Ironman North Carolina Training: Week 1

Just like I did for Beach2Battleship, I plan on recapping every week of my Ironman North Carolina training. I don't know what day of the week I'll get them up, but I want to keep up with them because, while I log individual workouts on other sites, those logs don't tell a story. I know these posts aren't particularly exciting for most people and I may even end up turning comments off at some point because these posts are mostly pointless for anyone who isn't me - and that's okay!

So, this is it. My official 20 weeks of ironman training started this week. I chose to work with a coach for this one for, well, a lot of reasons, but the main one is that I just feel more comfortable having someone who knows what he's talking about walk me through this. My half Ironman last year was the first time I'd ever paid for a training plan, for the same reason: I just didn't think I could juggle three sports by myself. So I paid for a plan and was really successful with it, so logically, with even more complexities added in for a full, it made sense to work with someone. 

I probably wouldn't have made this decision on my own, but my coach is actually working with my whole IMNC group - we have our own plans based on our individual schedules and issues and goals, but he knows we are all racing together so our plans are somewhat coordinated. Our coach is local in Virginia Beach so he's always out supporting his athletes at races we do, and a few friends have been coached by him for a while so that's how we all got hooked up with him. We spoke on the phone before my first week to discuss my lifestyle and my goals, and afterward I definitely felt like I had made the right decision. 

So this is how my first week shaped up!

Monday 6/6
3.76 mile easy run @ 9:19 / 30 minutes core / 1800yd speed swim @ 1:53/100yd

AM: My alarm went off at 5:15am, and the internal struggle over getting up vs. sleeping in and working out in the afternoon (when I already had a swim planned) began. I hit snooze a couple times but eventually Ben was able to talk me out of bed. Once I got out there I felt surprisingly good! I do like being out that early, even if I don't like waking up for it. Pace was slower than usually but I always have lead legs first thing in the morning!

PM: Went to the gym for 30 minutes of core and then went back to the Y and officially joined. Even though I didn't love it when we tried it a couple weeks ago, it's too convenient. Ben swam with me the first time and told me he wants to get better (I think I've 85% convinced him to do the Nation's Tri with me in September), so we each paid the ridiculous $99 joining fee (plus actual membership fees!) to become members. The whole experience was much better this time than last time: there were only a couple other people there so I was able to get an inside lane, and it felt brighter inside. My workout was pretty good. My watch got a software update and now I can program swim workouts to it so I don't have to memorize them anymore! I had some issues figuring out how to use that feature but I got it eventually. 

Tuesday 6/7
60 minutes trainer ride / 60 minutes yoga

AM: Up and early again to get in my ride: 60 minutes on the trainer before 7:15am! Not only did I just want to have my workout done for the day, but I had plans after work. I warmed up for 15 minutes then streamed a 45-minute Peloton class, but mainly just for the music and energy as I followed my coach's prescribed workout instead of following along with the class. 

PM: Christy invited me to a free outdoor yoga downtown two blocks from my office. It was awesome to finally get to meet her! The class was really enjoyable as well - nothing fancy, but it was definitely one of the better cheap/free classes I've taken. We were lucky to get some mild weather - the warm, breezy kind, not the kind that makes you sticky and gross.

Wednesday 6/8
3.74 mile easy run @ 9:23 / 1800yd speed swim @ 1:55/100yd

AM: Getting up to run went better this morning. I was walking out the door and telling Ben how long I'd be gone when he goes, "I want to come!" And so he did. I have to be training for an Ironman to get out of bed for a run and he just does it for no reason. I don't get it.

PM: Another core workout and then swim tonight. We had dog training with Bane after work that ran over an hour longer than I was expecting, so it was after 9pm by the time we got to the pool. I had a mini freak out over how late it was but Ben talked me through it and everything was fine. My swim was just okay - something about it felt harder than Monday even though it was almost the same workout.

Thursday 6/9
60 minutes trainer ride + 2 mile brick run @ 9:27

PM: After a late night last night I resolved to sleep in and work out after work instead of before. I was also worried about having enough time before work. I was worried I was already slipping back into old habits but I tried to not feel bad about it since I did have a legitimate reason and wasn't just making excuses. Doing it after work went fine, but I do wish I had been able to just knock it out in the morning. I had lots of packing and chores to do tonight also and that ended up taking longer than it should have and being stressful so it would have been easier to only have that to focus on after work. 

Friday 6/10
60 minutes elliptical

AM: My first missed workout :( Texhnixally weights were optional/time permitting today but I really had every intention of doing them. But last night was late, again, and I just couldn't drag myself out of bed. I needed to get up 30 minutes earlier than usual and instead I got up 15 minutes later. I still did my hour on the elliptical but even that was cutting it close time-wise. This was actually tomorrow's workout but I'm traveling today and tomorrow and knew I wouldn't be able to fit it in (plus I wanted to rest tomorrow before Sunday's rest) so coach gave me the okay to switch days.

Saturday 6/11
Not exactly a restful rest day - concert last night halfway between DC and home, spent the night there then finished driving to VB this morning, went to the beach, then got my hair done - but a workout-free day nonetheless.

Sunday 6/12
Jamestown International Tri 
(1500m swim @ 1:59/100yd + 40k bike @ 18.4mph + 10k run @ 9:41)
Mini (or maybe not but who cares) race report: This one got off to a rough start, literally. This race last year was the hardest swim I'd ever done, but I actually think this year topped it. When we first started swimming there were some waves rolling in that I assumed were boat wake, and that we'd be out of it soon. Well, they weren't, and the whole first half was spent bobbing up and down over those rollers and trying to turn my head as far as I could when I breathed so I didn't swallow water. I had a hard time getting around people and I felt tired pretty early on. It was shallow enough that for a while I could touch, and several times I just stopped for a second to let someone go by and then jump in an empty spot. It was a giant cluster you-know-what. It felt so embarrassing to not even really be swimming sometimes, and I was sure it would be my worst swim time ever. But I was also sure I wasn't the only one having problems! It felt like it took an eternity to get to the first turn buoy, but once I did and turned to head back the other way, it did get easier. It didn't feel that much easier since the waves were still coming in at kind of a sideways angle, but I could tell we had the current either us because when I looked up to sight the buoys did actually get closer so at least I felt like I was getting somewhere. My swim time somehow ended up being two minutes faster than last year.

The bike was pretty uneventful! I had a great bike on this course last year and wanted to replicate that again, but I fell a little short. Or at least I thought I did, but I looked at my Garmin data from last year and realized that my time was about five minutes faster last year, I got just over a mile more on my watch this year. That made no sense because I thought it was the same course, but looking at the map it looks like we went left at the last turn this year instead of right, and went a little bit further until the turnaround. The map definitely explains the difference, it's just odd that they changed it (although this year's distance was closer to what it was actually supposed to be) and that I didn't notice?

When I got on the run I immediately felt heavy. My legs, my stomach, my whole body, everything was just heavy. I think that running after getting off the bike is always a roll of the dice - it's a game I seem to win more often than not, but when I lose, I lose badly. It also didn't help that the sun was out radiating 80+ degree heat with not a cloud in sight. I spent the first half mile just praying I would make it to the first water stop, and it came up sooner than I expected just before the 1-mile marker. You better believe I walked that one and every other one after it (I think there were 6 total), and savor every last drop of cold water. That process pretty accurately sums up the whole 10k, really. A portion of the course runs through some hard-packed trails, so those were shaded, but there didn't end up being as many shaded portions as I remembered. The weirdest part was that I really didn't feel hot, but I could feel the heat affecting me. I was running a pretty slow pace for me (I really had nothing left in the tank and seriously couldn't get my legs to move faster than a 9:40 pace), but my heart rate was still sky high. I kept trying to slow down, even walk a little to get it under control, but it would shoot right back up as soon as I started running. Definitely not acclimated to summer running yet! I was sure I was going to finish over an hour, which stung a bit if I'm being honest because I can't remember the last time it took me that long to run 10k. But I was also sure that my total time was going to be under 3 hours, which I'd only done once before, so considering the rough conditions I really didn't care.

Despite what it sounds like, I'm not disappointed. Mentally, I was okay with that. I accepted that the swim was tough, I actually felt good (not great, but good) on the bike, and although I felt pretty awful on the run, I knew it was a combination of a lot of factors (not being anywhere close to my best or even normal running shape, not being used to the heat, not being properly fueled and hydrated). I was only ever unhappy during the run, and then it was just because I know I can feel so much better than I did and it was frustrating feeling like I was running through quicksand. Upon further review, it turns out my run was actually only 15 seconds slower than last year - when I felt so great I could have run another 10k, no problem. And then I realized that last year's race was in September - when I was 3 solid months into HIM training and a month out from my race - and not in June - when I had spent 2 months working through an injury and had just started IM training. I finished in a similar time (basically the same time if you take the extra mile on the bike into account), but I felt way worse and that's the part I'm not happy about. This race definitely wasn't a confidence booster, and I would not have wanted to have to do it 3 more times in a row, but it was definitely eye-opening. My coach was there so we were able to chat a bit afterward and I told him that nutrition has always been a struggle for me (because food!) and that that was the biggest problem (of the things I could control anyway) during the race, so we have some things to work on. 

This Week
Swim - 2.98 miles 
Bike -  60.8 miles (36.3 trainer, 24.5 outdoor)
Run - 15.6 miles (!!!) + 60 minutes elliptical
Strength + Yoga - 60 minutes
Total miles - 79.38

Week 1 Reflections:
  • I want so badly to be someone who works out in the morning, but that just hasn't been my reality. I did it last summer when 5:45am was the only moderately bearable hour to run, but not since then. There have been many occasions over the last year when I've told myself I'd get up and work out early, but every time I've had the same internal debate and sleep has won. Even Monday when I finally got dressed and was about to head out the door, I was still thisclose to not actually going - I was like okay, that was good, A for effort, now back to bed! What the hell. Once I got over that initial hump this week, things got better - and I actually really preferred working out in the morning!
  • This week is an assessment week for my coach and me to get to know each other and figure out what works, and I'm trying to remind myself of that. I'm glad I experimented with morning workouts because I do like them (after the waking up part), but I am worried about the time crunch as they get longer.
  • When I didn't do strength training I started thinking maybe I should alter my weekend plans to fit it in. I had jam packed my weekend with various things - concert, beach, hair appointment, race -that all required lots of traveling and I thought about scrapping the beach to train instead. It's really important to me to be and feel trained and prepared on October 22, and I know I need to do everything I can and am supposed to do to get there. I know IM training can and will and is supposed to take over my life, and I want it to to some degree because it's important to me, but I also don't want it to stop me from enjoying other parts of life. Living in DC has been great, but not being able to go to the beach in the summer is going to take some getting used to and I'm not sure I'll ever be totally okay with it. This weekends plans started with the concert Friday night, then I added the race and hair appt basically as excuses to go home so I could go to the beach. So when I was thinking about skipping that part to work out, I had to stop and remember what was important. My training is important, but so is the rest of my life. In October, am I more likely to remember a 30-minute workout or a few hours at the beach? 
  • I do need to discuss with my coach how to approach skipping workouts, both when it's unavoidable and when I just don't feel like doing it. I have a tendency to skip one or two and try to make them up later, thus piling them all on one or two days. Sometimes that's not a problem, but sometimes it is, and I have a tendency to overschedule myself. I need to figure out what's realistic and what's not.


  1. Good call on working with a coach! From personal experience I think it's a huge difference maker in getting to the starting line appropriately prepared, confidence, and ready to handle the challenges of the day. Nice first week of training! I did Jamestown last yr and it's simply a tough race altogether given the typical hot & humid conditions.

  2. Really glad you all decided to work with a coach. I just know it's going to help you feel better and more confident along the road to IMNC, and we both know that that is worth a lot. I'll continue to read these because I love hearing about and being inspired by your training and amazing discipline, and I'm going to need to absorb some of it myself soon, but mostly I just read in open-mouthed awe. (Also, Ben, teach me your ways.)

  3. 'My training is important, but so is the rest of my life.' - yes. i'm glad the experience with the Y was better, boo to joining fees! that is ridiculous.
    i'm sorry about your race, even though you did well compared to last year, i think the way you feel mentally and emotionally is just as important as physically, sometimes more so.
    seriously, how does ben just roll out on a whim for a run?! lol. i love working out in the mornings, but i always hate it too. i never jump out of bed excited to do anything lol. i can't go back to sleep once i'm up though, so that helps. but yeah. i hate it, but i hate evening workouts more.