The minute I finished today's 14-mile run, my taper for Ironman New Orleans 70.3 officially began. I usually dread taper, not fully understanding the physiological benefits which will ultimately improve my race. But not this time. This time I'm overjoyed that taper time has arrived. I still have a decent volume of training ahead, but with the opportunity to sleep more and have a semi-normal life.
Aside from a few unfortunate experiences, I love long runs and today's was no exception. I decided to patch together a bunch of shorter runs and keep it in Brooklyn. This allowed me to test out my new shoes, knowing I could get home for a switch if they bloodied and blistered me, and have adequate nutrition. I planned to run just over five miles before a quick stop at the " ," aka my apartment.
That first stretch was crowded since I braved the Brooklyn Bridge and Brooklyn Heights Promenade, but the views always make it worthwhile. I felt good and was hitting some decent splits. When I stopped to refuel, I quickly looked at my training schedule and realized I'd screwed up my approach. The first six miles were supposed to be in my aerobic zone, 8:52-9:21/mile, with the final eight at my half marathon pace, 8:14-8:44. Oops. I had been under 8:50 for much of the first five and worried my legs would start to reflect that as I tried to push the remaining nine. So I took the sixth mile a little easier and then picked up the pace just in time to start the long, gradual climb to Prospect Park. Good times.
I decided to defy the norm and run clockwise against 99.9% of park traffic. This wasn't to be a pain, but rather an attempt to change scenery and alleviate the usual road slant. I never did quite make a full loop. Instead I turned around about 3/4s of the way to avoid the vicious wind that nearly stopped me in my tracks. Unfortunately, the wind turned around too. I felt like I was constantly running into it. This switch also caused me to grossly miscalculate my mileage in the park so when I hit 13 miles, I still had a significant distance to go just to exit the park, and another 1.5 miles or so to get home. I finished and figured I'd walk for a nice cool down. This logic lasted for about .25 miles or until I was freezing so I decided to jog the rest to generate some heat. It was super slow, barely a notch above walking, but it kept me warm for the final mile of my journey.
This weekend's training was a real confidence booster for my race. My long brick felt good and I know I will be so much better on the bike outdoors. My long swim was the best I've ever done. And today's pace was on par with my half marathon PR, even after the previous days' workouts. I never thought I'd say this and mean it, but I'm ready for the half Ironman. Sure, I could and should have trained for more than eight weeks, but I did what my life allowed and made the most of it.
Distance - 14.01 miles
Time - 2:01:34