One of the things that has surprised me most about Ironman training is how all-consuming it is. Once I’m out the door each day, with all the right gear, the workouts are tough but doable. It’s the rest of life that’s being squeezed in between larger and larger chunks of training time. If I’m not running, riding or swimming, I’m commuting to and from the pool or trail, uploading workouts, running to the bike shop, or organizing gear. At home, the natural chaos of kid-clutter has taken over with nothing and nobody to stop it. Meals are starting to be on-the-go. I go to bed before my girls, almost every night. Stuff is piling up on my desk, stuff that needed to be taken care of days ago.
Maybe this crazy-feeling schedule is because it’s my first Ironman, and I’m experimenting with the best way to accomplish everything that needs to be done. I know plenty of amazing Ironman athletes who hold down full-time jobs, marriage, and kids of various ages, and still arrive at the start on race day fully trained and prepared for their race. I don’t feel quite that organized yet, but at least I’ve scheduled my race during a year when a bit of slacking outside of training won’t have dire consequences. My girls are old enough to get their own breakfast and do laundry, and I’m also willing to slack a little on screen-time limits – at least it’s summer.
It’s ten weeks out from race day, and I’m still struggling to find the right balance. A few things that have always worked for me in the past still work. Doing workouts early in the day, prepping all gear the night before, and not planning to do much of anything around 8 PM are all small strategies to make life easier when I’m training during a regular season. For Ironman, these things still work, but they just become exponential: Don’t even speak to me after 8 PM – I’m done! Prepping gear the night before gets magnified ten times: prep for three different workouts, plus an unrelated meeting (clothes and makeup!). Don’t forget the girls need to be in two places at the same time I need to be somewhere else. My car is loaded up as if I’m gone for a week. When I manage to get everyone where they need to be, including myself, I feel just as satisfied as when I hit my paces on a run workout.
Yet, I’m excited to forge on with all of it! I believe this has a lot to do with how much I really want to do this. Two or three years ago, I was still unsure I’d ever do an Ironman. I was busy meeting some other racing goals along the way, and busy with the rest of life, too. Then, suddenly it was time to start thinking about which year and season would allow me to be successful at full Ironman training. My girls’ ages and school situations, my husband’s work schedule, ending a three-year volunteer commitment, and being settled in a new house all contributed to my decision. 2015 was it. But also, almost twenty years after doing my first triathlon, it’s just time. There is not another year or season I would have wanted to start this journey, crazy schedules and all.