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