I have the passion for this Ironman stuff and I definitely have the desire. However, sometimes even those two traits take a back seat to the almost robotic nature of just mentally tackling these long training weekends. It can't be done on heart alone. There is a mental shift that must take place as well. Patience...perseverance...autonomy of the mind. I'm also learning that I must love myself unconditionally. God knows I spend enough alone-time with my thoughts these days. I can't afford negativity, self-doubt and useless "you're not good enough" chatter. The second those thoughts begin seeping into my self-conscious, I may as well throw away all of the desire, passion and countless hours I've spent so far at achieving this goal.
This was a big weekend for me filled with a couple of "new territory" achievements. I didn't enter them with fear, but with a very matter-of-fact let's git 'er done mentality. I already spoke of my swim in my previous post. I'm so thrilled to feel it coming together after years of struggle and self-doubt.
Our 90-Mile bike ride on Saturday can best be described as an Ironman Arizona Simulator. The course itself isn't all that hilly, but it's located in far North East Austin where the wind seems to blow in every direction at all times. Every Arizona veteran from last year has warned me about the wind gusts. Wind gusts are a cyclists villian. Well, I'm no fan of this Rosedale course because I knew it would involve such gusts, but what better way to practice, right? Of course, the beginning of the ride is very deceiving with the tailwind and the downhills. The first 10 miles were downright blissful at a very easy pace of 18.5 mph. Unfortunately, early on I hit a bump which launched one of my water bottles. I had to stop to get it while letting my pack of riders continue on. Katy and Jerry stayed behind and it become our ride for the rest of the day. This is also a slightly confusing course with about 4 different Cameron Road turns. Well, of course we got turned around and slightly confused about where we were at which was definitely a momentum killer for a while. This is where the patience came in handy. There was nothing we could do besides forge another route back to the turn around, which Jerry and Katy did. Instead of our first loop being 28 miles, our first loop turned into about 44 miles before we ended up back at the car to refuel. It ironically ended up being a blessing because instead of heading out on the 62 mile loop, we really only had to head out for the 43 mile loop again. For whatever reason, this mentally felt so much better knowing that we were just about half-way done. In a very serendipidous way, we ended up connected with the other pack of riders again with about 20 miles to go when our different paths converged and we ended up on the same road at the exact same time. I swear, it was fate and very humorous. We couldn't have planned it if we had tried!! It was good to have the group pull for those remaining tough miles.
You know, I'm glad we faced a little adversity in the beginning of the ride because it's how you deal with that type of stress that can make all of the difference. My ride ended up being 87.5 miles and I left it at that. I thought about finding the extra 2.5 miles, but I knew it wasn't totally necessary since I also had a 60 min run to complete. I didn't look at my average pace until I got off the bike and, instead, focused the whole day on form and energy output. At the beginning of the ride, I said if I can avg between 15-16 mph on this course at this distance, I'll be happy. We averaged 15.5 mph. Nice...I think I'm really getting to know my body. I gotta say, I felt physically and mentally strong the entire day even when we were battling the frequent head winds on the windy country roads. It was just a gorgeous day for a ride and I truly felt blessed to be out there. Yes, of course, there were a few dark moments of, "God I'm tired," "Get me off this bike," and "I wish the wind would stop," but overall it was a wonderful confidence-building experience, especially on a course where I have a negative history. I also played with my nutrition and that seemed to pay off for me.
Prior to Ride: 3 Sweet Potato Pancakes and bottle of water I started the ride with a bottle of water with 3 scoops of Perpetuum. I sip on that every 15-20 minutes for sustained calorie intake and energy levels. I also had 1 bottle of plain water and 1 bottle of water with a Nuun electrolyte tablet.
1 Hr into Ride: 2 Endurolyte capsules
2.75 Hrs into Ride (half way point): 2 Endurolyte capsules, small whole grain bagel with PB&J, 2 clif blocks. At this point, I also refilled my water bottles and put regular water in one and gatorade in the other for part 2 of the ride.
For the reminder of the ride, I continued to sip on the perpetuum, water and gatorade. I did also enjoy one of Katy's pretzel sticks too!
I got off the bike and actually had some fuel in the tank for my 60 min run through the Harris Branch neighborhoods. At my car/transition area, I quickly switched gear, took a power gel, grabbed water and headed off for my run. I couldn't believe how strong I felt on this post run after almost 90 challenging miles. Each mile was faster than the next. 8:52, 8:44...I passed some of our group who made reference to being speedy. It wasn't until Mile 5 (and about 18 minutes left) that I finally started hitting the energy wall. I could feel the energy literally leaving my body quickly. I was assessing what I would do during Ironman when this starts to happen (because it will). A gel didn't sound good so what would I do? Chicken broth? Coca-Cola? Both are wildly popular on the Ironman Marathon because it's usually the only thing people can stomach after a long day of racing. Both sounded palatable, but were obviously unaccessible at that point. I headed back towards the car passing a few more peeps along the way. The 7.00 mile beep and the 1 hr beep were almost simultaneous. I had run 7 miles off of a 90 mile bike ride at an 8:34 pace. Wow...a lot faster than I expected, but challenging nonetheless. Like I said, I was quickly losing steam and this is not my planned Ironman pace.
It's training days like that where I can hold my head up high and think, "Hell yes!" I celebrated by going out with some friends for dinner and having a couple of glasses of wine (because I can't sacrifice EVERYTHING). At one point, my friend Mike was saying, "You know...you're just a badass hoss for being able to do all of this." Normally I would say, "Ah-it's nothing. Anyone can do it..." blah, blah, blah...But, for the first time last night I had to agree, "You're Right. I am a badass." (albeit, a tired one).