With a relative clear mind I set off in to the training block with my eyes and mind set forward and trying not to think of behind OR the "what if's".
Just ten days into the training block I decided to take a trip I had planned (Tucson's Mt Lemmon above) to train and learn from other coaches and athletes at Endurance Corner. I was very fortunate to catch up with Chuckie-V as he graciously allowed me to stay with him and Angela Naeth. So not only did i get a chance to "sponge it up" in a variety of ways during the five days, amusement was never far away. All I had to do was ask Chuck a question and the result often provided knowledge, entertainment and discussion far more comforting than my bed roll! ;-) I left Tucson happy that I made the trip (that I almost cancelled), BUT I was still questioning my fitness.
When you decide to sign up for a late season race there is no guarantee that you'll have buddies to train with. Fortunately I had a few key sessions that my wing man Mike was along for, plus we'd get a few other fitness craving members of "TTE Nation" for parts of the sessions as well. Reality is though, if you are going long and doing it late, then you better be prepared to find comfort in your shadow as a training partner. I did ... he was loyal, he never dropped me, and try as I may, I never dropped him
There were so many days where I just wondered when the fitness would come around again like it was in early September. Waiting, waiting, waiting ..... c'mon already! Having people around (like my wife) who "get it" helps when that extra push is needed to get out the door. These are the days when you need to just "get 'er done" and keep having faith that the "increased fitness switch" will get flipped on. Then, no matter what, good session or bad our "Luca Dog" simply didn't give a crap how my session went. He was just happy for me to be home and that someone would fill his dinner bowl OR at least be his "wing man" for awhile.
Then it finally happened ... on a lonely, cold, November morning 14 days away from the race. (it really was the morning I took this photo ... there was just something about the pool, steam, and sun that was inviting) The swim plan was set for 4500 meters, the sun barely rising and the procrastination lingering like it always does before you jump in the pool early in the morning. I ended up having one of those sessions that makes you believe again. One of those sessions, when for some magical reason all the work you've been doing makes sense and seems to have formed itself in to "fitness". The days to follow would see more of the same and I finally believed I had a chance ...
Part III follows to wrap this thing up ... (sorry Chris)