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The (not so) Glamorous Life of a Woman and Ironman

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I am laughing at what I am about to write.  I am pre-lauging, because the words haven’t even hit my screen and I knooooow some of this will sound bad.  I laugh now as I sit, outside in my cool, shaded yard.  Listening to birds and the waterfall trickling in our front yard, eating a Schwann’s popsicle.  My workout day done.  When only days ago, hours ago, I was in misery during a workout.  Hot, sweat stinging my eyes.  Things going all wrong.  Ya know….those kind of days.  That kind of day when your mouth opens and says….”WHY am I doing this?” <again> That moment when if given a split second chance, you’d reconsider this whole thing.  That kind of day.

Aren’t we supposed to be Enjoying the Journey?

Here’s the deal; for ever bad day, there are two, three or five good.  For every day that I have overheated, sweat pouring off of me, and salt staining everything I own; I consider the cold, frozen, snowy months.  There are bad days and good, ups and downs….funny and not-so-funny.  Here are a few not-so-glamourous things about being a women (or man) and training/racing your heart out.

Just to name a few:

Let’s start with the swim.  Honestly, can my hair get ANY more like straw in the winter?  Not only are we in the cold weather, but getting into an overly-chlorinated pool..well if there was any shred of health in my hair, give it a few days once in that pool, let alone the MONTHS we in the Pac Northwest have to spend.  No amount of Moroccan Oil will help this out.  On top of it, my hair is naturally curly, which translates; naturally dry and unruly 99% of the time.  Add chlorine…well, you’re looking at a recipe for disaster.  We waiiiiit for the day that we can get in to open water, which lends its own set of problems.  In comes the wetsuit.  If I were maybe say a banana or a sausage link, I might feel comfortable adding a close-to-your-skin layer onto myself.  Wrestling a body into a wetsuit is an art. A tight, rubber skin being layered on… all while trying to be as careful as possible not to yank, pull too hard, rip a hole, dig a nail into or tear a seam.  But making sure it’s pulled up correct, high enough, pulled up over the butt (this helps if you have a friend) and zipped up the back, without it being too tight in the arms and neck.  And lets not even talk about the zipper…..  It’s nonsensical! Getting the wetsuit on is a workout unto itself, and usually leads to increased heart rate,  heavy breathing, sweating and slight exhaustion.  After all of this, you walk into our icy waters to start your swim, where you then get to pee on yourself and into your suit to warm up.  Glamourous! After the swim, if you’re lucky, you may end up with as I did today, a sweet looking raspberry “hickey” on your neck that is SURE to cause some sort of scandal when seen by people around town!  Which leads to my next glamour word; Chafing!

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I’m telling you what, if you have clothing of any sort on; you’re gonna chafe somewhere.  It is inevitable!  I don’t care how much Body Glide you use, you WILL miss a spot!  Always.  Over 140 miles in a race, something, somewhere is gonna go bad.  I have had chafing on parts of my body that quite frankly I didn’t think possible.  And unless I just figure out a way to dip my body entirely into a tub of Body Glide, it’s just gonna be that way.  Probably the worst part…..the post workout/race shower…that in all aspect should feel like the best thing you’ve ever experienced, until water hits that raw skin…..screams of agony and jumping out of the water a best-feeling-ever-shower does not make.  Along with chafing you have it’s counterpart the blister.  Blisters also have a way of cropping up when and where least expected.  I have blisters that have just become permanent residents on my feet.  They don’t even hurt anymore.  They come and go, and it doesn’t matter the socks I wear OR shoes, they appear.  Always in the same place…on the deformed pinky of my right foot.  Add the blister, deformed pinky and the possibility of black or missing toenails (this has thankfully only happened one time to me on said deformed pinky) and you have a pedicure nightmare!  Runners feet….not always the prettiest girl at the ball!  Speaking of pedicures…forget it.  Or…find an exceptional person to do them.  My girl…knows to not even go NEAR my calluses with a pumice stone.  Taking those fabulous, well worn- in, necessary calluses, off would result in more of the above; chafing and blisters.

Lets talk bike.  And throw out words like; saddle.  112 miles on a saddle not quite wide enough for Barbie to sit on.  Or maybe you’re like me and ride a split-nose saddle, which brings its own set of gifts to the party.  This thing has saved my butt though.  Literally.  HOWever…that being said, riding that type of saddle takes some getting used to.  Even though theres nothing pushing into your….nether region, you have the chafing issue to get used to on your upper legs….and sit bones that need to man-up and do their job of…ummmm sitting correctly for HOURS.  Yes, you will have bruising.  Doesn’t everyone get a bruised butt?  HA!  Glamour, right there!!   There are great conversations to be had on a long training rides with your girlfriends.  Things like… the bruising.  Down There.  Things like…which is the best butt cream.  And I’m not talking for your babies.  I am talking  Ruby’s Lube, Chamois Butt Butt’r, Hoo Ha Ride Glide……for all of that fun stuff going on downstairs for HOURS on the bike that is supposed to keep you chafe free and possibly relieve some of the goings-on atop that saddle.  I’ve learned a few things in my time of doing Triathlon;  there is no perfect saddle, not kit that will help, no butt butter that will suffice.  It’s gonna hurt at some point…and thats that!  On top of that; being hit with bugs in the face at 20mph-plus HURTS, bee stings on the bike HURT, and your butt….it’s just gonna hurt!

Let’s move onto the last piece of this fine Ironman puzzle; the run.  This is where chafing can be the worst.  Anything and everything can rub.  I have had chafing from a heart rate monitor, which is soft around my chest, that when sweated on and ran with my body for 26.2 miles at Ironman Canada, decided it just wanted to cut into my skin.  My rib cage looked like it had been in a knife fight after that day.  The same heart rate monitor that I had worn every. single. day. for training.  If something touches you…..your gonna chafe.  This is where we can get Uber ladylike….the run.  Peeing (or worse) in bushes while your running partners stand watch like sentinels.  And, OH, perfecting snot-rockets ranks right up there on the glamour factor for sure. That is some high-class glamour!!  Snot-rockets are also an art form.  Practice!  Doing it wrong….well you can imagine what can happen.  It can get nasty-gross.

PS: The snot-rocket does work particularly well when riding 20mph….those things can really fly.

PPS: You know your heavy into racing season when you find yourself <almost> blowing a rocket from your car window.

PPPS:  It has taken me years…and I still hate to do any of this in front of my husband.  This is a side of his sweet, soft, clean-smelling, perfumed, showered, wife that I have a hard time allowing him to see.  For better, for worse….I guess, right?

Add all of this to water retention, food obsessions, falling asleep the second your head hits the pillow, or before…like…as your walking in from brushing your teeth, having every calendar date, family outing, vacation or camping trip revolve around your IM schedule, sore muscles, wearing compression like it’s your job, and being gone HOURS on end for long bike/run days, laundry that morphs overnight from one shirt on the floor to a Matterhorn sized pile within hours, that continues to multiply because you never have time to catch up, dinner that’s not always on the table on time,  the intimacy that your bike saddle sees more of than your spouse, sock tan lines, bike short tan lines and tan lines across your back that look as if they were branded on you by alien life forms…and you have the glamorous life….

***I know this sounds like I’m wining, but it’s all in fun!  I honestly love every day that I get to do this.  Good and bad, short and long…..it’s love!

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