They say that completing an Ironman is 20% physical and 80% mental. I’m not sure who ‘they’ are, but I can tell you that based on what little racing experience I have, I know this to be true. So much so, that I spent a lot of time this year mentally preparing for all of my races, most especially Ironman.
This weekend I biked 210 km and swam 4000 m. After they had heard about the bike ride, I had a few of the 'Iron Gods' I know tell me 'You're ready for IMC!'. The words were kind, but the problem was I didn't feel ready. If it was just the bike and swim, fine, I was confident I could do it, but what was nagging at me was the run.
My long runs to date had not instilled a lot of confidence in me. Sure, up to 2 hours I felt ok, but anything longer and I started to get pretty achy and it was rough going. I know I'm going to be out there a hell of a lot longer than 2 hours on August 26, so I admit I was starting to get really worried.
It was important to me to have a good long run so I'd be more confident for race day and so if/when times got tough out there I could use this as part of my mental strategy repertoire, just as I do during the swim and bike. This is why I decided to run for 3 hours straight today, as was in my schedule, rather than break it up like last time. Today was my last long run, therefore, my last chance to have a good long run.
I had a rest day yesterday, which was a good set up for today. I headed out at about 6am this morning, fully stocked with gel, water and of course my handy MP3 player. The first song on the playlist - Sex Pistols 'Anarchy in the UK'. Alrighty then...let the games begin.
The first hour went well, but that was to be expected. An hours run now feels like what a half hour did last year! Definatley not a challenge. Along the way I had some fun with spider webs that were strung across the pathway, EWWWW!!! I guess at this time of the morning no one has run through them yet so I got too. DOUBLE ICK!! I ducked under one set, but didn't see another and was frantically flailing about trying to get the invisible threads off me as a fellow passed by. He must have been wondering what kind of strange kung fu moves I was doing, haha. I swear I was pulling them off me the rest of the run. I kept reminding myself that I'd be ok as long as there was no little creepy crawler attached to me! SHIVER!!
The second hour went well too. I still felt really strong - had a couple of nigglies in foot towards the end of the hour, but nothing I couldn't deal with. When that happens it's usually a sign that I'm tensing up and losing technique, so I focus on that and typically they go away.
Into my third hour I noticed that I wasn't dying for the 1 minute breaks like I normally do. (For my long runs I stick to the 10 and 1's routine.) In fact, I was going 15 minutes before I would check my time. This was definitely a good sign. I was maintaining an awareness of my running technique even more so now, as it is typically when I'm tired that I get sloppy. Hence the reason it was suggested I break up my run! At the 2:50 hour mark it was time to climb 'the hill'. I am happy to report that I was strong going up it. This brought me GREAT joy! I definitely had not felt this good on my other long runs.
I finished the run at 3:03 hours and I felt awesome. I started and ended the run strong, I had a good pace and I maintained my technique. This was what I needed to give me some confidence for IMC. I would remember this feeling when visualizing the race and planning my Ironman destiny!
I told my friend Keith about my run today and I commented that never in my life have I felt so mentally and physically strong. He wrote to me, 'Take a moment to remember what this level of fitness feels like. You've worked so hard for it, enjoy it.' I'm glad he reminded me to do so, because this does feel damn good!! I truly hope that all of the people out there training for IMC are feeling as good as I am right now. This is an exciting time!
The next time someone says to me 'You're ready for IMC', I can say with conviction - YES I AM! And likely I'll throw a little HOOYAH!!!! in there too.