Friday, October 13, 2006

Game On.

I wear a blue rubberband on my wrist.  I've told you about this before.  For Ironman, we (the Team and I) translated it into a blue Livestrong-ish Becoming Ironman wristband.  But normally it's just a plain old blue rubberband.  It lasts about a month on my wrist before it breaks or falls off.  I have a bag of, like, a thousand of them or something.

I started wearing it in 2004, after my first open-water swim when I, totally green and utterly unsuspecting and unprepared, found myself in the middle of my first washing machine on the swim.  It was horrifying, and I nearly had a panic attack in the water.  I came very close to just pulling up and quitting.  I managed to survive it, but afterwards found myself experiencing the most odd fear response when I got back in the pool - my body immediatley siezed up, afraid of the water.  So, I started wearing a blue rubberband.  Something I could see underneath the water and focus on.  Something I could kind of meditate on to relax my mind.

That's the backstory, but in time the rubberband just kind of came to represent to me: I Am A Triathlete.  Wearing it year-round gave me a kind of peace of mind that in the cold snowy winter, summer was inevitable.  I could look at it on the stationary trainer and be reminded that I'd ride again when the snow cleared.  And, I could see it on my wrist when passing a Krispy Kreme and have a tangible reminder for why I will not stop. I made up a goofy acronym for it - "Be Loose Under Extremes", and would give it a glance on tough century rides, or hot 15k runs, or the many Half Irons that were going to hell in a hand grenade.  Kind of silly, I know.  Kind of a crutch, I know.  But I am in some ways a very literal thinker, and I find that it helps me to have a switch to turn on. Something like - when the rubberband is around my wrist, I'm in the game. I'm in training. I'm at work. Also something tangible that I carry with me, so that the next time I'm faced with an extreme, I can recall the last time. And if I got through that, I'll get through this.

I went without the rubberband for about a month after Ironman, and my lifestyle relaxed accordingly.

It went back on about a week ago.

2007: The Year of the PR
In Which Our Hero Becomes Bigger, Faster, Stronger

It begins with the P.F. Chang's Rock N' Roll Arizona Marathon on January 14th. I'll spend the next 3 months in training for that, which will constitute a lot of my base training for the coming year. I won't be out for a PR at that race - Amy and I are headed to New Mexico that weekend, so I'm working the race into that. It'll be a goal race around which I can have a strong and focused winter, but I'll approach my training and racing of it with low heartrates and quality endurance-building. I'm happy to have a January marathon to look forward to, and glad to have found this one that works with plans we were already making and the M.L. King holiday that Monday. (I was considering the Disneyworld Marathon the week before instead, but this one works better with the rest of our lives. Maybe '08 for that one). In training for this race I intend to do a number of small fun-runs with friends and other short, local races. Hopefully something on the calendar each month, which will hopefully help those months go more quickly. I'll also be hitting the weights hard this winter. The goal is to be in-shape and ready to kick ass on the tri training season come February 1.

After the marathon, I'm back in the pool and on the indoor trainer. I'll spend limited time - once or twice on week - on the bike and in the pool until then. I'll continue doing fun-runs whenever I can. The weights stop on March 1.

The first triathlon of the year will, as usual, be the Chain of Lakes triathlon the first weekend in May, a shorter-than-average sprint. This will be my first attempt at a P.R., which may be a challenge considering that I had a pretty fast time last year. This is a "C" race, though - just the first tri of the season to work out the kinks and cobwebs.

Next comes another Marathon. Hell yes. I'll be heading back to the homeland to run the Fargo Marathon on May 19th, in North Dakota. Here, we're shooting for a P.R. This will be a "B" race, but I should be able to execute a better-than-before time on this race, as I've certainly never lit it up when it comes to the marathon. Hopefully some friends and family can come out for this one, we'll see.

Things get serious on June 10th when I return to the Liberty Triathlon Half Iron, seeking revenge on a poor performance last year (and the 3 mile detour, courtesy of some volunteer confusion). I intend to obliterate last year's time. I intend to set a Personal Record of epic proportions. By this time I should be a stupid strong runner, and for the love of Earl I am, after all, an Ironman. Time to rip this course up. This one has a big, blinking "A" next to it on the calendar.

The next weekend I'd like to head back to Wisconsin to race the Triterium Olympic distance race. I did this race in '05, and my Wisconsin family was all out there to cheer me on. It was a blast. But it's Amy's birthday weekend, so we'll see how that pans out. Possibly I'd just do the sprint there, instead, or it might be more than my lifestyle would allow. So this one has an asterisk next to it for now.

July 14th I'm back at the Lifetime Fitness triathlon in Minneapolis, doing the Olympic distance (provided the race directors don't wuss out again if it's a shade warm outside). This will be another "A" race, with all intentions of crushing my Olympic distance P.R. This will be my fourth time at this race, so I intend to rip it up.

The first phase of the season ends with the grand-daddy A race of the season, the Chicago Triathlon Triple Challenge. A super-sprint on Saturday the 25th, followed on Sunday by a Sprint course at 6am, and THEN coming into the finish line only to get back out on the Olympic course. Oh hell yes. 1.63 total miles in the water, 44.67 on the bike and 10.85 on the run. That sounds like a kickass good time.

After August - well, then we'll see. I'd like to volunteer at Ironman Wisconsin. I'd like another triathlon or two. I'd like to finish the year with another marathon. We'll see what the future holds for all of the above. Oh, and all of the above is subject to change, but you get the gist., that's a lot of racing! Yes, yes it is. But I'm really excited about that. I've never had an intelligently trained, full season before. In 2004, I was totally clueless and knew nothing of base training, nevermind technique in the water, on the bike, and during the run. And the past 2 seasons have been spent training for and around Ironman, so naturally I limited my long-course running. This past summer I only did a handful of races, and none between the middle of July until Ironman because I was in the meat of my long training sessions and actually couldn't afford to skip a century ride in order to go race. In short - Ironman dictated what I would and wouldn't do, so I raced according to the goal, more than just for the experience or joy of it. So this season is all about having fun. Doing lots of races, short and a few long. Seeing what I'm capable of with those distances and that kind of training. Setting goals that won't require 5 hours on the bike every weekend, or 2 miles in the pool.

And I have to say, on paper - it looks pretty damn exciting to me. I'm really looking forward to the '07 season. So yeah, the rubberband is on. It's time to go back to work.


M said...

Exciting, I'd say! Looks to me like you're going to have one very full season! Too bad Disney isn't going to work out--I'm planning on being there and I think so is TriGreyhound.

Glad to see you back in the game!

RunIrisRun said...

Count me in for Fargo!!! Too bad Arizona isn't a few days later...

triteacher said...

It looks pretty damn exciting - and ambitious -to me too! Yee hah, your season is planned. Now all you have to do is train for it. :)

I have been absorbed by school and haven't done a stitch of planning for '07. All in good time...

Todd said...

Ohhh Hellz yah!

In the words of "Wayne's World",


JohnnyTri said...

What a great year of plans!
I gotta plan mine out like that for 2007.
Rockon bro...

Anonymous said...

Ok, I just watched the video. So awesome, Chris. Events of the entire day came back and maybe even the desire to get my butt up and run again. (yeah, it wasn't fun so I stopped...ok, so maybe we don't do it b/c it's fun or not....) You make me want to plan my entire year around your race schedule! Count me in for the first weekend in May if you can handle a house guest. :) And one in Chicago? That's so fun! Hopefully the one in Madison will pan out but sounds like there is lots going on. More later- Erin

jbmmommy said...

Well, I hope you'll have time to blog it all because I'm up for reading about it. I doubt I will ever even consider a racing season of that magnitude and I wish you the best of luck '07.