Adjusted Reality

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

Author: Quix (Page 1 of 163)

For those who are about to tri…

Ten years ago, I didn’t know what an Ironman was, but I did know that walking a mile to work sounded REALLY FAR and there was a hiiiilll so I never did it.  Man, if I could live a mile from work now, I’d never ever drive!

Just a little different.

Skipping ahead through a lot of things, four and a half years ago, I did my first 70.3 (man, it feels like forever…).  EVEN THEN, the thought was that it was a stepping stone to one day do an Ironman race.

I KNOW my impetus for my first marathon was that I was going to have to run one off the bike someday, so I better learn how to do that.  I’m not sure when the seed took hold.  I know Zliten wanted to do one right away after he finished his second sprint, and the goal was “before 40”.  I remember “before 40” was actually pretty far away when we said it, and now it’s… well, this year or next year.

Each year since 2012, we’ve examined the landscape, looked around, and said “nope, one more year”.  There was the year that I injured my knee.  Then the next year when Zliten fought a bear and missed two marathons because of it.  Then the next year when we made up those two marathons and I was so burnt out by the end I wasn’t sure if I wanted to take up underwater basket weaving instead.  In 2016, we examined the landscape, cleared our schedules, and hit that 1500$ registration (for both of us) button.

Possibly the first Wednesday night recovery ride with the crew.  Definitely not the last.

At that point, it was pretty much zero to Ironman.  I’d taken a gloriously long #projectspring offseason that unceremoniously ended in July when I got antsy and decided that I’d like a schedule again and to mayyyybe break the 5 hours a week mark for activity.  My first long runs were like 5-6 miles and they felt long.  Our Wednesday 17-ish mile recovery rides with BSS were difficult and due to fear and lack of fitness, I’d be willing the miles to pass and they’d take foreeeeever (now I blink and it is over *poof*).

My instinct always leans towards NOT ENOUGH TIME NEVER ENOUGH TIME, but summer and early fall training did it’s thing just fine and delivered me to a sprint PR, a really solid Olympic distance RUN (rain on the bike made me sketchy), and then a decent showing on the bike and run for Austin 70.3 69.1 on a scorcher of a day on a pretty hilly course (especially DAT RUN during the hottest parts of the day after a 3 hour delay, and even still I notched a 2nd best in a half iron).

With about six months to go, we took a mid-season break.  It wasn’t so much of an offseason as the spring, I just needed a little break from a schedule, so we did between 5-10 hours a week of whatever we felt like, and in the fall?  It was mostly biking.  This worked out great because I felt like it was the sport we needed the most work extending the distance.

First century attempt was May 2014.  Took me almost 3 years to actually DO it.

Turns out I was right.  My goal was to just go out and do a century ride already, and then during official training figure out how to make that easier/faster come race day.  I tried a couple times before January, and found out it’s really hard to do 100 miles on the bike even if 60-70 is in your comfort zone.  We’d have to spend a whole month riding bikes every single day before we pulled off our first 100 mile ride the last weekend in January.  And it was a doozy.  I still had no idea how I was going to run off a bike like that but I had a few months to figure it out.

Once I had the bike down, it was time to ramp up the run.  Oddly enough, that focused block went rather well.  Within a month, I knocked out an 18, 19, and 20 mile run.  The 18 was a little reachy because it was the first run past half marathon distance of the year (and also super steamy), but both the 19 and 20 felt oddly good and like they hadn’t tapped out everything I had in me, and I did at least 1-2 hour workouts the day after each one.

The last order of business was to stitch them together with two long days.  The first was a nice approximation of race day with some breaks – but a solid 8 hour training day with a STRONG 2 hour run at the end.  I had ZERO issues.  I didn’t feel broken at all after and after my requisite day off and taking Monday a little lighter, I was back at it Tuesday.  The second one was a little tougher – the full swim+ in the lake, the full ride, and an hour run, with less breaks.  I had nutritional issues at the end of the bike and felt yucky on the run.  I think I figured out how to solve that particular issue, but the recovery on this one took TWO full days off after and cutting that next week’s hours from 11.5 to 8.5.

This is just long day #3, right?  The first two went well, so this one should too.  Yep!

I feel like my training went really really well.  I missed some sessions but I hit the key points:

  • Two race-length swims in the lake (I wanted more, but at least I got two).  I supplemented this with plenty of 3k+ swims in the pool.
  • Two 100+ mile outdoor rides.  Most importantly, one continuous on my TT bike on a similar elevation profile to the race that also helped me get over the psychological hurdle of seeing my garmin tick over to 100 miles and still have almost an hour to go.  I also had plenty of long hours on the trainer and the six hour race in the rain and cold and almost 5k climbing… so I’m good.  Yep.  Good.
  • Three long runs similar to the pace I would like to run the IM marathon if I’m feeling good.  I didn’t emphasize the brick run this time because 1) my legs have the opposite problem typically of feeling AWESOME off the bike but I can’t sustain it after a mile or two and 2) I anticipate my transition time will be in the 10 minute range, so I won’t even be running RIGHT off the bike at the race.  However, I did do some running soon after biking on the long days, so I think I’m fine.
  • While my overall volume was more at the minimum end of spectrum (11-16 hours for each week I was ON), I still feel like I did enough volume and intensity to prepare me to COMPLETE an Ironman, and I’ll head to the start line with that confidence.  I feel ready but not overtrained.

As my cold subsides and my energy comes back, and the knees still complain about tapering but feel weirdly GOOD as soon as I warm, I think I can actually say without cringing that I think my BODY is prepared.

Something is not completely right up there… but that’s nothing new…

Now, about the mind.

The mind wants to convince me that it’s been too long since all that happened.  The mind wants to tell me that running a marathon after an already long day on the swim and the bike is going to break me.  The mind says “maybe you were ready three weeks ago, but now you’ve lost so much fitness you’re barely going to be able to do a sprint triathlon this weekend”.

Fuck you, brain.

Here’s where I remind brain exactly what this means to me.

For YEARS, Zliten and I would watch random Ironman videos on Youtube as inspiration.  I would imagine what it would be like to actually be out there doing that stuff, having our big dance, our big long awesome IM day after months of training… and it seemed so awesome, but so far away.  Even a year ago, heck, even six months ago, it was like… how the fuck and I going to do that?  Now I’m actually going to go do that.  In like, a few days!

Experiment of two, reporting for duty. 

Normal people would hire a coach, but instead, I wanted to hoard all the knowledge for myself, so I set out to become one (results after certification? I think I want to try working with a coach for a cycle soon… but that’s a whole ‘nother post).  Honestly, it really just showed me I had most of it to begin with, and coaching is really just a long series of experiments that get more precise with experience, so this is just sample #1 and #2 of Ironman training.

Somehow, I fought through a bunch of burnout by training for this race.  Not just battled against it, but cleared it away.  I feel re-energized, having gone through a completely new type of training, completely new experiences, and my body just feels… different.  I’m not at my lowest weight (by far), I’m not fast (my peak power and fast mile run right now would be laughable), but I am sturdy and solid and I can go forever at a reasonable speed and not quit.  That’s a fun place to be.

I guess the hard part is really over.  I can (hopefully) do anything for one day.  Even if it might be a really really really long one.  In a few days, barring natural disasters, I’ll have shoveled myself to the start line with at least the hope, at least the feigned confidence that me, standing on top of the last 10 months of training, will be able to make it 140.6 miles in 17 hours or less.

Of course, I’ll do the dorky things like buy the all the Ironman gear and wear my stupid medal for a week and probably say “Quix, you are AN IRONMAN!!!” in my best Mike Reilly voice about twenty seven hundred and fifty-nine times.  I’ll use that for an excuse to sit on my butt for a week and give my bike the side eye for as long as I need (honestly, I give it a week before I’m back on the cruiser, but still…).  I will giggle at my running shoes beckoning until my legs no longer remember the abuse of running a marathon after a full workday on the swim/bike beforehand (pretty short memory these days – two weeks? three?).

And then soon vacation, where my swim training will look more like this…

But beyond the superficial stuff, I guess what really resonates in my soul is the follow through of it all.  How often do you actually have a big scary dream that you actually get a chance to face?  How often do you get to make a big check mark on the ol’ bucket list?  How many times do you get to live the thing that you’ve been dreaming about constantly for years?  How often do you discard those things because they are too scary, too hard, and you convince yourself that you can live without?  I’m about to toe the line and find out a lot about myself on Saturday, and see what things I can and can’t live without.

This truly is a mad pursuit.  Literally no sane person would ever refer to a marathon as a cooldown after 114.4 miles of swimming and biking.  No one would pass the 100 mile mark on a bike and go, y’know what?  I think I should just ride another 12 mile for the fun of it.  The swim gets you almost halfway between two of the Hawaiian islands and that’s just the warmup.  I think that’s why we do these things though… because they are crazy.  Because they seem impossible and we are the kind of people that don’t like being told what we can do, even especially when its our brain telling us NO and our heart instead says FUCK YOU, I’m going to give it a try.

If I can do this completely insane thing that seemed like a “can’t” a year ago, what else can I do in the future that seems crazy to me right now?

This is about proving that indeed, anything is possible.

If you want to follow my day, head HERE and look for bib #1056.  I’ll see you on the other side.

Race week and the taper tantrums

Well, here we are.  Race week.  Race week?  What?!?! Yeah, race week.

Much more of this last week than #swimbikerun.

I had hoped to be almost fully packed, feeling super rested and excited and springy, and rarin’ to go, feeling confident about my training.

Here I am *cue the dramatics* with my whole little world falling the hell apart.

  • Last week was probably one of the most stressful work weeks ever, and I had two 11-hour days to boot.
  • On Wednesday, I came down with a head cold (that I was hoping was allergies for a few days but it was not).  I’m still getting over it – I’m feeling better than I was late last week but still low energy and that’s exaaaaaactly how we want to be on race week, right?
  • I clocked 3.25 hours last week, and ZERO swimming, which is what I really wanted to focus on in taper, so obviously I’ve completely forgotten how to endurance.
  • Because sick me = snoring me – all the nicely laid out gear on the guest bed is now on piles on the floor (so we could both get some sleep) and I haven’t had the energy to do any more packing since Friday and I keep thinking about ONE MORE THING I need to go get and it’s just SO MUCH STUFF.
  • Let’s also focus on the fact that for no reason, my knee is literally broken and has been for over a week now.  I’m convinced I have a tendon just flapping around in there somehow disconnected without any actual trauma.
  • One more thing to pile on – during all this came that awesome time of the month – which I am SUPER thankful we’re getting out of the way now – but definitely adds to the fatigue.

Sigh…. I guess I wrote this for myself before I needed it, when things were going actually super well.  This taper has been SUPER FRUSTRATING.  I’m at the point where I want to be excited for the race.  I should be excited for the race.  But I just can’t even think about it that way yet.  All I can do is plead with the race week divinity to help me get through all this shit in time to deliver me to Saturday morning in one piece.

Dear protector of the bikes, please give me 112 smiley miles on Saturday…

Logical, coach me, is stepping in to provide freaking out athlete with some facts:

  • You have swam close to and past race distance 8 times this cycle, twice in open water.  Maybe you wanted more practice this week for your confidence, but you didn’t need it for your fitness.  You’re fine, fish.
  • We ramped long bikes early in the cycle.  Yes, there has been an absence of riding bikes for 4-7 hours in a row lately.  That doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten how to do it.  You can’t do all the things all the time.  That 112 miles on Long Day #2 felt pretty darn good, and you’ll be SO MUCH MORE RESTED after taper.  Also, in the last 6 months, you’ve ridden: 112, 100, 87, 80, and 75 miles outside.  You’ve done: 5, 4.75, 4.5, and 3.75 hours on the trainer as well.  The legs do not forget.
  • 5 weeks ago (6 weeks out from the race), you ran a fairly effortless 20 miles.  This was proceeded by a really nice 19, and a rough 18 (but you made it).  More importantly, you ran 11 miles off a 5 hour bike ride and 1 hour off a 7 hour bike. You don’t have much top speed, but who cares?  You can run forever.  You didn’t build this by smashing your legs with a bunch of long runs, but with overall volume and your legs have responded well and were RELATIVELY pain free during training.
  • This cold couldn’t really be coming at a better time (unless it didn’t come at all).  You’re not missing important training (yeah, this taper week was sparse, but if it had to happen THIS IS THE WEEK FOR IT), and it’s forcing you to rest like a mother effer.  No crazy partying or stupid “let’s cram this training” has occurred.  This is a benefit to feeling like crap.
  • The knee is not really broken.  Both knees feel weirdly cranky and while anything in the knees is scary, it REALLY IS just muscle tightness and your rational brain knows it.  The chiropractor even checked it out.  Stretch, roll, ice, massage, boots, do all the good things and it will go away by race day.  Have the faith, this one happens all the damn time.

So, here we are.  Sniffles, broken knees, feeling barely ready for a sprint triathlon, head a mess, but y’know what?  Going out for a nice, relaxed, 4 mile run made me realize that everything is probably going to be alright and I just need to relax and go along with the ride.  Hopefully by the middle of the week I’ll be all bouncy and excited like I expected to be.

Such little runs, so many THINGS to pack.

Last week:  almost nada

  • Monday: off (planned)
  • Tuesday: 30 mins weights (11 hour work day, missed open water race)
  • Wednesday: off (unplanned, 11 hour work day, missed bike and run)
  • Thursday: 45 minute bike (coming down with a cold)
  • Friday: 3 mile run
  • Saturday: 1.5 hour bike
  • Sunday: off
  • 3.25 hours total of 7-ish planned

It is what it is.  And my race does not hinge on missing 3.5-ish hours one week.  I’ve trained better than that.  All we can do is move forward.  Here’s what I know about this week:

  • Monday: 4 mile run (DONE)
  • Thursday: off (travel)
  • Friday: pre-race swim and maybe a quiiiiickie spin on the TT bike before drop off.
  • Saturday: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run
  • Sunday: audition for a hot dog eating contest or something….

Tomorrow and Wednesday – I would like to swim since I missed all week last week.  I would like to do a quickie 20 min/20 min brick.  I would like to do another heat-of-the-day short run.  I’ll probably do two out of those three things but I’m not committing to which yet.

#fueledbytacos.  If only tacos packed well into special needs bags…

Life stuff:

Who cares about life stuff, it’s race week!  Here’s my random to do list:

  • Decide between new shooz and old shooz on the bike and the run and rethink your life choices that lead you to this point (just kidding… sort of).
  • Cut your damn toenails.
  • Figure out if I’m going to actually get small PVC pipes from Lowes to make disposable rollers for my special needs bags (which have actually saved my life on multiple rides and runs).
  • Get tiny body glides for special needs bags.
  • Get some Imodium for my med kits.  I’ve never taken it (during a workout or also during life) so it will be absolutely only if the literal shit hits the fan, but I’ve been told by multiple multiple people it should be on my person just in case.  If I’m about to shit myself at mile 16, I’ll try just about anything to fix that.
  • Pack all the rest of the stuff (at this point, mostly clothes and toiletries for before and after) before Wednesday night at midnight (please).
  • Write goofy notes for Zliten to put in his special needs bags.
  • Grab tupperwares to bring with.  My hotel has TONS of free food at various points of the day, so I want to make sure I have options of things to eat after the race if I can’t even with things.
  • Find my bib number so I can post it all over social media so people can follow along with our crazy days.

And of course – eat the right things but don’t freak out too much about it.  No going crazy with beers and shit when you DO start to feel all-the-way better.  Stretch, roll, puffy legs, get (and give) Zliten massages and do all the smart things you know to do.  Try to be more of a lark than you normally are (early to bed, early to rise WITHOUT sacrificing sleep).

Off to do things about the things above instead of just writing about them.

Ironman Race Plan

I’m pretty sure this is going to a level of overthinking that even I’m embarrassed about but here we go!

Let the freakouts commence!

One week out:

Luckily, I get a 3-day weekend the weekend before the race.  This is fortunate because I can a) have one last night of staying up past sunset (IF I feel up to it, TBD) and still get plenty of rest b) have an extended weekend to get everything ready to go out of town and c) spend some time with my BSS peeps at the Spring Social and my family for easter without feeling all frantic.

However, the mandate will be to not go cuh-ray-zee and I’d like to be 95% packed and ready to go for The Woodlands by Sunday night.

Race week:

Workout plan will be:

  • No weights at all
  • 30-45 min *something* in the AM/lunch on Mon-Wed (no night workouts)
    • Preferrably 1-2 of these will be short lunch runs to continue the heat acclimation.
  • Stretching, rolling, legs – ALL OF THEM every day.

Life plan will be:

  • Time to be in bed = sunset
  • Normal food.  No crazy reductions or deficits or anything, but making sure my eating is in line with my activity and limit the spicy/fried/fatty/etc.
  • Excepting the possibility for gameday on Monday, no social stuff or doing anything besides going home and going to bed by sunset!

Basically, I want to be the most boring person I can be.

Thursday (Travel Day):

Agenda

  • Up as early as possible while not sacrificing a normal night of sleep.
  • Hopefully an uneventful 3-4 hour drive to The Woodlands.
  • Packet pickup and making one of the athlete briefings.
  • Enjoy the pool and hottub
  • No workouts (except my credit card buying IM stuff from the expo).

Food:

  • Normal breakfast (yogurt or breakfast taco or smoothie)
  • Lunch and dinner: carb-heavy fare.  Lunch is not as important as dinner, which is typically some sort of lower fat tomato sauce pasta, salad, and bread.
  • Snacks: fruits, veggies, pretzels, hummus, jerky, etc.

This is just another long day, right?

Friday:

Agenda:

  • Open water practice swim 8-10 am (but probably not at the specific lake we’re swimming at – it’s supposed to be REALLY gross and the last thing I want to do is have it make me sick the day of the race).  I love a day-before-the-race swim lately, and its an excuse not to sleep in (so I’m not struggling to go to bed at 8pm…).
  • Bike and bike gear bag check in just after that.
  • More pool, hot tub, and just relaxing and trying not to freak the fuck out.  Depending on the timing, maybe a movie (but not if its a hassle).
  • Reading in bed with the TV off no later than 8pm.

Food:

  • Hotel breakfast (pick decent choices of things I normally eat at home vs sugar loaded waffles and crap).
  • Sandwich for lunch
  • Chicken, potatoes, salad for (early early) dinner.
  • Snacks: fruit, sports drink, pretzels/hummus, jerky, baked chips, etc.

Saturday morning:

  • Up by 4am.
  • Breakfast: english muffin w/bacon and cream cheese, pb pretzel cliff bar, watermelon, coconut water, caff chews.  In stages.
  • Second/third/tenth check of my bike special needs, run bag, and run special needs bag.  I had a dream I forgot my change of run clothes so I had to run in either my bibs (NO) or my swimsuit.  That is NOT happening.
  • Get to transition/bag drop around 5:30.  Drop bags.  Pump up bike tires.  Stuff self into wetsuit.  Swim warmup if they let us.  Try not to freak the fuck out.

The swim can’t be nearly as bad as some days at the Pflug lately, and even if it is, I’m prepared.

Swim:

  • Wearing: regular swimsuit + sleeveless wetsuit
  • Backup: 2016 bss tri kit (if it’s not wetsuit legal)
  • Pacing goals: Hard to say.  Original goal was 1:30 or better, but that’s like… really slow compared to my pool pacing.  I’m going to need to see how my OWS develops in the next few weeks.   I’m going to say 1:25-1:30 is how I’ll seed myself, and if I end up finishing faster, fantastic.
  • Effort goals: This is more important.  I want to feel like I’m doing something, otherwise I’m going too slow, but I need to make sure that a) I’m able to bilaterally breathe and b) I keep good form and am not gasping.
  • Again, this lake is supposed to be GROSS.  I usually swim with my mouth open.  I’m going to try to not do that as much as possible so I don’t get sick.

T1:

  • Take my time.  I’m not winning this race.  Taking a moment to collect myself is fine.  Full change to be comfortable.
  • Bike bag contents
    • Wearing: BSS jersey, gore bibs, UA sports bra #1*, bike socks
      • If it’s going to be a warm day I’ll wear this under my swimsuit.  If it’s colder and I want to be fully dry I’ll have some volunteers help me wriggle into it.
    • Optional stuff: sleeves and leg sleeves depending on the weather.
    • Accessories: gloves, aero helmet, bike shoes (new or old?), crotch junk, sunscreen
    • Noms – english muffin w/cream cheese and bacon, packs of chews, gels (options), coconut water (maybe freeze these the day before?
    • First aid kit of 303s (2) and salt pills (4) and 3-4 packets of chamios cream
  • Bottles will be full of gatorade, my bento box will be as full of gels/blocks as I can (the rest in my jersey pockets)

I’ve ridden my bike a few miles to prepare for this race.  In the cold and the wind and the heat and the hills, so 112 miles on a tollway should be easy-peasy, right?

Bike:

Pacing goal: It’s a long day.  Pace yourself.  Both long day outings on this bike have been about 16-ish mph (so about 6h30-7h).  If you’re rolling above 16.5, check your effort/HR/power.  If you’re too far below 16mph average after 20-30 miles, check it as well.

Fueling goals: One gel/three blocks per 45 minutes and I should go through about a bottle an hour.  If I have real food (english muffin, pb sandwich, etc), that should last about 1.5-2 hours.  In other words, my goal is to, as evenly as possible, space out about 1100 solid calories over the ~7 hours and suppliment with gatorade (at least another ~100 calories per hour).

Caffeine: I will aim to have gel #1 or 2 be caffeinated, and a gel in hour 5-6 be caffeinated (just the 20 mg salted watermelons).

Special needs bag:

  • Snacks: Some sort of salty chips/pretzels, PB sandwich, some sort of fruit, frozen coconut water wrapped in aluminum foil (thanks internet!)
  • Another First Aid baggie of 303s and salt pills + tums and other things that calm my stomach just in case, small disposable extra sunscreen.
  • Co2 cart and tube (I’m still butthurt about not getting this stuff back but I’ll sacrifice 10$ to potentially save my race – I can probably throw it in my jersey if I’m feeling cheap and I have room)
  • Unless the weather looks questionable, I’ll keep this one simple.

Effort goals: I dialed in the effort pretty well.  Keep some power on it (120-130-ish?  if that feels right?), but I should never be breathing hard for more than a minute or so to get up a hill.  Stand up occasionally to stretch the legs.  Stay in aero as much as possible but not at the expense of tweaking my neck too badly.

T2:

Again, take my time if I need.  I found I ran better if I gave myself a SMALL break to compose myself and didn’t rush.  I’m not winning this thing but 5 minutes in transition might mean the ability to run more regularly.

Run bag contents

  • Wearing: BSS 2017 tri top, tyr bottoms, UA sports bra #2*, run socks, Hokas, xterra vest
    • *I probably won’t change into this but just in case…
  • Accessories: aquaphor, handheld bottle (frozen w/grape gatorade)
  • Noms – some salty chips/pretzels, premade chicken broth in water bottle, maybe another pb sandwich as an option.
  • Another First Aid baggie of 303s and salt pills + tums and other things that calm my stomach just in case, small disposable extra sunscreen.

Yep, just another long day like this one, with a slightly longer run.

Run:

Pacing goal: Well, this is the huge and great unknown.  I’ve run 2 hours off a 5 hour bike at sub-11 minute miles, which would PR the fuck out of my marathon if I could keep up anything close to that (even if I slowed down to almost 12 minute miles on the second half…).  It really depends on my legs, my heart, my stomach, the weather, and how much pixie dust exists in the universe on April 22nd.  My goal is 5h30-6h but the real, ultimate goal is just getting across the line to hear my name called and my results counted.

Effort goal: I can pretty much keep up a 11:30/min per mile clip forever on your average long day if it’s not STUPID hot.  Sometimes this is best achieved by running an even 11:30/mile pace.  Sometimes it’s walking for a bit and then running 10 minute miles.  I’ll be prepared for either.  What it comes down to is that the more I concentrate on my form, the longer I can stave off that awful ache in my hammies/glutes.  So, I want to cruise as long as I can at an easy pace, and then decide if it’s kick ass, continue, walk/run, walk, limp, or crawl the later parts.

The one thing I’m greatly looking forward to is this run will generally get COOLER, not warmer, like a half or a standalone marathon.  So, I’ll have that to look forward to in the later miles.

Run special needs:

  • Snacks: Same fare as the bike with some additions: a new gatorade flavor or some packets since it’s all lemon lime on the run course (my least fave).  Also, another chicken broth water bottle rocket fuel (just in case I need it and it’s not out at the stations yet).  Yeah, sounds like a buffet.  I’d rather have options.
  • Another First Aid baggie of 303s and salt pills + tums and other things that calm my stomach just in case and some aquaphor and bandaids in case my feet are torn up.  Maybe some packets of biofreeze?
  • Head lamp.  If by magic I finish before dark, I’ll just wrap this around my wrist, but I need to see where I’m going.
  • It will depend on the weather if I do this, but I’ll potentially have a long sleeve shirt and gloves if it’s looking REALLY cold at night (though cold = inspiration for me to keep running…) and mayyyyybe a change of socks (to ones I don’t care about ditching but can run 13 miles in) if it’s looking rainy.

If the day goes right, I’ll get me another one of these that DOESN’T say 70.3 on it…

Finish Line:

If I execute solidly on what I expect that day, I’ll be rolling in about 15 hours, give or take.  Hopefully at that point, I’ll be upright, smiling, and making silly faces.  I’m rarely ever in bad shape at the end of races unless I’m overheating (which is unlikely here), but we’ll see, there’s a first time for everything.

Then… it depends.  If Zliten is done or going to be a while, I will go start making a dent in the 7k calories that I will have lost.  I hope there’s crappy pizza because crappy pizza is the BEST after a race.  And also beer.  There will be beer.  If he’s close on my heels and I’m not ready to crime for a gatorade or plate of WHATEVER, I’ll wait and cheer him in.  Making myself not fall down is priority #1.

I told Zliten I would do my best to do something with the bikes if I was first in and he was significantly behind me (and he would do the same), but we’ll see depending on the car situation or if there’s a shuttle to the hotel or whatever.  Worst case, if we’re both done around midnight and completely wasted and can’t even, there’s always Uber XL or whatever to get us and our bikes and shit back to the hotel and we’ll figure out the car thing later.

Considering the late night options, it’s very likely that I’ll end up with something like this in my face after the race.

Food:

Here’s another place I feel like I need to be overprepared because I feel like I need super easy access to various types of food, and not have to count on dealing with humans to do it.

If we can people, some late night options in the area:

In case we can’t people, we’ll make sure to have a lot of food stored up at the hotel.

  • Cups of mac and cheese and potatoes and chef boyardee and soup
  • Salty snacks
  • All the coconut water and nuun (since we’ll need electrolytes but probably won’t want gatorade for weeks).
  • Some microwave/prepacked meals
  • Leftovers from other meals
  • And of course… there will be beer and champagne chilling in the fridge, whether that’s for that evening or mimosas in the morning. 🙂

Luckily we have the whole next day to lounge and relax, and we’re not heading home until Monday.  I’d love to hit up the Omega Grill and/or possibly Willie’s Icehouse but also our hotel has free breakfast and there’s a IM lunch/awards about a mile away (y’know, just in case a meteor hits the entire upper 75% of my age group and I’m first across the line, lol… just kidding.  Free food.  That’s the only reason.), and our hotel puts out a spread at 5-7pm and popcorn all afternoon and drinks and there’s other places within a mile so we may not do any of the things that involves getting in the car.

While a lot of this is indeed complete overthinking, we’re going into this with two athletes and no sherpa.  Two first time Ironman hopefuls who have NO IDEA how to expect to feel after.  I fully expect not to follow everything to the letter or have to type A the whole thing (just some things), but it’s like when I speak in public, I always write myself a full script JUST IN CASE I blank and all I can do is read from my paper.  Here is the map and the plan, should I lose my mind and all I can do is follow along.

10 Days Out

Today, I get to start stalking the weather report for the race.

Not super great, but it could be worse.  I’ll take the cloudy and the low chance of rain, but I’d be grateful for a 5-10 degree drop in temps and the wind calming down a little.

Either way, this is nothing I can change.  I’ve prepared in worse, so I’ll be fine, y’all.  One of these days I’m going to get perfect weather for one of these silly long distance races I like to do, but until then, I’ll conquer whatever the day presents me.

I talked in great length about the weekend here, so let me just wrap up the rest of it.

The first week of taper never quite feels much like taper, but it all went a-ok.  I had 11.5 hours planned, which seemed ambitious, so I was alright letting a little fall off.  I held on a little more than I actually expected and ended up with 10.5 hours.  I missed a little bit of cycling and one weights session.  Life will go on.

  • Runs: 1 hour heat acclimation, 1.5 miles off the bike, 10 mile race easy miles
  • Bike: 1-1.5 45 min effort ride (sort of), BSS ride, 50-60 mile TT ride 1h30 fighting the wind around town on road bikes, 48 mins fighting the wind commuting on cruiser bikes.
  • Swim: 1 race distance (close) OWS, 1 shorter OWS
  • Weights: 2 1 session
  • 10.5 hours total.

I really would have liked a better race distance OWS and some more awesome TT bike miles, but I’m pretty happy with what we did.

The only bike ride of the week that went as planned…

This week is taper week #2, which should actually feel like taper.  Having multiple days off was decadent.  Having single digit hours on the plan feels positively sinful.  It’s lucky because between work and the rain, I’m having to shift my plans around a little lot but this week.  I can’t lie, I’m at three days right now with no swim/bike/run and I’m freaking out a little, but I have to remember the advice I’d give ANYONE else – it’s no big deal and it’s actually probably a decent week for life to happen.

My super-detailed plan is below:

  • Runs: some miles as long as my knee stays cooperative
  • Bike: Bike once or twice somewhere.  Some distance.  Maybe on the TT even if it works out properly.
  • Swim: At least one open water swim that’s 1+ mile.  More if I can.
  • Weights: did one session already this week.  I’m calling it here since we’re 10 days out.  Time to let the muscles rest.
  • Some hours total.

Life Stuff:

Two new blue shoes (say that 10 times fast)…

I successfully obtained new cycling shoes that seem to fit (they’re a little tighter than I’m used to, but my old ones are so loose and slippy I think that’s a good thing).  I also have new Clifton 3s and I really wanted to wear them for the 10 mile run (my last long one), but with my knee twinges, I decided to go with the ones I knew.  I hope they’ll be broken in enough by the race to wear, but if not, it will probably be my last run on the previous pair (and I will have yet to break the cycle of wearing old shoes at my big races…).

Sighhhh… I don’t know why it’s been so hard for me to track calories but it has.  It just has.  I got through Monday, half of Tuesday, and randomly tracked Saturday to make sure I had eaten enough food (and at the time I tracked, I hadn’t, so it was good I did).

So far this week, I’ve tracked everything so far, so I’m doing better!  I have been hopping onto the scale every so often, and my weight seems to be pretty steady (185-188), but my body fat seems to be down a few %s.  So, that’s good!  While I’d like to have magically taken off a lot of weight this cycle, instead, I definitely put on some muscle.  In the next month, my goal is to not fuck that up with a bunch of weight gain.

I foam rolled 6/7 days last week.  I went in for a chiropractor check on Monday and she says my back is the best she’s seen it lately, so it’s working!  Yay!  I need to continue this trend through the race, it is so good for me.

I drank beer last Wednesday, and then I got sick of beer and drank whiskey and stayed up too late.  Life continued on, I didn’t miss any training specficially because of that, and I got lots of sleep the next night.  I guess the law of averages dictates when you act like a grandma 5-6 days a week and go to bed around sunset, sometimes you need to act like you’re in your early 20s to balance things out.

I haven’t quite mastered the bedtime thing yet, but less training seems to equal less sleep needed (and less residual exhaustion), so as long as I’m asleep by 10:30-11, the 7am hour isn’t too bad.  This week, I will continue the fight of early to bed and early to rise.

So, this week’s goals are:

  • Early to bed/early up whenever I can without sacrificing sleep.
  • Let’s stop being stupid with the having too many drinks and staying up ’til 3am, k?
  • Foam roll and puffy legs and stretching and all the recovery things.
  • Track the food.  At the very least, write it on a list somewhere.
  • After the cleaning service on Thursday – start packing ALL THE THINGS for IM TEXAS!!!!

On this last one – holy cow.  I’ve started to make a plan for this and I just hope I can fit everything in need in our big ass Xterra.  I’ll share my neuroticisms and overthinking later this week. 🙂

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Austin 10/20 weekend in review

I like to write up race reports to capture the moment in time.  However, this one was a little… different.  I can’t really break it off from the rest of the weekend because it was all in the name of IMTexas training.  Also, in and of itself, the race was slow and unimpressive so I feel like I need to qualify it with what was going on all weekend.

Swim, burger, bike, run.  Not usually in that order…

Saturday morning, we had set the alarm for omg-wtf-early to be out at Lake Pflugerville to swim race-ish distance, bike 40-ish miles, and run around the lake – and in the middle of it, be around to say hi to our tri team doing a newbie clinic at the same place.  The siren song of sleeeeep got us, and we didn’t get in the water until almost NINE THIRTY (oops), and we were gifted with some pretty rough conditions in the lake, caused by 20+ mph winds with 30+ gusts.

I have not had a more challenging swim in my recent recollections.  It was like swimming in a choppy ocean fighting the tide.  I almost quit at least 20 times in the first mile.  The direction of the chop was probably the most challenging part.  I can roll with some side chop, literally by rolling almost onto my back to breathe, but half of each lap was directly into it.  Every few strokes it was so high that I’d go to breathe and *nope* as a wave crashed over me.

My safe swimmer orange floaty thing acted as an anchor going into the chop, and on the way back, it want to be RIGHT BY MY HEAD, so I had to adjust my stroke to keep my arm from getting tangled in the cord.  Not bringing my arm out of the water was incredibly inefficient and took the fun out of the payoff (swimming fast with the current).  I actually intentionally inserted some breaststroke in there so I could actually sight because I often couldn’t see the buoys over the waves.

I wasn’t super physically spent in that 1h45+ to go just under race distance, but I was mentally spent for sure.  We decided to cancel the TT bike ride out there for not just that reason, but it was also borderline unsafe on those bikes on traffic-y roads.  We briefly flirted with a run around the lake but I was wet and cold and over it so we got some In-N-Out Burger instead and ran an errand.

It worked out that we had to be back to pick something up in two hours, and it’s along one of our normal bike routes, so tooled around town on our road bikes instead of banishing ourselves to the trainer.  The wind continued to be incredible, making  downhill against the wind feel almost more challenging than uphill into it, but we got in almost an hour and a half.  Not quite the 40 miles we were hoping, but again, fighting the wind should count for something extra, right?

Because I’m a triathlete, and I also had new shoes to break in, I ran a mile and a half off the bike.  I felt a little knee twinge, and then it went away, but it still made me nervous.  We showered and had some recovery shakes,  ate some dinner, crawled into bed with our books, and set our alarm at wtf-oclock again for the race.

This night of sleep was rather fitful.  Sometime during the night, my knee had convinced me it was broken (ah, tapers) and I was up less with the actual pain and more with the worry that I had 10 miles to run with a bib the next day.   I didn’t want to wreck anything for April 22nd but I also didn’t want to quit.  I woke up and everything seemed to be in working order (if maybe a little stiff), so I got up and did the morning things and we rode bikes 3 miles to the start line.

Morning race day shenanigans.  Also, I’m pretty sure I’ll never be able to spell shenanigans without a spell checker.

We had originally been prodded to sign up because a lot of our BSS team was racing, but a lot of people dropped out and most of the folks there, we just didn’t connect with.  We ended up seeing our friend Rikki who randomly found us right before the race, but didn’t end up seeing any of the other 10 million people we knew that were there.

The race started late, and an extra 20 minutes of standing around wasn’t helping leg-things so I took off VERY slowly.  I could tell Zliten was frustrated and I told him to go, and he said, nope, he need to go about this pace anyway.  Itold him to give it a few miles, I’ll probably warm up and feel better, and through the first 4, we stayed really easy and I turned a corner (literally and figuratively) and my stride changed and all of a sudden it felt better so we picked it up by 15-30 sec/mile.

This race is awesome for many reasons besides the convenience.  The first 4  years, it was a great place (and a great time of year for my fitness) for me to lay it all out on a flat and fast course and I improved every year by a minute or two.  It’s close to home and work and I run in this area all the time.  I get a kick of running down the middle of busy roads I drive all the time.  There is almost always a band within earshot (the first four years I was hidden in my music trying to PR, so I didn’t appreciate it as much, but the last two years I took it easy and rocked out and it was super fun).  They hand out cold towels halfway through and at the finish, which is always refreshing.

The hill that is always terrible wasn’t that bad (when you’re running easy pace), and then the last half mile uphill into the wind finally got me near the finish, my knee twinged while Zliten was speeding up, so I said “nope, walking a sec”.  A spectator, bless her heart, was trying to encourage me, and instead of explaining the situation I just started jogging slowly again (and it felt fine) and then we crossed the line of the last Austin 10/20 EVAR (unless some political-sounding things get resolved).

After the race was for putting things in my mouth or showing things where to go (by opening my mouth), apparently.

Garmin time: 1:54:57 which is about 11:30/mile. Which is almost exactly what I would like to aim for in (eeek!!!) 12 days on the run, so there is that.  While I would have liked to put on a little more gas (maybe 10:30-11s), my knee feels fine today so mission accomplished!

It was humid and windy and we were dripping during the race and quickly chilled after.  The beer tent had a block-length long line.  The food offerings (rice krispies treat and fruit) were great for a snack, but I definitely was ready for something more substantial.  So, like almost every other year, we skipped out on the post race party and fought the wind home on the bikes and had better beer with no lines, ordered a pizza and watched sci fi movies all day.

Besides the mental energy going into worrying about my knee, I felt a marked lack of tiredness and soreness (and still do today) with over 6 hours of training in the last two days.  I’m taking today off (maybe some weights, but more likely catching up on the chores I blew off yesterday) because that’s in the plan, and I’m super stoked to visit the chiropractor tonight because I think part of the knee issue is I’m out of alignment, but training did it’s thing and taper is doing it’s thing now and life is good.

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