I have been meaning to post on here since, well, basically since I finished my first century ride ever on Sunday. It was quite the weekend of emotions with all of the "lessons" learned. But first, let's go back to where this all started.
After the 1/2 marathon last week, I learned the importance of focus, mine being on Kona. I also learned the importance of listening to your body, as my hamstring flare-up in the 1/2 caused increased discomfort for most of the week. I saw my massage guy, Dave Davis, Monday after the 1/2 as he is usually able to painfully get rid of my discomfort.
No such luck.
Tuesday, I met with PT Earl to figure out what was going on. I replayed the hamstring flare-up and we discovered that it was irritated through the heat + many uphills/inclines throughout the course. Earl had me alter my form and BAM the discomfort was no longer noticeable. Not only had the pain gone away, but my easy runs were being run faster but with less effort.
It's funny how changing something as simple as running form can effect overall performance.
After another intense week of training (week 2 of 3!!) beginning with a 90mile bike ride, I was at the start line of Saturday's BTN Big 10 10k. Ryan and I did this race last year with a bunch of our friends who also went to Big Ten schools and had a BLAST. While post-race was still enjoyable, pre-race was a totally different experience. During my warmup, I saw Katie McGregor and two female Kenyans. I also saw some other pretty fast looking girls. Prize money motivates, and I'm not afraid to admit it.
Top 5 males and top 5 females receive prize money in this race, so I knew my chances dramatically decreased just based on who I saw on my warmup. I got to the start line and saw some other fast local ladies, and changed my game plan.
Run the first 5k harder, and if in contention for 5th, go after it. If not, slow the pace and save the legs for the 100mile bike ride tomorrow.
Everyone went out EXTREMELY fast. I found myself in a pack with a few locals, a friend in town from MN and the girl who placed 4th in last week's 1/2. I told myself I'd stay with them until we hit mile 2 and go from there. We were still sub 5:50s at mile 2, so I decided that I'd slow down just a tad and see how many ladies were in front of us at the turnaround (5k mark).
At the turnaround, there were 10 females in front of me, including our former little pack. The first four ladies were unreachable, and 5th would be a HUGE stretch. I decided to dial it back with the intention of saving my legs for the ride.
Every minute of the second half of the race was agonizing. Getting passed when you KNOW you can go faster is such a humiliating and depressing feeling....but again, I have goals that are bigger than PR-ing in a 10k or being the 6th place finisher at the Big 10 10k. I was even passed in the finishing chute, which is something I always try to never let happen.
Thankfully, at the end of the race, I met up with the friend from MN, Angela. She PR'd (!!!) and we talked about my race strategy. This talk helped me more than anyone could ever believe. Angela has competed in Kona and just reminded me that I am doing the right thing in these races. Run fitness unfortunately suffers a bit (if that's your triathlon strength) when training to improve the other disciplines. There is no need to prove my fitness in running right now when Kona is the goal. I realize that people take this as an excuse, and so be it, but think about it this way: you have qualified for one of the BIGGEST, most competitive races in the WORLD. Why would you ever do anything to jeopardize that??
I talked to coach Bill after the race and he was THRILLED with how I raced. He again reminded me of the focus, patience and discipline we must have when training for Kona. I am very lucky to have such a supportive coach that has me go and learn lessons like this.
After enjoying the "tailgate" for a little while, I headed off to Madison to join Bill and his friend Clint for dinner before our CENTURY RIDE in the morning. Clint cooked some delicious steaks, Bill bought awesome cheese curds, and we naturally drank some beer (hello pre-"race" ritual), specifically Spotted Cow as we were in Wisconsin after all. We all watched Sharknado while waiting for Ryan (working in MN) to arrive before heading to bed.
When we woke up on Sunday, it was 50 degrees. Definitely not ideal training weather for Kona. We packed up our bikes, put our arm warmers and socks on and headed out to Fireman's Park. Bill and Clint had completed one loop (40miles) on Friday, two loops (80miles) on Saturday and were attempting 3 loops (120miles) today. Clint and I matched up pretty well, with him demolishing me on the downhills and me catching him on the uphills. It made for a pretty entertaining ride and allowed me to focus on something other than how I wish I was running instead;)
Overall, I averaged 0.3mph faster during my 100mile ride than I had two weeks ago here while riding 80miles in nicer, less windy conditions. After my 100, I hopped off the bike and ran a 6:42 and 6:08 mile just to see how my legs would respond....and got my confidence back that I CAN do this Ironman thing!
This past week has been rough. It is week 3 of 3, which means we are just about dying. Ryan and I met Bill on Wednesday to talk with one of the head scientists at Gatorade. We talked about the importance of getting x amount of carbs and x amount of sodium and x amount of water throughout the Ironman. Bill had Ryan and I do a sweat test on the bike...
Basically, we had an hour long workout (perfect) and simulated it in Kona conditions, temperature wise (and humidity, being in our basement and all). The workout was basically a tempo in running terms, starting at 85%, going down to 70% and back up to 85%. You weigh yourself naked before the hour starts and then weigh yourself naked after the hour is up. Subtract the end weight from the start weight and that's how much sweat you lose per hour.
I lost 2.1 pounds in that time, which is actually relatively light (Ryan lost 4). This determined that I need to take in 2.5 PowerGels per hour and 1,000mg of sodium per hour. Luckily, PowerGels are the only gels to actually contain sodium, so that means I don't have to pour as much sodium in my drink! Finally, we calculated how much water I need to drink per hour.
I evaluated my nutrition at Eagleman and I literally did everything perfect, except for the water. I had 7 gels throughout my 2.5hour bike ride and just over 2,000mg of sodium (a tad on the light end). I had 3 gels on my 1hour26min run along with Gatorade and water at each of the aide stations...again, dead on. For some reason, I am able to follow nutrition to a T when it comes to running, but biking is just somehow more difficult to get all of the needed nutrition in.
I highly recommend that any athlete who competes in longer events (Olympic Tri's, 70.3's, Ironmans, running races 10+miles) do a sweat test. Nutrition is something that is SO simple, yet often overlooked, that can really enhance your performance.
Truth be told, if Ryan had proper nutrition in Eagleman, I never would have had a faster run split than he did. He vows to follow proper nutrition in Kona so that I never beat him again:)
All kidding aside, please feel free to ask me any questions about the sweat test. I never knew about it before working with Bill but feel like it is SO beneficial to spread the word about the importance of this test. After all, who doesn't want to get better by making a change as simple as one in nutrition?