Sunday, November 22, 2015

Ironman Florida recap: part 1- the "training...."

For the last few months I've been off the blogging grid. There was a string of quite a few months where I slipped into quite a funk, and had a hard time pulling myself out of. I'm not sure if I'm entirely out of it yet, but I'm working on it. With the help of insanely supportive friends and family, I'm feeling much better!

Some people have been asking for a race recap, so if you care to read about my Ironman experience from beginning to end, feel free to keep reading! If not, save yourself now, or else you're going to be real bored.

Ah, the training. What I originally thought would be a year of high mileage and fabulous workouts quickly took a turn towards long naps, sleeping through workouts, and poor nutrition. Once it was time for the real training to begin in late June, I wasn't at the base level that I had been hoping for, but didn't necessarily think it was totally hopeless. I got some long runs and rides in over the summer, but big picture- I was nowhere near where I should have been.

Upon my return to Texas, and the blazing hot August and September heat and humidity, motivating myself to get out there for 3 hour long sweat sessions were low. School full throttled me right back into high stress mode, and sleep quickly earned a priority spot over working out. In addition to being wiped, trying to pull myself out of my slump wound up equalling lots of doctor's appointments that ate up a couple of afternoons a week, meaning if I couldn't get my work out in at 5 am, it wasn't happening. So, more often than not, it didn't happen.

Come mid September, though, my friend and fellow IMFL participant, Emily, was a fantastic motivator. She made me get my ass up on quite a few Sundays to get on the bike (whether together, or miles apart but texting while on our trainers), lace up the shoes, or get in a quick race.

Hiding out in her car, watching the thunder, lightning and pouring rain before our Olympic in Galvs... A bunch of people went home, and the rest of us got to know each other while we waited for the race directors to make the cancellation call.

But alas, the race went on- and everyone had to do a sprint.

Originally, when planning out my training, I had been hoping to do a 70.3 to get in some good mileage, practice my rusty transitions, and play around with nutrition. But the funds didn't really allow for one, so Emily wound up selling me on an Olympic in Galvs. Galveston feels like home tri territory to me at this point, since I've done 2/3 of my 70.3s over there, so I was a little stoked for some familiar terrain, and headwind training (yeah, I one ever gets stoked for headwind training... but I did). I'd had my mind set on the Olympic distance, but when we woke up race morning to horrendous weather, a new set of possibilities arose. There was talk of canceling the race- which actually gave me a slight sense of peace- thinking that, if we left early enough, I'd still have time to get in a 70 miler on the trainer and maybe follow it up with a light yog through the neighborhood. But alas, the race wasn't canceled, and due to the lengthy delay, the race directors just had everyone do the sprint distance. I was a little bummed out- Em and I had done an abysmal 19 mile run the morning before, so I didn't really have much gas in the tank to push through sprint work that morning- but we were both too cheap and stubborn to bail on that race entry fee we'd paid weeks earlier, so we stuck around and took the "lazy" way out. Once again, the mileage that I really should have gotten in was cut drastically. I was starting to get a little worried...but I wound up placing in my age group and got to stand on the podium for the first time ever, and there was pizza at the end, so that helped.

The following week, Emily, her friend, Bing, and I had signed up for a century ride. My first century ride ever. I wasn't necessarily nervous, but I wasn't entirely excited either. I had come to the point where the mileage HAD to be done, so just effing do it, or you're going to die on November 7th, and that $800 entry fee that I had paid (not to mention all the bike work I'd had done) would all be for not.
50 miles in and still looking happy!

The century ride was full of rolling hills which, while I wasn't necessarily expecting to last the whole time, I was glad because things like that make you stronger! What sucked, however, was that the entire course consisted of a chip sealed road surface (with the exception of maybe 1 mile...). If you don't know what it feels like to ride your bike on a cheap sealed road, I'll tell you now in not so graphic detail- it's effing awful. I didn't ever upgrade my seat (because a seat is a seat, right?!) and immediately regretted that decision before mile 20. If you're not a bike rider and you don't know what I'm talking about, just imagine getting punched in the crotch for 7 hours. Yes. It's as fun as it sounds. I'm fairly certain that, thanks to that ride, I probably won't be able to have children. It was almost two months ago, and I think I'm just now recovered.
103 miles down the hatch...and the only ones left in the parking lot! We really wanted to get our money's worth by taking our time..

With the bike mileage under my belt, I was feeling much better about the 112 I needed to do, so I went back to focusing on the run. I did an easy 15 the day before the century ride and my hip was sore, so I decided I'd nurse it for a couple of days. The pain didn't ease up with icing and stretching, and when the date for our 20 miler came up, my hip was not ready. I decided to put it off for another weekend, continuing to ice, stretch, foam roll, etc. The next weekend, I set out for a long run. I made it all of 4 miles before I called it quits and called a local health and wellness center, Koala (which I highly recommend, btw!) here in Houston to get it checked out and talk possible PT exercises. I was exactly 3 weeks out from IMFL- with my longest run being 19 miles at the end of September, and an inability to run more than 4 miles without wanting to cry. More appointments at Koala followed- like 3 a week at least. Massages, PT, tape, electrotherapy, chiro adjustments- everything. While it was all fabulous, it cut into my training time, family time, and sleep time.

By the time I was two weeks out from race day, I had to embrace the fact that whatever happened, happened. I hoped I'd finish. I wasn't worried about the swim, I was a little nervous about the bike and making the cut off times, and I was just praying that I had enough marathon experience to survive the run in the amount of time allotted. 

Coinciding with not getting the mileage I needed for practice, I also didn't practice with nutrition. I knew what worked for me on the bike, I knew what worked for me on the run, but I didn't have a really good brick opportunity to try them both out.

So. Super long story short- I went into IMFL feeling undertrained, malnutritioned, stressed out and exhausted, and all around unprepared. Such fun, right?! 

Part 2 to come!


  1. And you still kicked ass with a smile on your face!! Love reading this :)

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. You're attitude is so inspiring! You are amazing!

  4. Come on.... Teachers are the most procrastinating people I know.... Girl your paragraph about the bike seat had me laughing out loud. Love reading about your experience. You are AN IRONMAN!