The last few weeks have been my longest and hardest training weeks and as I move into ‘taper time’ I’m ready to let me legs rest. I’ve gotten to know the farming roads of Batavia where I’ve done many longer rides, always looking forward to the stops at the Purple Store or the cookies from Casey’s. I’ve gotten to know the Fox Valley River trail and seen how pretty it can look in the fall as I run under a canopy of yellow. I’ve waved at people on the Lake path always wondering what they are training for this late in the season. With the Chicago marathon over, there are fewer and fewer of us out there, and I’ve come to enjoy the brisk weather runs along the lake. There have been century rides, and race simulations, where it’s a full 8-9 hour training day as I swim, bike and run and dial- in what my nutrition will be on race day. I’ve learned that the tailgate of my Honda element is a great place to stretch after a long workout. I’ve eaten more gels and bonk breaker bars and honey stingers that I care to admit, but know those are what will get me through all those miles. I’ve learned that biking when it’s 30 degrees out really is not fun and you can just wave as the drivers give you crazy looks from their heated cars. I’ve learned that on a long ride or run, the reminder that I signed up for this and imagining that finish line can go a long way. I’ve swam miles and miles, and learned that with a 2.4 mile swim, it’s not how fast you can do it, but it’s staying steady and preparing for the day ahead. I’ve learned that chicken nuggets taste even better after a long workout. I’ve talked strategy, I’ve listened to my coach, to my friends and other Ironmen who have come before me. I’ve been told that the porta potties will be my friend on the run, and that on
that run, it’s just about putting one foot in front of the other. I’ve been told that IMAZ is one of the best spectator courses and to let that fuel me along. And the best thing I’ve learned, is that when I get to that finish chute, I will feel like I am floating. Whether it’s been a good race, or a bad one, if I’ve crawled my way to mile 26, somehow I will find my feet again and that it will be one of the greatest moments of my life. How’s that for inspiration.
I am currently in what we call ‘taper time’. Less volume in order to let my muscles rest before the big day. Some people love it, but it can be a challenge as well. When you go from 2 hour runs, to a 45 min run, its easy to think that you will loose all that you’ve gained these past few months. Not to mention, the hunger is still there, and it’s hard to cut back on the eating because you’ve been doing so much of it the past few months. And let’s be honest, I love food. But. It’s all part of the plan. The training and the taper, and I will trust in it. It’s my only choice. No more Mcnuggets for me. Sigh.
I have always thrived on spectators and seeing friends along the course and am lucky to have a big ‘Team Melissa’ crew, with shirts to match, that will be there with me. Brian, of course, who has been woken up at 5am way too many times this year as I try my hardest to sneak out the door for my workouts. He has listened to me talk for hours about this race, always with a smile and the gentle encouragement that I can do it. Keri will be there, a best friend, an Ironman herself and a training partner who has joined me on many a runs and often by my side through any big event. Katz, another best friend and Ironman that knows inside and out what it takes to be part of this Ironman club. MaryKate, my Dare2tri teammate who lives in AZ, Elaine, an IMAZ finisher, CAF volunteer and great friend, Dan Riley, a fellow veteran, a travel buddy and triathlete. Coach Stacee won't be there in person but she'll be with us in spirit. She surprised me with these custom red, white and blue sunglasses with IMAZ on them. And yes, I'm obsessed. There will be many CAF staff and other Challenged athletes, Jean, Nick and Karen, and their teams who will all be out there on race day fueling us to keep moving forward.
So, the big question... Am I ready? I can confidently say that, yes, I am ready. Instead of wondering if my training was enough I’m choosing to believe in the training, and the long hours and believe that I can do this. I know it will be a tough day. I’m nervous, I’m a little scared but I am so very excited. Excited for the race. And excited to have a great end to this very long race season and not see that 5am wake up call.
Nov 17th will be here soon. I will try to write again but if not, a thank you to all of you who believe in me day after day and support these crazy dreams of mine. And if all goes as planned, in 2 weeks I will be an Ironman. And nothing will make me happier.