Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Training Day, Ironman style

On Aug. 1st, my thoughts were as follows: Wasatch Front 100 mile endurance race is in 5 weeks. I really want to do well there, run hard, have fun.

Ironman Boulder is in 2 days.

I have ridden my bike 8 times in the last 3 months. (I snapped the bolt holding my headset in place, and it took a LOOOONG time for the shop to get the parts.) I have a new saddle on there that I have used twice. It seems fine. My swim training has been darned consistent thanks to DreadPirate Rackham, who coaxed me out of bed at 5 am twice a week to join her in the pool. Run training? Pretty good – a few strained muscles interrupted things, but mostly all better now. Strength training has been great, I feel very… capable.

Self, your goal for IM Boulder is to treat it like a long training day. This way, recovery will be quick, you will be able to run again 3 days post-IM, and focus on the Wasatch 100 training.  

Ok, so long training day – cool. Nothing to worry about. And it means that old adage doesn’t really apply, you know, the one about “Never try something new on race day.” Which is good, because my wetsuit is new. I haven’t ridden my race wheels/cassette in a long long time, so they are basically new to my legs. I’m trying some new nutrition – EFS gel. I’m wearing a new tri top. And new running shoes (6 miles on them, a style I hadn’t tried before). Oh, and since I forgot my bike shoes at home, I’ll be wearing new bike shoes that I purchased 2 hours before bike check-in closed. (not stressful AT ALL.)

Bah, I can survive, even if it all goes wrong. Right? It’ll be FIIIIINE.

I get to transition on race morning with all my ironfriends, and wouldn’t you know it, I have a flat. In the rear tire, of course, which means I have to get my hands greasy. A woman next to me says helpfully, “there are bike mechanics right over there, they’ll fix it for you!” So I take my wheel over to them. And wait in line. And wait, and wait and wait…. And finally give up, run back to my bike, change the tube myself, and take them back to the mechanics to get inflated and find the leak in the first tube so I can patch it (I don't have a second spare). It’s dawn, and the announcer is chivvying us out of transition and I’m still fussing with my tire. DP comes over and helps, a guy comes over and helps – he notices my gear shifters need adjusting, and he does it. DP and I make it to the port-a-potty line. The announcer is kindly reminding everyone to get the heck out of transition. We don’t have our wetsuits on. Other athletes are in the water starting to swim already. *sigh* didn’t this 'panic at the start' happen at IM St. George? Did we learn nothing from past experience? ok, guess not.

A volunteer helps us with our wetsuit donning, which is like contortionist weight resistance training. We’re lubed up, but even so I’m huffing and puffing by the time I get my suit on. Glad I don’t have a HR monitor on, I don’t want to see my heartrate above 170 before I even start the race. DP and I make our way into the parade of wetsuited athletes trailing into the water and start with the 1:30-1:45 pace group. Finally. Now I can relax. Or swim. Whatever.  

Beautiful Boulder Reservoir
 (Actually, the swim was great. Sure, people swam over my legs, and elbowed me, and cut me off. But it was easy to sight the buoys on course, and the water was clear and only a little warm, not 78 degrees as they had warned us about.) About 2/3 of the way through the swim, I remembered to pull more with my arms, and then, hey, just like that I was done with the swim. And only about 30 minutes worth of wetsuit burn on my neck. (ow. Stupid new equipment.)

Mark Mackenzie and I were talking about the last tri we had done – we both figured it was 4 years ago. Still, I remembered mostly how to get through transition, and ended up on my bike. About 5 miles later, I remembered to start my watch. Ooops.

I hadn’t really studied the bike course. I knew that it rolled, and had ~4500 elevation gain. But, listen, when you’re kinda minimal on training, there’s little point to strategizing over the course. My strategy had to be this: Start the bike easy. Don’t work hard. Eat, drink and keep it easy all the way around. For 7+ hours. EASY.
View to the SW of boulder reservoir - mountains!

So people flew past me on the first 20-30 miles of the course. I ate like a pig… and got a little uncomfortable…. Turns out the EFS wasn’t a good match for me. Or maybe it just wasn’t a good addition to a belly that already had 1.5 bananas, 1.5 cliff bars, a protein bar and perform in it. Plus water. Can you say, BLOAT?  Anyway, another bit of evidence that the new stuff prohibition really makes some sense. Boo. Then I really started enjoying the course – great mountains to one side, nice undulating hills which meant you could get moving on the downhills without working hard. (sticking to my plan, see?) Less perform, less EFS and more water limited the stomach discomfort and I rolled on. Ok, my feet were getting numb, but I can live with numb. These new Pearl Izumi shoes have an awesome closure system, very fast.
Pretty Boulder area scenery

Biking gets monotonous for me – stay aero, stay aero, spin, spin, drink, eat. The rolling course at least made me change gears. Eventually I always feel like my legs could be disconnected from the rest of me and they’d keep going in some kind of perpetual motion magic trick. And about mile 60 I was ready to disconnect my feet at least. The numbness had (unfortunately) subsided and now the outside of each foot felt deeply bruised, and slightly hamburgerish. I started pulling up on my pedals and NOT pushing down which helped with the pain – but not so much with the speed. Ok, maybe I don’t need any more proof on the “no new equipment rule,” ok? I accept that I do not exist outside this rule, and beg to be spared any further demonstrations of its veracity.  Ow. Stupid new equipment. 

I still have 3 + hours to go. On the bike.

It got hot, and I doused my arm sleeves to keep cool. My seat started to hurt around mile 80 – 2 hours left… Must be time to think about something else. Hey, that’s Arne! A little conversation, and it was downhill into Boulder. Whew. Very very very glad to hand my bike to a happy volunteer. Less happy to attempt to run in transition in these bike shoes. Ow. But this too did pass, and after a little dithering over what to bring with me running (more EFS? –don’t think so. Bars? Gel? –nope, I guess I’ll live off the course…. Except for that salted caramel GU. THAT I’ll take) I exited transition after being frosted with sunscreen as if I were a 3-layer cake.

It was hot. The organizers thoughtfully put the run course on the Boulder Creek path (with 3 out and back sections) so we could see families tubing down the river, lovers dabbling their toes in the lovely cold water, kids swinging on the rope swing and screeching as they splashed into the pool of refreshing, chilly water only to climb out and do it again. How considerate. Lucky for me, I am a woman. Why, you ask? Well, see, this tri top I’m wearing has a shelf bra. This is important because it is the perfect carrying spot for about ½ ton of ice. I ran the “flux capacitor” boulder run course with an ice vest on. It was pretty fantastic.

 The run course was on concrete – not my favorite running surface. But my road shoes were well cushioned, and I had no issues left over from the cursed bike shoes. The few miles of each lap that were not shaded tested the limits of how much ice could be stuck in a shelf bra before falling out, but I didn’t mind too much. Mark and I passed on the first out an back, and then I past him a few miles later as he diverted to take a break on a cool piece of lawn. Greg was spectating at miles 6.5, 7.5, and 9 to cheer me on. Brian called out and we encouraged each other - I'd see him several more times on the out and backs. I saw DP just as she started the run, and finally a few miles before the end I saw Miki. It is so motivating to see friends on the course! My stomach was still unhappy, though I maintained a fairly steady diet of potato chips, a cookie here and there, and a gel or two. Until… Mr. Bacon Man. I saw him around mile 5.5. Standing on the side of the trail, holding out a strip of bacon in a paper towel. I did a double take as I passed him. Hmm. Bacon? My stomach got more and more unsettled. I wanted some real food, something with protein and fat and carbs… that seems to help anchor my stomach, but there was no protein at the Aid Stations.  Visions of bacon danced in my head. It couldn’t do much to hurt me – maybe I’d join the runners at the edges of the trail that were decorating the lawn. Or maybe it’d be good. So at mile 18, I held out my hand in supplication and received an offering of bacon. An entire strip. It tasted…good. Salty. As I happily chewed and chewed, I realized that I could not imagine wanting to swallow this bacon. This was weird, but no, I did not want to feel bacon sliding down my throat.

What to do? The saltiness was just about gone, and I still had ¾ strip in my hand.

Finally, I opted to take a big swig of water and down it all together. …Success! And thusly I was able to finish the bacon and be happy. Ok, mostly happy, I still had 4 miles to go. I was still running, and passing people, so that was something. It was cooling off a bit.  And 4 miles… that’s not far… hey, I could finish in daylight if I hurry just a bit! The last 2 miles flew by. I threw away the water bottle I’d carried on the marathon, and entered the finishing straight. Ironman(tm) does finish lines well. The spectators cheered, and banged on partitions, and I jumped across the line.
I never looked at my watch once.

By the numbers:
Swim: 1:24:05
T1: 10:02
Bike: 6:37:30
T2: 8:46
Run: 4:35:53
Total: 12:56:16
Top 26% overall, top 17% of women, top 21% of 35-39 Age group.
But mostly, I had fun with my friends, and had fun on a really cool new IM course.
The green is me - "Bonsai" and "Lickety-split Lime"

The swim time was about what I expected. That bike time was totally unexpectedly fast for me - even with those shoes! and the run, considering the heat and stomach distress, is great. Post race I feel really good, too. So! On to Wasatch Front 100 training! 3 more weeks of training, then taper, then race. I mean it.

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