Archive for August, 2010


The little things

August 31, 2010

Thanks so much to the lovely ladies of the new Lululemon Rochester showroom….. they’ve been hanging around in my yoga classes and last night asked me to be one of their Lululemon Ambassadors! I take great pride in never being surprised, but their proposal suited me perfectly! After class they waited till the masses left and gave me the cutest card with a really cute poem. I got punked! How did they do that without me knowing?????

Since I have been teaching at Breathe (2005) I have been wearing Lululemon…we’ve sold it there for years!!!!!  It’s strange to me that there is so much buzz about it, of course it’s great!

I remember thinking….. man I will never pay $90 for a pair of yoga pants. Then I did. Not only are they reversible (which means really…. $45 a pair)….. but hands down Lululemon is the highest quality yoga / athletic apparel I have ever. worn. Those yoga pants i bought in 2005? Still have them (along with an entire dresser of Lululemon…. it’s ridiculous!) and they haven’t broken down once ounce in all the years I have taught yoga.

I am really honored to represent a company that I truly believe in. Not only do they make great athletic gear, it’s their philosophy, their commitment to community, and especially to women athletes that really hits home for me (and they make clothing for men too!!!). The Rochester showroom will be opening this month, we will be holding monthly trainer Tuesday classes there and they will be offering yoga as well. So keep your eye open…. I will share the details when the date draws closer! And thank you LULULEMON! (I can not believe you girls were able to surprise me!)

I am in week one of a three week block that will end in Maine at the Pumpkinman 1/2 Ironman. This will be my second year racing this event and it’s by far my favorite. The number one reason: Kat Donatello, the race director. If you know Kat we can stop right there. If you don’t, you are missing out on lots. There is a sprint race on Saturday which I will be co announcing, and on Sunday is the half, which makes for a perfect weekend for our family to get away. I am feeling really good, and really focused, which helps, because IMFL is right around that corner!

Especially right now, I pay a lot of attention to detail. Detail includes nutrition. Detail includes recovery. Detail includes sleeping (part of recovery). I care about my performance and I care about my health. I never tell anyone I don’t have time to take care of myself. I spent years not taking care of myself and it’s a deep hole to dig out of.

One of my favorite quotes is from Olympic Swimmer Dara Torres:

“An athlete’s body is like a race car. You don’t get a race car to go faster by doing more laps around a track. You get a race car to go faster by improving its mechanics, by making certain each piston is firing perfectly, by ensuring each component is oiled and working its best. The same is true for the body. Biomech…anics are everything. Overworking gets you nowhere.”

There has never been a more ture statement about athletes. Whatever your level and ability it’s worth the attention, your health is always worth the attention because honestly, health is what it all comes down to. We are only as strong as our weakest link. If our weakest link is tight hamstrings, that hinders our ability to ride bikes with our kids, not to mention what it does athletically.

I am 36 years old, still considered a baby in multisport but I have been an athlete for 30 years. While I would love to put in the yardage I did in high school and college (and have those times back too!) I can’t. Swimming 12,000 yards a day would put me in the hospital. As we age, as we evolve I should say…… we can certainly get faster. We just have to do it smarter.

I know that my fastest races are still yet to come. But I can’t expect to train like a 25 year old trains. My attention to the little things becomes paramount.

It’s kind of fun actually. It’s like a secret that no one wants to listen to. Which is fine by me!

What little things can you do in your day….. to help you as a spouse, parent and athlete? A lot more than you think!


Blowing Chunks

August 30, 2010

Somehow I managed to pull back into the park after 4 hours and 18 minutes of riding. Exactly as prescribed. Yes, the ride was to be 4:18 (I do not know why. I don’t ask.) during the last hour or so I had that feeling again. I had not had it many times but I have had it enough times to be concerned about it.

That feeling. Ever drink too much tequila in college when you were out with your teammates? The next day you felt so sick in the pool, and it was almost like your coach knew about your shenanigans…… so practice was extra hard…… and just the thought of tequilla made you shake?

I never did that of course! (I’m perfect don’t you know???)

That was the feeling I had as I took down some gel. By now my Power Bar Endurance was tasting like that orange drink from McDonald’s. I knew something was up…. again.

Didn’t I just preach about practicing your plan to a T? And how I could eat a steak on rides? I practiced it to a T and I could have eaten a steak. but another gel…… made me cringe. We’ve practiced this plan for over a year and for some reason this season at certain temperatures it comes back up.

I swung my leg over the bike and stood there for a moment. I think I am going to puke I thought. Which really, would have been fine if I hadn’t spent ten years of my life purposely throwing up. Each time I get sick and hurl I am terrified about my recovery. It might be like a person who abuses prescription drugs then needs a narcotic after surgery. You know it’s for a different reason but still it frightens you.

Then i threw up. Three times.

“Are you okay?” I heard a young voice ask. I looked up. four children were standing with their father watching me blow chunks all over the parking lot. I smiled, thinking…. son don’t you know I am a European supermodel? and do you know how I became one? Class my son. Class. Because I have a massive amount of class.

I told him I was fine and pulled myself together. Changed into my running gear, dumped the water bottles and filled them with water and started out on my 50 minute run. Lucky for me I was running 15 out, then in, 10 out, then in. 23 minutes into the run I was stumbling, bonked. dizzy and cold while it was 80 degrees.

Oh man. This isn’t good.

Back at the car I took my recovery drink and headed home. Then I consulted with The Wizard.

Many sports drinks are made from one or two types of fuel sources or sugars to make it simple. During a distance event, typically it is best to use multiple sugar sources. for example in a product like Power Bar Endurance you have three sources: maltodextrin, fructose and sucrose. The more varied the sources the better in most cases.

The Wizard’s explanation of all of this made great sense to me when we began working together, to paraphrase: if you use one source such as maltodextrin in a long event, think of using the same pathway to digest this source for hours and hours. Eventually this system gets tired and then we start to get plugged up, like a pipe getting plugged up. Using three different sources, a medium, long and short acting, we essentially use 3 different pathways. This allows us to use the fuel more efficiently and decreases the chance that the pathway fatigues.

For the 70.3 distance this seems to work pretty well. Until Galveston. Then at Musselman I had the same issue. I’d bring it back up as I took it. Then yesterday.

Apparently… according to the Wizard I am a rare case. (of course!). I believe he said 4 in 4,000 people have this issue. (If only I had those odds to win the lotto!). I told him of the plan that’s worked for me in every Ironman I have done well in:

I use carbo pro on the bike. Carbo pro is a flavorless powder that mixes with anything. You can put it in your coffee if you want to, and it tastes like coffee. It’s made of pure maltodextrin. I take two 24 ounce bottles and divide them into 8 ounce sections, drawing a line around the bottle at each juncture to mark it in thirds. Each third contains 300 calories as I concentrate 900 calories of carbo pro into each bottle. So on the bike I have one bottle in my x’lab and one bottle in my down tube. I keep water in my aero bottle in the front. My watch beeps every 15 minutes. I sip water from the front system, take a swig of carbo pro from the back, and then water again fron the front. The reason this works is because of the water I take from the front. It gets diluted into an isotonic solution in my stomach. I know by the marking on the bottles that each hour I have to drink 300 calories worth, or to the line.

Now…… if I didn’t drink the water it would create a hypotonic solution so in order for my body to digest it…… water would be pulled from my GI tract and I would become sick and dehydrated. That’s always the danger in this kind of plan.

 You have to take the water.

One of the reasons I like this plan is that I don’t spend 5+ hours drinking something sweet. In fact I feel like I drink water the whole time. I add in a gel every hour and those go down easier. The other reason I like this plan is that as I come through aid stations the only thing I grab is water to refill the front system. It’s hard for me to count bottles of this and bottles of that. It makes the whole thing really easy.

With this plan I am utilizing more maltodextrin but still adding in some other sugar sources with the gels and I take one 341 salt tablet every 15 minutes. Carbo pro has no electrolytes so this becomes critical.

Once I get to the marathon I switch to aid station living. That means at each aid station I take a swig or two of Gatorade, or powerbar ironman magic drink…. or whatever we are going to call it this year. One swig = one ounce. I measured. so once there I switch to more fuel variety. Between 13-20 miles I switch to the Coke.

Coke is it. There is a reason for that tagline.

To my surprise the Wizard was entirely open to my plan. I think we, as his athletes like to joke around that he’s some rigid drill sergeant, but he’s not. We just like to tease the guy. He’s going to crunch the numbers to make sure I am hitting the right amounts of carbohydrates, electrolytes and fluid requirements….. we have to dial the carbo pro to fit exactly the amount I need. The beauty of carbo pro is that you can do that.

So it pays to have a good coach who is flexible, who is open to your suggestions, who is not a “my way or the highway” kind of coach. Every athlete is different and it’s critical we get this nailed down right now before we go any further. I spent one Ironman marathon vomiting and I won’t do it again.

This is why we practice in training. Race day nutrition in training. For this very reason.


Comes the dawn

August 29, 2010

On tap for today is 4:18 on the bike and 50 on the run. I am home and done by noon. I have done the Ironman enough times to know that these kinds of workouts have to be done specifically. At least for me. For IMFL I go to the parkway and set up camp for the morning, training from the car. Coach T taught me to go there.  I go there because it’s flat like IMFL, it’s quiet, and it helps me focus. I don’t long ride with anyone, heck I rarely ride or run with anyone either. I swim with my team or the swim captain.

Strangely I never feel bored on these rides. Put me on a bike for 100 miles and I don’t think about much. I feel the road beneath me. I dial into my HR and cadence and then I focus on how it feels. Gadgets fail on race day but what I know inside never does. I can tell you my cadence without even looking.

Every single workout I am practicing race day nutrition. Every single long ride I have my pre race breakfast, including the apple sauce (please, don’t ask). When I get home I take a 57 degree ice bath for 20 minutes. I pay attention to the small details, the dots so to speak. Because on the day that it matters the dots will be connected and that is what will make the day. I am only as strong as my weakest link, and I am only as prepared as the smallest detail. So when it comes to something like this I leave no stone uncovered. From nutrition to flexibility, to strength, to recovery. I pay attention to the details.

I was reading a really great book this week in which the human body is described to be  like a race car. To paraphrase ….. if you want a race car to go fast you have to make sure everything is running smoothly. The pistons, the tires, the fuel, it all has to be just right. If you want a race car to go fast you don’t go out and drive it 300 miles per hour for hours and allow it to break down. The human body, especially as we begin to pull away from the age of 35 is much the same. The details your biomechanics, your fuel on and off the field, your recovery….. that’s what is going to make you go fast. You can go out and train as hard as you want but unless you pay attention to th details….. you won’t perform like you have the ability to.

This is what I, personally need to do to prepare. Pay attention to the details. Now more than ever. The full deck of cards will be in my pocket, and race day will be the day that unfolds as it does for a reason. Funny, I am never sacred on the starting line. I have been through 140.6 before. I feel a clam excitement, like…. let’s get this party started.

I can’t wait.

This morning will also be the first long ride I do….off the sauce (coffee). I have been caffeine free for an entire 7 days. I never experienced a headache, and while the first 3 days I was pretty tired, I napped often ( a 10 minute powernap is the best!), and kept myself in the Core. Friday I began to feel……. really good.

I know my coffee friends…. I know. This is something I did not want to admit, this is something I did not want to be true. But I feel good. I feel clear. I had this sacrilegious thought of…… geez maybe I will stop forever….. I know I know, deep breath friends. We will just have to take this one step at a time. What I do know however is that when it’s time I hit the caffeine on race day and because I am off of it now, it shall work. There is nothing like the feeling of WAKE UP at mile 20 or an Ironman marathon!!!!

The sky is still dark here and the stars are out. I will patiently wait for the right amount of sunlight as I begin the journey of today. These days, at this time, I dream about rides like this.


Tuning in

August 28, 2010

While I grew up a swimmer and running is always going to be my work in progress…. somehow I became a cyclist.  Years of teaching spinning in college allowed me to feel comfortable on a bike. Miles and miles on the roads taught me how to ride. Since the big crash of 2003 I primarily ride alone, except when I go to camp or ride with people I trust.

But primarily I ride alone. I think it’s important to do that because when it comes to racing and especially Ironman …. you have to ride your own ride. You can’t always depend on someone else to pull you along so to speak, or always be trying to keep up with someone. Much like swimming cycling can be about you and the clock.

 I ride with power, but I also use cadence and heart rate. Many times I ride with perceived exertion and I can pretty much dial that into almost the same numbers. Through the years I have grown comfortable and confident in reading roads and riding well on them. I love the feeling of knowing the road even though I may have never ridden it before.

In preparation for Ironman Florida i ride the Ontario State Parkway and I make it as boring as possible. I dial into my numbers and ride. It’s almost exactly the same as IMFL, just a touch hillier (if you can call them hills!). I love that I can look to the side and see the Lake.

You have to get comfortable with monotony. You have to get comfortable being bored. You have to get comfortable being uncomfortable. You have to be able to sit on one position, for a long time.

people ask me what I think about on a long ride or run. The closer I get to the Ironman the more I think about almost nothing. I tune into the feel. The feel of the shifting, the feel of the cadence, the feel of the effort. At this stage of the game the little thoughts don’t enter my mind. Sure after four hours my crotch hurts, but I accept it. You have to learn the art of tunnel vision. You need to learn the art of acceptance. There will be drafting, and there will be a lot of it. It’s critical that you practice right now….. practice the trains going by you 80 people deep. You can not waste energy on frustration. You simply have to give them a choo choo and let them all go. You have to focus on keeping yourself in the clean riding air and space and keep that even keel.

Ironman is frustrating at times. Ironman is painful at times.  It’s part of what makes Ironman….. Ironman. It’s going to challenge you in ways you never thought possible. No matter if it’s your first or tenth. Ironman is never easy. It was not meant to be.

And to think I have based so much of my life and my business around what began as a bet by a couple of Navy guys in Hawaii.

Like I said before I only go to the Ironman well once every so often. I have done the double Ironman in 2007 and we all saw what happened in 2008.  For me the repeated Ironman thing just does not work. I don’t focus as well that way. I don’t hone in.

I have warned several people that I am in tunnel vision mode. I will walk right by people in the locker room or not realize a friend is in the pool. I apologize for that. It isn’t you, it’s me. I am just in focus mode. I love this feeling. I love the 12 week build to an Ironman when I am ready. I know 12 weeks out when I am ready, like really read. Interestingly……. leading up to Placid 2008 I didn’t feel this.

I see it coming in Matt as well. I can’t wait for him to experience the ease of Ironman Florida. And K Roe. I feel it in her right now as well.

As I think about the trip we will all take in 10 weeks I smile. So many of us will converge on Panama City Beach. K Roe is traveling with my family. Matt will be in our hotel. I will finally get to see Kirsten. Alan and his family will be there. The ocean will be clean (god willing), and the beach will be ours.

It’s just cresting 5am here in Upstate New York. The moon is shining. The air is crisp. It’s still dark. I am about to embark on a 1:10 run / 60 min bike / 1:10 run sequence. I love this workout. I love autumn running. It’s supposed to heat up next week for one more blast of summer. Turn it up, heat it up, I will take all of it.


The most embarassing day of my life

August 27, 2010

It’s been a terrific week so far. The weekend holds lots of the same things that the week did, 4am, big miles, which means big smiles from me. Because I am due on the bike this morning at 4am I brought out an archived blog I wrote on Feb 14th 2007, which truly was the most embarassing day of my life. But before we go to that a few pictures to start off the weekend……. 

I've got the whole world in my hands!!!!


Luc asked me to write him a workout last evening.....


 And now withour further adu…. please do not read this with coffee in hand or mouth, you will ruin your laptop. 


Today very well may have been the most embarrassing day of my life. 

To understand the end, you must understand the beginning. I have put 7 hours of training in within 2 days, trying to front load my week and stay ahead of the snow storm. With that said this morning’s 2 hour run in 12 degrees was not to bad. It wasn’t too bad aside for the fact that my water was frozen by mile 4 and my Gu froze too. 

So picture me chomping on 100 calories of frozen lemon Gu while trying to pry open the top of my Fuel Belt flask to get to the water inside. I can’t say I was successful. So I resorted to grabbing handfuls of snow, hoping no dogs peed in it, and then convincing myself there must be nutritional value to dog pee if indeed I did unknowingly ingest some. 

So that leaves me arriving home in a bonked state. In a time crunch I decided to grab a quick shower (and forgo my morning coffee in a 60 minute shower…… ) and head to the mall. I have an idea for Valentine’s Day and I am about attaining the goal. As I walk through Dick’s Sporting Goods I feel like I am in the bonk tunnel, things look fuzzy, I am dehydrated and not refueled from my run but I only have so much time to get this done. 

I have never been to Victoria’s Secret and I can now say I will never go there again. With that said know that what I am about to say does involve Lingerie but is completely clean. 

Rumor had it that VS had the most comfortable pajama pants in the world, for men and women. Silk, fleece, you name it, I was told that they had it. So I thought that a matching pair of jammie pants would make the perfect gift for Curt. Of course! 

“ARE YOU MARY EGGERS?????? ” I hear a female voice screech as I entered the door. Can’t say I have ever been recognized in a store before, I felt alarmed and I should have gone with that instinct. As I looked around to see who it was, I realized that VS was full of men, and I was the only female. 

“Oh my God!” says this tall blond woman, who obviously works there. She’s dressed to kill, and she’s up close and personal. “I used to take your spinning class, I see you on TV all the time, and I am such a fan!” 

A Fan? What is she talking about

“I ran a marathon last summer and I am training for my first triathlon… ..” After that I don’t hear what she says as I am feeling slightly sick and falling further into the bonk tunnel. 

I need to getsomething to eat…….. I tell her that I am there for the pajama pants I keep hearing about. 

“No, No No No!” she grabs my arm and leads me to the back of the store where strappy nighties are suddenly surrounding me. “You need something a little more….. seductive… . for that husband of yours.” 

My heart rate enters zone III. 

“I know exactly what you would look fabulous in.” Oh my God, I think, maybe someone will rob the store and I can run away. She throws a little pink nightie at me, tells me to hold it and proceeds to take off my coat. 

“This would be perfect on you.” It’s small, see through and pink! I need to get out of this situation…….. 

“I…… um…. ” I begin… 

“Nonsense” she throws up her hand “You wear less fabric than that in front of thousands of people! Think of how your husband will react when he sees you in THAT.” 

He will probably laugh his ass off lady. But I am really tired, and I am really mortified, and I really need to get something to eat. I feel dizzy. 

“Just try it on and see what you think.” She leads me to the dressing room. Oh my God

So suddenly I am in a small dressing room by myself with this little pink thing to try on. I feel like the only way out is to try the damn thing on, and what the heck. Maybe she’s right. Maybe I need a little spice in my life. Maybe I need a little satin and forgo the coolmax for a day….. 

So I slide it on. Realizing my hair is soaking wet from my shower, I flip my head over. I don’t want to get the fabric of this thing wet. So I tie my hair up on top of my head, and in one quick swooping motion, I stand back up……. too fast! Too fast! 

I saw stars and then I saw black. The next thing I know I smell ammonia, my eyes open and I am on the floor in VS’s, about 10 people standing around me, I had passed out! I am half in the dressing room and half laying out of it. 

“Are you all right?” The mall security guy asks me. 


“I am fine!” I say realizing I am in this sheer nightgown thing, and I have just passed out in VS!!!!!!!! !!! I jump up. “I had a long workout this morning, I am so sorry, I am fine…..” I slither back into the dressing room where I overhear my sales girl explaining to the crowd that I am a triathlete. 

Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god……… I have just become the psycho exercise addict who passed dout in a lingerie store!!!!!! 

I throw my clothes back on, I profusely thank everyone for their help and I apologize for making a scene, and I quickly excuse myself from the crowd and the store. With no gift in hand obviously!!! 

I am so bright red I feel sunburnt. I make my way over to EMS, where I feel at home again. 

I can’t believe that just happened. I need to eat. So I grab Curt a fleece vest and some wool socks and a few PowerBars. 

As I get to the register one of the employees begins to ring me out. Another comes through the front of the store returning from a break. 

“Hey Joe” he says “I heard some girl just passed out in> Victoria’s Secret!” 

“No way” he responds, laughing. OH MY GOD! I can’t get to the car quick enough with my revised gifts and my head hanging low, stuffing the Power Bar into my mouth. I am so completely mortified I don’t know if I am going to laugh or cry. 

So of course I laugh. 

Now you can understand a good 200 reasons why nutrition during and after a long run is important, why Vs’s is a store I should not be in, and how to handle yourself with grace. Yeah, grace!


“On the top”

August 26, 2010

This time of the year the air is chilly as you walk onto the pool deck. It’s dark except for the underwater lights. The water initially feels cold but one 50 down and you are in the safety of warmth. You know those days….. the days where the water feels like it was made to be pulled by your arm, that your body was made to glide through it. Where you know where every tile is on the bottom in relation to the time you are holding.

“That was a very solid swim.” The Wizard said to me. But I knew. I knew it was a solid swim. If there is one thing I am in control of it’s my swimming, and it’s coming around. I never thought I would hold that pace without the swim captain, or my trusty lanemates. Matt was in the lane next to me swimming his workout, but every now and then a 50 or a 100 would match up and I would telepathically tell him to hang on. Just a few months ago I was lapping him. And now he’s holding on.

It’s awesome to see hard work begin to pay off. Sometimes in swimming the gains are harder because it’s what some people have the least control of. You have to understand how to hurt in the water like you do on the land, except sometimes hurting in the water will mean a loss of biomechanics. Then you begin to slip through the water and miss the clock.

I miss my pace clock. Don’t think I haven’t been thinking about buying my own 15 inch pace clock to bring with me. I am on a stopwatch now and once Masters starts I will be back on the clock but I am craving the simplicity of the pace clock. I can hear my college coach calling out “On the top”…. or “On the bottom”……. meaning when the second hand hits the 60 or the 30. Based on what interval you are swimming you can just see it on a pace clock, a stopwatch requires a little more thinking.

So if you see me carrying around a pace clock soon…. just let me be.

About this time I fall into a bit of tunnel vision. As I was leaving the gym yesterday a woman I knew nearly chased me down. I saw you in the locker room….. you didn’t say hi! I smiled. Don’t take it personally I told her, I have tunnel vision right about now. I don’t know who is around me, I’ve never been a locker room chatter and I likely never will be. Except for with the swim captain. So don’t hesitate to stop me or say hello, I am not intending to be rude, I am just getting home.

It’s just the way I am right about this time of the year. Everything has a purpose. Every moment has a reason. Everything I do is for November 6th.

Including a day at Darien Lake with the boys. That’s all part of the plan. My challenge yesterday was eating in the Core at Darien Lake, and I am happy to say that I succeeded.

A day at Darien lake is all about the waterslides. Sure it was cooler but we are water fanatics. If there is one thing I love is spending the day at am amusement park with these two. Sure, I get dizzy as hell, but what better an excuse to be silly all day long and scream your brains out?

We were there all day. Growing up I went to Darien Lake every single day. My father worked for Paul Snyder at the time who owned it. We went free, and I think our friends did as well. So when I rode the swings with Luc and some of the other rides that were old standards…… it felt so strange. Never in a million years when I rode these rides as a teenager did I think I’d be riding them years later with my son.

It was awesome.  We had so much fun. And I would like to say that I remain undefeated at that game….. where you shoot the target with water and things race…… no one has ever beaten me at that game. And no one ever will. I am really freakishly good at that game.

And proud of it.

We got home late, which warranted a sleep in morning, at leat till 5:30am. But the pool is calling. The underwater lights, the cool air and the warm water. I have a set to execute and some pulling to do. I will close my eyes and hear old coaches instruct me to stop swinging my left arm, and this time I will listen.


Dialing in

August 25, 2010

Special thanks to the folks over at the Rome Sentinel for the nice mention in the paper yesterday. Click here for that. If you read the article you will see right there in print….. just how much my running has improved! HA HA!

I can not wait to get to the pool this morning. I am still swimming outside, under the lights. The walk to the water is cold in the morning but once you get in, well it takes care of itself. The water doesn’t lie. The clock doesn’t lie. The pool is the most honest place you can be. It’s just you, the clock and the sound of the water. No music if you tried. This morning it will be me and the Monster set. The swim captain had surgery yesterday to repair some screws she has in her ankle form a car accident in 2002. But her recovery will be quick and she will soon be back. Matt will be in the next lane over executing his own set.

But this morning it’s me and the watch.

I am anxious for Masters to start again. I’ve been swimming on my own since the beginning of June. I have been swimming so long that sometimes I need that break. I am ready to come back. To grind it out. To bring it home. I am ready for 5am practices and getting dialed in for Ironman Florida.

“You seem to be really focused.” My friend said to me. I smiled. This is what happens about 12 weeks out. I start to get laser locked vision. I have a certain level of focus throughout the season but about 12 weeks out from a big race like this I really get in line. The majority of the work is done.

I don’t have the fear of Ironman anymore, that ended long ago. Your first Ironman is the furthest you’ve ever gone, the most you’ve ever asked from your body. My first Ironman was a disaster….. but I had the experience of a disastrous seventeen hour labor to back me up.

Each Ironman after that has lacked the feel of being 140.6 miles, but has gained an entirely new feeling. I have nailed this distance and I have DNF’d this distance. I have had everything happen to me here. When I step up to that line for the 6th time I can already feel it. That calm serene feeling as I stand with my toes at the ocean. An entire day of possibility ahead. I allow the race to come to me, and I allow it to happen as it does. My respect for this distance is almost religious. The Ironman isn’t something I am entitled to, that I deserve, that I want to OWN. The Ironman is a spiritual experience for me. Every. Single. Time.

But back to this morning….. I am chomping at the bit to get to the pool. I have a monster set to execute. The pool doesn’t lie… like I said. We swimmers have an obsession with time and I am looking forward to eating the clock for breakfast. I am looking forward to being outside for almost three months now, breathing in real air and feeling the cold against my skin. The water’s a comfortable warm, but not too warm.

I am looking forward to that fall day in just over 10 weeks. Where at that starting line I will stand on the edge of opportunity and possibility, with a complete deck of cards in my pocket. With my hand over my heart and tears running down my face as they play the national anthem…… it makes me cry every single time. I am so proud to be an American. I am so grateful that I get to do what I do. I am so lucky to live in a country where I don’t have to fear for my life for pursuing my passions.

My passion….. at least as it relates to the Ironman….. is stepping right up to my edge. That fine line within us all that’s the delicate balance between too far and far enough. Too far in the Ironman is not always a bad thing when you place it at the right time.

There is that place within me, within us all….. that one place…. that we go to during an event like this. It’s dark, it’s deep, it’s what hold the truest revelations about who you are, and what you are made of. Ironman takes me there. It’s a place I can only go to once a year or so. It’s why with the exception of 2007 I won’t do two Ironmans in one season. (While I did the double Iron in 07……. 2008 I got very sick and was injured.) I respect that place enough not to visit it too often. I need it to count. If I went there too much it wouldn’t be such a powerful place.

That’s how I come into focus about now. That’s why I come into focus about now. I am focused all year round, each phase of my training but these last 12 weeks I bring it to a new level. It’s like a force shield goes up around me and I shut off the lights. I pay no attention to what others are doing. I read things that will add to my arsenal….. I don’t even touch food that’s not on the Core whether in a workout window or not. Everything I do is in relation to November 6th.

Come on 6am. Come a little faster please. We will be the first ones there and the water will be quiet. Lit only by the lights underneath in an otherwise dark sky. The water holds a lot for me this morning. And I can’t wait to break the surface.