Weeks 1-3 Ironman Mont-Tremblant Training

While I have been “unofficially, officially” training for Ironman Mont-Tremblant since the New Year, my official training plan kicked off on Monday, March 2 with….a Rest Day! I started my first official week by being in Atlanta for work Wednesday-Friday, forcing me to reorganize workouts and take another rest day that Friday.

Week 1 Workouts

Swim: 2200 yards

Bike: 2 hours 46 minutes

Run: 17 miles, 2:58

Crosstrain: 1:30

Total Time: 7:49

Heading into week 2 of training was race week for the Gate River Run 15k (race report here). With the Gate being my last stand along running event until after Ironman, I wanted to feel a bit fresher on Saturday morning. I didn’t taper or anything but I watched my pacing and efforts. Tuesday night’s bridge run with the group meant pulling back the reigns a bit and not getting caught up in other’s run.

Interesting to note, those who pushed it Tuesday night, actually finished behind me. This is NOT a brag but a key point in training and knowing when to simply go easy and save it for race day. These folks are awesome people and runners.

Baldwin-Trail last Sunday

Baldwin-Trail last Sunday

Week 2 Workouts

Swim: 5700 yards

Bike: 1:51 (recovery ride Sunday after the Gate)

Run: 16.27 miles, 3:00

My rest day was the Friday before the race where I was able to enjoy the expo and get a good night’s sleep in my own bed before race day. I did have three solid swim days too!

Weeks 1 and 2 in Training Peaks

Weeks 1 and 2 in Training Peaks

Now, going into Week 3, my focus was on my upcoming, first triathlon of the season in Clermont, FL. Monday was an enjoyable rest day with Mr. Memphis and I going to the beach. It was too nice of a night to pass up. I’m sure glad we went as we both had a good time and he got to run up and down as many sand dunes as he wanted.

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On Tuesday, I noticed my appetite was pretty much non-existent which for me is rather unusual as I’m normally counting the minutes until my next snack or meal. I was stressed that day from work stuff so I decided to go the trails and run there to switch things up. Wednesday morning I awoke with a headache but this has been somewhat of an ongoing thing so other than being really annoying, I didn’t put too much stock into it.

I headed out Wednesday morning for my first early ride around my area. I noticed the effort felt harder than what was registering on my watch and wind was a non-factor so I chalked it up to just an off ride. Later that day, during a long conference call, my throat got sore. I was hoping it was just dry and from talking but as I headed to the pool for a swim after work, there was no denying that I was getting sick.

Sure as sh**, I woke up Thursday morning with a really bad sore throat and feeling lethargic. I was told to go home but I actually didn’t have any where to go as my apartment was getting a bug treatment sometime during the day so both Memphis and I had no where to go. Of course, they didn’t come until the end of the day so for the first few hours I was home, we dealt with bug fumes. I decided yogurt would help my sore throat and it did so it was a lovely dinner of fro-yo!

When I woke up Friday, I felt ok, not great but better than the day before. People at work asked me if I was still going to race and I said yes barring anything dramatically changing the next day. I was even able to go to a nice dinner and dine al fresco with Tom Friday evening but come Saturday morning when Memphis and I went for our morning walk, I was coughing up lovely greeness and feeling my breathing catch due to my lungs being filled with yuckiness. I was able to cancel that night’s hotel reservation without penalty and laid on the couch or in bed the rest of the day. I made a trip to Publix to get food and essentials and that all but wiped me out. After that trip, I knew I made the right decision to for-go the race.

Seeing everyone’s pictures throughout the weekend was sad but I knew I was in no shape to race. But more than that, this race was a C race, one to shake off the rust and go through the motions. The goal of the season was not to PR in Clermont; the goal is take on Mont-Tremblant and get there with a healthy body. It has taken me years to put things into perspective when it comes to my athletic pursuits. Had something like this happened when I was younger, it would have really brought me down mentally and probably affect me health even more. Now I understand and appreciate the time I have to train when preparing properly and know that missing this one race does not mean ruining the whole season of training.

While I don’t have another triathlon between now and Ironman Raleigh 70.3, I do plan on doing a mock tri or at least part of it to go through my transitions. I feel confident in this plan and will execute it to my best ability. So while the third week of training was not great due to my sickness, it is what it is. I now have set the goal for this fourth week to hit all of my workout sessions even if it means cutting back the intensity or duration so that I get all disciplines in. I am also ramping up the bike sessions as I have focused more on the run and swim as of late.

Week 3 Workouts

Swim: 1800 yards (cut short when I had nothing left in the tank)

Bike: 1:00, 16.4 miles

Run: 45 minutes on the trail

Looking Forward to Week 4

Today, I am feeling much better and was able to start the day off with some yoga. Since today is technically my day off and I want to be smart, I am not doing anything other than errands and another session of yoga tonight along with foam rolling and stretching. I’m vowing to get back on the yoga wagon.

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I am also going to try BodyPump at the Y this week to see if its a good fit for strength training as I’m really lacking in this area and want to add muscle back. I’ll try that on my swim days (Wednesday and Friday). I’m also going to try out the Beta version of Zwift, a competitive, gaming platform for trainer sessions. I’ve heard good things so hopefully I find it useful as well. This Saturday is a long ride of 2:00 and then Sunday is the first bigger brick session of the year with an hour ride and 20 minute run plus a swim later that day. I’m looking forward to a full week of training (hopefully without any interruptions).

Here’s to a happy week of training!

PS if you’re looking for great yoga videos that provide many different focuses especially for runners and triathletes, I highly recommend the Yoga with Adrienne YouTube Channel :) 

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Gate River Run 15k Race Report

My first ever Gate River Run 15k is in the books! It was a great time and I’m already looking forward to next year’s event. I ran with 18,000 of my closest friends through the streets of Jacksonville!

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A huge benefit of being in a town like Jacksonville is the fact that you can enjoy major races and still sleep in your own bed. I haven’t had this luxury in quite some time but I really enjoyed it! I woke up just before my alarm so around 4:45 am and started my coffee immediately. I made my Honey Stinger waffle sandwich with almond butter and watched an episode of Parenthood while enjoying two hot cups of coffee. I had my clothes and items all laid out from the night before so it was pretty easy to get ready in the morning. I left my place around 6:30, got gas and was heading towards EverBank Field with plenty of time to spare. IMG_7591

The race didn’t start until 8:30 am which is rather late for Florida races. I kind of missed the earlier start because the heat and humidity definitely showed up on race day. The Gate attracts over 18,000 people but thankfully the stadium has tons of parking so it really wasn’t an issue. IMG_7593

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I met up with the group of folks I had been doing long Saturday runs with to say hi and take pictures. They were led all season by a top BQ runner so I kind of did my own thing as they warmed up at about 7:15. I made my way to the porta potties just before the lines got long and on the way back ran into my Vero peeps and snagged a quick picture with them.

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Simon, Tor and Jennifer made the drive up from Vero!

Eventually, I bid the group adieu and dropped off my gear back and headed out for my warm up around the stadium. I felt really good during my warm up but knew the heat would play a factor especially given the fact that we haven’t been really training in these temperatures yet. I stretched and headed for Wave 1 and to my specific corral. We enjoyed a nice national anthem, some drones taking videos overhead and the excitement of race morning.

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One last selfie before the race

Soon, it was our turn to head to the start line and roll through the chute. The first mile of the Gate goes down Bay Street past the baseball stadium, Foldgers Coffee factory and towards downtown Jacksonville. I really tried to stay slower but the first mile came pretty effortlessly so I just went with it. We made a couple of turns downtown and then headed onto the downtown bridge for the first of two bridges. Our Tuesday evening run goes over this bridge and I had no problem with it except that when you are actually on the bridge and there is a giant grate and water underneath. That was a little unnerving as I didn’t want my toe to get stuck and catch me up.

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As the we started the down hill I was glad to be back on cement and let myself use the momentum of the downhill. At the bottom of the bridge, we stayed left and looped around so that we turned towards San Marco and one of my favorite areas of town. By this point, my stomach was kinda goofy and tight but not enough to have me seeking out the porta lets (thankfully). I ran with music for this race and I’m glad I did but in the 3rd and 4th miles the songs became too slow so I had to switch stations on Pandora so that kinda messed me up.

As we wound through San Marco, a lot of the residents were out making it a block party. I saw lots of offerings of donuts, beer, gatorade, and even sausage on a stick. There were a lot of dogs hanging out lawns even a giant wolfhound that had its own sign saying how much he weighed. The signs people made were great and provide a nice relief from the humidity.

My favorite sign on the course where I literally laughed out loud.

My favorite sign on the course where I literally laughed out loud.

After several miles around San Marco, we started trek north along Atlantic Blvd. which I had never been on but it was a stretch of major road exposed to the sun. A lot of people were walking by this point but I felt ok. I recognized my friend’s Soul Sports jersey and discovered it was my friend Mark’s son Dylan. Dylan is a tremendous athlete at all of 11 years old but it just shy of my height. He was struggling with the heat so I got his attention and he ran with me for almost the rest of the race. It honestly helped me knowing he was there because it kept me going. We took water and just kept moving, preparing mentally for the “Green Monster” that comes at mile 8.

Not having done this race before, I didn’t know how much to leave in the tank or what to expect from the massive bridge as you aren’t allowed on it except during race day. The onramp portion is long with a slight incline and then you get to the real bridge and people are walking everywhere. I tend to go up hills slower than my running partners but fly down them so I wasn’t worried but I swear, if you took a video of me, I probably looked like an eighty year old woman shuffling along. By this point, I also had a nice blister going on one toe and heavily drenched shirt. Dylan stayed with me until we crested the top where he said he was going to take off and go for the special one mile race within a race where they set up two timing mats.

Green monster

The Green Monster

As I started downhill, a girl who was very pale was being held up by two other people on the side of the bridge. Thankfully the paramedics were right at the bottom of the hill and several of us got their attention as we ran towards them. I tried hard to go fast on the downslope but it didn’t feel like I did. My legs were tired!

The last 1.3 miles is on the off ramp and then back around the side of the stadium to the finish. There was a large crowd waiting which was fun but boy did it hurt getting in that last .3 to the finish line. The race had a large video feed of you as you crossed which was cool and as I finished I tried to enjoy it and not worry about stopping my watch.

We had a long ways to walk to get water and medals but I first picked up the coveted Top 10% Finisher hat for the women’s line! Last year’s cutoff was 1:25 which is a 9:09 pace so I made that my goal this year. I finished at 1:25:10 and got the hat. I don’t know what this year’s cutoff was but I would imagine it was a couple of minutes more due to the heat.

I met up with Tom who was in the corral behind me after I got my picture taken and picked up a bag of ice. We shared our war stories as we headed to the race village and food. It was great to have access to the JRC tent where there was cold sodas, water and beer plus cookies, brownies, sandwiches and more. I told Tom as we were walking over there that all I really wanted was a cold Coke and they delivered. That soda tasted amazing. During the run, I had two Huma gels (at 4.5 miles and 7 miles) plus some water. I occasionally got some chills so I think I need some more salt during the run.

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At the tent I was able to hear about everyone’s day and share funny times. I caught up with some folks I hadn’t seen in a while and took some pictures before I headed out for the day. I would have loved to stick around to enjoy the festivities as it really is a big runner party but my good friend Chelsea was getting married later that day so I had other priorities including a nap!

Overall, I’m very pleased with how this race went. I achieved both of my goals:

1. Time of 1:25

2. Get a 10% finisher hat

Mile by mile times:

  • Entire Workout 1:25:11
  • 08:47.40
  • 08:45.80
  • 08:52.58
  • 09:11.39
  • 09:08.85
  • 09:05.56
  • 09:02.82
  • 09:24.96 (Green Monster!)
  • 09:02.03
  • 03:55.07

Place: 138/1208 age group

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I enjoyed the course and know what I can do differently next year and now have a solid base of what I can expect for my run in the triathlon season. One thing I really want to focus on now is to get some more weight off and keep my speed up. I know I can hold a faster pace if I shed some lbs so its time to get serious and quit making excuses for “treating” myself.

This week is race week with the first triathlon of the season kicking off in Clermont, FL. I’m excited for the race and what’s in-store. I’m focusing on getting my workouts in this week but with a lower intensity as today I am pretty tight in my quads and I want to ensure I am recovering properly. With the warmer temperatures comes a non-wetsuit legal swim Sunday but we’ll see what ends up happening. For the first time ever, I’m not worried about it!

So overall, if you get the chance to do the Gate River Run I definitely would recommend it. I know it’ll be on my calendar for next year.

The Tides Are Shifting

If the YMCA pool had tides, there would be a shift occurring. My swimming, after four years of struggling and grappling with it, has finally started to come around and the change is noticeable.

This past Monday I was joined by two other folks in our Y Fit Swim group with coach Katie. They were a couple, one who cycles and one who does fitness stuff in general I believe. The woman was a pretty decent swimmer and the man was tall so he had his length to help him. We did our warm ups and eventually I took the lead on the sets. Mind you, this is a position for me as I’ve been swimming by myself or with Mark my fellow Ironman in training.

We had a lot of sprints and recoveries for the workout and knowing that someone was behind me really helped me to stay focused on my stroke and be strong. I felt pretty good during this workout despite the lack of oxygen!

It wasn’t until Wednesday’s after work swim though where I started to see numbers on Garmin that I haven’t seen before and consistently. For the past four seasons, I have been a 2:00-2:10/100 yard swimmer, really no matter the distance. When trying to sprint 50 yards, I often felt I was overexerting and ended up going slower than if I didn’t try so hard. This has been mentally frustrating and has made me not enjoy the swim workouts, even considering giving up triathlon and moving to duathlons so I wouldn’t have to endure the swim.

I'm learning to get my hands here. Before they were way out to the side

I’m learning to get my hands here. Before they were way out to the side

Since swimming under Katie’s guidance, I am now rotating my body properly so my hips point towards the pool bottom, my follow through is in the proper position and I actually feel my body being propelled through the water. Wednesday’s main set of the workout consisted of ascending sets up to 400 yards with 50 yards recovery in between each set. As the workout progressed, you ascended from 100 yards up to 400 with an increase of 100 so you are experiencing fatigue as you get towards the longer set.

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Each time I finished one of these main sets, my watch showed that I am moving 10-12 seconds +/- a second faster than I normally do. Add these seconds up over my eventual 2.4 mile swim and it makes a huge difference. Not only that but I was hitting these numbers consistently rather dropping off like I normally do towards the end of the workout. I believe this is due to my consistent training and the use of the paddles in the pool, allowing my shoulders and core to get stronger.

200 yardsWhen I saw the above during my 200 yard set, I couldn’t believe it. Even during my best sprints, I had never seen a 1:46/100 yard time. I saw it again several times as I moved up in distance. My overall time for my 2000 yard workout is the best I have ever had as well especially since it included drills and recovery paces, ultimately affecting my overall pace.

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This is such a huge thing for me and I’m super excited about it as its giving me an added boost mentally going into the Clermont triathlon next weekend knowing I’m capable of producing a good swim time. Now, next week’s swim is with a wet suit (most likely, last year was wet suit legal) and I haven’t been in that thing since Raleigh 70.3 but I’m confident that all will workout just fine for that.

For the non-swimmers or those not comfortable with converting distances here’s what 2000 yards means:

2000 yards = 1.13 miles

The swim leg of Ironman Raleigh 70.3 is 1.2 miles. Last year, the race was wet suit legal and my calf cramped with about 400 yards left in the swim. I swam a time of 45:59 with my pace being 2:22/100 meters. 100 yards per minute is about 10 seconds off of 100 meters so if you swim 1:40/100 yards this translates into 1:50/100 meters. With this in mind, if I can do 1:45-1:50/100 yards, I’m looking at a 1:55-2:00/100 meter pace putting my time for Raleigh between 37:30-40:00.

With a couple of months til race day I believe I can lower my times a little bit more as I get stronger and more comfortable in the water which will ultimately lead me to coming out of the water mentally in a better position. Trust me, being one of the last competitors out of the water and having to play catch up on the bike is not a whole lot of fun.

Next Saturday’s race is an Olympic distance swim of 1.5 km (gotta love all of the conversions!) so its roughly 1640 yards or 1500 meters. I’m going to set a goal right now of swimming under 30 minutes at Clermont as it is an even 2:00/100 meters. Looking at last year’s age group results for the women 30-34 (my new age group!) that still puts me in the middle of the pack which is fine, I’m looking to break any records here! Mind you, swim times ALWAYS vary among races as buoys move and distances are not nearly as easy to maintain in the water as they are on land.

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My overall goal for Clermont is to come in under 3:00 hours for the entire race which I think is doable should I stay on pace and the sun isn’t out in full force. Here’s to the start of the 2015 triathlon season!