Ironman Louisville Training: Week 7

This week was...a doozy. I'm really emotional about my training, too emotional maybe. I always have been. It was the emotional side that sucked me in in my early C25k days, and that hasn't changed. Most days and weeks that's a good thing - that emotional side is my lifeblood and why I stick with this sport at all - but sometimes it throws me for a loop and that was this week. I struggled with motivation after coming back from vacation, and I had to do some serious soul-searching over why I am even training for this race in the first place. After last year (a phrase I have vowed to now remove from my vocabulary) I'm finally feeling ready to start facing the facts, admitting some ugly truths to myself, and moving on. I want to talk about it more, and I need to talk about it more. Hoping to get some these swirling thoughts of my head and into this white space sooner rather than later.

This week I finally had the realization that Ironman training, by this point, is hard. It just is. It's hard whether I work out at 5am or at 5pm. It's hard to spend over an hour in the pool. It's hard to spend a handful of hours on my bike. It's hard to run on tired legs and when the heat index is approaching 100 degrees. It doesn't get any easier just because I pack my lunch the night before or I make an effort to put my laundry in the washing machine when I take my clothes off or I use my commute home to double as a workout. I mean, that stuff doesn't hurt, but it's not a magical solution to make training easy. Because it's just really hard. That's #ironmanlife (the coach I used last year put notes at the beginning of my weekly plans - which I'm recycling this year -  and that was literally the only note for this year's plan, which I found hilarious yet appropriate). And that's not going to change.

Monday 7/10
Rest Day

Tuesday 7/11
28.1 mile bike @ 17mph + 3.7 mile run @ 9:26
PM: This was my first real workout in 8 days, and I definitely felt all those days off. It was also the longest brick I've done so far this training cycle, and of course I put it off until after work. I rode to Hains Point after work and did 7 loops (alternating hard laps and recovery laps to break up the monotony). It was mostly uneventful except for one time when I looked behind me and saw that another cyclist was right on my ass. People do this occasionally - apparently in some cycling communities it's considered fine to do, but I personally find it rude and a potentially unsafe. I gave the guy several scowls but he wasn't getting the picture, and I was thisclose to giving him an earful (I am shy and quiet and generally nice like 95% of the time, unless you piss me off and then I have no problem showing you my German temper in about 2 seconds flat) but I finally got away from him. Seriously, cyclists, why?!
I ran afterward and woof, it was rough. We got our first true summer heat wave here in DC this week and the weather was just abysmal. I had a hard time breathing and felt really nauseous and dizzy a few times. Not even a little bit embarrassed to admit that I took a few healthy walk breaks and that my splits were all over the place. Just happy to have this one done.

Wednesday 7/12
Strength training / 3100yd swim @ 1:44/100yd

AM: After talking myself out of swimming this morning, then out of going to the gym for core + upper body, I finally talked myself into going to the gym just for upper body. I'm having a hard time with the morning workouts these days but I told myself I could at least ease back in with a 30-minute gym session.

PM: Swimming after work was fairly uneventful. My intervals weren't quite as fast as I thought they would be, but this was my longest swim so far this year so at least there's that. Still scary to think that very soon this is going to be a short swim!

Thursday 7/13
4.8 mile run @ 9:21 / 24.51 mile bike @ 15.6mph

AM: It was a soupy morning this morning, and I was frustrated over the fact that I've been struggling to even break a 9:30 pace. Pace really isn't that important since an Ironman marathon isn't one you can really run for time, but I still want to do well!

PM: I really did not want to ride this afternoon, but I already had all my stuff with me so I had no excuse. I struggled through the workout, but I did it.

Then I came home to my Engineer-in-Training certificate in the mail! This may not seem training-related, but trust me, it is. Last year when I was training for IMNC I was also working full-time at my first engineering job (for those who don't know, in 2013 I left my job teaching Latin to go back to school for civil engineering), and most days after my work and training was done, I spent whatever few spare minutes I had up, until a month before race day, studying for my Fundamentals of Engineering exam. In hindsight, the test wasn't that hard and I probably could have studied less, but whatever. The point is that I eventually took and passed the test in September but, for stupid reasons that are my fault, I didn't send in my application until last month. And today, 14 months after completing my engineering degree (my second career, for those who haven't been around that long), and 10 months after passing the test, I received my engineering certificate. Truthfully, it's just a baby step on the way to my getting my professional engineering license, which I still need 2.5 more years of experience for, but it's the only step I can really take right now. Getting this in the mail today just reminded me of how much weight I was carrying on my shoulders during training last year, and how good it feels to know that at least I have one less thing to try to juggle this time around!

Friday 7/14
Unplanned Rest Day
I don't want to talk about why I didn't swim today since I told myself a few weeks ago that I would start focusing on the things I do and not the things I don't do, but I will say that I have officially decided to move my rest day to Fridays.

Saturday 7/15
13.1 mile run @ 9:41
Another tough summer long run. This was more mentally difficult than physical, and it took quite a bit of convincing myself to keep going. Every minute felt like an hour and thinking about how long the whole run was going to take seemed like an eternity. I actually stopped for a stoplight at 2.5 miles in, and I just couldn't get started again. I just sat on a bench for 20 minutes feeling sorry for myself and trying to figure out what was going on with me. At least the view wasn't half bad. The mid-run pity party is pretty much a staple in my training though, and I eventually rode it out and was able to finish my run (and went paddleboarding immediately afterward, obviously). 

Sunday 7/16
69 mile ride @ 14.6mph + 3.2 mile run @ 9:25
For the first time this training cycle, I was finally able to get together with my training group! It was nice to all be back together. I was so nervous about this ride since I haven't done more than 50 since Mountains of Misery (which was only 7 weeks ago but feels like forever). The plan called for 75 today (the route ended up being 69 - close enough, I guess) and I have a difficult history with long rides, so I was expecting it to not go well. Surprisingly, it did! We didn't push the pace and just focused on getting through the distance, so I'm sure that helped. It also helped to be with the others (it always does) and to be on real roads, where the miles seem to go by so much faster than they do on a bike trail like the W&OD (in related news I have decided not to even try the W&OD again because I hate it so much). I actually finished feeling like I could have kept going! It's taken me a long time to get here on the bike but it feels good.
The run afterward was on a shaded trail - thank goodness because I don't know if I could have made it through otherwise. It was HOT out there, especially in the sun. 

Weekly Mileage
Swim: 3100 yds (1.8)
Bike: 121 miles
Run: 24.8 miles

2017 Miles
Swim: 24.6 miles
Bike: 1055 miles + ~352 miles spin
Run: 682.9 miles

Coming up next week:
This weekend I'll have my longest ride of training (90 miles), so the week is a little lighter than usual to prepare for that. I hope to get in a third swim this week for the first time this training cycle (and fingers crossed for one of them being an open water swim). It's been a little rough here lately, but I feel like things are starting to come together, and I have faith that that will continue. Less than 3 months to race day!


  1. Congrats on getting your certificate! At least that was a bright spot to the week!

    I'm sorry you're having a rough week. I really do know how it feels to struggle with motivation. I often feel "over" training and wonder how I'm going to get through the next few months without phoning it in or outright giving up because all these early mornings just feel so pointless sometimes. But, we'll get through it.

    Just a thought, and take it with a grain of salt because I don't know anything about triathlon training - have you thought about maybe slowing down your runs a bit? I noticed that a lot of the runs are at or near your marathon pace. If you're struggling a lot, especially in summer heat when our bodies fatigue much more rapidly, it might be worth it to go a little easier on a few of the runs. I do pretty much all my training by effort level, not pace, in the summer. It means slower paces across the board, but it's helping me not feel so wiped out by the heat, and on cooler days I find that my pace improves so I know the work I do on the hot days is still working.

    Anyway, I hope this week goes better for you. Coming back from vacay is TOUGH, but now that you're back in your routine, hopefully things smooth out a bit!

  2. Man, the mileage you put in per week is just eye-popping. Even though it's obviously not all in one discipline, I can't even IMAGINE logging that kind of mileage week in and week out. I have enough trouble trying to find time to run 20ish miles per week!

    I am a huge proponent of Friday rest days. I've been taking Friday rest days pretty much as long as I've been doing any sort of real training, and I think they're the best. Granted, I primarily work out in the afternoon, but being able to come home at the end of the week and not have to worry about anything in the workout department after four days of frenetic afternoon workouts is a huge relief. Plus, I feel more rested for my long runs on Saturday mornings when I don't do anything on Fridays. I hope they help you find at least some relaxation in the insanity of Ironman training!

  3. Yay for the certification, that is so exciting. I know what you mean by baby steps. Keep hustling, lady! I am in awe of everything it takes to train for an Ironman!

  4. Congrats on the certification really impressive how much you got done last year. Also Love that you got through the week in spite of its challenges. You're doing better than you think - someone (me) would probably have given up - you keep going :)

  5. Right there with you, friend. This is just...hard. The weather is god awful, the training is ramping up and it's difficult. Forward progress. And I've been taking breaks to walk (or just breathe) on just about every single run (even the easy ones). I feel zero shame. xx

  6. If I'm being honest, the fact that training is hard is exactly why I'm not anxious to get back to it. HM or marathon training is not the same as IM training, of course, but it IS hard. And that's exactly why I did it all those times I did. Because I needed something hard, something challenging but ultimately rewarding, something to conquer and show me what I was made of. But the first of this year was so hard in so many ways, and there are still some things right now that are really hard (like going from working 3-hour days to 12-hour days right now, every damn day with no end for 2 months) that I'm not interested in taking on another hard thing. Which sucks, because I know what running and, specifically, training does for me. But I think there's a point where there's just no more room for hard stuff.

    That's all barely related to your post at all, but I think I've just had to get it out for a long time and I figured you'd get it. ANYWAY. Back to you. Congratulations on your certificate! And I think you're smart to remove "after last year" from your vocab. I know how emotional training is/can be (right there with ya), and attaching your current training cycle to the emotional rollercoaster and ultimate let-down that last year was can't be helpful. You mentioned before that so much is different about this year than last year. THAT's the only comparison to focus on!