Pre-overload BLAH

Pre-overload BLAH

After my really-good-but-not-what-I-worked-for race results, I definitely hit a big funk. Not my normal post-race blues, either…I wasn’t sad the event was over. I was relieved it was behind me, that I got through it. This time last year, that would have been it for me. My season ended at Ohio last summer. This year, Route 66 was a blip on the radar…a long training day on the road to Louisville.

A day I’m working so, so hard for and should be SO excited for…but I can’t find my excitement. I tear up when I think about crossing that finish line, which is how I know I still REALLY want this…but instead of feeling excited, I’m more terrified than ever of every week of training. I dread looking at my schedule and seeing what’s on tap for the day. There are workouts I look forward to (mostly my strength days and my runs), but there are workouts I dread as if I was a total newbie to the sport (like open water swims and bike rides). And between them all, I’m juggling a full-time job with its own stressors, trying to properly celebrate birthdays and retirements of my beloved family and friends, and keeping up with food prep, laundry and minimal (like, SOOOO minimal) household chores.

And quite frankly, I’m failing pretty miserably at everything outside of work and training. Finding balance feels impossible, and not finding it makes me feel like a complete waste of space. I have friends who train ALL THE TIME and still have a life and a busy job with travel and homes that don’t look condemned…AND they enjoy all of it (or appear to). I am inadequate.

I can’t explain it. I’m fine. Everything is fine. Nothing is terrible. But I have a constant hum of anxiety running through my body at all times, as if awaiting the truth to reveal itself: SARAH IS NOT MEANT FOR THIS. SHE’S NOT AN ATHLETE. SHE HAS FAKED YOU ALL OUT.

On the one hand, that is ridiculous. It’s bullshit. It’s stupid and dumb and stupid. I am the strongest I’ve ever been. I actually enjoy touching my shoulders to feel the muscle I’ve built in them, or even my abs. I can FEEL my progress. I can SEE my progress. Physically, my body is transforming into an athletic one.

On the other hand, I am still slow. I am still not feeling confident in my climbing skills, although I put myself on hills every single long ride to help increase my strength. My run is the best it has ever been, but nowhere near where I’d like it to be. And my swim again is the best it has ever been, but I’m still nowhere near as fast as I want to be. I know there will always be people faster than me…but with working this hard this consistently, I feel like should be even better.

I try to remind myself I didn’t get into this sport to compete. I started this to prove to myself I could accomplish amazing things. And training for an Ironman is not about speed. It’s about teaching my body and mind to overcome fatigue and keep moving. But dammit, I’m working SO HARD that I would really like to keep moving a bit faster.

And on the other OTHER hand (yay, three hands!), I need to recognize that I’m pushing myself beyond my comfort zone all the time, which triggers my anxiety and makes everything just a little bit harder than it should be. And despite my struggles with depression, I don’t miss sh*t. I don’t let it keep me in bed, as strong as the pull is many days. That’s pretty huge, and it shows I’m strong – and it’s something I don’t give myself credit for, because oh woohoo, you’re doing what you’re supposed to do like normal people should.

This weekend was my longest training weekend yet, and luckily I have some amazing training partners who let me join them for my first-ever Wildwood ride. Wildwood is insanely hilly, with some steep, long climbs, on two-lane roads with a decent amount of traffic (and some main roads with TONS of traffic), and I am not familiar with the area at all. So my anxiety was HIGH going in. Could I even do this? What if I hold Emily and Meg back? What if I get out there and find I really CAN’T do it, and I get lost alone? The what if game was strong.

But you know what? I did it. It was the hardest ride I’ve ever done, and I did it. My anxiety didn’t help one bit, making it an even more exhausting experience than it needed to be, but I got through it. If I can climb those hills, I can climb anything Louisville has to offer. Now, if I can run a marathon after that is still a huge question in my mind, but I feel like now I know I can survive the bike. It won’t be fast. It won’t be pretty. But it’ll get done.

I really thought I understood what I was getting into when I signed up for this. I knew it would be hard. I knew it would take all my free time. I knew I’d be tired. But for some reason, I failed to consider what my depression and anxiety would contribute, and it’s proving to be my biggest struggle. I cry on my way TO workouts. I cry on the way home, even after I complete them successfully. And not with pride. I’m still so scared, and so f&cking sick of being so f*cking scared. Thousands of people do this. And thousands do it repeatedly. I’m not special. And the more I struggle to get through, the weaker I think I am…the more I believe I’m really not cut out for this…the stronger I question why I thought I could or even should do this. Turns out, my brain is more exhausting than the training itself is.

So here I sit, the recovery week before overload…the week I thought I’d feel such relief to have…feeling no relief, but rather fear and worry and dread. At one point this weekend, I looked at Tim and said, “Why did I tell people I was doing this? If I had kept my mouth shut, I could just quietly drop out and go back to having a normal life. No one would even know.” He laughed and said supportive things I could hardly hear over the roar of self doubt raging in my mind.

But the bottom line is I will continue down the path I opted to take. While I doubt my abilities so much, I have put in a lot of hard work to get to this point, and I have three more really intense weeks to round out my training. I will seek to ENJOY the rest of this week (which happens to include a sweet friend’s wedding that I am so excited about), and tackle the three weeks of overload one workout, one stroke, one step, one minute at a time. I will cry a lot. I will laugh a lot (probably at myself). I will try not to drive everyone around me any more insane than I already have. And I will finish the training as strong as I can, and show up at the start line as ready as I possibly can be. And when I wake up on October 16th, I will be an Ironman.

So take that, brain. Sometimes, you just have to follow your heart. Even if it’s beating out of your chest.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *