At the Peak

I'm not sure what I should be thinking tonight. On one hand, I got through another long weekend of training.  My final long weekend of training before the Big Race.  I had a 4.5 hour brick yesterday and a 4.5 hour swim/bike/run workout today.

On the other hand, I don't feel how I would have liked to coming off the last heroic push.  I bonked on the run today around the eighth mile.  I've been analyzing it and it could have been from a variety of factors.  It was surprisingly warm, for example (around 75 degrees with no clouds).  I ran in the heat of the day, too.  I had a massage from David at LA Body Mechanics the day prior.  I bike 55 miles (with 3,700-plus feet of climbing based on the Training Peaks info) and ran another 6.5 miles the day prior.  I swam two miles this morning, and biked another 25 with around 2,500 feet of climbing according to the Training Peaks data (though my watch suggested much less).

So,uh, yeah.  I guess there are some pretty good reasons for why I ran out of gas.  Still, I'm not used to that feeling after a year of training.  Essentially it's happened twice and I remember them both vividly.  And I would have preferred not running out of steam on my last "big" workout.  It's not so great for the psyche going into the taper period.  I wanted to raise my arms triumphantly at the end of my final push with the feeling like I had more in the tank.  I limped to the finish today, almost literally.

But, in the spirit of improvement, Stephanie did a fantastic job calming me down and helping me learn some lessons I can apply during Ironman.  Here are a few of them:

-- First and foremost, I need to ingest more than one Endurolyte per mile run.  I simply require more sodium per hour than the approximately 240mg I'd receive from what will likely be around six pills per hour.  I'm going to triple the pill count, especially in heat.

-- I need to keep in mind that there's only so much nutrition I can carry with me on the training runs, whereas on the Ironman marathon there will be food and drink every mile. I didn't hydrate enough today on the run.  Though I did during my swim and bike, I think.

-- I can't "chance it" when my heart rate starts to rise out of my desired running zones.  I steadily climbed from heart-rate zone 2 (where I was supposed to be for the entire two hours) by the first hour and had a hard time staying in the low-mid 150 bpm's for the remainder of the time. I finally compromised with myself that I'd walk if my heart rate rose to 160 bpm-plus.  But my speed dropped by almost a full minute per mile by the end of the run.  During the race, I'm going to need to monitor this more closely and either start more slowly or walk more often if need-be.  I'm not sure if I'll have the self-control to do that though. It's a race!  It's everything I worked for.  I really hope it doesn't come to that.

-- I need to avoid getting a massage without a full day to recover.  My legs feel rubbery and I lose what feels like the piston-like sensation of pedaling with power.  The muscular smoothness gained isn't worth the physical losses during the workout.  This week I'll be getting a massage the night going into my training off-day.  That should help.

-- I need to really think about what to put food-wise in my special needs bags.  It could be the difference between finishing strong and hobbling through a horrid run.

So, maybe I had to go through a tough workout weekend -- one that caught me by surprise since I think I expected the toughest training to be behind me -- to gain something more important for race day.  Something called experience.  Experience gained through fall-ure, as it were, and spending time in the proverbial hurt locker.

I suppose now, hours later, after an ice bath Steph prepared for me, a hot shower, some stretching and a nice Halloween candy-watching walk, I can say it was all worth it.  So, five hours later, I can raise those arms triumphantly.

I made it.

Let the taper begin.

21 days and counting.