June 28, 2009

Biggest Week Yet

Since today is a rest day and I was flying back from Wisconsin, I had some time to reflect on the events of this past week. My training log tracks Sunday to Saturday and the week I just finished was my biggest training week ever. Here is a look at my totals:

Swim: 11,440.2 yards; 3:43:15
Bike: 221.93 miles; 14:22:48
Run: 30.33 miles; 4:31:02
Total time: 22:37:05

I’m incredibly proud of what I accomplished, but it goes so much beyond just the numbers. I re-discovered the joy of biking and no longer see it as a survival sport. I experimented with race day strategies, nutrition and clothing options and feel I am on track to getting everything just right. I pushed my body hard, endured a lot of pain and exhaustion, trained in some unfavorable conditions and still felt I could do more each morning when I woke up. I got to train with friends also doing IMWI and sharing the same goals as me. And I got to invite my family into my triathlon life for a brief time, letting them see what it is that I do and perhaps making it all a bit clearer to them.

I slept a solid eight hours last night and have been in some form of compression wear since finishing yesterday’s big workout. Aside from a bit of stiffness, my legs feel great and I’m moderately tired, which I think is to be expected. I got to ride my bike 10 minutes today over to the bike shop to have it packed up and even then, for that tiny amount of time, I enjoyed being on it. I rode on the Lake Monona path on a beautiful, perfect morning and felt really at peace with where I am and what I have yet to do before the race.

June 27, 2009

Dress Rehearsal

Today was a good day. A really, really good day. It was the kind of day that left me with a smile I could not wipe off my face for hours. Just three months ago, a day like today would never have been the source of happiness, but rather a day I just needed to survive. So much has changed for me and I couldn't be happier for it.

I rode the full Ironman Wisconsin course from beginning to end today with two friends who made it seem like it wasn't work at all, even though it was the hardest training day I've ever done. I met Robert at 5:30 a.m. near the Monona Terrace where we'll start our journey on the big day, and we rode out to Verona to meet up with Phil to do the two loops that destroy a lot of legs and spirits. I rode a loop on Wednesday and was wiped so I was worried what two plus an additional 32 miles in and out of Madison would do to me. I wanted to be conservative, but I also wanted to see what my body is capable of doing today as a gauge of what I need to work on over the next two months.

We rode the first stretch at a decent clip but not too fast. It's not overly challenging except for a couple hills and it's a really nice ride. The sun had just come up so it was a beautiful time to be out there. It was also in the upper 60s, a stark difference from the heat wave of the days before. It was picture perfect, I felt lucky to be here and having this opportunity to do a run through prior to the race.

I was testing everything today: (1) My potential race outfit; (2) Nutrition plan (yet again); (3) Pacing on the loops vs. the out and back; (4) Gearing on the hills and pedaling on downhills to save energy and keep momentum. I held back a bit on the first loop and stuck to my nutrition plan. I was feeling really good when we arrived at the halfway point. We agreed to push a little harder on the second loop so I gave it my all. It was interesting to see how I felt 40 miles later on the big hills. There is a lot of pain on this ride due to the terrain. It's not hideous pain that makes you want to quit, but more like severe discomfort that doesn't allow you to get your mind off it for long. I went through phases of feeling really good and comfortable to wishing I could just lay flat on my back for a minute and rest. This went on for hours. But for all the challenges the course serves up, there are also great rewards. There is an incredible downhill stretch on Witte Road where it's smooth and you can see everything ahead so I can get to 40 mph while in aero and not freak out even a little. I love that. Much of the course is scenic and a pleasure to be on. It's the kind of place you want to be on your bike.

As with HHH we talked and laughed a lot, even on the more punishing parts of the course. I remember at one time trying to laugh and not having the energy to get it out, but the feeling of laughter remained with me and it was a motivating power to get up the hill. If I had done this course alone it would have been much harder. I had the chance to see it first with Amy and now with Phil and Robert and it made a huge difference.

I was fading around 70-80 miles in and then had a burst of energy around 100. This tends to happen to me. I felt really solid for the final stretch and was able to keep up a nice pace. I played the mental game of "to run or not to run" for about 100 miles and realized I just needed to do it. I needed to know what my legs are going to feel like after 112 miles of Dairyland hills so I decided I would do it even if I had to drag myself.

After some goodbyes I was on my own and had to move quickly to get out on the run. My Garmin had died so I charged it while I changed and hit the bathroom so I could hopefully make it to the halfway point and then just trace my route back. It worked. I ran along Lake Monona again so I could hit the drinking fountains and not carry anything. The plan called for 7 miles, my longest brick yet. I started out at a great pace, 8:11 and 8:14 for the first splits, then dropped to 8:30. My Garmin died just before Mile 4 so I don't know the rest, but my average ended up just below an 8:30 pace. My legs felt surprisingly good and my HR wasn't through the roof. If I had to, I think I could have run longer. Could I have done another 19 miles? Not yet. But that's what the next two months are for.

Distance - 114.04 miles
Time - 7:14:12

Distance - 7 miles
Time - 59:20

June 26, 2009

The Emotional Side of Ironman

So much of Ironman training is physical. It's about pushing your limits and seeing how far your body can take you. We all talk about HR zones, minutes logged and the miles and miles we cover, but beyond that there is another side to training, the emotional side that can be just as challenging at times. Now that we're in full swing Ironman training season, this topic is coming up more and frequently and it seems most of us experience some level of training blues from time to time. The frustrations come from having to give up other aspects of our livest to fit in the ever increasing training load, from disappointment in our training performance, from missing training due to life getting in the way, and from the constant thoughts of making it to the finish line.

Training has been an emotional rollercoaster for sure. My cycle of happiness tends to run about four weeks, then inevitably I hit a rough patch for anywhere from a day to a week where I wonder why the heck I do this and how I'm ever going to be trained enough to finish the race. But then something usually happens to snap me back and it all becomes clear. I do this because I love it. I do this because I can and I know I won't always be able to. I do this because life just isn't rewarding enough without significant challenges and this is by far the greatest challenge I've ever had.

Sure I've given up a lot for this sport. I used to meet up with friends at our favorite local bar a few days a week with Sunday afternoons being our regular time. I can't remember the last time I was able to go because I'm always out on my bike or running on a Sunday now. I don't have time to watch movies, I can't remember the last time I just relaxed or took a nap, I don't cook anymore and I don't watch TV. But I've gained a lot as well. I've met somewhere around 50 new people through this sport and the discipline of training has made me better in other aspects of my life. I still see my friends, I still have a social life, it's just a little more restricted right now.

As far as race day worries and doubts go, I have them occasionally, but I also have days where I feel ready to race tomorrow and I know I'll be in an even better place in 79 days when the time is finally here. Having come from a totally non-athletic background this has been even more rewarding for me and the feeling of pride is unmatched.

Today was another relatively light day in preparation of the big weekend. I ran five miles this morning at an easy pace along the lake and through a semi-shaded neighborhood. My legs felt a bit fatigued but I'm still feeling really good despite the volume. I went to a new lake for my long swim. The water was beyond warm so I did 45 minutes in my wetsuit for the practice and the remaining 30 minutes without. I've never done an open water swim without a wetsuit, it was definitely harder but a relief not to be roasting.

Tonight was one of those perfect summer nights where everything is just right. I went with my family for drinks and dinner at a place with a terrace overlooking Lake Monona. We sat outside and the temperature was finally enjoyable. I haven't been that relaxed in a really long time, just what I needed to get ready for the big day tomorrow.

Distance - 5 miles
Time - 43:47

Distance - 3,800 yards
Time - 1:16:45

June 25, 2009

Not One, But Two Breakthroughs

After the beating I took yesterday I decided to stick to the plan and do the 1-1.5 hours on the bike vs. the 50 miles I was planning to ride with friends. I wanted to give my legs a break and I also desperately wanted the extra 1.5 hours of sleep to recover. So I slept until the decadent hour of 6 a.m. and went for a short ride by myself before work. I'm getting spoiled here. It's virtually impossible for me to do outdoor rides Monday through Thursday in NYC, but here it's right out my door so I've been on my bike every day. I realized this morning how happy it has made me feel. Before I even start my day I've spent an hour or two outside enjoying some quiet time for myself.

It's been 10 months now since my accident and finally, this week, I love biking again. I'm still timid, I still don't fly down the hills or coast through intersections. I may never be able to again. But I am enjoying it and I'm no longer seeing it as a survival sport. I actually want to do it rather than have to do it and for me, that's a breakthrough.

Due to the hot, weedy, festering lake conditions around Madison we decided to keep today's swim indoors. I met up with Phil and Jon, who also did HHH last weekend, to swim at the University of Wisconsin's facility. I swam there last year as well when I was in town to sign up for IMWI, but my shoulder was broken so I had to one-arm it. It wasn't quite the same.

Since I was trying to simulate an open water swim I decided to see what I could do in an hour without stopping. I had to pause briefly to complain to Phil about one of my lanemates - a guy doing a tarzan breaststroke with no goggles. He was wearing his regular glasses! Phil promptly had him transferred to the slow lane. I did 3,100 meters (3,390 yards) nonstop and felt really good. When I logged the workout I was blown away by my pace - 1:46/100 yards. Another breakthrough for me. I don't know if it's the big training week or the 50 meter length, but something just made this swim better than usual. I am looking forward to tomorrow's open water swim, which I have to drive 20 miles for to avoid the algae and weeds, to see how I feel. The swim used to be a massive barrier for me. I may still be slow, but at least I feel comfortable.

Tomorrow is another light day. I'll run in the morning before the heat kicks in and then drive to the new lake for a long swim. I'm saving it all up for the big day on Saturday, either a full 112 on the bike course or perhaps more than 120 by doing three loops. Then I have to run. It should be a challenging, exciting, frustraing and rewarding day. Can't wait!

Distance - 23.57 miles
Time - 1:30:38

Distance - 3,100 meters
Time - 1:00:00

June 24, 2009

Heat Advisory? What Heat Advisory?

As I drove to Verona at 6:15 this morning, the DJs were all talking about the serious heat advisory in effect and how they all worked up a sweat just walking to their cars. So what was my plan for the day? I was meeting my friend Amy for a one loop ride of the Ironman Wisconsin course and then planning to run a loop of the marathon course as well. The ride was planned early enough to beat some of the serious heat, but I knew the run would happen in the peak heat of the day. In an effort to train in all conditions, smartly and safely of course, I decided I would do the run regardless of how hot it was.

I've been anxious all week to see the course and decide for myself if it lives up to the hype. I've been told it's one of the hardest Ironman bike courses in the U.S. The reason is the nonstop rolling hills with a few steep climbs mixed in for fun. It's also very technical with multiple turns and curves to content with. Armed with Amy's experience riding the course, a cue sheet and GPS we got started. The course is beautiful in most parts, wide open farmland or wooded areas, with only a few ugly stretches along busier roads. The hills definitely make the ride a challenge, but after riding HHH they seemed pretty innocuous. They make you work but they also make the ride more interesting.

Being able to ride this course with a friend was really great. The time flew by and she shared details about how the course would be on race day while we rode. We also had some humorous moments mostly relating to angry drivers. Here we are, two women out riding on an Ironman course, a route where seeing a cyclist is quite common, and yet several drivers angrily honked and shared colorful gestures as they drove by. One woman slowed as she passed and gave us the finger before flooring it and driving off. Seriously? Is it really worth the expenditure of energy to do something like that? Another guy went flying by in a truck wildly pointing to the side of the road as if he were implying we should just ride off in the field rather than on the shoulder. It was rather ironic since Amy has ridden the course several times and never experience traffic, let alone angry traffic. We got a good laugh out of it.

When we finished the loop I added another 10 miles to see some of the out and back and bump up my total mileage for the day. I was feeling pretty good, but we had taken the pace easy and I could see how two loops would really wear you out. I'm glad I have another shot at it on Saturday to get more familiar and more comfortable.

By the time I drove back to Madison, unloaded the bike, hydrated and cooled off a bit, I was headed out to run at 2:30 and it was hot. I immediately had flashbacks to the Chicago Marathon a couple years ago, only I think it was actually hotter today. I'll be starting the run mid-afternoon on race day as well so it was a good simulation. Let's just hope it's not as hot.

I was running along Lake Mendota and hit the first shade I'd seen for five miles so I stepped off the path and sat down for a bit. Passersby likely thought I was either crazy or having a heat stroke but I just needed a little rest. I started to feel thankful that I had no idea where I was going and was forced to stop and look at the cue sheet every mile or so. I got lost a couple times but nothing too far off track. I was utterly fatigued, my legs were achy and tired and I was struggling with the desire to keep going - precisely how I will likely feel on race day. That realization made the race feel so much more real to me.

There are a couple sections of the course I either had to skip or chose to skip so I came short of 13.1 miles, but I saw almost the entire thing and that's what counts. As I came into the finish by the Capital, the last three streets were closed for this evening's Concert on the Square so I got to run in the street, on the actual course, right to where the finish line will be. I can't imagine how it will feel to round that corner for real on September 13.

I picked up 20 pounds of ice on my way home and immediately hopped in the tub with it. I could tell I'd pushed my legs to the limit today and need to keep everything in working order for the big day on Saturday.

Distance - 57.47 miles
Time - 3:46:51

Distance - 11.46 miles
Time - 1:47:55

June 23, 2009

It Ain't Easy Being Green

I've heard stories of the blue-green algae outbreaks in Wisconsin lakes and recall Lake Monona being closed for a series of weeks right before the Ironman last year. I encountered some algae yesterday and while it was gross, it was bearable. That was not the case today. I arrived at the lake for my one-hour swim and was horrified by what I saw. The water looked like pea soup. Overnight it had turned into a festering, green, hot, still mass of water that looked virtually unswimmable. Temperatures barely dipped into the lower 80s overnight and the wind was low, creating a perfect environment for the nasty bacteria to flourish. So what did I do? I got in and swam, of course.

I thought if I got far enough from the shore it would get better so I sort of tarzan swam out and when it wasn't getting better I decided to start my watch and just go. What other choice did I have? There is a saying in triathlon - HTFU, which means Harden the F#@% Up. It took a hefty dose of HTFU to put my face in the foul, green water and swim. I was a little panicked but managed to calm myself down even as giant clumps of algae slid along my face and the seaweedy/grassy stuff clustered on the surface of the water repeatedly became tangled on my arms and stuck on my forehead. I kept my mouth as tightly closed as possible, not the best way to be for swimming. I was just about at yesterday's short swim turnaround point when I swam into an algae minefield. It was so dense I swear I could have stood up and rested on it. I realized then that this swim had to be over. If I could have been airlifted out it would have been ideal, but instead I had the pleasure of fighting my way back through the grime to where I started. When I finally escaped the water, I was coated in little specks of green. I smelled and looked like something that was pulled out of a sewer drain. I don't know how I didn't throw up.

I later read that this blue-green algae has killed cattle, dogs and waterfowl that ingest large quantities. They should add stubborn triathletes to the list of endangered species. I also learned that the nearest beach on the lake was closed. I guess that's what I get for being the clueless out-of-towner.

I redeemed the day with a nice evening ride. I had an easy 1-1.5 hours on the schedule and got to extend it a bit to make up for the aborted swim. I rode on the Capital City Trail that starts just a couple blocks from where I'm staying. It's a dream to be able to walk out the door and start a ride without having to cross two bridges and ride through hell to get there. Once the trail leaves the city it is amazing. It was mostly wooded and really scenic the entire way except for a few major intersections and one small residential area. It was peaceful and I was happy despite the fact it was still over 90 degrees. If I lived here I'd be on my bike all the time.

Tomorrow will be my first time on the Ironman Wisconsin course. My friend Amy took the day off to ride a loop with me and I can't thank her enough. I'm excited to see what it's like and get an idea of what race day will be like. I'm also planning to run a loop of the course as well assuming I can keep all the directions straight. We're under a heat advisory so I'll have to take it all slowly, but I'm not here to race, I'm just here to train and get familiar before the big day.

Distance - 900 yards
Time - 17:28

Distance - 26.85 miles
Time - 1:51:07

June 22, 2009

Not So Horrible Recovery

I was dreading how my legs would feel after HHH so I got into my Zoot recovery tights ASAP and wore them for about 13 hours straight. I ended up sleeping 9.5 hours, something I haven't done for months. It felt amazing. When I woke up I was surprised by how good I felt. I was a bit tired, but didn't have any pain or stiffness.

Robert and I decided to meet for a swim in Lake Wingra at a blissfully normal start time of 11:30. I was late, of course, but I blame it on not having a clue where I was going and then having to search for a place to park.

I'm an ocean girl so I'm really creeped out by lake water. Within a minute of entering the lake I sunk ankle deep into the mucky, squishy bottom because I walked out too far. Lovely. I could also see there was a forest of weeds to swim through and could feel my chest constricting at the thought of it. Whenever I'm in a lake I think about that 80's movie Swamp Thing and imagine all sorts of creatures lurking in the shadowy water. Imagination is a good thing but not during an open water swim. We picked a focal point and got started. Getting through the weeds left me a little breathless, but once I cleared them I was able to settle into a nice rhythm. I have finally learned how to sight without lifting my head totally out of the water and this makes a massive difference in how I swim in open water. There was absolutely no chop or current so it was almost like pool swimming. It was actually really nice aside from the weeds and a slightly off taste in the water. We did 15 minutes out and back and then another shorter out and back for a total of 50 minutes.

It was boiling hot outside by the time we finished and I needed to run for an hour. There is an arboretum right by the lake so I brought my running gear and got started immediately after the swim. This is when I realized my legs were a little fried from HHH. I could tell it was going to be a long hour out there between the high temps, humidity and my dead legs. Plus my iPod was dead so the only sound I heard for an hour was my labored breathing and the incessant beeping of my HRM. My pace was a little slow, understandably, but I got it done. Afterward I spent the afternoon relaxing with family and my precious little nephew, one of the highlights of visiting Madison. He'll by far be the cutest member of my Ironman support crew in September.

Mondays are usually rest but today I had the option to do a 20 minute swim so I jumped on it. I have to start work at 8 a.m. due to the time difference so it required me to get up earlier than I would have liked. I was definitely still dragging a bit and had stayed up a wee bit late to watch a friend finish Ironman Couer D'Alene on the live feed. I swam in Lake Monona where the Ironman swim takes place. The water was a bit choppy and I've been hearing about the high algae content so I immediately noticed it coating the surface and could only imagine how much more was hiding beneath. Yum. There was also a big dead fish right where I walked in. Swamp Thing. But time was of the essence so I got in and got going, pushing through the weeds (what's with all the weeds???) and getting to deeper, less creepy water. This swim was harder than I thought it would be due to the chop and lack of anything easy to sight. I drifted pretty far out and had to really work to keep moving in a semi-straight line. The return was easier since I could sight the shore to my left. I couldn't taste the algae and this lake certainly tasted better than Wingra, but there was so much stuff in the water it looked like there were little pearls everywhere. It made it hard to relax my jaw like I normally would due to the desire to keep my mouth firmly clamped shut. But little by little I'm going to conquer my lake water fears so it will be second nature by race day. Today was a good start.

Swimming (Sunday)
Distance - 2,300 yards
Time - 49:02

Running (Sunday)
Distance - 6.87 miles
Time - 1:00:00

Swimming (Monday)
Distance - 1,050 yards
Time - 20:00

June 21, 2009

Horribly Hilly Hundreds

Warning: This blog is long. But the event this blog is about was also long so I couldn't help it. Enjoy.

Yesterday I survived what claims to be one of the toughest cycling events in the country, the Horribly Hilly Hundreds in Wisconsin. They offer a 100K and 200K option and thankfully I had the good sense to do the 100K, otherwise I would have most certainly been in the SAG wagon. I ended up going into the ride on minimal sleep due to the travel delays so I wasn't feeling tip top. But I was meeting a group of friends and knew I'd have a good day regardless of how good I felt on the bike.

We had a hard time coordinating a meet up before the start. I ran into my friends Jon and Phil but others were MIA. We decided to meet up at the start since parking and registration were up the super steep hill that would later be the finish. By the time I was ready to hit the start no one was around. I rode down the hill and still didn't see anyone so I figured I better get going. It was already a bit late and I wasn't going to be setting any speed records out there. A big group of cyclists came down the hill so I decided to follow them out onto the course. About 1.5 miles in Phil called so I stopped to find out where he was. While waiting on the side of the rode, Jon rode by and joined me. We waited a long time, more than 20 minutes and no Phil. I would later find out the reason he couldn't find me is because I accidentally cut the course by about eight miles - I'd gone the sheep route and followed other riders rather than looking at the course markings and missed a short loop at the beginning (that included a very nasty hill). I wasn't the only one, a few others from our group did the same thing. After the rest of the ride, I wasn't feeling too bad about missing a few miles. I was adequately challenged.

Jon and I rode together but he was faster so I was mostly riding alone and catching up when he waited at the top of the hills. The beginning of this ride is interesting. You hit a few steep, hard climbs, but are rewarded with some unbelievably long downhills so it doesn't feel that hard. The roads were challenging with a lot of loose gravel and twigs due to all the storms so you really had to pay close attention. As usual I was timid on the descents and lost a lot of free speed as a result. I'm just not ready to fly down a hill at 40+ mph on my super light carbon bike. I did allow myself to hit a maximum speed of 38.5 mph, although I'm certain I had a finger on the brake the entire time.

Heading into the first rest area was a tremendously steep climb that is cruelly located just past a major intersection and railroad tracks so we had to stop and wait for a policeman to wave us through. Tackling this climb with zero momentum was a treat and to add to my fun, I dropped my chain. I nearly went down since I was only riding about 4 mph but somehow managed to clip out and get to the side of the road. I could not get the chain back on and was totally losing my temper. I was covered in grease, sweating, and teetering like a mountain goat on a steep hillside while trying to balance my bike and fix the chain. I screamed some colorful words and just at that moment, heard someone say my name. It was fellow BTers Laura and Kelly and they graciously stopped to see if I was ok. It was really nice of them to stop on such an ugly climb that required all of us to ride back down for some momentum to get back up.

I found Jon at the rest stop and finally met up Amy, who I'd missed at the beginning. She was also having chain issues and had a rough start. Phil rode in just as we were leaving so we decided to wait so we could ride as a group. Amy ended up coming along later so she could have some work done on her bike.

The second section was much harder with a couple hills I swore I couldn't climb. There was one in particular right before the second rest stop that looked as though it went straight up. It made me wonder how the ride organizer could ever look at it and say "I think I'll put this on my course." It was brutal. People were weaving all over the road in an effort to keep from tipping over. Many riders had to stop and walk and others stopped and just stood over their bikes trying to catch their breath. On climbs like this there was total silence except the sound of people breathing. You would ride right by someone and no words or looks would be exchanged, we were suffering too much for niceties.

We ran into Laura and Kelly at the rest stop and Amy's boyfriend Craig. I felt like we stayed there forever. It was so much fun and made us forget about the pain for a bit. Amy showed up and was riding with another friend, Robert, so for the final stretch we had a nice little group that would later make all the difference in the world. I'm not sure I could have done it alone. The last section was truly punishing with climbs that went on for miles and one so steep I had a hard time driving up it in my car. The sun was blazing, it was in the mid-80s and high humidity as well, making it physically grueling.

I've never done an event where you see so much defeat. People were dropping like flies especially as it got hotter and hotter. There was absolutely no shame in having to walk a hill or needing to stop and take a rest after a brutal climb. I told myself in the beginning it would be ok to walk so I wouldn't stress over needing to if it came to that. I miraculously managed not to walk any hills, but I had to stop at the top of more than a few to catch my breath and let my HR lower from the 180 BPMs it had reached. My coach gave me an HR strategy going into this ride which included keeping my HR below 155. Ha! That was absolutely impossible, the smallest climbs pushed me to that level even when I was in the easiest gear and pedaling as slowly as I could.

But on the flip side of the defeat was an amazing spirit of being in it together and dare I say - fun. Thanks to the friends I rode with, I laughed all day even on the most punishing parts of the course. If anyone had an issue, we all stopped to make sure things were ok and we waited for each other as needed. It made the miles fly by and made the climbs a lot more manageable since we were all sharing in the same pain, the same struggle and the same desire to finish. There was a multi-mile, miserable hill toward the end that you think is just about done when you round a curve and see it goes on for what seems like forever. I was riding alongside Robert on this climb and I screamed some more colorful words when I saw there was no end in sight. We laughed about that today, it was most certainly the low point of the ride for me, but we managed to make it up somehow and even chatted a bit on the way. It's amazing the energy you can draw from others.

This ride was by far the most intense, most challenging physical thing I've ever done. I was more spent at 40 miles than I was after the entire 110 miles in Lake Placid. I was fatigued to the core and was yawning despite my effort to keep the calories up. I was dehydrated and my nutrition plan went out the window, it was just too difficult to be disciplined during something so unusually hard. But the feeling of accomplishment at the end was amazing. We were on the final climb, the famous 8% grade that destroys so many people and were out of the saddle, grinding our way up. I was with Phil and Jon and we saw Craig on the side cheering us on. I realized the top of the hill was just within reach and used a surge of adrenaline to give it a final push. I blasted off and left the guys behind, leaving Craig to joke that they got "chicked." I wasn't trying to show off, I literally just wanted to get off that bike!

We stopped after the finish and just stood for a moment straddling our bikes. I leaned on the handlebars and tried to gain some composure. I was shaking so hard I couldn't even swing my leg over my bike to get off it. We spent a few hours resting at a picnic table with some beer, food and stories about the ride, eventually catching up with other friends who had ridden separately or done the 200K (crazy). It was an incredibly fun afternoon and a nice reward for the hard work.

Distance - 59.96 miles
Time - 4:21:47
Elevation Gain - 5,700 feet!

June 19, 2009

Dairyland Training Adventure

I finally made it to Wisconsin today after a few setbacks and detours. I flew to Milwaukee via Cincinnati and arrived at 9:30 a.m. My dad picked me up at the airport and we drove straight to Cronometro, the bike shop in Madison that was going to put my bike back together, fix a few things and do my new saddle fitting. I cannot recommend this place enough. I was scheduled for a one-hour fit and was there for well over two hours.

The fitting was interesting. It was a lower body only session, however, he gave his opinion on the rest of the fit, which thankfully was that it was good. However, we ended up raising my saddle quite a bit and I was amazed by how much better I felt on the bike. I was a little nervous to make a change before a big event, but the only real big event I have this year is the Ironman and I need to get as comfortable as possible before then so I took a chance.

I did a quick test ride and the new saddle felt great. It's the Koobi PRS Tri T1 and I really hope it's the last this year.

I was running on fumes after 3.75 hours of sleep, a day of travel and bike fittings and a short ride, but I rallied and went to dinner with my family. I don't get to see them often so it's a treat to be here and be able to enjoy training and enjoy some time with them.

I registered for Horribly Hilly Hundreds six months ago and have been both looking forward to it and dreading it simultaneously. It marks the beginning of my really big training that won't lighten up until taper. Hopefully it will be a good kick-off to a very busy summer.

Time - 50:00

June 18, 2009

Travel Delay

I took the day off work today to travel to Wisconsin. I ended up packing all morning and leaving for the airport around 1:00 in the pouring rain. I got soaked loading my bike and tons of gear into the car and sat in traffic that crawled at a snail's pace all the way to LaGuardia. Check in took forever because I was disputing the price tag Delta placed on checking my bike - $175 plus the $25 I already paid for it being my second bag. It only weighed 32 pounds but they measured it and it was marginally oversized so it allowed them to slap me with an astronomical fee. Ridiculous. I've been flying Delta forever and think this will be the last time I deliberately choose them. There is no excuse for charging that much for luggage.

Just as I settled in at the gate they announced my flight was canceled. So I sat at an empty gate and called Delta to rebook, hoping I could get out later tonight. They informed me I was already rebooked on a flight Friday afternoon, arriving in Madison at 10 p.m. Clearly that wouldn't work because it would mean I would miss the HHH. They offered me a refund and I tried to rebook on another airline, but the fare literally went up while I was on the phone and this trip just wasn't worth $1,000. I was starting to accept that it wasn't going to work when I decided to try Delta one more time. I asked them to look at Chicago, Milwaukee and other surrounding cities and they finally found something that worked. I am now rebooked at 6:05 a.m. tomorrow to Milwaukee and the bike shop in Madison can still fit me in if all goes well. I really hope tomorrow goes more smoothly.

I came home and ran to help shake the bad day I'd had. The run was great, it was my first since Sunday in Lake Placid so my legs felt good and I had a lot of energy. I'm really excited about how I've recovered this week. The lower volume and intensity was perfect given the work and life committments I was also juggling. I think I'll feel ready to go on Saturday. How I'll feel Sunday is another story.

Distance - 5.1 miles
Time - 42:07

Rain, Rain Go Away

I woke up to the sound of pouring rain, yet again. I have a five mile run on the schedule and decided to do it when I arrive in Wisconsin tonight where the sun is actually shining. A friend informed me today that we've only had four rain-free days in June. And not only is it raining all the time but it's also cold. As I packed for this trip I realized I haven't even gotten my summer clothes out yet. They are still all zipped up in bags under my bed. The fact I don't miss them says a lot.

I just finished bubble wrapping my bike - yes, I'm uptight - am pretty much packed and should be ready to go in an hour or so. My flight is delayed but I'm going to just go to the airport, get the bike checked in and wait. Hopefully there will be WiFi and if not, there's always the airport bar to pass the time.

I'm looking forward to another big dedicated training week and can't wait to see my family and friends in Wisconsin.

June 17, 2009

Lake Placid, Sunday

Sunday was originally planned to be a very big training day - one loop swim, one loop bike and one loop run, essentially a half Ironman but without the excitement of race day. The run was the priority so if I was feeling beat I was planning to either cut or shorten the bike and do the full run. But all plans changed and Sunday ended up being a pretty easy day. Two things influenced this: (1) After three consecutive days in the saddle, and particularly after Saturday's big ride, I couldn't bear the thought of getting back on the bike; and (2) We did a bit of celebrating our big accomplishment on Saturday.

I was out the door and running by 8:30 Sunday morning. The Lake Placid Marathon and Half Marathon were on the IMLP course and I didn't want to bandit the race so I decided to run elsewhere. I kept it simple - I did 6.5 miles out and back on the end of the bike course. The hilly, hilly end of the bike course. It was nice to be on my feet rather than the bike so I could enjoy the surroundings a bit more without the risk of crashing. I really wasn't ready for the weekend to be over.

I was planning to swim after, but when I got back to the room, everyone had decided to hit the road early. I could have stayed and done the swim, but I started thinking about the long trip back and the long week ahead and decided to call it quits as well. I'll have multiple opportunities to swim in Madison next week. After spending the weekend training up there I'm 100% certain I will do IMLP next year. Now I just need to decide if I'm going to head back up there for race weekend to sign up in person or pay for a community fund spot. The New York City Triathlon is the same day so it makes getting up there a challenge.

This week went by in a flash. I was insanely busy at work and barely had a moment to breathe. Monday was a rest day, Tuesday an easy hour on the bike and today was a short, continuous swim. My bike is all packed up in this amazingly small case lent to me by a guy from the Brooklyn Tri Club. Not only did he loan it to me, but he also packed up my bike. I can't thank him enough.

I'm off to Madison tomorrow for 10 days of serious training. If all goes as planned I'll have my first 20 hour training week and will get two solid experiences on the actual bike course. I'm spending a lot of time in the lake and will try to run a bit of the course as well. But to kick off the fun I'll be riding the Horribly Hilly Hundred on Saturday with a group of friends. My coach tells me I can do it and it will make me stronger, but I can't guarantee I won't cry on the final climb - 6-8% grade over more than three miles. The contact number for the event is (608) 437-HURT. I think that says a lot. At least the Ironman course will seem easy in comparison.

Running (Sunday)
Distance - 13 miles
Time - 1:53:29

Biking (Tuesday)
Time - 1:00:00

Swimming (Wednesday)
Distance - 1,600 yards
Time - 33:11

June 15, 2009

Lake Placid, Saturday - All About the Bike

Saturday was my biggest training day yet and the main reason I chose to do the Lake Placid camp. I woke up at 5 a.m., had a quick breakfast, got my bike ready and was off by 6:45 for the full Ironman course. I would end up riding just under 110 miles instead of 112 due to where we started and ended, but it was good enough for me. I've ridden 100 a couple times, but on organized centuries which tend to be a bit more leisurely than a training ride. Plus this course is hillier than my usual route so I knew it would be a challenge. I had no doubt I could do it, I just worried how I'd feel and wondered what it would be like to run afterward.

I started earlier than the group and my roommate Philip joined me. We had the course all to ourselves for about 40 miles. It was nice to have his company. Since it was early in the morning and there was minimal traffic, we often got to ride side by side and talk. My plan for the day was conservative and easy. The coaches told us to take it slower than race day - if we were aiming for 6.5 in the race, do the training ride in 7 or more. I focused on keeping my HR down and my legs comfortable by taking the climbs slow and coasting on descents whenever I could.

Philip pulled ahead around Mile 45 so I rode the final stretch of the first loop alone and finished in just over 3.5 hours. I quickly refilled my bottles and gel flask and ate a Luna Bar while I did it. I don't usually eat solids on the bike but was feeling a tiny bit hungry and figured it couldn't hurt. I was stopped for less than 10 minutes and started the second loop.

I find the second time on anything - whether its a loop or the return on an out and back - always goes by more quickly. Before I knew it I was at Mile 80 where our coaches were stationed to offer support if needed. I had skipped it on the first loop but decided to stop quickly. Jorge came to help and asked me if I was ok. I felt really good in general but was a bit loopy. I asked for some extra Gatorade while I had a caffeinated gel and got started again. The gel did the trick, about 10 miles later I felt much more alert and ready to take on the final section of the course.

This would be my fourth time on the back stretch since I also rode it as an out and back the day before. It was becoming incredibly familiar and made it slightly easier knowing just how close I was to the end and exactly what I needed to get through. My only issue at this point was discomfort in the saddle. I was dying to get out of it whenever possible, but this last stretch is all climbing so there weren't a lot of opportunities. I had opted to wear cycling shorts instead of tri shorts for this ride and boy was I glad I did. I clearly need to keep up my quest to find the right saddle. I also dropped my chain again on a steep climb and after general shifting issues, ended up having to do most of the final stretch in the big ring, which made for some tired legs by the end.

I'm still so new to this sport and still excited over each big milestone and this ride was no exception. While on the final stretch I heard a steady beep and thought my HRM was malfunctioning again, but then realized it was my bike computer hitting 100 miles. I remember this happening on my recent century but in that case, I was just about at the end of my journey. While 10 extra miles isn't much, I also had a run to do to make my training complete. I had a feeling of pride for being able to do this, especially after a hiatus from cycling and my ongoing issues with the bike. I had a burst of energy and was able to pick up the pace for a strong finish.

I made my transition super fast - went to the bathroom, changed into tri shorts, put on a hat, my Garmin and running shoes and was off. My legs felt incredibly odd during the first half mile or so. They weren't heavy like I expected, but rather stiff and almost numb. I ran 2.5 miles out and back and we had support around Mile 2. I had no idea how I was doing until I hit the first mile - 7:52. Unbelievable. I had ridden 110 miles and was able to do a sub-8 pace. I backed the pace down to 8:20s and slowed on the final 1.5 miles since they were almost all uphill. Overall it was an excellent run and after three miles or so my legs felt almost normal. This was the first time in my 18 weeks of training that I felt I can do the race. Up until now I've been hoping, but now I know I can. And I have 90 more days to train. I can only hope it will keep getting better.

Distance - 109.23 miles
Time - 7:01:29

Distance - 5 miles
Time - 42:15

June 14, 2009

Lake Placid, Friday - A Special Birthday

I got so caught up in the training and fun in Lake Placid that I didn't have time to post so I'll catch it up over the next few days.

Friday was my birthday and it was by far one of the most unique ones I've ever had. I slept in and went for a short ride, 10 miles out and back on the end of the bike course. This is a hilly section so the first part was pretty much downhill with climbing on the return. I wasn't supposed to ride Friday, but since Thursday's swim was canceled and I did Friday's run early, I was able to add an easy bike as a substitution. I'm glad I did because my legs felt a little tired and afterward were much better. The course is stunning. I'm not sure I could ever get tired of riding on it. Since this was an easy ride and I was alone, I stopped and took a couple pictures. They don't really do it justice but give you an idea of what it's like there.

The highlight of Friday came in the afternoon. We did a group swim in Mirror Lake and I opted to do the full course - two loops, 2.4 miles. My longest open water swim prior to this was 1.3 miles and it was in the Hudson River with current assist. I was a little nervous. I was sure I could do one loop, but was prepared to call it quits if I felt tired or uneasy.

The water was a good temperature and really clear. The buoy line runs right down the middle of the lake and there is a rope about six feet below the surface that you can follow. I barely had to sight as a result, which was great with my terrible navigation skills. It took about a minute to settle into a comfortable breathing pattern and then I just let my mind wander. I knew I'd be in there for at least an hour and a half - that's a long time to be swimming. My pace was incredibly consistent, I reached the turnaround in 22 minutes and finished the first loop in 44. I didn't even consider stopping, I just turned and kept going. The group had thinned out a lot so I was mostly on my own except for a guy that drafted me for awhile. I'm so slow no one ever drafts me so that was a treat. I finished the swim in just under 1.5 hours, exactly the time I was aiming for. I was overjoyed. One of the reasons I decided to learn to swim last year was because my 33rd birthday was approaching and I felt like it was time to learn. And there I was on my 34th birthday doing an Ironman swim. I can't quite describe what that meant to me.

Friday night was low key. Our other roommate, Philip, arrived and we had a group dinner to attend. We went back to our room after and were chatting when Philip realized it was my birthday and insisted we do something. He got up and left and came back later with a brownie and a candle. They sang happy birthday to me. All last week I thought I was missing my birthday by spending the weekend training in Lake Placid. I didn't miss it at all, in fact it turned out to be the best way to celebrate it.

Distance - 20.53 miles
Time - 1:17:26

Distance - 4,224 yards (2.4 miles)
Time - 1:27:06

June 11, 2009

How it Should Be

I had to jump through hoops to get a car, fight my way through terrible traffic and drive nearly six hours to finally have a chance to train in a place where training is actually a pleasure. Today was Day 1 of the Lake Placid training camp and I got off to a good start with a bike and run. I met up with friends - Jenn, my roommate for the weekend, and Jorge, one of the coaches for the camp - for our first ride on the course. We were planning to do one loop but had to cut it to 51 miles due to lightning.

Lake Placid is stunning. After 11 years living in New York, this is my first trip to the Adirondacks and I can't believe what I've been missing. Early in the ride I looked around and realized this is how training should be. It shouldn't be potholes, bridges, runaway skateboards and angry homeless people like I'm used to dealing with. If I lived closer to a place like this I'd never have to force myself to go out for a ride.

I really enjoyed the course aside from a couple stretches of really bad roads and a super long downhill, about eight or nine miles, that to most cyclists would be heaven but for me was hell. Even when I used the brake a little I was going 35mph at times. If my crash weren't still a recent memory I might have been able to stay in aero and really enjoy it but instead I just wanted it to be over. If I had a choice, I'd rather ride up it than down it. After that stretch it was pretty much smooth sailing. It started to rain about 30 miles in and then the lightning and thunder followed so we cut the course a bit short and headed back.

We were in the final stretch, a long gradual climb that goes on for a few miles, when suddenly the rain picked up to a level I have never experienced on the bike. At first it felt like hail and then it was a like a solid wall of water. The wind got strong as well and we were on a road with no shoulder. I had a hard time keeping my eyes open so I pulled over to put my glasses back on. Jenn rode up while I was stopped and we started laughing hysterically the moment we saw each other. The weather literally could not have been worse. We were only about five miles from the end so we kept going. Between the century and this, I am gaining so much experience riding in the rain. I should be all set for whatever race day serves up.

The thunder and lightning continued so we decided to skip the swim. I called my coach for some quick advice and he told me to do tomorrow's run and bike again tomorrow. We ran around Mirror Lake so I got my first glimpse of the swim course. The water was smooth like glass and I found myself wishing I were swimming instead of running. I can't wait for tomorrow.

Distance - 51 miles
Time - 3:04:16

Distance - 5 miles
Time - 42:10

June 9, 2009

Lake Placid Schedule

After a short rest block this week, I'll be heading into the most challenging stretch of training I've done yet. Yesterday was rest as usual and the so I took the opportunity to go out for drinks forget about the Ironman for another few moments. The next couple days have an easy hour on the bike, a 30 minute run and a 1,000 yard continuous swim. There is a chance I'll miss one of the workouts due to my work schedule, but in general, I like the sound of the low volume, especially when I look at my schedule Thursday through Sunday in Lake Placid:
  • Thursday - Bike 1.5 hours, swim one course loop (1.2 miles). Not bad.
  • Friday - Swim two course loops or 1:15:00 (I'll likely only make it to 1:15:00), run four miles. Getting a little harder.
  • Saturday - Bike two loops (full 112 mile course), run five miles. Ouch.
  • Sunday - Swim one loop, bike one loop, run one loop - 70.3 miles, the half Ironman distance. Yikes.
Since Saturday is so bike focused, the plan for Sunday is to do the swim, start the ride and see how I feel. If my legs are toast, I need to shorten the bike so I can get the run in. The challenge will be knowing and accepting that my legs are toast because I hate to quit anything. But I have Horribly Hilly just six days later so I need to be cautious.

My birthday is Friday and I've certainly picked a unique way to celebrate it. At least it will be memorable.

June 7, 2009

Lazy Sunday

It's really sad when I think 30 miles of biking followed by five miles of running is lazy. Perhaps it's because I was supposed to bike 50 miles and cut it short due to frustrating circumstances and total lack of motivation. Let's take a step back and look at what I've been up to the last few days.

Friday was a big training day, a 14 mile run and 3,200 yard swim. It was pouring rain. Not showers, but a full on downpour. I know I have to train in bad weather since there is no guarantee it won't be pouring on race day, but it's still not fun. I ended up wimping out a bit and did the first five miles on the treadmill before heading out into the cold and rain. My legs got stiff about 10 miles in from the cold and my feet were sloshing around in my shoes. I started thinking about getting in the pool afterward and all I wanted was to be dry. My pace was good in the beginning but really died off toward the end. The cold and wet got to me. I seriously hope it doesn't rain on race day.

I spent five minutes in the steam room thawing out before braving the pool. To add to the fun, the pool heater has been broken for weeks so the water is rather shocking when you first get in. I got my cap, goggles and HRM all situated on the pool deck so I could hop in and immediately get moving to stay warm. The swim went really well. I stayed on pace, was comfortable and only lost count twice. By the end I was dying for a hot shower and some time to dry out.

Because I'm spending my birthday at an Ironman training camp in Lake Placid, I decided to go out this weekend and spend some time with friends celebrating. I kicked it off with a fun night out on Friday that unfortunately made me feel miserable on Saturday. I had a 9 a.m. appointment with a mechanic to have my 12-27 cassette put on my bike in preparation for Horribly Hilly. I rode to his apartment and back plus a quick spin around the park to be sure everything was in working order, but decided to do my actual ride later since I was carrying a small backpack. Later would never come due to my 3:00 brunch leading to afternoon drinks, dinner and more drinks. I spent the day with two really good friends and can't tell you how good it felt to be just a normal person for an afternoon. We sat in the sun, talked and laughed, it was the perfect summer day. I felt guilty about missing training, of course, but I wouldn't trade the day I had for another two hours in the saddle. Life's too short.

So that brings me to my lazy Sunday. I slept until 8 to catch up a bit after all the celebrating so it seemed too late to try to ride out of the city. There was a race in Central Park so that was out. As much as I hate it, I decided it would be best to do as much of the ride as possible in Prospect Park. I figured if I got really bored I could finish on the trainer. The ride started off great, it wasn't too crowded, the weather was good and I was able to ride relatively fast. But on my second or third loop I noticed a massive group of cyclists up ahead. Literally hundreds and hundreds of them. Next thing I know I'm caught in the middle of this sea of slow, casual riders out for a stroll. Apparently the Tour de Brooklyn was passing through the park just as I was attempting my ride. I had to immediately exit the park to keep my sanity and ended up taking a small detour ride to kill time. Luckily the group had cleared the park by the time I returned. I rode a couple more loops with a friend and had only made it 22 miles when I decided I'd had enough. I did another eight miles on the trainer and just couldn't keep going. I felt fine, I wasn't tired, but my head just wasn't in it. I can't explain it. I got off the bike and sat on the floor for about five minutes trying to figure out what to do. I had already blown off a training day and the thought of missing more worried me. But I literally couldn't keep going. So I got up, went out for my run and called it a day.

The social time this weekend was supposed to help me mentally recharge, but I think it may have also made it hard to bounce back to training today. I was longing to sleep late, go out for breakfast and stroll around the neighborhood rather than be on my bike for three hours. It goes to show that the mental challenges of training can be just as big as the physical challenges, and all of it combined will make me stronger on race day.

Running (Friday)
Distance - 14 miles
Time - 2:03:55

Swimming (Friday)
Distance - 3,200 yards
Time - 1:05:33

Biking (Saturday)
Time - 40:00

Biking (Sunday)
Distance - 30 miles
Time - 1:58:12

Running (Sunday)
Distance - 5 miles
Time - 43:14

June 4, 2009

The Weight Game

I've mentioned the struggle with my weight since starting Ironman training and have learned it’s not an uncommon issue so I wanted to post a bit about it.

We've all seen the Kona broadcasts with stick thin people and I spent the day at Ironman Wisconsin last year and saw my fair share of sub-5% body fat athletes. So when I took on the challenge of doing an Ironman, I envisioned the pounds just melting away and imagined I’d literally be unable to keep weight on. This was somewhat the case with my Olympic and sprint training last summer. I lost eight pounds in one month and had significantly less body fat for the first time since high school.

But after 16 weeks of Ironman training I have not only not lost weight, but I've gained a few pounds. My body fat is also high. I had a test done back in February and weigh myself daily on a composition scale and it hasn't budged. After complaining about this several times to my coach he had me keep a detailed food log and made some recommendations for cleaning up my diet. He only did this, however, after explaining that some women have this issue when training for extreme endurance sports. Our bodies sense trauma and in an effort to protect the procreation of the species, holds onto that body fat for dear life.

An evaluation of my diet revealed that I wasn’t eating too terribly, but there were definitely some improvement areas. A subsequent check in on my overall lifestyle – diet, sleep, stress, etc. – identified a few more. Here is what I’ve done so far:
  • Eliminated refined grains. Bye bye English muffins, cereal, pasta, regular bread and my favorite jasmine rice. Hello sprouted grain bread and English muffins (almost as good as the real thing… almost), brown rice, occasional potatoes, tons and tons of vegetables (yuck) and fruits. These replacements keep my carb levels up enough but are much healthier choices. I still occasionally eat Eggo Nutrigrains before a race or long ride because that’s what I like and figure I can burn it off and I still have my favorite pre-race dinner of spaghetti with turkey meatballs, only the spaghetti is whole wheat now.
  • Reduced total calorie consumption to 1,800 - 2,000 per day depending on activity level. I was simply eating too much and all the processed stuff was making me hungrier.
  • Cut the coffee from my usual 4-5 cups a day to two cups, one large and one small.
  • Increased sleep to seven hours per night as many nights as possible, and aim for eight 1-2 days a week. I’m trying to make the 5-6 hour nights, my average over the past three months, a thing of the past. Not only does sleep deprivation hinder weight loss, but it’s hindering my ability to recover and train well.
  • Reduced drinking significantly. I reserve it only for weekends or social outings and am keeping it to a minimum (under most circumstances).
  • Increased protein intake. This has made a huge difference in my hunger levels.
It took a couple weeks of adjustment but the difference I feel from having a cleaner diet and a little more sleep is remarkable. It's something I have to really work at but it’s worth it. I may not see a difference on the scale but I feel a difference in my energy level and overall well being. That's enough for now.

I woke up feeling much better this morning and had a solid tempo run. I did two long intervals at anaerobic pace and was surprised by how easy it felt. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing little improvements.

Distance - 5.62 miles
Time - 45:00

June 3, 2009

Killer Bees, Missed Training and General Malaise

What a busy few days I've had, and not necessary in the good sort of way. After the half marathon I rallied and went out for my long brick, a 78 mile ride followed by a 5 mile run. It was supposed to be a 6 mile run but I was starving and called it quits after 5. All in all not a bad effort considering I'd raced my best half marathon the day before. But the distance isn't what made Sunday's ride interesting. Here are some highlights:
  • It was my first-ever solo long ride outside the city. I rode from Brooklyn to the George Washington Bridge and then up to Haverstraw and back. I've always been a little afraid of riding alone so this was a big step.
  • I finally faced the actual scene of my accident and the hospital I was taken to and it didn't bother me one bit.
  • I only got a little lost once.
  • I rode through a massive swarm of bees on Riverside Drive on my way back through the city. I saw this cloud up ahead, but figured it was that cottony stuff floating through the air making my allergies miserable. Boy was I wrong. Suddenly I was in a cloud of bees, bouncing off my face, arms, chest, everything. I swore one went into my shoe. It was all I could do not to lose control and crash. I stopped as soon as was safely possible, freaked out a little and checked for clinging bees. Miraculously I wasn't stung. It felt like something out of X-Files.
  • I gently ran into a parked car thanks to some idiot cutting me off in a Corvette and then blocking the entire bike lane. She stuck her arm up to wave at me and courteously let me know she was cutting me off. Gee, thanks.
  • Some stupid kid doing tricks on a skateboard shot the board right in front of me. I rode up on it and nearly bit it. I managed to clip out and not wipe out. He heard a few choice words from me.
All of this was in the final 14 miles of a really long, exhausting ride. After this, I've decided I will never again ride back home from the bridge and risk all these ridiculous obstacles. My coach agrees. He'd rather see me not have a brick workout than have to dodge bees, sports cars and loose skateboards. I will take the subway back from now on and then run when I get home.

Monday was rest. I needed it and loved it.

Yesterday was supposed to be a bike and optional swim. My friend Jeremy was swimming in the morning so I decided to join him and do the optional swim before work. It was another super short catch and pull focused session with 10 50s at anaerobic pace. I logged my best swim times ever during this workout and really enjoyed it. It makes me want to keep working on technique and form to get more of that "free speed."

After the great swim I was looking forward to the bike, but then I worked late and by the time I got home I was hungry and totally wiped. I decided to eat first, then bike, only the bike never happened. It was past 9 p.m. by the time I was ready to start and I just didn't have it in me. I was feeling really sluggish and just wanted to go to sleep.

This morning was another swim, a longer anaerobic session. I woke up exhausted and hit snooze twice. I felt like I was sleepwalking on the way to the train and had a hard time staying awake on the ride into the city. The pool was packed with dog paddlers and breastrokers so getting up to speed was tough. I managed to feel pretty good during the swim and kept on pace easily, but afterward I went right back to feeling tired. This lingered all day long and into the evening. I made up yesterday's missed bike, which was supposed to be an interval workout, but I had a really hard time getting my heart rate into the anaerobic zone. My legs were completely fried so I just couldn't put in the hard effort needed. I did the intervals and had the option to extend this to up to 1.5 hours, but stopped after 45 minutes. I was toast.

Maybe I'm getting sick, or maybe this is another slump. Training for an Ironman is like being on a roller coaster. The highs are so incredibly high while the lows couldn't get much lower. I have been struggling with my weight (which I spent a lot of time reflecting on today and will do a separate post on that this week), trying to get enough sleep, keep up with the training and perform at work as if I'm not doing any training at all. So while I feel really great most of the time, there are times where it all catches up with me and knocks me down a few notches.

My big Lake Placid training weekend starts next Thursday so I need to kick whatever this is. I'm hoping tomorrow will be the start of my next high.

Biking (Sunday)
Distance - 78 miles
Time - 5:02:25

Running (Sunday)
Distance - 5 miles
Time - 43:49

Swimming (Tuesday)
Distance - 1,000 yards
Time - 17:46

Swimming (Wednesday)
Distance - 1,750
Time - 31:58

Biking (Wednesday)
Distance - 10.97
Time - 45:00


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