It’s here. Ironman Cozumel is finally here.
Tommy signed up for this race in October of 2008. I signed up the next month because I realized that I like to be the center of attention and clearly I can’t let him hog all the glory! (well, that and I wouldn’t let him ride 100 miles alone!) So, together, we have been training for this race for over a year…some of that has been mental, some physical.
We started this triathlon journey with a miserable Olympic distance tri in Austin – The Cactus Challenge – in April of 2007. Little did we know that it would come this far. That race was terrifying. It was freezing and we had no idea what we were doing because we didn’t know a single other person who had done a tri! We survived and the rest is history. We did our first half ironman distance race in October of last year on absolutely no training – the hurricane, a house with no AC, moving twice, etc, well, you get the idea. Training just didn’t happen. Once again, we survived and had the time of our lives (our times were terrible, but that’s what happens when you never actually get on your bike). We were hooked.
We made a plan to start training after the Houston Marathon (once again that we hadn’t trained for…there seems to be a trend). We took two weeks easy before beginning a training program on February 1 to get us in shape to begin the REAL training on June 15 - 24 weeks out from race day.
So, for almost a year now, we have been waking up at 4:15am at least 6 days a week. Our social lives have dwindled, but not as much as I thought they would. (We are animals, what can I say?!) We go to bed 9PM most nights, wake up, work out, go to work, run errands, come home, spend 1.5 hours together making and eating dinner…and then it’s bedtime again. I don’t know how couples train for this when only one person is doing it. It’s hard when we are both training, but at least we get to spend those 7 hours on the bike together. It’s not necessarily quality time, but it is fun and it’s better than nothing!
On June 15 – 24 weeks out from race day - the real training began. It was easy at times, really hard at times, exhausting, exciting and fun all at the same time.
The hardest part for me was trying to find time to sleep…since I can only sleep in 3 hour shifts (and only one shift per night), getting enough rest was challenging. I am exhausted a lot, but have been able to suffer through it most of the time…I DO think this is the main reason I almost always injured. Nothing I can do about it though…I keep telling myself to just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming.
But despite the time commitment we had made to each other and the race, we were able to find the time to play with our friends and family because, let’s be honest, they are the ones who have supported us through this!! We learned a lot of things through this training process – and if the saying “The training is the hard part, the race is the easy stuff” is true, I’m golden!
Race day is finally here. The race we have worked towards for over a year is finally here. Our bags are packed and ready to go. We have done all that we can do…at this point, it’s all about execution.
Since June 15, I have biked 2,364 miles, I have run 475 miles, and I have swum 35 miles. That’s about 240 hours of working out…or 10 whole days. If you add in all the time I spent at the gym, that’s another 40 hours (a whole work week!). I am ready. I have put in the time and the effort. The big day is here!!
And that bring me to the goals section of this document. Writing down goals is hard because once you write them down, you can’t come back later and deny you ever said it. Once I write it down, it’s real and I’m committed.
My overall race goals are:
1. To not die.
2. To finish.
3. To finish in under 17 hours.
4. To finish in under 17 hours and still be standing.
5. To finish in under 17 hours and still be standing and smiling.
In ideal conditions, assuming I execute my plan perfectly, I am capable of finishing in 13 hours. I don’t think this is likely, but it’s possible. So, breaking 13 hours would be a super bonus, breaking 14 hours would be awesome and just breaking 15 is kind of where I expect to actually finish. Slight (only very, very, very slight) disappointment starts to set in at 15 hours. Once again, number 1 goal is to not die…number 2 goal is to finish. The time doesn’t really matter.
I have no idea how I will do on the swim and truthfully, I don’t care. I haven’t invested any time into it, so I don’t expect to do all that well. I’m capable of a 1:20 swim, but I predict that it will look more like 1:45ish. It all depends on if I can get away from the crowd enough to enjoy it, but stay close enough to draft! If I can’t get into my groove, I’m screwed….and that’s when it will look more like 1:45!
On the other hand, the bike is my baby. I have invested SO MUCH time into my biking in the last year that I will be really disappointed if I don’t do well. I really want to break 6 hours – which is an attainable, yet lofty goal. I have biked that average speed on most of my long rides, but you just never know how race day will go. And the wind on the island is mucho intimidating. This all being said, I am very willing to forego my running goals to break 6 hours on the bike…it’s very important to me. I can do it. It’s all going to come down to execution!
And last but not least, we have the run. Oh, the run. It’s my favorite, yet worst sport. I love it, yet I suck at it. My fastest stand alone marathon is 4:43…yeah, I’m that slow. But this year I have gotten MUCHO faster at the running. I think I am very capable of a 4:15 stand alone in January (I could probably break 4 hours but it would kill me and that would break Goal #1). This being said, I have no freaking clue how fast I can run a marathon off the bike. Not even a vague idea. No clue. Nada. I’m guessing that at this point, I will have killed myself to break 6 hours on the bike and will have little to no juice left in the tank. Ha. (let’s hope not). But if all goes according to plan, I will finish my bike in 6 hours and feel great (like I have after all my other long rides) and start running at an easy 10 min pace. I plan to take 1 minute walk breaks at every other water station (they are about ½ mile apart). If I can keep this up (which I can’t, since no one maintains the same speed at an Ironman marathon), I could finish in 4:42ish, which would PR my marathon time at an Ironman which would just be badass. If I’m making realistic goals though, I’d like to break 6 hours on the marathon…and really, anything under 7 hours would make me pleased as punch.
Realistically though, if I swim in 1:30, bike in 6:30, and spend 20 minutes in transition, that leaves me 8 hours and 40 minutes to walk a marathon. So, I know that I can do it! I can finish this race! I will hear Mike Reilly say, “Christy Blain, you are an Ironman” by the end of the week! I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S FINALLY HERE!
And then afterwards, Tommy and I will sit on the beach with the people that we love – for without them, and the support, friendship and love they have given us over the last year (and our lives), we wouldn’t have made it this far. The hard part is over. The race is the easy part. And then comes the fun part!!
A special thanks to:Our families and friends who will be a part of Team Blain in Cozumel – Chris, Candy, Cathy, Brett, Amanda, Jon, Janelle, Thomas, Francis, Matt, Ly and Chris.
HoustonFIT ATP – you guys made 5am workouts bearable!
HRTC – our triathlon club – it was nice to know that we weren’t the only crazies out there!
All of our friends and family who have supported us…I know you are ALL sick of hearing about triathlon (I’m tired of talking about it! NOT!). It’s almost over, I promise! (NOT!)