Monday, July 25, 2011

Ironman Training Update - 25 weeks down, 5 weeks to go!

Yesterday, I completed week 25 of my 30 week Ironman training program for Ironman Canada.  5 weeks until the race (8/28)!!!  It can't come too soon, I'm ready and frankly wish it was tomorrow.  At this point, I feel like my fitness is ready for the race.   The problem is that I have to train for about 1 more month....I'd much rather race tomorrow than train for another 5 weeks.  Ugh!! 

When I signed up for an Ironman, many of my friends that have already done an Ironman told me "it's a lot of training".   Having exercised between 12 and 17 hours a week for the last 25 weeks - with at least 2 days a week and often 3 days a week of "two-a-days", a workout in the early morning and then another workout after 9pm, I now have a first hand understanding of this. First and foremost, I exercise to stay healthy and so that I can eat whatever I want. My fitness is the best it has ever been. I've become an endurance athlete (something I never expected) and am enjoying it. When I started Ironman training in January, my weight was around 199. I don't weigh myself often.  I can usually guess my weight by how my clothes fit. Lately, my waist size has gone down to 34 (what is was in college) and I've noticed that my shirt size has gotten smaller (usually to a medium). So, a few weeks ago, I weighed myself, assuming that I lost a lot of weight (I was guessing 193-195), but when I got on the scale I was 204!  I was shocked, but I have noticed that I have built a little extra muscle in my legs (from biking) and my chest and arms (from swimming). I'm told that muscle weighs twice as much as fat, so despite the shrinking in my waist and sizes, I've gained weight. That's good weight to gain, I guess. Most importantly, I feel great and my Crohn's has been completely in remission.

The weather in New York has been brutal over the last week (over 100 degrees and the heat index hit 115 one day).  Training has been hot!  Hopefully I will get a cool day for the race.  I'm told that the temperature in Penticton, Canada could be in the 80s or it could be as high as 100 on race day.  Huh?  In Canada?  I signed up for this race because I assumed it would be cool.  Shame on me for not checking.  I've met a number of people that have done the race and they all same the same thing.  It could be very hot!  Luckily, Penticton, which is about 5 hours east of Vancouver, Canada, is in the desert, so hopefully it will be dry.  I can handle hot, but I struggle with humidity.  I've been really focused on the dew point lately after I found this article in a running magazine lately (see the picture).  Basically, it says that the dew point is what to watch, not just the temperature and humidity.  The dew point was in the low to upper 70s last week, which is oppressive!

My training has been going really well. I'm 100% healthy (including my knees and IT bands) and feel great. My training has been balanced - usually 3 runs, 3 rides, 2 swims, and 1-2 strength workouts per week. The cross training has kept me from running too much, plus I run on the Central Park bridal path, which is a softer dirt/sand surface. I've been able to squeeze in all of my training in early in the morning or late at night (usually on the bike trainer). Long weekend runs are usually done by 930-10am. For me, the tough time commitment is the long bike ride. I've been riding 5-6 hours every Saturday or Sunday for 5 weeks (only 3 more long rides left!). This is time consuming, and even though I leave by 7am, I'm usually not home until around 1-130pm. Luckily my family is very supportive and realize that it is only for 8 weeks.  It still takes less time than playing 18 holes of golf (someday I'd like to become a golfer).  I'm definitely ready for my long rides to be over. Last weekend I rode for 5 hours and 37 minutes (85 miles), the weekend before 90 miles, etc. Plus, I ride over the GW bridge and ride on an extremely hilly bike course (usually around 6,000 feet of gain). Ironman Canada is hilly, so I need the practice.

For the next 5 weeks, I am completely focused on race nutrition. I've been working hard at this - what to eat before the race, and most importantly, during the race. For me, my goal is to not BONK on the bike (i.e., crash so hard that I lose my energy) so I can feel good when I start running. This requires drinking and eating on the bike. I take water, Gatorade (for the salt and electrolytes) and heed. I also eat gels during the ride. Still experimenting, but I made improvements last weekend. Despite 100 degree weather, I felt like I could run at the end of my ride.

After a 15 mile long run on 7-25-11 - soaking wet!!  Kaiya (2) holding the door.  Check out those curls!!
Before a long 5 hour, 37 minute bike ride in 100 degree weather - 6:45 A.M.
Here is a summary of my training last week with the Garmin bike file

Training week 25 ended 7/24/11 - total training time 16.5 hours

Monday - morning - swim 2 miles (1 hour 19 minutes); Monday night - strength training (45 minutes)
Tuesday morning - 8.17 miles, 8:51 pace, 152 average heart rate, 1 hour 12 minutes; Tuesday night - bike trainer - 60 minutes, 17.5 miles, average heart rate 129
Wednesday night - bike trainer - 60 minutes, 18.5 miles, average heart rate 130; Wednesday night - strength training (36 minutes)
Thursday morning - 8.03 miles, 8:49 pace, 151 average heart rate, 1 hour 11 minutes
Friday morning - swim 2 miles (1 hour 18 minutes);
Saturday morning - bike 5 hours 37 minutes,  85 miles, average 15.3 mph on extremely hilly 9W roads in New Jersey - did hill repeats..rode with my friend Jarrod for the first 3 hours..5,800 feet of elevation gain, average heart rate 142, temperature near 100 degrees for last 3.5 hours.    Bike Garmin File - click here
Sunday morning - run 2 hours 28 minutes,  14.74 miles, 88 degrees, 80%+ humidity, dew point 72.  Felt miserable, pushed through but ran really slow and stopped for 30-90 seconds per mile for water and to run through a sprinkler on a hill!  Average pace 10:05 (moving pace 9:39), slowest long run ever, average heart rate 150.

Came across this picture of me running hurdles my junior year in high school.  I won this race!