When I first started my training plan for Ironman Florida back in May, I was scared to look at the end of the plan. In particular, I was scared to look at the workouts that had me riding for 6+ hours, then running 40-50 minutes after… never mind running another 10+ miles the next day. That just sounded insane. I mean, I know the actual Ironman is insane, but devoting all that time training for it just put that over the top. My sister has a great bumper sticker that reads, ” Fear the training, not the race.” So true.
Slowly, over the last 20 weeks, my fear for those longer workouts have somewhat faded. I rode 90 miles mainly on my own and stumbled my way through a 14.5 mile run the next day. I did my first century and conquered my fear of riding on the road. I’ve spent hours on the trainer, I’ve dedicated my weekdays to fixing my swim technique and building my strength, and all of my free time has been dedicated towards training for this race.
Yesterday I added a new milestone to my list. I completed my second century on the bike, only this time I followed it with a 5 mile run. Even better, I did it with my siblings. We met at our go-to trail at the midpoint between us. It was our first long ride as a trio and it was nice being all together for our final long ride. We started this thing together and we’re going to end it together.
We met at the trail just after 7:00. We planned to ride out 25, ride back 25, refuel back at the car at mile 50, and repeat. I started with two bottles full of Gatorade and Gatorlytes (aka salt), two packets of Gatorade Endurance Chews, a Powerblend, a Clif Bar, and a protein pancake (leftover from breakfast). That was the fuel to get me through the first 50, I planned to replenish at the halfway point.
We hit the trail and spent the first 15 miles dissecting every piece of information that was in the Athlete’s Guide that was posted last week. We broke down all of Ironman weekend, starting with what time we were heading to Panama City that Thursday. Good thing there wasn’t anyone else riding, they may have slowly gone insane by our constant discussion of Ironman. Can you say obsessed much?
I had to stop to use the restroom at mile 10, which then prompted a conversation about peeing on the bike during the race. Yep. Peeing on the bike is a fairly common practice during an Ironman. Considering how slow of a cyclist I am (and how much I had to pee yesterday thanks to my fear of under-hydrating), I’m not ruling it out. If stopping to pee would cost me making the cut-off, you better believe I’ll be peeing on the bike. According to the forums I’ve read, the key is to carry and extra water bottle and just pour it on yourself when your done. Oh, and you can list “how to pee on a bike during an Ironman” as something I never thought I would find myself googling.
For the rest of the ride we rode in a pace lane, taking turns pulling the lead. This ended up making for great training intervals. I would pull for a mile holding roughly 17 mph (which is a pretty decent clip for me), then rest in the draft until my turn came up. SInce there were only three of us, the miles came up fast and my legs were feeling good. I know I’m not going to be able to ride in a line during the race, but getting those intervals in will help build strength so my legs are stronger come race day.
At mile 50 we stopped back at our cars for a break. I refilled my bottles and grabbed some of the pumpkin muffins I made the night before, a thing of fruit snacks, more endurance chews, and another Clif bar for my fuel box. Kelly came prepared for the rest stop with a cooler full of goodies.
Included in the cooler were a few slices of cold leftover pizza. We had been talking about the pizza for the last 5 miles of the ride. I had never wanted something so bad on a bike ride before, maybe it was all the build up?
The pizza was salty and chewy; it was freaking amazing actually. Is there a way to keep a cold slice of pizza in my special needs bag for the race? Because this is exactly what I needed. We’re so used to eating so much sweet stuff on a long ride or run, that the real food was such an amazing, delicious departure. If anything this made me realize that I need something salty in my special needs bag like pretzels and hummus or something. Thoughts?
We hopped back on our bikes and went back out for our last 50. The second 50 wasn’t as fun as the first. We weren’t as chatty and we all seemed to be dragging – the headwind didn’t help either. We stopped at mile 75 and I savored one of my homemade pumpkin muffins – I think that’s another thing I want to add to my special needs bag for the second half of the bike for the Ironman – a muffine. The muffin was exactly what I needed at that point.
During the last 25 we were all desperate for water. After 5 hours of drinking Gatorade/ Powerade, our mouths were all overly sweet and in need of just regular plain water to wash that all out. I was also over the sweet chews. I needed something salty.
The last 20 miles drrraaaggggeeddd on forever. Our pace lines ended and it became every man for themselves. In the last few miles we all picked up the pace, just ready for it to be over. Kelly, who had really slowed down in the last 10 miles, suddenly gave it all she had and sprinted out ahead of us – Go Kelly!
We came to the end and unceremoniously hopped off our bikes. There was no celebration as we all knew we weren’t done yet – we still had a run to get to! I was nervous about the run. Yes, it’s my strength, but I knew how much I felt like crap after my last long brick a few weeks ago. I worked hard stuffing my face with fuel my whole bike, since I knew I didn’t want to feel like that again.
In a desperate attempt at preventing that from happening again, I tried this Gatorade Endurance Carb Energy Drink during the transition.
It was nasty. It tasted like a melted lime popsicle – really, really sweet and overly concentrated. Gag. I took a couple of bites of salty pizza to try and eliminate the taste from my mouth. The pizza did help. I can’t tell you how great the pizza still tasted at that point.
We all changed into our running shoes, refilled a water bottle, and hit the trail for a 5 mile run. I think we were all dreading it, but we knew it was something that needed to be done.
We decided to do a walk/run and stuck with a 1:30 run/ :30 walk interval. I was really surprised when my legs felt pretty good for the first few intervals. Actually, they felt great for all the intervals. I was tired, but my legs were moving and my stomach felt fine. Somehow we were holding a 8:30 pace during our run intervals and were averaging overall a 10:00 min/mile despite taking the walking breaks.
The miles went by fast. We took it one interval at a time and kept it consistent. In the last interval I decided to sprint to the end and finished feeling strong in 49:50.
We did it! Our last long ride before our Ironman!
I felt great after the long brick. Really, really great. I’m not sure where that came from, but it was a HUGE confidence booster. All this training is paying off, I think I can actually do this!
I stopped on the way home and indulged in my favorite fast food meal: Chick Fil A nuggets, waffle fries, and a cookies & cream milkshake.
Holy crap was that meal delicious.
The next day I set my alarm for 6:00am in preparation of my 105 minute run. When my alarm went off I didn’t even look at it. I just swiped the red button and did my normal routine of taking Maddie out. Despite going to bed at 9:00pm the night before (Derek had to carry me to bed from the couch), I couldn’t believe how exhausted I felt. Why was I so tired? It was only after I walked back inside that I picked up my phone and saw it read 4:00am! I guess my alarm was still set from my work wake-up time the Sunday before. Thank goodness I checked and didn’t just automatically put my running shoes on and walk out the door. I hauled my butt back to bed to enjoy another 2 hours of sleep.
The second time my alarm went off, I felt better. Since Maddie was bouncing off the walls, I decided to take her with me for the first 3 miles of my run. We circled the neighborhood, she marked her territory at every yard she could, and I dropped her back off at the house still running circles around herself.
I headed out for round two and surprised myself again with how great my legs felt. I was actually hitting negative splits and had to circle my neighborhood again to gain some extra mileage since I underestimated how many miles it would take me to run for 105 minutes. I ended up finishing 11.1 miles in 1:46. Not bad.
Derek had a hearty breakfast waiting upon my return.
I love food. 🙂
So far I’m still feeling good. I have a massage booked later this afternoon and I’m thankful it probably won’t be as painful as I had originally been predicting. 🙂
Less than a month to go!
Gatorade had sent me all of the products for free. All opinions are my own.