Sunday, December 4, 2011

It All Starts Here

Scene from "The Goonies"
The title is a quote from one of my favorite scenes in "The Goonies" - it's when the young Sean Astin realizes the only way out for him and his friends is to follow the pirate treasure map. It's not so much a statement of excitement as it is a statement of resignation. Basically, it was the beginning of the adventure and there was nothing anyone could do about it.

Today, I feel the same way about my 2012 season. Once again, I find myself registered for Ironman St. George. I have resigned myself to the training necessary for racing an Ironman the first week of May. I did it (and survived) last year, but I can't say I'm looking forward to an adventure. Instead, I'm looking at a long, dark, and cold winter of power-building and epic-long sessions on the CompuTrainer, long runs in well-below-freezing temperatures, wind from the Alberta clippers, ice and snow, treacherous driving to the pool, and wet hair in the cold after swimming. I'm looking at dry, chapped skin from the cold and the chlorine, numb fingers and toes, constant shivering, even more lines on my face, and heaven-knows-how-many new scars from slipping on ice.

My husband Jim has to live through my constant over-analysis of CompuTrainer stats, complaining that I'm always cold and numb and my skin is always dry, and wondering if the next time he sees me I'll be covered with blood - from slipping on the aforementioned ice.

When I cross that finish line on May 5 in Utah, will I (we) be able to say that it was all worth it? (I mean, that's the big question, isn't it? Knowing the hard work paid off?)

As I get older, I am reminded of a former cycling buddy who, on the worst (cold, rainy) days, would ask: "Jeanne, are we having fun?" If we agreed the answer was "No" (not frequently), we would pack it in and go have a beer (or breakfast). Training has to be more than just the sense of accomplishment, but I do  enjoy that daily "high." I also enjoy the hard training as it gives me internal rewards - feeling stronger or tougher for having done it. Racing has never been a need, but it can be the icing on the cake.

Racing Ironman, however, requires a huge commitment. It doesn't just give me a reason to do what I love. It involves a serious financial commitment - currently over $600/race plus travel expenses - well before the training commences. And I don't think I could do Ironman without goals because I can't say I enjoy the training enough to just do it for fun. So here I am, looking at the beginning of my training cycle for Ironman St. George.

There has to be a starting point, so I chose to start with a comparison. As I'm coming from my "off-season," I decided to do my first long-ish ride on the RacerMate St. George Real Course video and compare it to the first one I did in training for IMSG 2011. This year, I rode for 3 hours and covered 49 miles of the course. Last year, my first course ride was in mid-January - I rode for 3.5 hours and covered 54 miles. Thus begins the CompuTrainer over-analysis:

On the IM St. George course, this plot shows that on Saturday (red line)
I reached the same point (49 mi) faster than my first ride in January
I also plotted my power and heart rate vs. miles on the SG course, just to see how that compared:

Power (watts) vs. miles on IM St. George course.
My power on Saturday (red line) was similar to Jan 15, but in some
places was consistently higher (good, right?).
Heartrate (BPM) vs miles on IM St. George course.
My heart rate on Saturday (red line) was of similar shape but was
consistently higher for most of the ride (not good). I hope that the point where it
looks like I died was when I got off the bike to replenish my water bottles.
I'm not exactly sure that the differences are of any significance - I guess my higher heart rate has me a bit concerned that I'm in worse shape, but I am encouraged that it is earlier in the training cycle, and I rode slightly faster and was able to hold that higher heart rate for so long. (It may also have something to do with the fact that I currently have a raging sinus infection.)

Overall, I feel like I'm in decent shape at the start of my Ironman training, but only time will tell if I can stay healthy and motivated through winter of 2012, and come out fighting in May. I hope it's the beginning of a long and rewarding season - oops, I mean "adventure."


  1. Remind me to never complain about my training conditions or just refer me back to this post if I do. I can't wait to finally race together. I can pace you through the body marking :-)

    I wish I had half your training work ethic.

    All the best,


  2. Go Jeanne! You sure have a lot of motivation to train through the winter!When most people are taking it easy(aka hibernating), you're training! Maybe some will rub off on me. :) I always look forward to your latest training adventure. Take care.