Warning: Explicit language. F-bombs and what not below…Ms.Pams kids, I’m talking to you…

Thursday, as Hailey pointed out in a text message to me was 100 days until Kona! Monday marks the 14 weeks to go date which is conveniently 12 weeks of hard training plus 2 weeks of taper/sharpening. The last few weeks have not been easy when it comes to my training schedule, but what’s past is past and I made it through. The next 12 weeks will be the hardest of the year, and also mostly likely the hardest of my entire triathlon quest up until this point. Muddy has been very clear with me that we will be skirting “the edge” during most of this time period, and if the last 2 weeks are any indicator, which they are, then I am in for a doozy.

It’s pure focus, it’s go time, it’s what we’ve been reaching for all year long.

–Coach Muddy

As happens so often with these Ironman builds, and I see this with my friends and my own athletes as well, when it comes down to dedication time, those 12 weeks prior, most people see initial setbacks right off the bat. Right when they are supposed to ramp up, they get sick, or the stress in their life goes off the deep end, or a knee decides to keep them from running. I keep seeing this over and over and I struggle to put the reasons why into words, but of course, I’ll try.

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My best guess from personal experience is that “dedication time” requires a shift in my daily normal life and routine. Not only does my schedule change with more training hours, but my family/friends must suddenly adapt to that new schedule as well. My daughter who is used to me taking her to camp, is suddenly getting dropped off and picked up by dad a lot more. And she is okay with it, but it’s a change. Nature always seeks equilibrium and transition upsets that. There is always a rebalancing that’s required.

The people that I communicate with suddenly see and hear a lot less of me and they make their own conclusions about that, which are very rarely “Oh she’s training really hard for Hawaii.”

Who would really think “She didn’t call me on July 4th because she’s deep in training for a race on October 11th?” I’ll tell you who? No one. I try to use other times of the year to catch up, to develop and foster my relationships, to give my time and ear to others. But sometimes I think that I am just setting an example that people come to expect as status quo throughout the year. When this time period hits there is a readjustment for both me and my loved ones. I suddenly become a “delicate flower” to everyone close to me (so that I may pummel myself in training).

The amount of myself that I am able to carve out and spend on the needs of others drastically shrinks, both in my availability, but also in my patience.

And that’s really the big one. When this time period comes around the number one thing I see is that my ability to “handle my shit” goes way way down. Something that I might have been able to brush off when I’m training 15 hours a week, I suddenly am very upset by. The stress that comes across my doorstep sticks with me more, and my ability to cope is lowered.

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Each person has a bucket for stress. I talked about mine a long time ago on this blog, it’s a green bucket, looks more like a tub. Inside that bucket goes training stress, life stress, lack of sleep stress, shitty diet stress, heat stress….ALL the stress. When the bucket gets above a certain level I start to lose my marbles. When the bucket overflows, I completely lose it and shut down and pretty much don’t speak to anyone for 5 days.

My bucket got to the lost marble stage this week.

Yesterday I did this very hard run. It’s the one session of the week that scares the ever loving crap out of me. Muddy actually has Troy ride next to me for it and do all the pacing and I “just” have to keep up. Well, yesterday we got out running and 20 minutes in he hands me the bottle of Osmo he prepped for me and it’s full of recovery drink…not active. It’s 90 degrees, full sun, several miles from home. I was mad. At him for putting it in there, at myself for not packing my own bottle…mad…again, less able to handle my shit. If this really important session gets screwed up because of this I would beat myself up for that…prove perform please perfect. Yea, yea, I got problems, 99 of them.

We made a plan to hit up a faucet in the park and kept rolling.

This week I have felt the pains of “dedication time” that I described above. Several situations this week had me asking Troy “Why can’t people be nice to me, I’m so nice to so many people, why are others mean to me.” All week I have had various situations in the front or back of my head. They nag and I watch that bucket get full as the training gets crazy this week. Now, I have TONS of people that are wonderful to me, but during this time the negative ones really pack a punch. Part of the transitional phase is reminding myself to steer clear and keep away from these sorts of situations.

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**I totally stole these quotes from someone on twitter…Beth maybe?

I get into the fast work and 5 minutes in I feel my throat constrict. I tell Troy I’m stopping on the side of the road and I just crumple in a heap of tears and a little ball on the ground. Sadly my first thought was “There’s no crying when you are wearing a trucker hat” A guy pulled over to see if we needed help as Troy stood over a very upset Sonja that didn’t want to be looked at or touched. After a bit of a cry-walk with my head stooped as low as it could go I started to get ANGRY. A resounding “Fuck them all” came into my head. I told Troy “let’s go” and I started running my speed work. I think he was pretty freaked because he didn’t really say anything to me the rest of the run. Traumatic for both of us honestly.

Was it pretty, no? Did I hit my numbers? Not all of them. Did Troy and I both continue to mess up on the run? Yes. Did all those thoughts continue to swirl in my head, absolutely! It was constant “BLAH BLAH BLAH….Fuck them” over and over and over.

And when I got home I was so raw and exposed and drained and tried, and upset.

That’s what this training does to me. 25-30 hours a week is no joke, and add in the hard stuff and trying to reach my personal limits so that I can adapt and become stronger…well, it’s just really really hard. Hard on a family, hard on my tired aching bones, but really hard on my head.

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But here’s the deal folks, it really is the only thing I want to be doing with my life right now. It’s why I get so upset when anything comes into conflict. I want to see how far I can go, how much training I can handle, how fit I can get. I’ve worked hard for 8 years and this year feels like the one where it’s all paying off.

Having been through the Kona build 4 previous times, not to mention a few more with non Kona Ironmans I know it’s temporary and in a few days or weeks everyone in my circle will know that Kona training has hit and to just give me my space. The people in my very close circle know it’s buckle down time and Troy who takes the brunt has already started to put on his armor and his apron.

It’s a hard thing, but a pure thing, dedicating yourself to one endeavor. All I have ever wanted was for someone to push me to my physical breaking point, but I have yet to have a coach be willing to go there. Until this year. As I look forward, I know I have the best gear this year. I have the QR PR6, 100% brand new and it flies. I have HUUB, a phenomenal swim skin and wetsuit on my back. James and Liz at Tribella fully support me and I don’t have any of the bike mechanical issues I used to since James sees my bike every 2 weeks and keeps it ship shape. I have the support and my husband who is willing to bend over backwards. And finally I have a coach who is willing to give it all to me, hold nothing back. Anything less than my best would be a waste of everyones time and resources.

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So, for the next 14 weeks…the twitter and FB will be mostly silent, except when it works for me. The blogs will be as well, except when I need to vent. Emails will go unanswered, and calls not returned. My priorities have to be very simple and very clear.

Family, Training, Coaching. Everything else will be sitting at the back of the bus.

The island awaits and I’m not wasting this opportunity.

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22 Comments

  1. I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your sites really nice,
    keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your
    website to come back down the road. All the best

  2. BRAVO!! I was moved to tears with this post and admire you in so many ways. Today I admire your ability to tell it like it is. Get it done! You are such an inspiration to so many of us!!!

  3. I just love this and really needed to see this right now. Don’t worry, you’re never the only one on the side of the road sobbing on any given morning. We’ve all been there and will be there again.

  4. oh god, that must have been the run i saw you on. i hope you were on the tail end at that point. but BRAVO for being out there and being awesome and depositing that run in the kona bank, as i know you’ll be able to draw on it come race day.

    also, i’m sure most of those close to you know that this is what you do, this is what’s important to you and will understand all the assorted quirks. and if they don’t … well, they need to learn. or sit back and admire your awesomeness. 😉

    (also: *drooooool* over that pr6. SO PRETTY!)

  5. When it get’s tough and we want to say, “F THEM ALL!” Just know how much your ponies look up to you, appreciate you and are here to support you. Oh and you know, cry in the bathroom if you have to…it always helps 😉

  6. No regrets!! You are one of the few athletes I’ve seen with the amazing combination of talent AND dedication…you go girl!!!!

  7. Sonya — sending you lots of positive energy . Your hard work and pure determination will reward you!

  8. This is a well timed post, with my hell weekend for IM Boulder. Going through the same things as you, just maybe not to the same degree.

    I think what’s hardest for me is that this training forces you to be selfish and I don’t like to be so me-centric. But to survive, you have to. It forces you to chose what’s truly important to you – in the moment, day, week, whatever – so you can meet your goals. The rest is noise and will be there when you unbury yourself.

    Know that you are loved and supported. I can’t wait to see how you do in Oct.

    1. Your selfish and me-centric comment got me thinking…and writing…and talking to my head-yoda-guy about it. I have similar feelings but have had some clarity in this area recently.

  9. Yes, go go go. Train hard. Recover enough to keep training hard. Hug your family. Keep going, so you do not look back on these 14 weeks with any “what if” questions. And then, go hard in Kona. Keep going. No “what if.” You can do it.

  10. Thought of you today out on my ride. Friday is free SLURPEE day, so make sure you get one!

    Thanks for sharing this post. I’ve had a few of those moments with Chris and I wondered if I was just a terrible future wife, or if when we are so tired & raw from training, that we just act out of character.

    Looking forward to seeing you shine at Kona!

    1. I almost don’t even think it’s “out of character” I think sometimes it’s more in character and the other days are the ones where I’m acting to please and make others happy and like me. This stuff just wears you down to your core, and I know that’s why we do it, but man, sometimes the girl down in there is pretty rough. BUT, yea for Slurpee day!!! I’ll be looking forward to that all week!

  11. Yes. While I do half the training load you do, it is time to buckle down and I have quickly been reminded of little Ironman training things. I turn into a pumpkin when the clock strikes 8p, when I get a little hunger pain, I have to eat IMMEDIATELY or else, when I am tired, I am sensitive and most importantly, this is a very selfish time and I should probably wear a shirt that says, “i’m sorry!”

    Good luck with your training, as always, it’s very cool to watch you grow as an athlete!!

    1. Thank you! Half of the journey is figuring out all these little things about yourself! From personal experience the “I’m sorry” shirt doesn’t help…just pisses people off more 🙂 🙂

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