Alrighty folks, it’s race week. It’s been both a lifetime and a wink since I started this training cycle, but whatever has transpired in the last few months, here it is!
It’s been over a month since I’ve penned anything in this space, fiction is simply holding my interest a little more than status reports, but I would be remiss to completely abandon a training log. So, let’s catch up.
In my last post, I was incredibly proud of how my brain quieted down a bit and training felt fantastically familiar. I was practically at my typical maximum training distances already and feeling confident. Then, I had some rough days at work and things went a little sideways with the training schedule. I took an extra day off the week of August 20th, and my long training that weekend took an unfortunate turn – I had a pretty great bike but took a digger at mile 2 of my run and bruised the heck out of my knee and elbow. While I could tell I had no permanent injury from the tumble, my body reminded me each step of what had transpired. I also felt weirdly dehydrated, had to take lot of breaks to drink, putting down almost a full bottle per mile. I had to cut it short due to both time and bodily conditions, clocking 9 miles instead of 11.
I took the next week almost completely off. It was supposed to be a rest week, but I had a little more planned than a one hour run Thursday and a long workout Saturday. I fared much better on that one, though. My bike was a wee bit under race power, but I had a much more successful run, finishing out my 2 hours at 11.56 miles in much hotter conditions. I’d be more than thrilled with this pace at the race.
September 2nd kicked off my last peak week. I hit every workout planned, for 10.5 hours total. I hit two long back to back swims. I ran a speedy almost-half marathon, clocking 2 hours and 5 minutes exactly for 12.5 miles (about 10 min/mile pace). Then, while I had flagging motivation to start the session, once I got going, I absolutely crushed my long day – 57 miles with a faster pace and higher power output for the distance than ever before, and a 6 mile run conquering the noonday heat in feels like 105 degrees. It was confidence-building and great problem solving practice should the race be this sweltering (though please no!!!).
Two weeks ago, I had a resurgence of work stuff going on, so I missed a few sessions. It was taper, I completed the big stuff, I wasn’t too concerned. Unfortunately, I ended up having to cut my long workout a bit short as well, which caused me a little consternation. The hour bike went fantastically, easily holding race power, but I got out on the run really late, it was really hot, I wasn’t feeling 100%. I pushed through whininess and uncomfortable feelings, but when I started getting goosebumps and feeling dizzy, I called the run at 90 minutes instead of 2 hours.
Last week started with the same chaos, but thankfully my workout plans were simply to do something for between 30-60 minutes most days this week, and the only non-negotiable was a race distance, race pace swim. I had a pretty fantastic brick, clocking 3 miles around sprint distance pace off race power (I’ve slowed a little as it was 9:12/mile instead of in the 8s but DANG IT’S HOT, I’m going with that as my excuse) and that swim yesterday, clearing race distance in just under 41 minutes. My PR is just over 40, and I’m nowhere near as trained as I was at that time (and also the water was at least 10 degrees hotter), so the final piece fell into place with that workout.
I’ve probably clocked less midweek miles than typical, especially some of those work-crazy weeks, but in recollect, I’ve never climbed to race distances so quickly in the training cycle with such ease, and I’ve never completed so many long runs, especially off the bike. Holding race power (140-150 watts) feels natural both indoors and out (though outside is always easier). I’ve spent plenty of time in the heat, and I’m as acclimated as I could possibly be. I didn’t swim that much this cycle but I did put up four 2k+ swims, three of those in open water.
I do believe I’m ready to race in seven days.
I’m going to refrain from laying out my entire strategy from Saturday morning until the finish line since we’ve done this many, many times and I don’t plan to fix what isn’t broken, but let’s talk a bit about the swim/bike/run plan even if we’ve heard this all before a million times. It’s a good reminder.
If it’s legal, even by 0.1 degrees, I’ll wear my wetsuit. It helped a lot yesterday. Either way, my goal is to not get caught up in the craziness and to swim like it’s a warmup. If it takes an extra minute or two, that’s fine. I’ll make up that time before I hit a few miles in on the bike if I feel warmed up and refreshed instead of gassed.
I’d love to see under 40 minutes, but only if it’s at the proper effort. I’m guessing closer to 40-42 if all goes well.
Give myself some time to warm up, but by the bottom of the first lap (around mile 13 I believe), I should be at race power and maintain it the rest of the ride UNLESS it feels particularly awful and like I’m trashing my race to do so. That means pushing downhills as well as uphills, and passing aggressively as needed. Gel as quickly as I can stomach one, and then every 45 minutes after for the entirety of the race. One bottle of electrolytes every bottle stop. Depending on the weather, I may take 1-2 salt pills per hour for the remainder of the race as well, and I’ll have 303 muscle relaxers on hand in case I need them. Though I’ve been blessedly pain free most training days, I know ish can go sideways during a six hour race.
I really really really want to see a sub-3 hour split here, finally. I rode 3:01 in practice in what I expect were more difficult conditions than the race, so if all goes well, I’m gunning for 2:59:59 or bust! Well, as long as it’s not going to tank my run. Again, I’ll sacrifice a few minutes to feel fresher if I need. Though I do covet a bike PR, you place in the race with your overall time, not your bike split, much as I try to will that change into existence.
This is always my wildcard. I can peg my swim and bike times within a few minutes maximum. I know I have a ~2:10 run in me right now if I can keep my cool, literally (core temperature) and figuratively (quieting the arsehole voice in my brain telling me it’s okay to stop and walk). I’ve also had over 3 hour run split days when everything falls apart. So, the goal is not to do that. Keep it together, woman!
Every long run has me pegged to finish between about 2:10-2:20. I know this is within my reach if I can simply keep myself from walking. If that means taking an extra few seconds to shove ice in my kit and pound three cups of electrolytes every aid station, I’ve proven to myself that it’s worth it.
Are lava. Get in, get out, get on with your life.
I’ve definitely in a different place than I’ve been with racing as of late. I’ve not had the mental gymnastics of last year’s race prep. There was something in me that so badly needed to prove my competency by having a stellar race. I felt an inkling of self worth for the first time, and I was grasping it so tightly it could barely breathe. A year removed, I have more faith and confidence in the fact that in many facets of life, I am putting forth a lot of effort and kicking some ass on the daily. While I really do quite want to showcase my true potential next Sunday, I don’t feel like the entirety of my ego is on the line.
I don’t know that there’s any way I could want a PR more than I did at Cozumel without my heart actually exploding, so I’ll say I’ve got a little less hunger, but in reality, it may be the same level, just in a different fashion. It feels quieter, it feels calmer, but that fire in my belly is super totally there. I am a little behind on race visualization, I’ve been distracting myself to get through sessions, this week I will concentrate on being wholly inside myself.
I’ve been listening to Leonard Cohen – Anthem a lot this cycle. It’s got the famous quote, yeah, the one with the crack and the light, but I believe it’s the first part of the lyric spoke to me more.
Ring the bells (ring the bells) that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)
That’s how the light gets in
There will be a point in which the race will stop feeling good and nice and fun. It might be two seconds into the swim, or perhaps I’ll have a banner day and it won’t arrive until the second hour of the run. That’s the point in which I need to forget perfection, and ring those dang bells that still will ring. Whatever cylinders I have at the time, I will be running on all of them, whatever that looks like on September 29th.
And if that looks like a unicorn day clocking sub-6 hours, a solid day putting up a PR (sub 6:28), or a day full of challenges where getting to the finish at all is a mountain in and of itself, I’ll be content as long as I don’t lose my fight.