Friday, October 30, 2009

B2B Blogger Meet-up???

Has anyone heard about one?

If you're going to be at the race, please go to the B2B Triathlete's Blog and leave a comment on the meet-up post. And pass the word to other B2B-ers!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

2009 Great Floridian Iron Triathlon

First of all, THANK YOU, everyone, for your comments, emails and encouragement. I really appreciate it!!!

Someone at the race said it best, "The Great Floridian is like box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get." And I'd say I got one of those pieces with a big, hard Brazil nut on the inside. A few weeks ago, I thought of putting it back in the box when I discovered there was a new, much tougher bike course. Instead, I decided to keep it and figured it'd just take longer to chew on. Then at the athletes meeting the day before the race, the race director said to add an extra hour to your expected finishing time. He wasn't kidding!

Ironically, the thing I was worried about the most, the swim, turned out to be the easiest part of the race for me. Thanks to a recent cold front, water temps dropped from 85 degs to 74 degs in a week and wetsuits were allowed. Winds were low making for calm water conditions at the start. It really doesn't get much better than this and I looked forward to a great day.

The swim course was 2 laps around an inverted triangle. Knowing that I have a tendency to veer left, I lined up on the right side of the pack, which also meant I'd also swim a slightly shorter distance than those who started further left. This is not cheating, just lining up smart! And with only a few hundred friends swimming with me, as opposed to 2000 in an Ironman brand race, I knew the contact would be minimal. While I have a second degree black belt in karate, sparring in water is not my thing.

Off we went and this time I was happy to have no problemos with my wetsuit choking me and no worries about losing my timing chip (last race, someone grabbed my foot and almost ripped off the ankle strap so I safety-pinned the velcro strap down). Very early on, though, I almost ran into one female swimmer who was doing the backstroke but going totally the wrong way, like almost back to shore. Strange... By the first buoy turn, the only thing annoying me was my swim cap. It kept creeping up my forehead and I had to periodically use both hands to wrestle that sucka back down. Probably freaked out a kayaker or two as I momentarily just floated face down to do that.

Still, I got done with the first lap in around 45 min, which was right on target for me. I strolled out of the water, tried to fix my swim cap again, grabbed a cup of Gatorade and headed back in for lap two. I have no idea what that guy in back of me is doing in the above photo. Maybe some sort of lap dance? Sorry, that was bad ...

Anyway, on the second lap, more swimming with occasional swim cap dealings and, get this, I, little ol' ShirleyPerly, actually clobbered and almost swam over one guy who had slowed down. Oops, sorry Dude! I've got to stop thinking I have the water all to myself late on swims. All the lessons, hard work and open water swimming practice have put me squarely at the back of the middle of the pack so I am no longer the slowest swimmer out there. YAY!!

Swim time: 1:33:01 (2:12/100 yds), 5/5 F45-49, 26/39 Female. Unofficially, a 53 minute 2.4 mile swim PR!! (I finished the IMFL 2006 swim in 2:26 but since I did not make the 2:20 swim cut-off, the time wasn't recorded.)

Over to the wetsuit strippers and then to grab my bike gear bag from some kind volunteers who'd retrieved it from the rack. For some reason, the women's side of the changing tent was nearly the same size as the men's side even though there were only 39(!) women doing the race vs. over 200 men. HEE! I had my choice of chairs to sit on, plenty of room to spread out my bike stuff and my own iron maiden to help me put my bike jersey on, put away my swim stuff, apply sunscreen on my back/shoulders, etc. A royal treatment in what seemed like a white palace!

So perhaps I enjoyed things in there a bit too long ... T1: 8:09, 4/5 F45-49, 22/39 Female. After all, this is a race, you know.

Time to see if my new bike shoe cleats work. Usually nothing new on race day is the rule but mine were so worn out that I was not sure if my bike shoes would be able to stay clipped in, especially on a hilly ride, so we switched them out for new ones. (And, of course, I did not notice how worn out they were until I went to check my bike in so we had to pay nearly double to get them last minute at the expo. Doh! At least they had the right ones ...)

About a quarter of the way through the ride and not a cloud in the sky. The weather forecast for record high temps seemed to be correct. DRATS!!

At least the new cleats were working fine. Dave took the above photo from the top of Sugarloaf, a well known climb in the area but just one many short steep climbs on the bike course. Interestingly, it seemed that a few guys were always dismounting their bikes and walking up the steep hills rather than even trying to ride up them. I was never quite sure what to say when passing them so I just huffed and puffed extra hard so they'd think I was working too hard to talk.

But, is it wrong to smile while doing so?

Soon enough, though, they'd blow past me on the downhills and Coach had instructed me to only coast to rest my legs. It was like playing leap frog at times with me passing some folks on the uphills, them passing me on the downhills, etc.

On a flatter section, miles 36-48, I'd hoped to pick up some speed but was suddenly transported to Kona and dealing with nasty headwinds much of the way. UGH!! Then I realized I'd made a mistake bypassing the last aid station that was at the bottom of a hill, just before a sharp left turn and then another steep climb (I would've had to make a full stop as I don't have the bike handling skills to grab a bottle, refill, while descending, turning and climbing in a very short distance). The wind on the flats took a lot out of me and when I got to the next aid station, I was dehydrated and completely out of fluids. I ended up having to make a full stop there to refill both my aero bottle and spare bottle. And why not hit the porta-potty too while I'm at it? Yes, you can be dehydrated and still have to pee!

By the time I completed the first lap and got back to the transition area where the bike special needs bags were located (~mile 60, see photo below), I felt like I'd already ridden 100 miles. Not good! My feet were on fire from the constant pressure I was applying to fight the wind (which often happens to me when riding in Kona but seldom anywhere else) and my butt wanted off the bike NOW!

Queue theme music from the Kung Fu TV series.

Me: Coach, the heat, hills and wind are kicking my @ss. What should I do?
Coach: Stay hydrated and fueled, Grasshopper. Race your own race.
Me: But, Coach, how can I possibly get through 52 more miles of torture?
Coach: Release yourself from expectations. Expect only that YOU WILL FINISH.

Music fades.

I really didn't need anything from my special needs bag so I decided not to get off my bike for fear of not getting back on. I cruised past Dave and told him that my bike split was going to be a lot longer than the 7 hours I thought it'd take me, probably somewhere between 7:30 and 8 hours but I will make the cut-off. And just saying that was a huge relief, actually, so I could stop beating myself up for being so slow and just focus on staying in my target HR zone and getting the job done. Besides, I had plenty of company on the second lap compared to my solo training rides, and we all know misery loves company.

To pass the time, I made it my mission to warn folks who did not know the course to save their legs for the last 12 hilliest miles of the course. Some replied despondently that I had to be joking. Sorry, folks, I wish I were! But the funny thing was that I thought those horrible hills were actually easier for me mentally because I knew I'd be going slow there. Being unable to go much faster on the flat sections because of the unseen enemy (wind) was the harder pill to swallow.

Bike time: 7:45:09 (14.4 mph). 4/5 F45-49, 21/39 Female.
OK, I might have been just a little thrilled to be done.

I handed off my bike to another nice volunteer, grabbed my run gear bag and headed back into the white palace. First things first, I had to get my aching feet out of my hard bike shoes and into nice comfy running shoes -- AHHH! I actually had a complete change of clothing in my bag but decided to change only my top and socks. Didn't see any point in changing shorts as the clean pair were just another pair of tri shorts anyway. But since it was going to be a hot & sweaty run for at least the first hour or so until closer to sunset, I wiped off as much sweat and grime from the ride as I could and made sure to apply lots of Body Glide. I did not need any chafing or blisters to make things any more challenging!

Racers were required to have reflective tape or decals on both the front and back of them during the run so I decided to be a little creative :-)

Another stop into a porta-potty and I was out of T2 with a new record long time: 11:31, 4/5 F45-49, 25/39 Female. Holy smokes, did I doze off somewhere in there?!

But once I got on the run course I woke up. The city of Clermont was celebrating its 125th anniversary and there was a little festival going on along part of the lake. Fun! More things to see and it brought out more people. I took a cup of Gatorade at the first aid station right outside the transition area without thinking -- BIG MISTAKE!!!

I totally forgot that Perpeteum, which I consumed late on my bike ride and probably still had in my stomach, and Gatorade lead to explosive consequences for me. Oh sh*t, literally! By mile 3, I knew I was in trouble. Gas pains galore and a dire need to find a porta-potty fast. Sorry if TMI!

Thankfully, they were located nearly every mile and I hit all but one of them on my first of 3 laps on the run course. It was not pretty, my pace, I mean, but I was surely making progress if I was going from porta-potty to porta-potty, right? I mean, who needs mile markers when you have big green boxes?

Luckily, I had experienced this GI issue in training before and actually had brought some stomach meds with me. I just didn't remember I had them until around mile 4 and after I took them it still took a while for things to settle down. I had to take my Fuel Belt off and carry it over my shoulder as any extra pressure on my gut was dangerous. But carrying it was surprisingly easy, even comfortable (like a sling for my right arm to rest on), so when I finally, FINALLY, completed my first lap (~9 miles) about two hours later, I decided to continue carrying it. That way I could still have my gels, other emergency meds, water bottles and my cell phone* with me.

*The cell phone was really important as it allowed Dave to track me using Sprint's Family Locator Service. This race did not have any athlete tracking and even if it did, it wouldn't say where I was, just that I'd passed a certain point at a certain time. With the GPS tracking of my cell phone, Dave pretty much always knew where I was on the bike and run courses, which made it a whole lot easier for him to spectate and take pictures.

Before heading out for lap 2, I stopped at the run special needs station and exchanged visors for the one that I'd attached a Nebo clip-on cap light. I'd thought I'd only need it for my third lap but the longer bike ride and slower first lap meant it was already getting dark. And, man, was I glad I had it. People often talk about going to dark places during ironman races meaning in their minds. This race had lots of them outside simply due to limited light!

We only had a quarter moon that night and although there were some spotlights along the run course it was impossible to light the entire course. Along this one tree canopied trail we ran on, it was virtually pitch black except for glow rings the athletes were given to wear around their necks and near the turnaround where an aid station was located. Eerie! A few folks ran with me for a while because I had a light, but I actually preferred running alone. My GI issues were improving but I was not-so-silently at times releasing a fair amount of gas along the course. Better that no one be near me ...

Around the lake again and back to festival area for the second time and in the darkness it looked even better. The rides were now all lit up and there were lots more people around. A number of them were lined along the path cheering for the athletes going by, which was really nice as there were only a few pockets spectators on the course elsewhere and I'm sure some folks really needed the encouragement. I stopped at the run special needs station again to grab more gels and saw Dave. I happily reported that I was doing much better now and was actually getting faster with each lap :-)

On my last one, temps were now in the 70's with a nice breeze which felt just right, not too cold or hot. Most of the folks I saw were walking and I tried to encourage everyone I passed and only asked those who asked me what lap I was on what lap they were on. Our answers were the same (last) but I suspected many who didn't ask were probably not on their last lap and would not finish by the 17:30 cut-off :-(

I was running well now but continued to stop briefly at the aid stations to eat a few pretzels and down some water. There was no sense in changing the routine that had gotten me thus far and it also gave me a final chance to thank the wonderful volunteers at the aid stations for all their help. The only aid station I didn't stop at was the last one. It was only about a half mile from the finish and I saw a woman and man running ahead who also looked to be on their last lap. Ooh, what have we here, a little spark of racing adrenaline after all?

I took a quick swig from my water bottle instead and just gave a quick thank you to the volunteers before beginning my final kick to the finish. I was amazed to find how much energy I still had left in my legs after being out on the course for so long. It didn't seem much different than running a standalone marathon, actually. Maybe I've practiced finishing strong so many times in the past that it just comes automatically? Who knows, but it made for a pretty nice first-time iron tri finish.

Run time: 5:23:25 (12:21 pace). 2/5 F45-49, 15/39 Female
Final race time: 15:01:13. 3/5 F45-49, 16/39 Female.

WOOHOO, bye-bye iron DNF monkey on my back. And, remarkably, I have very little post-race soreness which should make for a fast recovery for Beach To Battleship, another full iron tri, in 2 weeks. DOUBLE SAH-WEETNESS!!

Other numbers for those who love numbers:

4500 - Approx. feet climbed on the bike course per my Garmin
199 - Entry fee for this race
140.6 - Miles covered during the race
89 - High temp (F) for the day per
46 - Number of times Dave tracked my cell phone during the race
25 - % folks who DNFd (and this race does not attract many first-timers)
14/16 - Max wind spd/gusts (mph) per
8 - Number of times I used a porta-potty/restroom during the race
2 - Number of race shirts I got (participant and finisher)
1 - Awesome, supportive hubby
0 - Times I thought about about quitting


Sunday, October 25, 2009


Holy Moly, what a tough race!!!

I finished, though, and that's all that matters to me. But I suspect there may be a LOT of DNFs when the final results are posted :-(

Full report to come soon. Must get some sleep!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Next Saturday: The BIG Dance

How in the world could 9 months have flown by so fast? Or, for that matter, 3 years?

It seems like just yesterday I was dabbling in tris, learning how to swim and trying to stay upright on my bike. Yet, here I am less than a week away from the Great Floridian (GF), an iron distance triathlon that I would never have considered doing not long ago. Heat plus hills? NO THANKS!!

But GF has a rich and storied history. This year marks its 25th 19th anniversary and it's challenged many of the best triathletes long before Ironman became a household name. In fact, I'd heard it was a Kona qualifier at one time and used to sell out with over a thousand participants. Now the race director would be lucky to have a few hundred. Why???

Two words: Ironman Florida (IMFL).

Two weeks later, usually cooler and a whole lot flatter, IMFL now attracts most triathletes in the area who are seeking their first ironman finish, ironman PRs or a Kona slot. A large part of it is also probably the brand name marketing, i.e., getting called an "Ironman" when you cross the finish line of an Ironman brand race.

Me? I'm actually the type of person who would do an iron distance triathlon when no one is looking. What I wanted this year was a new challenge, not a new name. I already knew how to swim and could swim long (though not as fast as I'd like). I'd ridden 80-100+ miles several times and had run over 50 marathons. So just doing any ol' race with a 2.4 mi swim, 112 mi bike and a 26.2 mi run didn't stir those butterflies like it did back in 2006 when I was brand new to the sport. I needed more!

With the help of Coach Bill, we devised a plan so that I could tackle one of the toughest iron distance tris around and another one two weeks later that was similar to IMFL. This year I'd learn how to ride hills and handle extreme heat like my tri heroes, and I'd also have a shot at finding out what I could do on an flatter, cooler course. Both within the same training cycle and for about the same price as one Ironman brand race. Now we're talking!

And the excitement has seemingly made time fly. I never got really burned out from training this year. I was never more dedicated in getting myself to the pool or getting outside to deal with the horrible FL summer heat. Embrace the heat my @ss, it was more like try not to let it kill you! I never lifted weights and stretched more diligently. I never watched my diet and weight so closely. Critical when training long in serious heat!

So very different than back in 2006 when I trained myself for IMFL. Then, I basically got so that I could swim 2.4 miles, but only in the best water conditions, and I could get by on the bike and run. Unfortunately, Mother Nature would produce the worst water conditions making it a short race day for me -- Oh well!

Thus, it's ironic that the big question this Saturday is also what will Mother Nature throw at us? Namely, will the water temp be wetsuit legal (78 degs or less)?

Well, in its 2519 year history, GF has been not wetsuit legal only once before. Last week, someone measured the lake temp and found it to be 85. UGH! But then a cold front blew in over the weekend and that same person said the lake temp this morning was well below 78, perhaps even too cold and too rough for the swim to be held had the race been today. Later this week, the weather should be warming up again and the winds dying down some so who knows what it'll be by Saturday morning ...

Ahh, the uncertainty of ironmans.

Wish me luck. There's no athlete tracking available so I'll update you all after the race either late Saturday or on Sunday. Hope you all have a great week!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Epic Weekend!

First of all, CONGRATS to everyone who raced last weekend! I know it was a big weekend for many and look forward to catching up with everyone soon. The last few days I have only been on my computer to do 3 things: work, answer email & deal with my Iron Dilemma. And thanks to all your great input, I was able to come up with a way to ride some flats with Dave, then ride some hills on my own *and* still have him close by and comfortable while he waited 3-4 hours for me to finish.

How could that be possible when flats/home and hills are located about an hour apart and it's 90+ freaking degrees outside?

Tadda, enter our favorite home away from home: Hampton Inn.

In fact, one is located only a few miles from the Great Floridian course and we've stayed there the night before other past events in Clermont, FL (like the Assault from Sugarloaf Ride and FL Challenge half iron). For training, however, we've always gotten up early and just driven out there in the morning and driven back home. Why not stay there after the big Saturday brick workout and drive home after my long Sunday run?

The night's stay would be FREE anyway using Dave's Hilton hotel points and he'd been home all week so surely he would not mind spending one measly night in a hotel this week. Worst case, I'm sure he could be easily bribed ;-)

He'll get to control the thermostat the whole weekend. (I usually set ours at home to 82.)

He'll get to watch History Channel shows, Myth Busters, Dirty Jobs and other stuff he likes on cable TV. (We don't have cable at home.)

We'll eat dinner at the restaurant next door after my long brick workout. (We rarely eat out together unless we're on travel or it's a special occasion.)

Free breakfast Sunday morning. (Need I say more?)

Lunch at Panera, which is also next door, after my long Sunday run.

Plus, lots of attention and cuddling all weekend when I'm not working out. (Partly because I'll be ffffreezing in a 65 deg room!)

So the plan was to ride a 45 mi flat-ish route together and then I'd do another 60 on my own for a total of 105. My favorite route mapping tool these days is Bike Route Toaster. It provides a nice elevation map and you can also download the course directions to your Garmin, something that Dave likes (I prefer knowing the course in my head). I had let go of the notion of riding the actual GF course (the first half is definitely not flat!), but there are plenty of hills I could ride on my own to make for that.

(Side note: Coach said I could ride flats when I told him that I didn't think I could get Dave to ride in Clermont again after the fire ant and heat exhaustion episode. He did not direct me to ride flats specifically and probably would have preferred that I ride some hills.)

But Mother Nature (MN) had other plans ...

That B*tch produced record high temps this past weekend. And, of course, I had the "brilliant" idea to start our ride about the same time I'd be riding on race day after my swim, 9 am, and by then temps already felt like 86 degs. Bleah!

Dave fared well in the heat this week on the flatter course even with temps soaring to 102 with the humidity factored in. YAY, Dave! Unfortunately, I had 60 more to do by myself :-( and I gotta say that heading out on my own for the rest in that heat was beyond tough. To make it a bit easier for me mentally, I decided to do 2 laps, as some of you suggested. That way I could also get more water from a park with restrooms and never be more than ~15 miles from Dave who was heading to the hotel after his ride.

MN was having none of it, however. She was determined to break me down and decided to see if some rain might dampen my iron spirits. Ha, I'll take rain over heat any day!

But did I bring my little blinky light so I could be more easily spotted on the road by cars in limited visibility conditions? Doh!

So I rode on a nearby bike path instead of the narrow, shoulder-less roads for a bit. Now I am not a big fan of riding on bike paths but in this heat and rain, there was NO ONE to dodge on the path and it was much safer than tempting fate on a narrow road with a fair amount of traffic in the rain. A few miles later, the rain stopped and the heat index skyrocketed up around 100 again. I was back riding on the roads again now that I was further out, which was nice so I didn't have to slow down at every intersection, but somewhere along the way I lost my desire to hit all the steepest hills on the GF course. I settled on riding only the nasty ones at the end of the GF course at the end of my ride. The rest of the ride would be only rollers, which in this heat was going to be plenty for me.

Lap one was done with little fanfare. Not sure what my average speed was but I know I was going faster than only 13-14mph last time I was riding on what was supposed to be the easier part of route. WTF??? Is it the heat? Am I dehydrated? Did I eat enough? Did I push too hard early on? Another slow leak in a tire?

It was hard to tell at first riding in a fairly barren area, but then it became obvious when I turned and got to an area that had some trees.

WHOOOSH! Yes, leaves were blowing off trees and coming toward me. Not a good sign. The skies had clouded up again and then huge water drops began thudding on my helmet. I knew what was coming ...

CRRRAACK!!! Crap, thunder.

Yep, MN was royally pissed now. She brought in a full-blown thunderstorm with 23-25 mph winds and driving rain to try to stop me. There was really no shelter out there and it'd take Dave 15-20 minutes to come get me (and by then the storm would most likely be gone) so I just kept pedaling. I struggled to keep my speed above 10 mph heading into the wind and rain but the more important thing I was doing was counting the number of seconds between the time I saw the lightening and heard the thunder. Fortunately, that time did not seem to be getting less so traversing those nasty hills late in the course, which are also some of the highest points in the area and where some tall power towers are located, should be OK. I hope!

The funny thing was that I think I climbed those hills the best I ever have. For one thing, the storm had dropped temps down into the 80's so it was considerably cooler than the other times I'd ridden them. But also, my adrenaline levels were red-lining. There was no way in heck I wanted to spend any extra time on those hills with all the thunder and lightening in the area (a lot of people who get hit by lightening are not in the midst of a storm but rather on the outward edges). All the rain, however, created rivers of water in the low areas of the road where I knew some cracks and wheel grabbing potholes were lying in wait so I could not coast downhills as fast as I normally would in dry conditions. And the fact that there were very few cars out on this road in the storm was both a good and bad thing. Good because I didn't have to worry much about them not seeing me or hitting me. Bad because if I got hit by lightening or crashed and couldn't call for help, there was no one around. (Dave would eventually see that I'm not moving on the GPS locator service we have with my cell phone, though, and find me as long as my phone was OK).

So, basically, I could not crash, that's all there was to it. Nothing I could do about lightening except try to stay away from tall stuff. Just don't crash. Don't crash. Don't crash.

I went up the hills and down them almost as slow. I gave myself ample time to brake and made sure to round corners carefully. I finally made it to the hotel with a total of 105.3 miles completed in 6:44:27 (15.6 mph avg). Whew!

By then it'd stopped raining but was still cloudy which was nice for my 5-mile brick run. Towards the end of the run, however, the sun came out again and it felt like 95 degs even at 5:30pm. Ugh ... 5 miles done in 49:25, a 9:53 pace. Better than I thought, actually, and Dave got 3 huge bags of ice for my ice bath to reward me. Thanks Dave 8-O

The next day Mother Nature came out fighting again with temps already feeling like low 80s at 7:45 am. Probably would have been better to run 18 miles in the evening when I'd be running during the race (and when things would hopefully be getting cooler rather than hotter late in the run) but I wanted to get the run over with early. My legs felt sluggish the first 3 miles but got better and I ran fine until around mile 10. Then the heat index was well over 90 again and even running largely in the shade felt so hot with the little wind there was. I envied all the cyclists I saw knowing they were creating their own breeze.

By mile 14, I went into survival mode taking regular walk breaks every mile to keep my HR down and to try to get as much fluids into me as possible. It was not pretty and I definitely did NOT finish as strong as I would have liked but I got 18 miles done in ~3:15 (10:50 pace, including walk breaks). I'll take it! Dave picked me up from where I finished, got another 3 huge bags of ice from the ice machine for my ice bath and today I'm feeling surprisingly good considering all I did this weekend.

I made it to my taper -- HOORAY!!!

Weekend workout summary:
Fri 4500 yd swim: 4x1000s with five 100's thrown in the middle.
Sat 105.3 bike (15.6 mph) + 5 mi run (9:53 pace), 80-102 deg HI, 3700' climbing.
Sun 18 mi run (10:50 pace), 81-98 deg HI.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Iron Dilemma

Thanks everyone for your thoughts on Dave. Luckily, he's home this week so I can "monitor" the fire ant damage and help ward off infection. One time he got several bites on his foot and it swelled into a big wiener so he couldn't put a shoe on it for days! Of course, that hasn't stopped him from walking around outside barefoot or sitting on the ground where those buggers may be ...

Anyhoo, I have a BIG dilemma and I need some input from you again.

As I mentioned in my previous post, this coming weekend will be my biggest week in training volume and then I get to taper. To date, most of my long runs have been done a day or so *before* my long rides. This was mainly because of Dave's travel schedule (he usually got home after midnight on Fridays and could not ride long on Saturdays). In an iron tri, however, you ride long and then run long and many iron training programs have you ride long on Saturdays and then run long on Sundays. This weekend will be the first and only time I will do that: Saturday - 105 mile bike plus a 5-mile run, Sunday - 18 mile run.

Now Coach has said I can actually do this last long ride on flats to spare Dave more agony (he really should not be riding hills in heat without a solid nutrition plan). But a big part of me actually wants to head back out to the hills again knowing that a few weeks ago I couldn't even imagine running after riding the new Great Floridian (GF) course and nearly bailed on doing the full distance. Last weekend, I rode 74 miles, the toughest parts of the course, and then ran 7 miles off the bike without too much difficulty, which makes me feel better but I'm still worried, esp. since the swim may very well turn out to be not wetsuit legal. This week's highs are still over 90 degs (~100 deg heat index) -- WAH!

So, here's my dilemma:

If I leave my loving, supportive (and itchy) husband at home and ride the GF course by myself this weekend, I'll get a much better sense of what to expect on race day. However, Dave will feel left out (cycling is the one activity we try to do together every week) and he'll worry about me being out there by myself, although it's fine by me (the riding alone part, not his worrying). More than likely, he'll force himself to come with me and do as much as he can again and, similarly, if he gets into trouble, it'll be hard to modify the route and there aren't many places to rest/refuel along the way. Plus, this weekend's weather looks to be even hotter than last weekend and so even if he does only half of the ride with me, he'll still have to wait 3-4 hours for me in the heat to finish my ride and run (even in the shade, it's plenty hot).

Alternatively, I could ride flats nearby our home with Dave and just hope the training I've done will carry me through the race. Riding flats is much easier for Dave in the heat. We can also do multiple loops passing by multiple places to rest/refuel as needed. He can head home and get out of the heat whenever he feels he's done and still be fairly close by while I'm out riding. However, riding flats is nothing like riding hills to me and doing so will not help my confidence much for GF, although it will help for B2B.

Please let me know what you think I should do!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Active Rest & Recovery

This is a term I used to hear and say a lot when taking/teaching fitness classes a while back. Between intervals of high intensity stuff, we'd do intervals of low intensity stuff, such as jogging or jump rope. We never got to completely rest until we were done and one of the things that I remember thinking when I was first exposed to this type of training was that the instructor must be smoking crack. How on earth could jogging or jump roping be considered rest?

But after several weeks, it did get easier and I became a lot stronger both physically and mentally. And so it seems with my iron training. While it used to be that a half iron would pretty much wipe me out, now it's just a step-back or rest week for me. Coach gave me my usual one day off (Monday) after the FL Challenge and I was right back into training -- I mean, recovering -- so that it was business as usual by the weekend:

Fri - 15 mi run @ 8:51 pace, AHR 159, 83-86 deg HI. Last bit of the cold front!

Sat - 2x2000m open water swim, 1:35 w/ my wetsuit. It still feels like it's choking me but it doesn't bother me much after a while. I pray that GF will be wetsuit legal!!

Sun - 74 mi bike on the GF course minus flatter parts, 15.5 mph, AHR 141, 77-88 degs HI.
         7 mi brick run @ 9:41 pace, AHR 158, 87-90 deg HI. Back to hot :-(

But no doubt the hardest thing about last weekend was seeing Dave suffer during the ride yesterday. Although he's not training for an ironman and has done very few rides over 50 miles in the heat, he wanted to go the whole way with me and I could not talk him out of it. He did fine until mile 60, but after that, the sun poured out through the clouds and we'd just begun the hilliest part of the course where there was virtually no shade. His HR skyrocketed and he had to dismount his bike and walk up one of the steepest hills. After making it to the top, he then had to go sit under a tree for a while to cool off. Not a good idea in FL!

Yep, a bunch of fire ants found him but he was too exhausted to move. Finally, he got up and we brushed off as many as we could from his shorts. He decided to take a different, flatter route back to the car but insisted that I go the original route to hit all the hills late in the GF course. I worried about him the whole way but found him back at the car waiting for me. Poor guy had gotten chills, probably from heat exhaustion, and also a severe rash from all the fire ant bites on his butt (he's somewhat allergic to them -- not a pretty sight). Even after my 7-mile run, he was still out of it so I drove us home. And wouldn't you know it, he has an appointment with a colonscopy doc today ...

Anyway, this coming weekend will be my biggest to date in terms of volume. Hopefully Dave will know his limits better (you try telling a former Marine that ;-). After that, I've got a 2 week taper going into GF and then 2 weeks to recover for B2B. Yikes, it's getting close!