Since I don’t log my training weeks like I used to earlier in this blog since it’s basically the same general stuff, day in and day out :), I thought I would do a quick check in since it’s less than a month out from IMWI.
Two weekends ago I headed up to Madison, WI with my coach, his wife and a training friend to ride two loops of the course. (We were skipping the stick – the out and back portion which is usually pretty busy with cars and not super hilly, so it isn’t really needed for a ‘course recon’). The plan was to head up Saturday, get in a swim and short run and then ride Sunday morning. The weather had other plans for us though, it’s was stormy on our way up, the rain stopped when we headed to lake Monona but it was choppy and windy, so we aborted the mission to swim and instead ran 10 miles along the lake. It was nice to run around a new area and to also run with other people! Training solo I forget that sometimes I miss the chit chat with others during a run.
Sunday we headed out to Fireman’s park where we would start our two loops, there were a few cars there but it wasn’t super crowded. I was glad we went during an ‘off day’ when there wasn’t a supported or planned ride so the roads would be a little less busy and therefore maybe less irritable drivers. Off we went, but five minutes in I dropped my chain. Grr. What a great start, I had thought it was a mechanical issue since my shifting sounded off/was skipping occasionally when I checked it Friday, however in retrospect I am pretty sure I shifted to the small ring when I was down pedaling with way too much force which caused it to drop, so it was a relief knowing it was user error.
The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful, I did notice that some of the roads were super rough – my aero bottle was rattling away and really getting in my head, I wanted to go slower to make it stop! So that was one thing I noted to take care of before race day (which I did this past weekend, putting a piece of fabric between it and my bars stopped the rattle on rough pavement, hooray). Also, during the first loop the three main big-ish hills weren’t so bad at all, but during the second loop, I struggled on the last one. That was an eye opener, I mean I knew it was a tough bike course, but I guess I had forgotten how tough since I last raced it. So it was good kick in the pants to keep riding hills at home and to take this bike course seriously! Which I definitely do take IM training seriously, but I figured after surviving the tough CDA bike course I was good and just needed to ride mileage and not worry about hills, ha…no.
This past week I had my largest training week for IMWI, which had the usual volume during the week but a 100 mile ride and long-ish run over the weekend. The weather was supposed to be nice, no rain and a high in the 80’s, so it was perfect conditions, but I was slightly dreading it because I had some serious pre long-ride anxiety for some reason. Usually I feel that way when I start riding outside again, but after a ride or two I feel more confident and less worried. However, I think part of it was due to fear of the condition of the roads, this time of year they are chip sealing all over my favorite routes, so encountering long stretches of gravel was on the back of my mind, and gravel can mean crashing/falling.
Also my darn rear bottle holders got squished again in transit to Madison, I think the storms we drove though really pushed the bikes against each other on the rack and the handlebars of my friend’s bike were pushing on my rear bottle cages. Because the screw is stuck in one of the cages (you can read all about that drama in my pre CDA race recap, lol), I’m stuck with that bottle holder unless I want to invest in a whole new rear hydration setup, which, I do not. So I tried to un-squish it as much as I could but it’s still a struggle to get bottles in and out, however I just need it to hold up until race day and we will go from there. [Sidenote: I turn 40 next year and have been saying for the past five years I am buying a new bike as my present for that big birthday, but damn, bike prices have gone way up, or maybe my taste has, so who knows, but for now I’m not sinking any more money into my current tri bike.] Despite the fears and squished bottle cages I got the ride done. There was gravel, so I had to change routes and get in less hills, but I still got in some hills and it was ok. No bike mechanicals, no flats, and my rear hydration setup didn’t fall off while trying to pull the bottles out, lol. So it was a win!
I’m at the point now where I’m counting things down to keep my motivation up. I’m still excited to train, but am getting a little worn down and am ready for race day. For example my alarm went off at 5a yesterday and my first thought was ‘can I swim after work instead?’, but telling myself ‘Only 11 more early morning swims until race day!’ seemed to help and know that there will be mornings in the near future when I will sleep in past 5 :). Whatever works!
I have also started to think of my goals for IMWI now that the race is closer and have a good idea of what my actual fitness might be on race day. I won’t be posting any numbers (fear of jinxing myself!) but I went into this season with some specific swim/bike/run goal numbers, however after CDA, I think my swim goal time might need to be a little slower based on how that swim went and IMWI being a pretty similar format (lake swim, 2 loops). I am going to swim in my sleeveless wetsuit which I *think* might help my pace a little, which sounds counterintuitive since I’ll be wearing less neoprene, but the long sleeved made me feel panicky during a lot of the swim at CDA, so I wasn’t swimming as hard as I could have in fear I would get my heart rate up too high and then go into an actual panic attack. So yes, long sleeved wetsuits are faster than sleeveless, but maybe not the case when you are borderline panic attack in a full sleeved. I’ll report back after and let you know 🙂 I still feel pretty confident in my bike goal time, and if I have a good day the run goal time might be attainable too. Everything just has to come into place or I have to do a good job of going with the flow and being flexible (and problem solve) since usually things going as planned and having a perfect day is rare.
I also have some lessons learned from CDA that I do and do NOT want to repeat! The DO: Pre-Race Nutrition. I had zero stomach issues on race day which is rare, I followed a really strict pre-race nutrition routine, so I am sticking with that again. It will be a little harder because I won’t have access to a kitchen and our hotel room doesn’t have a microwave, but I think I can still follow it semi-closely with the big piece being NOT eating vegetables two days prior to the race. Nutrition on bike/run seemed to be pretty good using Skratch Superfuel and 1 Skratch Rice Cake on bike; Skratch Sport Hydration, Huma Gels, Base Salt and Coke on the run, so I’m keeping that in place. Running with a handheld worked well with hydration and also carrying salt/2 gels along with what I stuffed in my kit, I will see what the weather will be like on race day but will most likely still carry handheld since my stomach seems to handle Skratch well.
The DO NOT REPEAT: Missing sunscreen on hands. And Arms. I guess this will really depend on weather, but my hands were just fried by the time I got on the run at CDA. I know I didn’t spray them in T1 or T2, so maybe just spraying the tops will be enough, or I might wear bike gloves. Also dependent on weather, but I will be bringing arm sleeves as well. If it’s hot, I will take the time in T1 to wear them so I don’t fry or have to re-spray in special needs. Raw neck from wetsuit. This is a regular problem for me, even with putting a crap ton of body glide on my neck. I’m considering using K-Tape on my neck to see if that will help, but I’m not sure how well it will stay on, so it might be riskier if it falls off and not having anything there since I can’t apply body glide and k-tape. Decisions…
So training is chugging along, I’m getting close to the taper, just a couple more big weeks while trying to take care of the little things: strength training, yoga, stretching, sleep and eating healthy so that I will get to that start line healthy and ready to race! I will leave you with a picture of this little guy we see occasionally hugging the power line outside our house. It’s a funny looking site, he/she will be running down the line and then stops and just hugs it and stays that way for a while, like he/she just realized they’re afraid of heights. Then after a while I guess he/she works up the courage (or forgets the made up fear of heights I created) and scurries off. Anyways, some days I feel like I’m just holding on for dear life between work, training and life so this picture sums up my weeks lately!