Tuesday, September 30, 2008

One Thing I Do--Focus

One thing I’ve been working on (or at least should be working on) as I work out is focus. Whoever read my IM Loo race report knows that I was focused during the race, just on the wrong thing. Now, the workouts that I’ve been doing are intense, require focus, and should eventually translate to performing correctly in a race by making my muscles work the same (i.e. I’m creating the same feelings in the gym as I would have on the road). So is it working? I thought so, until I remembered what I was focused on last time. Instead of focusing on my pushups, I was watching the 3-year-old who was playing with my watch. I needed the watch to tell me when I was done, and needed her not to play with it and inadvertently stop my timer.

When I told my trainer this, he wondered aloud whether he had taught me that. Obviously I knew the answer was no. And then I realized how long of a road I have ahead of me.

Philippians 3:12–16 reminds me of what I really need to be focused on: “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

IM Loo Race Report

Now that I’m a few days removed from the Ironman Louisville race, and have talked out much of it with insightful friends and family, I am hoping to be able to write an objective race report. We’ll see how it ends up!

First, the good news is that I finished and am now an Irongirl x2 (I think I have now tied Uncle Ron [Ironman] and Mom for that distinction). Unfortunately, I didn’t get a Kona slot and didn’t finish even close to my 12-hour goal. But I do have a good tale from the race (story below) and did learn quite a bit (incorporated in the story below).

I met a few great people at the events leading up to the race. In casual conversation (and what I heard while eavesdropping), everyone mentioned that IM Loo was better and faster than IMoo. I think at that point I got my hopes up even more going into the race, because I thought I could get a better personal record (PR) than I had planned. I was still going to stick with my original time goals but aim for faster. Every leg (minus the transitions) was slower for me this year (swim: 4 minutes; bike: 20 minutes; run: 36 minutes). First lesson learned: Don’t listen to other people’s race reports!

The swim was actually very nice, with a time-trial start and everyone spread out. I wasn’t worried about getting kicked or losing my goggles or time chip, so I swam at what I thought was a good pace. After the turn, I got out in no-man’s land and couldn’t find anyone to draft off of. It took me quite a while to get back into to the pack, but other than being really hungry before I even finished, I felt great.

Getting out of the nasty Ohio River...gross! The white on my shirt was no longer white.

Second and third lessons learned: eat more for breakfast or eat later, and stay with other people on the swim! I went into a quick transition and headed out to the bike.

On the road...it was a hilly, hot course, but very pretty!

The temperature rose to between 93–99 degrees with 65% humidity, and I think just knowing that made me feel like I should go slower than I could have, even though I still tried to keep a good pace. I got passed by a few pro men on the first of two 25-mile loops and also by a few pro women. Mom’s friend Bree passed me, so I got to cheer for her as she whizzed by, and Heather (last year’s winner) also passed me while she was riding on a broken spoke. It was rather amusing listening to her ask at every aid station for tech support. I heard she ended up getting no help and finished the last 30 miles on that wheel (and still ended up in 2nd place). Besides that I dropped a chain at mile 75 and actually had to get off my bike to get it back on, the bike leg was fairly uneventful. Windy and hot through La Grange, but we pretty much had the wind at our backs for the last 25–30 miles.

T2 was slightly longer, but I knew that if I could run a 4-hour marathon I could still finish under 12 hours. However, I started to feel the heat and couldn’t take in full breaths, so I walked for a few miles. Since I wasn’t the only one walking, I found some people to talk to and plenty of others to cheer for, and the first 2.5 miles went quickly. Then the trouble began. I ran past where I had parked my car that morning (on the street in front of a meter; the meter did not have a No Parking Sunday sign, and I was also parked in front of another car). Much to my surprise, I my car was nowhere to be seen. Since police were out there directing traffic, I asked the first one I saw if they were going to be out there all night. He said yes, and I said, “Good, because my car is missing.” He didn’t quite know how to react, but I just continued on.

I knew I wasn’t going to be able to make my goal based on my past miles’ times. I was frustrated and worried about my car and didn’t push myself. But I continued on, talking to more walkers and cheering for more runners. At the halfway mark, we turned around near the finish line and headed back out for one more loop. At that point, we ran past my missing car again, I looked in every parking lot I could see, I couldn’t see my car, and I couldn’t forget about it. I think I just forgot that God had me sheltered under His wing and I was worried about what I was going to do. The last thing I wanted to deal with after having been out on the road for hours (at that point I’d hit about the 11:30 mark) was finding my car, which I was convinced had been towed, impounded, ticketed, and as far away as possible (although it’s evident by my license plate and stickers that I am a triathlete and I was really praying that they’d have mercy on me). For the rest of the marathon, I pretty much just delayed the inevitable, so mentally frustrated that I didn’t physically push myself at all, even though I knew that I could have.

I finally finished, in 13:46, and pretty much started crying as soon as I crossed the line. I knew only 2 people there, one who I was sure I wouldn’t see and a teammate who I thought there might have been a chance I’d see. I did not want to have to deal with my car alone, didn’t have a cell phone, ID, anything (it was all in my car—imagine that!). Well, my teammate WAS there (God’s provision, I know). I asked her to walk with me toward where I had parked and we found the nearest officer. She couldn’t believe I was so worried about my car after just finishing an Ironman, but it had been the only thing I could think of. I know I wasn’t focused on the race at all, and that frustrates me, because I could have done better. But it’s over now. So we told the officer my car was gone. When I told him what kind of car I drive, he said, “Oh, is it the blue one or the white one.” You can imagine the relief that washed over me at that point. He said it was in their police station parking lot—they had moved it off the road because we were running on it. My teammate went to check to make sure they hadn’t given me a ticket or anything, and then we headed back to the finish line where I got some food and a much-needed massage.

So in the end, all was well and I had blown everything out of proportion. So lessons learned?

4) I didn’t push myself physically when was mentally exhausted and unfocused.
Solution: Rely on God to have everything under control, and focus on the race. Take care of whatever isn’t race-related after the race. Basically, work harder even when I don’t feel like it.
5) Don’t park where the race route is. I looked again and the meter STILL wasn’t marked (although the one the other car had parked in front of was, but I wouldn’t have been able to see it when I parked).
Solution: Study the race course and park far from it.
6) Have someone with me who can drive me so I don’t have to worry about it!

So, even after all that, I still finished and got my medal. However, 26th in my age group was not good enough for a Kona slot. Maybe I should hire a psychologist to help me get my mental game ready! Or, maybe I’ll just work harder for the next one and rely on my trainer and his insight. Or maybe both would do me well. Whatever I do, focus (or lack thereof) was definitely my downfall in this race.

Seriously, though, thanks to all who offered support and encouragement and gentle (or not-so-gentle) prodding to succeed, and I hope you have more in you for another year—I signed up for IM Loo again next year so that I can conquer the course.

Other than that drama, I’ve had a fairly normal summer. Did a few races, including a marathon, road bike races (I won one and will finish in the top 10 Cat IV females in Tennessee), criteriums (I won the local weekly series and have a traveling tiara to prove it), triathlons, visited one sister in NY, got to be in the other sister’s wedding in WI, made a new friend/running partner who promptly moved away (the story of my life), did our church’s version of CBS’s Amazing Race, and generally had a fantastic last few months.

IMx2. Note the further evidence of the dirty Ohio River.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


I am back to one of my favorite mental debates: Which is better--having a few close friends or having many friends who aren't really close? This always comes up when someone leaves or when I do something that would be so much easier with someone else. Both of those things are true right now. Allison is moving back to Indy to go to school, and Will is giving me workouts that would be much easier if someone were there working with me or even just spotting me (I'm grateful for the workouts, and the accountability has been really good for me, but it would be much easier if he were here).

It is easier to keep in touch with people wherever they are (NY, WI, IA, AZ, IL, NC, OR, HI, FL) because of the technology we have, but I have so little interaction with friends as it is I don't want to continue losing friends! I like having fewer friends because it's easier to me to learn about them, get to know them, remember them, pray for them, love them, and spend time with them. I don't think I'd be able to handle knowing enough people to go out and do something every weekend, because it takes so much effort to get to know all of them and properly relate to them. But when I want to do something specific with someone, and have no one to do it with, I wonder whether knowing more people would be better. AAH!

Definitely like: Do this [Go pick up X at Y before Zpm].
Definitely don't like: Can you do something with someone at some time? It doesn't matter what or when, just spend time with someone.

Monday, September 1, 2008


Zechariah 13:6 And one will say to him, "What are these wounds between your arms?" Then he will answer, "Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends."

"The zeal for the Lord will be so great in the kingdom of Messiah that idolaters will make every attempt to hide their true identity, but their scars will be the telltale evidence of their iniquity." John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1338.

As I train to race, I try to think of what I'll be doing while I'm racing. When I lift or do the ISO exercises, I think about how I'll have to turn on my muscles in the same way as I'm running or riding; when I ride and run, I remember what I did in the gym, turn on my muscles, and do what I've practiced (or at least try to...I'm still working on remembering everything!).

When I read and study the Word, I should have the same mindset: It's training for life, for trials, for joy, for everything.

"If I had everything I wanted (no sickness, all my friends, hobbies, food, etc. that I enjoy here) in heaven, but Jesus weren't there, would I be happy?" Francis Chan, Crazy Love, quoting John Piper.