Dating Ironman: Part Deux

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Remember that new beau I told you about a few months ago? We were flying high in the clouds and loving every second of our time together. It was pure bliss, a true honeymoon phase.

So, where are we now? Here’s an update on my life as I continue to date Ironman.

BEFORE: Every adventure was so exciting and full of wonder. The annoying habits like a flat tire, muscle soreness and downright tiredness were somewhat endearing.

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NOW: He knows my buttons, and he knows exactly when to push them. If he decides to spring a flat tire, a rain storm or a new ache on me on the wrong day, it’s as if the world is coming to an end and everyone in my life will hear about it.

BEFORE: We were the social couple everyone loved to be around. We loved our time together just as much as we loved hitting the bars with friends. The perfect balance.


NOW: We’ve become the old married couple everyone hates to be around. In bed by 9 p.m., up at 4 a.m. Nice, low-key evenings of foam rolling while catching up on Law & Order episodes have become the norm. Friends have given up on us because, let’s face it, we’re pretty lame even if we make it out since all we talk about is each other and the idiosyncrasies of our boring lives together.

BEFORE: My friends loved hearing about him. Even when we got into a little argument, they were the first ones to come to my side and to encourage me to work through it.

NOW: My friends are tired of hearing about him because IT’S ALWAYS THE SAME THING. “You guys went for another romantic four hour bike ride on Saturday? Shocker.” And when there’s trouble in paradise one week? I’ll be the first to complain about him and take a sarcastic tone when discussing our plans for the weekend ahead. But don’t you DARE ever talk crap about him because you just don’t understand what we have together!

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Despite the sarcastic approach I tend to take while discussing my training, I have enjoyed every bit of this journey. It has been an eventful nine months that have really tested my strength, not only physically but mentally.

I’m beginning to realize more and more that almost anyone can train for an Ironman, physically speaking. It’s the mental challenges you’ll face along the way that will be the true determination of whether you cross that finish line. With less than three months to go, I know that this will be the toughest, but most rewarding phase. It’s time to buckle down, keep committed and chase after that light at the end of the tunnel.

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-Live Every Day-


  • Ashley Stone

    Sorry I missed this before. Can’t wait to meet this boyfriend of yours in November.

  • Cecily

    Glad you enjoyed it, Mark! I actually decided a few months back to take a different approach from Adam. While he’s sticking to more of the XFE methods, I’ve given up CrossFit for the year and have opted to go the LSD route. Having been hooked on CrossFit for a few years, this was definitely a tough decision to make, but it came down the the fact that I knew my biggest hurdle would be the mental aspect. In order to go into the race with confidence, I decided that I’d need to just build the miles and prove to myself that I can tackle those distances. It’s been interesting to compare my training with Adam’s along the way and I’m really looking forward to seeing how we each feel at the end of all of this. I do also plan to start building XFE into my training for races in the future once this first IM is under my belt. I definitely think this is probably cause for a good blog topic – a more in-depth look into our training plans, side-by-side.

    • Mark M

      Cecily….After completing an exhausting 5.5 hour ride/run brick Friday I remembered this blog and realized that I am now at that place :(

      The Boulder IM is 6-weeks out and I am tired.- and very nervous. I’m tired of the long rides/runs and all the planning that has to go into them for me (I go through a lot of fluids). I’m tired of being tired. And i’m tired of being nervous. Like you, I abandoned the XFE approach a few months ago because i knew i would have to fight the mental battle for 12+ hours on race day if I didn’t put in the miles. I was also getting hurt from the XFE workouts.

      So now we’re getting close to race day and I am still fighting the mental battles- will i freak out in the swim? Will it be windy and demoralizing on the bike? Will the climbs take everything out of my legs? Will I be able to finish the marathon with my longest run being 17 miles- on fresh legs? The mental fights are as exhausting as the workouts.

      I know that I should be enjoying the ride and appreciative of the fact that i am healthy enough to be doing this but I am ready for this to be over.

      Hopefully you guys are both doing well!

      • Cecily

        Hey Mark!
        Believe it or not, reading your note made me miss the process so much! We all have ups-and-downs throughout the long training process, especially as workouts get longer and more taxing mentally and physically. It’s really amazing how much of the game is mental, isn’t it? Just remember that despite how difficult this last weekend was, you got through it and you finished, just like you will on race day. Also, I’d really encourage you to pick up the book 10-Minute Toughness. It was a big mental game-changer for both Adam and myself and I think it could give you some good tools to use in building up your mental game.
        I guarantee that you’ll look back at your training and will really cherish those rough patches you were able to work through. After all, if Ironman were easy, everyone would do it :-) And, the hardest part is pushing yourself through training.
        Keep up the good work! I’m so excited that you’ll be doing your first one out in Boulder. I’m living in Denver now and am definitely planning to head out there on race day, so I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for you! Everyone is really excited out here about the race since it’s the first full distance out here, so it’s sure to be a great event!

      • Cecily

        Mark – How did the race go this past weekend?? I’m anxious for an update! I was out there for a few hours in the afternoon and was able to catch a bunch of people starting the run and the top finishers. It was pretty toasty out there! Let us know how it went :-)

        • Mark M

          Cecily…I actually thought about sending you my bib number a few weeks ago but figured that you were probably tracking a bunch of folks already.

          I absolutely loved the race and was BLOWN AWAY by the local support, particularly at the start of the run.

          So much to share:
          My goals going in were:
          1. to finish
          2. to break 13 hours
          3. to enjoy the day

          I took your advice and bought 10-minute toughness but didn’t get through it in time. I got to the race about 1 hour before the cannon but was rushed to pump up the bike tires, mount the water bottles, then waited in line to use the “facilities” once before the start. However we ran out of time before i could take care of that or warm up. The swim started out very rough and without a lot of real estate to stay on the outside. Without a warmup and after getting hit many times I started to panic and swam towards the canoe. I have done many open water swims and races, including one within the past month, but this one got to me. This was the only time during the race where I felt like quitting but I hung on to the canoe for a while and eventually calmed down enough to press forward but the rest of the swim was far from smooth. I didn’t get into a decent rhythm until 1.5 miles or so, and even then was hit another dozen times before the end of the race. I ended up coming out of the water at 1:25, about 10-15 minutes slower than i was expecting

          I changed into my cycling gear in T1 and while running out of the tent was surprised to see some of my friends from Albuquerque- they came all the way up to surprise me and cheer me on- my wife kept it a secret the whole time.
          I was worried about the back half of the bike with the elevation gains but can honestly say that, other than the few steep climbs, I barely noticed the change in gradient and got faster as the ride went on. I started to cramp up a bit at mile 104 but was able to manage it by changing positions and fortunately never had to deal with that again. I tried to ride as relaxed and efficiently as possible and finished the ride in 5:44- about 15-30 minutes ahead of my expectations.

          While in the changing tent I heard the screaming crowd and thought that the pros were coming by but was surprised to see that I got the same reception- I was overwhelmed by the local support- amongst the hundreds lined up along the path ringing cowbells were dozens of strangers cheering for me by name- it was unbelievable and my legs felt as if i my day was just starting, without any effects from the ride. The hardest part of the run was at the bottom of the course where there was little fan support or shade, however this quickly passed and we were back in with the crowd and shade. My plan was to walk every aid station and drink as much as possible while there. I made it through the first half of the marathon fairly well but felt my quads starting to hurt around mile 14. I told myself that I would continue with walking only the aid stations until 16.2 then I would renegotiate with my legs :) At that point I started running .5 and walking .1. That was eventually reduced to .4/.1 then .25/.25 by mile 20. I had plenty of gas and my HR was great but my quads couldn’t take it anymore. I kept this up until i was back in with the cheering crowd around mile 23 and was inspired to push more and was then running .5/.1 again and when I hit mile 25 I just kept pushing through the discomfort to the end. I ended up running 4:23, much faster than I thought I could run.

          I ended up running 11:51 and thoroughly enjoyed the day (minus the first half of the swim). Competing in an Ironman has been a dream of mine for more than 20 years and I was told by everyone that I will never forget the moment when I cross the line and hear Mike Reilly call me an ironman, but I can honestly say that this didn’t hold a candle to the feeling of inspiration I got from the local crowd at the start of the run- that I will never forget!

          I was very sore for two days. So much so that I really couldn’t sleep for two nights, but it was all worth it and I am planning for my next one. I would really like to do IM FLA as I used to live in Louisiana and have raced in that water- it’s absolutely gorgeous and clear, but am not sure any event will live up to my experience at Boulder.

          Once we upload my pictures I’ll post them somewhere and you can see if you recognize me from the race.

          Thank you and Adam for all the advice and encouragement over the past few months! Obviously I did not know your aunt but am certain that she would be very proud of you both.

          • Cecily

            Congrats, Mark!!! What an awesome recap…and nice work on the finish time!! Pretty impressive. Sorry to hear the swim was so rough, but at least you got all of that behind you at the start. Sounds like the rest of the day was pretty awesome. How cool that your friends surprised you out there! Can you believe it’s all over??
            I had a similar experience on the run of my race. You go into it with a plan, but there’s no avoiding re-negotiating those walk/run segments. And I couldn’t agree more – the support from people on the run is incredible, isn’t it?
            I wish I had thought to ask for your bib number! I’m fairly positive I must have seen you start the run. A buddy of mine finished right around your same time and I was out there to see him on the run and hung around for a while. I was on the shaded path just as you turned right onto the path out of transition. If you remember where the 13 mile marker sign was, I was right there. We’d love to check out your pictures when you have them up!
            Keep us posted when you pick your next race. I couldn’t help but register for next year’s IM Boulder, so I may need to pick your brain a bit more down the road :-)
            Congrats again, Ironman!!

  • Mark M

    Cecily….Very well written and though I haven’t started ramping up for my first IM, I can totally relate. I would like to know, however, how many hours you guys are putting in a week? XFE basics are that you can do the IM with 10 hours training/week and it sounds like you guys are putting in much more…?

    Hang in there!!