Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Race Ready

I swore when I signed up for Ironman Wisconsin back in September of 2013 that this would be a "one and done" kind of experience. Over the years since then, I've learned that I was the only one who thought so. Apparently those closest to me know me better than I know myself. Because here I am, 4 years later and I'm 10 days out from Ironman #5 (spoiler alert, #6 is on the 2017 calendar already too). I can't help myself really. There's something about the thrill of pushing my limits and the rush of crossing that finish line.

Crossing the Ironman finish line for the first time.
The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th time were just as exhilerating
It's been a hell of a winter, to say the least. I told Ryan after the Indianapolis Marathon was over that I was ready to put on my big girl pants and put in some serious work on the bike. And let me tell you, my world was completely flipped upside down. I wobbled off the bike after every single workout from December until March. I spent more time with my head down praying for the 15 seconds of hell at 160% of my FTP to be over. Only so I could spend 30 seconds recovering before the process started over at 170% of FTP. And then, the climbing. I swear, I climbed Everest this winter. So we'll just leave at this, Matilda and I bonded quite well this off season.

After one of our many 3+ hour bonding sessions this winter. Sweat rags and empty bottles galore.

Part of the bike recovery process was testing my limits in the pool. I told myself a while ago that this was going to be the winter I conquered the flip turn. And that I did. I SLOWLY started attempting to flip 5-10 times before and after my workouts after the 2016 season ended in August. In the beginning I felt nauseous and disoriented every single time. But the more I took myself out of my comfort zone, the more I created a new comfort zone. Before the New Year hit, I was officially comfortable flip turning and could do it without thinking twice. And guess what? It really does make you faster. My lung capacity has grown incredibly. My core is noticeably stronger. I also spent some one on one time with Ryan so he could point out a few flaws that needed correcting. Add on the fact that my recovery time within my sets was planned for less and less, and the next thing you know my warm-up pace is something I struggled to hold for longer than 100 yards a year ago.

Everyday getting closer to being a real swimmer!

And when I wasn't falling off my bike in the stationary position in the basement or pretending not to drown from taking in a metric shit ton of water up my nose in the pool from a poorly executed flip turn, I was running. And loving every second of my peace and serenity. I was so focused on improving my bike and my swim that I never truly felt that my run was moving forward. Instead, I felt like it was just staying still. Not getting worse, or making any huge strides. And it was, if you just looked at the numbers. But my bike intensity has recently skyrocketed, along with my swim. My body was truly being put to the test. And my run didn't suffer. Meaning, in some way, I was improving on the run. If my legs could still maintain a decent pace after the beating on the bike, imagine what kind of speed they'd give me when they're fresh!

My not so fresh legs carried me to a course PR at the March Madness Half Marathon

It's been a pretty eventful winter. We started the year off at the S-NO-W Fun Run in Lake Geneva.. (Where obviously the race is the most important part.)

Post-run, Pre-party!

No, we don't know the other people in this photo.
No one seems to remember why this happened either.

Oh right, maybe that's why..

And then of course we all got serious and hunkered down for some long group rides at Sammy's bike shop, with brunch to immediately follow of course: 

We're all about that F-U-N

And when there wasn't a group ride, I always had my furry sidekick to keep me company: 

Secret: She hates being trapped in the basement while I ride

I may have made a few bike accessory upgrades as well. I'll offer this sneak peak at my new aero helmet:

This is definitely more aero than my last helmet.
And when the winter got a little to wintry, the pool saw me more often than not:

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming :)

But last weekend, SPRING officially arrived and now you can't keep me inside, ever:

I took Matilda (my bike, in case you weren't sure) out for her 2017 Maiden Voyage on Sunday. The first outdoor ride of the year is always nerve racking for me. The comfort of a TV screen in front of me with my nutrition on a nifty bar stool to my left is suddenly removed and I'm out in the elements, ready to put my hard work to the test. But alas, the first ride of the year is done. And now I'm ready to focus my nervous energy on race day.

One of these is not like the other? Oops, my bad. 
Last year, Jacqui, Ryan and I conquered the Texas heat, twisting bike bike course, and of course, the weather:

Because pictures are a great way to make sure you packed everything in your transition bag
But this year, we're bringing friends! Fellow RyBread Racers and Lake Placid Housemates, the TOMATOS, will be joining in on the challenges that racing in Texas may bring:

Y'all are probably not gonna want those sweatshirts on race morning..
And yes, we all remember this moment from Ironman Texas just under a year ago:

Praying this isn't a repeat occurance
Jacqui and I have our flights booked for Wednesday the 19th to meet Ryan, Rob, Nate, & Trina in The Woodlands. But in a very recent turn of events, I might be boarding that flight solo. After a recent Spring Break trip to Boulder, Colorado, Jacqui is facing yet another injury and is still undecided if racing is her smartest option. Selfish Megan wants her to be in The Woodlands more than anything, because this sport is what has drawn us closest. And race day won't be the same without her. But Realistic Megan knows that if she decides not to race, she's making the smartest decision and setting herself up for an even bigger comeback. (Seriously, I pity the women that have to race against her when she's healthy.) If you're interested in the details to her story, you can read about it here.

You have no idea how much I want to re-create this picture next week.
In January I laid out some pretty lofty goals. At the time, thinking them made me squirm. But after the hay that's been put in the barn this winter, I can officially say with confidence, I'm ready to watch them play out. I'm ready to do what I love while my favorite Spectathlete dodges every obstacle thrown his way to make sure he finds me on that course. I'm ready to race.

Everything's faster in Texas

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