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When the Dogs Bite – Ironman Training Weeks 10 & 11

When the Dogs Bite - Ironman Training Weeks 10 & 11

So I’m a week behind and I’m just going to BLAST right through Week 10 with some stats and just say it was a typical week where my arms felt like they were going to fall off (swimming is improving though) and had another great weekend ride/run (brick) beginning at Sand Hollow (the water is high, dirty, and very cold……No, I didn’t get in!).  So here are my Week 10 stats:

Week 10 In Numbers

Swim:  10650 yards
Bike:  109.20 miles
Run:  31.47 miles
Total Time:  15:05:14 

…………and then there was Week 11

Week 11 In Numbers

Swim:  9550 yards
Bike:  91.51 miles
Run:  31.33 miles
Total Time:  14:05:09

Week 11 started just as every week starts.  I had good swim and felt really good about my running.  I got to do a bit of higher heart rate work which pushed my pace faster than it has been in a long time.  It was interesting to see my body handle this change in training.  For quite a few weeks I’ve been working lower heart rates which are much slower paces than I was training back in the summer season.  Your legs, body and mind get very use to this “easier” effort and I have enjoyed the feeling of just running.  It wasn’t hard.  It didn’t hurt.  It was just comfortable.

Over the past few weeks Coach has been introducing some quicker paces and though at first  when I see the paces and then try to hit them during the workout, my body kind of resists.  It is an odd feeling.  I feel like…..”No way!  I can’t go THAT fast.”…….but then my body finds a different gear.  There is almost an actual shift that occurs and I find my legs moving at the faster pace.  Yes.  The effort is increased, but not as bad as my head wanted to believe.  So this week was nice to let go a bit and run faster.  I’m definitely not where I was last season, but that is to be expected.  I’m sure Coach has plenty of track workouts and tempo runs up her sleeves that will have me crying for mercy soon enough.

So I ran on Monday, Wednesday and Friday (along with my swims) and did HIT classes on Tuesday and Thursday.  HIT might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back this week.  HIT is getting HARD!  The intervals are intense and my body is tired.  I felt pretty good on Tuesday and had a solid workout, but come Thursday, things were starting to add up and by the end of class I was feeling pretty worked over.  I usually teach HIT until late on Thursday night and then get up early at 4:30a for a swim and run.  I decided to post-pone the swim until a bit later in the morning and then do the run in the evening.

The Friday swim was a tough set!  It consisted of 20×50 yards at a fast pace.  I held strong!  I was so proud of this set.  Then on to 10×75 and then 6×25 ALL OUT.  I finished this workout and was pretty sure my arms would fall off.  It was tough…..but I stuck the intervals and am so proud of the work I’ve accomplished on my swim so far this year.  I am in no way a “fast” swimmer, but I’m getting better.  I’m able to hold a good pace over a long, challenging interval set and that is all that matters in Ironman.  I don’t have to be the fastest 100 yard swimmer out there……I just need to hold that solid pace over a long distance.  I just can’t believe how much having coaching on my swim technique and on every workout has changed this sport for me.  HT Training……Kudos to you!

So the swim was hard and the run that evening was even harder.  I wasn’t going to be able to run in the evening with “the boys” due to a massage appointment, but when my massage therapist came down with the flu, I figured I would chase the boys and take my chances :)  I enjoy running with Heath Burchinal, Craig Coats and Ben Ford.  These guys are solid runners and MUCH faster than I am.  Knowing this going into the workout, I sat back and just worked my heart rates as dictated by my workout.  Coach wanted me to hold a specific heart rate over two miles.  The heart rate increased 5 bpm every 2 miles until I would max out on the final mile before cool down.

Off we went on the St. George 1/2 Marathon course that we will race on January 21st.  The first 8 miles of this course is rolling hills and so the boys got a head of me.  By the last few miles, I had caught up (thanks for waiting for me guys) and was running fast enough to stay within the group.  When I say running fast, I mean running faster than I have run so far all season.  It felt good.  It felt solid.  I was happy with how my body was handling the challenge.  The last two miles were suppose to be a cool down, but we held about a 7:45 pace and finished our almost 13 mile run in 1:43……pretty respectable for this course and just a training run.

After dinner with the family, I hit the sack to get some good sleep before our Veyo Loops ride in the morning…….I should have just stayed in bed…….

Sometimes the workout is so complicated I have to write it somewhere to remember it. This was Friday's run!

When I went to bed the night before, my food from dinner wasn’t really settling well.  I didn’t feel sick, just full.  There has been a stomach flu going around that I am paranoid about, so maybe I was just being a hypochondriac, but whatever, my belly was full and heavy.  The next morning it felt better, but I definitely was feeling a bit off.  Looking back, this was my body telling me that it was fatigued…..tired…….DONE!

So off  we headed on the Veyo Loop.  I was riding with Rich Bruin, Craig Coats and another guy Mike who was in town from up north.  As we headed down Hwy 91, I just couldn’t figure out why I was falling so far behind.  It was like the group was just taking off and I couldn’t respond.  I knew today wasn’t going to be a great day, but didn’t know how bad it was going to get.

I just let the boys go and figured after a good long warm-up I would be ready for my intervals and would catch back up.  I had 8×6 minute intervals to do throughout the middle of the ride, was trying some new nutrition in my bottles and my legs just weren’t coming around.  Craig had similar intervals to complete and so he kind of went back and forth with me, not ever letting me get too far behind (bless his heart!).

As we made it in to Gunlock I had completed 4 intervals and just didn’t know how I was going to do 4 more over the next few miles of pretty steep climbing.  I was just feeling done…….I just wanted to be done.  Then I saw the dogs.  Dogs…..animals…..real dogs.  Craig was in front of me and as he blasted by the dogs they came out and chased his wheel.  This is pretty typical of dogs who are loose.  They love to chase bikes and scare the pants off of cyclists.  You have to be careful that they don’t get caught up with the bike and you actually crash your bike.  I saw the entire exchange in front of me with Craig and slowed down as the dogs retreated as I didn’t want to “spook” them again into chasing me.  So into the lions den I went…….

As I approached the dogs, all three came right for me.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was surrounded on all sides.  Then it happened!  The dog on my left side handle bar jumped up and bit my hand.  IT BIT ME!  ON THE HAND!  Are you kidding me?!?!?!?  About the same time I felt another dog on my left calf, but figured that dog had caught me with his claws or something.  I started screaming and yelling at the dogs to get away and they backed down.  I pushed through and road on.  I yelled back to some pedestrians walking another small dog on the opposite side of the road that the dog had bit me and there snide response to my plea was, “It’s not my dog.”  Thanks for the help ladies!  I WAS JUST FREAKIN’ ATTACKED!

My hand hurt.  My leg hurt.  My body gave up.  I was done with this ride.  Mentally, I was gone.  I just wanted to be back to my car and then home snuggled up with food and my kiddos.  I was in a bad place……….a very bad place with 25 or more miles home and three significant climbs.

I gave up on my interval sets and figured Coach would forgive me.  I was giving myself an “A” for effort on this one.  I climbed the first big hill and was just glad my legs made it to the top.  After that, even the small rises in the road seemed to be mountains.  I was just going so slowly.  When I hit “The Wall” I just put my head down and reminded myself that I had conquered this monster 5 times not just a few weeks ago.  I could do it once.  I made it……..barely………I limped my way into Veyo where the rest of the group was waiting.

I filled my water, quickly went to the bathroom, resisted the urge to call Adam to come and pick me up and complained the entire time.  Craig was a good sport and listened and tried to encourage my bad attitude to just get done and not worry about it.  As we climbed the last hill up the Veyo volcano and Dammeron Valley I began to question everything.  What am I doing?  Why am I doing this?  I’m not good enough for this sport?  I can’t complete an Ironman?  Why would I think that I could have done this?  What have I gotten myself into?  I’m just so embarrassed……..

The mental side of this sport is a funny thing.  It will drag you down faster than you can pedal or run away.  It’s not like this is my first bad day.  I’ve been here before.  It’s familiar territory………but every time it sucks me in……It just plain old SUCKS!

I stayed on Craig’s wheel as much as I could on the way down SR-18 and have never been so glad to see the lights at Snow Canyon Parkway (other than maybe in the marathon).  I turned the corner and just convinced myself to get to the car and things would be okay.  The last mile and a half or so was torture.  I just wanted a car to hit me and put me out of my misery.  I was realizing that I hadn’t had even two-thirds of the calories I planned on consuming.  Definitely not helping me.  My legs didn’t hurt.  My body didn’t hurt.  It just didn’t want to go anymore.  I turned into the parking lot, unclipped my feet and STOPPED!  Just stopped!  I was so glad to be done!  Just over 40 miles and I was a mess…………..Ugh!  To add insult to injury, I looked down and realized that one of my front brake pads had been rubbing……….who knows for how long.  I didn’t even care……..at this point it didn’t matter.

I got in the passenger side of my car and just sat there for a few minutes completely glazed over and defeated.  This was my texting conversation with Coach M:

Me:  Worst.  Ride.  EVER!
Coach M:  Oh no!  Too tired?
Me:  There was nothing to give!  Every hill was a mountain.  I was going no where!  It SUCKED!  I didn’t feel great this morning but felt pretty good before the ride.  Tried different nutrition?  It was just down right horrible!  I should have just stayed home :(  If this is an indication of what next weekend is going to be like…..I may as well save myself the embarrassment :(  Ugh!  I’m so mad!
Coach M:  Ugh!!!  Let me call you in 30

I kind of chuckle reading this because it just proves that this sport can be a devil.  It can chew you up and spit you out faster than you can figure out what is happening!  Coach M called me and talked me off my ledge and I felt much better.  She just knows what to say and I appreciate her expertise.  She told me how different this Ironman journey was going to be from everything else I’ve experienced so far in triathlon.  These days are going to happen and they are going to happen more often over the next 5 months than I’ve experienced before.  I need to look at the reasons why I’m feeling the way I am and try to identify them.  Fatigue will become the norm and I need to learn to deal with it in all of it’s different types (mental, aerobic, muscular, overall).  When the bad days come…..that’s just what they are……Bad days.  They won’t (and shouldn’t) be every workout, but they are part of this challenge.  THEY DO NOT DEFINE ME AS AN ATHLETE.  Tomorrow would be better.   Move on.

I’m glad to say this week is a recovery week to get me ready for this upcoming weekend where as a group we will run the St. George 1/2 Marathon and then ride the Veyo Loop.  This will be a weekend to define where we are in our training and fitness.  Coach wants us ready for the challenge and I’m SO GRATEFUL for the rest I will get before Saturday.  These next two weeks are critical with the race/ride this weekend and then training camp the end of next week.  I need to be ready!  I need to be fresh!  I WILL……..I WILL BE MENTALLY STRONG…….I WILL BE PHYSICALLY READY………

So I tip my hat to Week 11……….you taught me some hard lessons this week, but I’m moving on.

As for the dogs!  I was actually bit twice, as the bruising now shows.  One on the hand and once on the back of my left calf.  I reported the incident to the Washington County Sheriff’s Department with hopes that maybe they will tighten the patrols in Gunlock to help contain these dogs.  I’m a dog lover.  Don’t get me wrong.  These dogs weren’t necessarily being vicious, but this shouldn’t happen.  Please keep your dogs in the backyard if they chase things.  One of the scariest things that can happen to a cyclists is to be chased by a speeding dog.   It’s dangerous for the cyclists and it’s dangerous for the dog.  In this situation, I’m just grateful for cold temps that kept my legs and hands covered with thick tights and heavy gloves.


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