Saturday I rode the SkyMass loop with Sarah and Mindy. This was the first time I rode it this spring/summer and only the second time I rode it this year (the first being in March when it is substantially colder - pro tip: arms warmers aren't sufficient when you are biking through snow). No arm warmers were needed this weekend - it was hot and humid! We met at the high school at 8:30. I thought maybe I would get out there early (haha) and try to get in some extra miles early in the day so I wouldn't have to ride an extra 25 post-SkyMass loop to meet the 110+ mileage I was supposed to do on Saturday. Sadly, I didn't get out there early enough (is that even a surprise) but it turns out that trying to get somewhere early put me there right on time. So, extra mileage post-loop it was going to have to be!
We rolled out of the parking lot around 8:30 and headed for Skyline Drive. I say the same thing every time, but I absolutely love this ride - beautiful views, challenging climbs, decently long descents, lots of rollers, and a whole lot of satisfaction when you are finished. The first 4-5 miles straight out of the gate are up, up, and more up. We stayed together through the climb, the chit-chat making it pass by quickly. I started in on my nutrition and hydration immediately - these long days are a good simulation of Ironman and a great way to perfect your nutrition plan for race day. I drank bottle after bottle of Skratch Labs Lemon-Lime and Orange, drinking an average of 1.5 bottles an hour. I also had some gels and Clif MoJo bars. But the real treat were the French Toast bites I made on Friday night from the new Skratch Labs Portables cookbook. Those were money. I'll be making those again as snacks for riding - and snacks for everyday consumption. Skyline Drive was beautiful, as always, and there was surprisingly little traffic. We passed by a few bikers during our ride and I saw Val out there training for IMLP (Hi Val!). After the first hour I had some intervals to do, which worked well with all the climbing because I had no problem keeping my heartrate in the target range. I think one of the things I've come to realize this season, and I feel very dense for not having this epiphany many seasons ago, is that I tend to override my bike - I bike so hard, much harder than I should, during races that I leave nothing left for the run and this is probably why craptastic can be used on so many occasions to describe my run during triathlon. So I'm experimenting this season with taking things easier on the bike, riding more within my limits, so I have something left in my legs for the run. The NUMBER ONE thing I want to get out of Ironman Lake Placid this year is a good run, I want to end that race on a high note. And if that means sacrificing some time on the bike, so be it. It was a longshot that I would go sub-six on that bike course anyway, so what's some extra time when I'm already at 6+ hours? It will take ALOT of self-discipline NOT to ride that bike course too hard. Every year I've done it, I've run out of steam on the second loop into Wilmington, because I started off by riding my bike like I stole it, and then dreaded the inevitable death march that was the marathon. Ironman is a long day - not always about who can bike the fastest but who swimbikerun the most consistently for the longest period of time. So that's what I've been doing on my rides, paying close attention to my HR and NOT overriding the bike. I've also been using my little ring more - there was no big-ringing the climbs yesterday, it's all about saving the legs.
We all regrouped around mile 25ish at Elkwallow, refilled our bottles, ate snacks (I didn't give in to my terrible Combos craving this ride - miracles do happen!) and tried not to think about the fact that we still had hours and hours of time in the saddle before us. The descent into Luray was a nice break and a good speed-pick-me-up. We cycled through the town of Luray, had the self-discipline to pass by a sign advertising FREE ICE CREAM (who are we?), and then started in on the rollers that preceded the Mt. Massanutten climb. This time the Massanutten climb actually felt OK - there have been times that I've done that climb where I thought toppling over like a topheavy bug was a distinct possibility, but fortunately yesterday wasn't one of those days. I did need to pick out landmarks ahead of me, especially when stuff got steep, to focus on just to keep moving forward. And the top was ALWAYS a welcome sight.
|Looking towards Skyline Drive from the top of Mt. Massanutten|
Well, not completely. I now had a 1:15 transition run ahead of me. I will say this, it is easy to blow off a 15--20 minute transition run (NOT that you should, just that it suddenly becomes easy to justify it because what is 20 minutes? And for some reason those 20 minute transition runs seems to last absolutely forever) - but it is NOT easy to blow off a 1 hour 15 minute transition run. And knowing that, it was actually relatively easy to put on my running shoes, plug the iPod into my ears, and set off with a full waterbottle in tow. I had some HR zones I was going to need to hit and it actually went surprisingly well. The weather had cooled off to the low 90s (this according to the bank thermometer) and the hills looked worse than they actually were. And I was so, so happy to be out running and have my legs feel so good after that long, hot ride. And my stomach felt good - everything felt good, making me think that THIS is the way I need to ride the IMLP course - conservative and consistent - and this is how I need to fuel during the bike - Clif bars, a few gels, LOTS of salts, and plenty of water. The only low point in my run came when I tripped around mile 7 in the middle of town and slid/rolled down the sidewalk, skinning my right knee. Awesome. I tried to wipe up the blood that was rapidly dripping towards a pair of favorite socks using leaves from a nearby tree and that worked well enough. At this point, I looked like a dirty, muddy, bloody and sweaty version of myself. Thankfully I had a clean shirt in the car that I could change into for the ride home/pitstop at the grocery store to house some watermelon and protein smoothies. I finished the run at an even nine miles, leaving me with 120 miles for the day. I also came back to the car to the best text from Mr. Sweetie - making homemade pizza for dinner tonight. He knows the way straight to my heart. Saturday night was spent parked on the couch, icing my knee which had stiffened up on the drive home, eating pizza and ice cream, before going to bed. I ended up getting out of bed around 11pm to eat more snacks because the beast was hungry.
I woke up this morning and my knee was stiff and sore. Sigh. Not the way you want it to feel when you have a long run staring you in the face. It was humid as all heck outside, even at 7-something in the morning. Mindy and I traded texts when we woke up and headed out the door at roughly the same time to meet on the bike path. Having a run buddy to commiserate with on how sore your legs feel and how much you are sweating and how you desperately want watermelon makes things seem not nearly that bad. We did the bike path loop of 4-mile run to the Mt. Vernon Trail (the breeze along the water was so nice - and the Potomac looked inviting - that is when you know it is hot outside when you consider a dip in the nasty Potomac), and up the hills on the Custis Trail, and back down the W&OD. I'd say Mindy and I felt pretty rusty for the first 4-5 miles and then we got into the zone and kept a relatively consistent pace that was speedy compared to how fast we felt like we were moving. The chit-chat stopped as we climbed the Custis trail out of Rosslyn and up to Ballston. We found our legs in Ballston and ticked off some miles a little quicker than we intended (at this point we just wanted to be done as quickly as possible) and I think I burned a few too many matches at this point because at mile 16, my legs became dead weight and the thought of four more miles ahead of me was daunting and slightly terrifying. My muscles were tight, I could feel the chafing happening (damn you, humidity!), we'd gone through so much water, I had ditched my shirt at this point because it was soaking wet and shellacked to my torso, gross, and my gosh what I wouldn't do for a popsicle at that point. Also, my fingers on the hand holding my disgusting shirt were getting pruned, like they'd been submerged in water for too long. Again - humidity. Hitting "stop" on my Garmin when it turned over to 20 miles has never ever ever felt so good as it did today. After a quick trip to the Dog Park with Miles to meet up with Aaron, Brian, and Travis and their dogs (Miles was a jealous hater when they all went swimming and I wouldn't let him because bathing him was not on my to-do list for today), I spent this afternoon laying in bed eating ice cream and then napping. I had all these grand plans to do laundry, clean, do something constructive but none of that happened. I did just eat one of the best pasta dinners ever - homemade pasta with pesto made out of swiss chard (if you put enough garlic in the pesto, you can pretty much use any green plant for pesto and I will never know the difference). I exercised some self control and saved my third helping for tomorrow's second lunch. Can we talk about how I excited I am to not set my alarm tomorrow to go to the pool?! Rest Day here I come! And even more importantly, I think I see the light at the end of the Ironman Peak Training Tunnel. Not that I'm not enjoying it - because I am - but my gosh, I don't think our salaries will be able to support our grocery bills if this keeps up. I feel good and deliciously tired in the best way possible. I'm so excited for race day. I'm so excited that so many of my friends will be on the race course racing and so many others will be there cheering. Here's to hoping that the third time is the charm and I'll finally learn how to master this race!
A quick, non-triathlon related note: HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my mother-in-law Lori and to my sister-in-law Steph! I hope you both had wonderful birthdays! And a big congrats to my sister-in-law Allie for finishing nursing school! We wish we could've been out there to celebrate with you and eat some of that awesome cake! Love you all!