Ironman North Carolina Training: Week 11

Monday 8/15
3500yd tempo swim @ 1:49/100yd
AM: Slept in instead of getting up for core. I only had 20 minutes to do, but I just really hate it! Thinking about going back to a core circuit I do like instead of my coach's workout.

PM: Storms started rolling in around 6 so I was thinking it might be a trainer night instead of a swim night, but Ben convinced me that if the pool wasn't closed, I would be fine. I was nervous when there was a lot of lightning when we were walking there (I don't even actually know if it's dangerous to swim in an indoor pool when it's lightning out - is it?!), and when the pool was less crowded than usual, but on the plus side I got the middle lane all to myself.

This swim workout is one I've been doing for a few weeks now, it just gets longer every time. I didn't realize it until after I was done that this was the second longest swim I've ever done. Given that fact, it felt surprisingly good and easy. There were some laps when I felt like I was just thrashing all over the place but others when I just glided through the water and felt weightless and magical.

Tuesday 8/16
6 mile run @ 8:28 / 24.5 mile bike @ 16.2mph
AM: These morning runs are my favorite. These are the ones when I really don't care if my pace is fast or slow, I just try to enjoy and have fun. I even give myself permission to listen to music sometimes. The 6am hour is the perfect time to run right now because the weather is as pleasant as it's going to be, and it's beautiful to run at the first light of day and to finish before the sun gets too hot. I also love seeing all the other runners especially down at the Mall!

I don't know what got into me today but right from the start I had a spring in my step. I wore a pair of Newtons I haven't run in in quite a while (not dead yet, just haven't preferred them recently...they're the ones I think I was wearing when I got injured, actually) so I'm attributing it to that. Ran some splits I haven't seen in...I don't know how long (9:04, 8:17, 8:14, 8:13, 8:16, 8:46) I seriously did a double take when I saw that first low 8 split!

PM: Ben and I rode out to East Potomac Park again after work tonight. I seriously looked forward to this all day long, but it got off to a little bit of a rough start. I rode my road bike but swapped out the seat with my tri bike seat right before we left because it's more comfortable. I guess I didn't tighten it enough because I went over a bump and the seat tilted forward. I had to stop to fix it but I didn't have tools so I couldn't tighten it all the way so I just had to be careful the rest of way. Shortly after that my IT band got really tight and painful, which had been happening on my tri bike too before I adjusted the seat, so I think it was a combination of my seat being tilted and probably a little too high. Eventually I was able to adjust myself so it wasn't painful and the rest of the ride was uneventful. Six loops around Hains Point - first half of each was spent fighting headwind, second half was spent  watching airplanes take off and land across the water at Reagan International.

Wednesday 8/17
3450yd stamina swim @ 1:49/100yd / 60 minutes legs and core
AM: I got up at normal time to go to the gym before work, but I just wasn't feeling it. I know I won't be feeling it tonight before swimming either, but I tried to knock out some things I needed to do to make tomorrow morning (when I need to start my workout at 4:30am :X) run smoothly since I have the hardest time getting out of the house in the mornings.

PM: Well, I was wrong about not feeling it at the gym tonight - I felt amazing! I don't know why or what happened. I put on Life of Pablo and just had myself a grand ol' time. I started with legs and finished with the core I was supposed to do on Monday. It wasn't even a full core workout, just a few exercises to failure. I was pleasantly surprised at how well I did with most of them - I held a 2-minute plank (first time going for that long, I think?), did 100 crunches (and could have done more), and was able to stand on one leg with my eyes closed for almost a minute and a half on each side. Okay that last one technically isn't an exercise but I used to have to do that in physical therapy and I sucked at it. I've gotten a lot better!

My swim tonight didn't feel so great. I don't know if I was tired from the gym (probably, which is why I need to go in the mornings!), but I felt pretty discombobulated at first. I also had to share a lap for the first 20 minutes or so with a kid who I'm pretty sure was in high school and lapped me like 10 times. I guess after a while another lane opened up so he moved over, and I felt better having the lane to myself, but still not great.

Thursday 8/18
90 minute trainer ride + 5.37 mile run @ 9:19
AM: I picked out and ironed my clothes and made my lunch last night, but in order for this brick to happen before work today, I still really needed my timeline to go pretty perfectly. I only had enough time to get it done, shower, and get to work. I woke up about 10 minutes late and that was 10 minutes too many. By the time I made and was eating my breakfast I realized I was going to have about 15-20 minutes for it to digest before I needed to get on the bike. Should I have gotten up earlier? The earliest I set my alarm is 4am - I am afraid that getting into the 3am hour just makes me insane. Should I have just made it work anyway? I don't know. Maybe. Probably.

PM: One of the reasons I wanted to get my brick done this morning is that my office went go-karting this afternoon, and I didn't know how long it would take or when I'd be home. Since I didn't get it done, I was determined to do it when I got home - whenever that was. I ended up getting home a little after 6, which is only a little later than I usually get home, but I didn't have time to eat dinner before getting on the trainer. I tried to eat snacks throughout the day so I wasn't feeling super hungry, but in hindsight I really needed dinner. The trainer was fine - it wasn't super boring, but it still felt like it went by really slowly.

The run was horrible. My stomach hurt so badly right from the beginning that I almost turned around after just a couple minutes. I thought about going home to get on the treadmill, or just going home altogether, but while I was having this internal debate I just kept running farther and farther away from home so I just went with it. The only thing that was nice about it was that I haven't run at night in a really long time (it was 8:45pm when I started and 9:45pm by the time I finished), and it was fun to see the monuments lit up and all the people still out and about. Other than that, it super sucked and when I finally got home I felt so bad that I wasn't even hungry and only managed to eat 4 fake chicken nuggets at 10pm before I went to bed.

Friday 8/19
Rest day
Technically my training plan says rest day on Fridays but it also has core on I just choose to stop reading after the rest day part. I met Ben for happy hour after work, which I probably shouldn't have done, but it was fun. Then we went out for pizza and I had a glass of wine, which I also probably shouldn't have done, and ate my entire pizza because #ironmantraining.

Saturday 8/20
90 mile bike @ 16.4mph
AM: The bike ride from hell. There has to be at least one every training cycle. Let's hope this was the only one and that I got it out of the way! I was supposed to run for an hour after that but I went home to lick my wounds instead. On the plus side, I have had it in mind to eventually bike the entire W&OD Trail (90 miles total) ever since I first rode on it two months ago - mission: accomplished!

Sunday 8/22
18 mile run @ 9:56
AM: After the catastrophe that was yesterday, I was understandably skeptical about making it through this run. I hadn't run that far since February, and I've only made it up to 15 miles since. And I really wasn't looking forward to a repeat of my horrible long run last weekend.

For my route I decided to basically combine my 15-miler from 2 weeks ago with my 13-miler from last weekend, only with the latter in reverse. I could run 13 miles out of the 15 mile route, then pick up the last 5 miles of the 13-mile route (which was actually the first 5 miles since I ran the opposite direction for the 13-miler, if that makes any sense). So I went downtown to Capitol Hill to the Mall to East Potomac Park, then instead of heading home I went over the 14th Street bridge to the Mount Vernon Trail to Key Bridge to Georgetown then back downtown toward home. 

The route was lovely - this seriously might be my new long run jam - except for the fact that it was sunny for the first 6 or 7 miles. I had been checking the weather all week and was so excited about the possibility of running in rain - I just wanted a change of scenery, I was desperate for anything but full sun - but no rain clouds when I headed out. Nothing. Nada. Luckily it wasn't super hot, but it was horribly muggy and once again I was completely drenched within about 10 minutes. 

Mentally I broke this run up into 3 sections: Capitol Hill, Hains Point, and Mount Vernon. Capitol Hill was a little tougher this time, because the last time I ran it I took about a mile's worth of detours, so my mileage this time was a mile less than it was the last time I ran it. I was still in the very early miles when I hit Capitol Hill but I told myself to run up the entire damn thing, no matter what - and I did! 

I was trying to stay optimistic but man, when you've run 5 miles and still have basically a half marathon to go? That's tough. My only solace at that point was that if I just kept going, soon I'd get to run back down Capitol Hill, and at least I could let gravity take over for a few minutes at that point. I hit a stoplight just before I got almost to the Hill and I texted Ben that I had cleared that portion, but that almost 12 miles still felt like so far to go.

I was running out of water so my main focus at that point was making it back down to the Mall to the monument. I also really had to pee basically from the minute I left my apartment, so I really just wanted to get to the bathrooms and the water fountain. I took a little break at the monument and pulled myself together, and mentally readied myself for my next section: Hains Point.

Hains Point/East Potomac Park is a 3.5 mile loop of...basically nothing. It's a tall, thin park in the middle of the Potomac with a golf course in the middle and a road that runs along the perimeter. There are tons of runners and cyclists out there at any given time, and it's nice to run alongside the water, but other than that it's kind of boring. It's beautiful, but boring. And the wind out there can be brutal. I hit 9 miles shortly after I entered the park, and I just tried to focus on getting through the next mile and a half to the point. Luckily by then the clouds had started to roll in and hide the sun. Praise! The last time I ran out there I was completely exposed to the sun and it was hot, hot, hot. I was so happy that the conditions were much milder this time around. 

Around that time I started taking walk breaks about every mile to eat a few raisins, drink some water, and take my salt tablets. I definitely plan on walking all the water stops at IMNC, just like I did last year at B2B, so it seemed like good practice. Plus I realized I really wasn't doing myself any favors by continuing on and depriving myself when I was thirsty or hungry. I think it was during my mile 10 walk break that I finally got to a place where I could see the point in the distance, and that was enough to get me motivated to keep going. I made another stop to fill up my water bottle at a bathroom just after I passed the point, and then I kept moving. It was nice to have the wind at my back, but I actually kind of missed the breeze!

At that point I was trying to convince myself that 7 more miles - a little over an hour - wasn't really all that bad. I would be past 12 miles once I got out of the park, which was close to a half marathon, which was close to only having 5k left, which was close to being done. Truthfully I was just waiting to get to the top of Key Bridge - at that point I'd only have about 2 miles left, and they'd be mostly downhill. If I could just get there, I'd be golden.

After I exited East Potomac Park, I swung around the Jefferson Memorial toward the 14th Street Bridge. I noticed a water fountain and made another pit stop for water (I have seriously been so thirsty on these summer runs, I just can't get enough water) before heading to the bridge. I was pretty much on autopilot at that point, and I hit the half marathon point on the bridge! I came down and got on the Mount Vernon Trail, which is so lovely but I have to say, even more lovely when the sun isn't on full blast and it's not 100 degrees out. It was nice and overcast by that point and I was so, so thankful for that. One less demon to fight.

I stopped a few times over the next half mile or so to take photos, and in that moment I felt it all start to come together. It all started to make sense. This week was so hard and this training has been so hard, and for whatever reason today I just felt like...well, of course. This is what Ironman is going to feel like. It will be very, very hard and I will wonder why I'm doing it and I'll want to quit but while I'm fighting those thoughts I'll keep moving forward until I make it to a point when I can stop thinking about how I'm going to do it because I will have already done it. 

PM: I had a 2-mile swim scheduled for this afternoon, but I made an executive decision to invest in some self-care instead of more training and went to get a sports massage instead. Honestly the only reason I booked this place was because they had an online booking system and appointments available on a Sunday, but I ended up being super happy with it. Getting the massage instead of going swimming was definitely the right choice. The icing on the cake was checking my email once it was over only to see next week's schedule from my coach, which wasn't nearly as intense as this past week. I had been seriously anxious about what that email was going to say, and when I read it I was so happy I could have cried! I walked home feeling like a ton of weight had just been lifted from my shoulders.

Week 11 Reflections:

  • This week I finally told my coworkers about my Ironman and for some reason that made me feel a lot better. I haven't been purposely keeping it a secret, but despite what it looks like on the internet I feel really weird talking about it in real life. Most people I have told have been like uh, what, why? So that started to make me feel like it was too extreme to tell people about. It didn't even really come up at work exactly, but my coworker asked me how the Braves/Nats game I went to was and in that moment I felt like I needed to explain why I left in the 6th inning to go home and go to bed at 8:45 on a Saturday night. So now they know. And now my coworker asks me every day how my 5am training went so I feel more motivated to get up in the mornings so I don't have to disappoint him haha.

This Week 
Swim - 3.95 miles 
 Bike - 142.8 miles
Run - 29.4 miles 
Total - 176.15

 IMNC Training To-Date 
Swim - 32.70 miles 
 Bike - 948.18 miles
Run - 238.53 miles 
Total - 1219.41


  1. i absolutely despise core/ab work. hate it. i used to do it regularly and could do 2 minute planks but now i don't think i could do 2 seconds lol. i really should get back to it.
    that 18 mile run.. woah. i'm glad you had those thoughts at the end, i mean, i have no idea what you're going through, but it certainly looks hard from where i'm sitting, but even on my 'hard' runs or whatever, i try to not think about why i am doing it until i'm almost done :) because then i'm like wow go me, instead of holy crap i have a bazillion miles left.
    yeah 4am is my limit as well. setting an alarm for 3, i'm like might as well just stay awake the night before? which is not logical at all considering i go to bed at like 9pm haha

  2. I love the revelation you came to, and I think it's important. No matter how well you train, nothing about this is going to be easy. And that's the point! I've heard it said about marathons and even running in general, but the truth is, you do it BECAUSE it's hard. BECAUSE it takes commitment and dedication and discipline and ability that not a lot of people have. That's the point, and the knowledge that you have the guts to over come every stroke and stride of that omg-its-so-damn-hard undertaking that most people, myself included, would balk at, is what's going to keep you motivated to finish. Because you are the person who does these things, these challenging and unbelievable things, because you have the nerve to do them. Of course it's not easy. But you wouldn't want it so badly if it were.