A full Ironman. It's not a thing you do by accident. And yet there I was about 120 miles in, saying aloud, "I don't even know what I'm doing out here!" which I suppose could have been interpreted a number of different ways by the other runners within earshot.
It all started a few weeks ago, as I was swimming laps on a lovely Boulder afternoon, when an idea popped into my head. Sometimes I do my best thinking while swimming.
Since relocating, I had set my sights on the IM Boulder 70.3 as a good choice for the season's "A" race. It's in August, and it's practically down the street from where I live, so the logistics would be super simple, leaving me to focus solely on the work of racing hard.
So I was swimming, and thinking about August, and about training, and I suddenly realized -- hey, there's a full Boulder Ironman some time in June. Maybe I should use it as a big workout day. What a perfect way to prep for the 70.3! Get in a solid open water swim at the same venue. Seize the opportunity for a supported long ride, where fresh water bottles magically appear in my hand at regular intervals. And then I could just skip that stupid marathon, because who wants to do all that extra running anyway? Not me!
I was a little nervous about bringing up the idea of entering the Ironman to my coach, because we have a focused plan we're working on for the summer, and the long post IM recovery is not part of that. But he was thrilled. He said it would be a great day of quality training on the bike, and we planned to even include a few miles of run before I surrendered my timing chip and headed to brunch. Because a little brick run is the cherry on top of every great cycling workout.
I kept the plan on the down-low because I didn't want people to be disappointed when they found out I didn't finish. And I had to constantly remind myself -- it's not a race, it's a training day!
Ironman makes that hard, though, with all their pomp and fanfare.
For a training day that was supposed to be light on logistics, this ended up being a lot of running around. I managed to make three individual trips to the Ironman Expo downtown, plus the trip out to the reservoir to drop off my bike. Pros were granted the privilege of driving in with their bikes on race morning, and I assumed I'd just bike the two miles over to the reservoir, but we were told NO bike commuting to the race site (because it was too dark). Since Brad and I are a car-free household, this presented a problem, both for getting my bike to the reservoir on Saturday, and for getting myself to the race site the next day. Athletes were told to take shuttles out to the race, but I was pretty sure I could walk to the reservoir in the time it would take me to get downtown, wait in the shuttle line, and sit smooshed in that school bus for the six mile ride out to the race start.
This training day was turning into a bit of a headache!
The night before the race -- er, training day, I looked up the final version of the pro roster and saw that there were only ten women on the list, including me ... and prize money for this race goes ten deep. Basically all I had to do was finish before midnight, and I'd go home with a paycheck. But finishing was not in the plan.