"...In the end, people either have excuses or experiences; reasons or results; buts or
brilliance. They either have what they wanted or they have a detailed list of all the rational reasons why not."

~ Anonymous
(taken from Matt Erbele's, It Takes Time to Get Good)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Week 4: Pre-Ironman Major Freak Out No. 1

I am certain this will be one of many, but I had a major freak out about Ironman cut off times this week. I don't know if it was because Wednesday marked 5 months until Ironman Coeur d'Alene, or if the reality of my slowness coupled with the calculations of the pace required to meet the IM cutoffs finally sunk in, but

I. Freaked. Out.

It seems like the timing was mutual for a friend of mine.

Ironically, the incident that sparked the furious calculations was my first victory in the pool at the dreaded swim masters. But before I tell you the victory, I want to get honest about swim masters.

I know I have told you that I am the slowest person at swim masters, but honestly everyone says shit like that about their weakest sport and then posts race times where they come in first in their age group. Well, I am so slow at masters I have my own lane. Thank God another guy showed up that sucks almost as much as me, so he is now in my lane.

Seriously, I get there late because of school and the rest of the swimmers reserve this lane for us. They will be circle swimming four in a lane and we have a double wide lane all to ourselves.

Better yet, the coach gives us a different workout than everyone else. Why? Because we can't hang.

Yep, I am "riding the short bus" of swim masters.

I honestly think the only reason he hasn't told me to go back to pre-masters is because:

1. He was my Team in Training coach, so he feels somewhat obligated to be nice to me.

2. He thinks I am funny.

3. He is, at base, a highly competitive person and I represent the ultimate coach challenge. If he can get ME through an Ironman swim, he will truly be the king of all coaches. An Iron Coach, if you will.

Anyway, back to the victory.

When I started swim masters 3 weeks ago coach had me do a 3 X 100 yd for time with the goal of getting the same time for each to get a baseline. My times were 2:15, 2:18, 2:11. On Tuesday I did a timed 100 yd. swim at the end of the workout, when I was tired, and instructed to go hard, but at a pace I could maintain for a long swim. I did what felt like the same intensity as 3 weeks before, but this time I did it in 2:00. Not a direct comparison, but it is the first positive thing that has happened in masters so I am clinging to it.

I keep having the recurring vision of emerging from the water, seeing the sad faces of my family and friends standing alone on the beach since all the other spectators have moved on to follow their racers on the bike, and a solemn IM volunteer comes over and takes the timing chip off my leg. My Ironman ending at 9:30 in the morning. I don't want to be done in time to have breakfast with my family.

This gets me to swim at masters. Every time I don't want to go (which is every time) I see this in my head and I put on my suit and hop in the "short lane" for another day of humiliation.

Let's say by some miracle I do finish the swim within the cut off the best I can hope for is a 2 hour to 2:15 swim, with a 10 minute transition I am looking at about 8 hours for 112 miles of Idaho hills.

Umm... yeah.

I need to stop thinking about this.


IronWaddler said...

I totally understand what you are saying and I have gone over my numbers many times. I have to have a great bike or I will not make it. My 100 swim times are around 2:20. I am in the Special Ed. lane in my masters group.

Over the holidays, coach had me get in the pool and swim 3,000. It seemed overwhelming then he had me break it up into 6 x 500. I did it! I was so excited. It took me 1:41:32 to do. I told coach my time and he said that it was never about the time but gaining the confidence. He reminded me that the biggest distance in an IM is the 6 inches which is between your ears. Stay confident!!!!!!

Calyx Meredith said...

I freaked out about the published cutoff for PacGrove (which obviously they did not even sort of enforce) - so I can't imagine how much more pressure there is for Ironman. But look at the gains you have made so recently in swimming. 18+ seconds off your average? That's a BIG deal! You are a strong cyclist already and you know once you get to the run you've got it in the bag. Keep faith in yourself and in your training plan. It's designed to get you there and you're being consistent! You can do eet!!

Diana said...

Since I totally SUCK at math, bear with me if I get this math wrong...but when I swim my 1/4 mile at out local pool, I have to go back and forth 18 times. 4 times back and forth is 100 yards, to do that 3 times like you did takes me about 6 minutes. NOW how frickin' slow do YOU feel???? AND, on top of it....I love to swim, slow, but love it!!!
Love the short bus cartoon! ;-)

Unknown said...

I think you are going to be working through the numbers a lot over the next several months.

My 100 swim times are ~2:20. So thee sucketh less than I.

I do understand though that the swim eats into the time for the bike course. That's going to be a challenge for sure. But when have you EVER backed away from a challenge?

Southbaygirl said...

Yes I agree, you do need to stop thinking about it!!! Just do your shit! Work as hard as you can, prepare as much as you can! If you go in there thinking and saying "I've done as much as I can and I'm ready" then it's up to the IM Gods....and what happens happens. You are going to make yourself so crazy thinking about cutoff times!!! Don't do it! Take it from someone who has done that-I have obsessed about that-SHIT HAPPENS!! do the work do the best you can-that is all you can ask and that is all your family ans your friends can ask!! No matter what the outcome-you will be amazing!!!! NO MATTER WHAT!!

Stef0115 said...

Your swim will improve between now and then. You may not believe that right now but it will. ESPECIALLY if you keep going to Masters! I am SO PROUD of you for going to Masters!!

I have my own lane there too, on Tues/Thurs nights. It SUCKS.

But regardless of where you swim in Masters, YOU CAN DO IT! Just keep doing it and KEEP GOING TO MASTER!

Swimming in the open water with a wetsuit on with a ton of other people pulling you along is faster than in the pool not even knowing how to do flip turns!!!

The flip turn thing is me -- not sure whether you do them or not. But if you don't remind yourself that THAT slows your times down too. There aren't any stupid walls in Lake Coeur D'Alene!

The walls in your mind will tumble down if you let them. Waddler is right about the biggest distance being between your ears.

That being said I also think it's completely normal for you to be freaking out! Do what you gotta do to get this thing done!!! :-)

Aka Alice said...

I'd say, "Stop Freaking Out...You'll be fine" but other's have been way more eloquent than I'll be, so I'll just comment on the "short bus" reference, which completely made me snort coffee on my computer screen (I love your blog for learning new vocab).

I'll end up going to hell for this, but at the high school where used to teach we referred to the same thing as "chocolate milk." Think about it...it makes sense. Yep...goin' to hell...

Thanks for what you said on my blog about my mom. All the positive comments help soooo much.

Willie said...

Except for the cutoff times, 8-9 hours in the Idaho hills sounds fucking awesome! What a great way to spend the day. Sucks that they will pull you out of the race if you're not done in time. Sounds like some communist idea to me, screw them, who the hell do they think they are? Just beat the living shit out of the volunteer that comes near you and run away quickly. They'll never know. They can take the chip off my dead body!! Bring it on!!

There, use that anger as motivation.

Anonymous said...

I am in the special bus too for my master's swim class....I think my coach sees me as her challenge too.

Just keep at it...and keep going. You will get faster :)

Klassenator said...

All I have to say is...


Aka Alice said...

Hey fabulous girl...I'm sure I'm not the first, but I just tagged you...You can thank me later :-)

Hope you're having a fabulous weekend!

Tracy said...

Okay so the short bus analogy along with the cartoon literally made me laugh out loud.

Funny how your posts consistently contain words such as "ironman" and "master" and you keep trying to make it seem like you're borderline slacking. HA! Nice try, Iron Woman!!

Jo Lynn said...

If you worry too much then you may hyperventilate and not BE ABLE to swim. So, relax girl. ;)

Ordinarylife said...

You still have 22 weeks. My training program was only 20 weeks long - and at the beginning I did not even own a bike. I could barely make a 100m swim and run; well, lets not go there. I met my husband-to-be with about 10 weeks to go and I began to "taper"........ But I still finished and enjoyed it!

Carolina John said...

i too ride the short bus to masters swim. we don't even have a preswim, so i just get laughed out of there. at least you can make it 100 m to get a time established. i'm still working up to getting 100m consecutively. the coaches don't even bother giving me a workout. they just tell me what's wrong with my form. save the drills for later. so sure by my half iron in november i would love to see a 45 min swim time, but i know there's a long way to go before then. at least you are being realistic.

ShirleyPerly said...

Really, this is all good, I think. Maybe if I had a pre-IM freak out like you're having and gone to any masters swim workouts, I would have made the swim cut-off at my first IM. Though no pool workout would have probably prepared me for the strong waves and current on race day, the mental gut check of how really slow I was would probably have made me work harder (instead of thinking I could do it while swimming 100s in 2:30-2:45 in the pool, which would translate to much slower and, in fact, too slow on race day!)

Stick with it so you won't be like me!!

K said...

Your words could have been typed by my own fingers. Seriously. I was told NOT to go to a masters swim class cause I'm so slow--that I need to do laps on my own first.. So at least you are faster than me! Just keep going to masters and working on it. 18seconds is a HUGE improvement. Good luck!

RBR said...


Not only does IMFL already have the most challenging swim (which is why I wouldn't do that one. I am a wimp) You were there the year with the worst swim conditions on record! I am amazed ANYONE made it out of that swim. To be 100% honest I wouldn't have gone in. You are a rockstar for only missing the cutoff by 6 minutes and finishing a 2.4 mile swim in that hell!

Herself, the GeekGirl said...

There is some pretty scary shit, huh? Don't worry - whether it shows or not, I'm usually terrified at the beginning of almost everything I do. I figure the adrenaline helps me stay on top of my game. PS: Did you know there's an XXX rated "Run Bitch Run" movie?

Formulaic said...

You can make it! You've got 2:20 to finish.

Use all 2:20. You can make it with the times you posted.

Then do the bike in 8 hours at 14 mph and you can still make the cutoff.

Now you already know you rock on the run.

So add all those together and you've got IRONMAN RBR!

You've got this thing in the bag. Easy peasy!

Now add in the fact that you've still got 21 weeks to get better and you've got a bad ass Ironman!

Stress no more! (at least for now). I like Waddler26.2 saying "The biggest distance in the 6 inches".

IronSnoopy said...

Ok, breathe. Then throw up and breathe again.

I was gonna tell you the "strongest muscle is between yer ears" but waddler beat me to it. Can you tell we have the same coach?

Butreally...you will be fine on the swim. Don't underestimate the added benefits of a wetsuit. It helps with confidence and speed.

Just keep swimming!

Believe in yourself. You can and will do this.

And I find it more rewarding to worry about things I can't control to fully ensure insanity, like: newly discovered Lake Courdaylane sharks, or the weather or accidentally attending a basketball game during the race. See? Once you focus on that crap, making the cutoffs is...pssssshaw, easy peasy!

Anonymous said...

I think freaking out is a good thing because it keeps you consistent in your training. Really. And all that consistency is gonna pay off big time, because it always does. It has already started to pay off, with just a few weeks of masters..make those weeks months and you are golden.

Julianne said...

Go out there, keep training and let's see what you're made of! I agree with the others, do the best that you can and let's see where that gets you. I believe in you!

Aileen said...

I can't imagine what you're going through because, well, I can't swim. However, I feel like you can rock this...you've kicked major ass before, so why not this time? It's not like you're not swimming at all and you are SO motivated!!! Sending good prayers your way...