Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Big Day Training

I would lying if I said I wasn't nervous about my training schedule for the weekend.  Saturday was my first 'Ironman Big Day' training session.  The week didn't allow any breaks or tapering to prepare for the big weekend.  Going into Saturday I was feeling a bit tired from the week's training sessions but excited and anxious to see what I could do.

I was lucky enough to have the company of a great training partner for the entire Saturday training session.   Trevor is in his final push of training toward the Inaugural Ironman NYC.  We started the day pretty early to load the car and head down to Lake Anna State Park.  Little did we know we would hit some uber traffic on the way down.  Our training got started a bit later than we had planned but the day was all about the training, we didn't have anything to get back to the city for.  

Lake Anna State Park

Once at Lake Anna we scoped out the No Wake and No Boats bouys, bypassed the beach area and jumped into the lake for an open water swim.  We swam for an hour back and forth along the No Boats bouys.  The advantage of not following a course and relying on Garmin for distance and pace - everything counts, no horrible sighting mistakes!  From end to end it was about 500-750m depending on the route and which bouy's you followed.  The swim was not boring and it definitely didn't feel like we had been in the water for an hour.  As much as I like to 'race' I know it will be important for me to swim smart and remain calm at Louisville.  I am hoping that there is a nice down river current for the long stretch of the IM swim.

Once out of the water we loaded up our bikes, put down some nutrition and headed out of the state park for 3 loops ( + some) of the Kinetic 1/2 bike course.  I spent one day earlier this year training on this course and another day racing on this course - I really like this course, a lot.  Little traffic, rolling hills, and good scenery.  We held a strong & comfortable pace of about 20mph for the ride.  The heat started to turn up as we started our 3rd loop so we had to stop off to refuel with PB sandwiches and gatorade.  I'm still working on perfecting the nutrition plan for IM but I am getting a better idea of what works with me and what does not.  I know solid foods will be important for me on the bike while gradually switching over to more gels and liquids during the run.  78 miles later my legs were still feeling pretty great as well rolled back into the state park.

Now we didn't stress transition time during this big day training session but we tried to make them quick and concise.  Once getting our bikes locked up we got some fluids and met up with a friend of Trevor's to pace us on a nice run through trails of the park.  We started at about a 9:00/mile pace and ran along the shaded trails of the state park.  As our run progressed the dark clouds began to roll in.  We finished up a 6.6 mile loop and I refilled my water before setting out for another 4.5 miles.  For ease and familiarity, as well as some self inflicted pain I decided to run a loop of the Kinetic 1/2 run course.  This run course starts out perfectly up hill, rolls through the camping area and cabins and finishes with a nice down hill portion.  I made it about 3 miles into the run before the sky's opened up, the thunder rolled in and torrential downpours started.  Luckily, we had pre-planned for this and Trevor knew the exact route I was taking so he was there in no time with the car.  I was bummed that I had to stop 9.5 miles into my run, but I felt great.   It would have been nice to complete the run but I have heard it's best to stop when you feel like you can do one more.  I'd rather have stopped then end up injured or anything else.
Skyline Drive

I can see that my training has come a long way since I first set out on this Ironman journey.  I've learned and continue to learn a ton about myself, and most importantly I am enjoying all the in's and out's of the training.  Yeah it sucks missing time with my family, trips to Northern Michigan, friends birthdays, etc. but I knew that when I signed up for this and I don't regret it for a second.  On the other side of things is made my trip to Colorado for the Courage Classic a totally justifiable training trip!  On Sunday I rode 'SkyMass' with the DC crew to prepare for CO.  I'll save the details for later, but it was an awesome ride, a great challenge, and a mentally tough training day after Saturday.  I look forward to taking it easy for a couple days as I travel and acclimate a bit to CO before hitting it hard with some great riding and brick runs in such a beautiful part of the country.

Once back from CO I have one more "Big Day" training session and then I'll slowly taper down to IM Louisville.  Chrissie Wellington recently posted the following in her blog, and I think it's very important to remember - "A wise Buddha once said that “the arrow that hits the bull’s-eye is the result of 100 misses”. So next time you have a bad race, wallow, cry, stomp, learn and bank the lessons and then try to move on. Yes, the race result is important. You have invested a huge amount of time and energy in achieving your goal – as have those around you – but ultimately it is about the journey to that start line, enjoying each and every moment and never letting that race day performance – good or bad – totally define you."

Friday, July 6, 2012

Fighting Fatigue

The past couple weeks were big training weeks.  Hitting hours of training that some people would consider worthy of a full time job.  The high volume training period closed out with a 200km bike ride followed by a short brick run.  This week I've battled mental and physical exhaustion while preparing and tapering for an Oly race on Saturday.  It turns out studying and preparing for a Board Exam and Jurisprudence exam in the same week is a bit mentally exhausting in and of itself.

The high volume weeks were good.  I nailed some of my longer workouts during the week and loved every second of Total 200.  Total 200 was a 200 mile or 200km bike ride starting in DC, heading East towards Deale, MD, south and west back to DC.  The temperatures may have been up to 100 but I never felt as though it was that warm.  I thought the weather was perfect, the sun was shining, and I got to spend the day on my bike with friends, what could be better?  I played a little with my nutrition since I didn't bring Gu Brew with me and once I was out I was reliant on the ride provided water and Heed.  Cold Heed isn't horrible, but warm Heed is absolutely disgusting.  I tried a Camelback Elixir as well, no good.  The past couple long workouts I've done I've tried to play with my nutrition and learned that my digestive system doesn't like it when I do that.  I've now seen my nutrition a second time around a few too many times on the bike.  I actually feel better once I lose it though, it doesn't leave me feeling weak or ill.  I just need to nail down the nutrition and stick with what works for Ironman as it will be a long and hot day.  I closed out the ride with a short brick run to get the legs turning over.  I originally planned on making it a long brick run but opted to shorten it as this was by far the longest ride I have ever done.  I couple miles into the run I started feeling great - not that I was running fast by any means, but I could have kept on going.  Ironman is going to be awesome :)

After Total 200 I had to shift my focus from training to studying for a few days.  The National Physical Therapy Exam was on Monday.  250 multiple choice questions on the computer.  I hate sitting for much longer than it takes me to write a blog post so sitting through 250 questions, with no water, was not fun.  I was able to throw in a quick run and get in a good swim after the test.  Tuesday I attempted a shortened version of my track workout before buckling down to study for my Jurisprudence exam.  My first mile was great - and I fell off a bit after that, even the National Park Service employee noticed I looked fatigued compared to previous workouts.  Not my stellar track workout that I like to have the week of a race, but I also did a lot more the weekend prior than I've ever done before.  I used Wednesday to get in some running and riding with friends before taking a well deserved day off.  I crammed some more on Thursday for the Jurisprudence exam and managed to actually get stressed about a test.  I don't usually stress about tests - but for some reason this 50 question standardized test had me beyond stressed.

Now that the exams are over I am able to turn my focus back to training and racing and enjoy the crap out of my last month of freedom.  I have a few more high volume weeks of IM training to crush and 10 days to ride, run, and swim in Colorado.  Before all that I'll race my 3rd Oly of the year.  Coming off my last Oly of the 2011 season I had some big goals for the Oly distance this year - but then IM training took over and I've had to prioritize a bit.  It's hard for me to go into a race that's not a key race for me.  I've ha a couple key races earlier this season including USAT Collegiate Nationals and and Kinetic 1/2.  General Smallwood is the Mid-Atlantic Regional Club Championship so there is going to a huge contingent of DC Tri folks pushing me to go faster and work harder on the course.  That also means if I can pull off a result it gets more points for the club and who doesn't like getting a good result anyhow?  That being said I only kind of tapered for it and my training hasn't been specific to Oly distance racing but my training has been consistent and strong so I'm excited to see what I can do at Smallwood tomorrow.   Good luck DC Tri!

Swim Smart.  Ride Steady.  Run Strong.  Crush it.