The Double Anvil (4.8 mile swim, 224 mile bike, 52.4 mile run.. 8% vision)
T-Minus 242 days 11 hours 31 minutes and 50 seconds...
Well sometimes I think this training blind stuff is 'normal'. I guess that's true, since it is MY normal. Sometimes I think it's annoying. Organizing the run based on availability of guide, or in the cover of darkness. Speaking to the life guard and other lane occupants to explain why I may unknowingly swim directly into them. Or why I may walk into the mens change room from time to time. Sometimes I think it's entertaining.
Once in a while I remember I'm doing it for reasons outside of myself; to work towards creating change in this highly ablest world of disability and sport.
They call this "training"; I'm not so sure? One week and I'm cringing at the thought of setting tomorrow's alarm. I'm dreading the calculations of minutes, seconds, distance, and calories. Dreading may not the right word. I'm desperately attempting to out-source my math. I'm texting my son in class time to ask conversion on units. I'm emailing pictures of my bike pedometer (sorry maybe that's a cadence monitor?) of before and after my ride, to my BBF (batboyfriend) to read and subtract because not only can I not see it, I have no clue how to reset it.
And then there's the spreadsheet. Don't get me started. Suffice to say glitter glue and coloured pencils don't help me with averages and percentiles. The ceiling on this is too high. I out-sourced the creation of my spreadsheet too.
And now, on a Sunday night I sit with my Batgirl journal, all its lines etched in ink and minutes averaged out, and the calendar, and the appointment book, and the work schedule and yes... even the days I need an extra three minutes in the shower to shampoo my hair. I guess, making the plan, is a bit like making my own map. How to get there - this place where I am that person who can swim 4.8 miles tethered to a near stranger, tandem bike 224 miles with the same near stranger and then run a double marathon guided by what I can only assume will be a tired not so strange stranger, in 36 hours - from here. Here. Where the heck is that anyway?
Either way, I decided the plan is 35 weeks long and if I don't write about the chaos in my head as the journey goes... Well then I might actually explode, or at the very least drive my family nuts. So how did week one go? Oh boy.. let me open a door for you, paint a picture for you...
Jan 30 2017, week 1, day 1 -
When I was little, I never wrote the year on anything. It was as if I didn't expect life to be quite that big that it took up so much space; that one calendar seemed enough. Twelve entire pages. Isn't that long enough? Don't they know how long that is? I can hardly wait until dinner, let alone 11 move pages.
When I was a teenager I never wrote the year. It was an absolute defiance that one day I might forget I'm here now, living this. Isn't once bloody well enough? I remembered everything dammit. How could you forget such things? I'll not grow old anyway. Too many pages for me.
.... too many pages for me.
Oh but how I love the blank page. Its offerings, its peace, its pure potential in time and space. Imagine all the possibilities in the world, all the worlds you could write about, create, invent... the stories you might spin. Yet I always land exactly here. In my head just here. Rehashing the obvious lack of dates over too many pages. Forever counting down, or up, to ... something. Usually with cold tea perched close by, wondering if any of it means something at all.
Today - swim 53 min, strength 39 min, core 15 min, run 61 min
Jan 31 2017, week 1, day 2 -
Yesterday I ventured to the gym. This is a big deal. New spaces, unmemorized steps, corners, couches, tables, weight plates, and people. UGH I don't like people. I don't trust people. They keep moving. They keep changing their clothes. They smell different. They are very nearly unmemorable. I don't like feeling "different" in a group of people. Can you tell I'm disabled? I mean, if I wasn't bumping into that squat rack, or swinging my white cane around.. if I just acted like you... sigh. I am not you.
I don't like being obvious. But man, if I don't open up my cane to walk the pool deck then you might not know. And that, might be deadly.
The weight room was busy. Older men doing, and redoing the bicep curl, the tricep extension and the chest fly machine. Closed chain exercises. Twenty times through eight reps, and I could hear the swing and plink of the weights from the bike. Why? It's a circuit. CIRCUIT... not circus. Those muscles aren't going to change staring at them. Swing and plink. I'll just pedal. Counting minutes. Thinking to myself, that's okay, I'll see you in my massage therapy treatment room in a few weeks complaining of an overuse injury. I sat on the edge of a spin bike, on the edge. Always on the edge.
That a good sun. Good? Evil. Windowed room. I'm forever on the edge of normal, this cusp setting. Stupid three sided windowed room is so scary. Moving parts. I like my edge. I'm aware I keep myself here more than they keep me here. On the edge of the room in the relative safety.
Then it happened. A public plank. I can't think think about this in hindsight. When I"m in my basement shaking, quivering, holding on like a shipwrecked pirate ; I'm pretty dam sure I seem as a drowning alligator must. A fury under the shake to simply just hold on one second longer. ONE SECOND LONGER. My life in seconds. My hatred for this world, its expectations of my expectations in one more bloody second. A war in my soul. The quiet corner so picked to hold this plank was bursting over the room with a silent scream for ONE MORE SECOND.
Three planks total 5:45, 2:30, 1:30.
... but that was yesterday. This is today.
It's 4:19am; the laundry is half washed. Yesterdays aches are filling my head as I stretch, as I convince my muscles... stretch. I fit stuff in. I squish and twist until 39.43 seconds counts. If I love you, my greatest gift is time. Never forget that. It's so hard to invent time.
From the planks to the pool yesterday, my 2000m swim took me nearly 53 mins. Disgraceful I tell you. I'm ashamed. Dam you world for expecting my expectations. And the toe cramps? Fucking awful. Just awful.
Following the bike, the planks, the swim, there was a fitness test yesterday. This makes me giggle. The assessor, the would be coach, with his terrible boredom and uninterested tone. Darling, should you not be inspiring? Things I found out during my fitness assessment; My squat form is just fine, the lunges illustrate my balance is not good. The medicine balls are stored in the corner fifteen paces before the stack of mats. More and more ... he could actually nap. I feel it oozing from him. "What are your fitness goals?" me... not dying reinventing myself (in my head though? Getting away from you, I fear it's contagious) Lets time your plank now. Egads batman, where were you 90 minutes ago? He counted up by uninterested 5's. At 1:45 he actually paid attention. At 2:00 minutes he walked all the way around to check my form. At 2:10 when I couldn't hold on any longer he actually saw me. Too funny... where were you before I swam and biked and planked already?
Yesterday ended with an hour run. I'm tired. The kinds of tired that soaks you up and calls you for snuggles. The perfect time for an insomniac attack right?
And today? I'm hoping to survive. Glad I've stretched, although man it makes my handwriting such a squibble. And the laundry calls.
Lifting weights seems so odd to me. Lift things that are fine where they are. Pick them up - put them down. Why? So I can hurt the next day apparently. My arms feel like they're dragging on the ground, like I'm an Ape doing a post ultra shuffle ... Great, now I'm stuck on the letter "A", obviously... alligator, apes... oh and I'm craving popcorn. Do Apes eat popcorn? Can they lift their arms to do so? Oh and I could nap. Is napping part of this "plan"? Let me check the spreadsheet.
today - bike 30 min, strength 40 min, core 10 min, stretch 20 min
Feb 1 2017, week 1 day 3 -
My body hates me. Or this is how I feel. The urge to pee lifted me from sleep around 1:30am. But the first movement, that first wiggle hurt down to my toes and back. I don''t know why they call it DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). There not much delayed about it. You move, it fucking hurts. My arms hate me for yesterdays 7:15 min plank, for the french presses. I was hovered there on the yoga ball, a 15 lb dumbbell overhead descending behind ... thinking, well this is dumb. What doesn't kill you, gives you DOMS? how do you stop this?
Of course the only way to avoid DOMS is to lift more regularly. Yeah. Try telling yourself that while falling ungracefully onto the toilet seat because yesterdays deadlifts have rendered you incompetent mid squat to eloquently lower yourself. Oh my god... I'm going down! You know you could avoid this in future by adding weight or reps to those deadlifts right? THUNK.... really? Helpful thanks. Or , or, heres a thought, I could instal hand rails beside the toilet, they'd be useful after 100 mile races anyway. This was my thinking as I fell at 1:32am. Please please let the boys have put the seat down?
But up now to stretch again at 5sm. And they all sleep. I'm blown away at how far away my toes are this morning. Look up... wayyyyy up...
In other news, I survived yesterday without a nap. There should be some award for that shit. Today's pool time doesn't start until 9pm. Should be interesting. Bring on the Alligators.
today - swim 52 min, stretch 20 min, run hills 80 min
Feb 2 2017 week 1 day 4
Busy busy bee... biked, core, stretched and lifted. Night shift day. night shift days are tough. I like to be in bed at 9pm typically. There an odd karma in watching people sleep when you're tired. Yesterdays swim was crazy. New to me pool. More unmemorized steps. Hell if I know where the ladies locker room is. I'm fully aware I came out of that door. But man if only I knew which one it was again. I went swimming at 8pm (instead of 9). The life guard explained the lay out of the pool to me; the end two lanes were currently the lane swim lanes. The middle two lanes were for the life saving youth, (great I'd get to hear a chorus of "HELP" as I swam... try ignoring that with your eyes closed!) Okay and I was assigned the lane rope right between them both. Excellent, increased risk of being kicked in the head by a 10 year old. Gotta love adventure.
The thing about me and swimming, once I'm in the water, there's no white cane buffer to explain to others that I'm legally blind. They honestly have no idea (and by rights neither do I) that I'm going to rudely blast head on into them if they come my way. Oops sorry, oops pardon me. Just stick to the lane rope batgirl. Todays self talk. Stay on the edge, again. Surely the guard will tell them. Surely the guard will let them know. There's no possible way they've changed shifts and this guard has no clue. One two three breathe. Please don't die. Stick to the lane rope. Maybe I should actually try paying attention? Like actually try and look up? Ugh I hate looking. It's exhausting. And I always... get... dam...
water in my ears.
Man this tri stuff must be incredibly hard when you can see. Oh no... Oh no... TOE CRAMPS!!!!
I'm sinking. I'm gonna die. Worse no one will hear my "help" over the life saving 10 year olds. Oh no... this is it... I'll never kick again! Oh who am I kidding? I'm a runner, we never kick anyway.
Out of the pool, find the change room door. Is it this one? Yes, the distant squeals of hair drying little girls. This one. Why, why do I always run 90 mins of hill repeats before coming to the pool?
today - bike 30 min, strength 30 min, core 20 min, stretch 20 min
Feb 3 2017 week 1 day 5
today REST DAY Just shut up
Feb 4 2017 week 1 day 6 -
Oh I've been waiting for this day. Today we go to a snowshoe race. 6km of floundering in the woods on invisible white ground in this insanity they call winter. Where every little hill is buried in the back drop of nothingness. Wait my friends are all here. I get to just have fun today. I don't hear your feet? Did you cut them off? What do you mean root middle? I can't jump in these shoes? oh oh oh I get to step ON the root. Whoa. Weird.
These people have no idea how much I love them, how brave I think they are, how tolerant of me they've become, how insanely grateful I am... How bearable they make 'sport' for me.
Guides. Otherwise known as my family.
today - 60 min of snowshoeing
Feb 5 2017, week 1 day 7,
Sleep escapes me. This is not unusual for me, I suppose. This plan, this week of this plan, had so little run time I worry. I worry and I miss it. My body remembers how I'm certain. But still. There's an ache.
I'm ending this week with a group run. Today we ran the Waterloo half marathon route. This is a race (42.2km) I'm booked to run at the end of April, the day after running 50km at Pick Your Poison. It's a winter wonderland out there. Blowing snow and mismatched run clothes. Layers upon layers to hide in. Thirteen people came to run, several more to volunteer. Again, I am blown away a the community. It amazes me how many people need sport in their lives. Plan a run and they come.
We jumped snowbanks and dodged snowplows. We spread out along the 21kms of road by our comfortable speed. And yet, we ran together.
Sport is like that; sometimes apart and quiet, but always collective, always together. At the end of my week one, here I am... hoping beyond hope that this "togetherness" in some way includes disability too...
today - 160min running, 25 min of stretching