I’M READY!!! Umm, wait – maybe not

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2017 TRAINING

WEEK 21 – August 7 > August 13

I have trained for three Ironman races and I get to the point somewhere around Week 20  or so when I declare myself ready.  All it took for me to understand that I wasn’t was the Saturday long ride and run workout.

It started out okay, and it was a beautiful day – low 70’s, mostly sunny, light breeze if any. My only option for doing a long ride and not want to murder people on the bike trail is to head south from where I live to the more rural farmland of the far south Chicago suburbs.  I live right on the cuff of urban and rural living.  Harlem Avenue near where I live is a six lane motorway.  South of Monee, it is two lanes with barely any shoulder or traffic.  So I headed south with a plan to turn around at 2 hours and head back to complete the scheduled 4 hour ride.

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Feeling pretty good about myself around 1.5 hours into the ride.

I have a terrible sense of wind direction when I ride for some reason, but I was keeping an eye on the corn and plants and they weren’t moving at all.  So I felt strong and kept pushing.  I had built up an average pace of 18.6 mph before I turned around.  Then I felt the wind.  It was from the north, and I knew I was in trouble because 90% of the ride back would be back into the wind.  So I ended up battling my way back home, watching my average ride pace slowly tick back down to a more realistic level for me.  I pushed pretty hard, but it still took me an additional 11 minutes on the return trip.  I ended with an average of 17.9 mph.  Not only was I now super tired from the effort back, but I also had dropped below 18 mph average.

I ended the ride with a 5 mile run at a pretty good pace.  But I could tell that I was spent.  I showered up and went to Panera for some soup.  Between the Southwest Chicken Tortilla Soup bowl (super salty and full of chicken/protein), and about a half dozen refills of sugary Lipton Brisk Raspberry Tea, I was able to turn myself around and feel good again.  But after that 5 hour, 80 mile training day, I knew that I surely do need these remaining few weeks of training to be ready.

On Sunday, I ran the scheduled 1 hour 45 minute run not knowing what to expect.  Turned out I felt pretty good.  Ended the run covering 12 total miles.  Maybe I am ready!

TOTALS:

2 Swims – 5600 yards this week / 70050 yards total

3 Bikes – 131 miles this week / 9598 miles total

7 Runs – 41 miles this week / 646 miles total

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The truth lies in the Saturday and Sunday long efforts.

 

My Brain on Ironman

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2017 TRAINING

WEEK 20 – July 31 > August 6

I read a recent article in Triathlete magazine that covered the subject of mental preparedness in Ironman.  I have always thought that training your mind to handle the effort in training and the races was almost as vital as the physical aspect of getting your body ready to spend the more than half a day swimming, biking and running.  Some of it can be very mind numbing for sure.

I find the swimming to be the most boring of the three.  You are either looking at a black line at the bottom of a swimming pool, the dark murkiness of a lake, or in my case a bunch of dead bugs lying at the bottom of my pool, a constant reminder that I also need to devote time to take care of things that get neglected during training.

Running can also be boring, but you can bring music if you are so inclined.  I don’t, but I do let the beauty of the area in which I run to keep me distracted from any suffering that may be going on.  I jogged behind a deer on Wednesday for about a minute until it finally took notice and bounded into the woods.

I find that I don’t have the luxury of being unfocused on the bike.  It’s the one discipline of triathlon in which you are required to focus.  You have to constantly monitor your surroundings, your effort level, and make sure that you don’t crash.  Certainly there are times when I can zone out, but something always quickly renews your focus on the bike – a bump on the road, a bug to the face, a gust of wind, etc.

Often times when someone asks about the Ironman, they only think in terms of how long it is – 140.6 miles – and are impressed that the distance can be covered under your own power.  But I find that your mind easily adapts to the distance if you break it down into manageable segments.  My training is 30 weeks long.  That’s a long time.  But when it is broken into its individual weeks, and then into each day, it is much easier to mentally handle the task.  The woman who inquired about my training this week asked me about the training, and I said for Wednesday’s workout I did 45 minutes on the bike followed by a 30 minute run.  A total of 75 minutes of exercise.  Lots of people can do that.  Break it up and it is much more manageable.

At Ironman Wisconsin in 2013, I found that I couldn’t bear to look out at the water where the swim course was being held prior to race day.  It looked enormous!  But on race day morning, I got in the water for the start and broke the swim up into small segments.  My plan was to swim from one orange buoy to the next.  On the bike it was all about riding to the next aid station where I could refill my water bottle and take on some more nutrition, then it was on to the next one.  Same thing with the run – one mile at a time, one aid station to the next.

So I guess the physical training for the race is the most important aspect of completing an Ironman.  But if you can train your brain to manage the race, it can make the physical portion of it much less of a burden.

THIS WEEK

Swimming in Lake Minocqua. 

I volunteered as a chaperone at this past couple of weeks at band camp.  Fortunately for me I was able to take the 3-6pm slot, and was still able to get my workouts done midday.  The weekend was spent in Minocqua with the family.  I felt the need to be with the family and spend quality time that is no longer a given. My son has his own job and is living out of state. And my middle daughter will begin her sophomore year at college soon. So to have everyone together for two short days was a luxury that I couldn’t pass up. So I skipped the scheduled four hour bike ride. But I was able to get an open water lake swim in as well as the two hour Sunday run. That run nearly wiped me out physically and mentally. I’ve got some work to do in the next ten weeks. 

TOTALS:

2 Swims – 4400 yards this week / 64450 yards total

2 Bikes – 41 miles this week / 9467 miles total

7 Runs – 40 miles this week / 605 miles total

Week 20 complete. Bring on the Peak Phase!