And, in the blink of an eye, Ironman Coeur d’Alene is only nine months away. It’s been an interesting month. I’ve transitioned from spending most of my time cycling to spending most of my time running. I’m not sure how I feel about that change. I’ve seen definite improvement in my running, and I’m faster than I have been for years. But I really miss long, early morning bike rides on the weekend, and I know I’ll only miss cycling more and more as winter progresses. Hopefully, missing it during the winter will leave me extra motivated to start cycling again in full-force come spring.
My running and swimming have both been going well. I’ve seen consistent improvement in my paces for my runs, and if I continue to perform the way I have been performing, I will feel very good about running come spring. This month, I ran 13 miles at a 7:52/mile pace. A few months ago when I signed up for the Salt Lake City Half-Marathon, I estimated that I would run the race at an 8:20/mile pace. Needless to say, even I’m surprised at how fast I’ve, well, gotten fast. Swimming has been a pleasant surprise. I didn’t really plan to focus on improving my swimming over the winter, but since I’ve been attending Masters swim team, I feel like I’ve already made some small improvements and may continue to improve throughout the winter if I keep pushing myself.
I’m tired. I don’t know if it’s the bump-up in my training or the onset of winter or a combination of the two, but I’ve been feeling it start to wear on me. I have been getting more sleep and going to bed earlier. In fact, I’ve been in bed before 9:00pm on several occasions recently. My training plan calls for 2-3 days of cross-training in addition to my three key runs. I’ve been doing three days of cross-training, so I may lower that number to two if I don’t start feeling more rested soon. I’ve struggled some with my appetite this month (see below), but winter is coming, so I’ve put on a little weight anyway.
Some of my tiredness may be a result of not sleeping all that well, too. Over the past month, I’ve experienced an uptick in my anxiety which always messes with my sleep. I fall asleep fine, but I toss and turn. (In a cruel twist of fate, when I tried out an anti-anxiety medication last year, the main side effect I had was waking up at 2am, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.) Additionally, it messed with my appetite some for a couple of weeks. I was feeling pretty poorly fueled for a while, but it’s been much better this past week. In regards to how I’m feeling mentally about the Ironman… I’m still feeling pretty good about my progress. I’ve noticed myself become increasingly worried about losing bike fitness. I know that taking time off intense training is important (and that I may be pushing myself close to the line with conquering a marathon on my off-season), so I’m pretty sure my fears about losing bike fitness are unfounded. One of the skills you need to learn to deal with anxiety is a decent ability to tell a real fear from an unfounded one. I think the fear of losing bike fitness with plague me throughout the winter, but because I’m pretty sure it’s unfounded, I won’t let myself “give in” to it and start riding five hours a week.
Longest swim workout: 2750 yards
Longest ride: 30 miles
Longest run: 13 miles
Most encouraging workout: My thirteen mile run in Boise with my dad. I honestly didn’t know I was capable of running as fast as I did (7:52/mile) over such a long distance. I ran almost thirty seconds per mile faster than the pace I predicted for the Salt Lake City Half Marathon I’ll be doing in April.
Most discouraging workout: Probably my climb up Little Cottonwood. It wasn’t horribly discouraging, but I either underestimated the difficulty of the climb or overestimated by own fitness. That made the climb itself quite discouraging (I almost turned around and gave up!). But it also made making it to the top a little discouraging. I wanted to conquer it, but I just survived it.
Average time per sport per week
Swimming: 82.5 minutes
Cycling: 110 minutes
Running: 138.75 minutes
Looking to the future
My marathon training is going well, and my running is improving faster than I thought it would. I spent quite a few years forgetting that I had any talent for running whatsoever, and it’s been fun rediscovering that talent (as moderate as it may be). I’m looking forward to seeing further improvement throughout the winter. I’m hoping to continue seeing improvement in my swimming as well. As I’ve mentioned, I wasn’t expecting to improve my swimming much between now and the Ironman. However, attending the local Masters swim class has already made a better swimmer. I think I may improve enough to take a few minutes off my expected time. Granted, a few minutes doesn’t mean all that much over the course of a 12-14 hour race, but it’s something. Oh, and the core workouts I was going to do? I think I did core after a run once this month, which is an improvement, but still really shoddy. I’m adding that to the “try again next month” list.