As I write this entry I am just 13 days from my peak race of the 2014 season, Ironman Chattanooga. I am so excited for this race. It is the only race this year I will be doing a full taper for. After finishing Challenge Atlantic City just 6 minutes outside a professional payout I was motivated and confident in what I was capable of. I made the decision to stop racing through July, August, and September so I could devote every day of training for 1 goal race. I put together a plan of 10 weeks building my volume and not having to worry about being tired or resting up for races. My plan was to increase my bike volume substantially, run less days each week but get in more long runs, and be patient with my swimming until 4 weeks out from the race. As my kids have gotten older and involved in more activities I have managed to keep training at a high level by making concessions and one of those has been to swim much less until I get close to a race. Then I ramp up my swimming A LOT over the last 4 weeks and get in good swim shape quickly.
9 days ago I did a test workout I had planned since the beginning of the 10 week block. I wanted to ride 100 miles with the last 50 at my Ironman goal wattage of 235-240 and then get off the bike and be able to run 10 miles at 6:30 pace rather comfortably. I thought if the goal went well I would use this pace as my Ironman race pace in Chattanooga. I did the first 50 miles at 7% under my goal wattage and stayed right around 220 watts the entire time. At mile 50 I ramped it up into my Ironman zone and completed the last 50 right inside my goal holding each 7 mile split at 235-240. I got off the bike and started running. What felt easy was under 6:20 pace. I stayed right there the entire 10 miles and averaged 6:17/mile. I did 5 loops of 2 miles from the house and had the support of Payton and Owen who set up a table in the driveway and stocked it with about 25 cups of water. Each loop as I came by they handed me water, coke, GU Chomps, GU gels, and salt pills. They were tremendous aid station volunteers. I was thrilled to not only finish the workout hitting my goals for it but also in how I felt the following day. I couldn't even tell I had done a workout let alone one that lasted nearly 6 hours at a race pace I'd be very happy with on Sept. 28. I did this in the midst of heavy training volume.
This past week my was last week of big training. It actually ended up being my biggest of the year. I biked 300 miles, ran 46, and swam 20,000 yards. I also attended class at Barre563 twice and got all my goals of plyometrics, lunges, jump rope, and core done. I rode 101 miles Saturday morning and added another hour in the evening on the trainer and then woke up Sunday morning and ran 20 miles very comfortably at 6:53/mile pace. Saturday's ride was my 9th ride of 100+ miles over the past 10 weeks and Sunday's run was my 5th run of 20+ miles over the past 7 weeks. The quick ramp up in swimming has me swimming my loop at Lake G faster than I have all year. Despite the cool air temps the lake temp is still awesome in the mid-60's. I am in the middle of a stretch where I will swim 9 of 10 days. As I look back to my best triathlon swims ever they have come after periods where I swim much more frequently than I typically do. Even though I begin my taper this week I will continue to swim often. Starting Thursday I will drop my bike mileage over the final 10 days to 100 miles. I have been averaging 400 miles every 10 days through the last 10 weeks. I learned a lot about how my body responds to tapering last year when I created a spreadsheet of all the races I have tapered for the past 5 years. I tracked what I did each of the final 10 days leading into the race. I totaled my last 10 day volume as well as my last 5 day volume and feel I have a pretty good idea what my body responds well to. I found some good patterns in what lead to races with good swim, bike, and run performances. I have used this data to create my taper for Ironman Chattanooga and it has me feeling very confident. Over the past 10 weeks I was blessed to make it through this build exactly like I hoped. I wanted to alternate big bike weeks with really big bike weeks. I did that to a "T" through the 10 weeks alternating 200-240 mile weeks with 300-340 mile weeks. I got in the long rides and runs I hoped to. I hit my test workout just like I hoped. My swimming is improving like I hoped. The plan has been successful and now I have to do what I've prepared my body to do on race day. One of my goals has been to go under 9 hours in an Ironman distance. Not many from Iowa have ever seen the lower side of 9 hours. I've been close twice at 9:04 and 9:05. Chattanooga will be especially tough because Ironman added 4 miles to the bike course!!!! Yes, that's right...the brand that created this race couldn't figure out a route for 112 miles on the bike so they have announced it will be 116 which will add nearly 11 minutes to my time. That will be tough to find and would likely take a strong river current or an incredible run PR which I think I'm capable of. My goal for the race is to finish in the top 10 and a dream goal would be to finish in the top 6 to earn some money for the iHope Foundaiton and my first professional race prize purse. I was inspired to watch the results of Ironman Wisconsin last weekend. There were some local finishers who completed their first Ironman race, others who raced to new PR's, and 3 Iowans who finished in the top 8 of the professional race including Daniel Bretscher who won the race in a new record time and Adam Bohach who finished 8th. I have gotten to know Daniel over the past few years and he is an incredible ambassador for the sport. He's always been willing to share his knowledge with me and has been a great inspiration to me. Adam is a buddy I had the privilege of training with while he was living and teaching in Clinton, Iowa a few years back. I really miss having him around. He's had a fantastic season this year.
Now onto the best news of the week! I got a call last week from Sara Boyle Keeling. Sara is a local triathlete who works at Quad City Bank and Trust. She told me they took up a collection for the iHope Foundation and presented me with a very generous check. This was so exciting to me because one of my goals this season was to get 15 iHope business sponsors. I had been stuck on 13 until 2 weeks ago when I received a commitment from Smart Toyota general manager Nick Tarpein. Nick said Smart Toyota was going to contribute and incredible $1,500.00 to the foundation. They became the 14th business sponsor. Thanks to Sara and the generosity of Quad City Bank and Trust I can now check off my most important goal of the season as they became the 15th business to support the iHope Foundation. It gets even better...today I went to Smart Toyota to pick up the contribution and I was completely surprised when I walked into Nick's office and he informed me that they were going to increase the commitment to $2,500.00 and they also secured a matching contribution from the Toyota corporate office!!! This means $5,000.00 to the foundation which will provide 10 low-income students in our community who display outstanding character and work traits with iPads!!! I feel so blessed. Never in my wildest dreams did I think the iHope Foundation would impact the number of students is has and will for many years. Each student that receives and iPad in junior high will also be awarded a $1,000.00 iHope scholarship upon graduation from high school. If you would like to help contribute to the foundation you can click on the donation links at the top of my page to give to either the scholarship portion or the iPad portion of the foundation. All contributions are tax deductible. The support this foundation has received continues to inspire me daily to DREAM BIG and believe that nothing is impossible!