Louisville will be IM #3 for me so you think it wouldn't be a surprise. Everyone talks about taper madness as being hard to deal with but I have no issue with tapering. I welcome the couch time. The period of time in the training plan that gets me is the 4-6 weeks before the race. You are peaking with running, biking and swimming and have time for almost nothing else. I had been in a crazed frenzy of feeling like I have too much to do this week. It took me a minute to put two and two together on why this week seemed crazier than most. Oh yeah. It is peak madness. (You like that phrase? Feel free to use it...).
Peak madness is when you are reaching the brink of insanity. During the week, you are logging 3-4 hours a day working out and another hour or so preparing to work out (getting the gear together for the next day in my case) all while trying to maintain all the other activities in your life such as making meals, washing the ever mounting piles of clothes and paying the bills. We won't even talk about how many hours are occupied with swim/bike/run on the weekend. You feel like you don't have time for one more thing. Nope, no time for lunch with friends. Just the thought of penciling in one more thing makes you crazy. ....and then just like that it is over and you are into the taper.
It seems like the Ironman process has several phases.
PHASE ONE is the excitement of registering. Your heart pounds as you fill out the online questionnaire. It pounds even harder once you click on REGISTER. There is a brief moment of "oh my why have I done" which quickly fades to excitement as you tell the world on FB what you have done. No need to worry about training right now, I have a WHOLE YEAR for that.
SIX MONTHS pass and while you have been dabbling in the art of swim/bike/run, all of a sudden you realize your race is six months from today and you better get this thing in gear. One a day workouts quickly morph into two a day sessions. You leave the house early, you get home late. Once you get home you pack the bag to do it all again the next day.
THREE MONTHS out and a little panic sets in. The race is still comfortably in the distance. I mean, three months that is FOREVER, right? At this stage you are comparing your training to everyone you know which doesn't always help as every training plan seems to be so very different. You obsess a bit. Am I doing enough biking? Maybe I could fit in one more century ride... (ahem)
TWO MONTHS out and things start getting real. Your weekend workouts of long rides and runs are occupying the entire weekend. Your clothes, even washed, sort of stink of sweat. Maybe I *do* need that Go Soap stuff for my workout clothes. Pretty much every load of laundry contains more workout clothes than you would have previously thought you could have worn in one week.
ONE MONTH! Peak Madness. I think I got this. Did I train enough? Let me google other participants and compare my training again. Better yet, let me obsessively compare my training from the past two years to my training this year.
ONE WEEK out you have the excitement of packing and creating lists until your little OCD head wants to explode! Is eight tubes going to be enough? How many tacks could there be on the road anyhow ?!?! :)
... and then you get to RACE DAY. You would think you would be nervous but somehow you are not. You stand there at the start listening to the various speeches and songs. You take a deep breath and just feel a sense of calm. No biggie. Just a really long training day. The horn goes off and so do you...
I am almost there! In case you are wondering, I have already compared my training to everyone I know as well as my own from last time. I don't know why but I always feel like I haven't done enough when I get to this point. Looking back at old training is great reassurance for these times of doubt! Four more weeks and I will be breathing in and out feeling calm ... and ready!