Friday, June 12, 2015

The Road's Not Always Flat

For the past 2 years I have trained specifically for an Ironman distance race.  2 years ago it was Beach 2 Battleship in North Carolina which I ended up winning.  Last year it was Ironman Chattanooga.  I also raced Challenge Atlantic City a year ago but I did not focus training around that race and completed it without doing the training I typically do for a big Ironman race I'm trying to peak for.  This year was supposed to be different.  I wanted to put in my typical 6 week block of HUGE Ironman training so I could be as ready as possible.  My lead in for Beach 2 Battleship went flawlessly.  I hit every 100+ mile ride and every 20+ mile run feeling stronger each week.  The same was true leading into Ironman Chattanooga last year.  I believe from the training and workouts I was completing I was more fit for that race than I've ever been entering a race.  Then out of the blue I was hit with sickness just hours before the race and found out I raced with pneumonia after coughing up blood and going in for tests 2 days after the race. 

This year through 14 weeks everything was lining up perfectly once again.  I was feeling stronger every week, hitting all of my interval workouts, long rides, and long runs.  I was feeling so well that I raced Challenge Knoxville, a 1/2 Ironman distance event, and I raced very well.  I was ready to get back to my biggest volume of training in prep for Challenge AC on June 28th and that is just when the road quit being so flat.  I've experienced a lot of setbacks since the middle of May when I raced. 

Immediately following the race I felt my recovery was going better than it ever had following a 1/2 Ironman.  I was able to run pain free the day following and had no sign of any soreness just 2 days after the race.  On the Thursday following the race I woke up not feeling very well.  My stomach hurt, I was freezing cold all day at school, and I went home following my last class and slept for 3 hours.  I awoke with a high fever and the next 4 days I dealt with a terrible stomach bug.  On that Sunday (1 week following the race) I went in for tests and found out I had food poisoning.  It interrupted training for about 5 days and when I returned I tried to pick up right where I left off.  I had an incredibly good run workout on Thursday, May 28th but I think it left me SUPER dehydrated.  I had lost a ton of fluids with the food poisoning and I didn't put them back in like I wish I had.  On Saturday, the 29th I rode 115 miles in very humid conditions and lost more fluid.  The next day I went out for my 20 mile long run and my quads were taking an intense beating from the early miles.  I could also feel pain in my middle lower back which frankly scared me because I've had back injuries in the past keep me from training for LONG periods of time.  I stopped my run after just 10 miles.  Last week I was hoping to get back to normal but the deep quad soreness hung around.  I backed off the volume and was completely out of the prep training I like to have before an Ironman.  I rode 90 miles and ran only 9.5 for my long run due to the quad soreness still screaming at me.  I finished with week with good overall bike volume with 325 miles riding but only ran 33 miles.  I increased my swim yardage as I often try to do before big races.  I swam 5 days for 16,200 yards. 

This week I decided to scrap my typical Ironman block to make sure I get to the start line healthy.  Last year I ran my Ironman best run split of 3 hrs. 8 minutes with even less run training than I have done this year.  I got a very intense massage on Monday and things have begun to look brighter.  I raced a 12.9 mile Time Trial for the sake of getting a hard bike workout in on Tuesday and I averaged 26.1 mph.  I got good info from my power numbers as I learned I cannot and should not go out in a sprint race at 300+ watts.  I was averaging 310 at 6 miles in and the last 6.9 I only averaged 271.  I would not have run well if I had to so it's good to know I need to target 280 for the start of a sprint distance race.  With the high heat this week I was trying my best to keep fluids in but I sweat so heavily I could not keep up.  I started an interval workout yesterday on the trainer and did not have the power I should have so I scrapped that and just rode easy.  In years past this turn in the road leading to an Ironman would have left me doubting.  That is not the case any more.  I know my body and I know that I often teeter on the brink of over training.  With some rest in the days leading up to the race my body will bounce back stronger.  I'm confident of that.  I realize the road won't always be flat and I probably lucked out in preparation for my last 2 Ironman peak races.  I've swam a LOT this week and feel that also has probably fatigued me a bit more than I was used to.  I've taken it pretty easy the last 2 days and expect to have a good long ride tomorrow which will once again confirm to me that rest is the key factor to success when the body is tired.  I'm looking forward to racing my hometown sprint distance event next weekend which will be a few days into my taper for Challenge AC.  Then the following weekend I'll give it my best shot once again to break 9 hours...something I've been working for many times but have yet to achieve.  When I do achieve it all those setbacks and bumps in the road will be well worth it.  The greatest successes in life come from overcoming the greatest challenges and this sub-9 challenge has proven very difficult for me.  Thanks for reading!  DREAM BIG!!

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