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Stay Hungry

December 19, 2012

For the first week post-Ironman, I was content to just relax (happily timed with Thanksgiving week). But slowly, and predictably, my hunger to train and compete returned. After months of long training rides, runs, and swims every weekend with the same teammates, it’s weird to suddenly have weekends free. Part of me definitely misses those long weekly training rides, every Sunday.

My husband knew this about me. He knew I would be hungry for the next challenge. For months before the Ironman, he would ask “what’s next?” Yes, there are longer events out there. No, I am not interested in training for them. I’d love to do another Ironman sometime in the future, but I’m not even interested in training for that next year. For now, I’m enjoying a couple months of unfocused training. Staying in shape and still working out hard, but without a set training schedule, just working out when I feel like it. Even when I pick it up next year, it will not be to the same volume as this year. I might try to set a personal record in the marathon next year, improve my swimming, or maybe even do my first sprint triathlon (yes, I jumped right to the long-distance triathlon). All of those will push my limits in new ways without requiring the same volume of workout time.

My first serious workout post-IMAZ was on my birthday. I got to do a birthday WOD (workout-of-the-day) at my crossfit gym. Or I should say, everyone at my gym got to do my birthday WOD that day. The workout? For time: 500 meter row, then 29 reps each (bar at 95/65 pounds for men/women) of ground-to-overhead, kettle bell swings, shoulder-to-overhead, situps, squat cleans, lateral bar jumps, bar facing burpees, then 500 meter row. The kind of long intense workout I love. Most people told me they struggled with the squat cleans, but that was where I felt like I really hit my rhythm. I guess all of my squat holds over summer and fall paid off. I finished in just under 30 minutes, exhausted but happy. What a great way to spend my birthday! At the gym holiday party the next day, a few people teased, “Oh, so I have you to thank for that workout!”

A couple days later I decided to go for a long run. And ran 13.1 miles (half marathon) in 1:54:19. I had no real target pace or distance when I started. Just kind of let my legs take me. I did not expect to hold the pace I did! Good to see I could still easily finish a sub 2 hour half marathon, and have a blast doing it. I realized I had really increased my run speed and endurance pretty substantially this past year.

After that, I began toying with the idea of doing a really long run. One of Jeremy’s friends had been talking to me about training for ultramarathons. I was intrigued but skeptical. I love running marathons and find the idea of ultra distance running intriguing, but I’m not sure I would ever want to actually train for ultra distances. I figured this was the perfect time to give it a try: I still have most of Ironman endurance (that will slowly fade over winter as I take a break from the long endurance workouts), and I’m not interfering with any sort of training schedule right now. But my time window was short. I had to do it before it got too cold. I’ll run outdoors through the middle of winter, but as it gets colder, it’s harder to keep my hands, fingers, and face warm enough. I get to the point where after an hour run, I get home and have a hard time turning the key in the lock because my fingers are numb. I can handle that for an hour, but not for longer.

So yesterday I set out to try to run the entire distance of the lakefront path. I live right along the path, about 3.5 miles from the north end of it. It continues south another 14.5 miles. I’ve run to the far north of the path many times, but never all the way south. I was out the door by 9:30, camelbak for water and pockets loaded with honey stinger chomps. The weather forecast had turned a bit worse, mid 30s in the morning with a chance of flurries, but supposed to clear up and be partially sunny by 1:00. Fortunately with handwarmers in my gloves, I was doing fine. My pace was slower than hoped, but consistent and my energy felt good. As I ran past 13.1 miles away from home, I knew I was committing to my longest run ever. When I reached the far south of the path at 14.8 miles, I was still feeling good, but the run was beginning to take its toll. My muscles and energy levels actually still felt okay, but my hips and ankles were hurting more than usual.

By mile 18 it was becoming pretty clear I was probably going to just run home and not go to the north end of the path as well. I started a pattern of run 9 minutes, walk 1 minute. I was tempted to increase my walking time, but I held that ratio all the way home (well, once I exited the path, I did walk that last .4 miles back home). It’s pretty cool to say I’ve now run the entire distance of the path (even if not all at once) and that my long run is now longer than a marathon (29.5 miles in 5:40:13). But I confirmed that ultra running is probably not for me. I had a lot of fun yesterday, but my body needs too long to recover from a run that long. Besides, I have more fun being out on my bike all day.

I’m still figuring out exactly what my goals are for next year. But whatever they are, I know this: I’m going to stay hungry.

31 days since Ironman Arizona!


From → life, motivation

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