May 09, 2006

Wide Awake And Dreaming

Morning Workout
Lactate Threshold testing
Heart Rate Zone: By the end of the test the ole pumper was pounding high enough for Coach Gareth to say things like "Are you feeling OK?" and "You sure you're going to be fine? Do you need water?" if that gives you any indication of how high the heart rate was in relation to, say, being in cardiac arrest.

Random Comments: Lactate Threshold testing time is always a barrel of monkeys. I mean, here I am with the opportunity to pedal my bike until I am just short of puking, where my legs are burning like hot coals from within and my heart rate, quickly surpassing "pulse" and "chop" mode, begins to escalate far beyond "puree," at which point I can sense that my engine has clearly surpassed the "do not rev beyond this red line" point and I almost begin to smell smoke coming out of my pores as if my whole body were about to implode into a charred corpse, inevitably resulting in nothing but a lifeless lump of used flesh hanging from the soiled posts of my bike. And, as if that's not enough, I get to pay a lot of money for this enthralling experience. Yep, it's nothing but fun times over here.

The good news is that I was able to push for one minute longer and harder than I ever have before. The bad news is that little else has improved in my conditioning over the past 5 months. At the slow aerobic levels, all seems to be fine with me. It's just when I start getting the heart rate up a little higher that it all goes to hell.

What does this mean, you ask? Well, in a nutshell, it means that I need to go really really slow at all times for any endurance event. Even just a five minute burst of mid-race energy could result in a long-term meltdown. Fortunately for me, that's the goal with Ironman. "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast." That's what they say. Apparently it's some sort of mantra that I'm supposed to be repeating to myself over and over again. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.

Yeah, well, we'll see how that one works out for us, won't we.

It was 12:42 in the morning when I woke up the first time. I could see the digital light of the alarm clock over Cat's sleeping shoulder. It doesn't feel like 12:42am, I thought. It feels more like 6am. You know those times when you suddenly open your eyes in the middle of the night and you are wide awake? That's exactly the state I was in at 12:42 this morning. Wide awake. Laying in bed, thinking.

It was the swim at Lake Placid that was in my head. Maybe it was there because Cat had sent over pictures of the mayhem that kicks off the Ironman USA race. I wasn't thinking of those exact photos as I lay in bed, but that's probably what initiated the thoughts in the first place. The subconscious works in mysterious ways. I suppose that's why it's called the subconscious.

I lay still just thinking about the swim. And then I caught myself and began thinking about me thinking about the swim. And that thinking led to me wondering why the heck I was staying awake thinking about it in the first place. For Godsakes, you fool, the race is still 2 months away, I said to myself. Stop thinking about the damn thing and go to sleep. On and on I kept telling myself that. But the images of the swim crept in through the cracks. So I lay there thinking.

I looked over at the clock. 1:48 am. I can't believe I've been awake for an hour already, I thought as I battled heavy lids. I must've fallen asleep shortly thereafter.

It was thoughts of the bike ride at Lake Placid that woke me up at 3:05. I was riding that course in my mind, imagining myself staying slow, keeping it easy. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast. It's tough for me to keep my heart rate down all the time, I thought to myself. I know it's tough. I imagined me trying to ride unbearably slow. Unbearably smooth. And I lay there thinking.

I woke up again at 5:17am and my mind was running. It was running with thoughts of the marathon at Lake Placid. How will I survive that run, I asked myself. It's just two half-marathons, I kept justifying. It won't be a problem. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast. But what will my legs feel like. Will my quads finally give out? Will my achilles hold up? And what about those calves? My calves are always minutes away from total breakdown. Will I have to crawl forward? Will my stomach be strong enough? I kept questioning my abilities and my mind kept churning as I lay there thinking, trapped in the confines of my mental Ironman.

Cat woke up just before 6am.
74 days and counting.


Shelley said...

LP was my first IM, you never forget your first..anyways, it's, relax have fun...the dreams are just preparing you for a great motto was always.."prepare for the worst, pray for the best"...good luck!!