Sunday, October 16, 2011

9 Months of Parallelism

Warning: This post is intended for mature audiences only. This pretty much means that even I will not be allowed to read it when it's over. Very little of it actually makes sense.

With the 2011 season officially over, it has become time to start working on 2012. My current 2012 race calendar has exactly 1 race, Ironman Lake Placid. There will likely be several more races added to the list. I generally don't dish out the cash for other races until January or February. Or really close to the early entry fee deadline. I already have a pretty idea of which races I'll be doing next year. But, I am a procrastinator when it comes registering for races too.

In order to effectively train for an IronDistance race, you first take a couple of weeks off at the end of your prior season to recharge the mental and physical batteries, heal up the gunk, and attempt to repair any relationship stress with the Wife. This is good advise for triathletes at all distances. You still have 50 weeks left in the year to be awesome. Just don't eat so much in your down time. (I, myself, struggle with this eating and control thing.)

Next, you start to plan out your season. The first order of business is to look at your A-race and count backwards. Ironman needs about 9 months of dedicated training. HIM should have 5. Olympic distance, around 3-4. Sprint distance requires about 15 minutes of dedicated training, at least 2 days prior to the event. Using these distance/ time recommendations, I started on race day 2012 and have counted back. Nine months equals October 24. That's the latest date I need to start training for a race that will happen in mid-summer next year.

Granted, I didn't make this up. Nine months is an actual recommendation by Friel. Having a few years of IM racing (although, I'm not sure that you can call what I do in the Ironman course 'racing'), it seems that 9 months is right on the cusp of readiness. Funny that when you take the most rewarding yet painful experience that I have and compare it to the most rewarding yet painful experience for the average mother, they are remarkably the same. Thanks to the internet for filling in some of the blanks in this post.

As a science teacher and lover of biology, I get to prepare my students for all sorts of life. One of my up and coming units is related to human development from conception to birth. As a male without children, I am an expert in this sort of thing. That doesn't stop me from researching in an effort to have the Internet try and teach me something. One can dream, right? In my digital meandering, I came across this site. Due to the pictures, I probably won't be showing this to my students in it's entirety (take note if you are at work). I might, but high school teachers students can be quite unpredictable.

As I read through the descriptions, I noticed how human development and Ironman training are almost exactly the same. Here are some salient points of both:
  • When done correctly, they both take about 9 months start to finish
  • They both start off easy and fun but get quite uncomfortable by the end
  • They both really mess with your hormones, body image, and self-esteem

Here's a brief monthly breakdown of what you can expect if you are expecting. You can use the terms baby and Ironman-training interchangeably. Either way, your life is about to change.

9 Months Away from the Big Day- Conception
Wow, this is fun. And easy. You love doing it. In fact, you should do this again and again. Maybe you'll work in 2-a-days. You can't get enough. The endorphins are addicting. You don't mind the sweat, especially when you are in the middle of the act. Sure, it kinda smells when you are done but that's nothing that a quick shower won't cure. But, by week 3, you feel like you want to get sick.

8 Months Away from the Big Day- Morning Blues
Okay, something is just not right. You get up in the morning like before, but the spark is gone. Things are starting to look different, especially in the abdominal region and in your legs.  Outwardly, your body hasn't changed that much. Inwardly, it's a battlefield. Hormone levels are out of wack. Moods change quickly and awkwardly. The reality of the commitment hasn't fully sunk in.

7 Months Away from the Big Day- Coping
It's now mid-winter and getting out of bed for any reason is a challenge. You just want to lie here. Your body is weak from the changes and your energy levels are down. Your eating habits are changing. You have food cravings that you haven't had before. Your heart races even at low exertions.

6 Months Away from the Big Day- Showing
Even your friends and family are noticing that your body is different. For those that are not brave enough to ask, you hear the whispers. Some will blatantly ask you if your weight has changed. As you examine yourself in the mirror, you see why. Parts of you are obviously bigger than before. You may see stretch marks on certain areas.

5 Months Away from the Big Day- Movement
Things are starting to take shape. Even though your is heart still elevated, it's not that bad anymore. You can feel certain parts of your body move on their own, almost kicking, without any work from you. It's a very enjoyable time period.

4 Months Away from the Big Day- Taking Over
It is consuming your life. It is in control. Everything you do has potential consequences. Parts of your body are changing shape and color. You might actually freak out.

3 Months Away from the Big Day- Discomfort
It is putting more and more pressure on you. There is pressure on your lungs. Worse, your GI tract is out of order. Everything is building.

2 Months Away from the Big Day- Clumsy
Your muscles don't work the way they used to. Everything aches. Your back hurts. You are prone to snap. Your hands and feet might swell causing a need for new shoes. (Note: If I use 2011 as a parallel, this was when I developed my knee problem. The system works.)

1 Month Away from the Big Day- Calm before the Storm
Things are slowing down a bit. It has been putting severe pressure on your organs. You need to relax more. You are getting antsy and excited.

The Big Day
You made it after 9 months of processing and working towards this goal. People will inevitably ask you stupid questions like, "Are you ready?" No one, no matter how many times they've experienced it in the past, is ever ready. You go into it with wonder, doubt and mystery. Will it hurt? Yes. Will you suffer? Yes. And, the longer it goes on, the worse the pain gets. There are drugs that help out, but many opt out of the drugs (and some are blatantly illegal). All you can think about is push, push, breathe. Push, push, breathe. Would somebody please get me some ice and a glass of water, stat?! 

There is always this thought in the middle of the process when you will swear that you are never doing this again. Patience. Now is not the time to make any rash decisions. When it is over, you have a high. It is a feeling that no one can explain. You look at your prize and beam with pride. You did that. You had help along the way, but this is yours. You smile. You are happy.

The only real difference: In one situation, you get a baby. In the other, you get a finisher's medal. They are pretty much the same thing.

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