Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Winds of Change

This is the last week of playing and training on my own for a while. I'm happy to report that I survived last week's "cold" weather spell and my shoulder and elbow are now barely bothering me. I worked a 5.2K race last Saturday with 5 layers on, a new clothing record for me, I think. And just for showing up to swim when it was like 30-40 degs outside, the YMCA manager gave me a new t-shirt:

It's actually from a contest they had last year during the Olympics but it's the thought that counts, right? Little did she know that the 66-67 deg pool was considerably warmer than inside than my house (which got down to 52 degs!) so I was working out to warm up some. Also to train myself mentally for similar race day temps to be expected in North Carolina later this year.

Next week I begin a 10-month blogging-for-coaching gig with Team Hendryx and my journey to complete two iron distance tris two weeks apart, the Great Floridian (10/24) and Beach to Battleship (11/7). Though they are both 140.6 miles long (for anyone unfamiliar with iron distance tris: 2.4 mi swim, 112 mi bike, 26.2 mi run), they are two completely different races. GF is usually pretty hot and humid with a freshwater lake swim, a relatively hilly bike course but a flat run while B2B will probably be fairly cold with a saltwater intercoastal waterway swim and a flat bike/run course.

As you might guess, this coaching thing is a HUGE opportunity for me. I mean, who would have thought that a middle-aged, former non-athlete and non-swimmer, now a front-of-the-back-of-the-pack swimmer, a decent cyclist and a crazy marathon runner, would be triathlon sponsorship material?

OK, perhaps some of you, but let's face facts. I'm not be going to be winning any races (unless they're really small and all the fast woman don't show up, which has happened twice but let's not let that go to my head, shall we?). I won't be setting any speed records. And it's doubtful I will be appearing on any covers or back covers of magazines, except perhaps Triathlete Magazine for People Named Shirley. Some local headlines are a possibility, though ........ if a gator nibbles on me during the swim, I get hit by a car while riding a bike, or collapse and die during the run. But no ordinary or even outstanding race performance is likely to make a blip on the local media radar, unfortunately. Heck, even the largest endurance event in town, the Disney Marathon, barely gets any attention.

But I do have a big dream and a blog as my bullhorn :-)

I've been somewhat reluctant to spell it out beyond what's in my blog header because it's so long term and is still a few years away (Ha, and you thought it took a long time to get my fresh squeezed lemonade?), but it's a dream that perhaps many others may have too, at least in part, so I'll share it with you now to set the stage for the significance of the training starting next week and perhaps inspire some of you to do things to get the ball rolling on your long term dreams, if you haven't already.

My dream is to retire at age 50, move and live full-time in Kona (vs. part-time), and do the Kona Ironman someday. Note the order. Namely, I've wanted to do the first two things for much longer than the last one (15 vs. 3 yrs so far) and that is my priority.

Now, I know some of you know that qualifying for the Kona IM as a Big Island resident may be easier than qualifying otherwise (depending who shows up at the local Hawaii 70.3 qualifier), but it's really not so easy considering the high cost of living in Hawaii and the stinky economy right now. In fact, due to the 3-year Big Island residency requirement, it's become apparent to me that buying one of the Kona slots that are auctioned on Ebay each year to raise funds for the local community would probably be a much less costly route. A couple years ago, I read about a guy who bought his girlfriend a slot for $60K, a nice tax deductible contribution as well, no doubt.

But, to me, buying a Kona slot would be pointless (plus, I'm extremely frugal and would never spend that kind of money on a race!). Similarly, winning a lottery slot or even qualifying the usual way would not satisfy me (although the latter would certainly be something to be very proud of, for sure!). Bottom line, I don't want to do the race and then go home elsewhere. I want to do it because I fell in love with the area during my first visit back in the early 90's, then running and swimming there, and also biking too more recently, since then and that's where I want to enjoy doing these hobbies, among others, for the rest of my life. The fact that the Kona IM happens to be the IM World Championship just gives me more incentive to get/stay in better shape as I get older. I would want to do the local race, or at least train on the course and be a part of the event, even if it were not.

So what does this all have to do with the coaching deal?

Well, besides helping me save more money for retirement, it should put me in a much better position to be able to compete for one of those Big Island resident slots when the time comes. Last year, a 7-hour finish at Hawaii 70.3 would have been good enough for a female 50-54-year-old Big Island resident to qualify. Five to six years from now, who knows? My guess is that the qualifying times will go down and the tough course is not going to get any easier.

Things I expect I'll need to work on this year:

  • Becoming a faster/stronger swimmer (shooting for a 1:30 or better iron swim)
  • No more marathon running on a whim (only one other standalone marathon this year *sniff*)
  • Better nutrition (not a big fan of meat and dairy products -- moo!)
  • Learning to love hills, heat & humidity (don't hate them but we're far from being friends)
  • Tolerating the cold better while swimming & biking (no more whining, just get out there!)
  • Getting out of that long and slow comfort zone (gulp)
  • Using some training gadgets (not a fan of them either)
  • Following a formal training schedule and reporting back to a coach (yikes!)
  • Learning what it takes to compete vs. just finish races (we're not in Kansas any more, Toto)

    And so it begins ... What do you hope to be doing 10-20 years from now?

    Katherine said...

    Sending your grandkids to visit you for the summer?

    Runner Leana said...

    Shirley, that is awesome! Congratulations on laying it all out there. You have such a great plan! I haven't been able to think much past Augsut 2010... I'm so excited to be following your journey!

    Jenny Davidson said...

    Yes, great plan - and I am confident you can execute it successfully!

    Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

    Best wishes with the coaching and your plans for 2009. It will be exciting to watch things as they unfold.

    Molly said...

    Wooooo! Sounds like an awesome year ahead for you and a chance to chase some dreams :)

    Wendy said...

    Oh Shirley that's wonderful! I'm looking forward to following along at home!

    Road Warrior said...

    Wow, what an unbelievable post. Though your insight will be huge for your team, I think it's your good karma that will guide them through tough spots.

    I can't think of a better person to be a coach. You've done some great things and have so much to look forward to.

    Isn't life just absolutely great?

    Comm's said...

    Wow what a great opportunity. Man I wish I had the constitution to do back to back IM distances. Treasure the training.

    jen said...

    I love your plans, short term and long term! It will be interesting to see how the two back to back ironmans plays out. If anyone can handle it (and have fun no less) it's you!

    I honestly don't know about long term plans like that... sheesh. I'm going to start thinking on it now though. You have to have a vision if you hope to achieve it, right? Good luck with all your goals. :)

    Sunshine said...

    Impressive.. and inspiring.

    The temperature thing... heat and humidity when you run; cold when you swim... is a challenge.

    Best wishes with your plans.

    Bruce Stewart said...

    There must be a huge untapped market for rich baby boomers who might just take up triathlon. People like you can bring sanity to the sport which might otherwise be perceived as involving kamikaze-style bike riding at the likes of St. Croix or Ironman Japan.
    I hope you are actually experiencing swimming outdoors without the benefits of a wetsuit. It may not be a lot of fun, but it is a good experience. The weather is starting to warm up and soon the cold water will be a thing of the past.
    Qualifying as a HI resident very much depends on who else is in your age group and the spread of people and abilities is not even. My age group was relatively easy to qualify in (mostly just wannabes). However, the next one up always had several hard-core "professional" triathletes (Dusty, Harry, Daniel, Jackie, etc.) who monopolized the slots year in year out. For women, there are a lot fewer people and they usually did not want to do it each year, so 7hrs should be quite sufficient. You will never be in Lolly's or Lesley's age group, so you can relax.

    RBR said...

    Oh. My. God.

    This is so exciting! I am beyond proud of you and will be right here to watch all the exciting developments! If anyone can do back to back IMs it is you!

    Congratulations on your declaration and I love the goals!

    Arland said...

    Good luck with Team Hendryx. I am somewhat familiar with them. It should be a great match for you. Keep living your dream!!

    Viv said...

    UGH I just left this huge comment and it ate it.
    i shall try to recreate....

    Shirley I am exctited to follow you with the new team I know it wiull only make you stronger and faster. I am really thrilled to watch your goals of the two IM's this year. And the big race in Kona they would be lucky to have you...PERIOD!

    Saw this the other day and thought of your post about it

    Vickie said...

    What do I hope to be doing? Still living. I'll take it from there when I get there. Longevity doesn't seem to run in my family. On another note, I did not know you would be doing Beach 2 Battleship. I have signed up for the iron distance race as well as my first! I'm looking forward to training with you (virtually of course) and meeting you at the race!

    Calyx Meredith said...

    Holy cow - I knew about B2B but not that it would be your second IM in two weeks! You continue to amaze and inspire me. Congrats on the blogging/coaching gig - I'm sure it will pay off in all kinds of ways for you. Can't wait to follow along!

    Cliff said...


    Hmm..i am glad i ain't the only one tightening the belt during the bad times.

    There was a story a few years ago about a bear who ran across the bike course of a tri. A lady rode into the bear. The bear just kept moving across the road. The lady got a few scars and manage to finish the race.

    No dying and still get to be on the news :D

    R said...

    What a great plan..and so well thought out. I can see you (& hopefully me beside you) laying on the beach in Kona. I just adore that place! So fantastical with the volcanic activity at night.

    btw- thanks for your comment over at mizfit! Your core is definitely key to keep you healthy! It can be such a great help to make the headlines in your races too!


    X-Country2 said...

    I think it's so great that you're coaching. There's going to be some very lucky racers out there.

    Good luck with your life plan. It sounds pretty wonderful.

    ShirleyPerly said...

    Thanks everyone for your kind comments! Just to clarify, it is ME who is getting a tri coach. I am not becoming a tri coach (at least not right now ;-)

    Shannon said...

    What do I hope? You'll invite me over when your living in Kona cause' were friends like that!

    Kona all the way girl, you WILL get there.

    Susan said...

    WOW Shirley! Congrats!

    Now, this may be a dumb question... but do homes in Central Florida not have heat?

    In 10-20 years I hope to still be a runner. I know I will be (I think) and I hope to look like it, i.e. less much younger than I will be!

    Gotta Run said...

    A Kona slot for 60K.... that sounds even crazy to me!!

    man you are going to be one crazy, busy girl this year. I am super excited about all that you have on your plate. Thrilled to be able to toe the line with you.

    Kevin said...

    Sounds like some great plans

    akshaye said...

    Great goals.. I had no idea kona slots went for that much! I think all your reasons for doing the race in Kona are so great.. good luck!

    Stef said...

    Shirley I am SO happy and excited for you! And excited to watch your training with Team Hendryx.

    What a wonderful opportunity for you and us to watch your season unfold as you work toward your goals.

    You are such an inspiration and I can't wait to meet you at B2B!!

    Marathon Maritza said...

    You are so inspirational, Shirley...a reminder to all of us to follow our dreams and to work hard to get there. You have a such a great plan going and I wish you nothing but the best in your training.

    You, my dear, truly deserve it. Can't wait to follow along with all of your adventures!

    lizzie lee said...

    Dear Shirley, I got goosebumps. I love your dream and I am here cheering for you. Determination is the driver of our actions.

    I also have a big dream, and it will take more or less that long, 10-20 years to realize it. I'll be 70 by then, but I can dream. I am not sharing it yet, and I am not sure I will ever do, until it is close to realization. It did start as an absurdity, and sharing it with my daughter two years ago she said: That's what you want to do? And I laughed at the time because I really thought that was a silly dream. The dream has morphed during the last year to something I think is more manageable. I haven't set up the strategy for that as you have, but I have been thinking about it lately.

    Thanks for sharing your dream.

    BTW, if because your "No more marathon running on a whim (only one other standalone marathon this year *sniff*)" is in the way of the marathon I suggested to run together, that's OK. If you still can be there to cheer me up, it'll be nice.

    lizzie lee

    Brent Buckner said...

    I am staggered at the thought of being able to recover from GFT in time to do B2B.

    That's hardcore.

    aron said...

    i have had this post "starred" for a while because i wanted to make sure and read it all the way through... i knew it was going to be a good one :)

    WOW 2 IMs 2 weeks apart - you are seriously AMAZING and so inspiring... i love your story and i love your goals for kona. i have no doubt you will get there :) i am very excited to follow along this year and see how it all goes!!!

    jeanne said...

    girl you know how to think BIG! I LOVE IT!! Two IMs back to back...that's just amazing. I know you can do it! and what a great way to get a coach!

    FANTASTIC post! Good luck, I can't wait to follow your training!

    RoadBunner said...

    What a GREAT goal! I'm rooting for you!!

    The Alien said...

    Those are great goals, 2 IM's in 2 weeks!! That seems impossible to me, I will have to keep reading your blog to see how that goes.

    And that's a cool shirt they gave you!

    Petraruns said...

    I've been meaning to post on this for a while but you see what happens when I put it off - nothing! I am, have always been, and will, no doubt, continue to be - completely impressed with your goals and the way in which you shape your life to get to them. So often we say we want one thing in life but then do things which get us nowhere near that goal - or even things, which, frankly, take us away from our goals. Your plans and focus are impressive and inspirational. Keep this good stuff coming!

    PLANET3RRY said...

    I love the Vision Casting! Retire on Kona... yeah, that would pretty awesome. Although, you could do a Bed and Breakfast for Triathletes from the mainland and make a little cash and still do what you love.

    It's great that you have big goals, because your goals want me to throw-up and if your goals don't want you make you throw-up, THEY AREN'T BIG ENOUGH. But now I have to think... if my goals aren't making me sick... what would I need to do, to make them make me sick?

    If YOU know that you can do back to back Full Ironmans... I Know you can do it! Rock On!

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