Friday, September 30, 2016

IM 70.3 NC Training: Mostly good, plus one Pity Party

How in the WORLD is it almost October?? The last two months have flown by, in part because work has been extra busy and exciting with the Olympics, Paralympics, and now Kona - and that is all on top of the "regular" training and racing by the fortyninegroup athletes! On the homefront, our sons, now a sophomore and junior in high school, are nearly at the end of the first nine weeks of school. We have a lot going on, so I just give each day my best.

I am in the final weeks of prep for my last race of the season - IRONMAN 70.3 North Carolina (aka Beach2Battleship) on October 22. I've welcomed the longer runs and rides and training has been going mainly pretty well. 

I saw a solid rise in my bike FTP in mid-September. I knew I had been feeling strong all summer, and toward the end of an 80 minute ride, a 20 minute threshold section gave me just the chance to prove it!

My swimming confidence and skill continues to improve and I am aware of and somewhat more able to control the nuances of the stroke. The best part of swimming is the people in my swim group! It's a triathlon "support group" where we can check in with each other, compare notes, and encourage one another. It's motivating -- especially since three of them race full iron distance, which puts my training into perspective.

Running is mentally the toughest for me right now, and it's where I feel the least consistent. I've had a number of track workouts that scared me, but I was able to meet all my targets, so I'm not sure why the lack of confidence.

Two weekends ago I had a pretty big blowup on an important brick. It seems to happen before EVERY half-iron I train for, this being my fifth. I let it happen.

I had a long-ish bike with two hours at race intensity, followed by an 8-mile run at race pace. The bike was no problem, but I let that run get into my head. My response to the fear was to overcompensate, to run way under the goal pace, and three miles in I fell apart. Big surprise. Then my mental game went south and all I could think about was I HATE RUNNING. It became an ugly Pity Party.

A few tears were shed (pathetic and overly dramatic, I know, but it was a mental and physical meltdown) and I could barely muster a mile at a time. When at mile six I found myself at the entrance to the swim spot, I shut the Garmin off, and hit the water. Then my sopping wet self slogged the last two miles back to the car. 

As upsetting as that session was, I learned from it and it was a wake-up call for how I need to conduct myself on race day:
  1. Don't overcook on the bike. Be disciplined and ride with appropriate power - not "just" 5 or 10 watts higher
  2. Stay on top of fueling!! 
  3. Be disciplined on the run especially in the first several miles - no faster than target pace! Run within myself. You have NO business redlining in a half marathon, at least not until the end. 
  4. Stay relaxed and positive. If the brain goes south EAT something, it's probably a fueling issue. Then suck it up and keep your head in the game!
A few days after the mental meltdown workout, I had a good commiseration session with my friend and lane-mate Kristen Chang. She just makes me laugh and see the ridiculous side of things!

I share this to point out that training is not always smooth sailing. I don't love every single moment, no one does. We all face motivation issues, doubts, and negativity, but we know to move through those times and not make too much of them. The tough days are what make us tougher! 

Runs have gone MUCH better for me since that brick. One thing I figured out is that unless my run nutrition is super easy to access, I won't use it. It needs to be front and center so I tested out a front pouch on last weekend's long run and it worked great! It was a good 13 mile out and back redemption run (photo at top) with tempo miles on the return trip that surpassed my expectations. I finished feeling great (oh, the wonders of fueling!).

So this is my new half IM race belt setup: pouch for Clif Shot Blocks plus BASE Salt, HotShot, and a mustard pack for cramp relief.

And in other news, my Garmin 910 died this week. For a long time I've had trouble with the power button and it finally got to the point where I could not turn it on at all. Disassembly confirmed the button alignment problem, and a new Garmin 920XT was ordered and received. It doesn't look any smaller, but it's lower profile and more comfortable. I'm still finding my way through the menus and things, but the transition has been relatively smooth. I kind of like the bluetooth feature that alerts me to texts and calls, so I find myself wearing it more than just for workouts.

This weekend I have my last long ride and long run and I'm looking forward to both!! Three weeks!