What It Takes To Train For An Ironman 70.3

It takes everything you’ve got.

Well it actually depends on several factors, the person’s fitness level, experience level, race goals, etc. For me, my goal is to finish and my background in cycling and swimming is none. I’ve ran several marathons and they didn’t kill me so I thought about doing something crazier. Why not an Ironman 70.3? So I picked a relatively flat course and signed up. It was then, after I signed up, I realized what I was doing, and thought WTF do I do now? So I got a swimming coach, bought a road bike and joined a cycling group.

My advantage over other absolute beginners is that I have lots of time available for training. My entire family is in a time zone 13 hours ahead and I barely know anyone outside the running/cycling community, so I have no need to attend people’s wedding/birthday/baby shower etc, my entire social life is done either on the run or on the bike.

But a lot of things still changed in my life. I have many other hobbies, but except taking Spanish classes, I stopped doing everything else completely. It’s not just training time, most of the time I’m simply too tired to do anything else other than my training.

Mondays and Tuesdays became my longest days. I wake up at 7:30am on Monday, and because of freestyle training from 7:45pm to 9pm, I won’t be back home until 10:30pm; Tuesday I wake up at 5am for a morning interval run, then I have Spanish class from 6pm to 9pm after work, and get home around 10:30pm again.

I stopped eating at home completely. Though I don’t know how to cook, I used to drink instant coffee and heat up oatmeal in microwave for breakfast. Now I have no time. My breakfast and lunch is at my work desk, and dinner is ate quickly at the buffet bar of Whole Foods Market before swim/bike/run.

I stopped doing my laundry. I use an online pickup and delivery service now.

I stopped reading books. The only time I have is during my commute on the train, so I listen to books from audible now.

I stopped watching all the shows I liked: Narcos, The Strain, The Americans, Bordertown, American Dad, Family Guy, Taboo, Criminal Minds. All of them.

On weekends I wake up earlier than weekdays, and besides long runs, swim and long bikes rides, I sleep. Sometimes on weekends I go to sleep at 7 or 8 when I can.

I stopped taking weekend road trips. I used to spend a lot of weekend in Lancaster, PA. And I haven’t gone at least once this year.

I enjoy my training so far and made a lot of new friends. But sometimes I do wish I have more time to hang out with people outside my running/cycling groups.

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26

26.

I was born in 1990 and today I turned 26 years old. But I felt I have been born many times. I was reborn at the age of 18 when I left China for college in a small town in the US; again at the age of 20 when I decided to become a programmer; again at the age of 24 when I had Essure; and now, again.

In between 25 and 26, I became a serious runner and spoke fluent Spanish. I started running in 2015; I was merely bored with my life and decided to see if I have the capacity to do something I always hated, which is running. Then something happened and changed everything. In December 2015 I ran my first half marathon. I signed up for it because everyone I knew on Facebook seemed to have ran a half, and I wanted that as a milestone. Instead during the course of my training, I became the person who studies training plans and discusses them endlessly with friends and even strangers behind water fountains. The night I finished my first half, I signed up for a marathon. Then in the next few months, I signed up another two marathons. Running went from something I occasionally do to who I am.

Spanish is something I always wanted to learn, but never had the resource or time, until I moved to New York City two years ago. I went to the first class at Instituto Cervantes and just kept going. In August I traveled to Mexico City alone and suddenly found that I could understand almost everything. I also went on Spanish speaking day trips with Peruvian and Colombian tourists, went to cheer the Mexico City marathon and made friends with fellow Mexican marathoners, and we were planning to run the Rock’n’Roll half marathon together in Mexico City next March.

I’m a good student and I worked hard: I hardly missed any classes and I always do the homework and the required reading; I took a lot of notes and on Friday nights I would study them instead of going out. The classes were expensive at $580 per course, and that’s about 30 hours of class time. But it was all worth it.

It is this year that I became a new person again, the person not quite who I want to be, but much closer to the goal. I reinvented myself into a runner and a Spanish speaker. I had to, because the person I had been would never have been capable of. In the next year I will probably focus on getting better: run faster and learn to understand more Spanish dialect. And the person in 10 years will again be completely different from who I am now.

2016 Race Calendar

Since I started running in May 2015, I want to complete at least one Half Marathon* in each State, plus D.C. and Puerto Rico, before I move out of the U.S. to another country. Here’s what I have sign up so far for 2016.**

March

QDR 30K Spring Marathon Tune Up (Mar 26, 2016)

April

Staten Island Half Marathon (Apr 2, 2016)

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The day I ran my first half marathon of the year started with light rain. It was sunny that same afternoon, but between 9am and 11am during the race, it was heavy rain. Of course I was drenched as I’m always under prepared for any travels, and ended up having a fever and lying in bed for the next two days and missed my training run and Spanish class, I found the race experience with Trimara Sports pleasant.

I woke up at 5am, and spent 2 hours on trains and buses to get to Staten Island, but I had a good time. Now I’m considering signing up the Holiday Half Marathon at the end of this year with Trimara Sports as well.

NYCRUNS Queens Half Marathon (Apr 17, 2016)

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It’s a half marathon in my neighborhood, of course I’m doing it. I really enjoyed running with NYCRUNS, they have put up a good race, with lots of post race bagels and fruits. And I couldn’t believe there were more than 1,000 people came out to run on a Sunday with limited 7 train service.

Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon (Apr 30, 2016)

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This is my first marathon and my goal is simple: to cross the finish line in upright position. I have been training for the KDF Marathon since January and if I don’t collapse during running, I hope to finish within 4 hours and 15 minutes.

August

Camp Chingachgook Challenge (Half Marathon, Aug 13, 2016)

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This course is beautiful but hilly, and the weather was hot. But then I get to swim in the lake and enjoy the best post race food! I always loved Lake George, back in my college days, my boyfriend and I used to spend long weekends here, relaxing and shopping at the outlet malls. It felt great to be back.

September

Bird-in-Hand Half Marathon (Sep 10, 2016)

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I love almost everything Amish, so when I found out that the finisher’s medal has a horseshoe and the race course runs along the farmlands of Lancaster, I signed up right away. Everyone who knows me well knows that I travel to Lancaster to spend weekends several times a year. Maybe this will be the start of a new tradition, running Bird-in-Hand Half and then refueling with Smorgasbord.

October

Rock’n’Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon (Oct 8, 2016)

This ended up being my first DNS (did not start) race. On the Thursday night before the race, as I was walking through a door, it closed while I was crossing the threshold and hit my right ankle hard. I was immobile for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I was really upset so ended up eating the entire bag of oreo cookies in Saturday afternoon.

I lived in Brooklyn for a year before moving to Queens my current apartment. I would love to do a half marathon running through Prospect Park.

Runner’s World Half & Festival (Oct 14-16, 2016)

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Really happy to be able to run again. The RW Half & Festival is a great event, they even provided shuttles for us who live in NYC. The weather at the start was cold, but then it warmed up after I finish. The course was hilly but beautiful. I would like to come back and do their Grand Slam someday.

Marine Corps Marathon (Oct 30, 2016)

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They say money can’t buy happiness, but when I received an email from my bank that my card had been charged $140 (means I won the lottery to enter MCM), I was in fact quite happy, almost ecstatic to be honest. When I told people I will run the MCM, almost everyone told me I’d have a great time and the race is really beginner friendly. I can’t wait :)

November

Cambridge Half (Nov 13, 2016)

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My running buddy wanted to do this race because she went to school in Boston years ago, and I’m simply tag along. Why not :)

* I would only run half marathons, marathons or longer distances, because I’m thrifty and usually a 10K costs not much less than a half marathon, but the course is much shorter. To me, it costs more to run a 10K than a half marathon (dollar per mile wise), so I would only do half marathon and longer distance because it’s cheaper “per mile” to run.

**This list will be updated as soon as I sign up for a new race before Dec 31, 2016.

Sobre Running

El otro día, he leído un articulo en Runner’s World México sobre ser una corredora lenta, y me siento lo mismo: no me da vergüenza para ser una corredora nueva y lenta.

Conocí a correr un poco tarde en la vida.

Primero, permítanme comenzar con mi historia de running: NO HE CORRIDO NUNCA EN MI VIDA. El único ejercicio cardiovascular en mi rutina era correr al cruzar la calle en mis chanclas mientras coches vienen. Otras personas también dicen que no han corrido nunca, pero la mayoría de ellos, al menos, se han tomado las clases de educación física en escuela secundaria. En contrario en China donde yo crecí, no corremos en la clase de educación física, clases de educación física era una vez a la semana, y con frecuencia se pasó por otras clases más importantes, como la literatura china o matemática. En serio que nunca he corrido en total 24 años de mi vida antes de decidir cambiar mi vida como una resolución para el año nuevo al principio de 2015.

Empecé a correr una vez por la semana en el gimnasio en mayo de 2015, y durante varios messes progresé a 3 o 4 veces por la semana en el Prospect Park. El mes pasado, me matriculé un medio maratón en diciembre. Tengo un plan de entrenamiento solo para completar el medio maratón, no deseo que vaya a hacer más rápido. Para mí, completar un medio maratón ya es una victoria.

Podría leer el articulo en la página web http://www.runners.mx/article/que-tiene-de-malo-ser-una-corredora-lenta

(I really don’t speak much Spanish, that’s why I’m still learning, taking Spanish classes twice a week at Instituto Cervantes. This post is not intended to serve as running resource or Spanish example, and I’m sure I’ve made tons of grammar and word choice mistakes in it. If you are also a novice runner or trying to learn Spanish, just work hard and have fun!)