As much as it pains me to admit it, I was definitely down for a few days following my performance at Wildflower Long Course. I’ve been hard on myself since I was a kid. Whether it was denying myself a celebratory bowl of ice cream after a lousy baseball game or studying harder after a bad (but still good) grade, I hold myself to a high standard. I realize that logging a suboptimal race wasn’t a matter of if – but when, and although I knew it was coming, it still didn’t feel good when it happened.
After gathering my thoughts, I posted about my plan for success in the upcoming weeks. Lucky for me, my plan started out on the right foot when my Ironman training group planned a much needed long bike ride and transition run. The plan was to bike a 72 mile loop with over 3000′ of climbing and run easy for 25 minutes afterward – challenge accepted!
As a follow up to our heat exposure at Wildflower, Coach Duane also planned to conduct an experiment with us: he wanted to measure approximately how much we sweat during a long ride. If it wasn’t for the group workout and sweat experiment, I almost definitely wouldn’t have opted in for a 72 mile ride the weekend after a demoralizing bike leg at Wildflower. Did I mention that Taylor and I watched my friend’s Australian Shepherd all weekend? This ride also posed a challenge for another reason: despite my long swim and run efforts over the past year plus, my last bike ride over 72 miles was at Ironman Lake Placid in July 2012. Before departing, we all stepped on the scale with our bike gear on. The idea was to record our weight before, during, and after the rate to gauge our sweat rate. I tipped the scale at 182.4 – bike gear and water bottle included.
Coach Duane kindly volunteered his Saturday morning to make our ride much more manageable: he drove the course and provided us with water, nutrition, and motivation while we rode a challenging loop. After departing from McInnis Park in San Rafael, we rode all the way to Nicasio Reservoir and eventually up to Chileno Valley. Although it wasn’t particularly warm (high 60s-low 70s), there were several extended climbs, rough roads, and strong winds.
I stuck with my Ironman and Half Ironman nutrition plan – a concentrated blend of Hammer Perpetuem and water that I sipped every ~20 minutes. I washed it down with water – a lot of water, and also ate one Picky Bar per hour – approximately 1200 calories over the 4:20 ride. I felt strong and consistent during the ride, and split the first 36 miles at roughly a 15.7 mph pace. Although this is off what I typically ride, most of the climbs were in the first half and I wanted to conserve for the latter half.
The second half is when things got interesting – I felt like myself for the first time in weeks. I’ve been stretching daily since Wildflower and it’s starting to pay off: I pushed the pace from 36-50 before the next big climb, and weighed in at 179.4 at the 50 mile mark. This was good, but not great: 3 pounds of sweat loss is equivalent to roughly 2 16oz bike water bottles – enough to put me in the hole before a hard run effort. I emphasized fluid intake for the final 20 miles, pushed hard on the flats, and surprised myself by bringing my average pace up to 16.6 for the hilly 72 miles – the same pace I pushed at Wildflower.
After weighing in at 181.4 – a weight that represented great hydration during the bike, I wrapped up the brick by running 2 miles. I broke into an easy 8:25 pace on the way out and had a lot more in the tank – my second mile was right at my half marathon pace: 7:20. This workout was huge: between my recovery post Wildflower, pacing on the bike, hydration, nutrition, and running legs, I’m very encouraged about training in the upcoming weeks.