9 weeks out 'til Kona - "all-in!"

This past weekend included a lot of training, which followed 5 previous days of training (with Monday/Friday being recovery days). With 9 weeks left until the 2015 IM World Championship, I finally experienced my first week of Ironman training and included a lot of swimming, biking and running!

If I were to reflect back on the past 10 months of training, when I started an 8-week plan to build my foundation back in November, a part of me was not fully committed to my training. I was still following my training and I was not slacking on strength training or key workouts but I never found myself "all-in" at any point in my training over the past 10 months. 

This was quite evident as I was gearing up for my first half IM of the season, at Challenge Knoxville. I felt strong and healthy but I questioned my why as to why I was racing. I love competition and I love training but some part of me wasn't "all-in". Four weeks later, at Challenge Williamsburg half IM, I started to feel a bit more "in" as I felt healthy and strong but oddly, I still felt neutral about my passion for training and racing. 

As I stuck to my training plan and continued to trust the process of my season development throughout the spring and summer, I continued to excel in my races with a fantastic season to give me confidence going into my 10th Ironman and 4th IM World Championship. 

With so much to balance in my very busy life, a big part of me intentionally did not want to fully commit to training. Deep inside, I felt like I could be faster and I knew that if I devoted a bit more time and energy to training, I would be able to take my fitness to another level. I would often think, "if only I could shut off my life/mind when I was training, I could really devote myself to what I feel it would take to get to that next level."

 In no way do I feel I got lucky or slacked my way through two great performances at Knoxville and Williamsburg half IMs with 2nd place overall amateur female and overall amateur female winner, respectively but I knew I had more in me and for some reason I wasn't allowing myself to be "all-in."

Last Monday, Karel told me that our Kona training was about to get real...really hard. Karel is coached by Matt Dixon with Purple Patch Fitness and I piggyback off some of his workouts. We love Matt's coaching philosophy and he has a lot of experience and knowledge to pass along to us as athletes and coaches. 
So when Karel told me about our Kona build, I knew that it was time to make the decision to either continue to get-by or to be all-in.

I choose all-in. 

So what's changed in the past week versus the last 10 months? 

First off, I have been 100% committed to building a strong foundation so that I can properly absorb my Ironman training load. In other words, the training over the past 10 months was not specific to helping me prepare for Kona but instead, to help me prepare for the training that was preparing me for Kona.
Hope that makes sense. 

Up until last week, I never fully allowed myself to be "all-in" because there is only so much mentally I can handle when it comes to dedicating myself to training. As for the physical part of training, I love to workout so it's never a mountain to climb to get me out the door to train (ok - that was a bad analogy as I do love my mountains!)

This restraint that I put on myself to not be "all-in" until I reach 8-10 weeks out from my upcoming Ironman is something that I knew I needed to have going into IM #10 and at this point in my athletic career.
Although I have remained injury free for well over 2 years and never battle with sickness or burnout, it's always a thin edge that I feel I am balancing on when it comes to being a competitive age-group endurance triathlete who also has a business, a marriage, a furry family and a life to balance. 

In no ways has my life, commitment to my business and helping my coaching and nutrition athletes, diet, sleep regime or love for life changed for the worst in the past week but I have chosen to allow myself to check out of life and be "on" only when I train.

Amazingly last week, I instantly felt a difference in my training.
When I use to train, I was always thinking about everything I had to do. My mind was elsewhere and I would be satisfied with "enough." My work load has not lightened and my to-do list is still long (often, longer than ever before) but I have given myself permission to be "all-in" when I train as I work hard for a great performance in Kona, Hawaii on October 10th, 2015. 

Many times, I see athletes who are "all-in" all season long. Starting from very early season, they either train too much or race too much. I feel a lot of the problem is lack of patience and/or trust in the development of building a great performance.

With so much hard work going into developing the strength, skills and resilience that I felt I needed before my Kona build, I find myself in a great place now, physically and mentally. The training load changed but it was designed to change because I was mentally and physically ready to handle the increased load without setbacks. 

Because consistency brings great performances, I am incredibly happy that I resisted the urge to be "all-in" earlier this season nd stuck to my game-plan of getting stronger before going longer. Getting faster has not been a direct priority of mine with my training this year so speed work has not been part of my training vocabulary. I knew that if I could follow my training plan to build a strong foundation, then I would be able to confidently use the 9 weeks leading up to the IM World Championship to get myself in the best shape possible to race a strong and "fast" race for 140.6 miles. 

There's no way that I can predict the future but I can confidently say that I feel like I am in the best shape ever and I still have 7 more weeks of training before taper to be "all-in" and see what I can do on race day. 

As for my first big weekend of training (which followed 3 days of two a day workouts on Tues, Wed and Thurs):

100 mile ride (120 miles for Karel) followed by a 5.5 mile run

Karel took me on a route that he has done 5 times. I accepted the cycling challenge and joined him for the first time. We did over 11,000 feet of climbing and explored Table Rock, Rocky Bottom, North Carolina, Ceaser's Head and so much more. It was a nature-filled, absolutely beautiful 6 hours of riding.

I was able to ride "with" Karel for some parts of the ride but when we would climb up a mountain pass, he would often regroup with me after he got to the top (or bottom). After we descended down Ceaser's Head, we parted ways and Karel extended his ride for 120 miles and I finished with 100 miles. This was only my 2nd 100 mile ride since moving from FL and Karel and I both felt really strong.

After the ride, I put on my Nathan fuel belt and got myself together for my run.
1 mile easy
2 miles IM strong
The rest of the run easy

Somehow, with a good state of mind (and good fueling/hydrating on the bike), I managed to run 7:45 min/mile average for the strong, which was a bit challenging considering it was past 2pm and it was well over 90-degrees.

As for the rest of the day, I got to work with a few emails to athletes and ate and ate and ate to try to do my best to refuel and rehydrate. 


Thankfully, "only" a 90 minute run on my schedule and all low-stress. Although I only run on hilly terrain (my hips don't do so well on flat roads), it was an enjoyable 10.3 mile run which included a little over 1300 feet of elevation gain.

Karel had a RETUL fit later that morning so after his run/walk (he is slowly returning to running after his foot injury 9 weeks ago) he got to work and then we had some Jacksonville friends coming through town who raced Lake Logan.
After everyone left, Karel and I had some work to do for 2 hours and then we headed to the Furman pool for a swim:
500 warm-up
1500 (buoy/paddles/ankle strap)
3 x 500's descend 1-3 from 75-85% w/ 45 sec rest
Total: 3500 yards

Thank goodness for a rest day today. Aside from walking Campy, there will be no cardio (or strength training) performed by our bodies. 
Can't wait for what's in store for another week of "all-in" training.