Ironman Arizona is a tad over 9 weeks away and the training is entering its peak phase for sure. Coach doesn’t provide me the schedule in advance so I only know what I am doing for the week on Sunday afternoon/evenings. I like it this way, and she plans it this way, because I can’t look ahead as to what might be hard and so I lose the focus and purpose of the current days training. For me every training session must have a purpose otherwise I feel as if I am wasting my time and I hate wasting time.
My overall impressions of this training cycle, in comparison to Ironman Texas, are that it is going better. I feel stronger at this point of my training cycle than I ever did for IMTX. The workouts that have been prescribed are harder because there is a lot more interval and hill work but it has certainly been paying off. When I raced Rev3 Maine a few weeks ago I felt strong in the water (the wetsuit didn’t hurt) and very strong on the run. I had the fastest run split at the 70.3 distance at that race and this is coming off of 8 months that included 70.3 Puerto Rico and Ironman Texas racing and training.
I received some great news from Rebecca when she rode the course last week. Her feedback was that it can be a course that I spend the entire time in the big ring on. She said I MAY have to go to the small ring when I get out toward the turn-around of Loop 3 but otherwise should be more than OK in the big ring. After the sh*t show that was last weekend’s ride into the 15-20mph headwinds my biggest concern is not the course itself but more mother nature and the winds. I know that there is nothing I can do about it and that we all will be dealing with it, but that wind can play havoc on your mind.
In addition to Rebecca’s first hand scouting I asked Aimee about the course since she raced IMAZ last year and she gave her impressions. Again the bike wasn’t the biggest deal in terms of the course but more a concern when it came to the wind. If it’s there it’s there but that is nothing I can concern myself with as I keep pushing forward and adding miles and miles to my tires and legs.
My runs have been outstanding and my hope is that I am not peaking too soon with that discipline. I ran 17 miles on Tuesday at a 9:37/mi pace and kept my HR way down. The cooler weather is helping out tremendously with this, but so is the fact that I was running smart in the 100* days here. I took it slow then and now the pay-off is here with faster run splits. Yesterday I was scheduled to run 50 minutes at LT pace and when I first saw the schedule I was thinking how painful it was going to be. Running with an HR of 155-165bpm coming off a 17+ mile run was not going to be pleasant, or so I though. I got in the pool first and swam a hard but enjoyable 3800 yard set and then set out on my run. Surprise, Surprise! I held an 8:00/mi pace while keeping my HR at 151bpm.
My goal is to run a sub-4 hour marathon and if I am able to hold an 8:00/mi pace at 151bpm then holding a sub-9:00/mi pace at a 140-145bpm level is certainly feasible. Aimee mentioned that the course was flat outside of the ramps going up from the lake. If they are short then there is plenty of time to recover on the flat sections and run fast to make up for lost time on the uphills.
I have also changed up my nutrition plan and have been using it in training and raced with it at Rev3. For Ironman Arizona I am getting rid of the water cages on the back of my saddle and using only a torpedo and a down tube cage (read that as no speedfil.) In the torpedo mounted bottle I will have 400 calories of EFS Liquid Shot watered down (Kona-Mocha of course.) In the down tube I will have 400 calories of Herbalife24 Prolong and Prepare mixed (Mango flavor for that brunch feel when combined with the Kona-Mocha.) In the side pockets of my jersey I will have two HoneyStingers (1 vanilla, 1 chocolate) and I will start the bike with a lemon flavored honeystinger. When you add up all the calories you are looking at 1280. For a 6 hour ride that comes out to 213 calories per hour. If I need to I will supplement with perform on the course (used it on a training ride and it didn’t bother my stomach so we should be good to go.) I will also take a water bottle and drink and toss at the aid stations every 10 miles.
Out on the run I will have a tiny handheld in my shorts pockets. The racing kit I have has shorts that have a pocket that is perfect for holding the mini-handheld and you don’t even realize it is there. I will have them filled with 400 calories of EFS Liquid Shot (vanilla to change-up the flavor) and I will have 2 HoneyStingers (vanilla) in my jersey for at the 1 and 3 hour mark. This will give me 720 calories for a total of 180 calories per hour.
My plan is to take 10 second walk breaks every two miles at the aid stations to get water in me. If I am on target I should be hitting the aid stations approximately every 18 minutes which is perfect timing for a swig of EFS and a swig of water to wash it down, then keep on going. I have been having success with this practice on my long run and hope that it continues on race day.
So all that being said the training for IMAZ is going well. I feel strong and mentally ready. I know that I am only going to keep getting stronger in the next 4 weeks and I have to be smart to stay on top of my eating and sleeping habits.