My Birthday and Warm-up Race

I have to admit, I’m extremely nervous. In 10 days I will be doing the race. I’m still reading “Going Long” and apparently it is normal to have doubts and feel nervous.

I spent most of my 27th year of life training for this race and I hope that I don’t look back on it and think it was a bad idea. Last Friday was my birthday and I had so many well-wishes for a wonderful year. Honestly, I can’t wait to not train for this race. I love training, but lately it has become cumbersome and all-consuming. I can’t run without thinking about it, I can’t bike without making sure my cadence is correct, and I can’t swim without thinking “Can I do this 2 times more?” I can’t wait to enjoy training again. It has become work for me, when it is supposed to be a hobby.

The past few weeks have been very difficult and I’ve struggled to maintain my mental health. In fact, right after my last post I went to emergency for anxiety and was put on medication. Ironman has been a major factor in my anxiety lately and panic attacks have been ruling my life and my training for the past 6 weeks or so. It was my last resource and I decided to take it. I have decided it’s better to do that, finish the race, and still have friends than to continue living “on the edge.” So far, it’s helped a lot and I’ve been able to stay focused.

On Sunday was my “warm-up” race in Waskesiu. It was a great race. I wasn’t very well-rested due to my good friend’s wedding the night before, but the lake was calm and the sky stayed clear for the whole thing. The swim was longer than 1.5km for sure, but I kept my pace steady and I raced my race. On the bike, I really held back and had a hard time doing that. I wanted to kick it up and beat my PB, but I had to remind myself that this was not my race. On the run, I have to admit that it hurt a little. My left Achilles heel was sore and my hip flexors were tight… probably due to my lack of yoga as of late. However, I went with my pace and I reminded myself that next year I can rock out on this race. This year I have a different goal. So I was more than 15 minutes behind my PB set last year of 4:05 and came in at 4:22. I ran across the finish line with my cousin who is 9 years old. My family was all there, including my 21-year-old brother and my 86-year-old grandma. My boyfriend’s family was also there. It was so nice to have so many people cheering me on as I came past them on the bike and in to the finish of the run.

So now I am mentally preparing for the race in only 10 weeks time. I’m going for short swims, bikes, and runs (ie. nothing over 30 minutes, 1 hour, and 2 hours, respectively). Every run I do, I end by imagining running across the line and having them call out my name: “Crystal Clarke from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!” It gives me shivers to think about and it feels so good when I imagine it, which is nothing compared to what it will actually be like after the grueling 15+ hours I will be on the course.

I’m excited, but so scared. And I’ve heard from numerous people that I’m not the first person to have Ironman drive them crazy. If anyone reading this is considering doing Ironman, make sure that your life is fairly consistent and grounded before you decide to do this race because it can bring up every little change and make it seem huge. Maybe I should start a counselling agency for people embarking on Ironman. I wonder if such a thing exists already.

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2 Responses to My Birthday and Warm-up Race

  1. Irongirl says:

    Congrats on racing your own race. That is so hard to do when you just want to let loose.
    I got chills reading “Crystal Clarke from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”
    I can’t wait to hear my own name.
    Good Luck. you are going to rock!

  2. Veg*Triathlete says:

    It sounds like you have a great support group! How great that your family all came out to cheer you on. I hope these next few days leading up to the race go smoothly, relatively anxiety-free (aside from the kind of nervousness that’s to be expected). I’m so impressed by anyone who takes on this enormous challenge — and when I stumbled upon a vegan doing it, well, I was thrilled! You’ll do great!

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