The final push

Just over a week ago, I dragged my body in my front door, passed out on the couch and didn’t wake up for almost ten hours. My body was beaten. There was chaffing in places I didn’t know could chafe, there was tender skin where there used to be toenails, I had blood stained socks, clothes so soaked in sweat and mud they could only be described as hazardous materials, and muscles that would scream if I put them near a bicycle or tried to make them to walk too swiftly downstairs.

Two weekends ago I packed up my bags with my training crew for one final push of training at Whistler. One final suffer grinder fest of a weekend. For four days, we trained, ate, slept, moaned, groaned, stretched, and otherwise tried to discover new ways to work out the pain of sore, tired muscles. Between Friday morning and Monday afternoon, we logged more than 500 kilometres on our bikes, stomping on the pavement, and flailing through the water. We endured tough elements with daily relentless headwinds, white caps on the lake, smoky skies, torrential downpours and even some heat from the glaring sun. There were workouts that had me in tears, screaming in pain, cursing at Mother Nature, and otherwise questioning my sanity. I lived mostly on a diet of liquid sugar – gels, powders, and gummies. I craved salt and longed for real food. Some nights I slept like a baby, other nights I tossed and turned, unable to find comfort. With each passing morning I would wake up more weary, wobbly and hobbly than the last. It was a massively intense weekend – I couldn’t wait to taper. But like all the crazy weekend workouts our coach plans there is always a rhyme and a reason for it. Sometimes it’s not abundantly clear, sometimes you have to search for the method behind his madness, but on this weekend, in particular on the second day, it became quite obvious.
In the morning we rode down to Pemberton and out through the meadows to the turn around point. From there, we did a time trial back into town before breaking at the gas station, then time trialling back up into Whistler – a total of 130K. Once back at our hotel, we rested for about an hour, only able to consume nutrition we would have on race day, before heading out on a 21K run. As I stepped out of the front lobby, a torrential downpour started beating off the pavement. We were in for a wet, cold adventure.
For the first 5K or so, I hobbled along, not feeling well and blowing drops of cold water off my nose. It didn’t feel good, and I started to lose a bit of hope. Here I was on the run course, already doubting if I had it in me to complete the full race in just a couple short weeks. As we re-grouped before heading down the trail, I hoped to make it the full 21 without crawling back home. I sauntered off at my turtle pace behind the group, just doing what I could to keep moving. The kilometres were slowly ticking away, and with my head looking down most of the way, I really had no idea where we were going – I just sort of followed the feet in front of me. After about an hour I looked up for the first time and saw a wooden foot bridge crossing Green Lake. Instantly I recognized it from when I spectated at Ironman last year as one of the bridges on the run course. A smile spread wildly across my face. It finally dawned on me that I was on the race course and that in two weeks I would be back on that bridge competing at Ironman. It was in that moment that I recognized I was ready. I also recognized why coach dragged us all the way to Whistler for one last suffer fest – it was a chance to test ourselves and see firsthand the beast we would conquer. We would either find peace in knowing we were ready or run away screaming. I was grateful for the peace of mind.
If you had asked me the week before training camp if I was ready for the race, I would have shaken my head with an air of defeat. There were days when I would lie in bed crying in pain and wondering where I steered the ship wrong. My body felt done and I was almost positive my journey was not going to end the way I had hoped. Today is a much different story, and despite the challenge of that final training weekend, I’ll be forever grateful I endured it. Come race day, I’ll be looking for that wooden bridge and hoping it has another kick for me.

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