Lake Megunticook Morning

ironmantra by Shannon Thompson

Megunticook

My alarm went off at 3:15 this morning. I was dreaming that I was standing on a cliff overlooking a bay full of leaping dolphins, sharks, and an enormous sea creature that revealed itself to be a brontosaurus when it lumbered out of the water. I had been fly fishing for sea trout that became giant puppies when hauled ashore. When your dream life is so interesting, it’s especially hard to leave it for the murky waters of Lake Megunticook for a 2.4 mile solo swim at 4:30.

The sky was just beginning to lighten and bats were still swooping over the lake when I slid in. (Unfortunately, their presence had no noticeable effect on the roughly 4.5 billion small insects on the water’s surface that skittered next to–and occasionally into–my mouth with every breath.) The thick mist clinging to the hills in the west changed shape and color as the sun found its way into the sky somewhere on the other side of the mountains to the east. I swam close to the shore, pushing away thoughts of snapping turtles and sharks and monsters and dead bodies and zombie arms reaching up from between the rocks. Going out took forever; coming home was better with a little more focus and a harder push. It’s a longass swim, and the mental gymnastics are challenging. The mist was pink and yellow when I finally limped out of the water to peel off my wetsuit and put on my bike shoes. A couple of rowers idled in their sculls, watching a loon.

I’m smack in the middle of my biggest week of training, which brings mixed feelings. I’m tired and everything hurts and I have no space between activities and I eat standing up from a skillet most nights. I want to go to the dump, vacuum my house, clean out my fridge, watch a movie, drink a beer and have a conversation with another person while sitting in a chair making eye contact. I want to get my face melted by live music and stay up past 8:00 just one night. The anticipation of the race is so huge that it in itself makes me tired. I just want to do it.

But this is also the last week I’m going to get better at anything. Where I am now is essentially a tired, achy version of where I’ll be come race day. Next week is slightly less volume, with an emphasis on speed, and then I taper for two weeks. I’m wishing I had worked harder on the flats on my bicycle. I wish I had met my goal time for sets of 100s in the swimming pool. I wish I had done more long swims in the lake. I wish I hadn’t pulled that hip flexor last week that’s haunting me every time I run.

I also don’t want it to end. I am totally addicted to this training. As tired as I am, I’m not ready to let go of it. I have a feeling race day will take care of that and leave me ready for a big fat rest. But what do you do after an Ironman? Assuming I even finish–what’s next?

So here’s what I’m up to. Feeling luckier and happier than you can even imagine.

MONDAY: Rest
TUESDAY: Swim: 30 x 100 yards. Run: 8 x hill
WEDNESDAY: Brick Workout. Bike: 2 hours / Run: 1 hour. Strength Training
THURSDAY: Swim: 2.4 miles. Bike: 2 hours 
FRIDAY: Bike: 112 miles. Transition Run: 30 minutes 
SATURDAY: Run: 2.5 hours
SUNDAY: Swim: 20 X 25 yards. Bike: 50 minutes. Strength Training