An Ironman Arizona update is long overdue. I thought about this post yesterday for quite some time and how our bodies go through the ups and downs of training, but more so our minds. Our bodies will move as long as our minds tell us to and whether it is faster or slower than we want to go the process all begins between the ears.
This training cycle has been mostly positive. With the experience of having just gone through one cycle for Ironman Texas I knew what I had to do to have a successful trip around the training calendar this time. I knew that if I was to run for 1 hour that if I got to the end of my loop in 58:29 I did not have to do the remaining 1:31 to fully realize my potential. This training cycle was going to be a smart one. One where I did not fall asleep on the couch at 8:00p EVERY single night (even on rest days.)
So as the weeks ticked off the calendar and I was staying up past the witching hour of 8pm and even up to 10pm I was feeling great. That is until the peak weeks hit. For the past three weeks my training has looked like this in terms of hours and minutes: 22:36; 20:08; 22:29 and the week prior to that was 16:37 and only because I raced the US Open Championships that week otherwise a 20 hour week would have been in order. Peak week training is a bitch. Every fiber of your being hates waking up, hates training and mostly craves sleep and carbs.
I would get up and go to the gym to swim and lift and could not wait to get out of there. I would get on the trainer in my garage and spend 20 minutes going through Netflix just to watch something to keep me occupied for the next 2-3 hours. Running was my saving grace. It was my way of getting out of the gym and off the bike, but there were days when intervals were scheduled…..and those hurt. They hurt bad. You just couldn’t wait for them to be over no matter how long they were (mile repeats, 800s, 400s…..didn’t matter.)
Then this past Friday I was heading to the lake for my Friday open water swim of 2 miles. Thursday night a cold front moved in and it was about 45* on Friday morning, but worse than that the winds were howling. We had sustained winds of 24 mph and when I got to the lake and saw the water crashing ashore I thought twice about getting into the water as safety was the only thought I had. When my swim training partner showed up we chatted for about 10 minutes about it and we both decided to call it a day and not go in the water. For the first time in a few months I was taking a rest day (not really as I had gone to the gym to lift and do core work prior) and it was going to be glorious. I ate and lounged and worked and did not feel exhausted.
This Saturday I got on the trainer for a 6 hour tour of my bedroom. I layered up the clothes and made sure no fan was on. The heat would kick on and I was going to sweat and sweat I did. I was pedaling as if this was my last ride forever. I was ticking up sub-3:00 miles and smiling. I was practicing my fueling and hydration all the while watching Food Network, Cooking Channel, CNN, ESPN, NFL Network and sending out Tweets and Facebook posts. It was going great even for a 6 hour trainer ride. In case you are wondering it was 34* when I woke up on Saturday morning and there was no way I was going to suffer through 6 hours in the bitter cold.
Once the ride was over I laced up my sneakers and out the door for a one hour – lactate threshold run. I had laid out a course that I would run on Sunday that should take me about an hour. Once I started running I felt great. The first mile went by and my Garmin said 7:20. WTF? I was on cruise control and not breathing heavy and the 2nd mile showed 7:10…..huh? Before I knew it I was back at my front door in under an hour and had covered 7.85 miles. I was on cloud 9 and barged through the door hootering and a hollering about how ready I was for Arizona. A rest day does wonders for the body.
Sunday was a 22 mile run and I just nailed it. I setup a 7.3 mile loop with the approximate elevation of Ironman Arizona. I also setup a water station at mile 2.6, 5.1 and 7.3. I would stop here and take a sip of water and walk for 10 seconds just like IMAZ. This was going to be my test run before the big day. I carried a HoneyStinger in my sleeve and a bottle of EFS Kona Mocha with me. I would get all my calories and water without having to carry too much…..just as I plan to do in Tempe. I ran the first loop in 1:06, the 2nd loop in 1:05 and the third loop in 1:03. I got faster as the miles clicked off and my heart rate was never too elevated. I knew that I was ready and the pain and torture of peak cycle had ended.
My mind only knows the ups of this training cycle. The ideas that were in my head during those 4 peak weeks are a distant memory, one to not be remembered until they come around again for Ironman Texas.
Similar to the stock market with its ups and downs and corrections this Ironman training cycle has not only lifted me up but slammed me down. It has shown me I have what it takes to be faster, but also made me question why I was doing it in the first place. It has proven to me that I can get faster even when I don’t think I can, but it has also slowed me down when I needed to. When I cross the finish line on November 18 I will look back at this weekend as the one that was the perfect training session, but in reality it has been every single workout on every single day with the proper recovery that will have gotten me to that point.
Ironman training has its ups and downs for sure, but in the end it will end on a high note because of who I have become through these days, weeks and months.