IMTX Week 3: Last Big Build

Oh my goodness – words can’t describe what my body went through this last week of build!  I am so proud it is done – I am so lucky to have had my family be super supportive during this week (I communicated to them this would be my biggest week), and also Marni who was leaving me emails and notes in Training Peaks to help motivate me and guide me along the way!  Training with Marni is the hands-down best decision I made during this IM journey.  She wrote me before my big weekend started something that I want to remember:

When it gets tough today or you have a low moment or you ask yourself “Why am I doing this?”
Remember why you wanted to sign up for the Ironman. 
Think back to who you were in January, a time when you may not have been able to do this with your body and mind.  Convince yourself that it will all be worth it when you cross that finish line on May 17th and become an Ironman.

Don’t forget that this isn’t suppose to be easy, or else everyone would do it and it would not be that incredible of an achievement.

All this training for a one day event, enjoy these moments for the journey is almost over.

I used these words during my training last weekend: if it were easy, every one would do it… look how far you’ve come… the finish line is in sight and will be worth it!  And after getting through this “iron” weekend, I was elated and almost felt like I had finished a huge race after Sunday’s tough run. 

It is hard to relay the emotions one goes through during this training.  There are ups, downs, and it’s a whole new level unlike any other training I’ve done.  There are of course days when I don’t want to get up and go to the pool at 5:30 AM, nights when I am wired after a tough workout, ridiculous highs after stellar workouts and moments when I question what I’m doing and why. That’s why it’s so great to have support along the way.  All those mantras help to keep the mind strong and to repeat to yourself during the tough points.

I’ve kept moving forward when I had self-doubt, got up all those mornings I wanted to sleep in, and took care of my body best I could during this period of overload.  After countless mornings in the pool, lots of 2+hr windy, afternoon bricks on the bike trail, and numerous Sunday runs on tired legs, the work is done {my coach says so, so it must be true}.  I’m as ready as I will be and my fitness is at an all time high [for ME], and I’m not injured.  I’ve done what I can to take care of my body in this period of overload and now my goals are to get to the race healthy, uninjured, and well rested. 

As for my last build week, I went into last week with a tired body, knowing I was tired and knowing it would take a lot more than 1 day of recovery to be fresh again.  But I knew it was my last week and knew I could push through (not push as in push through injuries, but push as in stay strong).  It might come across on social media/blogging and sunshine and flowers sometimes, but this training isn’t always easy.  There is good reason this is a 12-week ironman-focused program – just enough time to prepare the body without burnout; anything too much longer and I think it would be hard to stay focused. 

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{ 3+ hour brick on a weekday – insanity! }

I had my longest after work ride (ever) on Thursday evening and I was so stoked to hit and exceed my power goals and run strongly off the bike.  But still, that was 55 or so miles on a weekday, so I was wired, hungry and didn’t sleep will Thursday night.  Let’s just say Friday I was dead during my pool workout.  Oh, and then Saturday it would be time for my IM “dress rehearsal”.  A 1.2 mi OWS + IMTX course ride (108 mi) + 30 min run; 7-8 hours of using my body.  My iron day went fairly well – I felt pretty strong on the bike (holding back and staying within my power zones and saving some for the windy return south), and okay running after minus a bit of a side stitch.  My power was pretty constant the whole time (130-140ish watts avg) so I felt pretty fine the whole ride.  Sometimes I think about the ironman race and it makes me smile to think it’s the first race I will have to hold back on to do well on!  I get to go slow in a race.

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Sunday came and that was the real test.  I thought “only a 1:45 long run”, but man, was I wrong.  How did Marni know just how to push my limits?  My workout was:

  • 20 minute warm up
  • Main Set: 3 x { 3 miles descending 10 sec each mile (8:30, 8:20, 8:20 paces for me), then 1 minute walk }
  • Cool down until 1:45 was up
  • Followed by an EZ spin on the bike

I ran a 2.5mi loop to where I had a stop to change out gel flasks and also have a bottle of ice water to pour on me – it was quite a humid morning so the ice felt amazing.

When I started the run, I was at a 9:45-10 min/mi pace and thought “how the heck am I gonna do this?!”  My legs were not happy.  Luckily after some stretching and more warming up, my legs were starting to get back to a normal sub-9 pace even though they were far from “fresh”.  I’ve started to notice the warm up is sometimes the hardest part of my run lately.  I was running a loop just outside my in-laws house, with very slight elevations, and let me tell you, I felt EVERY slight incline that day.  I reminded myself that I just had to concentrate on one set of 3 miles at a time, then I’d get a walk break.   I really had to use some mental tricks and will power on this run.  I caught myself calculating the mileage (12ish miles, 9 at decreasing intervals) and then quickly stopped thinking that way.  12 miles at a fast pace was daunting, but 3 miles at a time was doable.  I found myself digging pretty deep to get through the workout that morning – I kept telling myself this is the LAST thing you have to do before taper, this is the culmination of all the hard work!  On that muggy morning, after I finished the third set of 3 miles I felt triumph, almost like I had done an ironman – my training was complete!  Maybe it’s silly, but I was really proud of myself for staying strong; I pushed through the soreness of tired legs and the feeling of wanting to quit as my heart rate elevated with the hot morning.  THIS was another workout I can bottle up and use on race day.

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{ Post-run breakfast – craving fruit! }

So now it’s on to taper.  I’m far from doing nothing this week, but the volume is reducing and Marni says there will be more breaks between intervals.  And it’s time to start getting used to the heat (acclimating) – Texas is starting to heat up!  The weather is out of my control, and I’ve definitely given up any hopes of a cool race, I’m just going in expecting to be uncomfortable at times.  Anyway, hope your week is going well! 

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8 thoughts on “IMTX Week 3: Last Big Build

  1. Congratulations on a huge week! That must have been mentally tough to do so much work on a weekday. You’re right- you’ll draw on those tough training days during the race to propel you forward and give you confidence to keep going.

    1. Thanks so much, Abby! It’s nice to hear from a talented iron[wo]man like yourself πŸ™‚ And thanks for commenting – glad to find your blog!

  2. Wow!! What a week!! But you are definitely ready!! You are going to have such an epic race!! Enjoy taper! Everyone says how awful (taper) is. It is actually really nice. Gets lots of sleep and eat really well! The race will be here before you know it!!

    1. Thanks so much, Leslie! Yes, taper is a nice change and my house is finally clean and getting some much needed appointments done (hair, etc.)- haha!

  3. Awesome week, and GREAT attitude! You are so ready for IMTX – both mentally and physically – and I’m so excited for you! Soak up all your fitness and enjoy your taper!

    1. Thanks so much Erin, it means a lot! I was re-reading your IM Canada race reports the other day, always inspiring to see other’s reports and get excited for the big day πŸ™‚ Can’t wait until I can write my own!

  4. Way to rock that last big week!! Marni’s advice was definitely true…it is amazing how quickly the journey flies by!! You are DEFINITELY ready for IMTX!! Enjoy the taper and find more relaxing activities to do during your down time…your body will appreciate it on race day πŸ˜‰

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