I am an adventure seeking wife and mother first! Travel, and endorphins are my best friends. I will try anything once, unless I know
I would be in danger. I have a crazy love of God, running, triathlon, the outdoors, dirt, wine, friends, good Vegan food, Yoga,
animals, happiness, and life! I truly believe the only limits in life are the ones set by ourselves. So get out there and expand the limits!!
~~Only she who attempts the absurd can achieve the impossible.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Half way to Ironman

Half Way!

I can hardly believe that I am at the half way point of training for my first Ironman Triathlon. No one will ever understand the magnitude of this race in my life. I remember watching highlights of Ironman Kona many years ago. At that moment, watching those athletes run, walk, and crawl across that finish line, I knew I wanted to join that small group of people to do an Ironman. Luckily now, Kona is not the only Ironman to race.
What does it take to start and finish one of these races? Who are people that do these races? I have met a few people now that have done Ironman. They are people with HUGE determination. Fortitude. Courage, conviction, and fearlessness. With just a sprinkle of craziness. They are happy to put in hours of training for a year, for one day of glory. Or the possibility of not even ever crossing the finish line. Is that person in me?
Going into this race was of no small consideration. I am not going to lie and say it has been an easy walk for me. It has taken me 10 years to “talk myself” into this. Not that I haven’t yearned to do it, but was scared to death. Literally. More afraid going into this, than anything ever before. That’s huge! Will I conquer my fear?
Finally after years of telling my husband I would do one before I turned 40… my time had come to “put up, or shut up!” I will turn 40 this year.
Making this decision took a lot of help and support from my family. They are my first regard. Sitting down for long discussions with Greg, and my kids. Talking about what it will take for me to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles in a day. Talking about errands that I will not be running some days, rides to school, gymnastics practice, swim practice that I will need help with giving, and everyday chores, like grocery shopping, laundry etc, that may be skipped some days. Being a stay at home Mom has given me tremendous freedom, but on occasion this freedom would be compromised. Instead, my time would be taken up working on training plans, out running, biking and swimming, working on nutrition, and sleep. That has to be thrown in somewhere, right? Greg was on board. And so were the kids. They were SO supportive, and have been so supportive, it is amazing. This huge goal/dream of mine, has also become one of theirs as well. They are my biggest fans, and cheerleaders! I race this not only for myself, but for them as well.
Mariah started to drive, which has helped out a lot. Greg working from home has been a Godsend. I have had it pretty easy, as far as the help. My entire family gave me this year, dubbed “The Year of the Paula” in order to train and race. Next year if I decide to do another Ironman, I hope I get that lucky. But I may only have the chance for one YOTP. Over and above the training, came a huge sense of guilt for me. Because even though I joke about the Year of the Paula, it is hard for me. I am sure every Mother out there can relate. I am not selfish by nature, and Ironman takes alot of selfishness. It just does. A person cannot go into it thinking they are not going to act out selfishly during their training/racing time. It is long. Long days away from my friends and family. I am always being pulled by my emotions about this. And even though my heart wants to be with my family and friends I just know I cannot on some days. Will I dedicate myself to my goal, every single day?
I had decided early on that my training, which is 6 days a week, would start Mondays, and end Saturdays. I started with a Base phase, and am now into a Build Phase. Sunday is my one day off. Monday through Thursday, I swim, bike and run, everyday. Some days, swim/run, some days, swim/bike, some days, bike/run. Friday and Saturdays are set-aside as my long training days. Friday a long bike day. Currently I am riding 4 hours on Fridays, followed by a shorter run, but that will be increasing up to 6-7 hours. Saturday is my long run day. Right now at about 2 hours, increasing to 3-4 hours. Saturdays are my favorite. Running is my passion, and truly, it is easy for me to run 2 hours. Or even 4 hours. I love being able to go on a long run on Saturdays. I think that one day, is the day that saves my sanity. The one day I can run for miles, and dig deep emotionally about what I have chosen to do. I talk myself off the ledge on Saturdays. It is the day for me, to not only train, but also mentally prepare for the following week to come. The mental aspect of Ironman in tough. Dealing with the selfishness, long days, missed events, time missed with family and friends, deciding which things I can allow time for during the week that is not training time, training alone some days, some days with a partner, knowing everything you put into your mouth needs to be used as fuel with no exceptions, making sure my fluid intake is up to par, and the list goes on….. Saturdays are my days that it all falls together. Thank goodness for Saturdays. My other training days I am doing a mini-evaluation on everything done in that day. What did I eat, drink, did I bring enough food for during and after my workout? As I am swimming, I am thinking about what fuel I brought for afterwards, and how long that will last me on my bike or run. And so on. And the positive self-talk, which can be hard at times. Allowing myself to "talk" myself into feeling good, feeling powerful, feeling strong. I am constantly in my head, talking to myself. If I didn't, it is easy to defeat yourself before even starting. So while I swim, bike and run, I am "talking" and before a workout I am "talking." Trust me some days, it would be easy to talk myself out of doing the workout. Rainy, cold, windy or snowy days. The thought of jumping into a cold pool, and then head out into the wind for a run....easily could be put off. I tell myself, "YOU wanted this. You want to be an Ironman, and Ironman is no place for wussies!!" I always feel better after the workout, no matter how cold, how sick, or how much I didn't want to do it.
Sunday. My one rest day. The day you think, I would throw caution to the wind, is still spent making sure I am eating properly for the upcoming week. Sunday, I write out my training for the following week. I only write out one week at a time. And I only then, the following week, try and look at only one day at a time. If I don’t, it looks too overwhelming to me. If I skip ahead it makes my mind go crazy thinking about how long training is, and that I won’t be able to do it. Even tough by the time the day would get to me, I would be prepared. It is mentally exhausting. One day at a time has been my mantra. Has to be.
Some nights, I sit, and meditate on the craziness of my decision to do IM. I am, in one hand, fulfilling a dream, but on the other hand, I think, “What the Heck!” It is a roller coaster. And then I think, “It is one year out of my life.” One year to race, what will probably be the biggest race of my life. 140.6 miles in a day! One year to fulfill a dream, and cross the finish line to become an Ironman. To even SAY those words out-loud gives me chills. I will be an Ironman. Amazing. You talk to people who have succeeded in reaching this goal, themselves, and they say it changes who you are. You are never the same person again. The self-discovery that happens, and going from believing something is so impossible, to actually possible, is amazing. I whole-heartedly agree. It has changed me already. I can’t imagine when I cross that finish line. That's what keeps me going.


  1. *excitedly* I got an adrenaline rush just reading this Paula! I'm looking forward to continuing to learn from you when it's my turn...

  2. I am so inspired by you, Paula! Even though I know I probably won't attempt an Ironman, it's people like you that make me think I can totally try a marathon someday. I love following your training and I can't wait to congratulate you on your finish!

  3. OMG Paula, I was glued the whole way thru this post. Doing an ironman has definately been on my mind this last year and I have been telling myself that before I am 40 that I will do one. My 40th is 4 years away, so I have alot of training time ahead of me. I admire your dedication and commitment to what can only be classed as the the most challenging of sports around. I wish you luck in your journey and know you will succeed, after all to be a mother is an endurance race in itself that takes mental fortitude :)

  4. You are such an Inspiration Paula. I cannot even imagine the dedication it takes to even consider doing an Ironman. I am so excited for you and am glad that your family is by your side in this year of the Paula!!!