Thursday, August 03, 2006

Now what?

Ironman Lake Placid was 12 days ago and I am still buzzed by experience, still love talking/pontificating about the experience. It was definitely a classic experience in my life.

The stats

1 hour 25 minutes swim

9 minute transition

6 hour 47 minute bike

5 minute transition

5 hour 3 minute marathon

13 hours 28 minute total time

Highlights include:

1) Crossing the finish line holding hands with Ben and Sam, and my parents watching on the sideline. Not only were they not bored after 13 hours, they were excited for me. Goosebumps.

2) Being identified as a celebrity blogger during the bike by fellow Ironperson Catherine.

3) The unbelievable organization and enthusiasm of the volunteers who support the racers. It might be a cliche, but they are the heroes of the day, not the athletes.

4) Being surrounded by 2,200 nut jobs like myself. OK, it was cool, but I was thankful that I stayed 45 minutes away from Lake Placid the night before. At work and among my friends I am the weird but quasi admirable fitness freak. In Lake Placid, I was just another person. Zero identity.

5) Swimming 2.4 miles. The night before the race I started freaking out; my longest swim ever is 1.5 miles and I was wasted after that. Other than entering a trance the last 15 minutes from metronomic stroking, the swim was not so bad. I totally could do a Nyad and swim from Cuba to Florida. OK she failed but you get the point.

6) Love the mass start. In the traditional wave starts, I end up getting passed during the bike by lots of people who started after me. I am no sexist or agist, but having calves fly by me with F23 and M65 engravings gets tiring. In Lake Placid I might have started and finished the swim near the back of the pack but that means fewer people passed me on the bike.

7) The start of the marathon. Completing a 112 mile bike ride knowing you still have to "run, walk or crawl" (to quote the athlete's rule book on allowed methods of moving during the marathon) 26.2 miles is clarifying.

8) Transition from motivating to annoying. Love the spectators, love being cheered but there comes a point in the marathon when people calling out your name in encouragement starts to grate on the nerves. Irrational but true.

9) Recovery. Within two days of the race, I felt great. On the plus side that means I was prepared for the race, on the minus side I didn't push myself enough, which means

10) There is a lot of room for improvement. Sub 12 for sure.

Which brings me to the philosophical part of the show.

I feel like I am in the middle of a big corn field, about to get completely lost in a world of endurance races and challenges. The question is whether this is a Twilight Zone or Field of Dreams corn field.

There is no question that I am getting a lot of joy, satisfaction, confidence, etc. from successfully training for these races, attaining ultra high levels of fitness and meeting challenging objectives. As I have pondered before, is this my hobby and is that acceptable and worthy. What am I missing by focusing so much on a training lifestyle? What is surrendered from leaving parties two hours, four drinks and several levels of intoxication before my friends so I can on for the morning workout?

I am not ready to curtail the focus yet; I signed up for the Sacramento International Marathon on December 3, committed to finally breaking three hours, thirty minutes. But as I train, these issues will remain in my brain. Or at least until Laguna Beach starts up again and demands all my focus.