Toeing the Line

Do you train to race? 
Or do you race to train?
I have been thinking about this recently. You know, what do I enjoy doing the most? Is it the act of preparing for a specific race, a circle on the calendar marking D-Day for an A or B race? Or is it the race itself, the adrenaline of race morning, the nervousness, the EXPO, the fun of seeing people you’ve never met in person but follow online like their training and well being is more important than even your own?
I tend to flip flop on this over the course of the year. There are times that the training is monotonous, and you wonder if it’s worth it just to torture yourself for 70.3 miles. This always goes away on race day, especially when you cross the finish line. 
Yeah … it was worth it then.
And then there are days when riding those 40-50 miles on a bike is just … well … reinvigorating. After a stressful week at work, or money issues at home, or car repairs, or home repairs piling up, the act of getting on a bike, strapping on the helmet, and powering through at 20 mph is releasing. You can forget about all those issues, because they don’t matter. All that matter is that rider ahead of you that you are going to catch and pass before the next hill, or the blind curve ahead, or the hill you are climbing at 14 mph, but knowing that when you reach the top you are going to fly down the other side at 25 mph. The burn in your legs hurts, and feels good, all at the same time. 
You notice I am sure that I use the bike as an example. I have yet to find this zone in the running area, though I KNOW there are other readers of this blog that feel that way about running. I am still a bit too heavy to be comfortable running. It’s looked at, for me, as a necessary evil. I hope this changes this year when triathlon season ends and running season is priority. 
And swimming? I still have my issues in the swim. I can have great training sessions and open water sessions, but then on race day panic as if I have never been in the water before. Then, on another race, I can power through like Mark Spitz (or Michael Phelps for you younger people). I will say that there are some training sessions that you get into a groove, the water seems to be holding you up a little more than usual, and you stroke through as easy as if it’s air. Swimming can be the MOST relaxing part of the training. Now if I can only take care of the race day issue.
I also am not sure about longer races. My training team and partners have noticed this about me, in that I LOVE sprint and speed work, but not too fond of long, slow training. Swimming 2000 meters is mind numbing to me at times, but if I can do 2000m as 20 100m sprints? I’m an IN. Same goes for the bike and run …. if you tell me “JC, there’s a rider ahead and you need to catch him within one mile” I am off like a shot. Now it probably will take to two miles to recover from that little sprint, but I will catch that rider. In the run, as you might know, I use the Galloway method of run/walk splits. I started at a 1×1, and now usually do a 2×1 or 2×0:45. In the run portion (the longer one of course) I can usually get to 9-10:00 pace, but my walk is bad, so it usually evens out to around 11:30-12:30 splits. Not bad when you consider a year ago I couldn’t do 20:00 pace.
I enjoyed the 70.3 a lot, even though it was HARD and HOT. I would do that again with no problem (actually am in September at Augusta, Georgia), and I am used to the half marathon distance now as well. But the marathon? I did my first, and only, last January at Disney and it was PAINFUL. It was, no lie, the hardest thing I have ever done and I didn’t enjoy it. I was so done by the end I couldn’t even enjoy the finish line. I just wanted it to be over. So after that I wonder how I would enjoy, and get through, a full Ironman.
Don’t get me wrong though. One IS in my future. The current plan is to do two more half’s this year and next, then do the Florida Ironman in Panama City. It will be right after my 50th birthday, so this is a MUST do race. But in the spirit of this blog post, what is it that is getting me to toe that line in October 2013?
The task of the training? I love the training.
The chance to do something I have never done before” My last two years have been full of these.
I think it comes down to one basic thing … 
The chance to hear …
“JC HARRIS, you ARE an IRONMAN”
It’s hard to explain, but just THINKING about hearing that boom across the loudspeakers is emotional.
JC is emotional?
When the HELL did THAT happen????

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