Despite all of my training and effort (obsessively documented here on this blog), I have wondered if it’s enough. I wondered if any of this could truly prepare me for a 140.6 mile race.
There is only one way to find out. I have to try to complete that distance (or, at least come close).
I have been trying to do this for a few weeks. But the the weather has been a mess. Almost every day that I could have made the attempt, we have had severe weather. One day, I had the opportunity, but some right hip pain developed and I knew that I had to stop after 72 miles.
Yesterday, I had my chance. It was the longest day of the year. The weather would be great (sunny, low wind, a little warm for the run, perfect for the bike). I had nothing else that I needed to do that day. I could go from sunrise to sundown.
The only downside was that this was on a Saturday. I train on a multi-use park trail. This avoids most traffic risks (no motorized vehicles permitted) except at intersections. But, there are other cyclists and runners. There are also rollerblades, skateboards, families with kids learning to bike, elderly couples, dog walkers etc. Half of these people have no idea about sharing the path and safety. So I have to be ready to stop at any time. There are a lot of turns and the foliage is very dense now. I never have no idea what is waiting for me around the bend. I must be careful passing others as well since I could suddenly find myself face-to-face with another cyclist. A beautiful Saturday afternoon would be exceptionally busy and congested on the trails. This slows be down…a lot. My speed is about 4mph slower then a month ago when the leaves weren’t in yet.
The plan was to make this a slow and enjoyable ride, not a race simulation. I would get the miles in and take my time about it. I stopped to stretch my legs every hour or so. A friend was running Grandmas Marathon and I was checking on her race. I would e-mail my wife and update her on my progress.
It was a glorious day to be riding. I never really got tired either. My legs could not push me up the hills quite as easily towards the end, but I watched the odometer click past 90 miles (my longest ride of the year), past 100 miles (my 5th ever century ride), past 112 miles (Ironman distance and my longest ever ride), to 113.4 miles. I really didn’t hurt at all! What a pleasant surprise!
After the ride, I locked up my bike and swapped out my gear. I also strapped on my Camelbak and went to the gas station next door to get some salty snacks. Temperature was about 85 degrees. This would be a tough run even if I hadn’t just biked 112+ miles. I brought (and used) my salt tablets, a lot of water, and some snacks. I also knew that there were 2 air conditioned pavilions en route with water fountains, and vending machines. These would be critical since there would not be aid stations every mile like on race day.
This was the hottest day of the year…and I was not acclimated. I was drinking a lot of water and pouring some over my head. My stomach started feeling queasy and started to get a mild headache. I kept sipping the water and took some salt. There was a smaller restroom about 2 miles before the first nice rest area. I stopped to get out of the sun and splash cold water on my face. That helped. I kept going towards the chalet. I was beat when I got there. Got some Poweraid and a salted nut roll. I refilled my Camelbak and cooled off. My wife was e-mailing me to stop the run. She was telling me that it was too hot. I agreed, but I needed to know if I could do this. I was feeling better, and I had no choice but to continue (since the car was 6 miles away).
The next leg was better. There was more shade. But I was feeling it by the time I reached the nature concern action center. The facility was closed, but the restrooms and water fountain was accessible. Again, I cooled off, hydrated, took some salt and moved on.
The sun was starting to do down and running was more comfortable. But this was a long leg and the nausea and headache were starting to return. I kept sipping at the water and continued to pace myself.
With 1.5 miles to go, I hit the final mini rest station. There are picnic tables and porta potties. Most importantly, there is a well. The water is likely safe to drink, but tastes awful. However, it was ice cold. I dunked my head…instant relief. Just over 1 mile to go.
I had considered going a little farther (just doing 1 mile out and backs to stretch out the run). But I figured I was on the edge of a heat related illness and it would be best to just call it a day. Total run distance: 15.5 miles.
I dried off, cooled off and changed clothing. I grabbed some chocolate milk (was worried that it would not stay down, but it did) and went to get some dinner into me.
So, what did I learn from this activity. Well, I can go the bike distance. My hip was just getting used to the new pedals (since I pull up and push down, the body needed to adapt to the new mechanics). I could go the Ironman bike distance and still run. My bike and run time have some issues. I know that I can bike a lot faster on an open road. The elapsed time was a lot more then indicated since that is the elapsed moving time. The actual total elapsed time was longer (8:58 bike, 4:06 run) and I would not have made the bike cutoff (but I would not be e-mailing and doing FB updates on race day either). So, I still question if I can go the distance without any breaks. I feel confident that I can run off the long bike. I maintained a 10:30 min/mile pace in bad running conditions. But again, can I do it without any breaks? I think I can if the weather is tolerable on race day. I was not acclimated to the heat, and I had no aid stations. I also have 11 weeks of training to go. Long rides without taking frequent breaks is the next order of business.
Next week is a recovery week. I will need it. My long ride will be cut to 56 miles…but will try not to stop at all. This will help me prepare for my upcoming Ironman 70.3.
Tuesday-1:00 swim/1:00 run
Wednesday-0:45 bike/0:30 run (with transition)
Thursday-1:00 swim/1:15 bike
Saturday-4:00 bike/0:45 run
Sunday-1:00 bike/1:30 run
2 hour swim, 7:00 hour bike, 5:00 hour run
Total-14 hours/11 activities
What I did:
Monday-0:47 bike/0:28 run (10 miles/3.1 miles)
Tuesday-1:20 swim (2 miles)
Thursday-2:30 run (15 miles)
Friday-1:20 swim (2.0 miles)
Saturday-7:21 bike/2:39 run (113.4 miles/15.5 miles)
2:40 swim, 8:08 bike, 5:37 run (% change from week 18: -3.6%, +1.9%, -6.1%)
4 mile swim, 123.4 mile bike, 33.6 mile run (% change from week 18: -3.6%, +7.8%, -8.2%)
Total-16:25 hours/161.0 miles/7 activities
Swim-42:26 hours/63.4 miles
Bike-103:18 hours/1504.1 miles
Run-106:12 hours/621.0 miles
Total-251:56 hours/2188.5 miles
11 weeks to go.