January 2, 2012 was the first day back to training. The first couple weeks haven’t been too crazy, just getting back in the swing of training (usually twice) every day. Things are now starting to ramp up to where they were volume wise at the end of last season.

I would be lying if I said it was easy getting back in the training groove. It was actually very hard. I had an incredible off season, I did a lot of skiing and ended the year on a ski vacation out west with some friends. I still worked out, but it was all very lax…definitely not every day and not with much intensity. I didn’t wear my garmin or heart rate monitor at all and never really went more than an hour. When I did it was on the bike ride with my friends which usually included plenty of recovery beer. Due to my injury (ITB again) I hadn’t really run since September…just a 2-3 mile jog maybe once a week if I was lucky. I did go to PT though and am feeling almost 100% again.

I think the hardest adjustment for me was the fact that for the past few months I have been hanging out with my friends every night of the week, staying up until midnight way too often, and drinking as much as the typical 24 year old does. I knew going into this that that lifestyle was not one that was compatible with Ironman training. My coach made sure that I understood that, and I did. But then, when it actually came time to swap the fun late nights laughing with friends for 5am wakeup calls, cold runs, and the black line of the pool, it was hard.

I was pretty depressed the first week back to training. I was so sad that my vacation was over, I was back to work after a 12 day break, and I had a LONG road ahead of me that seemed so overwhelming. I had forgotten why I loved triathlon so much and had little to no motivation. I did my workouts but I felt SO slow and out of shape. I had to stick to the prescribed low HR zones which left me shuffling along like I had never run a mile in my life. 1200 yards in the pool felt like forever, and I finally got to experience the dreaded indoor bike trainer. I just kept thinking “what did I get myself into…”

But I stuck with it and then the endorphins started coming back and it felt good to work up a sweat. By the end of the 2nd week and after watching plenty of motivational youtube videos I started feeling back to normal. And on one of my slow-as-molasses runs I felt reinvigorated and excited.

A 140.6 mile race is not just about crossing the finish line, it’s about getting to the start line. It’s about the journey. When I cross that finish line it won’t just be the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run  that I will be proud of, it will be the hundreds and thousands of miles that I have trained to get me to that day. It will be all the sacrifices I made to get there. It will not be an easy road. I’m already realizing that it takes a special person to do one of these races.  And it’s really not just about the day itself, it’s about the whole journey leading up to it. If it were easy anyone would do it.