Saturday, August 30, 2008

One More Sleep

It's been a long time coming but tomorrow it's time to drop the hammer, the day I've been waiting for is tomorrow. I've been training hard for the entire year and I know I can't be any more prepared than I am right now. Amber and I went out for a brief swim-bike-run today just to keep the legs fresh and remember what it feels like. It was nice and cool this morning but now the sun is out in full force and 31 degrees here feels like 38. It's supposed to be 33 tomorrow but I'm hoping the heat won't be a major factor until the run, by that point I think I can handle it. The key for me is just to keep the emotions under control, drink, take in a lot of salt, eat continuously and use ice whenever I get the chance.

The one thing I love about Ironman is the fact that it is a real race of grit and determination. To be called a true Ironman you have to be not only tough but patient. It is an extremely tough race to do well in and although there are people who have a natural ability, I've always had to work very hard to make any progress. I'm very happy to be here and take part in this wonderful event I just know what suffering lies ahead and I have to prepare my mind to push through it tomorrow.

The plan for tomorrow is to push a little on the first part of the swim, just to find some open water and to get through the upstream portion of the swim. Then stay relaxed and take long powerful strokes while heading downstream. Remain relaxed and controlled during the first 45kms of the bike, taking in 3 salt tabs, one fruit bar, one gel and a bottle of heed. Keep the heart rate in zone 2 and only enter zone 3 on hills and when I need to pass, the next 45kms I'll take another 3 salt tabs, one fruit bar, two gels, and another bottle of heed. The next 45kms will include another 3 salt tabs, graham cookies, a fruit bar, a gel, and a bottle of noon. The final 45kms I'll have another 3 salt tabs, 3 gels, a bottle of water, and another bottle of noon. By the time I hit the run I should be okay, the legs will be a little juiced but I should be able to maintain a fairly comfortable 14km/hr pace and I'm going to rely on the aid stations for water, gatorade, coke, and ice. I'll have my own salt and I'll need another tab every 1/2 hour, which means taking in another 6 tabs. I usually don't run with a hat but in this heat it's going to be very helpful to be able to put ice in your hat which will hopfully last a few minutes between aid stations.

That's the plan, the important thing is not to give up on it when things get rough out there (and they most likely will). I'm going to try to stick to it, that's what helped me last year, the early calories I took in on the bike paid off later in the run. Be flexible as well, if I miss an aid station or forget to take something in, I won't abandon my strategy.

All I can do now is rest and wait for tomorrow, it feels like I've been waiting far too long but the countdown is almost over and I'm ready to rock!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Having Fun In Louisville

Amber and I made it to Louisville on Monday and other than a few mishaps; my bag was missing and we were booked into the wrong hotel, things are going really well. I did end up getting my bag the next day and we changed our hotel from the outskirts of the city to downtown. The people in Louisville are incredibly friendly and very helpful. It's a terrific town, full of life and very, very hot and humid this time of year.

Today we checked in and took a look around the expo, I bought Amber a speedsuit and picked up some other miscellaneous things we're going to need for Sunday. The defining thing for me this race is going to be making sure I stick with my nutrition plan. With the heat here I'm going to have to drink about 1L to 1.5L/hr and take 2 grams of salt/hr. That's a lot of salt! but I have a tendency to be hyponatremic so I definitely need it.

It's a great atmosphere in town today, the Ironmen have officially invaded and although it is a big city you can really tell that it is Ironman weekend coming up. Amber and I did a swim at the YMCA this morning and a brief bike to the shoe store to pick up some runners that she can actually run in. I'm extremely excited to get going but I have to keep the energy under control and we'll do an open water swim tomorrow and on Saturday and then it's time to GO! I'm number 1069, great number!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Let the Anxiety Begin

It's 10 days until go time and I always feel like I haven't done enough at this point before the race. Normally I'm really cool and relaxed the day or two before but now is when all the pre-race questions and doubts creep up. I know I've trained harder for this race than ever before, I know I've put in countless hours in the pool, riding the road, and running the trails but you still ask yourself; what else could I have done? The only thing I could think of would mean quitting my job and becoming a full-time triathlete but that just isn't possible nor really what I want to do.

I love this sport because of how I feel from training and the enjoyment I get out of living a healthy lifestyle. I think if it was my full-time job I would still enjoy it but training would become more of a chore and I would probably burn-out. Amber and I started training for this race in October and everyday since then Louisville has been in the back of my mind as my goal race this year. Some of what will happen out there is out of my control, weather (heat and humidity are brutal there), course profile, other athletes being too aggressive. All I can do is prepare as much as I possibly can and give everything I got on the day.

I know all I need to do now is rest and fully recover but the nerves sometimes get the better of me and I feel like I need to keep training hard. I'm conscious of not overdoing it and I've slowed down on any training I've been doing. Yesterday was an easy 3km swim in the morning which felt really good, and easy one hour spin in the evening while watching last year's IM world championship. I need to compete there this October, it's going to be a life goal checked off.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Slowing Down The Run

This past weekend was tough, energy was low and I couldn't execute the workouts I had planned. Saturday I planned to do a long ride, 180kms and it turned into a shorter ride, 90km followed by a brief t-run 20 minutes. Sunday I planned on doing a long run but I think the heat has been sapping my energy because I could only do a 30 minute open water swim and I was extremely exhausted. We did have the opportunity to hang out with family at the lake though, that's something we haven't really done with every weekend being accounted for with training.

I blew off the swim this morning but I'll get in there tomorrow morning, I wanted to have enough energy to have a good run today. I arrived back home from work a little earlier than normal and I was eager to get out in the heat and practice somewhat of what it'll be like in Louisville. I wore a 2L camelback and I'm really glad I did, I kept taking little sips during the 2 hours and I felt pretty good. I didn't have the anticipated 'crash' I usually do on long runs that are this hot but things did cool off considerably during the second half. The last 5K I had a nice light rain to bring me home.

There is a beautiful trail at the end of Muskoseepi park and from our house it's about 10.5km to get there. I had so much fun on the trails and I was treated to a great change. The nearby construction closed down a section but fortunately they cleared a new section, it was about 2 or 3 degrees cooler on the trail, probably because the heat isn't beating off the pavement and I felt great. I was going a little slower than normal but I wanted to find a pace that was sustainable for Ironman. Lately I'm been out there killing myself on every run and I needed to know that I have the ability to feel pretty good for just over three hours (or hopefully just under). I'm pretty sure I can sustain 14km/hr which is a 3 hour marathon, we'll see what the day brings.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Learning to be Patient

Well today didn't quite go as planned I wanted to do a 180km ride at race pace as a final tune up before Ironman. It didn't quite happen. This week I've taken three days off (unheard of for me) the amount of work and travelling I've been doing hasn't afforded me the time to train. Monday I was in Paddle Prairie (7hrs driving), Tuesday in Peace River (2hrs driving), Wednesday in High Level (2 and 1/2hrs driving), and Thursday back home to Grande Prairie (4hrs driving). That's a lot of time on the road but that seems to be the way of life around here. I'm getting more used to it but it still eats into my free time when I usually do my training.

Although I'm feeling a little nervous about my prep, I've done what I need to do to be successful in Louisville. I've put in a lot of hard training not only this summer but throughout the winter and spring as well. Friday I woke up early and went for a 3km swim in my new blue seventy swimskin, it felt great and I was really motivated by watching the fantastic Olympic swimming. Those men and women are so fast it's hard to imagine moving through the water like that. I did my best to try to imitate Michael Phelps but didn't come close to any of his times, not a surprise.

Friday afternoon I wanted to do a tempo run and I managed to get in a 59 minute 15km but it hurt like hell and my heart rate averaged about 160bpm. The heat was really taking it's toll on me, but I was doing my best to try and keep going. I'm going to have to get used to this as soon as possible, the average temperature in Louisville this time of year is between 26 and 33 degrees.

Today my legs were feeling the effort of yesterday's run and I knew in the first hour that I wasn't going to be able to do a six hour ride today. I told myself not to worry about it and I'm not going to gain some incredible strength I never had before, all the hard work has been done already. So I completed a 92km loop in 2:37 and went for a short 5km T-run in 20:37. I'm okay with the shorter workout today. Amber and I did some neglected yard work and went for a nice lunch, some of the things we're usually too tired to do after a long training day.

One thing I've noticed with my running in the heat, I'm really going to have to slow my pace down. I'm used to running about 15kms/hr, I can do that in the hot weather but it takes a severe toll on my body and there is no way I could sustain that for a marathon. I'm going to race smart and slow it down for the first half of the run and if I have anything left for the last half I'll let it go.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Training for Speed

Well after spending a lot of time driving the past few days I finally got back on track today and spent a little time doing some speed work. The past weekend was a bit of a write off for training, we were at a wonderful wedding for Amber's cousin. I only managed a 52 minute run on Saturday and felt like complete crap, someone replaced my legs with cement blocks. However I had some much needed rest and it showed today.

I did a 90km loop by our place and pounded it out in 2:27! Kept my heart rate in zone 2 for most of the ride so I should be able to, potentially do that twice. The heat is going to be the determining factor for me, it was only 15 degrees today and it'll probably be twice that in Louisville. Came off the bike and did a 10km run in 37:30 feeling really good, except for the usual side cramp. I'm getting used to it but it still hurts like hell, it feels like someone is stabbing me in the right side.

Good news I received the stem and speedsuit I've been waiting for so now I'm geared up and ready to go!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Recovery Weekend

This past week has been really tough, we trained hard in Jasper for Amber's birthday long weekend and I had a difficult training week trying to sharpen up before Louisville. I was hoping to get in some good training this weekend too but Amber's cousin was getting married in North Battleford and we really needed to make an appearance. I think it was a good thing I didn't have a lot of time to train, my body was completely exhausted and I spent most of the weekend sleeping and eating. I didn't realize how tired I was until I stopped and took a break. Lesson learned; even though you may feel mentally strong and ready to rock, physically you can't keep pushing it without some down-time.

This weekend made me realize that I may tend to push my body a little too hard at times. That's probably why I have been having my best year ever but you can't keep doing that and not expect to break down at times. I'm really glad to have a short rest before Louisville, I'm going to have another great training week (on the road), a fun training weekend with AD and one last speed-focused week before game time! I can't wait!