Adjusted Reality

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

Tag: 70point3 Page 2 of 5

Week 3 – feels like coming home

Three weeks down, nine to go to Cozumel 70.3, thirteen to Waco 70.3.

I’m feeling pretty good about things right now.  I’m not feeling ready to race a 70.3 yet, but with six weeks of solid training left + three weeks of taper, I think I have enough time to get my legs under me.

After my first block (two weeks build, one week stepback), here’s how I feel about the various sports.

Swimming, I used to love you the most.  About 5 years ago, it was my best sport of the three and I enjoyed practicing it, especially once we started at Pure Austin and I had the beautiful pool and lake handy to paddle in.  For some reason, over the last two years, I’ve fallen out of love with swimming (and my slightly worsening times in the pool have reflected this).

However, the good news is that a) summer is here and while my motivation is lower than previous years, it’s at this year’s peak to be in the water and b) while my pool times are not great, I’m actually working REALLY HARD on my open water form and those times are actually coming down.  Funny, when you swim with your head down and try to emulate your form in the pool even when you can’t see the black line, things get more efficient.  Rather than something like a 30 sec/100m discrepancy between pool and open water, I’m closer to like 10.  While it’s partly the product of not doing speedwork and getting slower in the pool, it’s also attention to better form all around and I’m racing in open water the rest of the year (so the pool times don’t matter) so I’ll call it a win.

Biking, is it possible to miss you even though I ride three times a week?  I’m feeling rather wistful for last year’s cycling training (for the Hotter’n’Hell 100) which was: ride bikes.  A lot.  Preferably in the heat.  I miss the commuting, I miss taking off early in the morning to ride for hours and hours on a Saturday (with no impending brick run after), and I miss bike adventures and group rides with the goals of just to GET LOTS OF MILES ON MY BUTT.

However, this entire year is about sharpening the stick.  I’ve allowed myself one ride per week with the goal just to enjoy being outside on Evilbike, and I’m finding I rarely want to stop.  I know there will be more time for this later in the year, and I’m sticking to my specific goals involving shorter melt-your-face-off TT speed sessions and longer brick workout riding places where I don’t have to stop much to simulate race efforts.  But… man, I’m looking forward to some times in November/December where we hop on our bikes and go ride with some stops to take pictures of cool things and eat food with no pace or time goals.

That being said, it was nice that 17.2 mph on the Shoal Creek loop felt. like. holding. back. like. woah.  So the effort I’m putting in is worth it.

Running is a surprise.  It’s been the bane of my existence for years, both with my slowing paces and random minor but annoying injuries and imbalances.  Even earlier this year, my take on running was that I should do it as little and fast as possible.  My meager 5-ish miles a week (but mostly faster) returned enough dividends that I wasn’t going to change things.

I’m running about 2-3 times a week now, which isn’t that much different than before, but the runs are longer (last week I did a whole ELEVEN miles for almost TWO HOURS of running).  Oddly enough, or maybe just as a surprise to no one but me, since I’m a little lighter and have new shoes, both my legs and brain have taken to some additional miles as if they’re coming home from a long time away.  In fact, these longer hours in general feels like coming home, as it’s been a while.  Intentional absence, for sure, but it’s fun to train a lot.  I digress.

The cool thing is that I am completing pretty much all of my runs at the pace goals I’m setting, even after time away, even in the heat, even when I have the ability to make excuses why it’s too fast – it’s not.  While I know 7 miles is way shorter than 13, I felt like 10:40/mile was a nice relaxed pace that I did not want to stop when I finished (and spoilers, I held a slightly faster pace for 9 this week though I was 100% READY TO STOP after).  In the feels like 100+ degree heat, I was able to maintain a 10:30/mile pace for a 10k off the bike (with a few water stops).  In the insane humidity, I was able to descend, not quite to 10k but to at least slightly under half marathon pace (9:30-9:45), for the middle three miles of last week’s run on Tuesday even though it felt like running through soup.

Weights is a thing in which I am still doing because I know I need to, but I don’t have too much love for it right now.  I know it’s one of my most important sessions of the week, but that doesn’t mean the illogical part of my brain wants to skip it to go do other things.  I’m definitely moved past the “heavy lifting” part of the year and probably have to let go of the fact that deadlifting/squatting any signficant weight is going to need to be on pause until after Waco and recovery, but I’m still showing up and doing the things.  The default workout right now is:

  • 5 min row warmup, then 3x everything below….
  • 10@40# kb squats
  • 10@40# kb side leans
  • 10@40# kb rows
  • 10@20# shoulder press with dumbbells
  • 10@25# kb single leg deadlifts
  • 10 ball pass crunches
  • 10 ball hamstring curls
  • 10 ball inverted v-ups
  • 10 pushups
  • 10 single leg calf raises
  • Streeetchy stretch!

I can roll through this in about 35-40 minutes, and while it’s not the kind of PUMP that deadlifting 150 lbs is, I definitely feel it, especially in my weak spots like my hamstrings and lower back.  I’m pretty confident this will help me at least maintain if not make small gains if I stick with it through tri season.

That’s a lot of words about sports so let’s put up some schedules and move on…

Last week:

  • Monday: 1 hour easy bike ride
  • Tuesday: AM run: 1 mile warmup, 3 miles fast (10k-ish race pace, trying to hold low 9s), 1 mile cooldown
  • Wednesday: home weights
  • Thursday: 1600yd lake swim
  • Friday: AM gym weights
  • Saturday: practice olympic distance (1500m swim, 25 mile bike, 10k run)
  • Sunday: off

I had to shift things around a little bit, but I got in all the sessions.  Hooray!  This resulted in 6.5 hours, which was also about what I’d planned.  Stepback week + finally getting my morning person thing on = success!

This week’s plan:

  • Monday: 1 hour easy bike ride, weights
  • Tuesday: AM run: 9 miles at 10:30-11:00 min/mile pace
  • Wednesday: off
  • Thursday: brick workout, swim (maybe all together)
  • Friday: AM gym weights, PM open water swim
  • Saturday: 45 mile TT ride at the Veloway, 3 mile brick run (9:30-ish/mile goal pace)
  • Sunday: off

Looks like about 9 hours and a nice peak week before heading into Nationals race week next week.  I can’t believe it’s almost here!

As for the non-training training goals:

  • Hit all the sessions. (CHECK)
  • Get good sleep (which hopefully will start pushing me towards being more of a morning person) (CHECK)
  • Prioritize recovery – as in use the boots, roller, or stretch once a day. (mostly check – I think I skipped a day or two but I also visited the chiropractor AND got a massage so that makes up for something…)

My weight loss efforts have dropped from about 1 lb per week to 1 lb per month, however, it’s still going in the right direction.  At 1 lb per month, I’ll see the 160’s in 2018.  So, that’s still motivation to keep at it.  What I’m currently doing does not seem to be affecting my training or general happiness and well being, so it continues.

  • Average calorie burn: 2404
  • Average calorie intake: 1794 (-609 deficit)
  • Average weight change: 175.1 to 175.0 (-0.1… sigh… at least it’s not +)
  • Average diet quality: 19.7

So, at this point, I’ve had two weeks where I’ve done deeeeecently, and no progress.  I can only assume that life is punishing me (or, more likely, that I was selectively weighing on good days before and now that I’m back to every day, it will take some time to stabilize). 

Goals for the next week:

  • Salads every day.  I missed my veggies goal more than I have in a long time.  Eat your veggies (and fruit, those were lacking too) woman!
  • I had a cadence before.  Yogurt and berries in the morning.  Lunch.  Salad.  Fruit and nuts snack before I left work or right when I got home.  Dinner.  Post dinner snack in whatever categories I was lacking.  I’m not eating all that much more, but I am finding I’m not quite eating the right things.  I’m going to try to establish that cadence again.
  • Saturdays are going to be a challenge now that I’m onto long workouts.  I need to make sure I have plans for something reasonably healthy/easy, if not for the meal immediately after said long workout, for the rest of the day instead of eating crackers and cheese like I did this week… ahem.

It’s official, I’m a PAID stock photographer.  I made my first sale… of 18 cents!  I’m rich!  Where’s my mansion?  While it’s kind of laughable, it’s nice to know that someone was able to find my picture and for one reason or another, purchased it.  Besides the work of uploading and setting key words, this is stuff I’d do anyway with my photography, so I’ll keep building a stock library and who knows, maybe someday I’ll make 1.18$ #shootforthemoon

In terms of photo goals, here’s what I’ve done:

  • I submitted (and got accepted) the remaining 12 left from my “second best” May 2018 vacation set to two out of the three sites (Adobe seems to be the pickiest, so I left them for last).
  • Narrow down my photos from about 700 (with my cell phone shots as well) to under 200.
  • I’ve edited and processed everything from July 4th.

I know, the typical thing to post here would be a firework photo, but I loved this one from the butterfly gardens a lot.

This week, I’d like to:

  • Submit those 12 “second best” photos to Adobe and wait for my inevitable rejections.
  • Finish at least through July 5th.  And even if I don’t finish, make some progress by not being against the idea of sitting down and editing three photos a night if that’s the amount of time I have between dinner and bed.
  • Holding on the book until I finish these photos.  However, after this batch… it’s on!

In terms of other IRL things, we had our first weekend at home and no plans since June 2nd.  The last time that happened was April 21.  Before that, March.  No wonder we’re feeling a little crispy and protective of our time lately.  It was nice to come home after smashing myself against a long workout in the heat and barely have to make words at anyone for two days.  With work and training and life the way it is right now I really need some time for my sanity to be silent and just focus on something relaxing like editing, TV, a book, etc. 

And on that note, I’ll take my wordy self and do just that…

Week 1 of 70.3 training – stolen moments

Last week was a doozy, y’all.

Kind of exhausted and stressed, but thanks for asking, hypnotoad…

Last week was the week of EVVVVVERYTHING.  We had a bunch of commitments on the schedule already, and a bunch of other stuff randomly appeared throughout the week to add to the pile of things.  I just resigned myself to having no free time and not as much sleep as normal, and since it was temporary, it was okay, but sheesh.  I’m really happy to have had a Sunday that felt RELAXING (it’s been a while) and I’m looking forward to a more mellow week coming up.  It’s weird to say that with training hours ramping up and a product release on tap, but it’s the truth, in comparison at least.

In terms of training, I got in most of it. 

  • Monday: weights AM, 1200y swim pool PM (supposed to be 1500m open water)
  • Tuesday: 6 mile long run at 10:30-11:00 pace AM
  • Wednesday: off (supposed to be FTP test AM, pool swim PM)
  • Thursday: 30 min bike/20 min run brick AM (supposed to be off)
  • Friday: 1000y swim AM (supposed to also do a weights session and a 1 hour bike)
  • Saturday: 30 mile bike, 2 mile brick run
  • Sunday: off

Total: 6 hours (about 8 hours planned)

I had to shift around the days a little, and I had to bag a weights session and an hour-ish easy bike ride.  I had planned to do one or both on Sunday as a makeup session, but I had some wicked cramps, so I ditched the weights and went on an hour long walk instead of riding.  I am bummed about missing the strength session, but the easy hour bike ride is probably one of the least important sessions of the week, so I’m less worried about skipping that.

I was supposed to do an FTP test but neither my body nor brain were there for me that morning, so I instead turned it into a 30 minute ride and 20 minute run brick at a pace which I would call “sitting outside the pain cave’s door asking if it wants to build a snowman”.  Getting two swims in is a victory, however, neither of them were open water due to time constraints, so that’s definitely on the list for this week.

A big goal in week 2 is to hit all my training sessions.  As of right now, I only have ONE commitment this week: a makeup father’s day with the family since we have all been traveling or unavailable.  The rest of the week is dedicated to training sessions, recovery, and rest and the rest of the world can go fly a kite.

  • Monday: weights (home), 1 hour easy bike ride
  • Tuesday: 7 mile long run 10:30-11 min/mile pace
  • Wednesday: FTP test AM, pool swim PM
  • Thursday: off
  • Friday: weights AM (gym if possible), open water swim PM
  • Saturday: 35 mile TT bike ride/3 mile brick faster than race pace (sub-10 is the goal).
  • Sunday: off
  • Total: about 8.75 hours planned.

The good news is I’m already through today’s workouts to the letter.  Even if I have to shuffle things around later this week, even if I have to make some modifications (I’ve already switched two sessions around for the week), my training goals this week are:

  • Hit all the sessions.
  • Get good sleep (which hopefully will start pushing me towards being more of a morning person)
  • Prioritize recovery – as in use the boots, roller, or stretch once a day.

Partially demolished french food spread with all the meats, cheeses, baguettes, tapenades, and deliciousness you could want.

In terms of food, the last seven days have not been the model of health.  The quantity hasn’t been completely asinine, but the quality has not been there.  Two of my meals this week consisted of two slices of New York pizza.  I split a burger and chips for a lunch one day.  We had a bastille day potluck party and my friends went over the top with awesome French food including brie and baguettes, which are kind of my kryptonite.

I’ll put it this way, I didn’t even track Saturday or Sunday because I’m not entirely sure HOW because it’s all nibbles of this and that and the other.  I have actually tried to eliminate this type of eating because it gets me in trouble, but man, was it fun to have all sorts of yummy things spread across my countertop for the weekend!

Between that and the time of the month in which it is, the water balloon sloshing around my belly has kept me from wanting to step onto the scale.  The times I did get on the scale, I weighed between 174 and 176, which means I’m not gaining a bunch of weight back, but it’s just not going anywhere right now.  Which makes sense, because I’m not doing anything that would make it go away.  I can be frustrated with lack of progress, but at least it’s explained by LOGIC here.

The days I did track, I burnt approximately 2300 calories per day, and ate approximately 1700, so that’s a -500 deficit.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t go 2500 calories over my burn on Saturday and Sunday (which was collectively 5500, so I would have had to eat 8000 calories this weekend), so the good news is I am probably still at a slight deficit for the last week even with my best efforts to self sabotage. 

In terms of diet quality, the days I did track added up to 19.2, which isn’t HORRIBLE, except that I’m fairly certain the amount of junk I ate on Saturday (and to a lesser extent, Sunday), would send me far into the negatives those days, so let’s just call it an exception to the rule and move onward and upward before my pants get tighter.

The one highlight is that except for Monday (in which I got 9300), I had either 10k or well over 10k steps every day.  That definitely helped nudge up my calorie burn (and keep me sane) so the indulgences weren’t the end of the world.

And walking means you get to see cool stuff like this, randomly.  It’s not fall, but thanks for the pretty leaves, trees!

The goals this week are:

  • Weigh at least 5 times.  I forgot yesterday before I put on clothes, but I need to be tracking this the majority of the week.
  • Track my food the entire week.  Even if it’s good, bad, or ugly, but try to keep it 85% good.
  • Assess my diet quality when I have a week of data, aiming for it to be 20 or more.  Since I’ll have a few more calories to play with, I have no excuses for it not to be, unless I trip and fall into a vat of brie like I did this week.
  • Get 10k steps a day. 

Last week, I managed to do the photo thing (I’m now actually accepted to all three sites, and all my pictures made the cut!).  And, I edited a chapter and a half of my book.  While I didn’t spend any significant time doing any of these things on any day of the week, I’m doing my best to piece small amounts of time together to make progress otherwise I’m going to have to wait until forever to actually make headway.

As I decided here, I’m not giving myself any timelines on these things, maybe loose goals like I would like to edit at least one photo most days so it becomes a habit of something relaxing I do during downtime vs A THINGGG I have to do. 

Now that we’re in 70.3 season, everything else is absolutely on the back burner and a distant priority vs training and eating and work and recovering and trying not to be a stranger to family/friends.  If that’s all I can do in the next four months, it’s a success.  However, that doesn’t mean I don’t WANT to beef up my photography stock, and I don’t WANT to get to the point where I feel like I can put my book on a kindle and try to enjoy it (and let Zliten, who has been bugging me for months, read it as well).  I have a bunch of ideas for videos, and I haven’t touched a painting in months.  I want to create all the things!

However, I’m now on the AM workout schedule about 5 days a week (and doing doubles 3 of those days), and that means I’m flipping tired after work.  Long workouts on Saturday usually don’t leave me with much brain after.  Stolen moments on weekday evenings after dinner plus some time on Sundays between chores and cooking is really where I’m going to find that time, and some weeks it just may not exist.  And that’s ok.

Second verse, different than the first…

Today begins half ironman season, which will be very different than the first half of the year. 

Time to remember how to race for 6 hours vs 60 minutes.

Instead of short, small races where I’m running for the podium and I can almost blink before they’re over, I have longer, bigger races to tackle.  For these, my hope is that I can place in the top half of my age group, and the only thing I hope to qualify for is a post-race beer.  I can’t just wing the distance on these with the endurance I have so I actually have to start doing stuff like running for more than half an hour and swimming more than 1000yds. 

The cool thing is the rest of the year brings ALL new races, so I don’t have any course PRs or prior expectations.  It’s about kicking my own ass and pushing myself for no other reason than just to be better than before.  It’s kind of refreshing.  Also, by signing up for Waco 70.3 four weeks after Cozumel, I actually get TWO chances in extremely different conditions to test my fitness on the same build and I’m really really really looking forward to that.  Worst case, if it’s a really bad idea, I’ll get to suffer on the course with a bunch of my Bicycle Sport Shop team!

I’m attempting to continue the efforts that have been successful beyond my wildest expectations this season.  Specificity and intensity versus excessive volume are what I’m about this summer, just like I was in spring.  I’m trying to keep the same methodology but slightly longer workouts since they are slightly longer races.

The focus for the last month has been heat acclimation.  We’ve done a lot of hot, mid-day walks, runs ending as late as possible before work (sleeping in has it’s privileges…), bikes in the hot afternoon sun, and just being outside as much as possible.  One ride topped out around 100 degrees (feels like more) and I remember thinking it didn’t feel that bad (though I was happy not to be running in that yet, baby steps).  I took a walk around the block at sunset and thought it was 10 degrees cooler than the temperature showed.  I ran in feels like upper 80s and I didn’t even have curse words for it.  I did have a hard time in the heat with our 30 mile ride on Friday (some idiot nutritional factors were at play), but I have confidence that I’m getting where I need to be.

Smiles after long rides vs a month ago I was seriously hunched over my bike trying not to pass out.

If I had zero things on the schedule between now and Cozumel, I’d probably just start riding my bike a million miles in July with some short brick runs every few sessions and then transition to more running in August and faster stuff in September (kind of like my Austin 70.3 training).  However, I have to race an Olympic in five weeks and while Nationals isn’t a goal race, I don’t want to completely embarrass myself.  I need to build my run concurrently as well, peaking for a 13 mile race distance run in about 2 months.  That means I’ll need to rip off that “long run” bandaid off sooner than later.  I have 6 miles planned for tomorrow which is exactly 1.5 miles longer than I’ve run in the last half a year.

Pre-Nationals (first 5 week block):

  • I’m a little rusty in the weightroom. First plan is to work my way back up with lighter weights for the first two weeks or so (2xweek), and then get back to the actual deadlifting/squatting/etc in the gym at least once a week (and the other session either the same or at home with kettles) within this time frame. 
  • My bike comfort zone ends somewhere in the realm of 30-40 miles right now.  I plan to get to 40 miles feeling like just another day, and ride my TT bike as much as possible (when it makes sense).
  • I plan to work my long run up to about 90 minutes, but my goal for these runs is to never slow to 100% easy pace.  I’m running a 5k easy holding 10-something mile pace, I’m hoping not to slow too much from there.  If it’s either or, I’d rather run less but faster. 
  • Swimming, I’m the least worried about you.  I plan to swim twice a week, and swim open water at least once a week/every other week at the absolute least.  I need to work on my speed and form when I can’t see the black line.  However, the jump from what I usually swim to 1.2 miles usually comes quickly as long as I actually DO IT.
  • I plan to hit our team brick most every Wednesday, or do a similar workout at home (exception – the FTP test I have scheduled this week in that same time slot ><).  Every long bike has a run scheduled off it.  I have a practice Olympic on the schedule 2 weeks out from the race to practice logistics and give myself confidence that I’m ready.
  • These five weeks consist of: #1 building volume, #2 more building volume, #3 stepback w/practice race, #4 one more building volume, #5 race week.  It’s not a full taper but I should go into Nationals *sorta* fresh.

Haven’t spent much time here lately and that’s about to change.  Soon.

Post Nationals to Peak (4 week block):

  • After racing two days back to back, I’ll take the next few weekdays fairly light and then have my first “long day” with a 30 min swim, 3 hour ride, 3 mile run that weekend.  If I’m super fried from racing and travel, I may switch this to the next week and just do an easy long bike + run instead. 
  • I have a second “long day” planned as my final long workout before the race/three weeks before the race – 1.2 mile OWS, 56 mile TT bike, 10k run.  This will be where I test all my race prep.
  • On the flat, closed course Cozumel bike, I estimate I’ll ride somewhere around 3 hours with the race conditions.  However, I don’t have a lot of places to practice like that.  The options I have are: riding the same amount of TIME on my road bike in group rides/traffic (but that will probably net me between 10-15+ miles less with logistics).  3 hour trainer rides sound torturous but I have a feeling I’ll do at least one.  I have a few places where I can get CLOSE to a closed course/continuous effort on my TT bike but none of them will let me open up as much as I will in the race.  I think the best I can do is just get out and ride anywhere and everywhere I can to ensure that 56 flat miles/3 hours is well within my comfort zone.  So, lotsa bikes.
  • On the run, I plan to alternate race pace long runs with shorter faster tempo work.  I figure I’ll run the 13 miles once about a month out for a confidence builder but I’m not running a half marathon race, I’m surviving a half marathon on tired legs in the heat off the bike.  The best thing I can do is be prepared to run FASTER and run OFF THE BIKE.  So, I’ll continue to go forward with that methodology.  Absolutely no junk miles here to stick to my minimalistic running program.
  • Weights and swim plan continues as before.  I expect I’ll be swimming the full race distance once a week or every other week at least.

#mfw I run in the heat because I love it so much.  But then I chose to do races like Cozumel.  I am an enigma. 😛

Taper (3 weeks):

  • At this point, the hay is in the barn so I’ll be ditching long workouts for shorter, faster stuff to keep sharp.  All the sports volumes will come down and I’ll be running faster than race pace more often. 
  • I’ll continue my weights until race week, and *maybe* that Monday I’ll do a light weights workout if I feel up to it. 
  • I’m figuring I’ll be extremely ready to cut the volume once I get here as usual, but if I have to remind myself, I’ll refer to my last post on how successful I was at sprints on minimal training (but the right training).

Post Cozumel to Waco (4 weeks):

  • The first week post race will involve diving, snorkeling, tacos, and margaritas. 
  • October 13 is two weeks out of my second race.  I have one more opportunity for a key workout.  Whether anything I do 15 days out will improve my fitness is questionable, but I can definitely do something that will build confidence.  That’s TBD. 
  • If I feel like everything is copacetic, I’ll repeat my taper plan for Cozumel almost exactly.
  • Basically, my goal is to keep my fitness in tact and to not do stupid things and hurt myself or get burnt out or sit on my butt too much and get stale and unfit.

October 28th post race plans…

What’s after that?  Staying active but some offseason-y goodness.

November = offseason.  I hope to pick up my activity by Thanksgiving to stave off gaining any weight, but there will be absolutely no POINT to it.  I’ll go run because it’s nice outside and ride bikes with friends on adventures and maybe swim once because it feels novel and maybe lift heavy things because it’s fun.

December = strength + run focus (but still kind of offseason).  Because I have a little matter of a half marathon (that I don’t care about my performance but need to survive), I should do some running but probably mostly the kind where I duck outside in the afternoon and race the sunset for fun for about an hour, completely ignoring things my watch says.  If I’m not back to lifting yet, I need to start.  Bikes (probably) and swimming (haha) as they sound fun.

Some of this coming up.  Not a ton, but some.

Then there’s the other part of the equation – weight loss.  I’m hoping to eek out about FIVE MORE LBS this year, but it’s already starting to slow down to a crawl.  A few months of calorie deficits and agonizing over every crumb I eat has gotten tiring and I missed Mexican restaurants and bike adventures with food stops and those may have crept back in my life in the last few weeks.  Even though I’m still fighting, it’s not with that much enthusiasm.

At some point I’ll officially transition to more calories when the training ratchets up and then my appetite catches up (I’m guessing that will happen in early August).  My only goal for the rest of the year will be not to gain weight (but really, I mean that – I don’t want to gain ANY weight over the holidays).  Then, after New Years, I’ll start again in earnest to try to lose the next (and maybe last) 15.

My goal will still be to eat nutritious food and track my calories and really nail the hell out of my diet quality scores since I have more calories to play with.  However, in my estimation, I’ll be burning about 2-3k more calories per week with increased training.  That gives me some leverage to actually drink a few non-light beers or have some post ride pizza and maybe not freak out if someone wants to go out for dinner unexpectedly if I don’t change my normal daily habits.  That sounds nice.

Let’s do this thing! 12 weeks to go, starting… NOW!

Austin 70.3 Part 2 – Seeing sounds and hearing colors.

When last we left the story, I was very, very, happy to be done with the bike and have Death Star in one piece… but I honestly had no idea how I was going to run a half marathon.  It was really hot – time was closing in on 1:45pm and that meant the entirety of the run was going to be at the max temps (88, feels like 94 according to the weather).  I was kind of traumatized from all the energy spent on not-biking-stuff during the bike.  I was pretty happy I was able to hit my 17 mph goal but it took a lot out of me.  Physically I felt good, mentally, I felt a bit shell shocked.

nov4-1

Also, as I dismounted, I heard “holy crap, are you kidding” and saw THIS guy right next to me.  Dislocated rib, plan for riding 15 mph, whatever.  He had biked 3 hours flat to a HUGE PR.

nov4-5

That made me happy and a little demoralized and also a little motivated at the same time.  I thought I was finally going to win one race this year, and now I was going to have to really work for it, and I was pretty cooked just from the heat.  However, this is what we do.  Transition gravity got me a bit in T2.  I walked my bike in instead of running.  I sat on the ground to deal with my shoes and crap.  However, that extra few minutes helped center me, and I took off out of T2 running at a decent clip.

T2: 6:15.

Mile 1 ticked by at 10-something, according to plan, but then we hit this really daunting hill (the elevation chart I studied lied… 100 feet of ascent total my ass) and it hit me that we had to do that 6 times (3 out and backs).  I got through #1, but after the aid station around mile 1.5, I had to stop to fill my bottle and I just started walking.  Great.

Then, my husband comes back from behind again and says “we’re running for another tenth of a mile and then walking”. Ok, I think, I can do that.  So we did, and chatted about the race so far and his run plan and stuff and things.  With the crazy heat and lateness of the day and the hills I did not expect, there was not enough middle fingers to adhere to my own race plan.  Instead, I decided to adopt a run buddy for the first part of the race.

He was really happy that I was around to stick with him and I was happy to have some motivation through the first loop or two.  I told him that if I felt better on loop 2 or 3 I was going to take off, but for now, I was in.  It was really cute how a lot of people commented on us running together.  Awww, how sweet, they said.  Honestly, while it was REALLY nice to stick together, it was because we just at that same level of cooked but still moving forward point. 🙂

The aid stations were my lifeline.  My garmin shows SIX MINUTES of aid station stops, not because I was fucking around, but because it was necessary.  Find the ice table and 2 cups in bottle, 1 down the shirt, and every other station, one in the hat.  Find the gatorade and fill the rest of the bottle if there was room.  Find the water and dump over my body.  Then go.  Somewhere in the first loop, I got offered coca cola and tried some… and I was fully on the brown pony train from then on.  It was magical.  Every aid station I could get to it (some were swarmed with bees), I had a cup.  For the rest of the day, I was hearing colors and seeing sounds but it was worth it.

Starting on the second lap, I was trying to lengthen our run intervals between walks because I was feeling a little better.  At first Zliten was in, but then around mile 7, he told me my running segments were too fast and he needed more breaks, so we hugged and I kept trotting ahead as he took a break.  I was ready to start digging into the lead I needed to accumulate over the last half to beat him.

I had no illusions that I was going to be able to run the rest of the way, but my walk pace was pretty quick and I tried to keep my running pace a quick clip.  I attempted to only walk aid stations and the second halfs of uphills.  While a 12-something pace for most of the miles is not terribly impressive in and of itself, it’s not shabby considering how much of that was walking and stopping to take care of myself at aid stations.  If I could ever get a temperate day for one of these… watch out world!

nov4-3

I spent the last lap chanting stuff to myself, various mantras like “this pace is not giving up” and focusing on the fact that I was on track to beat 2:40 if I stayed with it and that seemed like something I could be proud of that day.  I also listened to Katy Perry’s Rise like, 6 times on repeat Friday evening, so that went through my head.  I followed some dude that had his coach on the course pacing him for a while (annoying) and then ran in the middle of some other tri team, both simply because they were going my pace.

I walked the last aid station and dumped ONE more load of ice down my top and said, “ok, this is it… finish strong”.  13 was my fastest mile at 10:25 and I was just so excited and pumped to make my way down the stretch of spectators one last time, and take the turn towards the finish.  I figured somehow they would lead us up one more hill for an extra quarter mile, but thankfully they didn’t.  The transition from outside to inside was very abrupt, but I was just so excited I pumped my arms in the air down the chute like I was winning this thing and crossed the line super happy!

Run Time: 2:40:06  51/93 AG <- holy crap, finished higher in my AG on the run… that is a testament to my fight.  I always fall off at the end.

Official Time: 6:04:51 51/93 AG

I finished hopped up on caffeine, shit eating grin, feeling like a fucking superhero.  My husband rolls in almost exactly 15 minutes later looking like THIS.

nov4-4

Best race finish picture ever. 

We did the normal things, which typically involve taking Zliten to medical but not actually needing medical (that face usually gets him sent there but he recovers quickly).  The inside finish helped us cool down quickly.  We took a post race photo.  We got food (some chicken baked ziti thing) and liquid.  We began the long process of getting all the race bags and bike all the way from T1 to the other side of the universe where we parked and watched people still streaming in.  It was a far cry from the last IM branded race we did, where we were almost the last two finishers and everything had already been taken down (no food, liquid, store, nothing).

The more time I’ve had to reflect on this, the more excited I’ve gotten about this run.  Of course there’s room for improvement, but I stuck with it mentally, and I didn’t give up.  I walked/stopped at aid stations, and a few hills as metered breaks, but that was it.  Zliten and I really helped each other out on the first half, and we parted ways when it didn’t make sense to stick together.  Sadly (for me), with the stops on the bike, I actually needed about 18 minutes on him, so he won this one by kicking some major ass on the bike.

I know I can run a 2:15 at one of the races someday, but not at this weight at that temperature on that course.  My second best time with all those challenges thrown my way is a perfectly good cause for celebration.

nov4-2

I’m not sure at what point my mind changed from “I’m never doing this course again” to “when I do this course again”, but I keep thinking about how to better train to conquer it.  The weather COULD POSSIBLY not suck.  The bike was wayyyy less annoying than expected.  Knowing the run course, I can actually train for the hills.  It does put a damper on celebrating one of my favorite holidays because of the weekend it falls on, but I’d consider doing this one again in the future.

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Austin 70.3 Part 1, or when only one wheel falls off, it’s still a good race.

On Sunday, I got the opportunity to race most of my sixth half ironman (their choice on the most-of-it part, not mine).  While I’ll try to keep the true nerdery and nitty gritty to a minimum, this is first and foremost MY soapbox and diary, so there will be some, to the tune of 2000 words from pre-race to T2.  Grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine or some leftover halloween candy (ugh, it’s STILL not sounding good after all the gatorade and gels, it’s so sad) and let’s go on a journey together, shall we?

noc2-2

Pre-race dinking around.  I think we both walked over 12k steps just doing this…

On the other side looking back, I’m going to give my race prep an A.  I’m thoroughly pleased with the way I ate, the way I handled things.  Just a few drinks on Wednesday but I stayed dry the rest of the week.  I spent so much time in bed I was actually finding it hard to sleep more than 7-8 hours the few nights before.  Since I was rested and refreshed, I did short sessions (15-40 mins) each day besides Tuesday to keep the legs snappy.  The day before I rode around the block a few times on my TT bike to make sure I had tire pressure and swam 1000m.  Work could have been a little less hectic, otherwise, I had the perfect lead up.

The two things I put in the “con” category:  1) not getting a second longer race pace swim in my wetsuit, and 2) having to spend SO much time on my feet Saturday dealing with the treachery of checking in and dealing with multiple transitions in a giant size Ironman branded race.  One of these things didn’t end up mattering at all, though!

I wasn’t able to sleep that well Saturday night (big race, nerves, feeling rested otherwise), but I was up and at em at 4:45am on Sunday.  We did the normal stuff and enjoyed being on the home turf – 18 mins from bed to parking line at the race site.  I had some sports drink, 2 caff chews, a PB filled cliff bar, and we made our way from parking to shuttles to T1 with about 30 minutes to spare.

They had already delayed the race 30 minutes (from 7am to 7:30 start – which made sense with the later sunrise) a few weeks ago, and they tacked on ANOTHER 15 minute delay as we were arriving.  I told Zliten he would be starting around noon.  I shouldn’t have opened my mouth and jinxed him, it wasn’t too far off.  We did the normal setup and potty and finding friends and teammates and put on our wetsuits halfway and went and sat by the lake in this spookiness.

nov2-1

Borrowed from High Five Events Instagram… it looks almost post-apocalyptic, doesn’t it?

The race had been delayed indefinitely – they said they would start it as soon the fog lifted and it would go quickly.  However, the day had other plans.  By 8:30, the fog was not showing any signs of going away, so they made the call to cancel the swim and get on with the rest of the race.  I wasn’t sure how it was safe to bike in the fog either, but off the pros went at 9am as I ate my english muffin with cream cheese and bacon I had planned to fuel the first 1/3 of the bike.

For some reason, I was skewing WAY more towards the nervousness than excitement this race.  It’s a trend I really would like to reverse.  It manifests on the surface as just being over it, and it’s come up lately at my bigger races.  However, once the swim was dropped, for some reason, it made me feel better.  It made absolutely no sense.  The swim is one of my better events.  I’ve actually been swimming GREAT the last week or so.  I should have been really excited to show myself where I was at with my first wetsuit swim in a race in over a year, but instead I just felt relief.

I know exactly why.  I now had an asterisk.  Whatever I did at the race couldn’t be measured alongside other races.  It was it’s own thing.  I need to work on that crap, but since my last 3 A races have been UTTER shit shows, I’ll give myself a mulligan this time.

Back to transition – I’ve been in this situation before at a big race, and it takes forever to launch 2500+ athletes on bikes, so I wasn’t surprised when it was 9:30, then 10, and then I was lining up with the Death Star at almost 10:30 am.  Going back to the original race plan weeks ago, I would have been in the water at 7:45 and hopefully on the bike by about 8:30 (thus off the bike around 11:30-ish).  Also, the average temps on this day top out in the upper 70s – we were already closing in on that by the time I clipped in. Conditions: absolutely not ideal.

nov2-3

My bike was 3 away from this big pole.  I was super excited because T1 was going to be easy. Sigh…

Bike:

We got out and it was like a TdF situation.  Spectators were crowding the street and it kind of freaked me out (remember, we still had some decent fog going on and visibility was better but still sucked).  Other than that, the first few miles were pretty uneventful.  I was super excited to see that riding the Death Star on this course netted me some major free speed in comparison to Evil Bike.  The hills weren’t as hard.  My pace was much quicker without any extra effort.  This was good.

I wasn’t super great about staying in aero but the bike course was SO FUCKING CROWDED because of the way we started.  People were passing four or five deep out of necessity.  I saw later in the results that tons of people were DQ’d for various reasons, but I can’t imagine that they would have been able ding anyone in the thick of the AG race for drafting because there was simply NO WAY to be legal.

I need to sort out my rear bike bag with my co2s and tubes.  It won’t stay hooked on the seat.  By mile 5 it was hanging on just by the main strap.  People were kind enough to tell me about it, which was really nice in a race, but after a while, I wanted to just put a sign on my back that said “yes, I know, it’s fine (I hope)”.  At the first aide station, I stopped and tried to put it back on and it was flopping around again within a mile.  I shifted it over to one side, so my leg hit it while I was pedaling, so I could keep track of it somehow.  These tires being touchy and the roads being as rough as they were, I figured I had a 50/50 chance of flatting this race and without that bag, 100% chance of being out of the race.

The part I was least looking forward to actually ended up being one of the best stretches – 7 miles of long straight road which has a terrible shoulder, but a pretty decent middle when it’s blocked off.  I was holding about 19 mph early in the race, I had slipped a bit back into the 18s on some of the earlier hills, and on this road I made it back there just pushing the relatively flat road mostly in aero.

As I pulled up to the turn around mile 28, on a slight uphill, I heard a *KATHUNK*.  I’ve spent the entire race being paranoid about my bike bag and flats and everything, so a weird sound made me stop and hop off immediately.  I figured a puncture was happening and I was very happy to see my bag still there.  I felt both tires and oddly enough, they were fine.

Then… I noticed my back wheel was off.  Yeah, you heard me right.  My back wheel’s skewer (which was still on tight) had somehow come out of it’s hole.  Your guess is as good as mine on how that happened because that shouldn’t really be a possibility.  I think I just stared at it for at least 30 seconds with a puzzled WTF look on my face, thinking my race was over and my new expensive bike was broke.

Instinct kicked in and I took off my skewer, making sure to save the little springy thing like Zliten told me last week, reseeded my wheel, and then put it back in and tightened it.  It seemed like the problem was fixed, but I spent a little extra time looking at other people’s bikes, and they looked reasonably similar to mine, I wasn’t missing any pieces.  I got back on my bike, thought, “here goes nothing”, and started to pedal, expecting to hear the same sound again.  It was fine.  I rode a little more gingerly than my even my normal bike weenie self for the next 5-10 miles.

nov2-4

It happened, so it’s on Strava (this seems to be WITH the autopause).

Between the stupid bike bag and the wheel and the flat paranoia, I had spent a lot of mental energy on this bike having nothing to do with making my bike go forward fast.  I lost motivation here in the middle and the speed came down with it.  All I wanted out of life was to be done.  Mile 35 was IMPOSSIBLY far from 56 and it was getting hot and I hated everything.  Then somewhere in there, I shoved a few date rolls and some gatorade down the hatch, the caff gel I had earlier actually kicked in, and I got to a part of the course I liked better and my mood improved.  42-ish on wasn’t even that bad even though the end of the course is not kind.

I am so thankful I’ve ridden this route twice, because the end is seriously demoralizing if you don’t know it’s coming.  It’s a short steep hill right into a long steep hill, and you figure “that was rough, I’m at mile 50, the rest of this course has to be just pedaling it in, right?”.  Nope.   Pretty much the rest of the way there is one long false flat that undulates with some moderate uphills.  And thankfully it’s wayyyy less soul crushing on a carbon fiber TT bike than an aluminum roadie.  There was one last FUCK YOU when you pass the transition area and have to go around the block, making the course almost a whole mile long, but then we finally hit T2.

oct6-2

Death Star and I were BOTH excited to not be cycling at that point, I’m sure…

While I’ve had a lot of bitchy things to say about the ride and the course, let me sum it up with some positives:

  • I caught an issue that could have actually wrecked my bike super quick and fixed it within about 3 minutes.  I am really, really proud of myself for problem solving.
  • Also, I’m really happy that my head didn’t go anywhere near “shit, not again this year” with my bike issue.  It didn’t even pop into my head until I started to write this up.
  • I fueled decently – 1 gel, 2 date rolls, and a metric ass ton of gatorade (2 full bottles to start, 3 stops where I got down at least 2/3 of a big endurance formula each time).
  • For as complain-y as I sound about this course, I had my second best bike split on a 70.3 (would have been a PR without the two stops) with everything that happened and also more climbing than I’ve ever done in a race.  My goal was to hold at least 17 mph and I did that even with a few wrenches thrown my way.

Bike time: 3:18:27 – 54/93 AG (of those who actually finished the whole race, DNS and DNFs like craaaaaazy here).

It was not my dream bike, but I did just about as well as I reasonably expected (my goal was 17-something mph, I hit that even with the stops) and my day could have ended up a LOT worse.  I’m still conquering this bike, and I’m excited to see how things progress over the next six months of riding before IM Texas!

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