Spring Training – Ironman Training Week 20

Spring Training - Ironman Training Week 20

This Week In Numbers

Swim:  9500 yards
Bike:  182.09 miles
Run:  29.44 miles
Total Time:  18:22:45

Spring has sprung in St. George and this week we had AMAZING WEATHER!  Perfect timing too, because my good friend and training buddy Sarah Jarvis was here for some Spring Training over the kiddos spring break from school.  I’m not gonna lie when I say that training has been TOUGH lately.  I feel like I’m in a constant battle either between my head and my body or my body and my head.  I’m finding that more often than not my head wins……….good or bad.  It has been easy to fall into mental traps lately.  Sometimes physically I’m feeling okay, but my head just can’t take anymore.  Then when I’m physically spent my head doesn’t help the matter and sometimes the hole I’m digging can get quite deep. This week had its ups and down.  Luckily, we ended up 🙂

Look at those tank tops in the St. George sunshine.......IT'S MARCH!!!!

Monday, I was coming off of a hard weekend double brick of 50 miles on the bike and 4 mile run (double brick means I did that workout twice).  So I jumped in the pool and gave my head permission to not hurt and to just relax and stretch out on an easy swim.  It was perfect!  Sarah got into town and the plan was to get in as much mileage as possible for the rest of the week.

Tuesday the weather was stellar other than a bit of wind and we headed out for hill repeats on Utah Hill and then a Veyo Loop (which is hill repeats too………isn’t it?).  I could tell I was tired.  My hill repeats were “okay”, and the loop was nothing to write home about.  I was concerned that I was riding too slowly and hoping that Sarah wasn’t getting impatient with me.  We got off the bike and headed out for a 6 mile transition run that was a bit heavy, but again, “okay”.

That evening Coach Heath came in to town to see Sarah and workout with the St. George athletes on Wednesday.  It is always fun to have Heath around.  He’s the life of the party and is that wealth of triathlon knowledge that I love to soak up.  He swam with Sarah and I on Wednesday morning and then was commissioned by Coach M to take us to the track that evening.  Track is never a good thing 😉  When it is a surprise…….You know you are in trouble.

It had been August the last time I had done any work on the track.  All track work is speed work.  FAST speed work.  The kind of speed work that leaves you crying for mercy and crawling into an ice bath when you get home.  I couldn’t imagine what our “surprise” workout would be.  I knew it had something to do with mental toughness, so I couldn’t even begin to speculate.

We got to the track just after 5:00p.  After a warm-up Coach gave us all our individual workouts and pacing goals.  Mine was twelve-800s (2 laps or a 1/2 mile) at 3:22.  TWELVE!  12!  SIX + SIX!  THEE x FOUR!  Are you hearing this?  TWELVE-800s.  That is 6 miles worth of 1/2 mile repeats at about a 6:40 pace.  YOWZA!  I’m not one for standing around and thinking about a workout too much.  I just have to do it.  I finished the first interval in 3:13 and realized that I could hit the pace.  That was a relief.  11 more to go…….

It was awesome to have Coach H on the track.  Between his video analysis and his pacing on some of our intervals, it was priceless.  I worked on form and just tried to knock down the 12 intervals.  Luckily, I was succeeding in holding the pace.  I finished all 12 intervals between a 3:12 and 3:19.  Yes!  Done!  Warm-down.  I ran another mile and a half to round out my total mileage to 10 miles.  The warm down felt hard.  I was slogging an 8:30 pace, but my legs were heavy.  I WAS TOAST!  I was so glad to be done………….

……………….I wasn’t done.  Here is where the mental training began.  Coach H called us over and told us to do 2 more intervals at the same pace.  I just about lost it.  I couldn’t believe how my head reacted.  I was kind of mad!  My legs were killing me.  I had just pushed through TWELVE!……. 12!  SIX + SIX!  THEE x FOUR! ……..intervals that I wasn’t sure I was going to make.  Now you want me to do two more at the SAME PACE after I just cooled down and just about died at an 8:30 pace?!?!  NOT GONNA HAPPEN!  I kind of wanted to cry, but sucked it up, swallowed hard and just ran…….and ran HARD!  I hit them!  3:17 and 3:14.  Done and DONE!  Another mile cooldown to make it 12 miles and we were officially on our way home.

Coach H tried to blame the entire evening on Coach M, but I just don’t buy it.  He just wanted to see the looks on our faces.  Cruelty to athletes.  There should be criminal charges brought again him.  I will say this though……..there is something about pushing through that emotional response and succeeding.  I guess these coaches really do know what they are doing.  I went home a pretty HAPPY and VERY SORE camper 🙂

Thursdays workout was a 75 mile bike ride with 40 miles at 80% effort and a 30 min run.  Quite frankly, I was scared.  My definition of 80% and Sarah’s definition of 80% were not matching up.  To me 80% is Ironman pace.  Something that is comfortably-hard and something I can sustain in the long run without blowing up.  To Sarah it is just below standard race pace.  Coach M chuckled as we texted her frantically for a clarification on the workout.  She just said that both our definitions were correct within our own individual training goals.  Me for an Ironman and Sarah for a 1/2 Ironman.  With a fuzzy definition we headed out into another BEAUTIFUL Spring day.

We warmed up slowly over 20 miles which was good on our track legs.  Surprisingly, I was not sore.  I was so sure that I would be sore.  Nothing.  Fatigue.  Not sore.  After the warm-up we settled into the “80%” zone for 40 miles.  I was in the “just above” IM pace for the day, but I was pretty sure Sarah was not where she wanted or needed to be.  I was happy to get off the bike after 75 miles with my legs still in tact and make it through our run.  Sarah, I don’t think was satisfied and I FELT TERRIBLE about that!

That night Coach M called me late and changed my planned 4 hour bike ride for the next day.  The plan was for Sarah and I to head out on a 4 hour ride for time.  Nothing fancy.  Nothing hard.  I was a bit worried about the 4 hours because it seemed really long on my already FRIED body, but I would do it.  Sarah needed more.  Coach M gave her an interval workout but she knew it was something that would not work for me.  She told me to ride for 2.5 to 3 hours just for time and insert a couple of accelerations with lots of recovery just to activate the muscles.  I was good with that, but it didn’t sit well that I had totally failed Sarah!  She had spent the last three days training with me and was clearly not accomplishing what she needed to accomplish.  That’s the worst for an athlete!  I felt terrible.  I headed to bed hoping to feel better in the morning.

That morning I headed out in the same direction as Sarah and her husband Karl were headed for her interval workout.  I had been slow to get ready and was struggling with my head.  I couldn’t believe how slow I had been over the past few days and how I had basically ruined two good bike rides for Sarah.  I was doing all I could and was just FRUSTRATED with my body.  I know Sarah is a stronger and faster athlete than I am.  That is not a question.  My head wouldn’t let it go and just kept digging the knife in farther and farther.  Mentally, I was broke.

By the time I got out on the bike, I decided that I would be on the same road with Sarah and Karl, but I was just going to do my thing.  I needed to suffer by myself and not worry about anything else.  I let my head overrun itself with negative thoughts and just plugged along at my slow little pace for my 2 hours and 45 minutes.  It didn’t help that my hip and back started killing me on my left side when I was in the aero position……even to the point of having to get off and stretch a bit in order to be more comfortable and make it home.  My body hated me………my head hated me more.  That mental hole I was talking about……..IT WAS DEEP!

When I did finally get home, I was just glad that the biking was over for the week.  It was a lot of mileage and I WAS DONE!  All my self-doubt and frustration was right on the surface and anyone who came in contact with me was going to get the full brunt.  Ugh!

I took the kids to the museum in the afternoon and just wan’t coming around.  I needed to pick up Sarah and my race numbers for the next morning’s St. Patrick’s Day Spectrum 10K, but I didn’t want to race.  How could I race?  My head just kept telling me that I was going to be slow and probably fall apart, so what was the point……..I needed to pull it together, but just didn’t know how.

Luckily, after more food than I should have eaten (including french fries……that didn’t make me feel better) and a good night’s rest, I was feeling better in the morning.  My head had cleared a bit and I was ready to race.  It was the perfect morning for a race and I was just going to go out and do my thing.  It didn’t matter the time.  I was just going to do it.  I donned my St. Patrick’s Day outfit, picked up Sarah and headed out.  Surprisingly, I PR’d the course.  Yeah!  It was downhill and all, but still……I had a good race and ran a strong pace (for me that is).  After a swim, the week was over and it was time to rest.  (Click here for the official Race Report for the Spectrum 10K).

So that’s it. Another week of training in the books and only a few more until the big day.  I have one more week of hard training before I taper for my first triathlon of the season at Leadman 125 in Las Vegas on March 31st.  After that it is merely 2 weeks of hard work, one REALLY long weekend, then taper to Ironman St. George.  I honestly can’t believe it.  It will be here SO SOON!  I’m struggling to know if “I am ready”, but I have to trust in my training.  I know that Coach M and Coach H have me on a GREAT path……..I just need to keep pushing through the hills and valleys knowing that on the other side of this amazing journey is a once in a lifetime experience.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  May the Luck of the Irish stay with you  AND ME 🙂

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