Monday, September 01, 2008

Ironman In Training


Have you seen this man?

Neither have I!

He was last seen in action…wait a minute. Who am I kidding. There is no action here. Why? This man is training for Ironman!

I digress.

Ironman training is in full swing right now and it’s safe to say I might not be able to pick out my husband in a line up of 5 foot 10 dark-haired men. But I still have pictures to remind me of the man I once knew. The man before Ironman.

If you are an Ironman widow you know how this goes. You see bits and pieces that suggest your husband is alive and living in your home. You hear him – sometimes – you smell him – more often than not - you know he is around but he is like smoke. You can’t get your hands on it. Because it moves too fast or quickly disappears. And all that is left behind is bits and pieces suggesting Husband Was Here.

Bits and pieces that look like this:


Do you know what that is? A small volcano of laundry that has erupted in my laundry room twice this week. Those are all of Chris’ clothes! We are talking 3 feet worth of laundry. This week I have built a tall man in laundry in my home, 6 feet tall. Yes I have seen more of my husband’s clothes than my husband in clothes these days. He leaves before I wake up, he returns late at night about half the man he started as earlier in the day.

The other night at the pool I swam 3200 glorious short-lived less than an hour long yards. As I exited the lane, husband looked at me and said “6 more”. 6 more what… minutes? Yards? 50’s? No, 6 more hundred. 600!? I thought about doing some vertical kicking in the deep well while waiting but then said to myself now now no need to be an overachiever today. So I sat in the hot tub and watched him in the pool. Back and forth freestyle, fly. It looked absolutely awful. Somebody release this man from the prison cell of Ironman before he hurts himself.

Because you know what it’s like. You are so tired you stop realizing that you are tired. You ignore your body’s cues for so long that it just gets in a rhythm and goes. And when you finally do stop – or taper – well, you know what happens? I saw it the other day. 5 grown men all training for Ironman at Lake in the Hills. Or, as I would call them – the living dead. Like zombies in unison saying I am tired when you ask how they are. Hungry, antsy, crashed from the Ironman buzz and hope to wake up in time for race day.

The other weekend while I spectated at the Chicago Triathlon, Chris was doing a 120 mile ride. How unfun is that? About 120 miles of unfun. Came back home with a burrito in hand around 4 pm. Later that night he went grocery shopping (remember that debacle?). Never send a man with 120 miles in his legs to a grocery store. See last Monday’s blog for what he brings back. A few days later he had to do a 2 hour 15 minute run. Thursday we went to the group ride and then he had to run 45 minutes. At 9:15 pm he was still running outside. By 9:45 pm I pronounced his legs, his personality, any semblance of the man I married – dead. Rolled over by the Ironman.

Saturday I woke up and husband was gone. Departed the home at 6 am to arrive at one Ironman Wisconsin bike course at 8:30 am. Aboard bicycle by 9 am. At 3:48 pm, my phone rings.

Ironman Hell Hotline, how may we help you?

“I quit.”

One moment sir while we connect you to your loving wife:

"I have a headache, I’m tired and I can’t do this anymore. In the middle of my ride I stopped by a tree and took a nap. After the ride I laid down on the concrete – ON THE CONCRETE - and took another nap. I am supposed to run 1 hour. Call the coach. Tell her I can’t do it. Tell her I have been beat by Ironman."

On my husband's behalf, to the coach I send an electronic cry for help. She quickly types back – you need to feed him junk food tonight.

CURSE THE COACH

One (angry) trip to the pizza place later….and I am about ready to call off Ironman.

Obviously he made it back alive from his long ride. And will try again with the run another day. Seems that someone wanted to see how little he could drink on a 5 hour ride. In case you were wondering, you should never make bets like that with mother nature because she is a bitch and she will always win. You will find yourself taking a concrete nap.

But it's not all husband Ironman training in the house. I'm making my preparations as well. In fact my training for Ironman Spectator Extraordinaire has gone quite well. Of course I am in the thick of it right now with monster bricks but I trust in another 3 weeks when the taper begins the freshness will return to my legs and…my mouth.

You might be wondering about my training plan. I would be too. It’s not often that secrets of top spectator professionals are revealed. I spent a few weeks crafting up the best training plan possible, uploaded it into Training Peaks and now can safely say I am on track to win the spectator division by a landslide. World record performance if you will.

What are some of my secret training plans? Lucky for you I am willing to share because as you know I do not believe there is a magic pill for success in sport. I do however think that after 17 hours on my feet I may change my mind and publicly state that the magic pill is…Advil.

Get your pen and paper ready kids. Here are some of the skills I have been practicing:

Ability to stay awake from 4 am until 12 am (I have been consuming massive amounts of caffeine in preparation for this honestly this is nothing new for me but it still counts as training)

Ability to consume mixed beverages and pedal bike to next location (after 6 Ragbrais I would say I have this one nailed)

Ability to do flying dismount from flat pedals (a work in progress, almost got brave enough to try this the other night but during training session involving skill listed above I felt it was not safe)

Ability to stand on feet in hot baking sun for up to 17 hours (the fact that I have done Kona has readily prepared me for this, there is no need to revisit that hot box of hell called the Queen K in training so let’s just call myself prepared)

Ability to call it as you see it (and I quote myself while spectating at Chicago to the man that ran by at mile 1 son you got a panty on your head….really, he did)

Ability to watch people throw up with getting the urge myself (years of working with children has prepared me for all things vomit)

Ability to turn head to left quickly to look at age on calf of each participant that runs by in order to give husband accurate count of how many are ahead in age group (this one might be tricky because it requires turning left over and over again but since I only breathe right in swimming I do believe this will balance me out but if you see me in my front yard doing this it’s not a nervous twitch, it’s called training)

Ability to shout gushingly positive things at athletes as they run up the Palani Hill without saying sucka or huzzah as they run by because I’m so glad it’s them and not me (for this I will be biting my tongue every time sarcasm leaves my mouth, it’s safe to say I might not have any tongue left by the time Ironman arrives)

Ability to convince people they are “almost there!” (I’ve been testing how far out you can actually start saying that to people before they rage, I did a 10K the other night and someone shouted to us at mile 4 “you are almost there” and the guy behind me shouted BULLSHIT, he was kind of right so I am guessing that at mile 4 out of 6 translates to two-thirds of the way done, put them in marathon terms and by mile 15 I will start telling people you are almost there to see how that flies)

I would tell you more but then I would have to find each of you and make you pinky swear to the secrecy of my training plan. And with all of this training - I don't have time for that.

My biggest training weekend comes next week. I will be heading up to the Ironman Wisconsin course with Jen Harrison. Today begins my mini taper into this event and in an effort to preserve my voice I will go into silence until next Sunday. I am cutting out caffeine so when I finally do drink it Sunday I will go nonstop apeshit for 17 hours around the race course. All week I will be engaging in short workouts with high bouts of intensity. Tomorrow is my last pre-race brick in which I will stand outside my house by the curb shouting YOU CAN DO IT while ringing a cowbell.

And if you don’t see me next Sunday on the course, it’s safe to say I have been arrested and can be found at the county jail sleeping on a bench with my head resting on a cowbell.

Cheers to Ironman training! (seriously, CHEERS! I've got lots of them...)

14 comments:

Wes said...

I am taking special pains to make sure I don't go MIA during this Ironman training. LOL!!! Keeping the spouse happy is the fifth discipline of Ironman training.

Flatman said...

"almost there!" HA!

*first*

Karen said...

LMAO!

Very funny blog... should I ever me so insane as to think about doing an IM I shall point my loved one to your blog so they know what to expect!!

Happy voice taper ;o)

Roo said...

So- maybe there's a new career is this. Can I hire you as a cheerleader for my next race? I'll pay you in mixed drinks, coffee, and homemade cake!

rr said...

Don't forget the frappacino hand-off - I need you at mile 20. If I haven't quit by then.

~Robyn~ said...

Yeah someone told me "you're almost there" as I was making the turn to my 2nd loop of the run yesterday. Almost there does not equal 13 miles...I almost punched the dude, but that would have required energy...of which I did not have.

Jessi said...

My husband Tom might have you beat... he is by far the best race support ever. When people ask him if he is a triathlete too, he says, with pride, "No, I am a spectathlete."

Rob Chance said...

Liz,

That was so funny. I have been told by my wife that I can do an Ironman again, but get this.....I can't train for it.

CAMI said...

Very funny! I can tell you from experience that many people SAY they are going to cheer, but they get stuck in the same rut of "you can do it" without coming up with anything original or exciting... And as much as they say it will be okay to bring pom poms, when you actually do they try to distance themselves from the crazy lady... but the athletes liked it... and ringing the cowbell sounds like a good idea cause it's so cool when you run by it, but when you are the one holding it, you start to go deaf in the second hour or so.

Just one final note: almost there is NOT 13 miles to go in a marathon - or even 2 miles to go. Almost there is when I turn that next corner, I can see the damn finish line and there aren't any other turns in between that make it farther away than it actually appears!

Good luck with your training :)

Jennifer Cunnane said...

How funny is that? I would love to see you guys actually stand for 17 hours ringing a cow bell and going ape shit - sounds very tiring!

TRIHARDCHIK said...

Your post is so funny, and believe me, I need something to laugh at now. I attempted IM Louisville on Sunday--made it to mile 14 on the run and had to stop. The run was two loops, and as I finished the first loop (many were finishing the second) I kept hearing people tell me "you're almost there". Well, the fact that I wasn't and that I knew I wouldn't make it made everything even worse.

But people like you cheering really help all the athletes. You are a great wife and "spectathlete" for this race. Have fun the rest of the way.

You know that when you do see your husband more during the "taper" you will probably wish he wasn't around. My family didn't know what to do with me. I was a total basket case.

Enjoy the whole enchilata. He's trained really hard and will enjoy the race.

P.S. On the bike course in Louisville, I saw MANY cyclists pulled over laying under trees. It was a hot day on a tough course. While I didn't go that far, it sure looked like a great idea!

IronMatron said...

too bad I can't actually track you as a spectator to hear how it goes...
Have fun!
I wouldn't go until then without caffeine, of course. Bad, bad idea.

karinsull said...

Sooooo glad to hear that Ironman training is rough even for the spouse who's an Ironwoman herself; my husband only wishes I'd handled all this with a fraction of your humor. You've given me a great idea though--I think I'll bring my 8-year-old's pompons (no, that's not a typo) to IMoo. See you at the finish line!

kerrie said...

i detect a cheer challenge. bring it! i am starting my training tomorrow so you better be ready...
see you on ali'i - i'll be the one with the giant cowbell saying 'you're almost there' as everyone heads out on their run.