Sat morning I woke up very nervous for the 2.5 mile ocean swim. That's a lot of swimming in the ocean. Not sure what's worse to think about, 2.5 miles of swimming or an hour+ of continuous swimming.
It was hard for me to eat a whole lot at 5:30am so I added a Wasa cracker w/ PB to my normal pre-bike breakfast of oatmeal, raisins, honey and banana slices.
My friend Laura came over to my place and we loaded up our bikes in her car. I had to work out my training plans well before Sat so I could do my swim+long bike and make it home sometime before dark. We made our drive to Jacksonville beach, got our caps and chips and waited for the buses.
At 7:30am we got bused 2.5 miles down the road on a school bus. Fun times with 100 nearly naked athletes in a school bus. This reminded me of high school swim meets, except we wore warm parkas to our swim meets. It sure took a while to drive 2.5 miles but finally we arrived to our starting point.
A little after 8am it was time to line up on the beach. We had a running start into the ocean. It was pretty rough with all the people starting at once. I got hit a lot and when we made the left turn around the buoy, it was time to start a long swim.
I stayed with a group of around 3 people. I think they were guys. We passed a lot of people as we swam parallel to the shore and even with the whole ocean to ourselves, we kept hitting each other. There was 1 buoy on the whole course and I never even saw it. There were lots of lifeguards in the ocean so I knew we were in good hands but having only one buoy for 2.5 miles was a bit scary. Needless to say, we got off course and who knows how much extra we all swam.
I resisted looking at my watch for the first 30 minutes so when I looked, it read 44 minutes. My googles were getting tight on my eyes but other than that, I was feeling good. It was a bit wavy out there and with only my two-piece speedo swim suit, I was tossed a few times in the waves. I was determined to not slow down so I just kept spotting, trying to see that last turn buoy to the finish. I could see the buoy for a few strokes and then it would disappear. The waves made it hard to spot but in the distance, I could see the pier which meant I was getting close. Although I was swimming with a few fast swimmers, I noticed that the buoys were to my left and the swimmers were heading to the right. I decided to stay on track, the best I could, and veered to the left to get to the last 2 buoys. Once the buoys were clear in site, I nearly sprinted to swim through them and then made a left hand turn to have the waves push me to the shore. I ran out of the water and with another girl right behind me, we sprinted to the finish line on the sand. I saw the clock and couldn't believe that I swam 1:08.03 in a 2.5 mile ocean swim.
During the swim I thought about my other two experiences with ocean swims.
IMFL 2006: 2.4 mile swim 1:07 - felt like a washing machine with all those people. 2 loops, wetsuit, freezing cold.
Kona 2007: 2.4 mile swim 1:06 - clear water, beautiful sights but had no opportunity to slow down. Loved my speed suit.
I guess I Pr'd since I have never swam a 2.5 mile ocean swim before but to boost my ego a bit, I am feeling really confident about the 2.4 mile swim at IMKY, especially since we enter the water one by one.
After my swim I couldn't wait to get some water and to rinse off my face. Laura did great for her first 2.5 mile swim and swam 1:18. We got changed so that we could get on our bikes before it got too late. We didn't stay for awards but after checking the results today, I wish I would have caused I won my age group :) Not sure what I won (perhaps a garmin for the ocean so I can stay on course!!! J/K) but the Race Director will drop off the surprise at the Trek store so Karel can get it for me.
It ended up taking a bit of time to get the bike stuff together and for me to load myself up for a long day of riding so it was around 10:15 when we got started. I had planned on riding 112 but after a slow start of all the people in Jacksonville beach, it took a while for Laura and I to pick up the speed. Although Jax beach is a huge attraction for volleyball players, surfers and beach lovers, it is also a mecca for triathletes, runners and cyclists. I tried to stay positive about the ride but after realizing that it was close to 11am when the roads started to clear, I began to get a bit stressed. This was going to be a looonggg day and I wasn't mentally prepared.
I told Laura that I didn't think I could do ponte vedra blvd 4 times (out and back twice) as we had planned and Laura was totally cool with it. I felt bad bailing on her but she said she would do her own thing. I was ready to get away from all the people and get into my zone..or at least attempt to do so.
I had to ride back to Laura's car to get my radio and 2 frozen water bottles (which were nearly defrosted when I got them) and by 11am I was ready to get this thing started.
Luckily, Laura was heading back to my place to pick up Campy and I could not have been more grateful that she was helping me out in a HUGE way by taking campy to her house. She has a dog that has a face just like Campy's and because they are BFF's, I knew he would enjoy a day in a house, with a big backyard and plenty of places to pee and run (Campy's favorite things). Because Karel was racing in Clermont, I could not imagine leaving Campy alone all day long.
So about this long ride...
My head hurt at the beginning of the ride. It was getting close to lunchtime and I was getting hungry. I really wanted to stick to my nutrition plan so I tried to stay up with my fluids and calories. I don't need a lot of calories per hour but because it was hot, I was most concerned with staying hydrated. Also on my hourly intake was 1 Hammer endurance amino to keep me focused. Unfortunately, my head just wasn't in the game. I tried not to think about my school but I did. I missed Campy. I wanted to eat lunch. I wanted a nap. I wanted to get cool. I decided to head away from home (since I was only 24 miles from home) and headed south on AIA to St. Augustine.
Shawn had me do 2 x 90 minute intervals. 1st one at 90% power of IM pace and then 2nd one at 100% IM power. Since neither interval was fast or hard i just stayed focused on not going too hard or too fast. I felt good in my legs for both intervals and I ended up riding 30 miles rather than 90 minutes. I tried to break down my ride into a 25 mile warm-up, 2 x 30 mile intervals and 5 miles in between. At my water break I looked at my watch and realized that it would be after 4pm if I rode 112 miles. Plus, what would I have to look forward to next weekend if I rode 112 miles...and then rode another 112 miles 4 weeks later. So, I was content with 5 1/2 hours which would get me home at 4pm. Geez....4pm are you kidding me!!!
The first part of the ride was great. I was hungry but had no cramps, no fatigue and no bonking. Because I was out of fluids I stopped at the Gate station and I surprised myself and got a Gatorade. Believe it or not, this was my first Gatorade on the bike since Kona in 2007. Yes, 2 years Gatorade-free on the bike. I have had it during a few running races but the taste of Gatorade on the bike was well, sooo refreshing. However, it didn't seem to do the job like my Heed. I kept wanting to drink it and drink it to quench my thirst. I also got a power bar (smoothie kind) and it was ok. It did help my stomach. I am waiting for my big order from Hammer so I have been without my essentials for my long rides. However, I usually do Hammer Heed + 1 scoop Chris Lieto base performance aminos and a hammer gel (vanilla is my fav)each hour. As I mentioned before, I have trained my body to not need a lot of calories so I try to keep it simple. I only eat bars in 3rds every hour after 2 1/2 - 3 hours so my tummy welcomed a bit of the power bar when I stopped. However, I missed the Hammer bar :(
As I got into the last round of 30 miles my stomach really started to tighten up. It was hurting really bad. Ange told me about her stomach distress in IM Lake Placid and I wasn't sure exactly what it could be since she has a great nutrition plan. Well, it has to be hunger because my stomach was so empty it was tight. I had to sit up a lot because it just hurt to be aero. On a good note, my legs still felt great and I was still able to keep going. I didn't let this get me down or stressed (even though it was around 2pm) because at IMKY I will be fully loaded with fuel before the race, tapered and I will have a catered buffet all along the race course.
The last 30 miles were also tough because there was wind. I rode in Nocatee with developing roads so it is a quite area to do loops. On a 8 mile loop, I ended up doing 3 loops and by 3pm I was ready to head home. Finally.
I debated about going the quite way home with no stoplights, with headwind or take another road with a bit more traffic and a bike lane, where there was tailwind. Tailwind won.
At the stoplights I just looked at the cars thinking what they were thinking. Of course I was wondering if the people in cars were enjoying the AC, a lunch and perhaps a yummy afternoon snack. I'm sure they were relaxed. Here I am, Hot, sunburned (even with sunscreen), hungry and getting close to bonking because the thought of my gatorade and power bar nearly disgusts me.
Looking back and writing this, I laugh because it was a long day and this is all part of IM training. Overcoming obstacles, getting through workouts, finding what works and doesn't work and doing a bit of complaining/self-talk because after 100 miles.....you have permission to say anything to yourself just make it all worth it. I recommend not complaining to others, however. Just warn your loved ones that you are glycogen depleted and to give you a few moments to cool off. Luckily, I was alone in my place and a cold shower was calling my name.
I ended up with 100.4 miles and 5 hours and 26 minutes. My wattage was in the right zone and my speed averaged 18.4 (with warm-up and warm-down). All alone, just me and my bike.
It was tough getting in ample calories from 5pm until bedtime (10pm) but I did my best.
I wasn't able to eat right after the ride (even though it was 4:30 once I put on my Recovergear.com ice shorts, which I highly recommend! http://www.recovergear.com/Products/tabid/383/Default.aspx) so I started with my usual post-workout drink of milk and whey protein. I wasn't in the mood for a smoothie so I poured a tall glass of milk and added in my Strawberry Body Fortress Whey protein (from Wal-mart).
Karel came home just after I prepared my drink so after he got cleaned up from his race, we headed over to Laura's to pick up Campy from his play time. I just love going to Laura's because I never know what she has cooking in her kitchen. Laura is a dietitian and a great cook and lucky us, she made banana bread! My stomach was still acting a bit weird and everything seemed un-appetizing but after a few glasses of water, I was ready to eat.
I started off with my normal post-training, long ride meal (however, I usually eat it around 11am, not 5:30pm) of 2 pieces whole wheat bread w/ 3 egg whites, 1 whole egg and skim milk. I LOVE french toast. I always scramble up the leftover egg mixture and I put raisins in the bread after dipping them in the eggs. With that I had blueberries, peach slices and banana slices on the bread (w/ cinnamon and honey) and topped that all with yogurt. Karel made pizza so I also had 1 small piece of pizza w/ mushrooms and green peppers on the side of my french toast. Around 7:30 I was ready for my Edy's mint chocolate chip slow churned ice cream w/ more fruit and cereal on top. I wasn't super hungry so I served this in a coffee cup rather than a bowl. I started with fruit, then ice cream, fruit, then a little ice cream, then cereal.
I was drinking lots of water and my head was still killing me. It was hurting me since the beginning of the ride and I knew the Heat played a huge factor in my head pain.
I knew I needed a bit more food in me so I wasn't too bonked for my run on Sun. so I finished off the night around 9pm with cottage cheese, small piece of dark chocolate (chopped) and yep, more fruit.
I knew it wasn't a lot but it probably sounds like a lot writing it down. However, I'm sure you know how it is in the heat. Food is just not your friend, especially if you have to get it all in within x-number of hours.
Sun was great. I woke up with no interest in eating after all those training fuels on Sat on the bike but I was able to get in a Wasa cracker w/ PB and a few banana slices. I know my body pretty well and depending on what I eat before a workout (or the days before) I know exactly what zone I need to train in so that I don't bonk. It is all about aerobic and anaerobic training in order to metabolize the right fuels, fats or carbs, respectively.
I wore my new Pink fuel belt that Karel got me and filled my flasks with my Heed + amino mixture.
The run started off great and I couldn't believe how good my legs felt. Yes-I was tired but I was able to run without pain!! This was a great thing and I still worry every time I run that I will re-injure myself or that I will have no control over my leg getting weak when I run. But, I've been a good athlete, doing all my exercises and icing every few hours during the day and on sun I felt strong.
My plan was 14 miles and to do my front leg lifts (stretches for my glute, hams and hips) for 10-15 seconds every 2 miles. The plan worked perfectly! I found a 1 mile circle to repeat 3 times since it had a few ups and downs (Florida rollers, not GA or KY rollers) which my legs really enjoyed. I do much better on rolling hills rather than flat surfaces.
I re-filled my bottles at a water fountain at mile 9 and by mile 11 I needed to stretch every mile. Still for 15 sec but with such a consistent run I was freaking out that I would not be able to keep this great pace up. Even though I started my run at 7:15 I was SO hot. I was jumping in yards, running through sprinklers and trying to cool off wherever I could. My stomach felt great and with no cramps I felt like I was in control of my body. My body did not control my mind!
Here's the splits for the run...
8:29 (water break)
+ .86 w/ Campy = 15 miles (NO PAIN or WEAKNESS!!)
What a great weekend of training. It was 100% exhausting and I tried to be as detailed as possible to show that this IM training is hard stuff. Add studying all afternoon on Sunday and my weekend was 200% exhausting. My brain hurts, I can't keep my eyes open and with an exam this morning (which I did great on, to my surprise, yet I almost fell asleep by the last question), a final on Wed and a final on Fri, I could not be more excited for taper and no more school come Mon. Thanks fellow bloggers for reading my blog and for keeping me motivated!
Campy started my taper for me...