I was expecting a pretty good ride based on a lower intensity week. Taking the day off last Sunday was a good call- let me get a bit rested. Long run was only 12ish miles, so that was a decent cut back from >16. At the beginning of the week I was definitely catching up on a lot of sleep, but towards the end of the week I had some more 6-6.5 hr nights. MUST FIX THIS NOW! Eating has also been up and down, with some big bad habits the past few days. ALSO MUST FIX THIS NOW. So moral of the story, sleep lots and eat good quality stuff the next two weeks.
I ended up taking Friday off workouts due to work and wanting to get out of town. I didn’t do anything special in terms of carbo loading, though I’ve had enough carbs due to the excess crap I’ve been eating.
On the way out to Madison I was stopping by Get a Grip Cycles to get my 11-28 cassette installed. I had meant to do this a few weeks ago, but I’m a procrastinator, and really, who needs more gears when riding in Chicago. I had called them and they had ordered it for me. The problem was that they had asked me how many speeds my bike was, and I had said 10. Huh, turns out Baby Beluga is a 9-speeder. Who knew… Well, the cassette wasn’t the right one obviously and they didn’t have any in stock for me. The bad news- I had to ride the course this weekend without the extra gears and I won’t get to practice on course with them. The good news- I can actually get an 11-30 cassette- even more gears! Yay for less grinding up Old Sauk, Timberlane, Midtown, and let’s not forget that last bitch of a hill, Whalen. I also picked up a aerobottle. Jury is still out on if I’ll race with it, but good for training when the gas stations are few and far between in the farmlands of Wisconsin.
Anyways, got up to Madison around 8pm. I stayed at the same hotel we had the EN Camp at- Clarion Suites at the Alliant Energy Center. Relatively cheap, has microwave/fridge, and right on the bike course, though cuts out the first/last 3ish miles. Stayed up too late watching “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” and installing my aerobottle. Also spent considerable time fretting over how I was sure I was going to get a flat due to some knicks in my tires. I plan to put new tires on this week.
Woke up at 6am on Saturday. Breakfast was a cup of minute rice, a 6oz container vanilla yogurt, and a banana. This is the plan for race day, though a bit more yogurt and also sports drink and a gel leading up to gun time.
I had the aerobottle and two bottles full of 3 scoops Perform each. Trying new things I also tried out my tri shorts with globs of Chamois Butt’r. I also tried no socks in my cycling shoes, though my feet were thoroughy coated in body glide. The main reason behind this was I am hoping to make no porta-potty stops, and don’t want to be Miss Pissy Socks for 112 miles. I packed socks with me just in case. I wore my cycling jersey instead of tri top since I need to carry lots of stuff on training rides.
The ride started out being splashed in the face by my aerobottle, getting myself and Baby Beluga covered in lovely sticky Perform. Here’s to hoping no bees can keep up with us! Apparently that yellow spongy thing should be in there to prevent splashing- live and learn! I also got jabbed in the face by the straw (need to trim it) and learned I have very poor oral-motor skills. Yes, drinking from a straw and riding are too hard for me to do. I found that if I bite down on the straw while sucking I have more control. The aerobottle definitely didn’t make nutrition as easy as I was expecting.
I was distracted by my drinking issues (only time you can only accuse me of having a drinking problem), and not watching my watts. I was up in the 130s most of the first half hour of more- no bueno! I bumped into two of my EN teammates and we leap frogged along, sometimes sharing a gallon of water at the coveted gas stations. It was nice to have some company that I knew a bit better than the other random people out there- felt a little reassured someone would have my back if I had a mechanical. We also had to do a slight detour at the beginning of the loop due to an IronKids race, so it was good to have people who knew where they were going.
Anyways, just rode along, keeping an eye on my watts but I’ll admit I was more observing than controlling. Very seldom did I think about backing off, I was just kind of going for it. Lesson learned (see later in this report…). I felt like I have gained familiarity with the course now, which is incredibly powerful mentally and physically. I hate that long stretch going into Mt Horeb, but really like that first climb up to Mt Horeb and that whole section after that. And honestly, even those climbs in Verona don’t seem as bad now that I know they are coming. The great thing is they don’t last long.
A couple hours in it started getting really hot. Like feeling you skin baking hot. I think it was upper 80s at the highest, but the sun was bright! I hope September 8 is much cooler! The good thing about the heat was it made it easier to drink lots, and since my nutrition is all liquid, that is necessary. I am scared that if race day is cooler, it will be harder to keep up on nutrition.
In terms of nutrition, I was shooting for 24 oz of Perform an hour, supplementing with powergel or powerbars as needed. I ended up adding in 2 gu’s and a powerbar. Never felt full, never felt hungry except for when I was really craving that powerbar and decided to go for it. I’m not sure exactly how much Perform I took in, but I think I was close to the goal. I will keep this plan for the big day. I know many have more of a plan then “take gels and bars as I feel like it” but with my lovely stomach, I think I better listen to it. My whole take on IM nutrition really changed after the camp. Coach Rich reported that people rarely report bonking on an IM due to lack of nutrition, but there are tons of stories of people eating too much and having their gut shut down and suffering a horrible day. With all the aid stations, if you need something, you are never far from getting it and correcting any oncoming bonk. I also learned at camp that 4 powerbars does not a happy tummy make.
I was really hoping to master peeing on the bike. Thanks Mom, you potty-trained me too well. I just couldn’t do it. And there were times I had to go bad. Grr! I stopped and peed 3 times, but really had to go a 4th as well. This would be a lot of wasted time on race day. Maybe race day will see me master the bike and pee? However, due to my difficulty drinking from a straw and biking, my multitasking skills leave something to be desired. I will not crash while peeing. I will not crash while peeing. I will not crash while peeing. Still, I did find that my bike shoes without socks worked just fine- no issues, and no numbness either. Maybe the extra room helped?
I didn’t really hit any low points, mentally or physically. Towards the end I was just ready to be done. Not super exhausted or hurting or anything, just sick of biking. I think on race day there will be enough excitement to help counter this, though I’m sure I’ll be thrilled to hand the bike over to a volunteer in T2. I really didn’t have much back pain either- a bit more of neck soreness. I was in aero position more than I’ve been in previous rides, so that was good as well. I was also worried about tri-shorts with the smaller chamois, but I didn’t have any more discomfort than usual. At about halfway, I applied more chamois cream, which was heavenly. One thing bothered me was the seam on the shorts by the chamois, but not too bad. Yay for things coming together!
Loop courses are interesting. At the end of the first loop, it’s a bit daunting to be like “I have to do that whole thing again”. It is somewhat of a defeat to start that second loop, but you also know what is coming. And that feeling of turning onto Whalen after the loop is like coming home. Of course there is that friendly hill on Whalen to get you, but then it is a net downhill. At Coach Rich’s suggestion, I will make sure to save the energy to benefit from easy speed on this section, as many people are toast at this point. The one thing was that towards the end Baby Beluga was squeeking when I was shifting. More lube? Too much sticky Perform spilled all over? That has never happened before. I am going to do a full tune up when I get the cassette changed out.
I came off the bike and took a few minutes to get organized with my rental car as T2. I took a bottle of Perform in my handheld bottle and headed off, wearing a tech t-shirt and my tri shorts. Didn’t have my calf sleeves and didn’t have anywhere to strip down to change to running shorts, but I think I do want to change shorts for the real deal.
The first half-mile was tough. I didn’t feel like I had my running legs at all and it was HOT, but Garmin was reporting 8:30-8:45 pace. I kept telling myself to back off, but I felt good in a weird way. It seemed more mental, I just was ready to be done. I was picking small landmarks to check off as I ran by, and trying to avoid looking at my watch constantly. At mile 2.5 physical fatigue was definitely setting in. I was thirsty due to the heat but was sick of the sweetness and taste of Perform. A water fountain at mile 3.25ish was a godsend. I also peed once at mile 3. I liked doing an out and back run because it made it easy to be “just get to here” and “heading home” to make it more bearable.
No stomach upsets but I am worried about how my nutrition would extend to the full thing. I don’t think I’ll be able to stomach Perform all day long. I think I will take some salt pills for the run, since I think I’ll be doing water, coke, and gu.
The second half was tiring. I was done. I think the heat is partly to blame, but for my first race rehearsal, stomach problems aside, my body felt great running. Definitely an over-effort on the bike today. I started walking the 30 steps a mile at mile 3, and that was good mentally and physically. Towards the end I was mostly feeling defeated. I couldn’t imaging running 20 more miles. Taper magic? However, all in all, it was done in 54 minutes- 9 min/mile!
I got back in the car and blared the AC, call mom to brag, and mixed up some Endurox, which has never tasted more disgusting. And then the 4th discipline- the 3 hr drive home!
Watts are there to be controlled, not observed. I think I did less controlling since I realized on my previous attempts that due to the course and my low FTP, I will have no choice at times but to spike my power above where I would like it. However, there is still a lot of time to control it. And I didn’t… My average watts came out to 124, NP of 135. This is only 2 watts higher than before, but I need to be more conservative. More watts does not mean more speed either, or at least nothing meaningful. I went 16 mph average today, my first try at the course was 2 watts higher and only 15 mph. It is about riding smart- getting the speed for free when you can. I believe at worse I will ride about 15 mph, at best no more than 16 mph, this is really a small difference in time when I think about what it could do to my marathon. Definitely learned to be more conservative on the bike!
THE PLAN FROM NOW:
IT IS TAPER TIME! Hallelujah! Here’s the plan:
- No overachieving in taper
- Lots of sleep
- GOOD EATING!
- Get bike tuned up
- Get ready to rock it September 8!