange bits and pieces of dreams I’ve had.

Back to the dream - I had just finished Kona a day earlier and I was looking back at my overall time. Now here is where the dream gets a little dreamy. You see, I dreamt that I completed the race in 9:47.

I know what you’re thinking. Whatever, Michellie, Desiree, Natascha. Yes, I know. That is about as dreamy as it gets. I mean, really. 9:47? What was I thinking? But that’s the point. I wasn’t. I was dreaming.

So here’s where it gets a little weird or maybe it is not surprising to you at all. I actually knew my splits. All three. 59 minute swim (in my dreams), 5:11 bike (perhaps if I wear my rocketship underwear), 3:15 run (now that one I might actually believe). All superb times, times I only dream of (really) but what puzzles me the most is that if you add that up what you actually find is that I spent over 20 minutes in transition. I’m not sure what I was doing because the dream didn’t really cover that part. I imagine I was changing outfits because I fell asleep to thoughts of what would I wear at Kona and if would I change. I was imagining all of the outfit options I have, imagining myself swimming, biking, running in them or swimming then changing before the bike or swimming, biking, and changing before the run.

Now those of you have never done an Ironman at this point are thinking I need to get some other interests, read a magazine, take my mind off the tri before I become completely obsessed. But you’ve never done Ironman. And what you don’t know is that these are the things you need to think about. Because if you’re going to spend 140.6 miles in an outfit it better be right. And if you spend enough time thinking about them, they inevitably sneak into your thoughts during sleep.

So that might explain why I was dreaming about Kona in the first place. But it didn’t end there – with that overall time and the splits. I actually dreamt about my husband’s time too. And you’re not going to believe this (you shouldn’t, it was a dream) – 9:06.

At this point, the dream has crossed the line from the ridiculous to the absurd because Chris has never even done Ironman before. His only task on October 13th is to make it to the finish line while still being able to remember his name….and carry my bike to the car. Any predictions of times or splits must be completely let go. And 9:06? Maybe if he steals Tim Hola’s rocketship underwear.

So I don’t want anyone to think I am prophesizing about times or pace. Because I don’t think I have that kind of power or clairvoyant skills. A few years ago when our friend Joe did the marathon, I predicted he would finish in 4:08. I told him it was a combination of complex mathematical calculations (bs x bs-squared) and a dream that I had. Well, come marathon day Joe goes and runs himself a 3:28. For what it’s worth, my math may have been a little off or Joe just had a really good day.

Last year while training for Kona, I tried not to think too much about numbers and pace. I simply went by effort. I held a pace that felt easy, comfortable. Something I could maintain for 10+ hours. But I’ve got to be honest. As I trained, I had a feeling in my body, in my mind that it would take 1:15 to swim, about 6 hours to bike, and 3:30 to run. And come race day that is almost exactly what I did.

A few weeks ago, I asked Chris to tell me how long it would take him to do the Kona bike. Don’t think too much, or calculate, just shout out the first number that comes to your mind. And he did. That was the pace, I told him. The magic pace that you could probably hold if you race smart and fuel yourself. I believe your body knows. I believe your mind can prophesize like this if you know your body well enough. If you listen and let the dialogue between mind and body continually take place in training and racing.

Though I think your body knows and your mind will follow, I also know there is a difference between what is reality and what is a dream. And the space between the two is really for you to decide. I was talking to my coach today and I told her about these Kona dreams. And you know her reply? It all starts with a dream, doesn’t it?


So, 9:47, here I come....in my dreams, of course.

2 comments:

Bob Mitera said...

9:47 for you - smart money wouldn't bet against you. That type of performance (or better) is there for you (and Chris). My club swimming coach used to tell us (before championships), "Somebody is going to swim so fast they'll swim out of their suit and everyone attending this meet will be talking abou that person. You need to become that person." It does start with a dream (and hard work). Tim is a great example of dreams meeting hard work and an awesome attitude. Every year there is somebody "new" shaking things up in Kona...why not you?

Kerri Robbins said...

I bet you'll do it. Hands down. You seem to have a knack for making dreams come true. BTW, don't know what was better... seeing you run by with such ease and grace at Steelhead or your race reprot. Well Done. Congrats.