Ironman North Carolina Training: Week 14

Monday 9/5
4500yd swim @ 1:49/100yd / 1+ hour core
PM: I'm really, really proud of this swim. Not because of my pace or the distance (although I am proud of that too, which I'll get to in a minute), but because of the circumstances. I swam around 2pm today because the pool closed early for Labor Day, and when I got there, there were only a few other people there and I had a lane all to myself and it was perfect. But as I swam, I could see more and more people trickling in and waiting to get in, and eventually a woman got into my lane and asked to share. I said sure and kept swimming along, but after a while another man got into the lane as well. The woman got out at the same time he got in, so I was still only sharing with one other person, which I didn't mind...until another guy got into our lane also. Just three days ago I got so stressed out being in a 3-person lane that I got out 1/4 of the way through my swim, but not today. Not even when I got stuck behind Guy #2 and had to doggy paddle for a few seconds before I could get around him. I know that's a stupid thing to be proud of, but I just wasn't willing to let anything stop me today, and that's a huge turnaround from how I've been feeling.

As for the swim itself, it was pretty huge! My training plan said 3900yds, but when I added up the sets it only came out to 3600. I figured it wouldn't hurt me to do the extra 300, so that was my plan. When I got in the water I felt like my lower body was sinking and weighing me down, which isn't how I wanted to feel starting out, but after a few laps I started to feel lighter and get into a groove. I've always felt comfortable in the water and naturally decent at swimming, but I have to say I have seen and felt a noticeable improvement in my form and my times since I started Ironman training. I have finally found my stroke, and while I can't always get into it, when I can, I'm golden. This was one of those days when it clicked, and after my warmup I just didn't want to break my stride and do my sets as planned. So I decided to swim a full 4000yds, without stopping - a little bit of a daunting task considering my longest swim ever was 4050yds and the longest I've ever swam without stopping is 3100yds. I don't know the exact conversion for yards to miles, but I knew that 4000yds would be just shy of the 2.4 mile iron swim, so as I was swimming I decided I'd go for the full distance. I couldn't figure out how many yards would equate to 2.4 miles, but I knew that 4500yds (90 laps) would be 2.5 miles, so I decided to go for that just to make sure I at least got through 2.4. I would have been so mad if I'd tried to calculate enough but ended up at like 2.34 miles or something, you know? 

So I kept swimming...and swimming...and swimming. For a while there seemed to be a lot of people waiting to get into a lane and I was sure the lifeguard was going to kick me out so someone else could have a turn, but he never did. I was counting laps the whole time - because what else is there to do? - but things definitely started to get fuzzy during the 70s and I did lose count at some point, so I was super thankful that I have a watch that keeps track of that. It was during those last 20 laps that Guy #2 got into the lane so for most of the end I was really just focused on not running into one of the other two people in my lane. I do remember noticing when I hit 4050yds and realizing that at that point I was swimming farther than I ever had! By the time I finished I felt pretty disoriented - now I understand why our coach emphasized that we should eat something fairly soon after we get on the bike. My blood sugar felt low and I felt kind of out of it and a little weak - I'm just glad I found that out now instead of during the race! I ended up with 4500yds, which I looked up afterward and found out it's 2.56 miles, so actually a little bit over the full iron distance swim. I wasn't planning to swim quite that far in training and I'm not sure I'll do it again, but I'm happy to have it under my belt.

Later PM: I did core! I didn't skip it this time! It took me forever because I needed some serious breaks for the push-ups (90 of them again today...after swimming 2.5 miles earlier!) but I'm really glad I did it. I just did it in our apartment instead of going downstairs to the gym - I don't need any equipment so there's really no reason to go down there - and it was nice to be able to work out and hang out with Ben and Bane at the same time.

Tuesday 9/6
6.83 mile run @ 9:07 / 21.3 mile ride @ 16.9mph

AM: My main goal for my morning run today was to take it easy and save my legs for Nation's Tri on Sunday! I ran a little faster than I expected, but I actively monitored my pace and made sure to stop myself from speeding up too much, and it really did feel mostly easy.

PM: Last night out at Hains Point before the race on Sunday! We'll be running here instead of biking, but still. The wind direction was the opposite of what it usually is, with more tailwind on the eastern side of the park and more headwind on the western side. I was surprisingly able to sustain a pretty high average between 19-20mph for the 4.5 loops of the park (the lower overall average is because we ride to and from the park, about 3 miles each way, and city riding is really stop and go, although that's actually not a bad speed considering we average like 11-12mph getting to and from the park). 

Wednesday 9/7
30 minutes strength training / 4000yd swim @ 2:11/100yd 
AM: Strength training (legs, hips, and glutes) first thing in the morning!

PM: Now, THIS swim...I was a little late getting to the gym but okay, I'll get to bed like 15 minutes later than I thought, whatever, not stressed about it. Then I opened up my swim bag and my goggles were missing. I knew I just had them on Monday, so I wasn't sure what happened to them. I could go home and try to find them, but I didn't even know where I'd look or how long that would take. In that moment, everything in me said to just go home and forget about it. But then my resiliency kicked in and I decided to use this as an opportunity. What would I do if something happened on race day? Would I just quit and go home because things weren't going my way? 

So then I decided I would just do it. I knew Ben would give me his goggles if I really needed them, or at least let me use them after about 30 minutes when he finished his swim, but at that point I really just wanted to prove to myself I could do without them. And I did. I'm sure I looked ridiculous, and it took forever because I kept having to look up so I wouldn't run into the wall, and then running into the wall anyway. My eyes hurt from closing them so hard so I wouldn't get water in them, and they burned when they got water in them anyway. But I did it. One lap at a time until I swam all 80 laps. Ben even offered me his goggles about 1/3 of the way through but at that point I wanted to keep going without them just to see if I could. I think this is the slowest I have ever swam, and I'm not even sure how much of a physical workout it was, but man did I need that mentally. Because of that alone it was one of my best and proudest swims. Perfection or even normalness is not guaranteed on race day, and after the last few weeks of freaking out over things not going according to plan, I really needed to prove to myself that I have the grit and the resiliency to get through whatever I get on that day.

Thursday 9/8
60 minute trainer ride + 3.42 mile run @ 8:49
AM: Late getting on the trainer because I couldn't find my bike shoes. The Universe is really screwing with me this week! After I got on the trainer it went fine, and thankfully I only had an hour ride to do. The run was SO humid (91% at 7am!) and it was killer on my lungs, especially since my legs decided that the easy pace I had planned was too easy. I was really cutting into my getting ready time so I think that subconsciously made me run faster, even though 30 minutes is 30 minutes no matter how fast I run...

Friday 9/9
Worked, went to packet pickup, did some last minute studying for my exam tomorrow, and went to bed!

Saturday 9/10
I was supposed to do a short bike ride and run, just to check everything and get ready for tomorrow, but I spent 8am-2pm taking an exam, and then I had to go rack my bike afterward for the Nation's Tri tomorrow (not that I had the energy to bike or run anyway). We rode our bikes the ~3 miles down to transition and then walked around the National Mall a bit, if that counts!

Sunday 9/11
Nations Triathlon: 24.6 mile bike @ 20.2mph + 6 mile run @ 8:41
We found out Friday morning that the swim was canceled due to high bacteria levels in the Potomac, at which point this race became basically a glorified brick workout. I have mixed feelings about this race - at the end of the day, mostly positive, but still mixed and a little confusing - and will have a recap up later this week! For now I will say that while I was really bummed about the swim, and the way the start of the race was structured due to the canceled swim really threw me off, I ended up absolutely demolishing the bike and the run!

This Week 
Swim - 4.83 miles 
 Bike - 63.6 miles
Run - 16.23 miles 
Total - 84.64

 IMNC Training To-Date 
Swim - 41.56 miles 
 Bike - 1234.92 miles
Run - 306.51 miles 
Total - 1582.99

Week 14 Reflections:
  • This week was, weirdly, the week of both swimming and not swimming. Two long distance swims made this my highest week of swimming ever, and it's crazy how different the two were. Considering my swim freakout last week, and the fact that I hadn't swam much leading up to this week, I feel really good about how they both went (for really different reasons).
  • This week's training volume came out to about 10.5 hours because of the short race this weekend (which got even shorter without the swim), and it honestly feels like I did nothing this week. I guess that's Ironman training for ya. 
  • I really made it a point to turn things around this week mentally, and while I don't feel 100% better, I feel much better than I did last week. Hopefully I can continue to build up that positivity, and by the end of this that breakdown will have been a necessary experience to get through for a successful race. 


  1. Proud of you for sticking with Monday's swim! It's not stupid to be proud of that. And it obviously was the right decision because you ended up with a great swim! You're just the queen of victorious swims this week—good for you for powering through the goggle-less situation on Wednesday too.

    Not training related, but is that exam the big one you've been stressing about for months? Glad it's out of the way!

    You crushed that tri (er, brick) and I'm so happy for you! Hopefully that gave you a really good mental boost before this weekend.

  2. YAY!! again, not stupid to be proud of that! you go girl. be proud. and seriously, go you for turning the lost goggles into something to be proud of and overcome. what a good week for swims! i'm so glad you feel a bit better mentally. sucks about the swim being cancelled, but ew. glad it was lol.

  3. Nice job on the goggle-less swim, and your tri/du!