The pieces of my brain haven’t quite gone back together the same way after last week.  And I’m more than okay with that.

I am completely broken when a day in the high 70s meant I was just friggin freezing all day, even after a fast 4 mile poker run.

There’s a crack now that has let some light in, and it’s actually wonderful.  I’m excited for this race.  I’m hopeful for this race.  With everything in me, I cannot wait to stand on that dock and dive off and go toe to toe with whatever the day puts in front of me.  I start difficult sessions feeling excited to try my hand at the challenge ahead of me instead of feeling apprehensive or apathetic.  Instead of a hazy numbness I’ve been rocking for the last few years, things feel different right now.  I can’t really describe it, but I feel changed somehow with the machinations that my brain has run through and I wouldn’t go back even if I could.

Besides the fact that I’ve been needing to drink about it a bit, the mental gymnastics has gone just fine along with my taper performances.  I had some fairly stellar run performances last week, my slowest pace being 9:26/mile, and while I skipped a few other sessions due to residual fatigue from the long brick on Monday to rest instead, what I showed up to went rather well in all aspects.

These new goggles make it easier to see fishies underwater AND the sunset even more pretty, even if they look crazy nerdy.

My swim is improving a little right near the end of this cycle.  I swam almost the race distance yesterday (2056yards vs 2112) in open water practice just under 41 minutes and I was daydreaming the whole time.  I don’t expect to hit a personal best pace at Cozumel since I’ve been in better shape both endurance-wise and speed-wise, but I expect to do OKAY and after yesterday, maybe even WELL.  It just hasn’t been my focus this year.  Oddly enough, when you stay uninjured, you don’t have to sub in swimming for other activities…  I’ll need to learn how to actually and intentionally swim a lot at some point but that’s not a problem for this particular moment. 

For now I know that a) I can swim the distance and feel pretty good after and b) I have a pretty good judge of the level of effort I can swim where I get out of the water feeling warmed up and ready to attack the rest of the race, and that’s what I plan to do.  Swim steady, find some feet, and try not to throw up from the salt water because I am incapable of swimming with my mouth closed.

I may have just died going up this hill but I look great at least in my new kit 🙂

Cycling… I had such amazing things happen earlier this year, I’m not sure how to feel about it right now because my improvement is hard to judge.  I haven’t done a lot of stretching my legs and really riding hard this cycle, it’s been more about increasing the distance without decreasing my pace too much.  For various reasons, it’s been difficult to see where my true potential is right now, so I guess I’ll have race day for that!

My power meter being messed up for weeks means I don’t have a SOLID target to keep in mind yet, though hopefully I can dial it in a bit this weekend.  My guess is approximately 150W, give or take a few.  This should be a fairly choice bike course for me (flat, not technical), and I’m really looking forward to riding around the island and chasing people down and having fun on Death Star, trying to end the bike with a 2-something-hour time if the stars align properly.

Lookie, both feet off the ground like a real runner!

The run is where the magic and the pain and the darkness lies this cycle.  I have made leaps and bound on this leg this year, and this is where the race really starts for me.  I have been steadily finding paces off the bike that are either equal or less than my sprint triathlon runs earlier in the year, which were PRs upon PRs already, and I’ve been able to push mentally into places I haven’t before either.  This is my big test and I’ve studied very well the last few months.

I’m ready to do battle with the abyss, and I’m ready to dig deep.  I know it’s going to hurt and hurt bad, and instead of being scared I plan on welcoming my old friend Pain and we’ll sit down in his cave together and have some mother effing words until one of us gets up and leaves.  I’m stoked to show myself what my newly minted 46 VO2 max (thanks for the random update today, Garmin?), my stronger body, and my more fortified brain can come up with when challenged.   I am ready to do battle.

In the next two weeks, I can’t do much to improve my fitness a whole lot, so it’s all about:

  • Staying sharp.  All the hay is in the barn, ending with an incredible 8 mile run this morning that ended entirely too soon for my tastes.  Every other session from now until the race is short, sweet, and swift compared to what would normally be on the plan.
  • Recovery.  I think I’m past the point of needing to untangle my head so much, so I’m going to do my best to be a SLEEP MONSTER from now until I leave.  Additionally, I generally try to either stretch, roll, or use the recovery boots more days than not.  I kicked this initiative off with a killer massage Sunday, and a great stretch yesterday.  I will either stretch or roll EVERY DAY from now until I leave, it takes 5-10 mins and I have zero excuses not to besides laziness.
  • Packing and preparing.  This trip is unique in that I also need to bring all my diving gear so space is at a SUPER premium.  I need to make sure I bring everything I need and not one ounce or square inch more.  This will be much more effort than packing for Cleveland.

In terms of nutrition (day to day), I’ve sort of let things go for a few weeks, both because I’ve been consumed with other things and also to give myself a little bit of a break while my training was high enough to sustain it.  Now that my hours are reduced, I have returned to tracking (food, diet quality, and weight) so I don’t gain during taper.  That started yesterday.  I need to make sure I’m eating ENOUGH good food and not a bunch of junk and be accountable for the bite of chocolate here and potato chip there before it gets out of hand.

I’m stronger and lighter than I have been in many, many years.  I need to not fuck that up.

Maybe I’ll just wear a helmet the whole time… that’ll help, right?

And, that’s really the biggest goal for the next eleven days.  I’ve got a great race in me, if I can resist succumbing to the self sabotage (eat whatever you want! you have more time since you’re training less so why don’t you go ahead and have a drink or four?  why not squeeze in one more really long bike ride to make sure nothing’s changed since the last time you did that?) and keep my head on straight.  My body is ready, my mind is ready, and if I can deliver myself to the start line no worse for wear, I have a chance to kick some serious ass next weekend.

Instead of being a dummy, it’s time to eat all the good food, do the EXACT sessions that coach set out months ago with a straight head, sleep all the sleeps, and listen to Willy Wonka on repeat because apparently that’s become this season’s power confident swaggy song, so I’ll use the hell out of it while it still has magic.