Halfway.

Halfway. Ten weeks. Out of twenty. Beginning on June 6, ending on October 22.

I will no doubt post a summary of my Ironman training when it's all over, but I thought it would be interesting to post one at the halfway point as well and then compare at the end. I'm actually a week late posting this - of course - but only including everything up to the halfway point!

On being halfway: It definitely feels like it. It feels like a million years have passed since I started training, and like I have a million more to go until I get to mid-October. This is the longest training cycle I've ever had at 20 weeks, plus 8 weeks of pre-training if you count that. I guess technically I trained for my first marathon for 7 months, but I was also training for my first Olympic tri so the first 3 months of that we're focused on the tri, then the next 4 were focused solely on the marathon. I havent really have any other races that have been training goals this time, so it's 6 months of focusing on one race at the end. 


On making race plans: It still feels far away, but I know that it's getting closer and closer, so I've started to make concrete plans. I finally decided on my travel scheduled and requested time off from work, so that made it a little more real! I am taking a half day on Wednesday to either travel or get ready, then I will be in Wilmington Thursday to check in, Friday to rack my bike, Saturday to race, Sunday to recover, and then I'll head home on Monday. 

On shit getting real: So it's starting to feel a little more real, but way more surreal at the same time. A few weeks ago I watched the live stream of the Lake Placid finish (yes they really do that, so you can watch me finish from the comfort of your own home if you want!), and seeing the finish line banner and the red carpet with the M dots...I just don't really see myself running on it. Maybe I won't believe it until it happens, I don't know. It was so important to me to do an IM branded race but now that I'm imagining myself in one I just can't see it.

On confidence: The past few weeks of training have been pretty extremely tough, and it's really shaken my confidence. I'm starting to build it back, but I'm still feeling pretty scared of what I've gotten myself into. I know this is supposed to be hard, but most days I feel completely in over my head. And that's just training. Can I really travel 140.6 miles with my legs and arms in a span of 12-13 (or at worst, no more than 17) hours? Can I really sustain my momentum that long? And even if I do, what will I feel like after? Will I be able to walk? Will I want to chop my legs off?

On half Ironman training last summer: I was looking back at my training for the half ironman last summer, and at how stressed I was juggling that and regular life, and it's comical to me now. Of course, it's all relative but I think I maxed out with like a 12 hour week last week? Most were around 9-10, I think. This year started with 8-10 hour weeks and have gone up to 14 (and that's missing a workout or two, should have been more like almost 16). I don't know how high it's going to go...probably best that I don't know. I would kill for a 10 hour week right about now! Needless to say, my perspective has changed quite a bit. 

On how training fits into my life: It was a serious struggle for me to make training a priority for the first several weeks. I had just moved and started a new job, and I felt really conflicted between those things and training. I wanted to do it all, and for a while I tried. I fit in my training around my life, and not the other way around. I'd work out in between going to museums, or going to happy hour or dinner or whatever. We had visitors a few times and I made that a priority (good) without figuring out how to also fit in my training (not good). The volume was low enough at first that I could get away with that, but not for long. I went through a serious adjustment period for a few weeks when the volume really started to increase. I knew I had to dial back my social outings and exploring a little bit if I was going to stick to this training. Thankfully that revelation happened about the same time that the newness of a new place started to wear off, so it hasn't been as hard recently. I've also finally adjusted my sleep schedule and adapted to start working out in the morning more often, which has freed up some free time in the evenings for fun the fun I want to have, as well as the studying I need to do (oh yeah, did I mention that I'm also studying for a big professional exam next month?).

On post-race feelings: I was thinking the other day, and I really think I'm going to be sad when this is all over! It's been such a huge goal for such a long time, and even though I've only been actively working on it for a few months, it's become a huge part of my life. I don't always want to train and will be happy to be out of training mode at least for a little while, it will be weird. It's so hard, but the hard makes me feel so strong. I never feel more like the me I'm supposed to be than I do when I'm training for something like this.

On the only way I'm making it through this: The biggest thing helping me get through this is my support system. I knew that if I ever did an Ironman I'd want at least someone else to do it with me, and I have three someones! I just didn't plan to be 3 hours away from them during training. I definitely feel left out sometimes when they're out training together and I'm on my own, but it helps just to know they're out there too. We don't all have the same schedule so even though they're all love to each other, they don't do all of their training together either. We have a group text where we complain when it sucks and cheer each other on and celebrate when it's good. My dad brought up last night that we are going to have a good time reading them all on October 23!

While my training group is nice to have, Ben has been my absolute rock so far. He has always been supportive and helpful every time I get an idea to do a crazy race, but he had gone above and beyond this time. He has almost completely taken over all household chores, which is obviously a huge help. And he subs in as training partner sometimes since I finally convinced him to try a tri of his own next month! I just can't say how many things he does and how much I appreciate them. I would not have made it this far without him, that's for sure.

On having a coach: Working with a coach has been...different so far. But, at the same time, not all that different. I'm not local to him, so mainly what I'm getting from him is my training plan, but it is nice having someone to email/call/text with questions or concerns or to ask if I can skip a workout (but then not as nice when the answer is no). The biggest difference between being self-coached/making my own training plan is that I have not seen my full training plan. My coach sends me one week at a time, so I never have any idea what's coming next (not like it's a big secret though, I'm sure I could ask him if I really wanted to know).  I have no idea what my peak distances will be. I have no idea which weeks will be hard weeks and which weeks will be easy weeks (but I can almost always count on hard weeks). In some ways that's stressful, but for the most part I think it's good for me. I really don't have time to think too much about what I have to do - I just have to do it. I don't get a lot of time to freak out about what's coming next. It's helping me take things day by day and not get too far ahead of myself.



50,600 yds = 28.75 miles = 15 hours 45 minutes
89% of workouts completed as scheduled


Workouts ended early: 0

Workouts skipped: 3

So far I've completed about 10% more swimming workouts than I did during HIM training last year, and it shows. Right now swimming feels like my strongest discipline and the one where I've most improved. At the beginning of my training I really didn't see the point of all my swim workouts, but I've swam longer sets a few times now and have been amazed at how fast I've gotten. I'm still not that fast, but I'm faster than I've ever been even though I'm swimming longer than I ever have.

At this point I've done 2 open water swims: one 1500m (~1650yd) swim during Jamestown International Tri in June, and one 2500yd swim in training. I think last year I only got in 3 or 4 before race day, and this year is shaping up to be the same way. I have at least 2 more open water swims in races - one of which is a 1.2 mile swim during a half Ironman, which will be good for me - and hopefully at least one more in training. I will say that I am taking the swim a little more seriously this year than I did last year. Last year I swam once per week, sometimes twice, and this year I'm swimming twice per week, sometimes three times. The swim isn't going to make or break me, but it was harder last year than I anticipated so I'm glad I'm getting a lot of practice. I've made some swimming breakthroughs recently, both by getting super close to the iron distance swim, and by finding my stroke. 

Swimming is the discipline where I feel the most confidence. I don't always want to swim, and sometimes I skip it because it's where I feel strong, but if I make it to the pool, once I'm there I never, ever quit. 



806 miles = 46 hours 50 minutes
95% of workouts completed as scheduled

Workouts ended early: 2
Workouts skipped: 0

The bike continues to be hit or miss for me, as it always has been and probably always will be. While I haven't been knocking it out of the park on the bike, I will say that I've been consistent. I've put in a lot of miles in the saddle, both indoors and outdoors, over the last few months.

Nearly all of my weekday rides are on the trainer, which I never expected to do, but it's just not feasible for me to ride outdoors after work. And since I've started doing a lot of rides in the morning before the sun comes up, it's definitely not feasible to do those outdoors. I'm not hating the trainer as much as I used to, and still loving my Peloton app. I don't really follow along with the classes anymore since the intervals are shorter than what are really optimal for me for long distance training, but I like the music and the energy of the instructors (Jess is still #1 for me, by far).

As far as outdoor riding, I discovered the W&OD trail a few weeks after moving to DC, and I think it has been my biggest training asset of all the disciplines. It's a 45-mile long rail trail, paved the entire way and with minimal stops for traffic along the way. I have ridden 2 30-milers, 2 60-milers, and 1 90-miler out there and it has truly been a godsend to have somewhere to ride that distance without having to think up a route or worry about traffic or do multiple laps. I have never had a trail to ride that was longer than 8 miles so having one that is 45 miles each way is seriously blowing my mind. It does have some rolling hills and some false flats, and several stops when it goes through towns, but it's about as close to a perfect trail as I think I'm going to find.

My weekday rides have been about 20-25 miles and my long rides have increased from 30 miles to 90 miles. Last summer when I started half Ironman training, getting up to 30 miles was a lot, and this time a year ago I had never even hit 50 miles. I rode in a century ride earlier this summer, which is my longest ride yet, but I wasn't consistent with training for that so by the time I started Ironman training in June, 30 miles was still kind of a struggle for me. I've come a long way in a short period of time! I still don't really like cycling and find it very difficult, but I hope I'm getting better and see the payoff on race day. 


212 miles =  23 hours 28 minutes
101% of workouts completed as scheduled

Workouts ended early: 2
Workouts skipped: 2

No surprise to anyone, I have actually surpassed my running goals so far. To be fair, I have skipped or cut short a few runs (with good reason, of course, like heat and humidity so high I felt like I might pass out or puke), but I've also had a few occasions where I ran just for fun or because I felt like my run volume in my training plan wasn't high enough.

After injuring my foot in March, I really can't be anything but grateful that I have been able to run even one mile, let alone 212. I went from 3 miles in April and 18 in May to 55 in June (the month I started training), 98 in July, and 66 at the halfway point in August. There were some days when I really didn't know if I'd ever be able to run without pain ever again. Those days feel so far away now that I have been able to run again, but I still feel twinges in my foot and there is still a not-rightness to it that I'm not sure will ever go away. But it has continued to dissipate and I've continued to run more and more without issue, and for that I am so thankful.

My speed isn't where I'm used to it being, but I'm not surprised. Summer is always hard on my running, and we've had record heat and humidity here in DC this summer. It's been rough. I don't know what to expect from the Ironman run in terms of pace, anyway. I was surprised at my pace during B2B last year but I know this is going to be a completely different experience. If, in the fall, I can run the way I've been running this summer, I think I'll be more than happy.

Although I was training to run a marathon earlier this year and got up to the high teens and even one 20-miler, I haven't actually run a marathon in almost a year and a half. That scares me, but at the same time, I remember so clearly around mile of that race thinking to myself, "I want the next time I do this to be at the end of an Ironman." In the first half of training my longest runs were only 12 and 15 miles (the rest have been 8-10), which doesn't feel like enough, but at the same time it feels like so much further than I thought I'd be able to run by now.

Halfway. Ten weeks down. Ten weeks to go.

4 comments :

  1. almost there! i was always self-coached and did my own training/exercise plans but having a trainer definitely helps. i have no idea what my trainer will have in store for me. Although I'm not training for anything, we still work together to fine-tune my skills/technique and i love it. i just wish he weren't so darn expensive!

    you're nearly there! keep at it!!

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  2. I think it is awesome that you are on track with your running goals and feeling good about swimming. Did I see this weekend where you took a spill on your bike? Don't let it get you down! You so got this!

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  3. i didn't know we'd be racing on the exact same day. i mean, i'm sure i knew but i forgot. just think, my race is half of 1/3 of yours. haha. not funny. sorry. you'll have to tell me how i can watch you finish because i will definitely do that.
    as hard as training is, and fitting it in with your life and all that jazz, i think what you said about feeling like yourself whilst training is just amazing. i mean, is there any better reason to do something than to feel like yourself? or the you you're supposed to be? that's awesome.
    i think not seeing my full training plan would make me uneasy, i like to plan ahead, but then like you said.. it doesn't let you freak out ahead of time, which has to be good.
    anyway sorry for the rambley long comment. good job on staying consistent with your workouts, those %s are pretty high! i hope the next 10 weeks is even better. good luck! can't wait to follow along :)

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