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I am an Ironman!  I did it!!!

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I have so many details to share from the event.  I know it will take me a bit of time to pull together all my thoughts, feelings and memories to write my race report.  However, I did want to share the best part first!!!

Tomorrow………

Jul
2014
26

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ironman lakeplacid eventpagelogo 200x70

Tomorrow is the big day.  The day that I have spent so many hours preparing for.  I am going to go out and give it my very best!!

Will it be easy

These last few days have been great.  Since we have arrived here in Lake Placid I have really enjoyed my experience.  I am still feeling relaxed and can only hope this continues (I kind of doubt it though…).  I already have so much that I know I will be sharing and after tomorrow, it will greatly multiply!

I am posting the link for athlete tracking.  I have had several ask me to share this information so they can follow my progress on race day.  I appreciate this support more than I can say.  My bib number is #1052.

Athlete Tracker

I also appreciate all the well wishes I have been receiving. The texts, notes on Facebook and comments on my blog…I read every one and each is special to me. It motivates me that much more!

I know I really can’t imagine the extent of the challenge I will face tomorrow.  Not really.  I am going to try to remember all the details possible, so I can share my words to truly remember this experience.  So for now, I have my feet up and enjoying some relaxation…there won’t be too much of that tomorrow!  Until next time…..

This is my plan for the afternoon...chill!!!

This is my plan for the afternoon…chill!!!

 

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On race day, I will be wearing a tri top with the letters “MJG” across the front. I want to share why I choose to wear these letters when I race.

MJG stands for Michael John Gressman, a 32-year old who courageously fought cancer but lost his battle on July 14, 2009. The MJG Brain Tumor Research Fund is committed to increasing awareness and raising money for those inflicted with brain tumors, while providing HOPE and inspiration to all people along the way. Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) is the most common and aggressive of the primary brain tumors. Few patients survive longer than 3 years and only a handful survive 5 years.

In 2008 when Tony was training for Ironman Florida, he met a couple of brothers that were training for the same race. Tony found himself spending time training with Mike & Eric Gressman. A lot of their training was with various groups, but Tony and Mike had a tendency to maintain a similar pace, so they ended up riding together a good amount of time.

During the period leading up the Ironman Florida, Mike was diagnosed with GBM. His treatment began immediately and his Ironman dream was put on hold. The relationship Tony had started forming with the Gressmans turned from a training partnership to a friendship.  This was the period of time when I started getting to know Mike and Eric as well.

As Tony had the opportunity to spend time with Mike away from training, he realized that had a lot in common. In some non-athletic interests and their thoughts on certain topics, is where they found more common ground. In a very endearing way, Tony describes Mike as having a “big heart with no filter”.

Over the next year, Mike gave a new definition to the word Ironman with his will and courage to fight his disease. It was a roller coaster ride for all those that were praying for his recovery. I remember the day that Tony called and told me that Mike had passed away. Even though I had known him for a short time, it really hit me and confirmed what we all too often take for granted. Life is precious and tomorrow is not guaranteed.    

A foundation was established in his honor to raise awareness and funds for brain cancer research (www.braincancerhope.org). The supporters of MJG are continuing to keep Mike’s spirit alive. I vividly remember when I finished my first half iron distance triathlon. It was the 2012 Beach 2 Battleship half in Wilmington, NC. Mike’s mom, Donna, was volunteering at the finish line. I crossed and she was the first person I saw as I had a huge smile plastered on my face and said “I did it”. With an equally as big smile on her face, she said to me, “Mike would be so proud” and gave me a huge hug. That is a moment that I will hold dear because it truly touched my heart and she said those words with such emotion and honesty.

My first half- B2B in Wilmington, NC

My first half- B2B in Wilmington, NC

The MJG support crew at B2B Half

The MJG support crew at B2B Half

I have been touched by so many stories lately of people that have been diagnosed with a form of this devil of a disease called cancer. It is truly incredible how strong and determined people can be when faced with the battle of their lives. The one that touches me deeply is that earlier this year, my step-father Ron, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow. He has risen to great heights to fight the disease that keeps trying to knock him down. To be honest, the disease is also trying to knock down my mom, who is there with him every day caring for him and watching him endure the toughest days of his life. We are all confident that it is just a matter of time until he wins this battle. There will be a BIG PARTY.

When the MJG foundation was started, bracelets were made that I have worn on my wrist for over 5 years. I wear it daily to help remind myself of all the feelings I felt on the day that Mike passed away. Live life doing the things you love to do. Travel, dream, love…whatever it is that makes life even more special. Life as you know it can change in a second. I want to live my life in appreciation of the health and happiness I am so blessed to have. This is one of the reasons that I signed up for Ironman. I am lucky to be a healthy athlete and I didn’t want to delay tackling something that I dreamed to achieve.

At the bike check-in the day before the 2013 Raleigh 70.3

At the bike check-in the day before the 2013 Raleigh 70.3

At the finish line at the 2013 Raleigh 70.3 (love my crooked hat!!)

At the finish line at the 2013 Raleigh 70.3 (love my crooked hat!!)

good life

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Week #23 Recap Header

This was the first week of taper. It was nice to have a week with some reduced volume.  Plus the count down is TOTALLY ON!!!

5 days

Monday 7/14

PM – 2000-yard swim with the main set focused on speed. I felt good in the pool and I averaged 1:50/100 yards for the 1300-yard main set. It was a nice change to be in and out of the pool relatively quickly (thank you taper!!).

Tuesday 7/15

AM – 60-minute steady run – I felt pretty good on this 7.25 mile run. Another early morning, but not too many of these left (smile)!

PM – Bike was at the mechanic, so I spent a lot of time stretching and foam rolling, which was very much needed.

Wednesday 7/16

AM – 30-minute recovery run – Morning training, but I did not have to get up at a crazy time…still early, but not crazy early!! Nice easy effort run with low heart rate.

PM – 45-minute open water swim – The lake was smooth and it was a beautiful night for a swim. I really spent time thinking during my swim to ensure I was appropriately pushing my effort to challenge myself. I felt like I did a good job the entire 1.22-mile swim. However, I was not pleased with my pace that I saw on my Garmin when I finished. I was a little frustrated (as Tony can attest to) but after I talked to him about it and he urged me to put it out of my mind, I tried my best to do just that.

After the swim, I spent a good amount of time talking to a guy in the swim group about Lake Placid. He raced it a few years ago, and he provided me some insight from his experience. It was really nice chatting with him and hearing more details about what to expect on race day!

Thursday 7/17

AM – 75 minutes on the bike trainer with the main set focused on lactate threshold efforts. This was an early alarm, but I am counting down the days to move past these regular, super early training sessions. My legs felt pretty good and I was happy with my effort.

PM – 75-minute steady run – With the exception of an achiness that I sometimes experience in my right glute/hammie, I felt great on this 9.12-mile run. I felt strong and had a big smile on my face when I finished, because I knew that was my last “hard work” run. I have two short recovery/taper runs next week, but those will be easy efforts.

Friday 7/18

REST DAY! WOO HOO!!!

Saturday 7/19

2.5 hour bike ride – This was my last outdoor ride on the training plan. The plan was 30-minute warm-up/30-minute tempo/30-minute recovery/30-minute tempo/30-minute cool down. I have done this session on the trainer because it has typically fallen on a week that also has a longer ride planned that was done on the weekend. It was nice to take this one out on the road to add a little variety. Tony was planning to ride with me and my tried and true riding friend Susanne joined, as well as, another friend Neil. We rode one of our regular out and back courses so everyone could ride at their desired pace for the tempos and catch back up as necessary on the easy effort intervals. The warm-up, recovery and cool down intervals were all indeed very easy effort. The tempo intervals were at a pace/effort that was a solid challenge, but one in which I could maintain for the entire 30 minutes. I was pleased with both these intervals. My average pace for tempo session one was 19.8 mph and 19.5 mph for the second.

As we were headed back in, about 5 miles from home, I commented to Susanne how nice it was to finish early in the day (it was still around 10:30am). The long rides that have been part of training, really take up a huge chunk of your Saturday. I also had to comment, as we safely passed by a mound of sand in the shoulder of the road, how terrible it would be to crash at this point!! I just wanted to make it home safely!

After hundreds of miles and hours and hours on the bike over the past several months, 8 days from race day, I decided that I really needed to take a tumble on my bike! Well, I did not really decide that, I guess my bike juju did…about 1.5 miles from home, I stopped at a stop sign, unclipped my right foot and it was too late to notice that my weight was shifting left which only left one option…I fell over. I had a bit of a bloody knee and a sore spot on my left hand…I tried to be dramatic and call it a crash, but Tony insisted that Paul and Phil, the commentators from the Tour de France coverage, would call it (in their British accents)…”a little spot of bother”.  It was that topple that all cyclists have done at point or another. It has probably been over a year since I took my last spill, but the timing of this one was just uncanny. Bottom line, I was fine (maybe not my pride) and my bike was fine! [All of this was in jest, and I am very happy to say that I have been fortunate to never experience a crash on my bike. Tony has gone down very hard on two separate occasions and luckily he was ok with basic first aid (and a new helmet after one).]

We finally rolled into the driveway and I was happy to be home safely (once again). We have said week and week how fortunate we have been with the weather for our Saturday rides. The last one was no different. It looked like rain on the radar, but we all stayed dry. Last outdoor ride completed at 41.5 miles!!!

Susanne put in some serious miles with me over the past several months.  She has been a tremendous support!!

Susanne put in some serious miles with me over the past several months. She has been a tremendous support!!

Sunday 7/20

AM – 60 minutes on the bike trainer with the main set focused on lactate threshold efforts. I felt so great on the bike! I was pushing great watts with the same level of effort that I typically maintain for this type workout.

PM – 60-minute open water swim. This was the last long OWS planned before race day. Tony was once again my safety support in the kayak. The water was pleasant as some rain storms had just moved out of the area. As I had done Wednesday, I really concentrated on my effort to ensure I was appropriately challenging myself. I knocked out 63 minutes at 1.71 miles. I completed this workout at a pace that would put me under my swim goal time and that is without a wetsuit. Most likely, race day will be wet suit legal. I was happy with my last long swim on the plan.

Totals:

Time:   10 hours 44 minutes

Swim: 7,121 yards

Bike: 70 miles

Run: 21.6 miles

Stretching/foam rolling: Did well!

Absolutely

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Week #22 Recap Header

Week #22 of a 24-week training plan has been completed. WOW!! It happened. Two weeks on the plan remain and that means taper. I am done with the all the building efforts and now is the time to shift to taper. I am ready for the taper.

Tapering is when you reduce your training load over a period of time leading up to an important race. The aim is to recover from training fatigue (both mental and physical) and maximize your physiological adaptations to the training you’ve been doing (source: http://www.intelligent-triathlon-training.com/taper-for-triathlon.html).

I have been extremely dedicated to my training plan. I have put in the hours of training that I feel will make me successful on race day. I understand that many athletes do not like the taper period. They get very antsy and feel they are not doing enough. My opinion is that all the hard work is done. I am SO READY for the training volume to decrease! I have put in a tremendous amount of work over the past 22 weeks (plus all the years leading up to even begin training for an Ironman). Lots of early mornings and training when all I wanted to do was lay on the couch. I will not make any gains over the next two weeks leading up to race day. I will still train in order for my body to be prepared to race (which includes rest and good nutrition) but it will be at a much lesser extent. As my friend Tim said, “Get to the start line healthy”. I plan to do just that!!!!

Here is my latest recap:

Monday 7/7

PM – 2500-yard swim - There is nothing to really expand on. Another Monday, another swim. (I think I am ready for a break from swimming…). I felt ok. I did not completely feel like I had swum 2.5 miles the day before, but I was not feeling thrilled to be at the pool for another workout either. I got it done and my efforts and times were respectable. [This may sound like a “check the box” workout, but I am just being honest here… ]

Tuesday 7/8

AM – 60-minute steady run – Another early morning, but I only had business on the brain. Get up out of bed and get this run done. That was generally how I was feeling. I got in 7.22 miles for the 60-minute main set.

Sleep In

PM – 1 hour 45 minutes on the bike planned – This session consisted of 15-minute warm-up/30-minute steady pace at race pace ++ effort/15-minute recovery/30-minute steady pace at race pace ++ effort/15-minute cool down.

After the 15-minute warm-up I started the first 30-minute effort. I quickly realized that I did not have a lot in the legs. I stayed with it and was working very hard for very low watts. After about 10 minutes in, I took a 5-minute break and then resumed. While my watts were a touch higher, I knew I was working much harder than I should be. I felt this was different from normal “heavy legs” that I have experienced all too often with this IM training. I took it as a sign that my body was not ready to work. I don’t believe in giving up on a session just because it is hard…I would never have gotten this far otherwise. However, I do believe it is important to listen to the signals that the body sends and respond appropriately. Despite how difficult it is to call a session early, I felt that was the right decision.

Wednesday 7/9

AM – 60 minutes on the bike trainer with the main set focused on max effort intervals. This is a workout that I have done many times. It was a regular session earlier on in my training. My plan has not called for it in many weeks. Well, it was time to bring it back. With the previous night’s issues fresh on my mind, I was not sure what to expect in my legs that morning. I did feel better. While I still was not pushing the power that I had previously with this workout, I gave it what I could and was still pleased with my efforts. This session has never been a cake walk and this morning certainly was no different!

PM – OWS – Once again the weather looked a bit questionable. There was a front moving through that showed some rain on the radar. I still headed out to meet the group at Falls Lake. It was not raining upon arrival and the radar looked as if we had plenty of time to get in a swim before we potentially saw some rain. The wind was present though which made the lake extremely choppy. There has only been one other time this season I can remember the lake being this choppy. We decided to keep the swim course fairly close to shore in case Mother Nature had a change of plans.

The swim was not very enjoyable. I really dislike swimming in extreme chop like we had, but it is important to train in all different conditions. I found myself modifying my stroke from time to time and breathing only on one side (instead of bi-laterally, which I typically do) to reduce my chances of taking in mouthfuls of water. I finished up with 40 minutes and 1.02 miles. Certainly not a good pace, but I did my best with the crappy conditions!

Thursday 7/10

AM – Bike – Yes, another bike morning. 90-minutes with the main set focused on 5×10-minute lactate threshold efforts, with 5-minute recovery between sets. I felt ok, not great/not horrible, and I worked through the five intervals one at a time. I kept my heart rate in the required zone, however, I had to keep an eye on it more than normal since it wanted to creep.

PM – Run – Main set consisted of 3×15 minutes speed intervals with 2 minutes recovery between sets. Based on the way my legs had been feeling this week, I did not know what was in store with this run. I was pleasantly surprised with myself. I took one interval at a time and once again, got them knocked out. My 7:40 average pace for the speed intervals was not the quickest it has been, but certainly within a 10-second range of what I have been doing. (I have not worked up my speed at all within a great number of weeks. I have generally been maintaining the increases I have realized.) I completed the main set of 6.23 miles and average pace of 7:53 (includes recovery).

Friday 7/11

REST DAY! WOO HOO!!!

Saturday 7/12

The plan was a 4-hour ride with a 1 hour 50 minute run (brick). My awesome riding partner, Susanne, and I headed out a bit after 7am to ride our latest 68-mile route. This would put us around 3 hours 50 minutes, but since Tony pulled this route together a couple of weeks ago, we have ridden it twice and like the route. We decided to mix it up a bit and ride it in reverse. The morning temperature felt pretty good, but also was rather humid. Not as refreshingly cool as last Saturday’s ride…that kind of weather in July is enough to spoil you!! The ride was going well (despite a lot of knocking and creaking coming from my bike) and we were feeling good until we missed a turn, around mile 35-ish. We back tracked and eventually figured out the turn we needed to make (there was no road sign). We continued along and even though we have ridden this route a couple of times, I decided there needs to be a slight change. One road has three dogs that have chased us every time. With cycling, you get somewhat accustomed to seeing dogs and having them chase you, on occasion. However, these dogs are different, in that ALL THREE of them chased us and they were like the Energizer bunnies!!! They kept going and going and going……!! Typically dogs will chase you for a bit, but give up. These were relentless! This will be an easy change to make in the route and will make it a bit safer for the future.

As we were a little after the 4-hour mark, Susanne mentioned that she was very low on water. We still had over 10 miles according to the route! That missed turn really added more miles that we originally anticipated! We made a few changes to get us headed home. It was WAY TO WARM to be out without the proper hydration. We ended up with 75 miles and 4 hours 22 minutes.

I got off the bike.

I had to run.

It was really warm.

This was not going to be fun.

I made a comment to Tony about how hot it was and he kept it all business…”you have to run…you have no choice”. Well, all of that is true.

He had prepared my Nathan Hydration pack so I would have plenty of water. I also took a small concentrated bottle of Osmo (it fit in the pocket of my vest), so I could continue to get the benefits of my sports drink. I would take a small sip of the concentrated mixture and immediately drink water (essentially “mixing it” while I drank). I am trying the figure out the last of the logistics of how I am going to carry the Osmo on the course with me. [For those readers that may not be familiar with IM racing, there will be plenty of water at aide stations on the run course. There is also sports drink, but I don’t prefer the brand, so I have not trained with that product. I will need to carry my sports drink with me and am trying to figure out the easiest way, as well as lightest (less weight for me to carry on the run).]

Since the bike portion of the brick was extended by 20 minutes, I decided to reduce my run by 20 minutes. Tony volunteered to run with me on the second half, so I formulated a two loop plan in the neighborhood. Like I mentioned, it was warm with full sun (no shade to hide in), so I planned to run smart. I kept a close eye on my heart rate and focused on hydrating. After the first 45 minutes, I swung by the house and Tony joined me. I was hot, but not overly, and I had done a good job of keeping my heart rate in a good range and drinking. My legs felt ok, so I basically kept doing what I had been doing. I was glad to have the company even though I was not chatty…just focused. I completed the 90 minutes with 9.58 miles. For the last few miles of the run, I had one thing in mind and I indulged as so as we got home.

Popsicle

POPSICLE!!! IT WAS SO GOOD!!

Obvioulsy, I am not afraid to sweat!!

Obviously, I am not afraid to sweat!!

After all the crazy noises I heard from my bike today, she will be going into the mechanic for some TLC. She was obviously not very happy with me today!

Sunday 7/13

OWS – I had another 90-minute open water swim on the plan. The plan was the same as the prior Sunday which was my longest swim. Once again, Tony accompanied me on the borrowed kayak (Tim & Nicole…you will get your kayak back) as my safety escort. I had one thing in mind…knock out this swim!!!!

Just Keep Swimming

Overall, I felt ok. I really concentrated on being long and having good form (you have plenty of time to think while swimming for 1 ½ hours). I also focused on my sighting, which is something I always TRY to do. I have pretty much always struggled with swimming straight and it has been difficult for me to improve. With all the open water swimming I have been doing, hopefully, it will pay off on race day. Tony mentioned that this was the best I had done with my sighting, from what he has seen. GREAT! I finished up with 93 minutes and 2.37 miles. Not the pace I want, but I have a plan to really keep a mental check on my level of effort on race day. Obviously, I don’t want to push too hard, but I want to find that place where I am appropriately pushing my pace (at a level I can sustain), but also not be out to just survive the swim. I can swim this swim!!

Swim Goals

Totals:

Time: 14 hours 38 minutes

Swim: 8,466 yards

Bike: 110 miles

Run: 25 miles

Stretching/foam rolling: Some but not enough

 

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Week 21 recap header

This was a milestone week. It was the week with BOTH my LAST SUPER DUPER long run and bike. Hour wise, this was a peak week for me. With my excitement level rising as we began the month of July (race month), I was ready to attack another week!

This was also the week of “FIRSTS”! All in this week were my longest ever swim, bike and run. Talk about a jammed packed week!!

Strength

Monday 6/30

AM – 75-minutes on the bike trainer with focus on lactate threshold – Third day in a row that I was on the bike. Not ideal, but you gotta do what you gottta do!! 3×15 minutes at LT with alternating cadences between 85 and 95 RPM every 5 minutes. I was definitely feeling in my legs that this was my third bike day. I powered as best I could and did not do too shabby!

PM – 3100-yard swim – I felt good on this swim. It was weird to be in the pool…after spending 3 days/week for so many weeks in the pool (and that dropped to two when I started doing open water), last week I was only in the pool once, because I did two OWS.

Tuesday 7/1

PM – This day was a BIG DEAL (to me…)!! This was the LAST SUPER DUPER LONG RUN on my training plan! I wanted this to be another good long run. Since we are totally into summer now and experiencing the typical NC hot and humid days, I decided that I would take my last long run to the treadmill. Since I am not training for a hot race, I felt it was more important to get in the time/miles on my legs at a pace that I am hoping to relatively maintain on race day than to battle the outdoor conditions and having to work (even harder) to stay hydrated. Tim and Nicole were gracious enough to offer the use of their treadmill again since it has the downloaded Lake Placid course that I could experience.

My game plan was the same as last long run. Two bottles an hour (one water and one Osmo) and one Gu Chomp every 15 minutes. This worked for me last time very well. I started a bit slower this time, but was just really choosing my pace based on how my legs felt. That is how I have tried to gauge most of my long runs. It seemed to take me longer to loosen up than normal, but no worries. After the first 45 minutes or so, I was not feeling the best. However, I just stayed my with my hydration/nutrition plan, did not push my pace too hard and pretty much bounced back to feeling fine. I was pleased with that.

The time passed…3 hours on the treadmill is a long time. Tony came over, so between everyone, I did have some company when I really started needing it, during the latter part of the run. Since I was “on the course”, there are a lot of terrain changes that kept me focused. When the treadmill quickly jumped from 1% incline to 8% incline, I had to adjust my set pace! I was trying to keep in my mind some of the more challenging hills sections so I will remember come race day. The steepest incline that I had was 15% for a short time!

I ended the 3 hours 41 seconds with 19 miles. It felt good to have this done. After I showered, we had Asian food delivered and the best part was Nicole’s homemade Oreo cupcakes for dessert!

Wednesday 7/2

PM – 45-minute open water swim – I met the group at Falls Lake for an evening swim. It was fairly uneventful. I got in 46 minutes with 1.25 miles. My pace was slower than what I feel I am capable of now, but I got it more quality open water practice.

Thursday 7/3

AM – 75-minutes on the bike with 4×10-minute hill repeats with 5 minute recovery between intervals. This was a tough morning. My legs were not ready to go…I was still sleeping very hard when the alarm went off and even though I got up and got on the bike, I think my legs were still in the bed asleep! I got the workout done completely and continued to be in zombie mode until about 10:00am (thank goodness for good coffee!!!).

PM – 60-minute steady run on the treadmill (with pace being 30-seconds faster than race pace). It had been a long training week. I knew I was one workout away from a rest day…and the best kind of rest day which included a holiday off from work AND no training! I was ready to get the workout done and the only way to do that was to get started. My legs were so heavy when I got going. They typically start to loosen up after a couple of miles, but honestly, that was not the case with this run. They really felt stiff most of the run, but I got it done and about the pace I would expect. I took a huge sigh of relief when I was done because I was ready to start enjoying my holiday! For the main set, I knocked out 7.21 miles and I worked for every single mile!

Friday 7/4

REST DAY! WOO HOO!!!

Saturday 7/5

Saturday morning I woke to a beautifully cool morning. With a 6.5 hour ride planned, what more could I ask for? This is July in NC…it could be warm and muggy to start with a temperature high planned to be in the upper 90s! The forecast looked great with highs forecasted in the mid to upper 80s! There were three of us riding (Susanne, Daryl and myself) the first loop which would take us to just shy of four hours. Then it was a pit stop at the house for Tony to jump on the ride to accompany Daryl and myself on the last part.

During the first route, I was feeling pretty good. I started feeling some fatigue creep in earlier than I would like, but I just concentrated on keeping an appropriate level of effort and on my hydration/nutrition plan. I was feeling uncomfortable in the saddle, which is not something I have been experiencing until much later during a long ride.

As we began the second route, I was ok mentally. Sure, I would like to be done after four hours, but I had 6.5 engrained on my brain, so that was what would happen! My eating and drinking continued as planned and I was pleased with how it that critical piece played out. No complaints and nothing to be concerned about.

We finished the 6.5 hour ride with 112 miles done! Funny how those numbers worked out!! I was very excited to have this milestone complete.

My Longest Ride!!

My Longest Ride!!

112 Miles Done!!

112 Miles Done!!

This could have been me

This could have been me

We spent the afternoon watching stage one of the Tour de France! I guess a 6.5 hour ride just did not meet my cycling dose for the day!

Sunday 7/6

OWS – I had my longest open water swim to date planned. I needed to get in 90-minutes and I was hoping that would give me the full IM distance of 2.4 miles. Tony accompanied me on the borrowed kayak (thanks again to Tim & Nicole) as my safety escort. Well, to be frank, 1.5 hours is a REALLY long time to swim!! I actually completed 1 hour 35 minutes with 2.54 miles. This was a huge milestone for me. Sure, I knew I could do it, but actually doing it is a totally different story! The swim is my weakest of the three events, so having completed this prior to race day is a mental boost!

Run – 3×15 minute speed intervals – To be honest…I was dreading this workout. After the swim, I had a light bite and then was doing a few things around the house. I really felt lethargic with zero energy. I decided just to get going and do the best I could. What else could I do? Well, the run was not easy, at all. However, it was way better than I thought it would be. I thought I would begin to run out of steam and really struggle to complete it. I completed all three intervals at a pace in the range I would expect when running on a decent day. I am not quite sure how I was able to pull it out, but I did and WAS SO EXCITED to get through it!

Totals:

Time:   18 hours 9 minutes

Swim: 9,770 yards

Bike: 142 miles

Run:  32.2 miles

Stretching/foam rolling: Did OK

I was so excited to accomplish what I was able to this week.  Having a solid week during my peak with so many new personal records was amazing for me.    I am truly proud of every single mile…they are transforming me into an athlete unlike I have been before and preparing me for this crazy event called Ironman!

Lots of miles this week - all new milestones - very proud of them all!!

Lots of miles this week – all new milestones – very proud of them all!!

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Week #20 Recap Header2

Week #4 in my 4-week blocks are generally “recovery weeks”. Volume is decreased which is always a nice break. My massages are also this week, which are essential to surviving this training! This week #4 was different. No big decrease in volume as in typical week fours. When I realized that, it was a little tough to digest mentally, but I am getting so stinkin’ close…I certainly can’t let up now!!

Monday 6/23

AM – 85-minutes on the bike trainer with focus on lactate threshold efforts. This was more of a challenge than typical. I felt like I had very little power in my legs (as evidenced by watts reading). I pushed through ok, but thought…”this may be a long week…”.

PM – 4000-yard swim – I felt surprisingly pretty good on this swim. There were a lot of different intervals to knock out, but I did. My plan specified easy to moderate efforts and I definitely went with the moderate pace and did not push too much past that.

Tuesday 6/24

AM – 90-minute steady run – This was another very early start. At the beginning, I honestly was not sure how it would go. I just focused on getting in the first few miles, which can seem to change the way I feel, often times. I did fall into the grove, which I so frequently speak of. I just took one mile at a time and kept my focus on drinking. I was proud that I was able to maintain the desired pace for the full 90 minutes and get in 10.74 miles for the main set…that just always seems so much harder for me to grasp when I start my run at 5:00am. I was pumped and happy to “check another one off the list”!!

PM – 1 hour 45 minutes on the bike. This session consisted of 15 minute warm-up/30 minute steady pace at race pace ++ effort/15 minute recovery/30 minute steady pace at race pace ++ effort/15 minute cool down. The 30 minute efforts were not fun…at all. I pushed to try to hold the watts, which I did. At my recovery interval, I was starving though! I had some peanut butter filled pretzels (one of my normal bike snacks). Tony then brought me a “fun size” Snickers bar that was buried in the pantry. Man, that was good! (That gives me more motivation to put a really tasty snack in my special needs bag on race day!) I had just enough left in the tank to make it through the second working interval. For my one-hour steady pace sessions, I was able to average 170 watts. I was happy with that…especially given the “state” of my legs!

Wednesday 6/25

PM – 42-minute open water swim – I was not certain that the weather would cooperate for an OWS…when I arrived at Falls Lake to meet the swim group, there was a brief storm. Everything moved out in about 15 minutes and what remained was a nice evening for an outdoor swim. The group did a smaller course to try to stay closer to shore, JUST IN CASE, the weather turned again. The distance was a bit shorter. However, once the group made it back to shore, a couple of us did two additional legs of across and back to the closest shore to give us a little over 15 additional minutes. I felt good in the water and was pleased with my 1.23 mile swim.

Thursday 6/26

AM – 70-minute run on the treadmill with 6×10-minute speed intervals – This was another one of those early morning runs where I got up at the crack of dawn to get done. That is always a questionable start to the day…would my legs wake up enough to have a good run? The thing that was pushing me a bit more was that this was the only workout of the day. I had a massage scheduled for the evening!

It was a bit of a slow start. I decided the best way to get through this run was to ONLY focus on ONE interval at a time. There was no thinking during interval #2 that there was no way I could keep this up for six total…I just tried to not go there! I stuck to my plan of one at a time. I pushed hard at holding a solid pace. It was a bit slower than some of my prior speed sessions, but I was happy with it overall. I conquered the mental game of the morning and was successful with my last session before my weekend training. My main set run distance totaled 8.87 miles.

PM – 90-minute massage! This was my first 90-minute massage in several years. I knew that I would need the extra attention that an additional 30 minutes would provide. I was so right. She spent extra time on a lot of areas that really needed it!

Friday 6/27

REST DAY! WOO HOO!!!

Saturday 6/28

Tony and I decided to embark on another road trip for more adventures in hill climbing!! We went up to the same area as a few weeks prior…around Pilot Mountain/King, NC. We had a good game plan and we kept our fingers crossed that the weather would cooperate! As we drove the approximate 2-hours (well, Tony drove while I slept for at least an hour), I was fairly certain we were going to have a rain soaked day.

When we arrived, there was no rain; it was just overcast and humid. Fingers were crossed those conditions would stay! Our game plan did not include a climb up Pilot Mountain as we did before. I was more interested in climbs that I will most likely be tackling come race day. With the exception of bypassing that first climb, the first part of our route was the same as before. We had planned to do the Sauratown climb that we did previously, as long as the weather allowed it.

We had a slight delay as we had to ask permission to pass through on a road that was closed.

Road Closed

Goofy selfie while waiting at the road closure

Goofy selfie while waiting at the road closure

We learned that they were burning down a house. We were allowed to pass through as we agreed to walk our bikes around the fire trucks and other crew. We were on our way to Sauratown, once again.

Sauratown Mountain in the distance

Sauratown Mountain in the distance

When we arrived at the base, the weather conditions were still overcast and humid. We had been sprinkled on a couple of times on our way, but nothing bad, so it was good to climb!

The base of the climb up Sauratown

The base of the climb up Sauratown

 

The base of the climb

The base of the climb up Sauratown

It was as challenging as before, but I think mentally I was stronger on this day. I took it nice and steady and made it without stopping for a rest break. I was excited to make it to the top for a second time!

View coming down Sauratown

View coming down Sauratown

We continued along the planned route. The majority of this part was new to us. It continued to challenge us as we climbed more and more. Some of the climbs seemed to continue on for what seemed to be never ending. We kept at it and finished up the ride at 3 hours 8 minutes. We had 4,695 feet of climbing over the 45 miles. Our average speed was 14.5mph which emphasizes the tough, SLOW course! Tony was a real trooper since he was there for me to get me the climb training I needed!

Embrace Hills

After the ride, I did a one-hour run. Since we are out in a very rural area there were no good options for running. We were too concerned about loose dogs to pick a random route on the road. So, the best option was to run on the track at the school where we had parked. This was not an exciting option, but it was safe and Tony could run with me as much or as little as he chose. One hour on the track was not fun, but I got the run done! I felt fair during the run….not great, not bad. The sun actually came out right before I started running, so it become much warmer (and was already very humid). I was able to get in 6.79 miles. Despite having heavy legs, Tony even ran a few miles with me. I HAD to run, but he didn’t! (SMILE!!)

This was a successful road trip and I was glad to get in very solid training. After a full day, we arrived home around 5pm. A nice shower and nap was the course of action when we got home. Just as we started discussing dinner and how neither of us felt like cooking, we received a last minute invite for a casual dinner out with Tim and Nicole. We jumped on that since the Salt & Lime restaurant sounded really good (margarita please!!)!

Sunday 6/29

AM – This may sound crazy (at least it was to me), but mid-morning, I did a 1 hour 45 minute bike trainer session with hill repeats! One can never have too many hills…right??? I felt better than I thought I would and did well with my 6×10-minute hill repeats.

PM – Open water swim – Tony escorted me via kayak, while I went out for a 75-minute OWS. Early on, I was feeling really heavy arms and shoulders (probably from being upright on the bike more than normal with all the hills…). I just tried to push it out of my mind and keep at it. It was probably at over the half-way point, but eventually, I was feeling better and my arms less tired. I was pleased to complete the 75-minutes with 2.11 miles. I am so close to hitting the full IM distance of 2.4 miles!

Totals:

Time:   15 hours 36 minutes

Swim: 9,877 yards (a bit over 5 miles…new PR for distance swim volume)

Bike: 106 miles

Run:  28.4 miles

Stretching/foam rolling: Need to do more!

Committment2

 

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As of today when people ask when my race is, I can say…”at the end of the month”…YIKES!!!

The Count Down!!!

The Count Down (on my phone)!!!

I can not believe how close race day is! One year ago, I decided that I was ready to bite the bullet and SIGN UP for my first Ironman. It seemed so far away. Now it is 26 days away. I am ready for it to come. I am ready to load all my gear in the 4Runner and make the 13 hour drive to Lake Placid, NY with my hubbie. I am ready to put it all out there and race my heart out. I am ready for all the hours of training, sweat, hard work and dedication to come together and push me through to the end when I hear those sweet words at the finish line.

Letting Go of Thoughts

Don’t get me wrong…I still have some very key workouts to get through. I am not done with all the hard work to prepare just yet. I am so close though. So, when I say I am ready for all these things to happen…it is more mental. After these last few weeks of training, I will know that it is also physical. I will be ready.

I am Stronger

So, continue along with me these last few weeks as I get to that point. As I get to the start line as prepared as I can be. These will be great weeks as they get me to that day that I have worked so hard for.

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Week 19 Recap Header

Going into this week, I knew I had some big training sessions on the plan. As the training distances get longer and longer, the importance of quality sessions grows. This is true for the fitness portion of training as well as the mental portion.

I had a friend lend me a couple of DVDs of earlier broadcasts of Ironman World Championships. He has the box set that includes 10 years’ worth. I have seen them all, but I never tire of watching them. I watched two different years’ broadcasts while doing bike sessions during the week. It is a great way to pass the time while watching the sports’ best athletes take on Kona!

Monday 6/16

AM – 1 hour 45 minutes on the bike trainer with the main set focused on 6×10-minute lactate threshold efforts. This was a great session for me. I felt strong and was able to keep my heart rate within the necessary zone. I challenged myself appropriately for the session.

PM – 3100-yard swim – Lots of variation in the workout with 300s, 200s, 25s, pull buoy, slow, moderate, fast efforts…I really spent time focusing on my left arm stroke. This is the suggestion that Tim gave me during the prior day’s OWS. I could tell I was changing things because my shoulder became fatigued early. I agree with his assessment though and slight changes can result in great improvements. I felt that my timing was slightly off due to the change…albeit minor. I think a few more sessions and it will start to become more natural.

Tuesday 6/17

PM – LONG RUN DAY!!!!! This was a big session planned for me. As the long runs left in my plan are becoming fewer and fewer, I really need to get my hydration and nutrition dialed in so I can have a good game plan come race day! Since my last long run and the troubles I experienced there, I have spent a lot of time focusing on pre and post workout weight to gauge hydration levels. This has been an interesting process and Tim has aided me in the analysis. The plan for this long run was to run it on the treadmill. He has a machine where you can download various courses and the treadmill tracks the inclines/declines/flats of that course, including the IM Lake Placid run! Plus, since we are in a more controlled environment, we can adjust the hydration and nutrition on the fly, as needed.

When this day arrived, I was so thankful that we had the treadmill plan. I say that because the temperature hit 97 degrees and this was our first week of extreme heat. I would have melted if I had to run in that heat!

When I arrived at Tim’s we came up with a game plan. The original plan was for one 20-ounce bottle of water and ½ bottle of Osmo (which is my sports drink). Also, one GU Chomp every 15 minutes. In prior long runs I had been eating more and drinking less.

I got going on the treadmill and despite a few initial problems with internet connections, I was eventually able to start running the LP course about 45 minutes into my run. To my excitement, the first several miles are downhill. This will be a great way to transition from 112 miles on the bike to the run…I can’t overdo it, but having the downhill will allow me to really engage my legs and open up my stride to ease into the run.

After the first hour, I was feeling good. I had consumed 2 full bottles without forcing the second half, so we decided to go forward with two bottles/hour and continue on with the four GU Chomps I had eaten without issue. Throughout the run, I jumped off and weighed in order to track my weight and liquid consumption. We were tracking great throughout. I ended the 2 hours and 45 minutes and I was thrilled with how things had gone. I felt great, tired, of course, but great considering I had just run the longest (2 hours and 45 minutes) and furthest (17.75 miles) I had ever run. I had NO muscle cramping and NO stomach issues. This was a victorious run!

Tony and Tim "coaching"!!

Tony and Tim “coaching”!!

The run course has some definite challenges. There are a few steep climbs with the two longest being later on in the loop (the course is a two-loop course). I think having experienced the course on a treadmill has given me additional confidence since knowledge is power!

All in all, I could not have asked for a better long run. After the workout, we had a great dinner including steaks on the grill, salad and baked potato!

Many thanks to Tim for helping me with the hydration and nutrition plan and re-filling my bottles and keeping me on track to have a successful run! Thanks to Tony, Nicole and Tim for providing the entertainment during my run…I did not know a photo shoot was going to be in the mix! They made 2 hours and 45 minutes on the treadmill the best it could ever be!

The support crew!!  This will be my crew on race day!!

The support crew!! This will be my crew on race day!!

Wednesday 6/18

PM –The plan was for an open water swim. Well, I learned during the day, that the access to Falls Lake where we swim was closed due to high bacteria in the lake (YUCK!!!). I am no scientist, but it would seem that the high temperatures we have experienced and very, very warm lake conditions, may have contributed.   So, pool swim it was!

3100-yard swim – This was a good swim!! I continued to practice the change with my left arm/hand and it really started feeling more natural during this workout. I was really pleased with most of my times and I think this slight tweak will improve my efficiency! The swim included 600, 300, 200 and 100 sets. All were at a moderate to moderate plus level, except that six 100s that I ended with were “building” efforts. My main set of 2400 yards averaged 1:52 pace.

Thursday 6/19

AM – 1 hour 15 minutes on the bike trainer with the main set focused on strength; so, low cadence and big gear. My legs felt pretty good and actually as I progressed more into the workout, my heart rate was lower and able to easier to keep it I the prescribed zone.

PM – 60-minute steady run – I was not sure how this run would go. I had a good long run on Tuesday and had not experienced too much soreness since then, but with this run being a goal of 30 seconds faster than race pace, I did not know what would transpire. I went in with the mindset that I would give it my all, but not push too much. I did have a very long bike on Saturday and did not want to leave everything on the treadmill! It ended up being a good run. I held pace and was comfortable in my groove. I was pleased how the session went and looked forward to my rest day!

Friday 6/20 REST DAY! WOO HOO!!!

Saturday 6/21

Long ride on the plan. Six hours total. Once again, I had two routes as the game plan in order to have company on my ride. The first route was a new route that Tony planned. Most all the roads I had ridden on bunches, but the particular route was new. I had two friends join for the route one, which was planned for 66 miles. The weather had been hot all week, so I was pleased when the forecast showed an eight or nine degree drop in temperature. We were fortunate to have mainly overcast skies for this first part of the ride. At one point we thought we might get rained on, but it ended up being only a couple of drops. After finishing up the first route, I swung by the house and Tony joined for the remainder of the ride. We rode the typical “part two” route. By this time, the sun was out. I continued to focus on drinking and eating, as I had earlier as well.

I pushed a little bit harder on this six hour ride. Nothing crazy, but my average speed crept up a bit. I still felt pretty good at the end. I was definitely tired, but stomach felt normal, so I think I did good nutrition and hydration wise, as well as, targeting my effort.

Want to know the best part of the ride (besides the shower after)? The best part was that I hit the century milestone. When my Garmin hit 100 miles, I had to shout to out! That was a very exciting moment for me!

106 miles blog

Big smiles after the ride!

Big smiles after the ride!

YAY!!!

YAY!!!

Sunday 6/22

With a couple of training sessions planned for the afternoon, I enjoyed a leisurely morning…did not sleep in like I planned (not my fault), but still enjoyed breakfast and coffee. I love these type mornings and don’t get to experience them very often. The day did eventually get started and it seemed to start getting away from me quickly. After a light lunch, I realized that I was very tired. With speed work planned, as well as, an open water swim, I decided to get in a quick nap. This was the smart decision, since I slept hard (obviously needed).  After the nap, I had to quickly get started on the run so I could make it out in time to meet the group for an open water swim.

Run – 65-minutes on the treadmill with the main set focused on speed (plan). I had 4×10-minute speed intervals to run. I hit the first interval. During the second, I quickly recognized that I really did not have a lot in my legs. I guess I was feeling the effects of Saturday’s long ride. I continued to do what I could and even though I had to decrease my pace, I finished up the second. During the third, I stopped a couple of times and when I did so, I paused my Garmin. I think I have it set to auto-pause, but could not remember for sure. One of the times I stopped, I forgot to start it back again. I had to guess on time and I think I got the third 10-minute interval done (slower). I started the fourth and just did not have anything left it the tank. I thought of my swim and really wanted to have something to give, so I called it done. My treadmill time totaled 44 minutes (10 of which was my warm-up).

Swim – I went to meet the swim group at Falls Lake and only one other swimmer showed up. We were fortunate that a kayaker did as well. I was able to get in an hour swim at 1.66 miles. Fortunately, the water was not as warm as the prior weekend. The swim out was good and smooth but the swim back had us going head on into the current. Not fun! All in all, I was happy with my swim though!

Totals: All of these are new personal totals for weekly volume (except the swim where I have had a couple of weeks with just a bit longer distance).

Time:   17 hours 24 minutes

Swim: 9,121 yards

Bike: 142 miles

Run: 30.3 miles

Stretching/foam rolling: Did OK

Harder the Struggle

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Week 18 Recap Header

This was an interesting week. Each and every week continues to test my flexibility and dedication to training. This week was no different. After Ironman, one of the things that I will not miss is super early mornings. It is crazy that I can consider 6:15am to be “sleeping in”. I just can’t get used to these days when the alarm goes off at 4-something AM!!

Monday 6/9

PM – 1 hour 45 minutes on the bike trainer with the main set focused on hill repeats. I felt strong on this workout and was pleased with my steady effort throughout. This was a good start to the week.

Tuesday 6/10

AM – 65 minutes on the treadmill with the main set focused on speed. I had 4×10-minute speed work intervals and I had to dig deep to keep a strong effort. Sometimes I feel I can get past the early morning hurdle and start out strong on the run. This morning my legs felt like they were still asleep and it took me a while to get going. I also had several GU Chomps because I felt like I needed a kick to make it through. (I typically have a Stinger Waffle before all my early morning workouts. This is generally enough to sustain me). I felt better on my third interval than the first or second and I finished the fourth by just telling myself that I was almost done! I was happy that I pushed through the initial struggles and even though it did not get easy, mentally I pushed the extent I needed to complete it strong.

PM – 2300-yard swim – This swim session is one that typically falls within the recovery weeks. It is a shorter distance session with focus on drills and form with a few speed sets built in. As is typical, I completed this session without my Garmin, just so I can keep my focus on other things besides time.

Wednesday 6/11

AM – 90 minutes on the bike trainer with the main set focused on lactate threshold efforts – This was a long session, but I really felt good. I put in a solid effort while keeping my heart rate within the desired zone. Once I got off my bike, my legs even felt a bit wobbly! Hard workout!

PM – Well, this was a lesson in flexibility. I had planned to join a group that swims open water at Falls Lake on Wednesday evenings, but there was rain moving through, so I changed my plan. I was keeping my fingers crossed that it would remain only rain and not turn into storms and I could go to the pool. Well, as I am driving from work, the conditions became crappy. I called the pool and they were closed and she said that the weather was bad there. So, I headed home to try to figure out the necessary shifting in my schedule.

After chatting with Tony on trying to figure out my plan b, it was decided that I would not train that evening and push the swim to Thursday evening (in hopes that the forecast would better cooperate).   The run that I had planned for Thursday night would be done that morning (that was the hardest part because time wise it was on the long side, so that meant a super duper early alarm!! Plus my original plan did not have a morning session on Thursday, but the shift changed that).

Thursday 6/12

AM – 1 hour 50 minutes on the treadmill with the main set including a 90-minute steady run. I attempted to set my alarm for 4:30am, but I neglected to hit “save”, so there was really no alarm set at all. I somehow only overslept by 10 minutes, so I was up and trying to warp my brain around this run at 4:40am. Mentally, I was actually in a better place than I thought I would be. I knew I had this run to do and I just had to get my body to agree to it!! The first few miles I felt ok, but was unsure if I was really going to get into the groove that I like. Well, thankfully, I did. I really had a good run. I believe that my body did a good job of accepting the challenge from my brain! The 90-minutes put me at 10.77 miles with an average pace of 8:22.

PM – 3700-yard swim – The main set included 4×15-minute intervals with 1 minute rest between sets. When I has timed sets in the pool, I pick a distance which matches up to the planned times. For a 750-yard set, I am generally just under 15 minutes, so that is the distance I swam. I felt pretty good…I was generally happy with the times of three out of four sets. My times were 14:51, 14:49, 14:58, 14:49. Of course the outlier of 14:58, I would like to see around the same time as the other three. I was definitely pretty wiped at the end of my swim…my day started VERY early and I had two tough training sessions.

Friday 6/13 REST DAY! WOO HOO!!!

Saturday 6/14

This day was a biking adventure. Tony and I decided to take a little road trip and head toward the foothills of NC to take on some biking that included more climbs that what we typically find around here in Raleigh. The area is just outside of Winston Salem and includes three distinct climbs…Pilot Mountain, Sauratown and Hanging Rock. We had never ventured out to this area for cycling, but we had heard about riding in this area from several different folks. I was able to find a route map online that incorporated the three climbs and we were ready to climb (or so we thought)! After we got to town and parked at the beginning of the route, we met a few cyclists that were familiar with the area and the climbs. We got a bit of information from them to ease our navigation and they were super friendly and helpful. We planned to hit Pilot Mountain first, then continue our ride to Sauratown and end with Hanging Rock.

We arrived at Pilot early in the ride and this started an adventure like I had not imagined! Essentially, we were climbing the entrance road into Pilot Mountain State Park. The road was smooth and there was little traffic; the cars we did encounter were slow and cautious. I quickly realized that I had underestimated this climb. I had read what the % grade was, etc, but since I don’t do a lot of specific climbing, I really could not relate to what the grade meant in terms of difficulty. It did not take long until I was huffing and puffing with a heart rate that was off the charts! After the initial little bit, we took a short break to try to mentally re-focus on this challenge. Tony was encouraging me and I was thinking “how the heck am I going to do this???”. We continued along and I was in my easiest gear and going at a snail’s pace. My legs were ON FIRE (I wish I could select a harsher term than fire, because that is how they felt).   A couple of times when I tried to stand, my legs quivered. I was trying my very best to continue forward. I had to stop again because my breathing was out of control. After regaining my composure, we started again…we actually crossed the road at a slight downhill to get clipped in and gain a bit of momentum…otherwise, I would have toppled over with the first few pedal strokes. We made it a bit further until we stopped again and just decided the enormity of how BRUAL this was! Tony was a trooper in that he was doing this FOR ME…PLUS…his tri bike is NO WHERE near step up for climbing. Mine has a compact cassette which essentially gives me an additional easy gear (that what came standard on my bike), which can help on NORMAL climbs. The only thing that would have helped me at that point, would have been an engine!

They don't always listen...

They don’t always listen…

At this point, we decided that we had enough. For the training I was trying to get, this was overkill. We were successful in making it up about 2/3 of the climb. We made our way down, very slow with tapping on the breaks to maintain control and we made it down safely. I have read various sources online about the climb with varying average grades from 7.5% to 9.2%. I also read that the steepest parts of the climb begin about a mile past the park entrance and kick up to over 16% for about a quarter of a mile (which we did). The length of the climb is 2.86 miles with an elevation gain of 1,126 feet.

We continued along the planned route and quickly realized that the rollers we were encountering were good challenges. This is one of the things we came for. Good rollers that had more difficulty than what we encountered at home. For the most part, the ride was good. There were a few areas that the roads were not in the best shape, but overall, they were fair.

We came to the base of the Sauratown climb. We really did not know what to expect at all. All we could see was the initial start, which looked pretty steep. We knew that Pilot was more difficult, but what would we be getting ourselves into by starting another climb? We had exerted A LOT of energy early on. We were debating our choices when we saw a cyclist coming down the climb. He stopped and we were asking him about the climb, what to expect, etc. About this time, the two fellas that we had spoken to in the parking lot before we started our ride showed up. They were going up and encouraged us to climb with them. Afterwards, they were headed back to our starting point. We decided to go for it. It was tough but had less grade and a SLIGHT opportunity for recovery in two or three spots. I really wanted to make it to the top since we were beaten by the first climb. I had to stop to regroup, but Tony really pushed me to keep at it and make it to the top. We did and I was so relived. The decent was tricky with a few hairpin turns, so once again we used caution and slowly made out way down.  This climb totaled 6.29 miles, elevation gain of 1,404 at an average grade of 4.2%.

Our two new cycling friends continued to encourage us during the climb and waited for us at the base.  Tony and I opted to skip the last climb (Hanging Rock)…our new adventure had been more of a challenge than we thought and we had our fair share of climbing at that point! We rode back with the guys on pretty flat terrain which allowed up to really spin out our legs and flush them out. By the time we got back to the car, the legs were feeling half-way decent! In hindsight, I wish we had skipped the Pilot Mountain climb and done Sauratown and taken a stab at Hanging Rock. Pilot really was way more climb that I need to train on for my race and we had to exert so much energy to make it to the point we did.

After the ride, I did a three mile brick, which felt ok.

I did not get in the total time for the ride per my training plan. However, the challenge was huge and it was a hard working day, despite numbers on the Garmin.

Sunday 6/15

This was another day for an open water swim. I planned to meet Tim and Nicole at Falls Lake. They were up for some paddle boarding, so I took advantage of having safety escorts! I was feeling good. The water was so much calmer that the prior week…thank goodness! The water was really, really WARM (too warm)…and for me to say this (I think the pool is chilly), it has to be warm! Overall, I had a good swim. Tim gave me a few pointers on my sighting and the left arm of my stroke, and I really focused on these great suggestions. I completed a 1:01 swim with 1.74 miles.

Totals:

Time: 11 hours 57 minutes

Swim: 9,062 yards

Bike: 73 miles

Run: 19.69 miles

Stretching/foam rolling: Not as consistent as I had become.

Some Sessions are Stars