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.