151 days: Race test redemption

I have a plan to raise $10,000 for some awesome organizations by Sept. 22, 2013 – the day I run in Ironman Lake Tahoe. Just shy of 5 months away! Raised so far: $4,622! Want to increase this total? Chip in a few bucks to one of our causes here, or find out how you can get involved by pinging me on Facebook or by dropping me a note.

Reminder: There are now just 11 days remaining to double your donation to a couple of great causes. Until May 4 I’ve pledged up to $500 to match donations through our cause made to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Western Washington & Alaska and to the American Heart Association. Follow the link, donate, I’ll match it. This is particularly important right now as little Kyle continues his heroic fight.

Race Test Redemption

A couple of days ago I highlighted my test weekend – I had a tough half Ironman two weeks away, with little triathlon-specific training under my belt, and needed a way to realistically measure if I was capable of safely competing. Medium-length story short: I did OK. Not great, but I finished a difficult weekend with a hilly 56-mile bike ride, a 1.2 mile swim, and challenging half marathon run.

It was good enough for me to commit to traveling to St George, Utah, and do the race for which I had registered (Ironman series races are not cheap! And no refunds!)

But… there was a lingering dissatisfaction. The ride on Saturday was a beast, yet it felt good. The swim on Sunday morning was fantastic. But the run… oh, the run. I bonked twice and was well off what should have been an achievable target pace.

The culprit: I am horrible at fueling. I sometimes forget to eat breakfast and lunch. And I am particularly terrible at remembering to eat & drink on the bike and run. On this weekend, it caught up to me. Big time.

So, in response I do what any reasonable triathlete does. I linger. I stew. I go forward with the plans for the race, but dwell incessantly on how to overcome this known obstacle.

Monday: rest day. The weekend was exhausting and wiped me out.

Tuesday: one more rest day. Less wiped out, but not yet recharged.

Wednesday: 100% recharged. Let’s do another test. Instead of spreading this test out over a weekend, though, it would be done in one day. Well, not just one day, but back-to-back-to-back. A simulated race. A half-race.

Yep. I decided to simulate half of a half Ironman… on a Wednesday afternoon. I call it my little 35.15 triathlon. The main goal: work on fueling.

It started with a swim at the pool: 0.6 miles. I had to wait a few minutes to get a lane, argue with a guy who tried to steal my lane by cutting in line, and then knocked it out. Nothing fancy, nothing flashy, nothing fabulous. It always takes me a good 1/4 mile to find my groove. Another 1/4 mile to settle in. And by then, I was done.

I raced home, threw on my cycling kit (I chose my Fabian Cancellara kit with the Swiss national champion colors – cycling fans know he is a beast on the time trial bike), slathered on some sunscreen, and hit the road. The goal was to bike 28 miles. I got in 28.1. At the 45 minute mark I forced down a Honey Stinger Waffle. As I was finishing the ride a GU Jet Blackberry gel. I took down 20 ounces of Skratch Labs raspberry hydration. On the flats that weren’t interrupted by lights or stop signs I was able to hold a steady 25 to 28 mph without gutting myself – right where I need to be come race day. Mission accomplished.

After pulling into the driveway I jumped off the bike, headed up the stairs, swapped my cycling clothes for some running gear, and hit the pavement. The goal was to run 6.5 miles. I knocked out 6.8. I carried another bottle of Skratch Labs raspberry with me, and almost finished it off. The run felt strong. No lapses, solid pace, no bonks. Even with a few hills I was able to keep the pace well under the 7:00/mile mark (clocked an average of 6:44/mile, and felt like I could have held that pace just fine for the full 13.1). I didn’t bonk. Instead, I finished this run with a lot left in the tank. Mission accomplished.

So I celebrated with a giant bottle of chocolate milk. The post-training refueling drink of champions.

Test weekend was difficult, but left me knowing I could finish the race.

Test day was also quite difficult, but left me knowing that I could actually RACE in the race.

And on race day, it will all come down to fueling. Or, as the Italians would say: mangia, mangia, mangia!

Extra special shout out to Papa Jeff & Suzanne! You know why. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

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