Shortly after my last post (the next day I think), when I was worried that I was only "ready-ish" I packed my bags and headed out to Penticton yet again for one last ride of the Ironman bike course. This time was different though. This was not just another training day, this was my LAST big ride.
Do you ever get that feeling at the end of summer when you start running out of weekends to do those things that you said back in March that you wanted to do this summer? It usually starts around the second weekend in August and you try to make plans with a friend that you haven't seen enough of. It goes something like this: you say "Let's get together this weekend!" and they say "Sorry - I have plans. But how about next weekend?" and you say "Sorry - I'm out of town. The weekend after?" and they say "We've got a wedding to go to. Plans for Labor Day?" And just like that it's September and the summer is over.
So there I was on Friday night, stuffing my belly full of garlic bread and lasagna in preparation for the ride and all I can think is "I soooo don't want to do another 6:30 hour ride tomorrow". There's the truth, I am so done with training that I could not get myself excited about another training ride. I would have rathered Ironman be the next morning than go out for another long, lonely, boring, leg burning, mind numbing training ride. I think the worst of it was that I couldn't stand the thought of another day passing by where 80% of my food would come from a processed power bar, gel or be in a liquid form.
But here it is! I'm all out of weekends! There's no time to make this one up, I can't come back and do it another time when I'm more motivated. This is the LAST big ride and then I start my taper for the big day.
So 8am the next day, out I went. Of course, I made sure I had a smile on my face because if this year has taught me anything, it's that a smile is my most important piece of equipment and I never leave it behind (that's by far been the most valuable training I've ever done by-the-way). Without a smile, I just don't feel AWESOME.
Just over 6 hours later I came rolling back in and (you guessed it), was feeling awesome. I was SO GLAD that I went out and did that final ride. The day was really focused around one portion of the course, that 17km section from the end of the out and back to the top of Yellow Lake. This is where last time I almost stopped to cry on the side of the road. Not today. Today everything I had was for that section. It wasn't going to get me this time like it had the last. I stopped at a convenient store just a few miles before so that I could refill my water, have a snack (delicious mini-potatoes covered in butter and salt that I cooked the night before, froze, then had in my bento box on my bike. By the time I needed them they were defrosted but still cool and a yummy treat and much needed boost about 5 hours in) and prepare for the next 20 some kilometres.
With my little carb boost and a smile I hammered up that hill singing and feeling amazing. I rode through a little rain, some headwind and even had to change a flat tire, but I got to the top feeling like an Ironman. From that point on, I sailed home happy and feeling 110% ready. No more of this "ready-ish" garbage. Let's race.
So now I'm two weeks and a day away from Ironman Canada and soaking up my taper. Workout volumes have dropped dramatically to give my mind and body the chance to recover from the last 6 months of hard work (or five years... whatever). My workouts are still everyday, twice a day, but after my 30min swim and 40 min run or a 1:30 bike ride like yesterday, I'll be spending far more time reading my book and napping on the beach.
It's a little hard to believe that it's just a few weeks away. I really don't think I realize that yet. The work is done, and that I'm proud of, so I guess I just sit tight and wait for the big day to arrive.
My summer ritual this year has been to get up and go grab a coffee and enjoy it down at the beach while I read my book. I love mornings and enjoying the quietness, watching the runners and starring out at the ocean is a perfect way to start my day. I haven't been doing that recently because my workouts either start early, or I have to get things done before the workout, or I'm just to tired/crabby to go enjoy my new ritual before my workout. Tapering isn't just a relief from the workouts, it's time back in my day where I can enjoy these types of things. I love you taper.