Weekly Recap (7/25-7/31)

Monday: Rest; 8-minute abs
I took my rest day at the beginning of the week even though I typically try to take it during the latter half of the week.  I just needed some downtime.  I felt deeply fatigued on Monday, so the rest was a good choice.  I did get some core work in.  Because this week is a recovery week, I tried to be better about fitting in all my strength and core work.

Tuesday: Bike—2:00:19 (32.82 miles); 8-minute abs
I rode my bike into work on Tuesday.  Like the last time I rode my bike in, I found myself struggling as I crossed the Point of the Mountain.  This time, though, I stopped and ate a Honey Stinger waffle that I had brought with me.  I immediately felt much better and was able to pick up the pace a bit from that point on.  I ended up having a pretty decent ride, considering I started so early (my legs are always sluggish when I get up) and I was fighting the wind over the Point of the Mountain (it is literally always windy there… and in the morning, it’s usually a headwind for those going south).  I did some core work in the evening to finish the day off.

Wednesday: Run—1:30:00 (10.58 miles); Strength—15 minutes
I felt reasonably strong on my run Wednesday morning.  I got to work around 5:30am and headed out for the run around 6:30am.  It was still fairly cool outside which was welcome considering the oppressive heat the day before (according to a sign I saw on my ride, it was over 80° before 7:00am).  The course I run from work is a nice one—mostly flat with a few hills to mix things up and uninterrupted by intersections and traffic lights.  I didn’t end up running quite as fast as I felt like I was running, but it was still a good workout, considering the fatigue from the week before had really started to set in.  In the evening after work, I did some strength exercises.

Thursday: “Open water” swimming practice; Strength—15 minutes; 8-minute abs
I went to Masters where we practiced “open water” swimming.  Again, this just means the coach removed the lane lines and we practiced drills.  Although this isn’t as effective a way to practice open water swimming as actually, you know, swimming in open water, it does help.  Specifically, we typically do some swimming with our heads lifted entirely out of the water which helps strengthen the muscles used to sight so that they are ready to be used in races.  I considered doing one of my runs in the evening (it was slated for either Thursday evening or Friday morning), but it was over 100° when I got home, and I decided I’d rather not.  I was feeling tired and unmotivated to a degree that is pretty abnormal for me, so I decided to listen to that and give myself a mental break that evening.  Instead, I did some strength work and some core work.

Friday: Run—45:00 (5 miles); Bike—1:15:03 (23.77 miles)
I was feeling much more motivated when I woke up the next morning.  As usual, my legs were like lead because I went out before being up for at least an hour, but my pace increased as I warmed up, and I ended up having a fairly enjoyable run that left me feeling ready to tackle the day instead of ready to go back to bed.

It was hot again after work, but it’s much better to ride in the heat than run in the heat, so I headed out for a tempo ride.  The workout was broken down as follows:
10 minutes [warm up, RPE 3]
7 x (5t, 3r) [tempo=RPE 5, recovery=RPE 2]
9 minutes [cool down, RPE 2]
I did this tempo workout on a flat route so that I could better control how hard I was working.  I was surprised at how well it went in the heat.  I seemed to be averaging around 21-23 mph during my tempo efforts, depending on the road surface and the wind direction.  I performed well, but it was still pretty miserable due to the heat.  I went out with two bottles of water, and within twenty minutes, the water in them was downright hot.  Gross.  I made it through, though, and this is one type of workout I’m going to do once the Ironman is over to gain speed on the bike.  I’d love to eventually be able to hold 20-22 mph over a 40k time trial.

Saturday: Run—1:00:00 (7.22 miles), 6 x 20 second strides; Swim—1:00:30
I started my Saturday off with a run.  My legs were still somewhat fatigued from my bike intervals the day before, but I managed to run fairly well on a reasonably hilly route, averaging an 8:19/mile pace.  After the run, I did a few relaxed 20 second strides.  I was actually running pretty quickly for these, though I focused on staying relaxed the whole time.  It was almost fun!  I think I really am looking forward to doing some shorter stuff once this Ironman is over.

A little later in the morning, I drove up to Jordanelle Reservoir.  I had heard that it tends to get choppy up there around 10:00am once the wind picks up, and I wanted some practice in choppy open water.  Sure enough, there was quite a bit of chop when I got there (and quite a few boats, too!).  Despite the long drive and $15 entry fee to the state park, this swim was 100% worth it as a training tool.  The chop was worse than I expected, and I got some valuable practice swimming with waves smacking me in the face.  The good news is that I think the fear of boats affected me more than the chop itself.  I was pretty worried about being hit (there were no close calls or anything, though).  The bad news is that I got motion sickness and did struggle more than expected in the chop.  I think non-drowsy Dramamine would have kept the motion sickness at bay.  And I think I’ll be fine in the chop without the motion sickness and fear of boats.  Despite the chop, a few instances of breathing in water, and some giant gulps of water, I didn’t feel any open water panic which seems like a good sign.

Sunday: Bike—1:31.48 (23.30 miles); Swim—1200 yards; Strength—15 minutes
Rob and I did our traditional Sunday morning coffee shop loop.  It was a pleasant morning, and we got out fairly early when it was still cool.  There wasn’t much to note about this ride except that I felt much better than I had two weeks ago when I was riding it the day after a hundred mile ride.  At the coffee shop, Rob and I got pastries (savory and sweet, respectively) and read a bit.  I read a great article about Katie Ledecky, the stand-out swimmer on the US Women’s Olympic team, and Rob read the New York Times.  We were a proper urban couple, out for a coffee in the suburbs!

After church, I headed to the pool for a short, easy recovery swim made up of the following:
300 swim
300 kick
300 pull
300 swim
Inspired by the article I had read earlier, I attempted the one eye underwater, one eye out of the water technique when breathing.  This is the way it’s supposed to be done, but I’ve never managed to master it.  Much to my surprise, I managed it pretty well, and by the end of my swim, I was mostly doing it right on both sides.  When I got back from the pool, I did some strength work to close out the week.

3Cups

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Iron Rehearsal

I didn’t mean to plan an Iron Rehearsal this past weekend.

I just planned my long workouts in a way that worked best with my schedule.  I took Friday off work so I could fit in my long bike ride.  I planned a long run Saturday morning so I could practice running long and easy on tired legs.  And I planned a long swim after my run because it was hard to fit it in anywhere else and I actually enjoy long, easy swims after long runs.

It wasn’t until I was done with my heavy two days of training that I thought a little harder about the distances I had covered.

My Iron Rehearsal started around 6:30am on Friday when I took off on a long bike ride around the Greater Salt Lake area.  The majority of the ride is perhaps best left to the imagination as I’m sure it will be much more interesting to any readers that way.  The basics of it were that I felt relatively strong and managed to hit a 17.1 mph pace over the course of almost 120 miles (and still run a few miles off the bike!), a feat which shocked me more than anyone else.

After my ride, I took the rest of the evening to recover.  I did a lot of sitting around and eating.  But mostly, I spent the time actively dreading my run the next day.  I had no idea what to expect from a three hour run less than 24 hours after my longest bike ride ever.  I knew my run after my Olympic triathlon had been pretty miserable.  I knew that three hour runs are never fun.  So the only reasonable assumption was that my run the next day would be doubly miserable.

Saturday morning dawned at I was up at 4:30am to prepare for my run.  I ended up leaving around 6:30am.  I started off slowly, waiting for the misery to come.  And it didn’t.  Don’t get me wrong—it was a hard workout.  My legs were aching so badly by the end that I thought it might be better for everyone if they just weren’t there.  But the endurance was there.  My muscular strength and aerobic strength never faltered.  I never felt like I couldn’t keep going.  I never wanted to stop to walk (stop to sit down, maybe, but not walk!).  I was physically strong enough to finish the run fairly easily, and my mental strength was up to par that day as well.

I rested for a couple of hours when I got back from the run, but it wasn’t long before I decided to head to the pool.  I could have waited a little longer, but I wanted to fully enjoy as much of my Saturday as possible.  Once I got to the pool, I swam a 4000 yard workout.  I actually enjoyed getting into the water and cooling off (it had turned into a pretty warm day). Most of my swim was steady-state at a comfortable pace, but I did a few fast 100s at the end and actually felt good doing them.  Typically, when I’ve done a long swim the same day as a long run, I struggle a bit towards the end with general fatigue and a lack of energy (perhaps due to running low on fuel).  On Saturday, though, I felt strong throughout the entire swim.

As I was rinsing off in the shower afterwards, I looked down at my watch.  It was 1:57pm.  I thought about my past three workouts.  I had started my long ride around 6:00am the day before which meant that, over the course of the past 32 hours, I had ridden 119.84 miles (over the distance needed for the Ironman), run 19.45 miles (almost ¾ of a marathon), and swum 4000 yards (just barely shy of 2.4 miles).

I think it’s impossible to feel fully prepared for your first Ironman, but in that moment, I felt pretty close.

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Weekly Recap (7/18-7/24)

Monday: Swim—2300 yards; Strength—15 minutes; 8-minute abs
I started the morning with Masters swim team.  Our workout included more kicking than normal and some sprints (from the blocks!):
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull
4 x 50 (10-kick barrel roll)
4 x 50 (closed fist)
4 x 75 (kick, scull, swim)
4 x 50 (fast kick)
6 x 100 @ 1:40
25 easy
3 x 50 sprint
25 easy
It was a relatively fun workout, actually.  And for the main set, I jumped up to a faster lane!  I’ve been scared to do so, but looking at the crew in my lane and the crew in the lane above me, I knew that I’d likely mess up the flow in my lane but be able to hang on in the next, so I made the leap and did just fine.  We did sprints from the blocks at the end of practice.  I was slow the first time because I lost my goggles.  I didn’t do the second because I lost my goggles again and threw a little tantrum.  But I managed reasonable starts for the third and the fourth sprints and actually got fairly good times.  I hit :32 for my first fast one and a low :33 for my second.  Listening to the times for the other folks led me to believe those were fairly decent times, so I was excited about that.  In the evening, I did some strength work and core work.

Tuesday: Ride—2:02:21 (31.25 miles); Strength—15 minutes
On Tuesday, I rode in to work in the morning.  It was a rough ride, physically and mentally.  I didn’t eat enough the night before, so I was hungrier than normal and didn’t have much punch in my legs.  Additionally, I was riding against the wind the entire time which I hate more than pretty much anything else.  I was in a bad spot, struggling to keep both my tempo and my attitude up (and generally failing on both counts).  At one point, I looked down in my bento box and saw that one of my waffles had bounced out at some point and almost started crying.  Clearly, I was struggling.  And hungry!  But I did eventually make it to work, and the ride was a good exercise in struggling onward and in positive self-talk.  Despite being so frustrated, I was able to recognize the reasons for my frustration (hunger, mostly) and understand that my feelings of inevitable failure did not necessarily reflect reality.  In the evening, I did some strength work.

Wednesday: Run—1:20:00 (9.47 miles); 8-minute abs
My run on Wednesday went much better than my ride the day before.  I still got up at the god-forsaken hour of 4:00am, but I had some time to wake up before running.  I was at the office by 5:00am and spent some time working before heading out for my run.  I did some 20 second pick-ups every ten minutes but mostly tried to keep a steady (but strong) pace.  I didn’t bother to figure out any time checkpoints before heading out and was running solely on effort.  I was feeling tired by the end, but I wouldn’t say I was struggling.  Much to my surprise, when I mapped out my run after getting back to the office, I saw that I had run it at an 8:27/mile pace.  Considering it’s the middle of peak week, I’ll (happily) take it!  When I got home in the evening, I did some core work before heading to bed nice and early.

Thursday: REST
It was a rest day, and I was thankful for it.  I did spend the whole day fretting about the next three days of tough workouts, but the physical rest was nice.  I thought about doing core work and then didn’t.  I decided that I’m allowed to get a little lazy with my core and strength work during these tough weeks.

Friday: Bike—7:00:11 (119.84 miles); Run—25:00 (2.61 miles)
Well, my longest bike ride ever is in the books.  And it was a doozy.  I didn’t want to do as much climbing as I had done the previous week, but I still wanted to get some in, so I started my ride with a trip up Emigration Canyon.  Right near the top, I passed a group of guys all kitted out and chatting, riding really easily.  But as I passed, one of them said, “Guys!  Even the triathlete is blowing by us!  We’re hurting today!”  I had a good laugh at that.  I headed back down the canyon, and then down south as has become typical in my long rides.  However, I cut my usual route south a little short and turned back north right after hitting the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon.  As I headed back north, I made my first food pit stop around mile 50.  I got some trail mix and ate it on the sidewalk outside the gas station.  I got back on the bike, knowing I still had a long road ahead of me.  After the return journey north, I turned west and headed out on the same route I took when I visited Antelope Island.  West, then north.  This part of the valley is flat as a pancake, and once I made it through the city and hit the open road, I was flying.  I had a steady tailwind and was easily holding 21-23mph.  It. Was. Awesome.  I knew I’d pay for it when I had to turn around and deal with a headwind, but for the time, I was just enjoying sitting in aero and going fast.  When I finally turned around, the headwind was not nearly as bad as I expected.  For most of the ride back, I was hitting 16-18.5mph.  There were a few time when the wind got particularly nasty and I dropped below that, but compared to my miserable ride home from Antelope Island, it was nothing.  I stopped at mile 92 for more trail mix and a Mountain Dew.  Seriously, Mountain Dew is a magic elixir.  I think it helps even more than ibuprofen at taking away the general malaise that comes around mile 70 on the bike.  I felt refreshed when I got back on my bike and ready to tackle the last leg of my ride.  To finish off my ride, I essentially just headed back to Rob’s house and then started up Emigration Canyon again.  I wanted to practice climbing on tired legs.  And they were tired.  The climb up to the mouth of Emigration is actually one of the steeper sections of the ride, and that was tough, especially since it was so warm out.  However, once I reached the canyon itself, I felt better.  I climbed until right before I hit the 112 mile mark (which I hit at 6:38:36) and then turned around and headed back.  I had planned on hitting around 115 miles, but I ended up riding almost 120 with an average speed of 17.1.  The cat was very excited to see me, so my bike-run brick turned into a bike-cuddle-run brick.  I was okay with it, though.  My run was fine.  It was hot, though, and I was glad to be done.

HillyFlat
See what I mean? Either hilly and mountainous or flat as a pancake.

Saturday: Run—3:00:00 (19.45 miles); Swim—4000 yards
I woke up at 4:30am to (hopefully) give my body a chance to wake up before heading out on my run.  I had no idea how the run was going to go.  My two hour run after my Olympic distance race had been a real struggle, and I worried that this one would be worse.  However, from my first few steps out the door, it became apparent that it wouldn’t be.  Though my legs were more tired than after my race effort, they were less stiff.  I wanted to keep this run slow to simulate the run during the Ironman as much as possible, so I just kept trucking along at a comfortable pace.  At five miles, I couldn’t believe how good I still felt.  I wasn’t keeping track of my pace all that closely, but I did watch how many minutes I was away from a 10:00/mile pace at a few “checkpoints.”  My goal was to keep that number growing (in other words, keep running less than the 10:00/mile pace).  When I checked at mile 12 and then at mile 15, I had gained at least three minutes on that pace, meaning I had run the past three miles in a 9:00/mile pace which I was really pleased with, considering my day on Friday.  I kept up a strong pace for the rest of the run, but by the end, my feet and ankles were killing me.  Nothing hurt in a way that worried me, and my muscles and energy levels were fine.  My legs were protesting that I had used them enough and that they deserved a rest.  My pace ended up being 9:16/mile, and my legs recovered nicely once I put them up for a few minutes.

A few hours later, I headed to the pool for my swim with the intention of treating the workout as an aerobic session as opposed to a fast one.
4 x 200 (swim, kick, pull, swim)
1950 ladder (300, 275, 250, etc.)
10 x 100 (descend 1-5, 6-10)
5 x 50 easy
I did the ladder slow and steady.  I felt strong, and it felt good to get in the water and cool down after my run.   I had planned on doing the 100s at a steady state as well because I wasn’t really in the mood to go fast.  However, once I got to that portion of the workout, I was feeling good and decided to get faster throughout the set like the plan called for.  I started off very slow, but the last couple in each set of five were pretty quick.  Afterwards, I went home and basked in my hard workouts (and ate some cookies, too).

Sunday: Run—45:00 (4.86 miles); Swim—30:37; Bike—1:30:00 (23.52 miles)
I started off my day with an easy run before church.  It was nice and cool outside, and it ended up being a good shakeout run.  I felt surprisingly good considering the last couple of big days.  I did some core work before heading to church.

After church, I packed up all my swimming and cycling stuff and drove up to Bountiful Pond for an open water swim followed by a bike ride.  The water was warm, so I went without a wetsuit and enjoyed a low-key swim.  After my swim, I hopped out, ready for a flat and fast bike ride.  And then I realized I had left my cycling shoes back home.  I was really frustrated, but I couldn’t ride without shoes.  So I drove back and did one of my regular routes instead of a nice flat one.  I was cranky and hot during the entire ride, and I didn’t even try to fix my attitude.  I decided I had earned a little temper tantrum.  I finished my ride and gave myself permission to do absolutely nothing useful for the rest of the day.

One month check up

One month until my race.  I want to go back and punch Past Katie right in the mouth for signing me up for this monstrosity.

Other than that, I guess I’m feeling okay, though.

The upside to being so close to the race is that I’ve actually experience moments where I feel like I’m prepared.  My 6.5 hour ride following by a 25 minute run last weekend was one of those times.  I actually felt absolutely fine on the bike for the last thirty minutes and was holding it together during the run without too much trouble.  The downside of being so close to the race is that during moments where I feel like I’m decidedly not prepared, the panic is real.  There’s no more months of training to help relieve my fears.  It’s coming.  And I better be ready.

Physical

Fitness:
My fitness is as good as it’s ever been.  I PR’ed in every leg of my recent Olympic triathlon (by a lot!).  And for the first time during the run, I didn’t crack.  In fact, I think I ran just about even splits for the first and second half of the run.  In general, I feel good about where I am fitness-wise, but I do wish I were a little further along in my cycling fitness.  There’s nothing I can do about it now, and I feel like I did about as much as I could during the training cycle considering my relative newness to cycling.  But, as I’ve said to Rob, I feel like I’m the cycling equivalent of a runner who can go out and run forever at a 12:00/mile pace with no trouble at all but can’t seem to break 4:30 in the marathon.

General health:
No nagging aches and pains.  No colds.  No weight loss.  Ironman training suits me! (Ha.)  But really, I feel good, considering everything.  The only thing that keeps getting me is just being tired.  There is a bone-deep, soul-crushing fatigue that comes with Ironman training, and it’s been a struggle to keep that at bay.  That fatigue feels abnormal and unhealthy (as opposed to just normal tiredness or even “normal” exhaustion), so I’m doing what I can to avoid it.  Last week, that meant taking an extra rest day.  This week, I’m feeling better on that front, and since it’s peak week, I have hope that I’m in the clear.

Mental

I’m a bundle of nerves.  An overworked, cranky bundle of nerves.  I’ve noticed that I’m pretty constantly one minor incident away from a bad day.  I think it’s the stress and the fatigue.  I’m probably horrible to be around, and I’ve apologized to Rob on several occasions, but he’s said I’m not much different than usual.  I don’t know if that means I’m doing better than I thought or just that I’m always horrible.

Superlatives

Longest swim: 4000 yards

Longest ride: 107.3 miles

Longest run: 20.7 miles

Most encouraging workout: My 107.3 mile bike ride.  If my ride on race day goes this well, I think I’ll be in a good spot.  I managed to do this ride at an average speed of 16.5mph, even with 8000 feet of elevation gain (the race has just about 6000 feet).  And the kicker?  At 6 hour and 15 minutes, I felt weirdly great.  I didn’t even hate being on the bike!

Most discouraging workout: My hour long run the day after the aforementioned bike ride.  If I was certain of my success after the bike ride, I was certain of my failure after this run.  Every step was a struggle, and the entire time I fretted about how I would run a marathon after 112 miles on the bike if I could barely manage an hour run the day after a long bike ride.

Average time per sport per week

Swimming: 167.5 minutes (2.8 hours)

Cycling: 453 minutes (7.55 hours)

Running: 252.5 minutes (4.2 hours)

Other: 67 minutes (1.1 hours)

TimePerSport01

Looking to the future

There’s not much future to look towards anymore (at least in regards to the Ironman).  But I’m approaching taper, and I intend to take it seriously.  I’ve put in the hard work.  Looking back over my training, I don’t have any major regrets or misgivings about my dedication and effort levels.  I’m going to work hard for the rest of peak week and stay focused during my taper.  Hopefully, that leads to the race I want.

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Ironman goals: Revisited

Months and months ago, I threw out some potential goal times for each leg of the Ironman that I wanted to keep in mind as I trained.  Those goal times have been percolating in the back of my head since then, so I thought it would be useful to re-visit them and evaluate how I feel about hitting those goals now that Ironman Coeur d’Alene is just under two months away.

Surprisingly, my goals that I set rather arbitrarily almost a year ago held up rather well—so well, in fact, that I’m going to keep them around as they are.  My number one goal was and is simply to finish the race, and I will throw time goals out the window if I need to in order to make that happen (for instance, if it’s 100°, you better bet I’m going to re-evaluate my race plan!).  However, I have some time goals that I would like to aim for, if circumstances allow.

For reference, here are the time goals I set for myself.

A-goal (sub-13 hours):
StretchGoal

B-goal (sub-14 hours):
BaseGoal

Swim

I started attending Masters swim team practices not long after I set my original goals.  Masters has helped me improve my swimming much more than I expected, and I am now averaging much faster times than even my A-goal in the pool.  (For reference, my 1000 yard time trial predicts a pace of 1:52/100m over a 5k of swimming.)  However, due to the uncertainty of open water swimming, I’m going to keep my goal the same, with the hope that I can pick up a few extra minutes on the swim.  Swimming in open water is a lot less certain than swimming in the pool.  Wind can make the waves harder to navigate.  Poor sighting can lead to extra swimming.  Swim courses tend to be a lot less accurate than bike or run courses.  So with all those uncertainties, I feel comfortable keeping my goals as they are.  With any luck, I’ll meet my A-goal with a few minutes to spare.

Bike

I felt this goal might be a little too optimistic when I made it, and that feeling has only increased over the past year.  On hilly long rides, I’ve been lucky to hit 16mph as my average speed.  Usually, I sit somewhere north of 15mph, though I’ve had a few medium-long rides (2 hours or so) on flat terrain that have cracked the 17mph barrier.  I don’t know what to make of this when it comes to my Ironman bike leg.  My awesome carbon wheels have helped, but I still suspect that 6.5 hours (17.23mph) is well beyond my reach.  I even find myself worrying about hitting 7 hours (16mph).  This is strange to me because in my half Ironman, I hit a 16.8mph pace, and I had only been riding a road bike for a few months.  I’m a much stronger cyclist now, so I’m not sure why my paces haven’t been better this training cycle.  I know the terrain plays into it, and I know the routes I’ve been riding are a hillier (and contain steeper grades) than the Ironman Coeur d’Alene course will.  My stretch goal of 6.5 hours seems a bit pie in the sky, but I’m keeping this goal the same too because I still hope to hit my B-goal and think I have a good chance of doing that, and maybe exceeding it by 10-15 minutes.  However, I also need to remember that ten minutes faster on the bike is not worth blowing up on the marathon and losing thirty minutes to an hour.

Run

Who even knows how to set a goal for an Ironman marathon?!  I feel like my goal times are conservative based on what I’ve been running lately.  Most of my long runs have been around an 8:30/mile pace and have felt quite easy.  My transition runs (which I have been trying to run slowly) have been between 9:00-9:30/mile.  Now, these runs are a lot different than a marathon after 112 miles on the bike.  However, I think that this is a reasonably good pace for the parts of the Ironman marathon that I run.  I want to run most of the marathon, but I also want to allow myself to walk through aid stations.  If I’m running 9:15/mile and walking through every other aid station (or every aid station near the end of the race), I think that both my time goals are quite reasonable.  What I really want is to stay strong during the run.  That means executing my nutrition plan well. That means not shooting out of T2 like a rocket.  That means mental toughness during the later miles in the race.

But over the past few weeks, I’ve come up with another goal that I’m trying to keep in the forefront of my mind.  This goal is as important as it is corny… have a blast out there.  I don’t see myself doing another Ironman anywhere in the foreseeable future, so this race (unless I, heaven forbid, don’t finish!) is probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me.  As such, I want to enjoy it.  I’m hoping to reach the run with at least eight hours left until the cutoff.  If I manage that, I’m all but guaranteed a finish, and I want to have fun on my “victory lap.”  So when it gets painful, I’m going to try to remember what I’m doing and be excited about it.  Get kicked in the face on the swim? I’m doing a freaking Ironman! Struggling through a tough climb on the bike? I’m doing a freaking Ironman! Hot and tired at mile 15 in the run? I’m doing a freaking Ironman! I’m hopeful that having more fun out there will translate to a little less pain.

It’s almost here.  And after revisiting these goals, I think I’m almost ready.

20160709_075007
Just because this is a cool picture that I didn’t get to use in my race report!

Weekly Recap (7/11-7/17)

Monday: Swim—1200 yards; Bike—1:00:00 (16.16 miles); Run—30:00 (3.43 miles)
I went to the pool in the morning and did twelve 100s at 1:45.  There’s not much to say about this workout.  It was short.  I swam reasonably hard considering my fatigue from the big weekend I had, but I didn’t push it too hard.  I felt good while swimming.  I didn’t feel so good when I got to work.  I was exhausted.  I was bone-tired.  I couldn’t focus on the computer screen, and all I thought about all day was sleep.  “I’ve never been so tired in my life” is a common exaggeration with me, but this time, it might have been true.

After work, I headed out on a short bike-run brick.  I felt great on the bike (my carbon wheels are still awesome!) and felt awake for the first time that day.  I felt okay on the run, but I wasn’t holding back like I normally do off the bike, and I didn’t produce any stellar times.  So, mostly based on my exhaustion earlier in the day, I decided to take it a little bit easy if I felt like I needed to.  I’ve been a little worried about overtraining for the past couple of weeks, and after consulting some folks, I decided it was better to be safe than sorry.

Tuesday: Strength—15 minutes; 8-minute abs
I was supposed to run 45 minutes on Tuesday, but because of how exhausted I felt the day before, I opted to skip the run entirely and just do some strength and core work instead.  I knew I had a big, big day coming up that would mean far more to my training than a 45 minute shakeout run.  It’s always hard for me to skip workouts, but I think it was a wise decision.  I felt much better on Tuesday than I had on Monday, so much so that I was tempted to do the planned run after all.  However, I held back.  They say it’s better to be 10% undertrained than 1% overtrained, so I’m trusting in that axiom.

Wednesday: Run—3:00:00 (20.7 miles); Swim—1:15:04
The furthest run of my training cycle is in the books!  I have one more long run next week (three hours again, if I’m feeling it), but since I plan on doing that run the day after my long bike ride, I know I won’t go as far in three hours as I did on Wednesday.  Since I have the vacation time available, I took a half day from work. I woke up at 4:30am (yes, really!) and did a little work from home while eating and drinking some water.  Around 6:00am I headed over to Rob’s house.  He was getting ready for a bike ride, so when he left for his ride around 6:30am, I left for my run.  It was slow going at first.  I always have trouble getting started in the morning (hence the 4:30am wakeup call!), and the hill at the beginning of the run doesn’t help.  However, around mile four or five, I started to get into a groove.  I was glad for my rest day the day before, but my legs still felt some fatigue from the past months of training (which is to be expected at this point).  My stomach felt a little iffy around miles 12-15, but fortunately, the nausea went away (without puking this time!).  I felt fairly strong through this run and tried to keep my pace pretty easy.  Of course, no pace is really easy after three hours, but while my legs were achy at the end, I felt like I could have kept going further if needed.  I finished with a pretty solid pace of 8:42/mile.  This run gave me some much-needed confidence.  I’m feeling positive about where my fitness is, and I hope that feeling continues.

After my run, I finished working my half day from home and then headed north to Bountiful Pond for a long open-water swim.  I brought my wetsuit with me, but the water was so warm that it seemed excessive.  I had sunscreened beforehand just in case, so I just hopped into the water in my swimsuit.  The water in Bountiful Pond is… questionable.  So I did my best to keep my mouth closed and not drink any of the water.  It was a pleasant swim, though.  Bountiful Pond is actually reasonably large (at least, for a pond!), so I didn’t need to do a thousand laps to hit the time I was supposed to swim.  I felt smooth and strong in the water.  However, towards the end of the swim, I started feeling my long run in my hip flexors (which I was using to kick) and the long swim in my ankles (which just get tired of flopping around after a while).  Still, I felt good about the swim, especially considering I ran 20+ miles earlier in the day.  A few months ago, a 20 mile run completely wrecked me for the rest of the day.

BountifulPond
Bountiful Pond

Thursday: REST; 8-minute abs
I went to bed on Wednesday wondering if I should perhaps do my long swim on Thursday morning.  I woke up Thursday morning and NOPE’d that idea pretty quickly.  I was a little sore, more than a little stiff, and very tired.  Fortunately, my exhaustion got better throughout the day and I was feeling mostly recovered by the time I did some core work and went to bed.

Friday: Swim—4000 yards
I went to the pool in the morning to get this swim in, but the head lifeguard didn’t show.  I’m not sure how long it was before the head guard showed up because I decided not to wait around.  Instead, I got to work early so that I could leave early and do my swim after work (hopefully before the post-work rush).  I was very annoyed by this turn of events and the wrench it threw into my well-laid plans, but there wasn’t much I could do about it besides adapt.  After work, I got out to my car to discover I had left the lights on.  A nice co-worker gave me a jump, and I headed to the pool.  I swam my 500s in the following times:
8:45, 8:39, 8:44, 8:33, 8:34, 8:39, 8:42, 8:25
I only took 10-20 seconds rest in between each rep, and my total time for the workout including all the rest was 1:11:06.  Because 4000 yards is so close to the full Ironman distance (4224 yards), that time gives me a lot of confidence that I can hit my swim goal (1:20) with perhaps a few minutes to spare.

Saturday: Bike—6:31:11 (107.3 miles); Run—25:00 (2.75 miles)
I was nervous for my long ride on Saturday.  I had planned a doozy of a route (8000 feet of elevation gain) and hoped to go over 100 miles.  I went over to Rob’s house bright and early.  When I was there, I put my shoes and helmet and got ready to go.  Rob said, “You’re looking really pro! Except…” he gestured down to my foot.  I looked down and saw I had forgotten to buckle one of my cycling shoes.  I fixed that and took off.  I started my ride by climbing Emigration Canyon.  There was a headwind, but my legs were fresh, and I felt strong.  Then, I headed south (as usual).  However, I expanded my route down south which led to me making a climb back up to the base of the mountains that I haven’t made before.  And there were parts of the climb that were doozies.  As I turned onto one road and could see the climb that awaited me, a line from the Les Miserables musical popped into my head. “I’ve done no wrong, sweet Jesus hear my prayer!/ Look down, look down, sweet Jesus does not care!” And then, right near the end, I hit a short, steep wall that I could barely pedal up.  But I made it and was rewarded a few miles (and a nice descent!) later with a stop at a gas station with some trail mix and Mountain Dew.  Drinking Mountain Dew 70 miles into a ride is magic.  It tasted so good.  Then I headed up Emigration Canyon again to finish my ride.  The second climb was rough.  I actually did fine when the grade was gentle.  With the winds a little more in my favor this time around, I wasn’t going much slower than the first time.  However, whenever the grade kicked up to much higher than 3% or so, my speed plummeted, and I felt that 80 hard miles in my legs.  Still, I held strong and didn’t even hate my life during this part of the bike.  In fact, I felt better at the end of this bike ride than I had at the end of any of my other long rides.  After I got off the bike, I went for a short run and felt fairly strong.  In fact, I ran a bit too fast off the bike, hitting a 9:05/mile pace instead of a more reasonable 9:30/mile.  I thought about doing some core or strength work later, but instead I just sat on the couch and groaned all day.

Sunday: Bike—1:39.58 (24.11 miles); Run—1:00:00 (6.34 miles); Strength—15 minutes; 8-minute abs
I started the morning with a coffee shop loop with Rob.  And on the way back, I started cracking.  I started cracking on a coffee shop loop.  I think that goes to show just how much my Saturday training session wiped me out.  Still, it was a nice ride.  It was a beautiful morning, I got to spend some quality time with Rob, and I got a tasty pastry at the coffee shop.  All good things!

After church, I went on what may have been the most unpleasant run of my life—one hour in 95° weather.  I struggled through the whole run.  I was hot, tired, and slow.  I kept marveling that on Saturday, I felt like I was ready for the Ironman while on Sunday, I felt like there was no possible way that I’d ever be able to finish an Ironman.  I tried to remind myself that there is no way I’d feel strong the day after a hard 107 miles on the bike… and then I kept thinking about how difficult a marathon after a hard 112 mile bike will be.  I just have to trust my training plan!  I also did some core work and some very light strength work (that was still ridiculously hard because of the state of my legs).

Echo Olympic Triathlon (7/09/2016)

The Echo Olympic Triathlon was my only planned Olympic distance race and my last race before my Ironman.  I knew this race would give me a good indication of my current fitness level as well as a starting point for next year when I plan to focus on shorter distances.  For this race, I did come up with some time goals:

Swim—27:30
Bike—1:20:00
Run—49:42
Overall—2:44:00

I picked the swim goal a little arbitrarily.  I figured I could hit 1:40/100yds over 1500m, and that comes out to around 27:30.  I’ve beaten this time in an Olympic triathlon before, but I have no way of knowing exactly how accurate that course was or exactly how accurate the Echo course would be.  I also still tend to think of 1:40/100yd as my “fast” pace.  I’ve disproved that in the pool, but not in open water.

My bike goal is a little arbitrary too. My goal time came out to an average of 18.6mph.  Honestly, over shorter distances without hills or stops, I had no idea what my capabilities were.  The fact that I had literally ridden on my race wheels once did not help me pinpoint where my fitness was for this type of event.  I hoped that this was a fairly conservative goal, and I had some visions of 20mph average speeds dancing in my head.

Finally, my run goal was anything but arbitrary.  I’ve been trying to beat an 8:00/mile pace on the Olympic distance run for a couple of years now (which actually translates to a couple of races, so it’s not terribly dramatic), but I’ve always cracked.  I was hoping with my deep endurance base this year, things would be different.  I had a bone to pick with the Olympic triathlon run.

My overall goal was generous compared to my individual goals. That’s because (other than having a strong practice and great workout) my main goal was just to PR.  I thought I was stronger than when I did my first Olympic distance triathlon in 2014, and I loved the idea of seeing some improvement.  I fizzled out a bit at my race last year, and I wanted to feel good about my performance at a shorter race to boost my confidence for next year.

I had a very low-key evening the night before the race.  I made a list and packed up all my stuff, ate macaroni and cheese for dinner, and went to bed around 7:45pm.  (I played on my phone a bit before falling asleep.)  My alarm went off bright and early at 3:50am, and I didn’t have trouble waking up at all.  I ate a bagel, threw my stuff in my car, and headed over to Rob’s house.  As we got ready to leave his place, I suddenly remembered I had to put my race tattoos on.  “WAIT!” I yelled as we left his house.  “I need my race numbers!”  I had packed them, so they were in my bag.  I just had to put them on which took a little time.  We stopped to get some McDonald’s on the way up which took a little more time than anticipated.  Then, the entrance we planned to use to get on the freeway was closed for construction!  A little more time.  By this point, we were running late, and I was really glad that I always plan to get to triathlons stupid early because “late” for us wouldn’t really be late at all.

We reached Coalville and parked.  Because the race was staged in a campground without much parking, athletes had to ride their bikes to the start and spectators had to take a shuttle. The ride to the start was easy, and I was set up in transition before I knew it.

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Aside from one quick run back to transition to start and then pause my Garmin (so I could be sure it would be ready to go), I didn’t run into any snags. The race started a bit late, so I had some time to hang around in my wetsuit and chat with fellow racers. I even hopped into the water beforehand (despite the beach start) to warm up a bit.

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Swim caps are hard.

Swim—25:02.4
It was a rolling swim start, so I seeded myself around 1:40/100yds and followed the leader into the water.  The rolling swim start did cut down on some of the boxing that can happen during triathlon swim starts, but it didn’t really feel necessary for a smaller Olympic distance race like this.  I immediately starting passing people who thought far too highly of their swimming abilities.  Apparently, this is just a thing that triathletes do, and it drives me crazy every time!  It wasn’t long before I broke through a particular group and was swimming mostly on my own in open water.

With the open water came the waves.  It must have been windy because the water was choppier than I’ve seen in smallish bodies of water that close to the shore.  I got hit in the face with waves a few times, and I felt myself rising and falling with the swells.  It. Was. Awesome.  I’m somewhat strange in that I actually enjoy swimming in water that’s a little bit rougher.  I know it doesn’t help my time, but (as long as I can avoid motion sickness) I think it’s really fun.  So I had a blast out there.  Only one moment stood out as less-than-awesome: it was almost impossible to sight the buoy when I turned back to shore because the sun was directly in my eyes (I followed the people in front of me).  I reached the end of the swim and Rob yelled that I was (about) the seventh woman out of the water.  I was halfway from the water to T1 when I thought to look at my watch.  I was shocked to see 24:30.  I had blown my goal time away, even with the long run-up to the transition.

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T1—2:15
I had another absurdly slow transition.  In my defense, the transition area was gravel which meant there was sand everywhere and I had to carry my bike out in order to avoid the possibility of goatheads.  But still.  Every woman who finished ahead of me had a faster T1 time than I did.  It’s something I need to work on.

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I guess now I’m prepare to try cyclocross?

Bike—1:17:11.9
I got on the bike and headed out.  I could tell my heart rate was pretty high, not from working hard but from the general rush of T1.  So I focused on calming down and getting into a groove.  It was a great bike course.  There were a few rolling hills (though “hills” feels a little excessive) on the way out, and then we turned onto a road that was a false flat going up.  For most of the way out, I was holding a speed of around 17mph, more when it was a little flatter and less when it was a little steeper.  I passed two strong swimmers early on (it’s always exciting for me to pass people on the bike!) and was passed once right away (with a “Nice swim!” tossed my way which was encouraging!).  I waited for a stream of fast women to pass me, but it never happened.  I did get passed a couple more times throughout the bike leg, but I was holding my own!  On my way to the turn around, I took advantage of the slower pace and ate a Honey Stinger waffle and drank plenty of water.

It was a beautiful course, and the only downfall was the horrible condition of the roads.  There were nasty potholes everywhere.  And there was plenty of flat-tire carnage on the side of the road.  I must have seen four to six athletes after the turn-around point pulled over changing tires.  Fortunately, I didn’t end up getting a flat.  And I gained some time by using the downhill grade on the way back.  I got down in my aero bars and took full advantage of those new aero wheels.  I flew down the road until we turned back on the road we headed out on.  I slowed down some then because of the hills (which were more uphill coming back than they were going out).  I spotted another woman who had passed me earlier and decided to keep her in my sights to see how she held up during the run.  I rolled into transition, thrilled with my time and ready to attack the run.

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Rolling into T2…

T2—1:19
The second transition wasn’t as slow, but it still wasn’t great.  I forgot to take my sunglasses off, but I decided to go with it.  Normally, I don’t run in sunglasses, but I hoped that the sun being out of my eyes would trick me into thinking it was cooler than it was and remove some of the feeling of the sun beating down on me.  It actually seemed to work (or maybe I’m just better acclimated to running in the sun/heat).

Run—47:12.8
It’s always hard to gauge my pace off the bike, but I started off with a pace that I felt I could sustain for six miles.  I was not far behind the woman who had passed me on the bike, so I hung out behind her for the first part of the run.  Once I got my legs under me and got an idea of how strong I felt, I picked up the pace slightly and ran past her.  As I grabbed some water while passing the first aid station (they were stationed about every mile on the run), she almost passed me back, but I picked it up a bit and she dropped back slightly.  I hit that first mile mark in about eight minutes, so I knew I was on or near my target pace.  However, upon seeing my pace hovering so close to that magic number, I picked it up a bit.  I slowly reeled people in throughout the first half of the run, but I worked on keeping my pace controlled.  I didn’t want the second half of the run to break me.

Upon reaching the turn around, I glanced at my watch and was surprised to see 23:35.  I had been working on reeling in a woman in front of me for a while which must have caused me to pick up my pace.  I still felt relatively strong, and I was encouraged at the cushion I had.  However, at some point on the run back, I forgot my target time.  An 8:00/mile pace comes out to a 49:42 10k.  However, I totally misremembered it as 48:24.  Go figure.  Because I thought I had started my watch a late for the run (I did, but only by a few seconds), I didn’t feel quite safe even though I knew I was making good time.  The run back was hard.  The sun was getting warmer, and my legs were getting tired.  We were running on a packed dirt trail, and I noticed my footfalls getting lazy and wobbly, like my steps weren’t landing exactly where I wanted.  However, I was desperate to hit that 8:00/mile pace, so I focused hard on running “strong.”  I didn’t think about going fast.  I just concentrated on taking strong, confident steps.  The last mile and a half was especially tough.  The whole run looked the same (beautiful, but the same), so even though I knew how far out I was, it felt like I wasn’t getting any closer to the finish.  After what seemed like forever, I rounded a bit of a bend in the trail and saw the finish line a few hundred yards away.  I picked it up a little bit more and did my best impression of a sprint finish.

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I actually had some running pictures where I didn’t look terrible!

Total time—2:32:59.6

After finishing, I wandered around in a little bit of a daze.  Rob had been cheering for me about a hundred yards from the finish, so I didn’t see him right away.  I found some watermelon and munched on that.  I finally tracked down some water.  After a few minutes, I went off and found Rob.  He had made a friend during the race, and we also ran into some folks we knew from Boise.  We chatted with them while we waited for the race results to be posted.  Once the results were posted, I saw that I finished second in my age group.  They weren’t doing podium awards for all the age groups, so I just went over to the awards table and picked up my second place water bottle.  And then we drove home.

I was thrilled with my race performance.  I demolished all of my time goals and truly surprised myself in my swim and run.  It’s apparent to me that the strong endurance base I’ve built this year has helped me in these shorter races.  I know that the bike is still my weak leg, but that gap is closing, even though I’m also a stronger swimmer and runner than I was last year.  With some training and a focus on shorter distances next year, I’m hopeful that I can break through the 2:30 barrier.

The stats:
Overall time—2:32:59.6
Swim—25:02.4 (1:40/100m; 1:32/100yd)
Bike—1:17:11.9 (19.31 mph)
Run—47:12.8 (7:36/mile)
Overall place—44/225
Gender place—7/77
Age group—2/9

Weekly Recap (7/04-7/10)

Monday: Bike—5:31:21 (94.57 miles); Run—20:00 (2.14 miles)
Another crazy big day.  Because I was racing on Saturday and happened to have Monday off for the 4th of July, I decided to do my long ride for the week at the beginning of the week so that I could focus on my race over the weekend.  Rob thought I was a little crazy for going doing two such massive rides in three days, and he was probably right.  I did decide to do a flat route instead of my usual route which includes quite a bit of climbing.  I write more about the ride here, so I won’t go into excruciating detail.  I got valuable (if unwelcome at the time) practice riding against the wind.  I still need to work on my nutrition.  My hydration this ride was the best it’s been (maybe a little too good, considering all my bathroom breaks…), but I felt my legs start to drag in my run because of a lack of fuel.

Tuesday: Run—1:15:00 (8.33 miles); 8-minute abs
My legs were dead on Tuesday, so I set out with the intention of running easy.  I was technically supposed to do some faster strides during this run, but I decided that after my big weekend, it would be better for me to take the whole thing at a slow, easy pace.  If I had been better rested for this workout, I may have used it as an opportunity to get some heat training again, but again, I decided that the potential risk of putting my legs through too much wasn’t worth the potential benefit.  So instead, I headed out on this run from the office around 7:00am.  Let me tell you, running easy felt nice.  I could feel the stiffness being worked out of my legs.  On the way back in, I even picked up the pace a bit.  I ended up finishing this run with an average pace of 9:00/mile which felt really good considering my day on Monday.  Additionally (and perhaps more importantly), I held good form the entire way through the run from the beginning (when I was stiff as a board) to the end (when I was started to get tired).  And hey, I ran almost 1/3 of a marathon on (very) tired legs, so that’s got to be a good sign! In the evening, I did some core work, but other than that, I took it easy.

Wednesday: Bike—1:30:23 (24.4 miles); Strength—15 minutes; 8-minute abs
I did my strength and core work during lunch and then headed out for my bike ride after work.  It was my first time riding on my carbon race wheels.  Rob got them for me for Christmas, but I didn’t want to train on them all spring (in bad weather and such), and I just got around to putting them on.  They were awesome.  The aerodynamic benefit doesn’t kick in until you get up near 20mph, but the carbon wheels are also stiffer, and you see the benefit of that immediately.  I noticed right away that I accelerated faster.  I specifically set out to take it easy on this ride because of my big week so far (and my race on Saturday).  However, even trying to take it easy and with tired legs, I still rode the fastest I’ve ever ridden on that particular route.  I’m excited to see what else these wheels can do!

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New carbon wheels!

Thursday: Swim—“Open water” practice; Strength—15 minutes
I felt the week catching up to me on Thursday.  My legs were starting to feel recovered from my giant weekend, but I was exhausted.  Still, I got up and went to Masters practice in the morning.  As is typical, we did open water practice.  After warming up, we learned a bit about open water panic and how to combat it.  I haven’t experienced open water panic yet, but I’ve heard that most swimmers do eventually, so it’s good to be prepared.  We practiced “calming” techniques, but in order to mimic the panic experience (high heart rate, fast breathing, etc.), we did sprints.  So it was basically a tough interval workout which at least included plenty of rest.  After work, I did some light strength training.  I didn’t want to do my regular routine because I wanted to give my legs at least some rest before my race on Saturday.

Friday: REST
I took a complete rest day on Friday.  I intended to do some ab work, but I was pretty tired and just wasn’t feeling it, so I took it off to give myself that much more rest before my race the next day.

Saturday: Echo Olympic Triathlon—2:32:59.6; Swim—4000 yards
I’ll have a race report up later this week, but the Olympic triathlon went very well!  I outperformed my expectations and executed a smart race.  The only somewhat troubling thing was a pain in my left glute while cycling (mostly when in the aero position).  Said pain is nowhere to be seen in my right glute, so I’m a touch worried about it.  I’ll keep watching it over the next few days and be careful not to aggravate it.

After the race, some food, and a little nap, I headed to the pool for a swim workout.  I gave myself permission to swim easier than I normally would have and cut the workout short if I just wasn’t feeling it.  I did swim easier than normal, but I didn’t feel the need to cut the workout short.  In fact, being in the pool felt quite nice!
4 x 200 (swim, kick, pull, swim)
1950 ladder (300, 275, 250, etc.)
10 x 100 (descend 1-5, 6-10)
5 x 50 easy
I took fifteen seconds between the intervals during the ladder (and swam them all easy!) and ten seconds between the 100s.  I only swam the last couple of each set of five “fast.”  I started off very slow so I would have a lot of leeway to get faster throughout each set.  I was honestly surprised at how good I felt after my hard effort earlier in the day.

Sunday: Run—2:01:11 (12.7 miles); Strength—15 minutes; 8-minute abs
I woke up (way too early) a little sore and very stiff.  My long run was scheduled to be 2.5 hours this week, but due to my race the day before, I told myself that I would do two hours instead, unless I was feeling really good at the end of two hours.  I ate a banana and a bowl of cereal for breakfast and then left home early to put my water bottle out and go to Rob’s house (where I start my runs).  I got to Rob’s house just as he was waking up and ate a Honey Stinger waffle before heading out.  Despite giving myself a couple hours to wake up and a little time driving and setting out my bottle to warm up a bit, I was still and cold when I started my run.  My first (uphill) mile was almost eleven minutes.  But my goal for this workout was not to worry about time and to do a long run on tired legs.  I did get a little faster once I finished the first uphill grind and once my legs started to warm up a bit, but this wasn’t a quick run by any means.  My overall pace was around 9:33/mile, but considering my legs were tired and I didn’t feel like death at the end of the run, I consider that a success.  I ended up stopping at two hours even though I could have run the extra thirty minutes.  I had to remind myself that “could” doesn’t mean “should.”  I’ve been so tired lately that I’ve been keeping a watch out for signs of overtraining.  At this point, an extra thirty minutes of slow running probably won’t help me much, but it could hurt me.  After running, I did some core work and some light strength work.

Antelope Island (and visiting the Great Salt Lake)

Rob called me crazy when I told him I was planning on going for a five and a half hour bike ride on Monday… two days after another five and a half hour bike ride.

He might have been right.

But when you are training for an Ironman, you end up doing crazy things to fit in your workouts, and since I had a race coming up that weekend, I needed to fit my long bike ride in earlier in the week.  Fortunately, the 4th of July was perfectly timed to allow this.

I did make a concession—instead of doing my typical fairly hilly route, I decided to do the flattest route I could find.  Essentially, this meant that I was riding north to Antelope Island, which is a peninsula (not an island!) that sticks out into the Great Salt Lake.  I knew absolutely nothing about it except that it was called Antelope Island and that the ride out there was flatter than anything else I’ve ridden in Salt Lake City.  I hoped the flats would be easier on my legs, and even though I’ve been living here a year and a half, I had never actually made it out to the Great Salt Lake, so it was about time to check that off the list.

I left early.  Since I typically wake up before dawn anyway, I figured I might as well get out on the bike as early as I could so that I had some time to relax and recover after the ride.  So, at 6:30am, I headed out the door.  It was a nice morning, but it’s usually nice before 7:00am.  I wasn’t sure what kind of day this particular pleasant morning would turn into.

I rode through town a bit and then I was out on the open road heading north.  I’m not used to riding long, flat stretches, so when I got down into aero position, I felt like I was flying.  At one point when I reached a beautifully paved bike path, I thought, “This ride is criminally beautiful.”  It wasn’t long before I realized I’d been out for 23 miles, and I still felt completely fresh and excited about my ride.  The path I was riding on was surrounded by trees and grassland with mountains on the horizon.  Even when I left the bike path, I was riding through some pretty neighborhoods.

And then, I turned west to head out to Antelope Island.  Pretty soon, I could smell the salt water.   Eventually, I hit a booth guarding the entrance into the state park (Surprise!  Turns out it’s a state park!).  I had to pay $3 to get in, even on my bike.  It was good to see the place, but I’m not sure I’ll be going back anytime soon.  It wasn’t even 10:00am yet and it was already warm and a little stinky.  The road was newly sealed which was great for riding, but I imagine the heat radiating off that road during the hottest part of summer days is nearly unbearable.  When the water is high, the road is a causeway, and you’re basically surrounded by water.  However, the water isn’t high this year, so I was mostly riding by some patches of water and some salt flats (which was still beautiful in its own right!).

SaltFlats
Can you imagine how hot this area would be in the afternoon?

I stopped a couple times to get photos, but those attempts were mostly aborted early because of the bugs.  I have never seen horseflies so big.  These must have been prehistoric horseflies that drank the blood of the dinosaurs.  And whenever I stopped, they swarmed around me immediately, landing on me and biting me.  Needless to say, that kept me moving.  I did eventually get a little further away from the water and climbed a bit of a hill and actually got a good view of the lake.  Despite the stink, the Great Salt Lake is an impressive and beautiful body of water.  I’m glad I made the trip out to see it (even though I don’t particularly want to go out there again!).

Plains
The bugs attacked me when I took this photo.

As I headed back over the causeway, I started being buffeted by crosswind.  During a couple of strong gusts, I actually felt my wheels just barely start to slip out from underneath me.  At some point, I realized that this very strong crosswind was coming almost directly from the south, at which point I felt a sinking sense of dread as I recalled my route for the day…. about 35 miles straight north, then west towards Antelope Island, then back.  I was going to battle this headwind straight on for 35 miles.

I made it to the gas station where I was going to fuel up before turning south.  And I took my sweet time.  I went to the bathroom.  I ate all of my trail mix while sitting in the shade in front of the gas station.  I may have played a couple rounds of a game on my phone.  And then, with a resigned sigh, I got on my bike and rode into the wind.  It wasn’t so bad at first.  I was going through neighborhoods, and the houses and trees served as wind blocks.

Then, I hit the pedestrian/bike path.  My wind blocks were gone.  And it was tough. I am not a strong rider in the wind.  Having a bit of mass to you helps in the wind because the mass helps keep your momentum moving forwards.  Despite being pretty tall, I don’t have a lot of mass, and that basically turns me into a wind sail.  The wind just kept beating me down.  I eventually made it to Redwood Road, the north-south boulevard that would finally take to my last eastward turn.  The wind was even worse here, nearing 20mph.  In fact, I’m sure the gusts exceeded that.  I was struggling to turn the cranks over and just trying to keep a 15mph average.  Even though I was so close to being done, I felt more demoralized than ever.

Finally, I had to stop and give myself a pep talk.  This doesn’t happen very often.  Usually, I’m good at soldiering through workouts without having to play many mind games.  But not during this ride.  I needed to talk myself through the next few miles in the wind.  “Okay.  You have, at the most, four more miles until you turn out of the wind.  You’ve been holding a pretty good pace.  So that four miles will take you, at most, twenty more minutes.  Twenty more minutes and you’ll be on the home stretch.  Twenty more minutes, and this whole thing will be over.”  I started up again and was soon met with a particularly nasty gust of wind.  “This is just a gust.  It won’t be this bad forever.”  That was my mantra every time I was smashed with another particularly bad gust of wind.

After a miserable fifteen or twenty minutes, I finally saw my turn.  It was like sitting down after a long run.  I still had a few miles until I was done riding, but I knew the hard part was done.  Once I wasn’t battling a headwind, I was riding around 17mph, even with my tired legs.  I got back to Rob’s place, and he welcomed me in and took my bike for me, like my own personal T2 volunteer.  (He also commented on my slow transition as I languished on the couch trying to avoid my transition run!)

This was my furthest training ride so far at 94.5 miles.  I almost rode a century on my own two days after a long, hard ride.  This was a pretty serious milestone in my training.  On a flatter course (even on tired legs and with some serious wind), I averaged 17.1mph over almost 95 miles.  I still have work to do.  I have a little more fitness to gain during the next few weeks.  I need to dial in my nutrition a little more.  I’ve got a few more tweaks to make to my bike.  But for the first time, I’m starting to think I might be (nearly!) ready.

Weekly Recap (6/27-7/03)

Monday: Swim—2600 yards; Bike—46:36 (11.91 miles); Strength—15 minutes
I was not feeling exercise at all in the morning.  When my alarm went off, I briefly considered quitting Ironman training forever before dragging myself out of bed and getting ready for Masters swim practice.  I was unmotivated and just not into it, even after arriving at the pool.  I felt better once I warmed up, but I still just felt tired.  We did a 500 based workout:
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull
4 x 50 (distance per stroke)
4 x 50 (closed fist)
500 build
5 x 100 pace (@1:50)
500 negative split
100 easy
I worked hard on the first 500, and since I wasn’t feeling 100% this morning, I did the 100s at a fairly easy pace.  I actually ended up swimming most of the 100s between 1:35 and 1:40 with a decent amount of rest.  The fact that this felt like an easy pace even on a day that wasn’t my best was encouraging.  Then I headed into the last 500.  I took the first 250 pretty easy and hit the halfway point just a couple seconds shy of four minutes.  Then I really ramped it up for the final 250 and finished that in about 3:35 for a solid negative split.  I pushed that last 250 really hard, and it felt good to go all-out at the end of the workout.

After work, I drove to the shop to drop my car off for a repair.  I came up with an elaborate scheme so I could get my car fixed, still go into the office, not inconvenience anyone else, and fit all my workouts in with minimal extra time spent.  So I dropped my car off then took my bike out of the trunk and road home as (part of) my 45 minute ride for the day.  It was 100° when I took off, and the ride was kind of miserable.  I went through a bottle and a half of water in just the short time I was out on the road.  Once I got home, I did some strength work to finish off my day.

TooHot
Too. Hot.

Tuesday: Bike—2:01:19 (31.51 miles); Run—1:00:00 (6.54 miles); Strength—15 minutes
Part two of my brilliant “get to work, fix my car, keep exercising” plan was to ride into work Tuesday morning as part of my planned brick workout.  I headed out around 4:40am.  Somehow, the first hour of a ride into work always seems to take forever, maybe because it’s dark and my legs are still waking up.  The second hours always goes by a little more quickly.  I had a headwind again as I rode over the Point of the Mountain, but I felt reasonably strong during the ride, especially considering I’ve been feeling off the last couple of days.  I ate one Honey Stinger waffle on the ride about an hour in.  Once I got to work (well, it’s not quite a two hour ride to work, so I rode a little on a nearby trail to hit the time), I locked up my bike, took a quick bathroom break, ate another waffle, and headed out on my run.  I felt fairly strong on my run.  I tried to take it easy, and I felt great for the first 45 minutes or so of the run.  The last 15 minutes, I did start to get fatigued, but I didn’t ever feel miserable and my pace never felt difficult.  It was mostly a mixture of boredom and more general fatigue.  I finished the run in about a 9:11/mile pace.

After work, I completed well-thought-out plan.  I took the train back to the Murray station which was just a mile or so from where my car was being fixed.  I rode my bike from the station to the shop and picked up my car.  Plan complete.  Because I had been feeling more fatigued than usual and even had some residual fatigue in my legs during the mile or so that I rode from the station to pick up my car, I decided to cut back on my strength work in the evening.  I had planned on doing thirty minutes, but I did fifteen instead, with no plans to make it up later in the week.  Thirty minutes of strength work takes quite a bit out of my legs and still generally leaves me sore the next day.  I know that taking fifteen minutes off a workout doesn’t sound like a huge deal, but for me, it’s a hard decision.  I struggle when it comes to listening to my body over listening to a training plan, so every time I do, it’s a win.

Wednesday: REST
Normally, I try to take advantage of rest days to do some core work, but life got in the way on Wednesday, and I when I finally got home around 9:00pm, I wanted to go straight to bed and ended up not doing anything at all.  Although it would have been nice not to do core work later in the week, it was nice not to do anything at all.

Thursday: Run—2:10:00 (15.32 miles); Swim—2400 yards; 8-minute abs
My plan for my mid-week long run worked so well a few weeks ago that I decided to use it again this week.  I got up at 4:00am and was at work by 5:00am.  I worked for an hour or so before heading out for my run around 6:15am.  Before my run, I ate a bowl of cereal, a hard-boiled egg, and a Honey Stinger waffle as well as drinking some water and half a cup of coffee.  It was still cool outside, and it was fairly overcast as well.  I was supposed to run 1:40 at RPE 3 and the last :30 at RPE 5-7.  I took off at an easy pace.  It was nice to run from work because I didn’t start off by climbing a big, nasty hill.  I held a very easy pace for the first five miles or so.  One particular road that I run on is a narrow country road that goes past farms and farmland.  However, due to a wreck on a major thoroughfare nearby, there was a lot of traffic on the road.  I was too busy paying attention to the cars approaching me and making sure they were slowing down and moving over to really think about my pace.  When I hit the five mile point, I noticed my pace was pretty slow so I picked it up a bit until the turn-around point.  Once I turned back around, I had a nice gradual downhill run for a couple of miles, so I was able to maintain that faster pace with less effort.  When I hit the point where I was supposed to pick it up, my average pace was 8:38/mile.  I picked up my pace and pushed it pretty hard the last thirty minutes.  I tried to focus on strength, turnover, and form rather than speed.  After already running 11+ miles, it was difficult.  I actually did stop once during this final push to recover from a pretty nasty side ache that was causing me to drop my form which in turn led to a couple butt twinges.  I managed to run 3.75 miles during the tempo portion of my run which comes out to an 8:00/mile pace.  Not bad for the end of a mid-week long run!

After work, I headed to the pool for some easy 400s.  The pool always feels really refreshing after work because I’ve just driven 25 miles in the hot sun with no air conditioning.  Unfortunately, it’s usually busy enough in the afternoons that it’s risky to go then and try to get a lane.  I got a lane this time and swam six 400s.  My times for each were as follows: 6:54, 6:52, 6:48, 6:47, 6:38, 6:34.  The pace for those ranges from 1:42/100yds to 1:38/100yds.  Despite my run earlier in the day, I felt strong in the pool.  The 400s felt easy, and it was yet another reminder at how much faster my easy pace has gotten over the past year.  I’m feeling positive about my swimming lately, and it’s nice to feel like one of the legs is “in the bag,” so to speak.  I guess we’ll see if it’s really in the bag come August. In the evening, I did some core work as well.

Saturday: Bike—5:30:13 (88.47 miles); Run—30:00 (3.29 miles); 8-minute abs
What. A. Day. I got over to Rob’s house early in the morning so we could start the ride together.  I wanted to get out a little before he did, so I took off to do thirty minutes or so before coming back around and picking him up.  Of course, I got held up by a train on the way back, so I had to ride the same stretch of road over and over again for about 15 minutes while the train passed.  I had already ridden about 13 miles when I picked Rob up and we started up Emigration Canyon.  It was already warm as we climbed.  I pushed it pretty hard, so by the time we got to the top, I was looking forward to recovering on the descent and was a little worried about the rest of the ride.  Fortunately, I did recover, and I was able to push the rest of the ride pretty hard as well.  I fueled and hydrated better than I did on my last long run which helped a lot.  I was still aching all over by the end (especially my neck!), but I felt better, went further, and rode faster than I did on my previous long ride.  Over the course of the ride, I consumed eight Honey Stinger waffles, most of a package of trail mix, a bottle of Skratch, and a bunch of waffles.  I’ve noticed that the waffles start to stick in my throat around mile 60 or 70, so I think I’ll need to break up the monotony a little during my race.  After my ride, I headed out for a short run to complete my brick.  I ran a little too fast for race-pace practice (around 9:08/mile), but I felt relatively strong during the run, even though it was quite hot.  Then I sat around the whole rest of the day (until doing some core work before bed).  I was wiped out.  No energy.  No brain function.  I slept until 6:30am the next day (which is pretty unheard of for me!).

LittleCottonwoodMouth
This lifted my spirits around mile 50.

Sunday: Swim—3400 yards; Strength—15 minutes
Because the pool doesn’t open until mid-morning, I had an entire weekend morning free for the first time since who-knows-when.  Rob and I went out to breakfast at a fun little café that we like, and I got to sit around and enjoy the morning before going to church. After church, I headed to the pool for a longer workout:
4 x 200 (swim, kick, pull, swim)
2 x 1200 (21:48, 21:57)
4 x 50 (easy)
I took this swim easy, and my times reflect that.  I think the swim did help work out some of the lingering fatigue from my big day on Saturday.  I got pretty hungry while swimming, but after eating, I felt better than I did before going to the pool.  Later in the afternoon, I did some strength work as well.  It’s a pain to do, especially when I have so much else going on, but I know it helps keep my knee injury-free.

FrenchToast
French toast.  It was wonderful, but I couldn’t finish the whole thing…