That which does not kill us, makes us stronger. - Nietzsche

Monday, September 10, 2012

Whee - 70.3!!!!

One step closer to my goal....I am now a half ironman!!

I was supposed to do the Rev3 full race yesterday as my first IM. With only 2.5 months to rebuild run fitness from 0 to 26.2, of course I ended up nixing that plan and dropped down to the half rev. Even so, I was a bit nervous about having to do a 13.1 so soon post-injury. I had a plan for the race, but wasn't sure how it played out.

It played out well. Really well. The purpose of this race was not only to cover a brand new distance, but to test out everything that I have figured out for the IM so far and see what worked and what didn't. Mostly, everything worked!!

Good things:

I paced it exactly the way I wanted to. Swim was relaxed, bike was relaxed, run was comfy and strong. I got a bit fatigued on the bike and had to slow down, but there were a couple of complicating factors there. (More in a minute.) If I can get them under control, I can hopefully keep the bike strong.

This I was worried about because I don't quite have it figured out. This was also where there was some glitches. I always have a gel after the swim, because swimming makes me OMG HUNGRY otherwise. I usually try to eat something solid every hour on a long ride and supplement with gatorade or coconut water. I wanted to try to get a bit more calories during the race because I wasn't only fueling the ride, but the run as well.

However, like I said, there were glitches. They had bananas at the first aid station (I THINK - I was busy looking for a porta-potty at that point) but no other "food" besides gels for the whole ride. I had misread the athlete guide and thought they would have bars, too. I did bring one stinger waffle with me for the ride, but eating it while riding didn't go so well. You know on Sesame Street where Cookie Monster is shoving the cookie into his face going NOMNOMNOM and there are cookie pieces flying everywhere? That was me trying to get this thing into my mouth. I made some birds very happy, I think. Sooo I had a gel for each of the other two hours I was on the bike, but it didn't feel substantial enough. One of them was chocolate, since that's all I could grab while moving, and I don't like chocolate gels. I love chocolate any other time, but it always feels too rich while I'm running/biking. I did drink about 40 oz of gatorade, so that probably helped.

They DID have food on the run but my stomach always turned a bit at the sight of it. I never felt SICK really, my stomach never hurt, but my stomach felt queasy. *I* wasn't nauseated but my stomach had that ick feeling, if that makes sense. It was never a big deal, I was just a little worried about bonking, being out there for so long with no solid food. I forced some pretzels down about 7 miles in, and I supplemented with pepsi when I could stomach it. (I was SO OVER Gatorade by that point.) I've never tried soda while training before (I know, I broke a cardinal rule, nothing new on race day!), and I almost never drink it anyway, but it tasted really, really good. They'll have it during Coz, so I'm pretty stoked about that.

Anyway, as off from my ideal as I was, I never felt underfueled. I guess eating well (in other words, being a bit of a pig) the week before was helpful.


Thank God I've replicated some race conditions, namely the swim. I was so glad I had practiced in my wetsuit a few times. I was used to it enough where the things that bothered me when I broke it out a few weeks ago (tired shoulders and trouble breathing with the chest compression) were non-issues. The water was FREEZING. I don't care if it was 74 degrees, it felt FREEZING. No way would I have done that swim with no wetsuit. The other big swim thing was that it was choppy. Way choppy. I was super glad that I've done some practicing in a local lake where the boats come through and create some waves. Rev3 was definitely rougher, but I was used to waves enough to avoid a total freakout.

I was also happy that I've biked some hills. The race was waaay flat, but windy in parts, and wind, to me, feels very similar to a gradual uphill. You have to slow down and adjust accordingly and go by effort, not numbers.

Finally, I was glad I've done some bricks, including after longer rides. Toward the end of the ride, I was wondering how the heck I was going to run 13 miles afterward. As soon as my running shoes were on, though, I felt awesome and I was MOVING.

What didn't go well? Really, the only thing that wasn't as good as I had hoped was the bike. I've been battling this knee thing for a couple of weeks. I did a 70 mile sponsored ride up in Dayton, on unfamiliar roads. It was hillier than I thought it would be, and while I made it over the hills just fine (I even passed four people who had stopped to walk up a hill!), by the end of the ride my left knee felt sore on the muscle just above and to the inside. At the very end, it was giving me some sharp pains. The weird thing about it is that it ONLY hurts while riding. The next day, it'll hurt on stairs, but it never, ever bothers me while waking or running. After a day or so, all traces of pain go away completely until I try to ride again. I adjusted my cleats and I thought that was the culprit. I didn't notice anything for the first few miles of the ride yesterday, but then it kicked in again. It's not bad enough that I have to slow down, but it's annoying. I had my knee taped yesterday and I'm not sure that it did any good (although it left me with some nice funky tan lines!) I'm going to ask about it at the bike store. Anyway, it made the ride a little less pleasant, although it probably helped me keep my gearing easy, which is what needed to happen. There were only a couple of hills, and nothing like the hills I'm used to, so that helped.

The other not good thing on the bike was that I need a new seat. I've struggled with this for a while - if I'm upright the whole time, I'm fine. If I'm in aero too long, I'm hurting in a most unpleasant place, let's just say. I've tried different aero positions and it's not that. It's the seat. I was trying to stay in aero as much as possible yesterday and I was in pain by the end. Especially when I hit a surprise bump 45 miles in, came OFF the seat and slammed back down onto it when I was already hurting. Yeah, I swore a bit. I think the bike fatigue would not have bothered me so much had my crotch and knee not already been complaining.

I was SO GLAD to get off that seat and start running, let me tell you.

The rest of the race was great. The volunteers were awesome. I stopped at a potty break on the bike, and a volunteer caught my bike and held it for me while another one opened the door for me. I felt like a rock star! They were everywhere on the run, holding out various food/drink options and yelling out what they had. There were some awesome spectators who were cheering for EVERYONE. I never, ever hit a wall. I got tired on the bike and the run, but by the time I did, that segment was almost over anyway. I really had a good time.

My new seat is ready for me to pick it up at the bike shop, and I'll relay my knee woes to them as well. I'm hoping I can clear that up very, very soon.

Meanwhile, I feel really, really good about IMCoz. Taking this week kind of easy, then I have 10 weeks of training and I think it'll go well. Apparently  the magic formula for converting half time to full time is double, plus 1:20. That would put me at a 15 hour Ironman, which I would be THRILLED with. Thrilled.


Swim: 48:21
T1: 4:57 (struggled with the wetsuit and knocked my helmet and glasses off my bike!)
Bike: 3:24:19
T2: 3:03
Run: 2:28:29

Race time: 6:49:09

Planned for 7 hours. Right on.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The things nobody ever told me about training for an Ironman

The part I knew going into this insanity is that it's a lot of running, biking, and swimming. I'm ok with that. It's a lot of hours and scheduling gets difficult. I'm more or less ok with that. I've learned some crazy awesome time management skills. However, I'm learning some surprising things about Ironman training as I go. Here are some of the latest unexpected surprises:

It makes you crazy. Literally.
I thought I had lost my mind until I found a thread on titled "Emotions while training for IM." It seems that this is a pretty normal phenomenon. I'm not making this comparison lightly, but I really do think it's akin to a mild case of bipolar disorder. Or a lasting case of PMS. The stress and fatigue of training can really get to a person's brain and sometimes I'm all over the place. Some days every cute animal picture on facebook will make me cry. I'll go from completely energized to a sobbing mess. One day, I just broke down in tears because all I could think was "I AM SO TIRED AND I CAN'T HANDLE ANYTHING ANYMORE!!" Now that I know it's normal, I'm coping with the mood roller coaster much much much better, and I'm recognizing that my mind gives me signals like my body does when I need to SLOW THE EFF DOWN and/or take a rest day. When I start getting weepy, if I can treat that like the niggle in my knee, things go better.

You want to eat ALL THE FOODS.
I'm familiar with crazy levels of training hunger from marathon training. This, though, is a whole other level. I have days where I get tired of eating. Read that again. I GET TIRED OF EATING. I eat a full meal and then it hits me an hour later and I'm like, really? I don't FEEL like making more food. Nothing even sounds good but I'm sooooo hungry! I go out to eat with my husband and I eat all my food and half of his. It can be hard, too, because it's so counter intuitive. I had my portion sizes all figured out and how to balance my diet and I've had to throw a lot out the window and just eat as much as I want to eat when I'm hungry, because what I USED to eat won't cut it and I'll experience it in the form of a major bonk on the bike the next day, or a mental breakdown like I described above. I feel like I eat all the freaking time anymore, and if I don't make SURE I eat all the freaking time, I'll get so hungry that no amount of food will make me feel better. Our grocery bills are getting insane.

You don't lose tons of weight.
Well, some people do. I've maintained and I'm ok with that. I've noticed a couple of differences, though: my upper body got more toned, my delts are insane (I may or may not stroke them when I'm alone) and my thighs, which have always been on the larger side for my size, are redonk now. All my jeans are tight. 

You get insane tan lines.
I have a normal shirt line, a trisuit line and a racerback tank top line. On my legs, I have varying colors for varying lengths of shorts. My feet are white. It's awesome.

You turn into a camel.
We have a water filter in our fridge. Husband says "WHY am I always filling this thing???" Whoops. I want water like I want food.

Your bodily functions change.
I've seen this on the bt forums too. I can fart like none other now, particularly after swimming. It's BAAAAAD. I went on a solo run after masters one night and thank GOD nobody else was out. It sounded like I was carrying a duck with me. And I pee more than I used to. I've never had to pee while running, not even during a marathon, until these days. And swimming?? Out of the pool, SPRINT to the locker room. Holy cow.

It's terrifying.
I knew that, but nothing can prepare a person for the fear. Some days I'm so pumped and I think I'm gonna KILL this 140.6 mile beast. Other days I'm pretty much convinced that there is no way in hell I'm going to make the cutoffs. I read other people's race stories and all I can think is, "That's their marathon time? I wonder what their training pace is? How much time am I going to have to finish if I get a flat tire?" There is no way to do a training day that is even close to the volume of an Ironman. There is no way to go in KNOWING that you can swim 2.4 AND bike 112 AND run 26.2 AND do it all within certain limits. It's insanely scary and I know that all I can do is train the best that my body, mind, and life will allow and leave it up to luck, stubbornness, and the gods of triathlon when the day comes.

It's doable.
Some days are a bit of an epic fail, but there are a lot of days where I stick to the training plan, do my job and do it well, and get a hot, healthy meal on the table between 2-3 workouts.

If you're single, you may not want to try dating anyone while training for an Ironman.
I just added this because I re-read the rest of my blog and laughed. So glad my husband's stuck with me. I'm not sure how I'd get any dates with my thunder thighs, tan lines, mood swings, crazy schedule, and propensity for pigouts and farting and nearly peeing on myself. I didn't even mention how often I smell like sweat and/or chlorine. Or how, on the weekend after a long run Saturday and a 4-5 hour bike ride on Sunday, I'm lying around in comfy clothes and my hair is a mess and we need to go somewhere and I groan "does that mean I have to put on a bra???" Yep. I wonder how he can stand my sexiness???