Last Sunday I realized a daunting number. 18. Weeks until IM CdA. 18. And with a taper, that really means 16. Four months. I think my perception on this math had been scewed before I saw the cold hard number due to the fact that it is so far from feeling like June in Chicago. But now there is no hiding. In 18 weeks (now 17…) I’ll be on the start line, ready to see what I can do.
To anyone that has trained for an Ironman or other big event, we know that 18 is both a big and little number. This is when it is no longer a “I’m doing this some day” to “I’m doing this in EIGHTEEN FREAKING WEEKS!” My formal IM training plan won’t begin until 12 weeks out, as I have coaches that believe in sanity. However, while we don’t call it IM training, this is the time to really be making the big gains.
I’ve dreamed of this season. Through the hip pain that stopped my running to the bike crash that ended the season for good, I looked forward to 2015. I saw it as my breakthrough, ready to work really hard to put the year of 2014 that wasn’t behind me. But now I have just 18 weeks to make those gains, hit those paces and power numbers, drop those pounds, etc. It is no longer an abstract “I can start tomorrow… or next week”, but a “I better start now!”
With my all or nothing personality, I fall into the “____ starts tomorrow” (insert diet, training, flossing, etc) trap frequently. I’d rather envision a fresh perfect start tomorrow than starting today with a slip up. Unfortunately this typically means we never start. If I ate that one piece of chocolate, diet is blown, I’ll try again tomorrow but for the rest of today I’ll eat crap. Or “I skipped a workout, I’ll skip tomorrow and then I’ll be rested to really get to work.” Problem is, that number 18 is now staring me down is telling me there isn’t time to start tomorrow, I need to start now.
So this week has been about starting TODAY. My new motto is “It is too late to start later”- might sound negative, but it is working to get myself in gear! The good: I have renewed commitment toward my goals. The bad: it’s exposed just how far I am from where I want to be.
Let’s recap the workouts:
Monday started off in the pool with sets of descending intervals. Shocking, but I actually found myself enjoying the water. Tuesday was a 5 mile run, with my pace coming in at 9:17. My only thought was “wow that was slow.” Discouragingly slow. Yes, I’ve missed some workouts and consistency with running hasn’t been great, but where did that number come from? Timing didn’t allow me to get to my Tuesday bike ride until Wednesday, where I ticked off 3x10’ at FTP. It was prescribed as 2x15, but with my struggles lately, I figured 3x10 would be more doable, mentally and physically, with the same amount of time at FTP. It hurt, but I did it. Check. Thursday was now (reshuffled) my swim and interval run. Yet another swim I actually found myself enjoying- hopefully this trend will continue! The run was relegated to the treadmill, 2x1 mi and 2x .5 mi. My legs were already feeling heavy at this point, and I warmed up at a 9:33 pace, again wondering where my speed has gone. I do think some treadmills are horribly calibrated, so with the chance of that plus my apparent out-of-shapeness, I did my intervals at 8:00 pace. That was plenty hard but I made it through all of them! I was starting to build confidence of hitting workouts despite the mounting fatigue. Friday turned into a rest day due to the 3 hrs of sleep I got the night before, thank you very much work! Part of me wanted to be tough and wrestle through a workout. Then I realized that is not just tough, but stupid. My vision was blurry and I was a walking train wreck- I would have gotten nothing out of that workout except digging myself into a deeper hole. Happy with the decision (still not happy with the situation causing lack of sleep though!). On Saturday I decided to bike before I ran, because 1) I felt I needed to make up the time in the saddle I missed on Friday, 2) I’ve had good experience in the past warming up on the bike for a run. I did 2x15 min at Z2/3, which I’m realizing is NOT an easy pace (at least not currently) and then laced up for a long run with intervals. That run covered all those running emotions in one. It started with dead legs. Ok, they’ll loosen up. By mile 2 I was planning to turn around and make it a 5 miler. I even convinced myself that was what was best for my training overall. But I coaxed myself to go just a little further. And a little more after that. Try running for an hour. What about another mile? Ok, what the heck, might as well do 10! Something magical happened when I turned around at the halfway mark. I started speeding up. My legs were moving me faster but my RPE stayed about the same. My mood shifted. This was fun! And from there, I kept going faster. 8:22, 8:16, 7:45, and 7:41 (for a half mile)! 3.5 miles of speed! It wasn’t the intervals I had originally planned, but running strong and negatively splitting a run that started out so horribly had me elated! Maybe my running isn’t so far backtracked as I thought. Sunday called for the brutal bike ride combining FTP and VO2 work, and a duration of 2:30. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I just didn’t have that time, and cut it short after 2x15 min of solid FTP work. And with that, the week was a wrap!
So the good- I trained more than I didn’t! Yes, I missed a couple workouts, but I did a whole heck of a lot better than I was doing. My long run was good, I’m enjoying the pool, and I am slowly getting my power back up on the bike. Unfortunately, those negatives are easier to remember- that run where I was incredibly slow. The fact that my legs are so dead after just one week of average training. Weight that hasn’t changed enough. Still not feeling I have a grasp on my overall life to manage training the way I’d like.
Overall, where am I at in preparation? In one sense, not where I want to be. I dreamed of being close to race weight, with a sky high FTP, and back to my 2012 running paces at this point. But dreams don’t happen when you don’t do the work. So in some ways I’m disappointed. But I still have 17 weeks remaining of really hard awesome work. This week reminded me that I enjoy training, and woke me up to the fact that I can't put off making the progress I want "later", I need to do it NOW. Time to get to work- too late for later!
Sidenote: I was considering giving up this blog and just keeping a private journal, but have decided I will keep it going. Over the next few weeks I'll post a few back-logged entries from my time not blogging.