Ironman Lake Placid - Weeks 1-4

Almost one month down, and 6 months exactly to go!

Starting this training plan I had the weirdest combination of excitement and apathy that I think I have ever felt starting a new training plan. It's always exciting getting into a new routine and working toward a new goal, but I think this one still feels so far away and is so daunting that I'm perfectly cool not getting too far ahead of myself. I am truly taking this training plan one day at a time, knowing all roads lead to Lake Placid!

Week 1 Rundown:
My first workout of my training plan was a bike+run on New Year's Eve - Nothing says, “Welcome back to tri training!” like doing a brick for the first time in over a year! I purchased a smart trainer a couple years back and honestly think it was one of my best gear investments ever. I use the Bkool app which and the ability to ride actual race courses virtually is a GAME-CHANGER, like seriously it helped so much for Louisville and I only rode that course maybe 10 times before race day. Given the difficulty of LP and the fact that I don't have real terrain to train on that's even close to upstate NY, I'm starting way early this time and planning to ride the course until my legs fall off (which might be soon because this course is no joke).

On New Year's Day, to celebrate my first swim of official Ironman training, I went to an Olympic-sized pool for the first time! And, bonus, it’s outdoor, heated, and open year-round! I have been wanting to try it out for a while but it’s pretty out of the way for me. Since today was a holiday and the weather was nice to boot, I got my brother-in-law to tag along with me to check it out. Going from a 20m to 50m pool was seriously humbling but kind of awesome.

Since the first 10 weeks of my IM training plan just so happen to coincide with my favorite race (Shamrock Half Marathon), I'm using these weeks to keep primarily focusing on running before it's all IM, all the time. I actually have 3 half marathons scheduled within 5 weeks of each other this spring - Shamrock is #2 of 3 but it's my favorite so I'm calling that my goal race - and I hope to do well at one or all of them. Whether "well" means a PR (1:48) or not is TBD, but I at least hope to run them in a way I can be proud of and with a time I can be happy with (if not a PR then hoping for low 1:5Xs, maybe sub-1:50?). I am not married to a specific time but given that my speed has been lacking in recent months, I am using one run a week for the next 10 weeks to do the workouts from Kara Goucher's Half Marathon Training Plan via Oiselle. I have never followed a half marathon training plan with the intended goal of getting faster, nor have I followed any half marathon training plan since my second half marathon in 2012 (all others have been part of training for other races), and clearly following the plan to a T just isn't going to work with tri training, but the workouts intrigued me. I like the idea of doing a lot of work at or near goal pace - I know it's not necessarily "correct" to spend a lot of time running in that gray area, but I've previously found success doing so and think that, if nothing else, it helps build my confidence and mental strength to spend some time figuring out what my goal pace actually feels like.

I went to the Noland Trail for my long run and had set out to do 3 laps (~14 miles), but the first lap already felt hard and it was all I could do just to finish a second one. There was no way I could have pushed to 14 so I settled with 10. I don’t know if I just haven’t fully recovered from the 50k yet, if my body is adjusting to IM training, or if it was the beer I had with dinner the night before (probably all 3) but it was a rough one! I had sort of been toying with the idea of moving up to the full for Shamrock, but after this run I felt 100% confident about keeping my registration for the half. My biggest worry with LP still being so far out is getting burnt out before the real IM training even begins, so I think sticking with half marathons is the smart decision. That means that the next time I run 26.2 miles will be in Lake Placid!

We had an unseasonably warm weekend in the 60s, so I was actually able to get outside for my long ride! I'm anticipating the majority of my rides being on the trainer until March or April, so that was a welcome treat! 

Week 2 Rundown:
This week got off to a rocky start with an unplanned rest day on Monday - Ben has been working crazy hours deploying a big project so I took Monday night off to meet him for dinner. I just felt kind of off the whole week, and even though I got back on track on Tuesday and Wednesday, I missed a swim Thursday morning. I was able to make it up on Friday, but I still only got in one swim this week. I am the least concerned about the swim so it's not that big of a deal, but I would like to get in 2 a week when I can.

On the plus side, I had a great speed workout this week! The workout was 1 mile WU, 3x1 mile @ 8:20 w/ 2 min recovery, 1 mile CD. I could not for the life of me find 8:20 but I focused on being consistent and ran my miles at 7:57, 7:48, and 7:55 - very happy with that effort! And I had a great long run - I just love my beach runs! Hit the road and the boardwalk for the first 6 miles or so and then the trails for another 7. I went to the park where I did my 50k but ran some new trails, which was a nice change. Still so happy that running 31+ miles out there didn't make me never want to see a trail again, ha.

Week 3 Rundown:
I got in all of my workouts this week, mostly due to the fact that I had Friday off! So far my swims have been around 2000-2400m (2200m on average), and weekday bike rides are still only 30 minutes with 25-30 miles on the weekend - in other words, barely anything compared to what's coming! 

Given that my swims and bikes are pretty short, about half of my weekly workouts are running, which is thankfully still going well. My speed workout this week was a little tempo run, and I am slowly getting some speed back. The workout was 1 mile WU, 3 miles tempo @ 8:15, 1 mile CD. I tried really hard to stay at 8:15, but I drank like an entire pot of coffee throughout the morning (it was my day off) so I was jacked up, and every time I tried to slow down I felt like I was totally pumping the breaks and losing momentum. So, still need to work on pacing, but happy there's still some speed in these legs!

My long ride this weekend was 30 miles - my longest since last May and also my longest on the course so far. Even just 30 miles is pretty tough and leaves me seriously wondering how I am going to run, period, let alone run 26.2 miles after doing that over 2.5 more times? I know that's what training is for, and I know I can get there, but it feels like it's all uphill (literally and figuratively).

Week 4 Rundown:
This week was my first stepback week, although my legs permanently are tired and sore, so it didn't feel like much of one. I had a 10-mile race on Saturday so I did my speedwork, which I usually do on Thursdays, on Monday. This week was 1 mile WU, 2 miles @ 8:15, 6 x 30 second hill sprints, 2 miles @ 8:15, 1 mile CD. It was a cold, windy day at the beach (mid-20s with wind speeds to match) but my first half was going really well, until my foot suddenly started to hurt with about a tenth of a mile left in the first 2-mile set (8:09, 8:18). I panicked and slowed to a walk, then to a full stop. I had a foot injury pop up out of nowhere in 2016, about 7 months out from my first Ironman, and it kept me from running for nearly 2 months. I don't play around when it comes to foot stuff! I wasn't sure if I should or even could keep going - it didn't hurt to walk on it, but I was about a mile and a half from my car so that wasn't exactly ideal. I spotted a concrete post and used that to roll out my foot for a minute, and that actually worked! I was still feeling a little unsure and cautious so I ended up kind of half-assing the hill (bridge) sprints (splits ranged from 7:29-9:31), but by the time I started on the second 2-mile set it had stopped hurting and I was able to finish the workout and actually did better than the first set despite having a headwind for this one (7:56, 8:07).

I took an extra rest day on Tuesday when I realized I hadn't taken one in over 2 weeks, oops! I've had a couple Fridays (my normal rest day) in a row off from work and have been taking advantage by getting in a workout or two. So I ended up missing a swim and a bike this week, but no big deal! I don't want to make a habit of that, but at the same time, they're so short right now that I'm not missing any significant training.

My foot actually still bothered me on Thursday - I got all ready to go and even got Bane ready to go with me, but I had to call it quits after just a couple minutes. I was feeling the smallest hint of pain but I was too scared to chance it. But at the same time, I was too scared to wait until my race Saturday to test it again, so I made up Thursday's 3-miler on Friday night. Honestly, I think that made my legs not feel as fresh as they could have for the race, but I'm glad I did it because I didn't feel pain and it gave me some peace of mind.

I've run this race a few times before, twice for a 15-miler (it's a 5-mile loop and there are 2 distances offered, 10 miles and 15 miles, so either 2 loops or 3 loops) and once, last year, for the 10. Last year during the 15-miler was actually when I had my little breakdown, stopped after the second lap/10 miles, and subsequently hired a coach. That was probably the lowest mental point I have ever been at with running, training, and racing, and not that this year was rainbows and butterflies, but wow it was light years ahead of last year! I think I had just bitten off more than I could chew and gotten overwhelmed, but it took a while to dig out of that hole.

As for the race itself (which was actually not a race, per se, but a timed training run put on by our local run club - same one that does the 50k I just did, our Turkey Trot, a 10k in my neighborhood, and some others), I'm really pleased with how it went! My goal was to run 8:3X pace or 1:25:XX total time, and I finished in 1:24:38 (8:28 official pace, 8:23 watch pace). My miles were remarkably consistent - the majority were within 10 seconds of each other (8:21-8:31), with the exception of one 8:35 mile and an 8:05 last mile - and that includes 3 water stops! To be honest, the 8:2X paces were a little fast and felt a little harder than I was hoping to push, but I'm happy with my time. I've only run a handful of faster 10-milers, all within a minute of the time I ran for this race and, oddly, most of those faster times were during half marathons. My goal was to use this as a time trial/baseline for some upcoming half marathons, and I'm happy with how it went. I have another 10-miler in 2 weeks so we will see how that one goes!

These first few weeks have flown by, mostly because I'm only just scratching the surface of the real training. The 254 miles I've covered so far are just a small fraction of the total miles I'll cover over these 7 months. It's funny and strange to think that a few months from now these workouts will just seem like drops in the bucket, and that I'll barely remember them by the time I get to race day. These first weeks have not been particularly exciting or glamorous, but I know they're important building blocks and that when the going really starts to get tough, I'll be thankful for them. Onward to more base-building!


  1. It really is flying by. You know I love these posts and will be following the journey!

  2. Sounds like four solid weeks of training! I can't believe you already a have a month completed - that sounds like so much! But then again, I haven't ever done anything quite as large in scope as Ironman training, and in that grand scheme of things, four weeks is a drop in the bucket compared to the whole thing. Hope your foot is feeling 100% now (and continues to feel 100%!)!