So six years ago, when Vic and I talked about getting in better shape, I knew that was a great idea and definitely something I needed to do, but I've never been very successful in the long term about health and fitness. "Get in shape" was always too vague. Hmm, what to set as a goal?
Complete a triathlon. Sounded daunting, but I knew a friend who had trained for, completed, and really enjoyed a sprint-distance triathlon, and I thought I might be able to work toward that. Two friends, and the friend of a friend, joined in the journey, and we all reached our goal less than a year later. The training was the real journey -- learning to swim crawl stroke, getting used to biking, starting to develop the leg strength and lung capacity for running. The actual race day was the reward. (Oh, and better fitness both then and during my subsequent pregnancies.)
Fast-forward two kids and four years later. Grace and Miles weren't babies anymore, I'd moved into my 40s, and it was time to consider a new goal for getting healthier and stronger. The variety involved in triathlon training had worked well for me before and I'd been surprised to find that I actually enjoyed the exercise (most of the time anyway -- you know, once I'd convinced myself to get up, put on whatever gear I needed, and get going). What would be my new, longer term fitness goal?
Ironman? The triathlon they show on TV once a year? The one where the winners take eight or nine hours and the people who barely drag themselves across the finish line do so in 16 hours and 59 minutes? The race that involves a total of 140.6 miles? Yep, that one. Although, to be clear, I should mention that they televise the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, and the only way I'll get to that particular Ironman race is if I win a spot in their lottery, which is ridiculously unlikely. And in what world do you call it winning the lottery when your prize is paying a $700 entrance fee to exercise at your physical limit for up to 17 hours? But yes, the same distance as that one.
I suppose there are people who set a goal to complete an Ironman triathlon, train for it, and finish it all in one year. I'm not one of those people. About a year ago I decided on this goal, and immediately set about breaking it down into more manageable chunks. There are four common triathlon lengths, so I figure I'll work my way up through them as I get stronger:
- sprint = 800 meter swim, 12-14 mile bicycle, 5k run
- Olympic = 1500 meter swim, 25 mile bicycle, 10k run
- half-iron = 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bicycle, 13.1 mile run
- iron = 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bicycle, 26.2 mile run
Since registering recently for my main summer 2013 race -- Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens -- I've been working out a training schedule, freaking out, wondering if I've bitten off more than I can chew. But I'm going to do it. A half-iron triathlon. July 21, 2013, from 7:00am to whenever I finish in the afternoon.
Now you know, and now I have to do it.