In life you have to accept that sometimes things will seem to be going great and sometimes things will start going to crap. It is what it is. It's how you deal with it that counts. The same holds true in training for an ironman (or marathon, or any endurance event). You'll have lots of great workouts and lots of crappy ones. Sometimes you'll have both in one week. The past few weeks things have been going exceptionally well for me, for the most part.
Last week I had an awesome run on Tuesday. I did hill repeats and totally rocked them. And, I had a really hard, but good trainer ride on Wednesday. But, then Thursday I had a crappy swim. I had a headache the whole time (not from being dehydrated, but because I kinked my neck earlier in the day). Then the next day I had another not great swim. But, I moved on from it. Then came Saturday. I woke up early and laid in bed for a few minutes being nervous. This would be my longest ride yet, minimum of 56 miles or four hours, whichever came second.
I got to Ocean and San Vicente and was ready to go. I knew this would be a challenging day for me, even though there weren't any additional hills added in - just north on PCH for two hours and then turn around and come back. I knew that to make the 56 mile minimum I needed to get at least 28 miles north. We started and I was feeling good. I lost the pack pretty quickly, I'm not super fast.
I was moving at what felt like a pretty good pace, and when I looked down at my watch I saw that I was going close to 20 mph. Whoa! Slow down. I needed to average 15 and go for 17 on the flats, but I didn't want to go 20 and burn out before I got back. My coach had me set a speed and cadence alarm on my watch so that anytime I dipped under 15 mph or 90 cadence it would beep at me. This was super helpful because I wasn't staring at my watch the whole time and I kept my speed and cadence up. It was only really annoying when going uphill, cause clearly I'm not going 15 mph uphill.
I got to the SAG stop at mile 21 in about 1:20 (quick for me - especially since there are a couple of uphills). I switched out two of my bottles, one that I had drained and a second one that I had partially drained. Coach Brad told myself and the others there to turn around at 1:50, not 2 hours, as we had a big tailwind heading north. Aha! That's why when my speeds hit 20 mph it didn't feel that hard. I continued on and was determined to hit 28 before I turned around, hoping it would be at 1:50. And, I did! Right at 1:50 I was at 28 miles.
I had been keeping my nutrition and hydration right on track and was feeling strong. On the way back I definitely felt that headwind. And my watch beeped at me a lot at that point, cause I was hovering around 13-14 mph. I stopped once to rearrange all my bottles, cause I still haven't figured out how to reach the rear ones when I'm moving. Actually, the only one I've been able to reach while moving is the one in the front, I haven't been able to get the one that is on the bar under the seat, perpendicular to it. I've really got to work on that.
I was definitely not feeling tired at all. I was feeling good. I kept pushing. I kept glancing at my watch because I REALLY wanted to finish the 56 in under 4 hours. I was on pace to do close to 60. I got up the last hill to Ocean and San Vicente and I still had 10 minutes to spare, and I was just over 56 miles! So, I kept riding, although slower, since we had a 30 minute run after. At four hours I returned to our meeting spot and hit stop on my watch. 57.5 miles! Not quite the 60 that I wanted, but still, AMAZING.
The last time we had a four hour ride with a 56 mile minimum I only got through 43 miles in four hours. HUGE improvement. This time the four hours definitely didn't feel like four hours, it felt like less. I am still a little slow and would like to get faster, but it will come with time. I am gaining confidence in leaps and bounds on the bike and I could not be more excited. I never got off the bike and walked it, which I have in the past. And, I didn't ride the brakes down every single hill this time (that definitely sped me up). The best part? I wasn't totally terrified going down hill. Next, pedaling on the down hill. But, one step at a time.
This was a truly incredible ride for me. And then the next day I had a pretty good run too. We did this run that our coach called Amalfi double jeopardy. For those of you who don't know, Amalfi is a big hill in Santa Monica, so we ran up it and made a loop almost all the way to where we started and then turned around and went back the way we came, uphill both ways. It was challenging, but fun. Although, I did almost get lost at one point. So, I just stopped and waited for the next one of my teammates to get to where I was so I didn't go down a random street.
That afternoon I was still riding a big high from the weekend and I headed to the pool. And, another crappy swim. Swimming was just NOT my thing last week. But, you can't win 'em all, right? Like I said, you have to take the good with the bad. And, man, my good totally surpasses my bad in every possible way this week.
To finish on a positive note, I went to a track workout on Tuesday night, and loved it. I ran hard and it felt good. We had to run 1.2 miles timed. And, when I looked at my data after I uploaded it, I found out I ran an 8:43 mile. It was hard, and maybe I could've gone a hair harder, but it was good. No, it's not the fastest mile ever, but it's fast for me. At the end of that 1.2 I felt like I was going to throw up. Apparently that means I did it right. The thing that is so great about that is 2.5 years ago, my first timed mile with Team in Training was 12:30. And a little over a year ago my timed mile was 9:45. Yay for improvements!
We're in a recovery week now, and I'm enjoying it. It's supposed to rain this weekend, which does make me nervous. Me + bike + rain could spell disaster. But, I'll have to do it eventually, if it rains on race day I'll have no choice but to keep going. So, that's what I'll do this weekend, keep going.
Please consider supporting me as I continue on this journey. Your donations are 100% tax deductible. And if you donate at least $15 you can sponsor a mile. I'll be carrying the list with me throughout my race and will dedicate the mile you pick to you, or the person of your choosing. Thank you!