Tuesday 30 October 2012


Knees bent, hunched over, I slowly make my way across the room. I grab on to anything that crosses my path for support. My husband laughs, “is it really that bad?” “Yup,” I laugh with him. My calves are mad at me… again.  After a two-month hiatus from anything resembling fitness, I am back in pursuit of another Ironman race. Roth, Germany is the destination; the race is 257 days away.

Training unofficially started last week. Coach Al agreed to begin a little early, because apparently I need a training plan to get me off the sofa. Eight weeks of resting and eating may have helped repair my muscles and tendons, but what I didn’t need was the 10 pound weight gain, and the speed and endurance loss. It happened so quickly. I hope the same will be true in reverse.

My plan for Roth is a modified version of Louisville. I still want to finish with a smile on my face, but I added one more ingredient… speed. With that in mind, I met with Kris Sheppard, a coach at AE who specializes in running. With a camera in hand, he filmed me running this past Thursday. After a few hard minutes on the treadmill, Kris began to point out my hip-to-knee angle on his laptop screen. “Not bad Carmen,” pointing at my leg extension. The more I stared at the screen, the more Kris became background noise. The voice inside my head screamed… “Is that me on the monitor?... Is that what I look like when I run?... Holy cow, how much weight have I gained anyway?” Kris keeps talking, pointing at the screen. He draws a line from my hip to my knee and then to my foot. Percentage numbers pop up on the screen. Kris is still talking, but my eyes are fixated on my ass. “This is what I get for taking two months off.” Kris is still talking.

I tried my best to pay attention to all of the direction Kris was giving me. One comment stood out, like music to my ears, snapping me out of my vanity-driven daze. “Carmen, you are using the wrong muscles when you run.” Which ultimately means I can get faster. Frame by frame we re-reviewed leg and foot position, I am 80% there. The last 20%, if I can do it correctly, will give me the speed and the endurance I covet.

As I limp around the house, my calves burning from the sprinting drills I did for Kris, I look forward to the many months ahead of me. My journey to Roth is about pushing hard. But how hard can I go? How much can I expect from this, dare I say, middle-aged body? How fast can I cycle, and still run a marathon afterward? How fast can I run a marathon (non-stop I hope this time), after I have cycled hard for hours and hours? I know I can complete an Iron, but now the challenge is to go as hard as I can, without risking failure.

As I map out my plan, I know I need to be leaner and stronger if I want to go faster. Weekly yoga and strength sessions will be more important this go around, as well as proper nutrition. There is however a fine line. I still want the journey to be fun. I guess that is where Al comes in, reminding me that more does not necessarily mean better.

Work hard, have fun and do my best. Round two has began, and not a moment too soon.

p.s. Thanks Al… for laughing instead of reprimanding me when I asked if I could run twice in one day like the Kenyans do. I know I will make it to Roth injury-free if you are in my head. 

Words of inspiration.

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