The 20-hour training week—last build before Ironman St. George

I’ve completely diluted the word “epic” this week. It’s not to say that my training this week hasn’t been epic, it’s just you can only say it so many times before it loses all its meaning. I mean Ironman training by definition is almost required to be epic. So I’ll just say that this has been a busy week. I have never trained this much before, and I’m finally feeling confident about the race.

After Saturday’s epic long ride and Sunday’s three-hour walk, I was due for an hour-long recovery spin on the bike. I took the long way to the pool, and kept my heart rate really low. It was hard to get passed by cyclists, but I let them go.

On Sunday I had made some minor adjustments to my shoe inserts, so I wanted to have one quick hill climb to see if there was any lingering knee pain. It felt pretty good, and I made it to the pool with time to spare. It was hard to get myself warmed up, since I had missed a session last week, but once I did, it felt pretty good.

Bike: 1:16 – 24.2 km
Swim: :45 – 2600 m

Recovery “run” and tempo spin day. The run walk was pretty simple to get done at lunch. I mapped out a 5 km route that went by another bike shop. I came home with a couple chain pins and a 4 nm torque key. Super important stuff. One of the things I never realized about running was that you can actually see everything you’re walking by. I found a decent roti shop and had a kickass lunch! Sorry, no pics. I ate it too fast.

Tempo spin wasn’t exactly completely at tempo. I should have just done this on the trainer, since it would have been much easier to keep up a consistent heart rate. Instead I took my regular loop up the Humber River. I finished it in less than an hour (which was unexpected), so I took a couple laps around the block to finish it up. Not bad!

Walk: :55 – 5.7 km
Bike: 1:00 – 27.1 km

On Wednesdays I have my actual run scheduled. Only 20 minutes, but straight running. I try to run at a pretty decent pace too. I usually do about 3.5 km. Our group had beers scheduled for after swim, so I used that as an opportunity to run to the pool. This worked out perfectly—it’s all downhill.

This swim session I was able to cover more distance than usual for a Wednesday. To prep for St. George, coach Ayesha let me continue a 1-250 hard 1-50 tempo repeat set while the rest of the group worked on other things. The drinks were well deserved.

Run: :18 – 3.5 km
Swim: :57 –  3000 m

I had scheduled only an hourlong hill ride, but I had to play with the scheduling a bit because of the long weekend with Friday off. Instead I cancelled the ride, and since I was going to be missing my long endurance swim on Friday morning, I came in with Ayesha’s other group that night.

The workout was similar to the one from the night before, but I was in pretty rough shape after Wednesday night’s beer, as well as the office’s Friday-rescheduled-to-Thursday-instead beer. I didn’t realize that I could have continued for another hour (or that I could have done water running), so I didn’t get too much done. Still, it was enough for the second night in a row.

Swim: :45 – 2750 m

Here’s a good case for using the word epic. Two laps of the Muskoka 70.3 bike course for 188 km total. It was a pretty brutal course the first time around. I felt crazy for going out for the second lap.

The day started off with an awesome bagel, with lox, light cream cheese, capers, lettuce and tomato. I also ate a plain bagel, and on the drive up sipped three scoops of Sustained Energy.

I took the advice of @stevefleck and actually drove close to the speed limit. I’ve never done this before. Like my recovery ride on Monday, it was hard to let people pass me. Once I got over it, it wasn’t actually all that bad. I avoided getting nabbed by four speed traps, I saved gas (all weekend I only used one tank for over 600 km), and I still got up there early enough to get a car wash.

Got the bike set up, and headed off for my first 94 km lap.

I’m trying out a sightly different nutrition strategy from last week here, since I had to pee way too often. At least in these conditions, one bottle of liquid per hour is probably twice as much as I need.

Instead of:

0:00 – 1:00 – drink one bottle of Perform
1:00  eat a Gu gel
1:20 – 2:20 – drink one bottle of Perform
2:20 – eat a Gu gel

I changed this to:

1:00 eat a Gu (wash down with water)
2:00 eat a Gu (wash down with water)
3:00 eat a Gu (wash down with water)
…and drink as much Perform as you need to quench your thirst.

I still ended up drinking close to the same amount as I did last week for the first lap, so I still had to break a lot. It was much easier to remember to take a gel every hour on the hour though. This is what I will roll with for the race. I’ll probably be drinking more because of the heat, so there’s not much that will need to be adjusted.

After the first lap, I restocked with three new bottles and went right back out. The second lap was a bit slower than the first one (3:41 to 3:58—and yes, I realize that is very slow for a 70.3), but the real problem was boredom. It was still just as gorgeous as it was the first time around, but knowing how much further I still had to go made it pretty rough.

Still, I earned my recovery meal. Since I was a kid, I’ve always gone to the McD’s in Huntsville when I’m driving through. This time I ate the worst possible burger I could find. The third-pound angus burger with cheese and bacon, with fries and a real Sprite. No diet (although no caffeine either—the Gu’s were enough). No guilt.

To top the day off, once I got to my sister’s place, my nephew asked me if we could go for a bike ride. By this point, when we raced I was almost unable to keep up!

Bike: 8:02 – 192 km

A well-deserved day off. No active recovery, no nothing. Just eating and driving.

This was my long “run” day. On Thursday at the pool, coach Kelvin asked if I’d like to join my sometimes-lanemate Donna for a little boot camp session on Sunday morning. Of course I couldn’t say no. I’ve never done a boot camp (other than when I was a kid in army cadets), but I figured it would be a blast. It was.

It took a little longer for me to get ready than I expected. While walking to our meetup point, I crunched numbers and realized that I wouldn’t be there in time. I figured I could shortcut by hopping on a subway, and everything would work out perfectly. What I didn’t realize was that subways don’t start running until late on Sundays. I looked around for a cab, then crunched a bit more. If I could maintain a 5:15 pace for the last 3 km, I would get there right on time.

I barely made it. It was a pretty decent warmup to say the least. Donna had brought all kinds of workout toys, and keeping with the Easter Sunday theme, she filled a bunch of plastic eggs with different workouts for us to choose from. They were all freaking hard. Squats, rows, skips, crunches. We got beat up. At first it felt like a a bit of a joke to be working ourselves so hard in a kid’s playground at first, but once we started sweating all that disappeared.

After the workout we recovered with coffees, smoothies, and I had a huge freaking date square. It’s healthy, it’s got granola on it, right?

This is when the real workout started. I had no set destination, I just went where I wanted to go. I walked by another bike shop (closed), down by the beach, then to the RC Harris filtration plant. When I got to the end I saw a hole in a fence, so I went through it. On the other side was secluded beach after secluded beach after secluded beach. I don’t even want to talk about it in case people read this and ruin it. You can still tell people go there from the footprints, but I didn’t see many people at all.

From here I just started running. It felt like while the rocks on the beach were slowing me down, it also made the landing much smoother. I could have run all day like that. For the next four kilometres I just kept running. There were sections where the beach would end, where long arms of huge rocks would go out into the lake to try to contain the erosion. You would either have to run over or around them. There were sections that had trails marked through muddy vegetation. There were sections with sand. It was really varied terrain.

It’s probably one of the quietest places I’ve been to in the city. I only saw four other people, with evidence of one more. There were two tents, one of which had someone camping (I think the other may have been a homeless person), two women walking their dogs, and one man who was running in the opposite direction of me along the rocks. There was almost no access to any of this area. You would have to descend some pretty big bluffs to get down there, unless you came in from either side.

On the section where I saw the older man running the opposite way, it was all huge rocks. There was a wall of them running down most of the distance. The top of them was almost completely flat, but there were some big gaps in between many of them. They were stable, but you had to be very quick on your feet to be able to navigate them properly. One misstep and your foot could slip between them, and you could seriously hurt yourself.

This is where I got a taste of my best runner’s high yet. Because of the varying sizes of the rocks, I wasn’t able to have a very consistent cadence. I couldn’t go completely straight either. Every step had to be calculated on the fly. My brain was flowing perfectly and anticipating every landing. It felt less like running and more like dancing. It was like my body was controlling the ground’s movements, as my partner. I was disappointed to make it to the end at the bluff.

It’s easy to forget about Scarborough Bluffs (since it’s in Scarborough and all). It’s also easy to allow your runner’s high to make you myopic enough to miss the fact that there is no path ahead of you, and go ahead anyway. Most of that may look hard enough to walk on, but it’s not quite so easy when the clay gets wet and you end up sliding down into the lake.

For the record, the lake feels like it might almost be ready to swim in.

I took a little Gu break, then waded a bit more in the water to get back to shore. Then I just kept running. I posted a couple excited tweets about the fact that I hit 21k already, then turned around for the rest of the long walk home.

There wasn’t a whole lot to report on for the rest of the walk. I found a couple cute neighbourhoods I didn’t know about. I nearly got hit by a golf ball. Then I finally made it to my final destination for a proper Greek-style gyro. My luck did run out by this place being too busy. I wasn’t about to wait in line smelling like five hours of sweat and lake water, so I went to the second-rate gyro shop across the street. It was only slightly disappointing.

After 37 km I figured I deserved to take the subway home for the last 5k. I was in no shape to start walking again.

Run/walk: 5:07 – 37 km

Totals for the week:
Swim: 2:28 – 8350 m
Bike: 10:18 – 243 km
Run: 6:35 – 48 km
Other: 0:39

Combined: 20 hours, zero minutes.

I went over with what I had planned, but I needed that. I feel like I’m actually ready for this race. Next week is recovery, which I will be taking full advantage of. Then there are only two weeks of tapering! Three weeks to St. George!

I’m pretty stoked.