Archive for the ‘Ironman’ Category

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The bike was next!!! I felt my training had really prepared me for this bike course and I was anxious to test my fitness. Mentally, I could not have been in a better place to start 112 miles on the bike since I felt great about my swim performance.

Just starting out on the bike and happy to see Tony and Paige!  It was a beautiful day to be on the bike.  So lucky!!!

As you leave transition, Montee Ryan is the first stretch to get you going. I spotted Tony and Paige early on so I was even more ready to tackle my ride. There are some rollers on Montee Ryan but this a good stretch of six or so miles to get your legs bike ready. This stretch also includes a fast descent on a bridge that is designated as a no-passing zone for safety reasons.

Headed out to start the ride

Before I knew it I was at the right turn to highway 117. Since we drove the course I knew this stretch was really going to be a bikers’ dream. Lots and lots of open roadway with no traffic, rolling hills and smooth pavement. It is also an out and back so I knew I would see my teammates along the way.

Riding on Montee Ryan

One key thing I knew I had to keep in mind was to not push the pace too much early on. With the aforementioned conditions I described, this would be easy to do. I planned to keep a constant eye on my power readings to ride smart.

Overall I felt okay with the exception of a spot in my right glute/hammy that is not unusual to creep in. It is more of being slightly uncomfortable and not painful and I don’t think it impacts my power or ability to ride in aero, but still don’t want it to be hanging around. I decided to take an Advil to keep it to a minimum. I also had a slight touch of nausea which was completely unexpected. I was following my Infinit (liquid nutrition) plan as I had done during training, plus the temperature was super nice, so heat was not an issue. I would just carry on as planned getting my water from the aid stations and getting my calories from my Infinit.

There is a turn-around on the highway that takes you back toward town. This out and back section of the course was super. Absolutely nothing to complain about. Plus, one awesome thing that I saw continually on the course, from early on, was the bike support staff that was zooming around the course on mopeds. They had spare wheels on the back and I am sure lots of supplies to change flats and help with mechanicals as needed.

Then there is one small “detour” as you leave 117 through Saint-Jovite and then you end up back on Montee Ryan to take you back to the Village.   You go through the no passing zone again and feel a bit more climbing on the way in that what you encountered going out.

All smiles because I had not yet started the climbs on Duplessis!!

Before knew it, I was at “hot corner” and rode through to start the section that is the toughest stretch of the bike course.   As I previously mentioned, we drove the bike course on Friday so we had some idea of what was coming up, but riding it is a totally different story.   I saw a aid station at the beginning of this out and back and planned to stop here for a bathroom break on the way back if there was not a line. (I really hate having to stop on course, but it is inevitable for me. I at least try to stop when there is not a line so it does not take even more time. )

 

Duplessis had the toughest climbs, but some of the prettiest landscape

Chenin Duplesis did not disappoint. This was a test of my climbing skills for sure. It was one punchy climb after the next. When I crested one and hoped for a little time to recover the next one was there waiting….recovery??…..ha ha!!!! I just tried to climb these hills as smart as I could because I was not even at the half way point yet. When I hit the turnaround point I was so happy to have gotten through for the first time. Heading back to the Village on Duplesis included the second no-passing zone. (For those that might not be familiar, these no-passing zones are designated as such for safety reasons. It is a section of descent where the speeds can be quick and to minimize risk to other athletes, no passing can occur in this area or it can result in an automatic disqualification.   Theses zones are short so the potential loss of time is essentially non existent.)

Before my planned stop at the aid station, I tried to change screens on my Garmin to check some other data point (I don’t even remember what I was trying to see) and I hit the wrong button by mistake.   I hit the lap button which automatically sent it to Transition 2 mode…..crap!!!!!!! Stupid me! That is the last thing I wanted to do. So then I was just trying to figure out what to do to be able to continue seeing what I needed to on my watch for the second half of my ride, my upcoming run but also total time for the race overall.

After my stop at the aid station (no line thankfully so pretty quick break time wise), I took my watch out of triathlon mode after mentally noting my overall time) and started bike only mode. This was not that big of a deal, but for my type A, data junkie self, it was annoying. But if this was the worse thing that would happen, I could deal.

At the bike course turn-around

56 miles to go!

Right turn off Duplesis at hot corner to hit the bike course turnaround point. I saw Tony and Paige and did my mental check to start lap 2 for another 56 miles. Special needs was coming up soon and I knew I had to stop there to pick up two more bottles of Infinit.   Luckily, the volunteer that grabbed my bag (they called out my number as I approached) was awesome. I stopped, he opened the bag, I grabbed what I needed and was quickly off again. I didn’t even have to dismount my bike.  Nice!!!!

Having two laps of the course allows you to know exactly what is coming up. I was generally feeling okay overall and my fueling plan was pretty much going according to plan. I just needed to keep doing what I was doing.

Lap 2 on Montee Ryan

 

Thankfully, it was a fairly smooth lap 2.  As was confirmed on the first loop, the stretch out on 117 is a really fantastic section of a great bike course and I really tried to enjoy the scenery and take it all in.

On the way back up 117, there is a longish steady climb that keeps you honest. I felt this way more than during the first loop.  At the top of this climb was a aid station and I noticed that there seemed to be no waiting for a bathroom break, so I took full advantage of trying for a quick pit stop.  Right before I mounted my bike I saw Bill buzz by on course.  I had seen him out a few times as well as most of the others and the hometown team was looking good!

Headed back toward the Village during lap 2

As I headed back toward the Village, I knew what was in store for me…another pass on Duplessis.  Oh boy, the first time was tough and with 100 miles on the legs, I knew the second was going to be a real treat!!

Ready to tackle Duplessis a second time!

My plan was the same…to just ride smart and stay as mentally strong as the climbs as possible.

These Views!!

I won’t lie…it was hard, so hard, but I got the work done.  My legs felt every one of those punchy climbs.  On the ride out from this out and back, I was getting more and more excited about almost being done with my bike leg and feeling like I had a good ride.  Going into the race, I felt that I should be able to ride this course in less than 6.5 hours, and I knew in those final miles that I had exceeded that mark.  However, I had started thinking about the run coming up and the challenge still ahead of me.

Official Bike Time per Ironman

Once I got into T2 in the changing tent, I was handling the logistics of my gear and as well as mentally preparing myself to start the run.  I had a little nauseous feeling, as well as now and again during the bike, which was surprising due to the history with my fueling during training, but I headed out to get it going.  After a quick pit stop before exiting the transition area, I saw Bill as he was headed out on the run.  We exchanged comical greetings and I was right behind him and he was looking strong  (after the race we learned that our bike times were one second apart…even considering we did most of our long rides together, that’s crazy).

Official T2 Time

26.2 miles coming up and whether or not if I felt ready to tackle it, I was going out to give it my all!

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Race morning!  I actually slept fairly well, but did wake up before my alarm.  I was the first one up, made breakfast and was feeling pretty awake (not a walking zombie like I am sometimes at these crazy early race morning hours).

We headed out on schedule and the plan was to get body marked, drop off special needs bags, visit bike in transition to add bottles, add air to tires and make sure bike was good to go.  All this didn’t take too long and then we were headed to the swim start.  A (rather lengthy) detour for the last bathroom break where we (not planned) met up with Merrick and April while we waited in the (long) line.

After we all were set we resumed our walk to the swim start.  We had gotten close, but not actually there and when we saw lots of people in the street putting on their wetsuits and doing the final prep….we realized that the actual swim start was crowded, hence the need to use this space further out.  The time was passing quickly and while we were not late, we didn’t have extra time.  Before long, the Canadian military jet “fly over” happened….we heard it, but did not see it.  It was foggy and visibility was low, but we certainly heard their presence.

Ready to Race (before we knew about the delay)

After arriving to the actual swim start, which was super crowded, we said our goodbyes to our super Sherpas and Merrick, April, Bill and myself found our respective swim corals, which was based on expected total swim time.  Bill and I were in the same time range so we found out spots together.  My general swim time goal was to improve over my Lake Placid time of 90 minutes, but I hoped I would be under 1 hour 25 minutes…possibly around 1hour 23 or 24 minutes.  Still I lined up in the 1:25 coral.

The fog over Lake Tremblant

We soon heard of the delay in the swim start.  To hear the formal announcements that were being made was impossible.  It was word of mouth amongst the athletes and volunteers that passed the news.  Initially we thought it would be a short delay, but then the delay switched to one hour. This was due to the thick fog that had settled over the lake.  (I don’t know the actual sequence of events or how many delays were actually announced, I only know what I heard.)  Thankfully, Bill and I had each other to keep company.  We did not see Merrick or April during this time and our paths never crossed with Matt pre-race.  Despite wearing a full sleeved wetsuit, I was cold while we waited (it was in the low 50s).  Other than that, I felt calm and the delay did not make me anxious (however, the thought of an extra hour without food did creep into my mind).

The fog had lifted some before start

Before the hour was up, the fog had lightened up and they announced the swim was going to begin!!!  The fog actually thickened back up before the official start, but at that point, it was “go time” or the swim would be cancelled (which we heard later).

More fog when we actually started the swim

After the pros were started the rolling start for the age groupers began.  The amount of time that they planned to allow to get the swimmers in the water between the corals, quickly decreased, as they wanted to get this thing going and be able to give all athletes the full 17 hours allowed to finish the Ironman.

 

The water felt nice at 72.5 degrees as I began my swim and the start to my day that I had worked so hard for.  All the months, weeks, days and hours came down to the day ahead of me.  I knew I was ready to give it all I had and that is a great feeling and all I can ask of myself.

As a result of getting swimmers started faster, the swim was VERY CONGESTED.  I don’t really get too aggressive in the water and I do try to minimize body contact as much as possible, but it is generally inevitable (there was one particular instance where I was being sandwiched between two male swimmers and that is just not a good situation to be in!).  Overall I found my swim groove early and felt comfortable with my pacing.  The terrible chop that was present during Saturday’s practice swim had diminished and while all the swimmers certainly stirred up the water, it was nothing in comparison to the day prior….thank goodness!!!   I had not swum in my wetsuit since May.  I had done ALOT of open water swimming during training, but it was just too warm for me to practice in my wetsuit during that time.  However, I was quickly reminded that my Roka wetsuit is really magical!!  I can’t say enough about it and this is the first full sleeved wetsuit that I have liked, let alone loved!

The visibility was really low and when I would pass a buoy it was often a bit of time before I could see the next one.  However, I just sighted to the masses of swim caps and hoped that the majority of them were all swimming as straight as possible to the next buoy. With the yellow sight buoys, we were able to pass on either side, so swimming out I decided to have out them on my left since I have a tendency to pull left in hopes that strategy would keep me a bit straighter.  At the turn buoys, they had to be on the swimmers’ right side.  After the first turn, I did get a little confused as I thought there would be two turn buoys (red).  But the first one after the red turn was orange so I kept going.  Then I found the second red one which indicated that I needed to turn again.  (Apparently I did not study the above course map enough!!!)  After the first turn, I noticed that the congestion had started to thin out a bit.  It also seemed that I while there were swimmers passing me, I was also passing some as well.  I felt like I was having a good swim, but no idea of my time!

At that point, I was over half way, which is always a mental boost.  The visibility had improved as well.  I knew that I just had to keep doing what I was doing and thought I would be just fine…each buoy at a time.  For some reason, after the second turn, I never made my way over for the buoys to be back on my left side.  I was consciously aware of this but also felt like I was doing a decent job with my sighting and trying my best to maintain a “straight-ish” line.  There was one instance where I recall really going astray on my line, but overall I kept it in the forefront of my mind and that helps a lot.  There were a couple of times were the congestion arose again, but way better overall than the first 1.2 miles.

At the end of the swim I had gotten to the point to stand and make my way on foot.  Little did I know that the bottom of the lake was very squishy and was not easy to stand.  I immediately stumbled but as I got my footing, I glanced at my Garmin for a time check.  I was not quite ready to hit the lap button, but I saw that my time was 1:20:xx.  Yes!!!!  As I sloshed through the final exit to the stairs, I felt like I had done my job with the swim.  I finally hit my lap button just before climbing the stairs (I was smart and held to the railing with both hands) and my unofficial “official Garmin” time was 1:21:36.

Official Swim Time per Ironman

I could not have been happier!  What a great way to start the day!

The calm before storm of the swim finishers!  Clearly all the fog had lifted and blue skies were everywhere!

I quickly made my way to the wetsuit stripper where two volunteers did a fantastic job of quickly getting me out of my wetsuit.  As I was running along the chute to T1, I saw Paige and then Tony.

My first bit of work was done!

I am pretty sure I shouted out something to him about a good swim, but he could probably tell from the smile on my face anyway that I was in a happy place.

All smiles to see Tony

My day had started off great!

In T1, I grabbed my bag and started doing what I needed to do.  There was not a volunteer to help me, but I managed ok (I didn’t do the best job spraying the sunscreen on my back, but I got most of it).  I was unsure about putting on my arm warmers, since the weather was nice, but I opted to put them on (they are easy on and easy off) since all my training in the heat would make the early time on the bike feel cool.  Overall I would have been fine without them, but I wore them for probably about an hour, so not a bad decision.  Funny thing happened in transition….I had been in the women’s tent for two to three minutes when I noticed beside me a guy that had just walked in.  He was SUPER focused and he didn’t realize where he was until I mentioned it to him.  He quickly ran out embarrassed!!

Official T1 Time

As I left the changing tent, there was an empty restroom, so I took full advantage since that does not happen all that frequently and I hate having to wait while the time ticks by.  I also prefer to take the extra time during transition versus on the race course.

I found my bike easily and felt ready to ride.  The sun was out and it looked to be a beautiful day to race!  112 miles, here I come!

 

 

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We had a 7am flight on Thursday morning from RDU where we had a layover in LaGuardia before flying into Montreal.  The whole crew from Raleigh flew out the same morning, but Tony and I shared a flight with my primary training partner Bill and his wife Paige.  This was an easy series of flights and before I knew it we were in Canada (my first time there).  Tony had rented a full size SUV which resulted in us having a Yukon XL (the size of a small boat).  Fortunately, we had plenty of room which we needed with all the gear required for two athletes racing IM as well as four people on a weeks’ plus vacation.

Tony drove us from Montreal to Mont Tremblant and it was not a bad drive.  We had planned to stop on the way for lunch but the choices were limited and while there were lots of McDonlads and Tim Hortons, we didn’t find anything that overly appealing.  Since snacks are in abundance with two tapering athletes, we were prepared!  In Mont Tremblant we stayed at Sommet des Neiges.

View off the balcony from our room (this is up the ski slope and you can see the “Panoramic Gondola”). Included in our room were tickets to this gondola.

The four of us had booked a two bedroom/two bath condo with kitchen and it totally met our needs.  The bedrooms included one with a king size bed and one with two queens.  The rooms were spacious and allowed us to have space for all our “stuff”.  If planning to race this event and considering lodging options, I would recommend this location.  It is located in the Village and close (walking) to everything.  While there are hotels closer to the finish line, this option allowed us to be in the heart of all the activity, but not on top of the commotion.

View of the Village from the balcony from our hotel room.

We were directly off the top of the free cable car which was running every time we needed a ride (not 24 hours, but much of the time).  The walk down (and up) the hill was not bad, but the ride was fun and only took about 90 seconds or so.

After dumping our stuff in the room (and Tony having the adventure of finding and then parking our rental in the underground parking garage which had a abundance of “small” parking spots) we were off to the athlete check-in and bike pick up from Tribike transport.  Somehow the five of us all ended up being at athlete check-in at the same time and we had not even communicated yet that day!

The Raleigh Crew!

This ended up being a great opportunity for some photo ops since Merrick was the only other one staying in the Village while April and Matt had found VRBO options outside the Village.

I HAD to add this photo “out take” of April almost getting stuck in the back of the chair. It took her a while to crawl out!  It was a BIG chair!

After these initial activities, we decided to do a quick grocery store trip and planned to meet some of the others for an early dinner in the Village.

I always enjoying vacationing in places where walking to dinner is the way to go.  It was great to finally get a feel for the Village (that I have read and heard so much about) and all the neat little shops that were calling my name.  It is really as quaint as I was expecting.  It was our core four plus Merrick that met up and had dinner outside (SoCal Restaurant) enjoying the cooler temperatures.

This sticker was seen on several of the doors in the shops in the Village. Very welcoming!

Friday’s plan included rain so we wanted to get out and get in our shake out run while it was still dry.

A quiet Friday morning in the Village.

We decided to combine our run with a scope out of the transition area and the flow in and out of transition.

Marking the run course

Post run ride on the cable car

The rest of the morning/afternoon included driving the bike course (with a visit to Saint-Jovite and the Restaurant Le Vieux Four for lunch) and then some shopping at the Ironman store.

An example of the permanent signs that mark the bike course.

Shopping at Ironman Store and I found my name!

We had several hours of down time in the room to keep our legs fresh.  It is easy to get caught up in all the pre-race activities and it is important to make the decision to rest.

Bill and I attended the evening athlete meeting and then met Tony and Paige for dinner in the Village at La Maison de la Crêpe (we decided we would be back during the days after the race to try their sweet crepes).

After dinner we were walking in the Village and thoroughly enjoyed the fireworks show!

How many Ironman races have fireworks? Mont Tremblant really rolls out the red carpet for the athletes!!

The Village illuminated

Views of the finish line at night were extra exciting!

Saturday was dry and forecasted to be a nice day, so the plan included a short ride and a swim to check out the Lake Tremblant.  While it was a pretty day, it was a bit breezy which resulted in a VERY CHOPPY lake!

I was all smiles BEFORE the VERY CHOPPY swim!

We planned a short swim, but it took so much more effort in the chop than “normal” that I became very uninterested in being out there too long.  All I could think about is if we had to deal with those conditions on race day…it would not be pleasant!

The short ride that we did earlier resulted in both Bill and I having to make some minor adjustments on our brakes.  Tony had to be creative and find some tools we did not have to adjust mine, but he delivered me a “ready to race” bike, just as he always does!

After getting everything packed and final check on all the gear, we headed down to rack our bikes and drop off bike and run gear bags.

The Purple Butterfly was ready to be racked.

There was certainly no extra room on the rack

All the bike gear bags

All the run gear bags

Far from Alii Drive, but that is the most iconic street in all of Ironman, so we can pay tribute anywhere!

After all the essentials drop off, Tony and I checked out the fun photo ops around Ironman Village.

You can’t walk by the chair and not sit it in!

The GIANT M-Dot!

We spent the rest of the day resting and staying off our feet.  Dinner was cooked by our wonderful spouses in our room so we could have the exact pre-race meal we wanted and needed.

My dig deep bracelet was a gift from my friend Tarina. It proved to be a great reminder for the entire race and her tough spirit was with me throughout the day!

We called it an early night as the alarm was going to sound before any normal person would want to get up.  We had important business to attend to the next morning….

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When month six of the plan began, I started to feel a little excited, but I also knew that the biggest training sessions were still ahead of me.  It was time to focus on staying present and engaged in the work that remained.

Highlights:

*Twenty mile run done on Tuesday morning of week #21.  The last two long runs of the plan were split, but we decided to get the last one knocked out as a single block.  Of course logistically this is tough to complete on a work day morning, but I decided to take ½ day PTO and then work from home in the afternoon.  This allowed us to get the run in starting at 6:00am (and have enough day light to start) and have enough time to eat, shower and have a little bit of recovery before logging into work in the afternoon.  Once executed, it ended up being a great plan.  As far as the run, it was a tough one for sure!  Bill and I ran on (my favorite) greenway and for hydration purposes, we decided to run one direction for an out and back total of twelve, re-fill bottles at the car and then run the other direction for the remaining eight.  When we stopped after twelve, I was already feeling it.  Man!!  At that time, I knew that either the stop was going to help a bit or really hurt.  I actually changed shoes and socks at the car which I was happy that I had planned since I removed soaking wet socks and shoes from the first twelve miles (it was not raining).  I was fortunate enough that once I started again, after the first little bit to get going, I got the legs moving again and was ok…for a while (plus I had on dry socks and shoes which was a bonus).  I always play mind games in these runs and this one was no different.  When starting the eight, I just told myself that I had four to go before the turnaround.  At then at two miles, I told myself that I was half-way to the turnaround.  After the turnaround, I knew I was on the home stretch.  I got through the first mile and then the last three seemed to last forever.  I had to dig deep on several occasions to get it done.  But once it was done, what a feeling!

Views from my run

After making it back to the car, I was (obviously) feeling tired, but not bad.  I took off my (now) second pair of wet socks and shoes and laid a towel on the ground and put my legs up against the side of the truck.  I am a big fan of this technique and feel that I makes a big difference with recovery.  After resting for a while, Bill and I made plans to grab a bagel around the corner.

A little rest post run

All of a sudden I started feeling really bad.  A wave of lightheadedness and nausea struck.  I grabbed a couple of chews thinking my blood sugar had dropped and I think that helped after a few minutes.  I just sat for a while hoping it would pass.  Bill offered to drive me home, but I also knew that I should eat soon and the idea of a Coke sounded great (which I didn’t have at home).  At the bagel shop, I grabbed a Coke before anything else, and within a couple of minutes, I felt significantly better.  I rarely drink soft drinks, but this was the best thing ever!  I am not sure what exactly happened to me after that run as it was very different than any post run experience.  I have been using Infinit on my runs for over 18 months without issue.  Plus, I didn’t feel bad (other than tired legs) during the run and immediately after.  I guess a twenty mile run can always bring new challenges!!!

…or just the afternoon after…

*The Saturday of week #21 brought a 119 mile ride, which is the furthest I have ever ridden.  Our ride started out overcast and humid, but ended up sunny and hot!  It was a tough ride for sure as we were able to get in about 6,000 feet of climbing, but this gave me lots of confidence about my preparation for race day!  I am fortunate to have shared this ride with two awesome training partners that I will also share the race course with!

Excited to knock out 119 miles on the bike with Merrick and Bill!

*The weekend of week #22 brought the last weekend of the training plan before taper began.  Saturday we had a 75 mile bike followed by a 11.5 mile run.  Coming into the weekend, the weather was a big question mark, but we decided to roll on Saturday morning, after the chances of rain dropped a bit by Friday evening.  The ride was overcast for the majority and the sun started to peak through the clouds as we were closing in on the last couple miles of the ride.  Thankfully a good portion of the run is on the greenway with some shade which is always appreciated.  I worked to keep my mind in the game on the run and it was a great feeling to finish up, which was the longest brick session of the plan.

*That Sunday we had a big group out at the lake with three support kayaks and I knocked out 2.4 miles for the second time.  This was a great training weekend as we looked to taper to begin!

*The Saturday of week #23 was the last outside ride.  The ironic thing is that this was the only ride out of the hundreds of miles that we all have done that we met and left all together…this was a Kodak moment for sure!

The full crew 8 days out!

*That afternoon, was bike drop off for the transport to Mont Tremblant.  Leaving my bike was not easy with the expectation that I would see it again in Canada all ready to race!  I definitely felt better after I received the following email…

With training complete and my race day in two short days, I can look back and honestly say this has been a great six months.  As expected, there have been great days and some incredibly tough days, but I made it through with the support of some really awesome people in my life, as well as some grit and determination from my side.

This about sums it up!

I am ready to tackle this challenge and and let all the hard work and tons of sweat equity pay off.

I have the done what I can and now I will put it all out there on Sunday to wrap it all up.

Last but not least…my official race day bib number.

 

 

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The theme of this month ended up being this….YOU JUST NEVER KNOW!!!

Highlights/Lowlights:

*We kicked off the new training month with a new version of FTP test called the Ramp Test.  This is a new FTP format on Trainer Road and from our reading of the details, it sounded like something we definitely wanted to try.  It is advertised as “Making FTP Testing More Efficient and Less Stressful”.

These are some of the highlights from the summary: The Ramp Test is the new preferred testing protocol to estimate fitness because it does not require even pacing, is easier to repeat precisely, is less stressful on the body (allowing for follow-up workouts), hurts less, takes less time and allows for the most effective training.

I was very interested in this format.  The last FTP test I took was in week #9.  This was not a good test day for me.  I believe there were several contributing factors, but I was definitely open to something new and the description sounded ideal since being deep into training does not allow time to go into a test day with appropriate rest, as is typically recommended.   I can report that I am a big fan of this new version and I ended up being right on where I expected.  A bit of a gain and it did not leave me completely wiped out nor did I feel like I didn’t have enough in the legs to test effectively.

*For week #18, we were able to mix things up a bit and have a mid-week morning ride on  July 4th!  We did a 32 mile morning ride before I knocked out a long swim at the pool.  The afternoon involved some more pool time, but this was with friends, burgers and cocktails!

*Week #17 & week #19 we decided to incorporate another new something.  For our stand alone long runs, we broke them down into two runs in one day.  Week #17’s 17-mile run we did 9 miles in the morning and 8 miles in the evening and week #19’s 18.5-mile run we did 13 miles in the morning and 5.5 miles in the evening.  I became a fan of this format as well.  I did a lot of reading to support this approach and the pros of it reducing the risk of injury and the fact of trying to incorporate long runs in during the work week are tough with scheduling (Tuesdays are generally the day) were two main points that made a lot of sense with this structure.

Week #19’s 13 mile morning run started out with cooler temperatures.

*Three more OWS in this month….week #18 we had to move our long ride/brick to Sunday due to Saturday rain and hit the pool on the rainy day.  Still three great opportunities for long swims in the lake.  That Sunday ride was one of the toughest I had in a while.  My legs felt incredibly heavy for the entire time and we had some windy conditions that just hit me hard mentally.  Bill was super patient with me as I struggled and pulled me for 63 miles.  For 7.5 mile brick, I had absolutely no expectations, due to how I was feeling.  Somehow, I ended up have a very good run.  Shocked the heck of me, but YOU JUST NEVER KNOW!!!

T*he Saturday of week #20 brought a 67 mile ride and 9 mile brick.  This was a solid ride for me, but the run off the bike was a struggle fest!  This was just the opposite of two weeks before, when I had a tough ride and solid run.  There was so much mental gaming going on during this run, but I somehow got it done.  That’s all that matters sometimes and this is a run I can pull from on race day.

*Week #19 included a Trainer Road workout called Frissell +2.  This was a 105 minute workout that I had planned for a Wednesday evening after work.  The format of this workout 6×9-minute intervals at 95% FTP with 5-minute recoveries between intervals.  This was a few days after my tough Sunday bike ride and one day after the split 18.5 mile run, so my confidence and leg stamina were definitely not peaking!  I will not lie….I was intimidated by this workout ON PAPER and was really dreading it.  To my surprise and pure delight, I kicked ass on the workout!  I was so stoked and felt like a million bucks afterwards.  Like I said earlier…. YOU JUST NEVER KNOW!

I needed a bit if this before I tackled Frissell+2

*Getting in two “century plus” rides during the month is a huge confidence builder.  We are also getting in lots of climbing on these rides with the 105 mile ride at @5600 feet and the 114 mile ride at @5900 feet, which (in my mind) is key to preparation to Mont Tremblant.  With one more 100+ ride in the plan, I feel we will be prepared to tackle this course!

When you and your training partner start dressing alike….!!!

Month #5 Totals:

Swim: 38,664 (21.97 miles)

Bike: 542 miles

Run: 110 miles

Other: 2 yoga sessions

Total Time: 63 hours 55 minutes

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Coming into month #4, I knew this is where training would really turn the corner into less familiar territory.  Training that I have not had to do since 2014.  With the completion of the half iron distance just over a week prior, the coming months would be the type of workouts passed the half Ironman training that I am way more familiar with.  This is where the meat of Ironman training would begin.

Highlights/Lowlights

*Week #15 = Our 15.5 mile run was the longest “before work” run I have ever done!  Bill and I started running at 5:10am (I would have never run this early on the greenway by myself).  I had to pull out a head lamp which I have not run with in ages!  I don’t prefer to run in the dark since I have this fear of being clumsy and face planting, but I knew I needed to suck it up and after the first 5 minutes or so, I sort of got used to it.  We got EXTREMELY lucky and had a very mild morning with the starting temperature around 63 degrees (still humid but noticeably cooler)!  Unfortunately, I didn’t sleep very well the night before, which made the early alarm clock even more painful.

*On our recovery week (#16) ride, we decided to ride from my house to mix things up a bit.  We do ride a lot from home, but recently we have been riding from the Trek Store which allows us to have routes with a bit more climbing.  The planned route was certainly not a new route, but it gave us many surprises on this day.  We were about 12-13 miles in (58 total) and came upon road construction.  The road was not closed, but we quickly realized that we DID NOT want to be on this road.  It was sticky and lots of little rocks that were adhering to our tires.  It was a mess!  We stopped almost immediately and pulled into a gas station parking lot which was right there.  We needed to decide on a detour.  I called Tony and he provided some helpful input to bypass a stretch of the road construction and pick it up further down.  Once we got back to the planned point of re-entry, there was another sign for construction.  We didn’t want to chance anything, so took decided on the adventurous route and hit up a road we have never been on before.  This ended up being a good choice in that had decent road conditions and not a lot of traffic.  Eventually it put us on a road we did know where we had a gas station stop at exactly the half-way point!  PERFECT!  We did take a wrong turn on the way back, but nothing too tragic.  All in all, it was a successful ride, it just had more stopping than we prefer.  The down side is that the stopping and route changes/decisions took more time than we planned for the ride.  Therefore, our 6 mile brick started later than planned and IT WAS HOT (and hilly I will add)!!!

*More Hill Repeats!  Both run and bike!  Not in the same week, but it was challenging.  This time April was able to join in for the run fun!

Early morning hill repeats

*I have not done bike hill repeats (I believe) since my training for IM Lake Placid and we knew our chosen hills would be a doozy, and it did not disappoint!  Plus having this workout the day after our 15.5 mile run, was either smart planning (to give us the extra challenge) or just the opposite!

*Long ride Saturday – 96 miles during week #15 and we had two groups to maximize group ride time, even though we are on different training plans.

I will be racing with these three guys in Mont Tremblant…Matt, Bill & Merrick!

Tony joined us for the second lap (even though he is not training for any races) to offer us fresh legs to help get us to the end!

*Swim = For the first time in this training plan, breaking 10,000 yards swimming in week 14 and knocking out a 4,000 meter plus workout.  Also, being able to consistently swim in the outdoor meter pool (versus the 25 yard pool inside).  Three OWS in the month, which is a confidence builder.  There is no substitute for these long lake swims when all you have to do is “JUST KEEP SWIMMING”!

Month #4 Totals:

Swim: 36,882 (20.95 miles)

Bike: 461 miles

Run: 93 miles

Other: 2 yoga sessions

Total Time: 57 hours 4 minutes

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As triathlon became such a big part in my life, one of the things I fell in love with was what it does for me, both physically, mentally and emotionally.  After a bad day, there is no other thing I would rather do was get in a good solid training session to help me work out my frustrations or clear my mind.  It is my therapy and my outlet.

When you are training for an Ironman, sometimes you have to dig deep to find the motivation for your next workout. My training this month kind of had a different motivation….therapy.  I had some personal tragedy recently and my training has been a huge part of my getting through some very tough days these last few weeks.

There were a few days when my training was one of the only things that seemed to make sense. While my heartache will never completely go away, I know that I have a very healthy way to try to deal with some crazy emotions.  I am grateful to have this outlet….my therapy.

After a tough swim/run I had to put my legs up and was treated to this amazing view. These few minutes allowed me to regain perspective and engage in some personal reflection.

Highlights from the month:

*Knocking out a long run one morning before work.  My training buddy Bill and I decided to adjust the schedule and complete an 11 mile run early.  I was happy with the adjustment and was able to have more time during the day to get in rehydration and some much needed stretching and recovery (NormaTec boots!!!)  that evening.

*I have loved my new bike since I rode it for the very first time.  However, since I have only been riding it on the road and utilizing my Cannondale for trainer rides, I have finally put in enough miles to really be comfortable on my Trek.  Generally the biggest differences are in my position and the electronic shifting (amazing).  The shifting has now become more second nature (so I don’t have to think so much).  I am very happy to have the “Purple Butterfly”!!

*I had my first triathlon of the season.  It was a small half iron distance race in Greenville, SC called “Mountains to Main Street”.  The timing of this race fit perfectly in the training schedule plus it had a challenging bike course that would provide some solid climbing/training.  This was the first (and likely last) time for this this race, but it was very beneficial to gauge fitness, nutrition, etc for a little over 3 months away from IMMT.  **Race report to come!!**

Lowlights from the month:

*I had an FTP “re-test” on the first Monday of this four-week block and it did not go as expected.  In hindsight, I was able to identify some things that did not help me with my recovery from the weekend workouts and things I would definitely do differently, but it is always about learning and growing.

*I started having some foot/ankle issues that kind of came out of the blue.  The week before my first race it had gotten bad and I was very concerned.  I saw my PT and babied it all before the race (no running that week) in hopes that it would be ok race day.  All the details will be in my race report, but I was able to get through the run without too much discomfort or concern that I was making anything worse.  The week after I saw my PT, massage therapist and I really focused on recovery (I think my massage therapist did wonders for it).  I only had one run (that I ended up cutting short) to gauge how it was doing post-race. I believe I am through the worse of whatever made this “issue” come up, but definitely gives me something else to have to really concentrate on to “keep happy”.

Three months down and three months to go for Ironman Mont Tremblant.  HALF WAY THERE!!!!

Month #3 Totals:

Swim: 26,187 yards (14.9 miles)

Bike: 384 miles

Run: 57 miles

Other: Only one 30 minute yoga session (need to do better!!!)

One Half Iron Distance Race

Total Time: 41 hours 18 minutes

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At the mention of me training for Ironman, someone recently asked me if I was excited.  My answer was “I will be”.  I have actually thought about that question and my answer several times since the discussion.  I don’t think I have been asked that before, so I was not sure how to answer.  Should I be excited at this point?  Well….I don’t know.  Should I be excited about something whose preparation is a big part of my daily thoughts and activities as well as a factor in everyday decisions?  I have never thought about it this way and so I did.

I have always been pretty open that I don’t necessarily love to race.  I do love to train.  Don’t get me wrong….there are lots of days that I want to skip  my session, sleep in or whatever else sounds good at the moment, but the satisfaction I get after my workout, makes it all worth it.  The PROCESS of the training, the growth that happens along the way, the obstacles you overcome, kicking ass on days where you thought it was impossible, is where I find my niche that keeps me in this sport.  Sure, I love having the goal of race day to drive me in my training and to motivate me to do my best, but the ratio of hours spent training to hours spent racing, are tremendously skewed…in my favor, thank goodness.  I certainly have a competitive nature within that comes out during the race, but ultimately, more than anything, I want my race, any race, to be a performance of all the hours and sweat equity invested in the weeks and months leading up to the big day.  If I can deliver my best and, in a way, celebrate the training cycle by putting it all out there, I am happy.

There are definitely athletes out there that get a tremendous rush on race morning and feed off that adrenalin.  Once my race morning is here, the nervous energy that is present is what makes me ready to get on with the show.  The waiting around and the preparation race morning is definitely not my favorite time.  So….back to the original question…”AM I EXCITED ABOUT IRONMAN”?

I am excited about the opportunities, growth and strength (both mental and physical) that training for Ironman will bring.  I am excited about the being ABLE to train and the idea of getting to the starting line healthy and PREPARED to tackle to day.  I am excited about the time that I will get to spend with some like-minded individuals (and all around cool people) that share the same Ironman goal and think that getting up at the crack of dawn to run track intervals or jump in a cold lake is “normal”.

I am excited about racing with these people and being able to see each other during the race to make the day even more special.  I am excited about giving this goal my ALL and making Tony and the rest of my cheerleaders proud when I go for it and ultimately cross that finish line.  In hindsight, I think my gut reaction answer was kind of right….I AM excited but I WILL be even more excited on August 19.

Highlights from the month:

*After the catastrophe from training week #4 when took the Purple Butterfly out for the inaugural ride, I finally was able to get in a successful 46 mile ride during week #5.

It took some intense planning, but we made it work.  Saturdays are when we typically ride and the forecast called for heavy rain MOST of that Saturday.  It was looking very unlikely to get in a ride outside.  While Fridays are typically the rest day, we decided to fit in the ride after work on Friday to be able to get outside.  SUCCESS!!!  (It did rain alot on Saturday!!)

*Hill Repeats – While this is not something I love, I knocked out a good hill repeat session on the treadmill.  I have not done this type of workout in a long time and it was nice to get one done as I know we will have more to come to prepare for MT!

*Getting back to regular track workouts with the team.  Thursdays are track during the season while during the winter we do stair workouts.  These stair workouts are an awesome challenge themselves but the weather delayed our start of track a couple of weeks so we were ready to get these going!

 

*Getting in our first open water swim of the season!  Over the winter I purchased a new wetsuit (sleeved) and with our first tri of the season in just a few weeks, we were ready to get in that first OWS to wash away those cob webs.  It was a bit cooler than I would prefer, but I allowed my “minimum” temp drop a couple of degrees because I had sleeves.  Thank goodness I did, because I was still cold….think the water was probably 65/66 degrees.  I am very sensitive to the cold water, but I needed to get in and do my best.  It was not a great swim, but I was glad to get it done and have a check mark in that box!

*When training schedules line up with some other tri club peeps resulting in a great training group for a solid ride/run session!

Lowlights from the month:

*Week #6 brought in the struggle bus for a couple of my trainer rides.  I had three Trainer Road sessions that week that really kicked my ass.  I gave it all I had and that I can’t ask anything more.  I was glad when I finally got off that bus!

*A flooded greenway totally screwed up my plans for a Friday morning outside ride.  Here’s the story….Tony had Xterra Myrtle Beach on his race calendar.  Our plan was to travel down on Friday afternoon, hang out Saturday and then the race on Sunday.  I knew I needed to shift some things on the training schedule to get in my time.  After much consideration of all the options, I decided that I would push my planned rest day to Sunday (usually Friday), do my long ride Friday morning before we left town and then do my run Saturday morning (easy to fit in out of town).  With a 60 mile ride scheduled, I knew that I needed to get an early start Friday morning and since it is the last day of the work week, I planned to ride by myself on the greenway.  (I don’t usually bike on the greenway, but spend a lot of miles running there.  Since (1). I don’t ride on the road solo, due to safety reasons and (2). My start time would be during early commute hours, the greenway seemed like the best and safest option to get in my ride outside. It would be quiet that time of day and I really didn’t want another long ride on the trainer.)  After mentioning my plan to one of my training partners, she said that she would like to join me as she had a flexible work schedule that day.   Awesome!  We planned to meet at 7:00am and that morning was COLD!  It was around 36 degrees (while the morning prior at track had been in the 60s).  We were bundled up and ready to tackle this, despite the cold.

I had planned out a great route and was looking forward to it.  We got .45 miles in before we were greeted with flooding.  BUMMER!  It was too deep to try to pass on our bikes, so we turned around and decided to head in the opposite direction which did not have the options to easily get in our needed mileage, but we would make it work. After about 2 miles in that direction, we reached more flooding and this was even worse!  WHAT A DOWNER!

We could drive to another entrance point on the greenway passed the flooding, but there was no way of knowing if and where there would be more obstacles.  After pretty quick consideration, we decided to head to my house and put in the time on the trainer.  April could use Tony’s trainer and we would persevere!  Thanks goodness April had decided to meet me for that ride and then agreed to trainer it with me.  We got in 3 hours and 31 minutes together (previous longest time was 3 hours 30 minutes 🙂 ) and having her there to pass the hours made it possible!  #noexcuses  #overcometheobstacles #traineroad

Month #2 Totals:

Swim: 27,959 (15.89 miles)

Bike: 395 miles

Run: 53 miles

Other: 2 strength and 3 yoga sessions (2.25 hours)

Total Time: 47 hours 24 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

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Time goes by so quickly.  As I have gotten older, this is more true every year.  There are times of course when the time can’t pass quickly enough….when you are at work on Friday afternoon of an upcoming holiday weekend or when you are pushing through a hard two minute FTP %+++ interval on the bike, but generally speaking, there is not enough of this precious commodity.  We spend day after day balancing out our time between family, work, training, etc. and some days it is way more challenging than others.  This is one reason why I thought long and hard before committing to Ironman #2.

The first time back in 2014, I knew that it would be a huge time commitment.  But, now having that experience, I know even more of what some of those tough days are REALLY like.  It is not just a huge impact on me, but on Tony as well.  He is “in” it with me for the craziness that Ironman training brings to everyday life.  Hopefully, since I have training partners that are racing as well, Tony’s “in” does not equate to as many long bike rides as it did in 2014, but regardless, he knows what this six month training plan means.

The “official” plan began on March 5.With all the upcoming spring and summer training, there will not be too much free time to get out of town for vacations or long weekends.  We will definitely work in lots of together time, but I imagine most of it will be around Raleigh.   Before the plan kicked in, we took an all-inclusive vacation in Mexico to chill, spend time with each other and soak in some sun.  That get-away was a great idea and I am glad we made it happen.  It was just what we needed.

Relaxing in Playa del Carmen

The first (of six) 4-week training blocks is in the books.  I tried to take one workout at a time and that’s my game plan for the next five months as well.  My swim, bike and run plan has been created from a few different sources and I am utilizing Trainer Road for any of the trainer rides on my plan (which have been ALL for this first four weeks).  I am using the specific IM plan in the app to choose the rides.

Since I started using Trainer Road a bit over a year ago, I have been a fan.  Honestly it is a love/hate relationship, because I have had plenty of rides that have kicked my ass, but I know it is good for me in the long haul.  I think it is an excellent tool and will prove very beneficial this year.

The Trainer Road plan was actually 4 weeks longer than the planned 24-week plan.  Therefore, we started a 4-week base plan prior to March 5. lt certainly started off with a bang!  The first workout in the first week was an FTP test on the bike.  I have not taken a FTP test since I was training for Chattanooga 70.3 last spring.  I was very happy that my results put me right where I was half way through that training plan.  I have a lot of time on the bike in front of me and I look forward to the gains I will be making.

Highlights from the month:

*Completing the longest two trainer rides I have ever done!  Due to the aforementioned unpleasant weather, week one had us on the bike for 3 hours 15 minutes.  Prior to that, the longest trainer ride I had completed was 2.5 hours.  Week three had us on the bike for 3.5 hours.  A new record just 2 weeks later!  Luckily, I have training partners and we endured this total of 6.75 hours together!

Our 3 hour 15 minute trainer ride! Thank goodness Bill and April joined in!

3.5 hours on the trainer! Once again, it was bearable with my awesome training partners!

*Hitting 4 rides in week two…the plan calls for 4 rides some weeks and I have not done this in a very long time (I am guessing since 2014)!  Three of them happened during the workweek so it took a bit more mental commitment than even physical, but it will pay off!

*Getting back outside for a long run = Week three’s 8 mile run was back outside.  A dry day allowed me to get off the treadmill and onto the greenway.

*Tony has been able to capture some good video in the pool to allow me to focus on some much needed areas of improvement.

*The time change!  It’s nice to have daylight when I get off work!

*The last Saturday of the month called for a dry day and decent temperatures to get outside for the first time this year and the take my new bike for her inaugural ride!

The Purple Butterfly was ready to hit the road!

Obstacles from the month:

*More cold weather than we should have in NC in March!  Plus it seemed like the rain always waited for the weekends!

*The outside bike ride that I was so excited about lasted about 4 miles until I was standing on the side of the road with a broken chain and front derailleur.  Needless to say, I was MAJORLY bummed!  My ride companions, Bill & Derek, worked to try to fix my chain (before the realization that the front derailleur was toast), and had an amazing effort in doing so.

Bill & Derek working on my bike roadside.

For the first time ever in my experience of riding bikes, I had to call for a ride home.  Since Tony was out of town, our neighbor David came to my rescue.  During all this drama, the help I got to try to repair the chain and the ultimate ride home were indeed highlights and the reminder that I have awesome people in my life!

Not the bike ride I had imagined, but lucky to have a ride home!

*Getting chased by a dog on my brick run.  The drama continued after my bike mishap.  After making it home, I got on the trainer (after figuring out how to change my pedals….Tony is my very relied upon bike mechanic) and got in my ride.  Then I had a 3 mile brick run which I did outside.  I was chased by a little dog on a road that I frequently run.  It was quite the day, and I really felt like the odds were not in my favor, but I got my training in and then spent the next 1.5 hours getting a crazy good massage.   #overcometheobstacles

Month #1 Totals:

Swim: 29,400 yards (16.7 miles)

Bike: 331 miles

Run: 47 miles

Other: Strength, Stair Workouts & Yoga (4.25 hours)

Total Time: 44 hours 24 minutes

 

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This has been a big year for me. Goal accomplishment is always something to be proud of, but pushing yourself past your (thought to be) limits then accomplishing your goal, can really be life changing. I put in all the hours needed to accomplish my goal of becoming an Ironman.  I never once slept through an alarm clock for an early morning training session. I jumped in the pool, laced up my running shoes or climbed on my bike, more times than I could count, when all I wanted to do was chill out on the couch. I had the discipline required to push myself to knock out countless training hours. I am proud of myself for this. I did the work!!!

Besides myself, the biggest contributor to my success is my husband.  I have mentioned Tony so many different times on the blog in reference to something he has done to support me while I worked to fulfill my dream. Well, today, we are celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary and I could not think of a better time or a better way, to truly explain what a big part he has played in making this year and this accomplishment so special.

Surround

I think it is only appropriate to start (kind of) from the beginning. He has always had faith in me to do things way before I ever believed I could. He would not always vocalize it, and never pressured me, but when I told him I was ready to train for my first triathlon in 2009, it was no surprise to him. He knew I would get to that point even before I did. I remember one Fall when I told him that I wanted to do an Olympic distance tri the following race season and he said “you can totally do that now”.  As I increased distances and challenges by signing up for 70.3’s and ultimately Ironman, he always had faith that I would be able to reach my goals.

Even before my first triathlon, when I started riding my bike on the road, he always rode with me and encouraged me. He (usually) remained patient with me…any of the times he didn’t, I was the one being hard headed! When I started riding with groups, I was often intimidated because I felt I was the slow one, but he continued to encourage me and always stayed with me if I fell behind!  He never gave up on me…even the times when tears were involved! He taught me so many lessons and gave me tools I needed to build my confidence (as I was stepping WAY out of my comfort  zone) and become a stronger athlete!

Mess

I cannot tell ALL that he did this year during my Ironman training. To touch on some of the things that made such a big difference…

He logged many miles with me on the bike. He never let me ride alone and “closed the gap” on most of my rides. For instance, when I could find people to ride with me for 60 miles, but the total I needed was 90, he would ride that final 30 with me and pull me when I needed to be pulled and would talk me through the tough miles. He would run with me on my long runs or accompany me on his bike, when the runs got really long, so that I would not be out on the Greenway by myself when it started to get dark. He kayaked along side of me on lots of long swims since very few people actually want to open water swim for 75 or 90 minutes. He made sure dinner was done so that I could have something good to eat when I was training after work and dinner was not until 8:30/8:45. He tried to reassure me when I would have bad training sessions and all I could focus on was frustration and negativity. He never complained when our together time was cut short in the evening to 15 or 20 minutes because I could not hold my eyes open to watch tv and chill together after late sessions and dinner. He ALWAYS made sure my bike was tweaked and in good shape for all my rides and most importantly, the BIG DAY!!!

I will say that I completely supported him during his two Ironmans. I was so proud when he crossed the finish line because I knew the hours of time he put into his training. However, I could not relate to what he was experiencing or help him train. That was long before I had gotten really active and while my support was genuine, it was very different than what he was able to do for me.

Believing in you

As I ran down the Ironman chute, I saw him standing on the side just at the finish line with a big smile on his face cheering me to the very end. He could not have been at a better place as I ended that journey. He would have been proud of me regardless of how that day played out…whether I met my time goals or had a horrible day. He is my biggest supporter and I could not ask for a better partner to have by my side, whether it is the ups and downs of a “normal” day or as I confront new challenges and chase my dreams.

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