But, there's that little piece of me that still wonders, the piece that slowly picks away at my confidence. That piece gets weaker with good workouts and stronger with bad ones. Unfortunately in ironman (or half) training, because of the sheer volume of workouts, its very likely that you'll have both good and bad workouts in the same week. And, this can happen on a semi-regular basis (at least for me). Not every workout can or will be great. Finding the strength and courage to recognize the bad workouts for what they are - tools for the future - and move on to another workout are what will get you across that finish line.
This last week was no exception. After three weeks of minimal workouts and nine days of zero working out I was prepared for a few difficult ones. But, I started out strong, conquered Mandeville, had a decent, albeit slower than I'd like swim, an okay trainer ride, a good, but short, run (even if four miles left me sore and more tired than I'd like).
Then this weekend happened. We had a four hour, 45-mile minimum, bike ride on Saturday followed by a 45 minute run. I knew this was going to be a rough day for me. It had been weeks since my last "long" ride, and that was only 2.5 hours. But, I still figured, even on a tougher course, that I'd be able to easily knock out 55 miles. Wow, I couldn't have been more wrong. The morning was bitingly cold. I was wearing about 12 layers (regular socks, knee high smart wool socks, fleece lined leg warmers, shorts, cycling jersey, arm warmers, wind breaker, full fingered gloves and a wool ear warmer and I was still freezing). My poor, bronchitis weakened, still recovering lungs didn't stand a chance in the cold morning air (it was approximately 40* when we started).
I started out okay, although bitterly cold. As we started the first climb I noticed the first signs of trouble coming on. Breathing was more difficult that it should have been. I tried to ignore it. It just got worse. The longer I rode the harder breathing got. The cough started to come back. Then I started to get a headache. Awesome. I was drinking a lot, so I wasn't dehydrated. The headache plus the breathing issue plus the coughing started to put me into a dark, ugly place (not unlike the badness from the bike ride at Vineman training weekend). I stopped several times because I couldn't breathe and thought about calling SAG to pick me up just five miles out (all downhill from there). But, I managed to finish. My lungs were hurting so badly that I decided to call it then and didn't do the transition run. I didn't want to do any more potential damage.
Everything about this ride was misery. I know that it's not indicative of my actual fitness level at this point, but it did feel like it. And, I know that I'll be okay and breathing will get easier. I'm making an appointment this week to see a doctor about this breathing issue to make sure its nothing more than slow healing from the bronchitis.
The next day called for a 10 mile run. I wasn't sure how it was going to go, but decided to at least try. I used an inhaler before we started the run to alleviate the cough that was already present. Sunday was significantly warmer than Saturday and I was okay in capris and a long sleeve to run in. I decided I would do the first out and back portion of the run and assess from there if I would be able to do the loop with the hill at the end or if I would stick to the flats. I went up the hill on the out and back and decided to stick it out and finish the run, even if I had to walk.
At the start of this run I decided that I didn't care what my pace was, I just wanted to finish, even if it was slow. And, I wanted to stay within eye shot of a group of three people running in front of me. They were doing a different interval, so I was solo, I just kept chasing them. We leap frogged a bit in the beginning and then I caught them and stayed in front for a while. I decided I needed to stay in front of them. I walked up most of the big hill and then picked up the pace again. I was about a half mile out and they caught up to me as I was on a walk break. At this point I knew I needed to finish before them. So, I started my next run and picked up the pace a tad. I could hear them right behind me. I just kept pushing. I got in to the parking lot and they were steps behind me, so of course, I did what any logical person secretly racing their teammates would do, no, I didn't just keep going at my current pace, I took off at a dead sprint. I was going to win, even if they didn't know we were racing. And, I did. Even though they didn't know it, they gave me that last kick that I needed to finish strong, so thank you. :)
I finished the run with an 11:40 pace. Not blazingly fast, or anywhere near my pace pre-bronchitis, but I finished 10 miles, and the most I had done in the past three weeks was four miles. Big, big win.
So, there you have it. A weekend with a big ups and big downs. That's the thing about training for an ironman, even if you have a crappy workout one day, you still have to get up and do another workout the next day. Sometimes that workout might be crappy too, but sometimes, it will give you the boost you need and remind you that while not every workout is great, you are more than capable of this.
82 days til Wildflower.