22 weeks is a long time. 140.6 miles x 2 is a long way for the human body to travel.
My journey of training for two Ironmans is now complete.....and now I anxiously await the day when I can stand at my 7th Ironman starting line.
I am so very grateful to my body for allowing me to train for 2 Ironman distance triathlons (with the second round being 100% injury free) within 6 month time span. I trained for 10 weeks specifically for Ironman Lake Placid and after a 2 week unstructured bike/swim routine from training (with only 1 run/walk at the end of that 2 week period) I dedicated 12 weeks to preparing for the Ironman World Championship.
Aside from needing to clean my car (My triathlon bag explodes in there almost daily), I am very excited to be approaching my active recovery week and then race week which will be my official "taper". Active recovery week allows my body to recover from many weeks of structured, quality "train hard, recovery harder" training and to rejuvenate my body. Taper, on the other hand, will include high intensity efforts w/ plenty of recovery to prepare my body for race day. Through experience as an athlete who has struggled with tapering and peaking at the right time, over the past few years Karel and I have learned that my body does the best with a heavy load at the end of my training cycle (keep in mind - I did not do over 17.5 hours a week of training for the IM world championship so my typical weekly load was more intense and race specific than high in volume) and then following that with an active recovery week. As you may have experienced, after a hard training load the body needs to repair and that can bring heavy legs, altered sleep (body wanting a lot more sleep), perhaps a change in appetite (my appetite stays the same with IM training so I never get super "hungry" or cravings with training - thanks to proper sport nutrition and daily fueling) and mood changes (nerves, excitement, highs and lows). These are things that no athlete wants to or needs to experience on race day so to ensure the body feels 'hungry' to race on race week, I allow the 2 weeks before a race for total body and mind recovery and I welcome active recovery to help flush things out and to keep the body active without a lot of training stress. Then on race week, I get to wake the body up with a few bursts and keep with my motto of saving my best performance for race day.
One of the best parts of our training style is seeing all the pieces of the puzzle come together when they need to come together. With MANY 3-4 hour "IM rides" behind me, my body was set to put it all together for my last long ride last week. It was raining and I was in a 11-mile loop for the ride but all things considered, I was not going to let excuses get in my way for my 2nd 5-hour ride during Kona prep (the other ride was 99.1 miles with Karel).
5 hour ride + 30 min run
Bike main set:
45 minutes at IM Pace watts w/ 3 min EZ in between for 5 hours.
(yep - that's it! Put all those pieces together and all those 3-4 hour workouts were coming into play for my first solo 100 mile ride in the past 22 weeks).
Run off the bike was great - averaged 8:12 min/miles w/ 30 sec walk in between each mile as usual.
I switched over my Garmin to my main page (from my interval screen) and I couldn't believe my eyes. Holy cow....NEVER have I held 20 mph alone and finally I could fully experience how this quality training approach pays off! Karel was just as happy as I was for you never know how the body will adapt to training stress and I'm so happy that we have been able to put the pieces together very nicely with my 3rd time training for the IM world championship.
This past week was one of the hardest weeks of training (Mon - Fri) that I have ever put in and I could not be more proud of my body. It was a lot of commitment, dedication and mental strength and as usual, I do not let excuses get in my way. Trying to keep everything balanced, I focused on the controllables and did waste any energy on things out of my control.
Oh - speaking of uncontollables - I must mention that I did have a mental break down on Thurs as I was doing my "planned" workout which was modified thanks to a power meter that decided to malfunction just 24 hours before I needed to drop off my bike at the Trek Store for Tri Bike Transport to pick up. But as usual, Karel saved the day just like he did at Branson 70.3 and IMWI when I had two mechanical issues the day before the race.
When people ask Karel about what gadgets/bikes to buy, Karel is always honest in terms of quality gear but he also focused on customer service. I am so grateful to Stages
for sending Karel (and me) a new powermeter overnight so that Karel could do his magic and install it, sync everything and tune-up my bike within 2 hours of sending my bike off to Hawaii. THANK YOU KAREL and STAGES!!!
As for this weekend, a glorious well-deserved gadget free 2:45-3 hr-ish ride on my road bike (yes - no gadgets not even a bike computer) followed by a Campy walk in the rain. I could have ridden forever on my road bike but the focus today was to ride like a kid and stop when I wanted to stop. I figured my ride was over when it started pouring but I really enjoyed today just riding for fun. Tomorrow I will enjoy a day off from training and cheer for Karel who is racing at the local HOT olympic distance triathlon at camp blanding (with Campy).
And lastly....how about those taper blues and concerns about the diet/body composition before race week?
Putting things into perspective if you struggle with your relationship with food as an endurance athlete, it's important that your mindset does not change throughout IM training....even if you are still training despite lowered volume. The entire focus of training is to put all the pieces together for race day and I could not be more excited to see what my body can do on October 12th, 2013. I did not put in all this work to stand around in spandex and show off my body. I trained to use my body, to test my limits, to overcome obstacles and to thank my body for the gift it has given me to swim-bike-run for 140.6 miles.
14 days until the Ironman World Championship and I will continue to eat the same foods that have fueled my workouts, have kept my immune system strong and have helped me recover. I will still love every day as triathlons are not my life, but instead my lifestyle.
My body will perform on race day based on how I trained it to perform and not based on a number on a scale.
And most of all, my "reward" food will continue to keep me healthy until I get to the starting line.
A yummy post workout meal:
Local fresh whole grain bread
Scrambled eggs (1 whole egg + 1 egg white)
Sauteed kale w/ olive oil, goat cheese, leeks and red peppers
Thank you to all who have continued to follow and support my IM journey! Keep dreaming big!