Saturday, May 31, 2014

What Motivates You?

When it comes to incorporating exercise into your life, one of the key ingredients for success is finding out what motivates you.  Figuring that out gives you a reason to exercise and achieve all the benefits that go with it.

For me, my motivation is having a big audacious goal.  Ironman tends to fit that quite nicely and in the past few months Kona has been foremost in my mind at 4.00am getting ready for yet another train trip down to Kurnell for a ride or jumping into the pool, in the wind and the rain, for a swim.

Today, however, neither Kona or ironman was sufficient motivation.

And here it was I found that motivations can change.  Because today the only thing that got me through this morning's ride was ... banana bread.  Yep, you read right.  Banana bread.

I was due to do an 80km ride at Kurnell - 4 laps at a steady pace.  Showers were forecast but I wasn't too concerned.  The rain radar didn't show any major rain coming and so at 5.09am I was on the train heading for Cronulla. By 6.30am I was starting my first lap.

All was good, and pretty quiet on the roads.  However as I started the second lap the rain rolled in and started to make life pretty miserable.  By the time I reached 40km and the halfway point I was debating the virtues of pulling the pin on the day.  I was soaked and while not too cold, all too aware that I had an hour long train ride back home and wouldn't have an opportunity to dry off or warm up on the trip back home.  And a week out from Ironman Cairns, it would be just my luck to get sick.

So I continued arguing with myself, at one point actually turning and starting to ride back towards Cronulla to call it a day. That lasted about 100m before I figured I may as well carry on - I was already wet and I could look forward to a hot takeaway coffee and toasted banana bread to have on the train going home.

And that was enough to keep me going all through the third lap.  I was still considering pulling the pin at the end of the third lap - conditions were shocking, another cyclist had come off on the slippery road and had broken his collarbone and the road to Kurnell is essentially built on sand dunes, so wet weather tends to not only result in the bike (and me) getting wet but getting covered in sand as well.

However every time I thought about pulling the pin I would also think that a 60km ride wasn't enough to justify the banana loaf.  To earn it and really enjoy it I had to do the full 80km, or 3hrs of riding.

So today it wasn't about Cairns or Kona.  It was the thought of hot toasted banana bread that got me through the fourth and final lap.  

And it tasted great!

P.S. Black Beauty (and Irongirl) felt like they had actually been mountain biking by the time they got home.  Black Beauty suffered the new name of "Dirtiest. Bike. Ever." However that all changed after 2 hours of washing sand out of every crevice and surface.  

Irongirl calls that the Worst. Job. Ever.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Ironman Cairns - Will I or Won't I?

Today we have reached the 4 week countdown to Ironman Cairns.

As I was writing this, 4 weeks today I should be starting the run leg and will have hopefully executed a pretty good bike leg strategy in preparation for Kona.


Yep, the fact that St Pete and I are going is still a bit of a "pinch me" moment although, to be honest, a lot of the excitement has now been replaced by the reality of planning, saving and preparing for the day of my life.

A lot has happened in the last couple of months, primarily around planning for Kona.  The first question that people started asking was would I still do Ironman Cairns?  And then the first question Coach Dave asked (after we had collectively returned to earth!) was what my goal was for Kona.

Ironman Cairns was a tricky one.  On one hand I didn't need to do it anymore.  The primary focus of that race had been to serve as my 2nd IM of each year as part of my long term goal of getting 12 IM finishes and a Kona Legacy Lottery slot.  With a Loyalty Lottery slot that long term goal was now kicked out of the ballpark.  If I didn't do it we would save some dollars (which could be redirected towards the Kona trip) and annual leave (which could also be redirected towards the Kona trip!). On the other hand I wouldn't get back a lot of the entry fee for Cairns, so would lose out there.  There was also the question of recovery from Cairns - could I do the race and recover in time to then do a decent build up for Kona?

While we were busy tossing around Cairns pros and cons Coach Dave was busy tossing around a new training plan.  I had been able to give him some good guidance on my goals for the day - I won't be at the pointy end of the field and I know how tough the Kona conditions are likely to be.  People (including pros) are known to blow up and suffer big time in the heat and wind and it's a non-wetsuit swim, making my weakest discipline that much more challenging.  So with that knowledge in mind my whole objective is to not have any time expectation but rather focus on finishing (before midnight!), soaking in the atmosphere and appreciating the experience and opportunity I have been given to race at the Mecca of ironman.

The Kona Finish Line
On that basis Coach Dave figured that I could keep Cairns in the schedule.  He believed I would have enough time to recover, provided we use it as a training day only and a practice run for his Kona race day strategy for me. No ego allowed on the bike, no chasing of a PB...!

So Cairns here we come.  It'll be a flying visit, literally.  Pared to the bones, to minimize cost and annual leave, we'll be flying in on Thursday for a Sunday race and returning to Sydney the day after - afterall it's all about Kona!  And the funniest thing of all?  I've been guilty of that typical mad triathlete statement of describing my next half iron distance race to non-triathlete friends as "just a training day" and receiving their gobsmacked reactions.  Imagine the response when I start describing IM Cairns as "just a training day".

Maybe I'll just keep that little detail to myself...