Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Stitching it all together

Three day weekends are kind of the best.  We didn’t do anything crazy special, but since this one happened to fall over rest week, we got to do a few things above and beyond normal.

And one of these things was cheering like ridiculous people for the marathoners!!!

Saturday is normally for a long ride/run and then dying on the couch.  Instead, this week, we slept in, ran for about 45 minutes to warm up and then do our zones test.  After all this long and slow stuff… running 30 minutes at lactate threshold is ROUGH but I managed about 9:20 pace with my heart rate about 171.  That’s a little lower than expected but good enough for now.  Then, we logged a longer-than-race-distance swim.  Zliten hates the pool with the passion that I hate the treadmill for long efforts, so he went to the lake. 62 degrees is a little too chilly for my blood so I watched the black line for about 90 minutes and was just fine with 172 lengths of the pool.

Sunday, the only activity we did was 2 miles of bike riding down to the Austin Marathon course to play cheerleader.  It was super fun, and somehow I got a TON of steps just walking back and forth in that little area, but the rest of the day was split between batch cooking for the week and flopping on the couch.  It was glorious to have a rest day.

Monday was MY DAY.  I had been waiting for a nice, cool, overcast morning to rock a long run and this was it.  Zliten wasn’t feeling great, so I went out solo and had one of the best runs I’ve had since… maybe October 2015?  The first 15 miles were just me lost in my thoughts.  Around 16 my legs started to tighten up and the last few miles were a little painful, but the weather was amazing and I clocked 19 miles in 3:38.  Nothing amazing pace-wise, but it’s the first run in a LONG while where my mood hasn’t been in the toilet at some point.  I really needed that.

#mfw I finally crush a long run instead of mentally limp through it.  Hopefully next week will go just as well!

Let’s break it down.  Rest week:

  • Swimming: 1500m, 4300m (skipped one due to… rest week.)
  • Cycling: 16 miles commute/social ride, 11.5 miles commuting
  • Running: 12.5 miles (3.2 fast, the rest warmup/commuting)
  • Weights: 1 conference room weights set (skipped one due to scheduling)
  • Random: 10 mins paddleboarding
  • Stretch and roll ALMOST every day (I missed Saturday)

This doesn’t look like much, but it adds up to 7.5 hours.  And it was exactly the break I needed to get back to it this week.  And this week’s plans are:

  • 19 mile run (done)
  • 1500m swim
  • 1 hard ~90 min cycle, 1 commute/hour easy
  • 2 weights sessions
  • long day: 1 hour swim, 5 hour bike, 2 hour run (90 mins rest in between)

This long day is the first of two Ironman test runs.  I’m going to be getting up super early, eating what I plan to eat race morning, swimming at race start, practicing my race nutrition, and all in all, spending the whole day doing triathlon.  It’s a little daunting, but I’m excited.  I feel like I’m ready right now to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112, and run a marathon… separately.  Now it’s time to start stitching them together over the next two months.  Maaaaaybe it would be better to start with a shorter run, but my plan with this one is to run/walk as much as needed.  Time on feet is much more important than pace here.

Life Stuff:

#mfw it’s been super warm all week and the day we plan to ride bikes, it’s freezing and windy all day.  But at least… pizza!

Rest week also allowed some social-ness, which was a refreshing break from ironman work eat sleep.  On Tuesday, we went on a Valentine’s Day ride with our team, Bicycle Sport Shop.  It was actually SUPER cold and windy so we bailed when we got close to our house instead of going back north with everyone, but it was nice to roll with the group again.  Can’t wait for the time change to do more of these!

We also were able to catch up with friends and have a very decadent steak dinner at Austin Land and Cattle on Saturday night.  It was super nice to eat good food, drink French wine, and chat about life.  We were supposed to head to a party after, but we were WAYYYY too food coma’d and enjoyed playing video games on the couch instead.

Last week, I started Chapter 16 – and it was super long and confusing.  I’ve studied up on the triathlon stuff for years, so that was all almost review.  This is 51 pages of business stuff, things I DO NOT know well.  It also seems like it’s organized poorly – good information, but like someone just crammed a bunch of blog posts together and called it a chapter.  Long story short – I’m going to need at LEAST this week to sort through it.

Lots of veggies this week.  That’s a win!

I tracked my calories for 2054 average each day with – 761 deficit.  My ratios were 99g protein, 63g fat, 18g fiber, and 204g carbs per day.  Definitely more of a rest week, with the carbs lower (I didn’t have any really long workouts, so this was totally sufficient).  My appetite was definitely LOWER but not quite matching my training.  As per usual, the weekend really tanked my fiber and raised my fat.  Someday I’ll learn how to eat like a human being 7 days a week but apparently not yet.

My average weight was 187.2, which is 1.1 down from last week.  I didn’t weigh regularly, this was only 3 days average, but it’s still encouraging that it’s going downward.  I had a big swing up today, but that’s to be expected with long run inflammation/rehydration/refueling.  7 lbs to go to 70.3 weight!

Last week I had 19 drinks over 4 days.  I’ll excuse some of this with the fact that it was a rest week and part of that is MENTAL recovery and letting loose a little, but even with that caveat this was a little much.  This week should be MUCH better.

The good news is that hasn’t messed with my rest.  I’m sleeping 9:15 average per night and averaging over 4 hours of deep sleep.  I feel like this is the ONLY way I’m making it through this training, so it’s a good thing!

Last week I did 2 out of 3 things (wouldn’t you know, I didn’t clean out the cars – shocker).  However, Zliten was awesome and made some progress on the workout room while I was out on my long run – we have a computer and monitor hooked up right at treadmill height.  Also, we made it to Costco, and found some of the most WONDERFUL instant pho bowls, which make a perfect snack.

This is a short week, and I expect to have my weekend 100% sucked up by our long day (doing, and then recovering), so I’m taking this week off other goals besides the normal laundry and cooking chores.

…and now, off to conquer the short week.  I’ve got a good head start with all sorts of healthy meals and snacks at the ready, and all my run miles until Saturday done.  Let’s hope I can keep up!

5 Odd Side Effects of Ironman Training

I have two really gritty posts about fear, rejection, facing the unknown for about a month… but to be honest?  I’m really tired this week and looking at them is giving me the heebie jeebies, so they’re staying in the drafts folder. Maybe I need to ignore all that stuff until #projectspringencore

So, instead, let’s talk about the lesser known side effects of training for an Ironman.

#1 – The food situation is in teenage boy territory and I’m definitely not gaining weight by eating this way.

Right now, this is an appetizer…

I know I joke about this a lot, but it’s the truth. I’m buying at least 20% more food at the store every week, and I’m still supplementing with the occasional snack and just as many meals out (probably more) as normal.  I am legitimately eating 4 square meals and snacks on training weeks and 3 big meals with lots of snacks on recovery weeks.

Try as you might to eat good quality food (and you should, because you can definitely feel the difference if that’s lacking), you can’t stick to it 100%.  Here’s the real talk – complex carbs have FIBER.  This is a great thing.  But when you’re eating about 2-3x a normal human’s carb intake, you absolutely DO NOT WANT 2-3x the daily recommended value of fiber.  Ask me how I know.  The upshot is, you need some crappy simple carbs in your life to make your ratios and be properly fueled.

You will constantly complain about how things have not ENOUGH carbs, not too many.  I wish someone could fit more than 25 carbs in 100 calories but it’s just not possible.  Some days, to hit my ratios, I should be huffing pixie stix.

#2 – You will be in the best shape of your life.  Too bad you probably won’t look it most days.

#muppethairdontcare

These weekend workouts that are approaching a full eight hour work day?  They’ll make your weight swing up and down with dehydration and refueling and you’ll go from feeling empty to pregnant with a liquid baby and back again.  I don’t swing much normally on the scale, but I was up and back down 6 lbs in the stretch of 5 days.  Some days you’ll feel great.  Some days your jeans won’t fit because you’re super bloated and rocking inflammation all over.

That shouldn’t affect my super hot, shapely legs, right?  Well, I certainly won’t be accentuating them with some killer heels any time soon.  When you’re putting so many miles on them, your choices are a) cushy flat sandals or b) sneaks and maybe c) occasionally flat boots.  But not too often or your feet will still get cranky.  Hopefully, like me, you’ve found the pair of sandals that is BARELY acceptable to wear with a nice dress but also works after a 20 mile run (and I order them once a year on Amazon when they wear out).  And live somewhere where 90% of the time, it’s sandal weather.

Let’s go up top.  Higher.  The frizzy mop on my head.  While I’m not known for my moments in front of the mirror at any point of the year, things get interesting during this cycle.  Washing the hair is for a) after swims and b) after the long effort for the week.  The apres swim wash is in the stuff the gym provides which is actually all purpose wash, so I use real shampoo about once a week.  And… if you do the math between 3 washes and about 12 workouts per week… my hair is sweaty probably about 75% of the time.

#3 – Training just becomes something you do.  Motivation really doesn’t factor into it.

Ride to work, run home, this is just how we do nowadays

I get a lot of comments about how we must be such motivated people.  Like I get up every morning at 5am and shoot rainbows out of my butt and say “let’s go run and swim and ride bikes and smile and be happy all day! Wheee!”  I’ll let you in on a secret – most of the time I roll out of bed around 7:30-8:30am (headlamps are my BFFs), and I honestly suck at motivation.  If I really don’t want to do something, I’m GREAT at inventing ways to justify getting out of it.  I am the queen of procrastination.  My couch has an INSANE gravitational pull.

You are what you repeatedly do.  The first week or two of any cycle after offseason is hard, but then it just becomes habit.  Training 7 days per week, 2-3 times a day sometimes, is just what life is right now.  Honestly, sometimes the fear of not being ready for April 22 plus the mental gymnastics about when I could possibly reschedule a session typically equals showing up and powering through instead of flaking.  But sometimes I flake, and that’s alright too.

And, while right now it’s all a very lot right now, I try not to lose sight of the fact that I get the opportunity to do this shit!  I have a strong and healthy body that gets to play bikes with friends and swim forever staring at the black line spacing out and thinking up new blog posts and explores new places (or just my ‘hood for the thousandth time) on foot.  There is no better way to spend a beautiful day when you feel great… it’s just showing up to all the other days that takes a little oomph.

#4 – You will never sleep better about 99% of the time.

It’s all about the recovery.  Yep.  EVERYWHERE is a potential place to nap.

As my training hours go up, so does my sleep requirement.  8 hours is a requirement, not a suggestion.  9 hours is better, and 10 is awesome.  While I’m not one of those “up with the sun” triathletes, I still go to bed pretty early most days to make sure I’m getting enough ZZZZs.  If I try to shortcut that, my body just shuts down.

My body also seems to do it’s part and respond by spending more time in deep sleep.  Saturday night, after my long run, I spent 5.5 of my 8.5 hours there, according to my garmin (and I woke up feeling pretty awesome, so I wouldn’t disagree).  I’ll be interested to see what it’s like during offseason, but I *know* I don’t sleep as well, quickly, or deeply.

The downside?  I’ve not had a book take me THIS long to finish in months.  The upside?  That crazy thunderstorm at 2am?  Yeah, I have ZERO recollection of it.  Except that Zliten told me I mumbled at him to stop making noise, rolled over, and went back to sleep.  Oops.  While you might have the occasional thrashy night if your legs are super sore, overall, you’ll have the best sleep of your LIFE!

#5 Ironman brain is a real thing.

Six hours of riding produces the crazy eyes.  Brain not far behind.

I just spent 5 minutes attempting to untangle my backpack string from my bike lock.  I’m having trouble remembering the word I want to say.  My writing is probably starting to look like a grad school child’s, and it’s all IM training’s fault.  When they say Ironman triathletes are not right in the head, they’re not completely off.

Normally, I enjoy the juxtaposition of my job (very sendenatary, very people oriented and communicative) and triathlon (very active, very solo focused in my own head).  However, while I’m handling the TIME commitments alright, it’s the MENTAL stuff I’m having an issue with.  It’s like, my body’s hanging in there like a trooper, but my brain is checking out about 75% through what needs to be done on any given day.

I’ll definitely not knock it, I’m feeling like I’m getting prepared for the race, so training is doing what it’s supposed to, but the side effects are very unexpected!

Question: What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you when you started working out?

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The only appropriate time to duckface…

The last two Saturdays have been cold and windy and/or rainy.  Perfect weather for running.  I had long bikes on the plan, and HTFU’d through them.  This Saturday was 80 degrees and sunny.  Perfect weather for biking.  I had 15-20 miles of running on the plan.  Sigh….

You know it’s hot when you’re laying on the tile to cool off.  In February.

This training cycle, my mantra has been HANDLE YOUR SHIT.  It might have different connotations to different people, but what it means to me is problem solving.  I am not going to win this race, that’s for certain, unless an asteroid hits at least the top half of my age group and somehow leaves me unscathed.  However, I will finish strong if I am constantly problem solving along the way, even if it takes a few seconds longer than just trying to ignore whatever is wrong for 14-17 hours.

So, when I was overheating in the 80+ degrees and humid conditions around mile 11, I did some things.

First, I stopped chasing Zliten who thrives in this weather (if it were last weekend in the cold *I* might be dragging HIM).  I let him go.  I only slowed 10-15 seconds average per mile in the second half but it made all the difference.

Second, I took some time and laid on the tile floor to cool down between bottle fills and stopped for just a moment every so often in the shade to catch my breath in the later miles.

I know if it were a race situation I’d spend less time effing around (there would also be aid stations with ice…), but even with my total elapsed time (with ALL the breaks), I’d have put down a slightly over 6 hour marathon.  I’m hoping to do a little better than that if I can, but that would still put me across the line in plenty of time.

My goal was 15-20 miles, and I was able to talk myself into 18.  I could tell I was badly adjusting my gait by then for various reasons, and I didn’t want to push through 2 more and risk not be able to train for a while.  Considering my longest run this cycle so far was 13.1, I’m totally happy with it.

All in all, this week’s training was rough to get through, but I completed everything as assigned and topped out at 14 hours this week, even without a long ride.

  • 28.5 miles running – (5.5 hours)
    • 2×5.something miles easy hour runs
    • 18 mile long run
  • 80 miles riding (6 hours)
    • 90 min endurance cycle class
    • 2 hour trainer (6×4 min intervals)
    • 2.5 hour recovery cruiser ride (with some decent hills)
  • 5000m swimming (1.5 hours)
    • 1500m steady swim
    • 3500m long swim (with the last 250m of every 1000m with drills).
  • 2 weights sessions (1 hour)
    • 1 lifting session at the gym
    • 1 dozen set

Rule #368 – the only appropriate time to duckface is when you’re actually posing with a duck.

I have been told (by my husband) that I’ve been a crankypants lately, and I suppose it would be hard to disagree. I honestly feel like I’m just pointing out facts, and a lot of those facts happen to be negative, but you know when you have to revise every single email you write three times or else you sound like the queen of the bitches?  Yeah, that’s where I was last week.  There was no big reason that my mood was subconsciously in the toilet a lot of the time, but it’s the 1000 cuts syndrome.

  • My knee, for no reason, started to be cranky on Wednesday afternoon.  It’s been on and off since then.  The long run Saturday actually made it feel BETTER but the bike ride yesterday made it feel worse and it’s better today but my knee is broken, y’all *whine*…
  • Lots of little stuff going on at work and everyone is having their Moon Moon moments (including me) missing obvious stuff because we’re just trying to keep it all together, barely.
  • My enthusiasm for training is waning a bit.  It’s all good once I get going, but I had to talk myself into a lot of last week’s sessions.  I’ve been so smashed after weekend training lately that I barely feel like I get any time to relax.  This weekend was BETTER so I’m adapting, but the struggle is still real.
  • We legit got to the pool on Wednesday, in swimsuits and all, and it was so crowded with a line of people waiting to swim, so we just turned around and left and got groceries and drank whiskey instead.  Making it up on Friday night with the pool to ourselves was actually quite nice, but it still changed my week from a nice 40-ish hour period off training before my long run to… NOT that.

I’m. just. tired.  I’m tired of my pit of hell stomach NEEDING not wanting 5 meals a day.  I’m simultaneously tired of SO MANY workouts and also feeling like I’m somehow not doing enough.  I’m tired of no time, never any time for anything.  I’m tired of ironman brain.  I’m tired of being bitchy for no reason.

So, it’s totally time for a rest week.  And hey, it’s here!

This one involves:

  • Lots of swimming.  It’s hard to push it on other weeks, so recovery periods are going to be swim-focused.  I want to do 3 swims, and a long one of 4-5k.
  • Fun cycling.  Mostly commuting and group rides.  While I’m nervous that somehow I’ll forget to ride long by not doing it two weeks in a row, I need the time off serious riding because riding for almost a workday is kind of draining.
  • Run commuting and a run test.  I want to get my zones re-established for this new watch and I’d like to not just use what I tested a few years ago.
  • Weights twice, stretching, rolling, all that good stuff.
  • 7.5 hours planned.  I’ll be angry with myself if I top out over 9-10 and don’t have at least one full day OFF.

Nothing long, nothing taxing, just a reasonable amount of physical activity per day to stay sharp.  Hopefully this will refresh the energy and motivation and I’ll be ready to get back to it.

The flipside of Austin in Feburary.  It was a MISERABLE recovery ride, let me tell you.  😉

Life Stuff:

Last week I did Chapter 15.  This week it’s Chapter 16.  This is the last one!  After this, I’ll spend some time reviewing and then take my test.  It’s entirely possible that the next time we talk, I’ll be a certified ITCA Triathlon Coach! …but it’s also possible I may take next week to study.

I tracked my calories for 2239 average each day with -990 deficit.  My ratios were 107g protein, 65g fat, 29g fiber, and 254g carbs per day.  Mostly the right way for everything, honestly, except carbs.  I do really well keeping the fat lower on weekdays, but the weekend comes and I indulge.  I had about a quarter of a baguette and wayyyy too much garlic butter, probably like most of a stick of it.  Oh well, baby steps.

My average weight was 188.3, which is 0.8 down from last week.  The encouraging thing was the beginning of the week was 192 and 190, and I ended the week with a 186 and 185.  I didn’t swing up as much today after a weekend of training like normal, so we may actually be making progress here.  8 lbs to go to 70.3 weight!

4 drinks on Wednesday night, 6-ish (normally I use a shot glass and keep track but we were free pouring) on Saturday, and one Sunday beer at lunch.  I’ll call that a win!

Sleep and recovery continue to be prioritized.  I actually feel like a big kid triathlete for doing this stuff instead of forgetting it and then wondering why I get injured.  Me and my foam roller are BFFs, and I use the puffy legs a lot.  I could stretch more, though.  My sleep average is almost 9 hours per night, and over 4 of that is deep sleep.  My worst night of sleep was 7.25 hours and I was TIRED that next day.

Last week I did all the things! This week, being rest week (and a 3 day weekend to boot), I would like to get a *little* more done than normal but still, let’s not get crazy.

  1. For the love of all that’s dear and fluffy… clean out the cars already.  Sheesh.
  2. Spend at least a little time working on the office and/or pain cave.  Mount the monitors.  Clear out enough in the office to move the table in.  I don’t want to spend a whole day on it, but baby steps.
  3. Get to Costco.  Organic chicken is REALLY expensive if you buy it at the grocery store!

And with that, I’m off to find more food, as usual.  At least a lot of it has been fruit and veg today!

The Middle

This is the middle.  The newness of “wheee, I’m actually training for this Ironman race” has worn off, and I still have 10 and a half weeks until the race (thankfully), so the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t quite there.  Zliten and I are a little snippy at each other.  I have given my scale a STERN talking to on several occasions like it was a real person.  The training sessions JUST DON’T STOP COMING because dang, it’s hard to fit in another part time job when you already have a full time one, and want to do fun things every once in a while, and also have family and friends that actually want to be in your life and stuff.

Sometimes looking at the light is dangerous.  Just ask my iguana.

I’ve figured out a few things:

a) this is NOT the time to be cooking anything fancy.  I don’t have the oomph right now to spend half of Sunday in the kitchen.  Easy meals that multiply out well, crock pot food, this is what needs to be happening.  I DEFINITELY, even if I convince myself otherwise because food is better fresh, don’t have the oomph to cook food at night when I get home.  We tried that last night and there was yelling and rude words and one of us just had to leave the kitchen because dinner took 20-30 minute to cook after we got home at 8:15pm.  “I’m sorry for the things I said when I was hungry” is a phrase that is on repeat around here lately.

b) this is also not the time for a shit ton of commitments.  I have to use the word NO liberally.  In May, I get to use the word YES more often.  In February, I have very few slots on my dance card.  If we hang out between now and April 22nd, you probably either a) also swim/bike/run or b) you are very special to me.

c) midnight is absolute bedtime on weekdays and 2am is pushing it on Saturdays.  Once I pass that 10 hours/week training mark, I either sleep or my body just shuts the hell down.

Want to make your Monday awesome? Bike to work, eat amazing food, run home, and then eat more amazing food!

It’s not all bad though, in fact, mostly great.  Last week was pretty stellar.  I hit every workout I planned (besides the wishy-washy “maybe a recovery ride or run if I feel like it” plan Sunday when I haven’t had a full day off in 36 days… I mean DUH, I’M NOT GOING TO FEEL LIKE IT).  I only shortened one bike.   Almost 13 hours of quality training in the bank.  Rock on.

  • 2 swims – 3150m in 59 min and 1350m in 25 min
  • 2 hours easy riding and a 6 hour long hard ride (87 miles/5k climbing)
  • 15 miles running – 10 mile long run in 2:03 on super tired legs, 5 mile in 57 mins on fresher ones.
  • 2 weights – one dozen set, one bodyweights/bands session
  • Stretching/rolling every day

Nothing particularly fast or impressive here, just a bunch of solid work at a steady pace.  It’s not sexy at all.  And that’s exactly where I need to be at this point.

This week, I’m ditching the long ride in favor of a long run.  Now, my longest run so far is 13 miles (14 if you count as far back as October) so going straight to aiming for up to 20 may be crazy, but the cool thing about endurance is it DOES indeed transfer between sports, so we’ll see how it goes.  I have one more crack at the 20 later in the month so this first one is just to see where my comfort zone ends on legs that aren’t *completely* wasted.

  • 25-30 miles of running with 15-20 long run.
  • 5-6 hours of cycling broken up into 3 rides – one hard ride, one interval ride on the TT, and one recovery ride (plus maybe some errand/commute riding)
  • 2 swims – one shorter 1200-1500 and one longer 3k-4k.  Hoping for at least race distance, but we’ll hit that next week if I don’t.
  • 2 weights workouts.  Gym once, either dozen or something else once.

The balance hangs somewhere between the swim and the salad and the burger and fries.

Life stuff:

I did Chapter 14.  This week, it’s Chapter 15 (and actually already done).  Next week is my last week of class, and then it’s time to study…

I didn’t social media much.  I’m kind of stuck and bored with it TBH.  I think this might need to take a back seat until I can really attack it.

I tracked my calories for 2367 average each day with -673 deficit.  I’m actually surprised this was as good as it was, considering I overate even my total burned calories on Sunday.  My ratios were 89g protein, 76g fat, 29g fiber, and 276g carbs per day.  Wrong way again on fat, I upped my fiber and carbs (yay), but my protein wayyyy down.  Honestly, I just ate like shit all weekend and that threw my ratios off.  Same deal as every week it seems.  More carbs, less fat, and now keep my protein on track (which has been MORE than fine since Monday *shrug*).

My average weight was 189.1, which stayed the same from last week. Still 9lbs to go back to 70.3 race weight.  Inflammation from these long weekend sessions (and then the calories I’m eating back) is real, yo.  I swung from 192.8 on Monday to 186.7 this morning.  My body fat reading is up too.  It’s going to be a hard fight while training, but I’ll keep chipping away at it, because that’s the only alternative.

I drank quite a few drinks last week – 8 over 2 days during the week, a bunch after the race and I didn’t keep count, honestly.  Whiskey on the rocks was divine but a few of them and I was tipsy and also falling alseep.  I figured I would have a little bit of a crazy week with the beer only embargo finally lifted and some social events, but I don’t want this to become the norm.  This week, I’ll aim to go back to where I was in January.

Rest and recovery and sleep are going well.  I’m averaging over 3.5 hours of deep sleep per night, with almost 9 hours average total.  Even with the extra drinkies, I ended up with lots of sleep.  This is a good compromise.

This week, I have some errands to run so I’m not going to set a bunch of other goals:

  1. Pick up new glasses (DONE!)
  2. Exchange Christmas present shirt (all the way across town and only available select days from noon to 5. :P)
  3. Pick up Valentine’s Day dinner food and have a super awesome grilled steak and lobster love fest.

And, that will wrap it up.  One foot in front of each other.  One workout, one mile at a time.  Keepin’ on keepin’ on.  Nevertheless, I shall persist (thanks Elizabeth Warren).  Rest week is imminent.

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#letsgetdizzy – Pace Bend 6 hour race

Late last year, I saw an event which intrigued me – a 6 (and 12 and 24, but let’s not go there… yet) hour bike race at the Driveway – where all the big kid cyclists race every week during the summer.  I’m not at the point where I want to start doing those type of races where you can reach out and touch 5 other people’s bikes from your saddle, plus I could NEVER make it down south by 5pm on a Thursday with work, but I’ve always wanted to check it out.

This is my first timed bike race – and something about having an HOURS cut off instead of a mileage cutoff felt like it took the pressure off.  Yes, I had mileage goals but also if everything fell apart, I just had to ride my bike for some portion of 6 hours on a fairly flat ~1.7 mile loop.

Then, the city decided they were going to repave the Driveway that weekend and they had secured Pace Bend Park instead.  So, instead of ~20 feet of ascent in 1.7 miles, we were looking at 350 in 6.2.  Yeah, that’s slightly different.  The race production company gave everyone a chance to bow out for a refund, which was super awesome, but nope.  I was in.  I would just adjust my expectations.

Last week seemed to go by in a blink, and then all of a sudden it was Friday night and after dinner, grocery shopping, and packing for the race and camping after for like 3 hours, my back was SUUUUUUUPER sore from all the STANDING.  And still sore the next day when I woke up.  Crap.  Not the best way to start a race day, but after some dinking around and getting set up and the pre-race meeting and losing my gloves because Zliten stole them, we were off to the races in the 40-ish and spitting rain (and that would not change the entire time).

I really don’t feel like a play by play of 14 loops would be that interesting, so here’s some observations/learning experiences from my first endurance cycling event.

1. Just because Zliten knows where something is or where it was packed does not help you when you’re half a loop displaced from each other and you can’t find your shit.  Be self sufficient like a triathlon – if I need something I need to pack it on my own in my own stuff.

2. Sometimes you have no idea what you’ll need.  Last weekend’s 100, I had ZERO want for gels and the like, and ate predominantly solid food to fuel.  Saturday, solid food just tasted like garbage and I ate 4 gels, 1 whole pack of blocks, most of a grapefruit, and had 3 giant strong gatorade bottles.  I also had half an english muffin and some bites of quesidilla but both those things were just like BLECH.

3. Loops are rough to judge where you are in the pack.  I felt like I was getting passed, passing no one but maybe a few of the 24 hour zombies on their last few hours, and I was going to be dead last.  When I checked the results, I was solidly mid-pack in the 6 hour solo female group.  As a triathlete playing at being a cyclist for the day, I was PUMPED.  The female leader only eeked out 4 more laps than I did.

4. I have never been to a cycling event where music was allowed, and we were allowed one earbud in.  Having that the last 3 hours really helped me a lot.  I know I can’t use it for IM Texas, but IM Texas hopefully isn’t going to be 40 degrees, rainy, and have over 5k of climbing, so there will be tradeoffs.

5. Being part of a cycling team rocks.  Every loop, people in our tent were cheering, asking if I needed handups or anything, giving support, and generally being awesome.  When I did stop, they helped me get in and get out quicker than I would have on my own. I only clocked 13 minutes of stops over two breaks (one to refuel, and one because my back was cramping and I needed to stretch and roll it out).   I was pretty impressed with that!

6. I need to give myself some credit at being able to handle my shit.  When my back was cramping up around hour 3, I got in a pit of despair for a bit.  How was I going to deal with this?  How on earth could I ride 3 more hours with an effed up back when I couldn’t find my happy pills?  I just started trying things.  Caffeine dulls pain so I took another caff gel (this explains the crazy eyes above).  I stopped to roll my back even if it took ~5 minutes, it made it feel better.  Aero hurt after a while and sitting up hurt differently after a while, so I just changed my position a lot and adopted this weird half aero position going down hills.

7. I will never complain about 70.3 training again.  You mean I ONLY have to ride for 3 hours and maybe run off it for an hour as a big training day?  That’s like… nothing.

8.  I will probably be buying the short version of my long thermal bibs even if they cost a million bucks.  My butt was SO comfortable all day and I didn’t even have to reapply hoohah glide.  I need these bibs in my life on days that AREN’T 40 degrees.

9.  I’ll be looking for a kettlebell to buy for home or at least make sure I get to the gym once a week.  My back was in better condition when I was doing weighted squats, throws, and deadlifts.

10.  I’m glad I have a short memory.  At 3pm (3 hours in), I wanted to quit and never ride my bike again.  At 8pm (post race + post ciders), I was talking about maybe considering doing the 24 hour relay next year or mayyyyybe doing a 12 hour solo with a lot of breaks and maybe bringing two bikes I could switch between.  And if it’s at the Driveway where the elevation is flatter.  And if it fits in my training plan for whatever I’m training for.

As for my goals and how I did – when it was going to be flat, I was going to go for 100 miles.  I figured that was doable on my TT bike.  However, I’m not the best climber in the world, and I’m a lot more cautious in the rain, so I figured I’d get out there and see what I was riding before putting some unrealistic expectations on myself.

After 2 hours, I noticed I was perfectly on pace to hit 15 loops (93 miles) if I could stop really quickly and then increase speed a little (which I tend to do at the end of rides anyway).  However, my cramping back that caused the second stop also made me slow a little in the middle, so I had to readjust my goal to 14 laps (87 miles) and I made that with 5 minutes to spare on the race clock (5:42 of riding total).

After the race, I drank all the cider, ate hot dogs and macaroni salad, sat around a tiny fire, and had fun being outside and peeing in the woods.  Camping in the cold, as long as you have the right clothes and blankets, is pretty a-ok.  Of course, when we woke up in the morning, it was gorgeous, 60s, and a mix of overcast with a little sun peeking out.  *shakes fist at universe* Ah well.  I guess we had to REALLY earn our badass medal.

I feel MUCH more confident about the ride portion of Ironman.  I’ve now spent ~6 hours pretty much nonstop riding my TT bike.  For two weeks in a row, I’ve put in something approaching what I expect my time on the bike will be at Texas (hoping under 7 hours depending on all the things that day).  How am I going to run a marathon after?  One mile at a time and I’ve got 2.5 months to figure that out.

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