Friday, November 10, 2006

Things I've learned (or relearned)

Some totally random thoughts are below that I'll probably keep adding to as things occur to me as I emerge from my post-IMFL fog. Or is that Post Ironman Stress Syndrome (PISS)? I'm still processing a thousand thoughts and feelings - positive, negative, everything in between. These are in no particular order. Feel free to add your own thoughts or reactions in the comments!
  • Just because someone is faster than you doesn't mean they know very much factual information about nutrition or physiology or biomechanics, and they can be some of the biggest offenders in spouting off arrant pseudoscientific nonsense. They may be fast in spite of whatever they're recommending, not because of it.
  • Everybody has to work out what is most effective for them in terms of fueling and effort in a race. Experience is the greatest teacher. Ideas from other folks are great, but they don't have to run in your body.
  • Speed is no indicator of character or intelligence, although some faster people may try to convince you otherwise.
  • I genuinely like the majority of triathletes. I can't say that for many other large groups of people.
  • The Ironman hype is a double-edged sword.
  • Ironman is a corporate product, and yes, they're in business to make a profit.
  • Entering an event a year in advance is helpful in planning and training. But HAVING to enter and pay a non-transferable entry a year in advance to secure a spot sure is a pain in the butt for lots of other reasons.
  • You can be a complete triathlete without ever doing an iron-distance event. Or even a half Ironman. Or even an Olympic-distance triathlon. Though many, many folks will try to make you think otherwise.
  • Coaches are sometimes not all they're cracked up to be. There are a lot of great resources out there that one can utilize besides a coach. If you have one that works for you, great! The personality/services fit is what is important. It doesn't mean that same individual will work for anyone else. Some stubborn folks like me plain just don't like being told what to do.
  • Always be a little suspicious of anyone trying to sell you anything.
  • Yes, it's worth it to make the attempt if you can still smile at the end of the day.
  • Being in the middle of the long miles in an endurance event on race day can be not very much fun at all. Especially when the sun is setting and you have hours and hours yet to go.
  • Doing a twenty-hour training week or two isn't so hard. Doing thirty or forty weeks in a row of 10 to 15 hours of training is what is hard. It's the equivalent of a part-time job or enrolling in college.
  • Most people lie about their actual training hours. They often cite their top week or two as an average.
  • Just one bad cold can really knock the stuffing out of you for well over a month. Use hand sanitizer more.
  • There's very little "forgetting" to eat or maintain a manageable pace or use sunblock. There's planning or not planning.
  • The human body can make some pretty amazing transformations in less than a year.
  • Then again, going from flat on my back for an entire month in the hospital, desperately trying to keep my triplets alive, to attempting an Ironman 3 years later? Who would have thought it? I guess that is a lot to expect of any normal human body.
  • Your body doesn't know there's supposedly an off-season.
  • I still don't believe in overtraining. I believe lots of people get worn out from their training, or do more than what they're really trained for, and then don't get enough sleep nor take enough days off to fully recover. But that's being undertrained, not overtrained.
  • Going hard for 12 hours is much more than double going hard for 6 hours. And mile 20 is still the halfway point in a marathon.
  • I never heard any of the fast triathletes and coaches talk about how it's psychologically and physically extraordinarily difficult to run in pitch blackness on a strange course when you've already been going for 13 or 14 hours that day, and that I should have practiced it in advance. Maybe because they're already done and getting their massage by sundown.
  • The people that you meet along the way are what make it worthwhile.
  • It's sometimes difficult to keep the "hardships" of a race in perspective. When somebody dies in a race you're in, or another guy passing you has had a double lung transplant, or another has 77 written on his calf, that starts to put it in perspective.
  • Any "suffering" on a race course is self-imposed and by choice, and therefore not genuine suffering at all. Temporary discomfort, maybe. Don't be a drama queen.
  • At the end of the day, the sun still sets, and it will come up in the morning again, regardless of what happens on the race course.
  • 99.9% of the people in the world don't give a rat's ass about triathlon.
  • Karma - in terms of payback for good and bad actions, or punishment for hubris - is real in triathlon. But it takes its own time.
  • In triathlon, some totally unhealthy obsessive-compulsive behaviors can start to seem darned-near normal.
  • Whatever you did on the course, it's still not healthy (nor anything that I want to emulate) if you really needed an I.V. afterwards.
  • Everyone who pays the entry fee has an equal right to be there.
  • "I'm slow, I know, get over it."
  • I'm still in the game because it's fun and challenging and endlessly interesting. When it's not any more, I'll stop.
  • There are those of us for whom the Big Impossible Goals with a sprinkling of fear are the best motivators of all.
  • Another great motivator to many of us are those people who said it couldn't be done. Thank you for spurring me on.
  • It still really is about the journey and the process, not the destination or the outcome. Though that sounds like a huge cliche. And bringing home a medal would have been nice.
  • Yes, I'd still like to earn the Ironman title. And no, thank you for your kind comments, but what I did was not enough to earn the title. I greatly respect and applaud anyone who has rightfully earned that title. But it would still be okay if I never did.
  • I wouldn't trade the last full year of training under my belt, those dawn training rides in summer, and the thrilling experience of standing on that beach on the morning of an Ironman for almost anything. Well, a million bucks, maybe. There's a lot you can do with a million bucks. I could score some incredible race wheels with a million bucks.
  • There are very few days that you will remember in detail for the rest of your life. Ironman Florida day last Saturday was one of them.
  • My girlfriends are the best. They totally rock.
  • And here's a special shout-out to a few of my very favorite tri-bloggers and now real-life pals and Ironmen: Shelley. Bolder. Comm. Kahuna. Trimama. TriBoomer. TriDaddy. Adam. And of course, Ellie. Plus a lot of others that I wanted to spend time with. I couldn't be prouder of your accomplishments and gladder to know you.
  • It's sure good to be home and hug my husband and kiss my girls, and take more time to play with them again.
  • I'm very, very fortunate to have the life that I do.


jbmmommy said...

I certainly hope that none of the things you posted are in response to negativity you have received. On the other hand, I think that sometimes people are trying to be constructive and it comes across wrong. And other people are jerks.
I'm not sure I'll ever do an IM event, but it sounds like a nice goal. I already consider myself a triathlete, too, even though my 2 sprint events may pale in comparison with the accomplishments of others. You live in your own skin with your own life- enjoy it on your own terms.

Thanks for sharing the insight, as always.

Jeremy said... of the better acronyms I've seen in a while!

Oh, by the way, bump that 90.6% up to 90.7% on your sidebar! 2.4+112+13.1=127.5

Sorry for the nerdy math again, but you earned every tenth out there!

Hermano said...

What's the difference between the negativity you seem to perceive from some people, and the negativity you seem to display? I don't understand the defensiveness.

Congratulations on you accomplishments so far, hopefully you'll find more goals to work for in the next season.

nancytoby said...

There's been a lot to process this week - positive, negative, and everything in between. I'm just throwing out a lot of disconnected thoughts here.

nancytoby said...

And sure, I'm reacting in part to some comments I've received, here and in other places, positive and negative, agree or disagree. Hashing it over with others is all part of the process....

The Warden said...

Nice Post and some great lessons. I enjoyed PISS as well.

Bike Chick said...

I agree with a lot of what Nancy said. I think the defensiveness comes in because there seem to be a lot of people out there telling you (or at least implying) that you don't belong in an Ironman race if you don't finish in under 14 hours or you're not a size zero or you don't embody their vision of a triathlete. Or that it's not a worthy goal because it won't cure cancer or end world hunger. No one can or should dictate what your goals/dreams are, whether or not they are worthy, or how you reach them, but some people feel the need to do it. I'm starting to see it on a lot of blogs and forums. I thought triathlon was all about running your own race and if that's the case, why do so many people seem to care how someone else is doing it?

21st Century Mom said...

I love your random thoughts. I don't see any negativity at all that hasn't been earned by someone, somewhere.

And you know what - it's your blog and you get to say whatever you want to say.

stronger said...

"I (meaning you) am FABULOUS and it didn't take an Ironman title to prove it!"

Shelley said...

I love this post Nancy, probably the best ever..why? Because you're telling the truth in an honest and open way, and I can't take anymore of this lovey dovey love fest some of these blogs have taken on..let's be freaking honest for once people!!!!!!! Nancy so far is the only one who has nailed it down and ya know what ..SHE GETS IT!!!!!!! CAN!!!!

lisapete90 said...

"Going hard for 12 hours is much more than double going hard for 6 hours. And mile 20 is still the halfway point in a marathon."

Wow - Nancy you nailed it. You are an inspiration. Love reading you and congratulate you for IM, finish or not. I am in awe.

Cliff said...

- 99.9% of the people in the world don't give a rat's ass about triathlon.
- Ironman is a corporate product.

Too true...

mipper said...

one of your best posts in recent memory. i think anyone who wants to undertake an IM, or triathlon at all, should read this. great job and thank you for sharing.

Iron Pol said...

What kills me is how people get defensive about a bloggers post. Take it or leave it.

Everybody who participates in an Ironman race probably needs some time to work through everything. And anyone who gets to the "start" line and not quite to the "finish" line may have a few more things.

Ironman is about the same as a marathon. Being a runner in no way requires completing a marathon. It's just a different level of competition. You are a triathlete. And you are well on your way to becoming an Ironman. Lessons learned are part of future success.

Thanks for sharing your experiences. They will be useful between now and August.

And just for Hermano... What negativity is Nancy displaying? I've read this blog a lot, and don't see it. She makes points, and comments about her feelings. That's just stating the facts. You want negativity, watch Norm Stadler in the 2005 IM World Championships tossing his bike around because of a flat.

TxSkatemom said...

"Any "suffering" on a race course is self-imposed and by choice, and therefore not genuine suffering at all. Temporary discomfort, maybe. Don't be a drama queen."

This is why I lurves Nancy Toby -- you have such a dose of reality and big-picture priorities. You're awesome!

Vickie said...

Nancy, I think your thoughts are honest thoughts that have been bouncing around your head this past week. I honestly have a lot of the same fears, thoughts, and concerns you do about an IM distance, but the difference is you had the courage to try.

Geek Girl said...

Good list. Just because someone looks fast doesn't mean they are. I can't count how many times I've seen some triathlete and thought to myself, "well, I know I can beat him/her. Then got smoked by him/her. Live and learn. Also, you are so very right about how individual training/nutrition/hydration needs are.

Fe-lady said...

Whew...Don't know where to begin, but I am printing this up to read again, and possibly again and again...I have thought all of those things at one time or another...but never put them down on paper all at once. Thanks for doing it for me...
I remember posting a LONG time ago that finishing an IM did NOT change my just added to it. But then lots of things add joy and challenge and fun to my life! (yours too I bet!) Mix it up!

the Dread Pirate Rackham said...

Nancy, thanks for putting your process in print. Mostly, thanks for sharing.

Mojo said...

That was an excellent post. I thought about how it wasn't very long ago that you had your babies. That alone is hard on the body. You stepped up to the challenge and trained for an Ironman while caring of twins! Amazing!

The sentence that I understood the most was, "Speed is no indicator of character or intelligence, although some faster people may try to convince you otherwise."

If I am going to enjoy and continue with triathlon, I must not beat myself up if I don't place because I am not the fastest.

triathlonmom said...

Great post. Definatly going in my keepers box. You have a really honest perspective on things. You are ALWAYS keeping it real. I love that.

Spokane Al said...


Many try to incorporate philosphical, combined with real world perspectives on our great sport of triathlon with varying degrees of success.

However, you ma'am, are the real deal.

Thanks for your thoughtful, insightful posts.

Brian said...

I agree with alot of your comments. But be careful not to become too negative on the IM. Take the off season to evaluate and truly decide if you want to take it on again. Dont let the negative outcome dictate what you really want. If you dont want it thats ok, but if you do then look it straight in the eyes and take it on again one day. BTW sorry I didnt get a chance to meet you at IM FL. I guess I was sort of in my own world at the race.

nancytoby said...

I hear you, Brian! I hope it's normal to indulge in a little "sour grapes" before I bounce back completely! I may work up to it again, hopefully a few pounds lighter so the day will either be a little easier or go by faster! We'll see... so many events, so little time!

Dianne W. said...

As great and inspiring as it was to share your IM experience by being there and cheering, I'm still really happy sticking to sprints. Live your own life, win your own race.

Siren said...

Awesome. Just awesome.

This is the kind of thing aspiring Ironmen like me need to hear. Thank you SO MUCH for putting some non-sugar-coated truth out there.