I have been incredibly absent from the blogging and social media world in the last three months. After racing Rev3 Williamsburg, I did go up to Chattanooga and race the Chattanooga Riverfront Triathlon (to get a sense of what I’d be facing when the Ironman came around) with Tori. I didn’t get a chance to write that up, because, in truth, I was ready for a break after Williamsburg. I came home from that event and I was tired and was having a hard time stomaching the thoughts of the months to come.
July, August, and September were quite a whirlwind for me. Before I do any kind of goals or thoughts post for the pre-race, I thought it would be only fair to give some idea of the past three months that I’ve been so absent from here. Instead of the workout recaps that I became so good at posting in the past, I’m going to share more generalizations, thoughts, and experiences. It won’t necessarily be organized, but it’ll be better than nothing for my own memories.
I’ll break it into four categories: swimming, biking, running, and life.
Swimming(31 miles from May 1 to today)
True to form, I didn’t swim as much as my training plan suggested I should. I did, however, swim at least once every single week from July to now. For me, that is a win. I did a lot of longer swims, and I did an occasional 10 x 100 to check my paces. I swam a 4400 for time at my coach’s insistence. I didn’t do any open water swims.
And how do I feel? I feel fine about the swim. It’s not something I’m overly concerned about come race day. I normally felt pretty good in the water, and I think that the swimming I did is enough to keep my swim fitness in line with where it needs to be. The long sets I did have prepared me mentally to swim 2.4 miles, and I’m looking forward to that part of the race.
Biking (2,093 miles from May 1 to today)
I biked like a crazy woman in my training. Chattanooga is sounding like it will have around 4000 feet of elevation gain on the bike, so I knew I needed to prepare for it. And prepare I did! I rode 100 miles four times, and I rode 80 miles quite a few times as well.
The 100 milers weren’t ever fun all the way through, and I was always glad to be done; I did, though, generally enjoy much of each of those rides. 100 miles is a long way. 116 is going to be even longer (in case you haven’t heard, they extended the Chattanooga course).
I did a July 4th century ride that scared the life out of me. It was my first 100 miler, and I was riding in a group I didn’t know that well. We only stopped twice, and after drafting in a pack of 40 cyclists going around 20 miles per hour, I didn’t know if I could do it for the whole day. I shed a tear in the bathroom, but luckily Stacey was there to make me feel better. And I did do it. I rode 100 miles for the first time that day throughout Tampa, and it was a confidence booster.
The second 100 miler was half on the roads and half on a trainer. It had started pouring, as it did on every 100 mile ride I did this summer, and none of us wanted to continue. So, at mile 60 I head home and jumped on the trainer for the last bit. That’s when I started having some knee issues that lasted me a couple of weeks and a new bike fit.
The third 100 miler was in San Antonio with Beth. San Antonio is 45 minutes Northeast of Tampa, and it’s really the only hilly place near us. We spent far too many weekends biking those roads. We had a loop that had around 2500 feet of elevation gain in 56 miles, and we did that more times than I can count. Sometimes we added sections on a flat trail for part of the ride if we needed to extend it, and sometimes we just rode more hills. Ultimately, though, we’re sure we know the roads of San Antonio, FL well enough to offer weekend tours, not that anyone would take them. I will say, though, that it’s because of these weekends that I feel confidence in my race.
The fourth 100 miler was in Sebring, and it was a supported ride. I enjoyed it the most of all of them, because it was also a little getaway. It was also the ride I felt the strongest on. There’s not much to say about it, because there wasn’t a lot of drama, but we got it done.
And how do I feel? Pretty darn good! I feel that I am at least as strong on the bike as I am on the run, if not a little stronger. I am confident in what I can do on the bike as long as I ride smart. I’m looking forward to seeing what this training has done for me. I just need to remember not to cook my legs.
Running (592.5 from May 1 to today)
This will be my favorite part to talk about, because even though I spent a lot more time biking than running, it’s the running that sticks out in my head. Beth and I ran bridges every weekend to prepare for a marathon course that has 900-1200 feet of elevation gain. We got to know gas station attendants, Beth had a drink thrown on her, and we even saw the police investigate a man parked on a bike trail. There was never a dull moment. I told Beth that we laughed, we cried, and we’re better off for it.
There were good days and bad days; there were restaurant owners yelling at us that his restaurant wasn’t open, even though the door was unlocked; there were port o potties and locked toilets; there were sprints up bridges and bridges we were close to walking. But, we did it. It is done.
I ran 20 miles three times, I ran 18 miles at least five times, and from July 5th to September 13th, I never ran less than 15 miles in any weekend. I’m ready to run.
And how do I feel? Ready. No way around it.
This is the part of the story where things get less upbeat. Maintaining a life while training for an Ironman is impossible. My husband is amazing and supportive, and he’s incredibly sick of this training. I was gone for hours and hours of Saturdays and Sundays to long rides and runs, and after long running 20 miles or long riding 80-100 miles, the last thing I wanted to do was anything productive or exciting. I would sometimes attempt to go be social or do things to be productive, but between this training and working full time, I had a really hard time managing anything else.
This was a strain on my friendships and my family. I started going to bed between 8-9 most nights a couple of months ago, and by 7 I was beat. I didn’t go out with friends or make an effort to hang out with people. There was ALWAYS a workout to think of. I took Mondays as a rest day, and I needed every single one of them for my mental state. The two-a-days and long training sessions wore on me. Ironman training is hard. And it isn’t just hard on the athlete; it’s hard on all those around you as well.
I always thought about how our water bill must have doubled. Between the laundry, the showers, and the hydration, I was using double what I normally do.
If I could go back, I wouldn’t change anything. I missed some weekday runs or rides here or there, but I think my training is right on point. I didn’t miss a single long ride or long run. When I get to that starting line on Sunday, I will know that I did everything necessary to get to the finish. If something goes wrong or things fall apart on race day, I will smile and stay positive and know that it isn’t for lack of preparation.
I will post one more post before race day with my thoughts and plans going into the race. Thank you all for your tweets and comments on Instagram. I have really appreciated and enjoyed this community.