Monday, September 01, 2008


Well I've had a solid but hard week of training. The schedule called to "lighten up" this week, a "rest" from the long mileage. 4 workouts of 6 miles each. I chose to run them on a hilly route - 2 stupid serious climbs, out and back course - 4 stupid serious hills total. I also chose to run in the heat. I needed this kind of conditioning - it kicked my ass, it relegated me to walking more than once, it made me gasp and wheez and swear. If you happened to drive by and saw a dude dripping from the tip of his nose with his hands on his hips - yeah, that was me.

But, I'm better for it.

I needed to stoke the fire a little bit. I've been feeling plateaued, even complacent a bit. I'm bored with my running route after this long season. I'm sick of my iPod and every shred of music on it. I usually look for something external to change it up, but this week I decided to dig deeper into me and push some. I chose the heat and hills. I don't know what payoff - if any - might come from it, but it was an interesting experiment that, in just 4 "short" runs (ha, felt like they took forever) kind of tore me down before building me up. I feel a bit energized going into this first of 3 critical final weeks of long mileage.

This week I go back to a couple of shorter easier runs, a day of hard speed work, and then an 18-20 miler on Saturday. 18 minimum - I'd like to go 20 if I'm feeling it. This long run should give me my first real indication of just what's possible come the marathon on October 5th. I'll follow it up with 22 next week, and another 22 miler the week after that.

I'm getting healthier. I wonder if I won't wish I had just one more week, but my gut tells me that I'm on point to peak at just the right time. Don't know yet what that "peak" will consist of - 9:00 or 9:30 or 8:50 minute miles or what - this is the unknown that I hope to start resolving a bit more this week. But I realize that this is the first time in about 5 weeks when I've felt in charge of me, and not slave to my right ankle. This is encouraging.

And I think some of my positive energy is being influenced by no small thing - it's Ironman week here in Wisconsin. This is, without question, my favorite time of year. It's my personal 8-years-old-can't-sleep-tonight Christmastime. I love this week. I love the aura and electricity of Ironman energy that pervades the scene. I love that I think about it at work, mention it while feeding my daughter, let it drive my workouts. I'll visit the Village on Thursday. Volunteering on Sunday. Cheering on my man Thomps and all the other athletes out there, back among my heroes, back among legend. Ironman is an extremely special thing to me. It represents something deeper and bigger than a race, or an M-Dot. It's bigger than a celebration of triathlon, but that's part of its fantastic joy for me - triathlon itself so much a metaphor to me for What Could Be. Ironman is being among the best of the triumphant, relentless human spirit. For one day, you are surrounded by, often very literally, the very best people have to offer. You are sharing in the hard work and celebrating the discipline of 2500 other people. Being around that, it makes you want to be better. A better person, even, and I don't care if that sounds corny. It makes cliches real. It makes corporate taglines, Anything Is Possible truly meaningful. It makes quiet, solitary spectators stop and look and watch and wonder - deep in their private hearts - Could I do that? - and in my experience, almost every great thing in life begins with that simple question.

For one week, and especially 4 days, and especially 1 day, I revel in that, even if I've only just discovered it intimately 3 years ago. I celebrate it, and swim in its awesomeness, and take pride in the efforts of total strangers and feel passionate hope for those I'm lucky enough to call friends. I don't know about you, but I don't get a similar opportunity very often.

I know I'm not alone. We all around here wait for the first banners to fly downtown, the first signs of Ironman coming again. It's more than a Sunday race that makes us crane our necks for a closer look to see if the buoys are in the water yet. We can't wait to see it's true is the thing. That it's really here. If you know what I'm talking about, then you know what I'm talking about.

This year is made even a cooler, knowing that next year, I get to play again. My God. Man, that is some sweet, sweet music.

Big congratulations to my man Brazo, who knows exactly what I'm talking about, having finished his second IM in Kentucky this weekend in 15:48:51, fighting a civil war against himself. He came out the winner. Ironman often do.



qcmier said...

Can't wait to get back there place we call Ironman....


xt4 said...

Sweet - TriAl is back, I'd misplaced that in my head! I'll be out there cheering you on bro -

Steve Stenzel said...

Enjoy the week out there!!

Alili said...

I want to live in Madison...

Have a great time volunteering!

Wil said...

SO JEALOUS of you, soak it all up brother!