Ironman North Carolina Training: Week 12

Monday 8/22
Unplanned Rest Day
Last week I saw a sign at the gym saying it would be closed Wednesday-Friday this week, and since I swim Monday's and Wednesday's I made a mental note. Something prompted me to check the website this morning, and I found out that the gym is closed W-F, but the pool is closed the whole week, starting today. So there went that. Ben and I went to Trader Joe's after work instead and made pizza and sat outside on our balcony eating it since today was the most gorgeous day ever (and, of course, I had no training to do on the first day in forever that actually made me want to be outside) and it was so nice!

Tuesday 8/23
6.68 mile run @ 8:59 / 20.3 mile bike @ 16mph
AM: Tuesday's are my jam. I have gotten into a rhythm where Tuesday's are my "fun" training days - run in the morning and see all the pretty DC things in the morning light, then bike with Ben after work and see different pretty DC things as the sun is setting. This morning I was actually kind of thinking about doing a brick, but when my alarm went off I just couldn't handle the bike - maybe we need some more separation after Saturday, I don't know. And I thought about not running either but then I thought about how horrible I would feel doing both after work. So I dragged myself out of bed and I ran, and it ended up feeling great! I don't know what else to say about it. I ran in my Newtons and it was fast(ish) and I had to go to the bathroom for the last two miles but the bathrooms weren't open yet but that was the only bad thing that happened, and that was about it.

PM: This bike ride was fairly uneventful, except for this little tidbit that I already shared on Instagram.
Today I was telling my coworker about how I had never run a continuous mile before, ever in my life, before I started Couch25k almost five and a half years ago. I was thinking about that conversation on my bike ride tonight, which got me thinking about the first time I ran a mile, which I actually don't remember - but I do remember that the first time I ran for 9 minutes straight I immediately called my dad and told him that I had just run for 9 minutes! Almost a whole mile! (It was probably actually like 0.8 miles, I don't even remember). It might have just been leftover sugar from my office's late afternoon froyo work break, but thinking about that made me start deliriously laughing for a few minutes on my bike because life is just really freaking hilarious. #myironyear #ironmantraining #imnc
A photo posted by Tracy (@tracy.schoenfeld) on

Wednesday 8/24
1 hour strength training
PM: Since the pool is closed, the only thing on my schedule was weights. I had PT exercises, legs, and core to do, plus arms to make up for the lack of swimming. I did PT first, then I alternated between legs and arms, and then I didn't do core because it was getting late and I had to get up super early. Also because I hate core.

Thursday 8/25
75 minute trainer ride + 6.52 mile run @ 9:15
AM: I have a policy of not setting my alarm earlier than 4 because I just do not believe the 3 o'clock hour is for being awake, but this morning I HAD to get my brick done, and to get my brick done I HAD to get up at 3:50am. And I did, I got up. I was about 15 minutes late getting on the trainer, but still. My bike ride was rough and slow going and I just wanted to quit after about 25 minutes, but I pulled through. 
The run was better than I expected! When I got down to the Mall I decided to head toward the Capitol, which I never do. It was so pretty to see the sun coming up from behind the Capitol, and then I turned around and there was just this stunning view of the Washington Monument.

Friday 8/26
Rest Day

Saturday 8/27
14.1 mile run @ 10:28
AM: I was really looking forward to this run. This is probably not a good outlook to have for a 14 mile run, but I kind of thought of these as "free" miles. I knew I would have company (my dad and friend T), and I wouldn't have to think about the route, and I'd be running somewhere I love (the beach), so it didn't feel like a big deal. We met at my coach's bike shop so he could do a few miles with us, so he was running the show. I was really looking forward to running at the beach on the boardwalk, but we ended up running through a state park and essentially on a tree-lined path for all 14 miles. It was really pretty, and I was really thankful for the shade on what would have been a brutal day out in the sun (the humidity was enough to deal with on its own), but it got boring after a while. By the last few miles I was definitely ready to be done, just to have something else to look at!

PM: This swim was really rough! Like, the water, I mean. Going one direction wasn't horrible but as soon as we turned around it was really tough to fight the waves. It took me 1.5 times as long to go out as it did to come back! Also I kind of freaked out a little bit. I was okay at first but there were a few times I could feel fish around me (like the little minnow kind, not big ones) and I'm pretty sure a couple of crabs tried to get my feet...and now no one who reads this will ever do a triathlon, sorry :/. But for the record in races there are a lot of other people splashing around and it scares away all the creatures and that's why I like races 10000 times more than open water swimming in training. I love the water, but I don't love the things that live in it. Anyway. According to our coach we were supposed to do 3 laps, but we did 2 for 2000 yards total and called it a day. 

110 miles @ 16.7mph + 3.02 mile run @ 9:58 
AM: Considering how awful my 90-miler was last week, I wasn't really nervous about this. I knew I would have my group and my coach and was hoping that would be good enough to get me through it. We talked to our coach for a long time yesterday about nutrition, which has always been a struggle for me because I really don't like gels and chews but I really need to eat on the bike. The morning of the ride I packed myself 3 bananas, 2 boxes of raisins, half a PBJ sandwich on regular bread and 2 small PBJs on potato rolls (it was all I could find lol), and an oatmeal cream pie.

I immediately felt better than I had on previous long rides, but I tried to remain calm and remind myself that I was going to be a long day. I didn't want to burn out too soon. To be honest, the first 45 miles were fairly uneventful, and I felt good. Eating definitely helped keep my energy up! I tried to eat every hour or whenever I got hungry, so during the first 45 miles I think I had about half a box of raisins and one or two bananas. Our pace was steady and I felt fine, aside from some bike fit and (TMI, sorry) chafing issues. At mile 45 we got to the same state park where we stopped last time. I really had to pee so I went to the bathroom, and I ate my first PBJ. We were much quicker this time than the last time we stopped here!

I don't know what happened but as soon as we got out of the park we got some headwind that seriously didn't stop for another 50 miles, no matter what direction we turned. It wasn't horrible most of the time, but there were some gusts that made me feel like I was barely moving. The clouds also started disappearing around that time and the sun started to come out, and it did get pretty hot.

The whole time I really tried not to focus too much on how long it had been or how far I had to go. I just wanted to get through it the best I could. Actually the one thing I wanted to do when I was done was take a picture holding my bike up (it's a thing). This would be my longest ride ever and maybe the longest I'll do before the race, and I have always wanted to take a bike picture (lol #goals, am I right?). 

I don't really remember miles 45-95 that well. I know we stopped back at the house just before mile 70 to refuel, then set out for one more loop. At that point 40 more miles really didn't seem so bad! I decided to bribe myself with food for the next 40 miles: I could have a PBJ at mile 80 and 90, then my oatmeal cream pie at mile 100.

Our group got spread out a bit and our coach was with a couple people behind me. At mile 93 my friend T rode up and told me coach said for us to go on ahead and finish the rest hard, then get ready to run. I was like...I thought this was hard? T is a much better cyclist than I am and I did my best to hang with him but it was hard. We were still getting some headwind and it was so frustrating that some expletives just slipped out at one point. Thankfully we finally got a tailwind with about 15 minutes to go and then we really took off! By the time I got to mile 100 I wasn't even hungry for my oatmeal cream pie, wtf. The last few miles really flew by and honestly before I knew it, it was over. 

PM: (So I split this up into AM/PM only because we started the bike at 6:45am and didn't get on to the run until around 2pm) . T and I finished the bike about 5-10 minutes ahead of the others, so we set out on the run together first. Surprisingly my legs felt pretty okay for just having biked for 6.5 hours. It definitely felt weird to be running, and we could only take short baby steps at first, but we got into a groove after a few minutes. It was another hot day, very similar to when we ran after our 90-miler a few weeks ago, but I tried to focus on it only being 30 minutes. I made it about 6 minutes before I just had to stop for a walk break, which sounds very pathetic now that I'm writing it out. I knew T was holding back for me and I told him several times to go ahead, but he didn't. I stopped to walk a few times, maybe more than I should have, but overall I felt like I was in a better headspace than I had been running in those conditions a few weeks ago. I told myself it was just the heat, that it wouldn't be like that on race day, and I just needed to do what I had to do to get through. I would only let myself walk until my pace got up to 10:00min/mi, then I would start running again to get it back down. It wasn't my best run by any means but by the time it was over it definitely didn't feel that bad. Plus as I made it back to the house, with about 2 minutes left to go, I saw Ben drive up! When I got to the driveway he was standing there with Bane so I grabbed Bane to finish those last couple minutes with me.

This Week 
Swim - 1.14 miles 
 Bike - 153.1 miles
Run - 30.32 miles 
Total - 184.56

 IMNC Training To-Date 
Swim - 33.83 miles 
 Bike - 1101.28 miles
Run - 268.85 miles 
Total - 1403.96

Week 12 Reflections:
  • I want to preface this by saying I do not feel remotely ready to take this race on, because the more I train and the longer the workouts, the more it opens my eyes to what an enormous beast it really is, BUT...this week I really realized I have come so far in such a short period of time. I have come to realize that I am actually not too bad on the bike at short distances, but I still struggle big time with anything over 40 or 50 miles. HOWEVER. Last summer when I started HIM training, my first ride was an hour and 40 minutes (around 28 miles) and I remember that feeling like an eternity. A year ago at this time I had never even ridden more than 45 miles. Three months ago, despite completing a century (that I didn't really train for), I still wasn't that comfortable going longer than a couple hours. I'm definitely having a hard time with these super long rides, but considering how big of a jump I've made in a relatively short period of time, I guess that's not surprising. I just don't have as much experience doing them, but I keep trying! Honestly I kind of thought I would just wing the bike part and even though I knew these long rides would be on my training plan, I just couldn't really see myself doing them. I never saw myself being able to spend 4, 5, 6+ hours on a bike but I have and I can. Not easily or comfortably, but I can.
  • This week was the end of summer long runs - good freaking riddance! I know it's not technically the end of summer yet, and that this weather can and will linger for a few more weeks, but the end is in sight. I was very, very excited to realize that Saturday's 14-miler was the last long run I'll have to do in August! Fun fact: two years ago at this time I was training for the Richmond Marathon in November. I think I made it about halfway through September, through some 15-18 milers before being like nope, do not want, and realizing I'd probably never run a fall marathon because even though fall races are so lovely, summer training sucks. Then I got amnesia and decided that training through the summer for a fall marathon was too hard, but wouldn't a fall Ironman make so much sense?! My decision-making skills are on point.
  • I've now done nearly all of the iron distances in training: up to 2.3 miles of swimming, 110 miles on the bike, and 18 miles on the run. So the run isn't super close, but the other two are like 5 minutes less than the full distances. And I won't run the full distance in training either (I imagine I'll do another 18-20 - let's just say that even if it's not on my plan I'll do it because that's just what I need for confidence), so I think we can call that pretty close. I don't know how I am going to put all of them together but I feel good about at least having done them all separately! Maintaining that level of fitness in the meantime, especially with 2 weeks of shorter races coming up (and therefore not super long distance training on the weekends) is making me nervous, though.


  1. Loving that Tuesdays are so fun for you! Sounds like a great little tradition you and Ben have going there.
    Okay, 3:50 a.m.? I cannot comprehend that. I mean, granted, I am a forever night owl and haven't been asleep before midnight in nearly two decades, so the 3 o'clock hour is literally right after I've fallen asleep. Damn. Good for you for getting it done.
    Good for you for getting it ALL done—your weekend ride is inspiring! You're going farther than you ever have before and kicking ass every step. Can't wait to watch you do it on the big day!

  2. i mean, you really have jumped a long way, so it makes sense that it still kind of feels like a huge beast and like you're not ready. did you ever feel super ready for the half? i think looking back on how far you've come is such an inspiration boost (sometimes lol). i don't remember the first time i ran a mile, but i do remember the first time i ran 1 km.. which is worse, because it's less of an achievement, being shorter lol