Monday, September 15, 2014

First Taper Week Done... Taper Madness in full effect!

Last week was the first week of the Taper where I did the same workouts, but at 75% of my peak volume. Honestly, that was still a LOT of miles! LOL I think this coming week will be better as far as physical recuperation but my mental craziness is going completely off the top of the charts!

Taper Madness is here.

My poor family!

Of course, none of this craziness was helped by an article shared on the Augusta 70.3 Facebook page indicating that the river was closed to swimming due to an oil spill.

Good gracious! What are they trying to do to me?!

I'm trying my best not to panic. They have plenty of time to clean up. But at the same time I'm thinking what will I do if the swim is cancelled. My hotel is not pre-paid. Would I want to spend over $400 plus gas and food to go to something that's not even a "real" Half Ironman?? Probably not.

But I'm not going to worry myself about it. There is nothing I can do to change anything. I will just have to keep doing my taper/training and let the chips fall where they may!

13 days to go. I hope. ;)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Peak Training Week is done!!

Today was the peak week of my Half Ironman training, and despite it being a busy week for my family and a crazy weather week in our area, I was able to get all of my workouts in. Not only did I get them all in, but they all went very well! I don't think I could have asked for anything better!

I was most concerned about my Brick workout yesterday (Saturday). I planned to do around a 50 mile ride followed by a 6 mile run - the longest brick I've ever done. I asked some friends who are also training for 70.3 to join me and we rode out in the country near my house and then came back and ran through town. So not only did I get my longest workout done successfully, but the time went by quickly with the company of good friends!

A smile! What more could anyone ask for after a long, hot brick workout?!

It dawned on me this afternoon that, while triathlon is an individual sport, it would bet a rare person who gets through the training for such an event by themselves. We are supported by friends who train with us. Folks who encourage us. Folks who hold down the fort at home. And folks who do more than one of those at different stages of the journey! I'm so thankful for all of them!

So 3 weeks from today is Race Day and now it's time to taper! My workout frequency remains the same pretty much up until the day I leave for the race, but the duration decreases. I will be working at 75% of my peak volume this coming week. Then the next week will be around 50% of my peak volume. This week won't be too bad, but next week will probably have me going stir crazy! :)

Ready or not, Taper Madness is the name of the game!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

MACC One Love Ride - Metric Century

Today was my last super-long bike ride! My intention with this ride was to do one more race simulation, this time to test out my new nutrition plan - Generation UCAN!

Today I ate half a bagel with peanut butter at 5:45, on my way over to my Ironman Friend's house. Last week I had trouble with my belly feeling "empty" and now that I know I will have a few hours between getting up and my wave start, I think I will need to eat breakfast at the hotel before I head over. So my friend and I rode down to the ride together. She was supposed to be doing the 100 miler (century) but with her injury taking her out of her full Ironman and really basically out of training much at all, she chose to do the 30 mile route and then to wait on me to finish. That was SO sweet of her to do that!

We arrived at the venue and it was really jumping! Lots of participants and the volunteers were some of the most helpful I've seen. I registered this morning on site, something I rarely do. But it was a last minute confirmation that I would be able to do the ride, and the registration + active fees would be just about the same as registration on site. I'd rather give that money to the charity rather than to active. They didn't have any small shirts, but I got a medium and I'll wear it today and give it to my hubby to wear after this! :)

I mixed and drank a packet of Vanilla UCAN with protein 30-45 minutes before the ride. I think I like the vanilla better than the chocolate. I suspect that is because I refuel with whole chocolate milk, so anything else tastes watery and my body doesn't like it! 

The ride started and I took off to do my thing. I wanted to come as close to pacing in Augusta as I could without this being the same course. I did a pretty good job, maybe a little faster. I mistakenly tried to power up a hill and my left hamstring started to give me grief. I wasn't sure what was going on since it didn't feel like pain, more like twinging or a pinched nerve or something. It was weird. I was afraid that I would need to drop down to a shorter route. But it never hurt, just twinged, so I kept going. When I stopped at mile 31 for the rest stop/refueling and got back on the bike, everything was fine and continued to be the rest of the ride!

I had had one bottle full of Nuun and another full of water when I started the ride. I finished the entire bottle of the Nuun, but only about 1/4 of the water bottle. I put a packet of Orange UCAN and 10ish oz. of water in the bottle that had had the Nuun, and topped off the water. This turned out to be just enough fluids for this mostly sunny day. I'm really glad it was a sunny and humid day for me to practice with. I was able to drink the UCAN on the bike just like any other drink. But then I was left with an empty water bottle the rest of the ride. I'm wondering about stopping at another rest stop during the race (if there is one??) or if I should practice chugging my UCAN while I'm stopped and refilling my bottle with water/Nuun? Something to think about and practice...

After my rest stop, I noticed there were a lot of people with flat tires. I know there were at least a dozen in a very short distance. One of the last ladies who was changing her tire said something about tacks on the road. I assumed that was some sort of code phrase, but my Ironman friend told me that people do put tacks on the roads before/during bike rides (as well as turning signs like they did at the Covington Century). Not sure what sort of person would do that. They could have really hurt someone.

I felt like there were maybe 4-5 significant hills and then a bunch of hills that looked awful but didn't feel too bad to me. I was surprised when Garmin prompted me that I had set a new elevation gain record of 2519 feet! It was hot, humid, and windy - but the hills didn't seem that bad. Either I'm getting better at them, or my brain was playing some good tricks on me! LOL

I have decided that tomorrow is a rest day. I haven't had one yet in this build cycle (14 days so far) and I'm very, very tired. We usually swim at the lake on Sunday but with this being Labor Day Weekend, my training buddies assure me that the last place we want to be is at the lake trying to swim. I was thinking of hitting the pool instead, but I'm just really, really tired. I think my body will be better served by getting some rest before this last week of PEAK training!

4 weeks to go! And on Monday, I can start saying that I have a Half Ironman "this month!" WOOHOO

Friday, August 29, 2014

Swim Waves are UP!

While I was out on my run this morning, my "partner in crime" (aka tri camp roomie, Lisa) messaged me to tell me that the swim waves for Augusta 70.3 are up!

I am wave 16 at 8:32 AM wearing a red cap.

This is good news for my mom and dad who are coming to watch me race. They can sleep in! LOL I will have about an hour and a half to kill between transition closing and my wave starting. But I'm an experienced Disney racer, so this is nothing I'm not used to. And it's not "Disney Early"!

So here is my estimated timing for the race:

8:32 AM - start swim
9:05 AM - out of the water
9:15 AM - on the bike
1:15 PM - back from bike
1:30 PM - on the run
4:00 PM - finish line!

7.5 hours is my sort of mental goal. Faster or slower matters not to me as long as I finish under 8 1/2 hours, but this is an estimate for my parents (and anyone else who wants to keep track of me on race day!). The course closes at 5:50 PM so that gives me a lot of wiggle room in case of mechanical issues on the bike or a general bonking! ;)

Starting on the run at 1:30 in the afternoon means it's going to be a hot and steamy run for me. I guess all this running in the afternoons is going to be helpful in getting me acclimated to running in the heat of the day.

It's getting real now... the race is 4 weeks from Sunday! Now we just need bib numbers and the Athlete Guide to be posted on the website! Can't wait!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Long run... Wednesday???

Today I did my long run. Yeah, on a Wednesday. Weird, huh??

A few weeks ago - or maybe it was last week, my days are running into each other - there was a discussion on the Augusta 70.3 FB group about doing the long run before or after the long ride. I've always done my long run the day before my long ride, so that makes it on Friday. I did it before the ride for 2 reasons. The first one is that it's too hard for me to get in a really long ride on Sundays. My friends I've been training with do their rides on Saturday. The second reason is that it's too hard for me to get in a long run on a Sunday. LOL Additionally, I read in The Triathlete's Training Bible that folks who are prone to running injuries should do the long run before the long ride.

Then someone on the message board posted that the best bang for your buck is to separate them out - do one midweek and the other on the weekend. Most folks cannot do this. But I can! I have a number of hours to kill on Wednesdays while my daughter is in dance rehearsal. So far I've done a brick during this day, or a run and a swim. But I could do my long run. And maybe that would improve my long ride performance?? Well, it can't hurt to try.

The only complicating factor is that the least non-boring place to do a long run near the dance studio is Stone Mountain. Hills. Yuck. And it's not the flat terrain I need to train for on race day. But it's really just for a few more weeks, and if doing this helps me with my remaining long rides, then I'll deal with the hills.

I have to admit I was pretty scared. At the last minute, I scrambled to try to find an alternate location but couldn't get the directions to pull up and I didn't want to waste my time. So I went to the Mountain. And it was HOT. 88 degrees. 45 percent humidity, which was nice, but really - almost 90 is hot no matter how humid it is or isn't.

I had to do 3 laps, plus a little more. The first lap was HORRIBLE. Why are all of my runs so awful until the 4th or 5th mile? It's ridiculous! After that lap, the remaining two were actually quite pleasant. I was taking it easy and even walked a little more than my 4/1 intervals. There are a couple of hills in particular that are strenuous, and I didn't want to push it. So I just walked up them! No biggie! When it's cooler and I don't have a huge race coming up in a month (from tomorrow! GASP!!!) then I will tackle those hills!

What cracks me up the most about running at Stone Mountain is that no matter which direction I run around the mountain, or how many miles I am running, I always end up having to finish by going UP a hill like this:

This isn't even one of the bad hills!! Sheesh!!
 I started off this run really apprehensive because I've never run more than 10-11 miles at Stone Mountain and that was almost 2 years ago and we ran lots of the trails instead of just 3 times around the rock. I really wasn't sure I could do it! By the last lap, I was feeling so excited and proud of myself! When I looked at Garmin, I was even prouder! I actually finished this 15 miler TWO minutes FASTER than my 15 miler at my completely flat park!! WOOHOO!

Yes. I took a picture of the Garmin. Because I'm silly like that! Go me!!
I finished just in time to stretch a bit and leave to pick up my daughter. Good thing she was sweaty after dance so neither of us had to gross out the other! I came home and did a cold water soak for my legs. It felt SO good! Also did plenty of stretching and rolling to encourage my legs to recover. Tomorrow I do have a bike ride, but it's 'only' 25 miles... not 50+ like usual after my long runs. I'm so excited to see how my long ride goes on Saturday! I think I'm doing a local ride as another race simulation. I need to experiment a little more with the Generation UCAN before race day!

Race day... a month from tomorrow. In case you missed it!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The last big push...

Last week was taper week and my daughter's first week at her new dance studio. She is taking 10.5 hours of dance classes per week over 5 days, plus rehearsals. This new studio is about 15 miles away from our house which can take anywhere from 20-45 minutes to get to, depending on time of day and day of the week.

This week began the last "Build" period before my Half Ironman. It also marked the beginning of my younger daughter's dance and drama classes at our old studio. She is taking 3.5 hours of classes per week over 3 days. This studio is 5 miles away from our house and usually takes 10 minutes to get to.

These studios are in opposite directions. ;)

Next week, my older daughter also starts her outside classes one day per week (Human Anatomy & Physiology, and Speech/Debate). These classes are located approximately 11 miles from our house, in a completely different direction.

This schedule has required changing up my entire routine, and that includes my workouts. I've been working out in the afternoon/evenings while my older daughter dances. It's hot and miserable and requires me to deal with pop-up thunderstorms and different locations and fueling challenges, but so far, so good.

I also received some terrible news this week. My Ironman friend - who has been so inspiring and so helpful to me in my training - is going to have to miss her race (IMChoo) that is the same day as my 70.3. She has suffered an injury that requires her to put her training on hold. I would not be where I am today with my training if it hadn't been for her encouragement and support! Therefore I'm dedicating the rest of my training and my race day to her!

This week I experimented with nutrition, using the samples of Generation UCAN that I got from Tri Camp. The results have been incredible! I'm hoping that I can get more of it to try out in the next 2 weeks so I can decide if I want to try to use it on race day instead of what I've been training with all year! Yikes! And I've known about UCAN since 2012 at least, when my Disney running friends at ROTE started using it. I didn't try it because they said the texture was awful, and I have texture/food issues. But since I had a sample, and since I've been hearing so many incredible things about it, I decided to try. The texture is chalky but not nearly as bad as I had expected. And the results make it worth it! I'll keep you posted on my further tests with it!

Only 2 more big training weekends and then it's time for the taper! I'm SO excited. Race day is 5 weeks from tomorrow!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tri Camp - Sunday Report

To say I was tired on Saturday night would be an understatement! I came back to the hotel and packed everything up because the late checkout of 1:00 wouldn't be late enough for my pacing (though when we came back to the hotel around 2:45, there were still folks checking out. Apparently some folks were told they could have until 2:00 or later). Loaded up the car and headed over to the start of the Ride for a Reason ride put on by Tri Augusta!

Parking and packet pick up were a breeze! This was an inaugural event, but since it's put on by tri peeps, they knew what they were doing. We lined up according to pace (with me in the way back! LOL) and it was time to roll.

I had planned this ride to be a Race Simulation, meaning I was carrying everything I needed on me and I would only stop for water one time. The ride was going to be a little over the 56 mile course due to the start and stop point being on the other side of Downtown Augusta, but I planned to measure my time and ride my game plan pacing and see how I did.

I had no idea how challenging this would be. I have ridden 50+ miles quite a few times and rode this course once before. But always we stopped several times. I didn't realize how big of a difference that makes. Last time I rode the course, we did a total of 40 minutes of stopping - I had to look that up. It's big. And each time I've done a long ride, we take lots of stopping breaks. Not a big deal, but it's not race simulation - at least not for me. I'm not fast enough on the bike to allow for rest breaks.

But the great news is that my racing plan worked just beautifully! My nutrition and hydration worked well and the one stop to refill water is just enough. I have to admit to being a little panicked during the last 1/3 of the course that I was way off my expected pace, but I wasn't. I pulled into the finish and checked Garmin and found out that I'd averaged 14.2 mph and that includes the water stop and any time I had to stop for traffic (since I turned off the auto pause for the day). I was well under the cut-off time, and just above my own minimum expected pace.

Post -ride! Sporting my Covington Century jersey!

Which leads me to one of the best things about this weekend - an adjustment of my expectations!

Before last month, I was very nervous about my first Half Ironman.

Then last month, I went to train on the course  - swam the river once, ran/walked one loop of the run course, and gently previewed the bike course. I felt so confident! In fact, I felt sort of cocky.

This past weekend, during Tri Camp, I was served a dose of reality. It's going to be hot. And humid. And hard. I'm going to be out there for a long, long time and I'm going to get worn out. I'm going to wonder why I did this and I'm going to feel defeated. WHAT A BLESSING that I experienced all of this during Tri Camp and not on Race Day!!!!!! Can you imagine if I'd felt exhausted and slow on the bike course during the race after having felt strong and fast during that preview ride (when we took 40 minutes of stops)? Can you imagine if I had to swim the river with all the debris in it when I swam a beautiful, fast, pristine river in July? Can you imagine two loops of the run course feeling achy and sore and slow when I felt strong and fast in July? I would be dealing with a battle of the mind - and we all know I struggle so badly with that!!

Thanks to Tri Camp weekend, I now have a balance between knowing the course and knowing that I can complete the race and realizing that it's honestly going to be hard work. It's a Half Ironman, after all. Notice the lack of mention of butterflies and rainbows in the title. It's not supposed to be EASY. When I finish this - be it a perfect race where everything falls into place or where I've had to fall back onto a contingency plan - I will have done something amazing at the end of the day!

So there you have it - all the details you ever wanted to know about Tri Camp! If you missed either of the other days, click on these links: Friday's report or Saturday's report. I am so glad I attended this camp and I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to complete or compete in Augusta's Half Ironman triathlon!

See you next month, Augusta!! Only 46 days until race day! And I'm more excited than ever!