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!!!!