Training for Ironman this time around has been very different than last time. Since changing up my nutrition, I've felt better while racing & training. I've felt better in every day life. I've also been lucky enough to rack up a few PR's and with that, have gotten the boost in confidence I so desperately needed.
I have been feeling stronger & stronger with each long workout. Yesterday, I hit a speed bump that helped remind me of an important lesson. Don't forget the mental race.
45 miles into our 90 mile ride, I was on top of the world. We were at a pace that I was super excited about and remember thinking that if I could hold that the rest of the ride, I would certainly exceed my bike time goal at Ironman. We then headed out on the section that I consider the hardest of the Ironman course (the part out of Richards back to 2562 I believe and then back over to 2819). The section was tough without a doubt. The headwinds were picking up just like they were forecasted to do. Headwinds and chip seal made for a relatively uncomfortable ride but I was good. I felt like I had prepared for that section.
Thankfully, we were on 1486 where there was some better road surface but also some nice little rollers headed into Dacus. I was ok though. I looked back to see where Keith was and didn't see him so decided I should pull off and wait a second. I just wanted to make sure he wasn't having any mechanical issues. As I rolled to a halt, I unclipped on my right side, hit some loose gravel (I think), lost my balance and then tumbled over before being able to unclip on the left side. Not a big deal at all. I put my wrist down to break my fall which is kind of dumb. I mean all that weight coming down on this little wrist? It hurt bad. There were some tears. I was also worried b/c I fell into the road so quickly checked to make sure I wasn't about to become road kill. After a minute or so, Keith rode up and a nice man stopped to make sure I was ok. I got back on the bike and got moving. I told Keith that if this happened in the race, I sure wasn't going to sit around.
Getting back on the bike was of course the right thing to do. The fall wasn't bad at all. The wrist was sore but fine. For some reason though, I let the self doubt in. It was so strange. Something more had to be going on. Then it hit me...for most of the tough section, I was thinking back to 2 years ago when I rode this route for the first time. I was reminded of the time I fell back from the group (well, I was dropped like a bad habit). I got to 1486 and didn't know which way to go. I went right (which ended up being the right way) but got a ways down and thought it was wrong b/c I didn't see anyone ahead of me and I thought that SURELY someone would've stopped to wait for me. I called my mom to see if she could help me figure out where I was. I finally decided to turn back around and go back the way I came and head back to my car via Richards. This would add mileage but I knew where I was going that way. What should've been a 50 mile ride turned into nearly 80. When I got back to my car, everyone was gone. Nobody had waited to make sure I was ok. The email I got from my then coach told me I was responsible for knowing the route. Nice.
So when I tipped over, all those thoughts I was thinking earlier crept in and where they were benign previously, they were now cancerous. I started doubting my ability to finish the ride. To finish Ironman. I told myself that my goal time was a pipe dream and I could never do it. It was shocking to me how I went from having a great ride to a disaster ride just like that.
I did finally pull myself together but it wasn't easy. What a wonderful lesson the ride was though. The mental game can be lost in a heartbeat so it's important to keep your mind full of positive and encouraging thoughts. Towards the end of the ride I just kept telling myself, "You can do this. You are strong. Hang in there. This is nothing. Just ride.". By the time we hit 85 miles, I did tell Keith my spirit had been broken but on the bright side, my legs were there and ready to carry me wherever I needed to be. I think my legs were trying to say, "Hey, don't forget about us. We're super strong and we're not giving up so you can't either".
We finished just over 90 miles and I couldn't have been happier to be off the bike. I told Keith that when I trained for this race two years ago, there were tears on lots of rides so the fact that I made it to 90 w/o hardly a tear was a huge improvement.
It's all good this morning. While challenging, yesterday turned out to be one of the best rides for me and a great reminder of why I do this.