Five Months To Go

I’ve got about five months until IRONMAN Arizona on November 24th. I thought this might be a good time to take stock of things.

The short answer is, I still can’t go far enough fast enough to make the time cutoffs. I’m going to have to throw everything I have at it for these next five months, and the reality is that it still might not be enough.

I’ve said since the beginning that I like to pick goals that are big enough that I know I could fail at them. And that’s absolutely true. And this isn’t the first time I’ve had to be patient to achieve a big goal. In fifth grade when I first picked up a clarinet, my teacher asked me my goals and I said “to play Carnegie Hall.” He was surprised, as most kids were like “I want to play Jingle Bell Rock in the holiday concert!” but supportive. It became a more unlikely dream as I was forced to leave that school to go to a much shittier school with a much shittier music department (my high school band director – absolutely no shout out to you dude – used to “conduct” us by hitting a drum stick on a music stand, and do nothing but try to discourage me.) But I practiced my ass off (sorry to my family who lived through all that) and got a scholarship to go to school for music. In 1998, I walked on to the stage at Carnegie Hall as part of the University of Texas Wind Ensemble and made my dream come true (and I sent my high school band director a postcard not thanking him for not helping me get there. Turns out I can be a petty bitch.)

Did that shit!

So I like goals I can fail at, but of course I want to succeed. I’m now in the fifth year of what was supposed to be a 2 year plan to finish this. It’s been a long and difficult journey.

As I was running I was meditating on the differences between the two goals and I think they are that I enjoyed the clarinet and, despite the fact that I wasn’t necessarily immediately gifted (it took me two weeks to make a sound on it that wasn’t just a squeak) after working hard I got very good at it. When I competed, I almost always did well – close to first if not first place. With triathlon and running, I’m consistently last, except that time I didn’t finish at all. And that’s all kind of by design (except the not-finishing, that was not part of the plan) I chose to do this to push out of my comfort zone and participate in sports that I’m not good at. But I would be lying if I said that I expected it to be this hard. I’ve worked as hard at this, but I haven’t improved like I hoped.

So the goal isn’t completely out of reach, I just have to reach really, really far. Here’s to pushing as hard as I can for five months to try to make good on five years worth of work.

Yikes, it’s been a while since I posted workouts. Here they are:

Monday (6/17/19)

Run/Walk Intervals

Woke up feeling 90% better after last week’s stomach bug incident. Got myself dressed and headed out for my run. Whatever deities control the weather smiled upon me and it was cloudy and cool with enough of a cross breeze to be cool, but not so much that I feel like I’m fighting it the whole time. Perfect weather, imperfect run. The issue with my peroneals (which may be a muscle issues, or tendinitis) is back and I never know whether it’s better to just move through the pain and tightness (which forces me to be slower) or to stop and stretch (which allows me to run/walk faster.) I took a blended approach, moving through the pain for several intervals, then stopping to stretch when it forced me to go so slowly that I didn’t feel any benefit.


Bike Intervals on the Trainer

I went hard on this workout and kicked my own ass. Yay!

Swim – Interval Speedwork

A lot of times these interval swims go by really fast – counting laps and timing rest and getting in the correct training zone and it’s over before I know it. This was not one of those. At one point during a 200M (4 lap) interval I checked the watch to see if I had completed 2 or 3 laps. I had completed one. One lap. I lost count at one because it seemed so interminable that I just couldn’t believe it had only been one lap.

Also, my lane sharing buddy was back. This is a person who has several times arrived when I’m about half-way through my swim. Even if the other lanes are being used by much smaller people (giving this person more room to swim) they always ask to share with me. I always agree because I’m not an asshole. The issue is that they have a …unique swim style which involves lying on their back frog-kicking with their legs, and sticking their arms straight out and then windmilling them in huge circles over their head and then through the water. They are tall with long arms and legs, and this method is not particularly speedy. There’s nothing wrong with any of that except that we are sharing a lane and I lap them repeatedly, creating even more opportunities for them to hit and kick me. I like to think of it as practice for the Open Water Swim.


Run – Speedwork

Equal hard/easy intervals. I tried a new location, it’s about a half mile from my house (which is just about perfect for my warm-up) and it’s all downhill, which means that when the run is done I have the extra work of going uphill to get home. I got down there and started my intervals and then…my stomach started to be upset. There is a restaurant near where I was training, but it wasn’t open. I was going to have to go home. Those hills that I had planned as bonus miles were now the enemy. I’ll save you the details and just say that I made it home just in time, then headed back out and finished my run.


Day off. Not my normal day off but friend of mine had to go to the emergency room and he asked me to go with him to be his medical advocate. I didn’t get home until 6am on Thursday and I was in no shape to go on a long bike ride so we shifted my day off from Friday to Thursday.


Long Bike

or not

Went out for my long bike and got a flat tire. No problem, I carry everything I need to change a flat and I could use the practice. Except the tool I have with multiple allen wrenches isn’t long enough to give me enough torque to get the back wheel off today. Got some extra walking in getting back to the car. Am not the proud owner of an extra long 6mm allen wrench for my flat fix kit.


This went really well, but I think it was just because I was fresh from not having done the full bike, so…bittersweet.


Long Run

Rough run, had pain and cramping in my calf almost the whole time, plus it’s getting hotter and the beach was extra full of people doing nonsense things that are extra irritating when you’re hot, in pain, and not at the beach for fun.


Bike Intervals

This remains my favorite workout, and the new trail I found is working great and was, to my great delight, not too crowded.

Open Water Swim

Tried the new beach near me. It has buoys but, unlike the place where I normally swim the buoys don’t mark distance, and my Garmin is total crap at OWS so I swam…some distance.


Run/walk intervals

Tried a new place but it ended up being super crowded. Though I ended my run where they keep the big fancy yachts, so that was interested. Mostly took this workout selfie so I could ask if anyone knows what all that stuff on top of the boat is? Also, I’m a visor person now, so there’s that.

What’s next…

About Ragen Chastain

Hi, I’m Ragen Chastain. Speaker, Writer, Dancer, Choreographer, Marathoner, Soon to be Iron-distance triathlete, Activist, Fat Person.
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9 Responses to Five Months To Go

  1. gsantollo says:

    To complete an Ironman I stick to the mantra, “it’s not about how fast you go it’s how little you have to slow down.” If you’re still having fun I say keep at it. Also more local shorter distance Races, they keep you excited for the long course and motivated to train.
    You can find me on strava if you’d like to follow me


  2. Well done Ragen. The finish doesn’t matter as much as the ride to get there. My workouts have slowed down some (also doing IMAZ). I hate my job and when I am finished for the day (which is a variable time) I just don’t want to do anything but drink wine. I will see you there whether I am ready or not. Maybe we can get together for dinner or a coffee (or wine).


  3. Ragen – wow what a week! I am no triathlete (swimming is more like controlled drowning for me), but I do run and ride a lot. I read the part about your flat tire and had a bike thought (it happens…) – see if you can get a skewer for your rear wheel that has a quick-release on it. (Get one for your front wheel while you’re at it.) It will save you having to carry an extra allen wrench and will make taking the wheels off (for flats or transport or…whatever) so very much easier.


  4. Angelica Nelson says:

    Great work, Ragen! I don’t think you were being petty. He was. And you succeeded anyway. I’m rooting for you too. You can do it!


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