Anything that I do in my life, professional or personal, I like to know everything. I like to call that as my own immersion program. I read, research and investigate everything into mini details. I want to be prepared for better or for worse. Some people might say that takes the exciting of the unknown, I like better this way. (Unless it is traveling, then I love love love the unknown!)
Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress in every society, in every family. Kofi Annan at World Bank Conference ‘Global Knowledge ’97
Information is powerful. I love and live for that. Not completely random, I work digging into data all day long. I guess I am naturally curious. Some people are curious but not afraid of not knowing. The thing is: I am part of groups in Facebook and I constantly see questions popping up and people requesting advice for the very 1st Ironman. People researching. Curious, just like me. What it really intrigues me is that the vast majority has already signed up for the race and are just now researching… And only now, they are looking for insights of fellow finishers. (What??!! Yes!!!) I admire those people, I really do.
CUDDOS (for all Spelling bee contestants, it has been corrected!) KUDOS TO YOU! The fear of unknown on a race such as the Ironman (or a sprint, really!) does not excite me, it scares me. I’m a chicken. Seriously.
When I decided to sign up for my 140.6, my coach at the time said it was not a good idea. I can’t deny that I was not happy. In fact, I did not renew the contract. I did not think she was tactful or gave me enough reasons to convince me I could not do it. She was more concerned with my work schedule instead of explaining me the amount of time I would have to spare for that. I need something more than “your work schedule will not allow“. So, I did what any “data junkie” would do. I read about it all, I researched quite a bit. I talked to lots and lots of people: finishers, Ironmen in training, other coaches and it came down that I decided to do it because I could do it and I did it.
As of now, I have gone through 2 Ironman training seasons and I have completed 2 Ironman races. I do not know everything but here is a quick list of what I believe is valuable information for anyone that is thinking about tackling 140.6 miles.
Get the family on board. Either, you are single, married, divorced or it is just complicated. Make sure everyone knows about your journey. You will need support, not only when you can’t make that family reunion or you are skipping someone’s birthday party, but you will need people to support you, to believe in you, to cheer you, to help with your laundry (Oh girl, be ready. You will not believe how much time you will spend doing this) and to give you food (cause sometimes you will be too tired to grab a protein bar. Believe me!). You need a support crew and they will be proud. It is rewarding and emotional for both parties.
Forget your social life, weekends and friends. You will have no time or will be too tired for any of those. Seriously. Some friends will understand, some will not. Be ready to lose some of them along the way. Happy hours will be at the pool around 5 am, or at a run after 8 pm on a Friday night. It will only depend on your schedule availability. Weekends will focused on long rides and runs. Rides will range from 3 to 6 hours, depending on mileage and speed. I am slow, so the really long ones are very long rides. The long runs also take time. After all, you are “kinda” training for a marathon too.
If you join a local tri club, you might even be able to find someone that is training for the same race and if you are lucky enough, it is their first as well or they are at the same fitness level that you are. You will make new friends and I promise it will be fun. I highly recommend a coach that believes in your potential and commitment. Here is my take on training plans and coaches.
Gadgets. Triathlon is a great sport but it comes with some price tags. Do not get intimated about the whole tri bike thing. Would be nice to have it? Yes, but you can ride 112 miles on a road bike. I know a lot of 1st timers that have done on road bikes. It took lots of training and dedication like anyone else on a tri bike. (HINT: The tri bikes won’t pedal by themselves! Ha!). I did my first 70.3 on a road bike, decided to upgrade to tri bike only when I signed up for the full. If you are on a road bike and you do not own clip less pedals, it is one investment to consider. It is a no-brainer, they will help on your bike ride like no one else will.
Let’s talk about watches. You do not need the latest GPS version of Garmin, the 920x (my heart beats faster, but I don’t need it!). I mean we do, but if you are on a budget, the oldest versions work out great for less than half of the price. Another option is getting a used one. Slowtwitch.com has a forum that people like me and you sell their older version for a discount. Facebook has some groups as well, but I have never bought anything from there. On both places, you are able to get deals in watches, bikes, wheels, pretty much anything. It is a way to control your expenses right off the bat.
It is a boys club. We are about to change this. Ironman initiative #Womenfortri is on our side, but I have to be honest: right now, it is a boys club. I do not mind at all, in fact my training buddies are guys. I like it, I feel safe and I feel I am pushing hard. Yes. Be ready to pedal faster, some dudes will not wait for you but some will and those will be remembered when they are out of nutrition. Cause yes…we bring extra. Always. They don’t always do. Ha! Do not get discouraged with faster guys, and some dudes are slower. Yes!! And they get mad when we pass them. Just smile and wink! 😉
Nutrition. You can not diet and do this. You need carbs, protein, fibers, veggies…You need to eat. You need FOOD! It requires a strong mind and a fueled body. I had a coach that used to say: “only finishes who eats”. Do not forget to eat, he always said multiple times. He is so right. Race day and training day. EAT! So forget the diet, if you eat right and train right, your body will get tight. Having a nutritionist helps. I won big, mine is also a triathlete.
Be consistent. Listen to your body. Be ready for the best months of your life. You will see your body and mind transform. You will reach days when you are tired and out of energy and my advice is take that day off. Listen to your body. Rest, if you are consistent on your training, one day sitting on the couch will not damage your Ironman journey. In fact, it will make you stronger.
If you made this far, I am hoping that I was able to help you in some way for your journey. I can guarantee that it will be a long journey but it will be worth every second, tear, sweat and smile. It will hurt, you might cry, you might laugh of excitement but it is all worth it.
Now if you have not register yet and made this far, I think you believe you can manage it!! You are ready to sign up. Go ahead and start your registration by telling Ironman your story. I am sure it will be worth telling. Don’t be afraid. We can only be afraid of what we do not know and when the time comes, you will know. And so will your body. You will be ready. Trust the training.