Thursday, February 28, 2013

"Toughen Up" training days - pre-Ironman self-talk

You know the days I'm talking about... not necessarily the longest or the biggest training days, but the ones that sneak up on you, really get you suffering physically and mentally, but you somehow pull through. You somehow survive and live to tell the tale. Whether you wanted to experience it or not, it's now made you a stronger athlete. Now that I'm in taper mode (for Ironman New Zealand, March 2nd), I like to run through all the days that I've seriously struggled and still come out alive.

1. the 3-day binge: Ride 165k's from Wanaka to Glenorchy, 40k's of tailwind, 125k's of headwind that got stronger and stronger until it was over 70kph. Nice. Day 2 was a team off-road sprint triathlon with my partner. I swam, ran, he rode. Nearly killed myself, but we won! Day 3 was where it all came crashing down. 30k run... meant to be ON ROAD as IM race simulation. I usually run on trails, never road, but the IM marathons are usually flat, road. It nearly killed me. The body was not used to the impact, I was tired, and I dealt with massive side stitches for the last 20 of 30k. I was delirious.

2. the confidence builder:  Ride 145k's. 45k easy, 100k @ IM watts. Nailed it within 1W of goal. Straight into 10k brick run, 8k blind (i.e. don't look at pace) at IM pace. Nailed it, 0:02/km faster than goal pace. Similarly, a long run, 35k, was 15k warm up, 15k @ IM pace, 5k cool down. Quite good, 0:04/km slower than goal pace, and that was wearing a pack.

3. need-help-from-a-friend: Mid-training block. I was tired. I really didn't want to sandbag a big swim session, but I knew I would if I did it solo. Got help from a friend and the 5.4k swim with a main set of 40x100 on 1:40/100m was NAILED.

4. total body shutdown: After subsisting on gels alone for far too long, I developed serious nausea and could not properly stomach food for weeks, absolutely dreading long rides/runs because it meant more gel consumption. It culminated in a 100k ride down to Lake Hayes, slow but 100% nauseous. Followed by an Olympic distance tri, where I raced on fumes alone. I remember being so nauseous, and so hungry but unable to eat anything that I convinced myself it was easier to keep going, km by km, rather than drop out or die because that would be emotionally taxing. After that, I changed nutrition plans entirely and was a happier camper.

I'm in Taupo now, avoiding all the IM craziness. IM people are crazy. I'm pretty sure I saw one guy, decked out in race wheels and fancy schmancy bike, ride through town in a loop about 6 times, showing off. I've been taking small walks, eating good food, doing that wee bit of pre-IM training, organizing and re-organizing all my race gear and nutrition, and mainly just reading or watching stuff on my laptop. I watched Dirty Dancing last night. And I think I'm going to the cinema - party of one - today to see Silver Linings Playbook.
Following that, I'm walking to the carbo party and race briefing, and hoping to hitch a ride back into town after that's done as I don't have a car. 
In all honesty, I'm entering race mode and shutting everything else out. I'm excited to EXECUTE THE PLAN, and everyone can leave me alone. This'll be the first time I'm in the 25-29 age group; despite being 24 years old, they age up to your age as of Dec 31 2013, so I'm playing with the big kids now!!!!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Paradise Off-Road sprint tri & weekend race report!!

The training that's hard, long or particular suffer-ful is more memorable, right? Then I'm going to remember this weekend for the rest of my life!!

It started off on Friday when I rode 160k's one-way to Glenorchy. I had a light tailwind for 40k's, then as I entered another valley and changed direction, I received a headwind that only got stronger and stronger, until I was in Glenorchy, at the head of the Wakatipu, battling 70kph winds, unable to hear cars as they passed. There was dust in the air from the braided rivers clouding the nearby mountains, and I was swearing like a madman. With 2k's to go, and no Glenorchy in sight, I completely lost it. I was riding downhill and still having to work my ass off for anything over 20kph and just went ballistic. I finally made it to Glenorchy, plopped myself at the local cafe and slammed a berry smoothie.

There, I met my partner who had driven over and we made the further 30k (dirt-road) trip to Paradise, where we camped at the head of Diamond Lake. The following day we were both scheduled to individually race the Off-road sprint tri (750m swim in Diamond Lake, 18k mtb and 6k off-road run). Well, that very night playing around on his mtb, Christian managed to slice open his heel on his chain ring so we made the drive back to civilization, through Glenorchy back to Queenstown to get him fixed up. Then drove all the way back.

The day of the race, two things prompted me to propose that we race as a team. He couldn't swim nor run, but if his foot stayed in one place, he could mountain bike. And I, having ridden one loop of the course on my 200$ mtb shitter, realised both myself and my bike were in way over our heads. I either would go easy and the mtb would play up (with the chain flying off violently if it didn't like which gear I had shifted into) or I would go hard and, given my aerobic abilities are far ahead of my technical abilities, I would "get stupid in race mode", as someone put it. Too true. So I suggested I swim and run, and he do the mountain bike. It included my partner and it made sure that I wouldn't get injured 1 month out from IMNZ. I've had this "bad feeling" at a race before and didn't follow my instincts, and I ended up crashing badly in a sprint tri the week before a half-iron, which I later DNF'ed because my leg went numb.

The race itself went phenomenally: I swam hard and came out first girl, he mtb'ed like a madman, and then I just went ballistic and sprinted the entire 6k to win the team category!! Yeehaw!

The next day was another traumatic day: I had a 30k run on schedule, which wouldn't bug me at all, but it *HAD* to be road running... No trail running here, as I'm training for two Ironman's that have flat road marathons. Bullshit, why would anyone want to do that to themselves!! Well, my core seriously doesn't like running for any length of time over 1 hour on roads, as it severely protested and I was left with debilitating back, abdominal and diaphragm pain. Not acute, generalised to the "core area" but it felt like a rope wound around my middle getting tightened. I struggled very very badly. I finished, off pace, but at least I continued to shove food in my mouth throughout.

Photos below:

View from the bike and run courses... dog ears not included...
View from mtb course!
This sneaky bastard got away while I was on my last 2k lap (3x2k) and sprinted the last 2k's with me. A guy I had passed near the end of the race as Zeus ran in front of me, happy as, was "HEY! ... No drafting allowed!!"
I'm f-ed now!
Yes, this is the makings of a pretty dorky team...
ONE MORE WEEK OF HARD TRAINING, before it all eases off... IMNZ in less than 1 month!