Well everyone, I’m in the final stretch. Sometimes it seems like I live my days in varying degrees of just trying to get to this point. It’s the 14th of the 14×150 in the pool. It’s the last 2.5 minutes of my 15 minute intervals on the bike. It’s the downhill end to my run that drops me at my door. And in an ironman there is nothing like seeing that Garmin tick over to 25 miles.
Leading up to that point is what I like to call “exercise blackout.” I basically will myself into this zone where my mind blacks out and I just let my body execute what it needs to do. This is generally reserved for the particularly hard or long days. My body will do it – the time will pass and it will happen, good or bad, one way or another – I just need to let it. But it is so hard that if I let my brain turn on, the only thoughts that will enter are ones that keep telling me how hard it is – and I don’t need to hear that. So, I turn the brain off.
And then in the final stretch the brain comes back on, because it’s that moment where you finally start to believe you’re going to do it. No matter how many times I have raced an ironman or done a particularly hard training session, I’ll admit that at the beginning, I’m never 100% I can do it. I tell myself over and over that I can — being able to compartmentalize and tunnel vision the heck out of the positive outcome has been a large part of my successful racing. I am really good at not letting the doubt creep in. I’ll out-loud positive self talk myself to sleep if that is what it takes for me to not lie awake with doubts in my mind!
So, what else happens in the final stretch? Actually, a lot. If you’re not careful about the details and about keeping some focus, things can fall apart in this time. I ran myself into my first Kona qualifier with 400 meters to go (IM Arizona 2011). I’ve been outsprinted in the last 400 meters (IM CDA 2015). I’ve sprinted past Natascha Badmann in the last 100 meters. (IM Switzerland 2016). People let their guard down and lose focus in the final stretch all the time.
So, I’m dotting my I’s and crossing my T’s, packing my bags and getting ready to head to one of my favorite races today – Savageman 70.0! It is such a luxury to be driving to a race, with Ramona in tow no less! She is super excited for our romantic weekend in Deep Creek Lake. But we are staying focused, and ready to do the work. We have 8 more days of training and racing before I wrap up the triathlon season for 2017. And after already doing 5 iron-distances races this year (on 4 continents), a 70.3, coaching three training camps in Tucson, and co-hosting the IronWomen podcast…..I’m ready for those Mai Thais in Kona. But we’ll think more about that 8 days from now 🙂