On a plane back from Minneapolis looking down on snow capped mountains somewhere over the rockies I can think of many things to give thanks for as we leave Thanksgiving week. I have a wonderful support crew from Jamie, to my parents to my great friends.
Jamie has been at just about every race I have ever ran from that first duathlon to my last half-ironman. My parents are always so supportive that I can't wait to call them after a race to tell them how I did. To top it off I have great friends like Blair and Tom in San Diego that have come to races. I couldn't be more thankful.
As I go into this Ironman I think of the things I am thankful for and the things I will need to do to complete Ironman. Eating well and doing all the training is even more important than before. Building a sound foundation for the bike, good swim technique and getting faster on my feet is becoming clearer and clearer the more my thoughts lean toward that far off race.
This will all mean a lot of long hours on the bike, working on my swim more than I want and actually doing speed work for my run. This all comes with visualization, believing how well the race can go. "You're only as fast as you think you are" as prominent triathlon and cycling coach Joe Friel writes. No negative thoughts, only positive ones.
Coach Hartman taught me a valuable lesson this weekend, "you have to put yourself in the pain zone long before you experience it in the race". For Ironman this is as much mental as it physical. His son Steven (an excellent speed skater) told me about the crazy off season squat workouts he has been doing, sets as high as 30-some reps. "The first ten are always fine, then my legs start to shake, after that my back hurts then you want to fall to pieces" he told me.
But Steven got through it. Surely his skating times this winter will reflect the price paid. Put a dime in, get a dollar out. Thank you for the lesson Steven. Before any real training begins that is exactly what I needed to hear.
Next Thanksgiving I hope to have even more to be thankful for with many lessons learned and my wonderful support system mentioned above to thank for joining in the journey.
"I think I learned to appreciate and treasure each day because you don't know how many you're going to be given."
-US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor