10 Reasons

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Published on: April 17, 2008

Top 10 reasons to not go 140.3

  1. Swimming 2.4 miles. Really? Seriously??
  2. Never-disappearing goggle marks
  3. A summer of swimming, biking and running… and not much else.
  4. Have you seen Wisconsin? There are HILLS there!
  5. Spending more money on energy bars, gels and supplements than real groceries
  6. Mass swim start. Need I say more?
  7. Having to assure my family many times over that no, I’m really not crazy (while secretly wondering if they’re right)
  8. What if it’s 100 degrees?
  9. What if it’s 30 degrees and snowing?
  10. Pain. Lots of it.

Top 10 reasons to go 140.3
    1. “Laura Baron, YOU are an IRONMAN!”


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Published on: April 16, 2008

That’s an awful long way. I wouldn’t even drive that in a car. HA! (that’s the most-often heard joke about longer distance tris and runs, isn’t it?)

Why would someone want to do it?

I ask myself that all the time. This time around it was Ironman Arizona that got me thinking again. I leaned in and watched the fuzzy video feed on my laptop with rapt attention. I cheered as the athletes triumphantly crossed the finish line. I gasped and teared up as others stumbled through the finish chute, their last bit of energy sapped up probably miles before that point, moving forward only by heart and will alone.

And you know what all this does? It makes me want to be one of them. I want to hear Mike Reilly announce: “Laura Baron, you are an IRONMAN!”

I can’t tell you how many race reports I’ve read that have not only made me teary-eyed, but had me bawling without shame. The emotional draw I feel to these athletes — these champions, whether they finish or not — makes me think that it embodies what this sport is all about. The going out and doing something so ridiculous, so challenging, so over-the-top that it not only goes beyond your comfort zone, but leaves your comfort zone in a different zip code altogether.

And yet, I haven’t been able to make the commitment to the distance. The race — that’s the easy part. The months of training, the whole Saturdays used up by long bike rides, the being so tired from swimming, biking and running that you want nothing to do with the entire thing by the time you’re done — that’s the commitment. That’s the hard part.

Part of not being able to commit is being scared out of my mind: what if I can’t do it? What if I don’t have what it takes to make it through the training? The fear that my failure wouldn’t even be on the course, but in the months building up to it. Part of it is not wanting to put my life on hold for this. Can I realistically do ANYTHING else while Ironman training? I’m not sure it’s possible. And I don’t know that I like that.

But, all along, the thought that’s reverberated around my brain is “Before I’m 40….yes, before that milestone I want an Ironman finish on my life’s resume”. Which was fine 4 years ago. Now – it’s far more immediate. It gives me a year. Now or never, baby!

Knowing this, I’ve at least gone this far in terms of commitment: I’m going up to Ironman Wisconsin this fall to cheer a lot of my friends who are becoming first-time Ironmen. And the hotel reservation is through Monday. Meaning — I’ll be there for the Monday morning sign-up for IMWI 2009. Even just having made the decision to POSSIBLY sign up has me spooked.

Will I go through with it and sign up? I still don’t know. The idea of it seems too big to wrap my mind around it. My unreasonable wish is that seeing the IM up close and personal will allow me to gauge whether or not this is something I really want — because you have to REALLY want it — and not just be swept up in the emotion of it.

I suppose this can be tagged…. “To Be Continued….”….

Getting better. Slowly.

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Published on: April 11, 2008

With the emphasis on the slooooooowly.

Now that I’ve decided to get smart and have someone more knowledgeable take over my training, I’ve become intimate with the frustrations of z1 training. 

z1.  Meaning, not really working.  Meaning, pacing so slow that you might as well be walking.  Meaning, not just easy but skin-crawlingly easy.  Meaning, grandmas with walkers are passing me by and flipping me the bird because I’m in their way.

I know the science behind heart rate training.  Easy z1-z2 runs provide the aerobic base.  Give you the endurance on which to build a season.  Teach your body to be as efficient as possible.  What I’m finding, though, is that the laid-back, easy-going personality I like to think I have doesn’t actually exist.  At least not on these runs!  It’s an exercise not of body, but of mind:  run 10 seconds, look at my watch, slow down.  Repeat.  Again.  And.  Again.

Today, however, I got to stretch my legs a little, let loose, even.  I was allowed not only into z2, but into HIGH z2.  Just thinking about it made me tremble in anticipation.  Quite honestly, the excitement of being able to run faster than going backwards was enough to make me want to take a vacation day from work so I could go outside and get the workout in.

And what a beautiful day!  Not even much a breeze to slow me down.  And run I did.  And you know what?  I was faster at a lower heart rate than I had been in the past.  Huh.  Perhaps this is all working?  Dare I say I’ve made progress?  Dare I??!

I understand why I’m doing it and I even think I agree that this is going to help me in the long run (heh).  That doesn’t make it less challenging, but for the time being I’ll take each z1 run as a mental training day: getting through each run with my sanity intact!


My Better

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Published on: April 9, 2008

For whatever it’s worth, I think that Nike — of all the sports-related companies — does an awesome job of advertising.  Right now they’ve got their “My better is better than your better” campaign, which is nothing less than pure genius.  I see it on TV and it literally makes me want to get out there, pound the pavement, do some tough intervals and become “quickie von quick quick” (how great is that line?!). 

I know, I know…it’s all designed to sell.  Shirts.  Shoes.  Gadgets.  Shorts and the rest.  But you know what else they sell?  Inspiration.  A kick in the ass.  A little attitude.  A reminder of one of the reasons that we’re out there, sweating and working hard.  

And they’re not afraid to throw a couple of laughs out there too — nothing like a little humor to get your point across: 

Nike running commercial

In the end, I know it’s a business, designed to do nothing more than separate me from my money.  But I don’t care — I’ll sit back and enjoy the commercials anyway.

Buying Happiness

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Published on: April 5, 2008

Is there anything better than shopping for new running shoes?  Methinks not!

A friend of mine has decided to take the leap into the world of running — a 5k race is now on her radar.   When we talked, I told her that the most important part of all this would be to get a pair of quality running shoes and I selflessly offered to go with her to guide her through the intimidating arena of the Local Running Store.  What a good friend I am!

Of course, perhaps, just maybe, possibly I had an ulterior motive:

Zoot Dynasty

While ugly as sin, the Zoot Dynasty felt like slippers on my feet, and are destined to take oodles of time off my transitions, with the bungee laces and the pull-on back tab.  And LIGHT!  This will be my first foray into a lightweight trainer, and I’m positive it’ll be nothing less than like running on clouds.

And just so the Zoot’s wouldn’t get lonely, I bought a new pair of my old standby Asics Kayanos.  I’ve been running in these for years now, and while some models are better than others, I’m thinkin’ that the Kayano 14 is the best since perhaps the 11. 

As we parted ways, my friend thanked me for taking the time to join her.  Anything for a friend… anything. 

Hair of the dog

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Published on: April 4, 2008


I’m dog-sitting this week for a friend of mine.  And am gladly doing so — I really do love having a dog in the house again.  But, the hair!  As I pet her I can see the hair just cascading off her, making my kitchen floor look more like mohair and less like ceramic.  Luckily, the “neat freak” gene that runs through my family tree somehow missed me, so I’m not yet having OCD fits about it.

Ginger is about the only dog that I think is more laid-back and even lazier than my dog used to be.  And as such, I can tell that we’ll get along famously.  Ever since I had to put Joe down last May, I’ve wanted another dog.  I love coming home to someone who’s unabashedly, deliriously happy to see me.  And a little snuggling while watching TV?  That’s the best.  But see, the thing is that Joe and I, we had an understanding.  I didn’t bother him for long periods of time while I was out earning a paycheck (he’d been an adament SAHD for as long as I had him), and in return, he’d nap with me after a long day’s work.

To bring a new dog into that kind of arrangement just doesn’t seem fair — it’s not like the dog can read a list of disclaimers before deciding to sign on with me.  And to be honest — and it kills me to admit it — not having a dog brings with it a certain freedom.  No longer do I have to worry about getting straight home after work, or who’s going to watch the dog if I want to jet off for a last-minute vacation (not that I ever do, but HEY at least it’s an OPTION!).

So, this week will serve as a reminder of both why I love having a dog and why I can’t have a dog.  Much like grandparents have the luxury of spoiling the children and sending them home, I will enjoy this time and still be happy to see her take her toys and hair and go back home.

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