Friday, September 26, 2014

KONA 2014: A time for reflection

I write this from the couch, laid low today with a cold - a sure sign that I have reached taper having done all I can to prepare for the big dance in 15 days' time.  My body is at it's lowest ebb and I will spend the next two weeks recovering, getting back to full health and getting mentally ready for the most amazing adventure of a lifetime.

Next week St Pete and I leave for Kona, Hawaii. Coach Dave will already be there and dad will arrive the following week.  Team Irongirl will be on the ground and I will be posting regular blog updates for the rest of Team Irongirl scattered around the world.

But before we get there I wanted to dedicate this post to a bit of reflection. The last 6 weeks have been tough. Moving house and training through winter have provided plenty of challenges and St Pete has had to weather more than his fair share of irongirl irrational meltdowns.  To get through I've done a lot of reflection and reminded myself of my many strengths.  So I wanted to share with you some thoughts I've saved via Pinterest and drawn upon when things got particularly tough.

Pull over to the side of your journey and look how far you've come.  18 years ago, at the ripe old age of 30, I tipped the scales at 108kg. For those of you who didn't know me back then it's probably hard to imagine but it does mean that I particularly empathise with those larger girls I see out there exercising and getting the job done any way they can. For me it's been an incredible journey of self discovery and I still have to remind myself that I am now 50kg lighter.  I could write a whole book about that journey!

Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life.  Keep the faith. It will all be worth it in the end.  During a big week, when I was tired and literally just focusing on getting through one day at a time I was also struggling to see any improvement or any indication that I was ready to do an ironman. During those times I just had to trust the process, trust Coach Dave and know that I would come out the other side in good shape.  I will also be channelling this on the day!  Without doubt it's going to be a tough day at the office but it will all be forgotten when I hit that finish chute.

Conquering the fear and just going for it.  The swim, the swim, oh how I love the swim.  Anyone who's spoken to me prior to an ironman will know that I'll be a happy camper as soon as I'm out of the water and riding.  Kona is no exception and, in many respects, will be my biggest fear to overcome.  Faster swimmers to try and hang onto, fewer swimmers around me with the men going off ahead of the women this year and no wetsuit. Yep, conquering the swim fear will be the major part of my mental prep once we get to the big island.
You are stronger than you realize. You are more capable than you can imagine. I had to remember this a few times during big weeks when I had a less than optimal run or struggled with a swim set. I'm sure St Pete rolled his eyes more than a few times when I walked in the door complaining about not nailing a session - "I couldn't even run 5km today, how am I going to run a marathon in 4 weeks's time?" was the type of thinking I had to be shook out of on more than one occasion.  In a fortnight, though, game face will be on and I know my mental strength will take over. That marathon is mine for the taking!

There are no shortcuts to endurance. You have to train yourself to make peace with the long route every day, and do it, and love where it is taking you.  I had to remember this every time I headed out for a 4 hour ride, or a 5km swim. Consistency was the key and over the past 4 years a training set an hour or less has become thought of as just a short session. And who wouldn't love the fact that this is taking me to Kona?!
I am in competition with no one. I have no desire to play the game of being better than anyone. I'm simply trying to be better than the person I was yesterday.  A podium finish holds no interest for me and I don't even have a time goal for Kona.  All I want to do is finish, soak up the experience and know that I have done the best that I can.  And while I started out my ironman career as a back of the pack athlete who has slowly worked my way up to mid-pack, I am content with the knowledge that Kona will likely see me well and truly at the back of the pack again.  Online followers, you'll be in for a long day - you have been warned :)

Strength. A river cuts through a rock not because of its power but it's persistence.  If there's something I'm good at it's being persistent!  But when I'm out in the middle of the lava fields, no doubt battling the famous winds on the bike, or running through the scorching heat of the Energy Lab I'll be remembering to just keep moving forward, no matter how hard it seems at the time.

And one final mantra, for which there is no picture: St Pete rocks.  

Enough said :)

So there you have it, some of my favorite inspiring quotes and mantras that I try to live by, and will be calling upon on 11 October.

Kia kaha Team Irongirl - let's do this!