Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summoning up the Demons

With five days to go, one mental task remains on my list. There are probably many different names for it, but I'm going to call it "summoning the demons." I must address mistakes and the things that went awry in past races - and there are quite a few. The one weighing most heavily on my mind is having had to drop out of IM Florida in 2003 with heat stroke, due, in part, to inadequate training in the heat. My most recent race experience in Virginia has taught me, once again, how important it is to drink enough water, something I've feared because of past brushes with hyponatremia. My other recent experience, the Philadelphia Marathon in 2008, has also re-taught me an old lesson: do not use the taper period as an excuse to do hard work around the house, like sanding walls or something like that...

Back to the demons. Everyone has them. I met the worst of mine in Hawaii in 2002. I need to have a talk with each of them before IM CDA.
  • The Speed Demon: You really are my favorite of the lot, and I know we are great friends in the 5K. But there is just no place for you in an Ironman. If you attempt to jump on my back on Sunday, I will have to throw you off. If you must join me, I will gladly welcome you with open arms at mile 25 of the run.
  • The Demon Heat: It's Coeur d'Alene. Northern Idaho. I don't expect to see you, but I will beware that you are always lurking.
  • The Demon of Dehydration: You may often go hand in hand with Heat, but you can be a bitch all by yourself. I am prepared to ward you off with the most effective hex -- at least one full bottle of water every hour.
  • The Demon in My Digestive System: You and I are sworn enemies. We have met in Hawaii and on several training runs. I have learned to control you by following a strict eating and drinking plan that includes electrolytes. I have practiced it many times and I will never again attempt to cram down 400 calories per hour.
  • The Demon Cramp: You are elusive. I know you from Utah, but we've not met since. I think you are weak -- you will always be a victim of electrolyte supplementation.
  • The Insecurity Demon: familiarly known as "the Demon of Doubt": You are perhaps the worst of all because you keep creeping back into my life even after I think I've exorcized you. You make me lose faith in myself and my training, and you keep me up all night before races. I am determined to ward off your influence on me. I will only accept you in small doses because you keep me on my toes, but stay out of the water at Coeur d'Alene and let me start a little closer to the faster swimmers.
Hopefully that covers my race demonology, but I'll be sure to let you know if I meet any new ones during my next descent.

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