IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2017 TRAINING
dread – /dred/ verb/noun: 1. To anticipate with great fear or apprehension (Google Definition) 2. The word “dead” with an r stuck in it (Chris Definition)
It’s interesting how one little change can cause me to panic over something that I can’t control. For this week it was the weather. The past three weeks we have had pretty good moderate, if not cool temperatures to train in. It has been somewhat enjoyable to bike and run in the day with temps in the upper 60’s and mid 70’s. But on the horizon for this weekend loomed record setting high temperatures in our area, several days bordering or over 90 degrees. And it happened on Week 27 – the dreaded Week 27.
I have followed the Be Iron Fit training plan for three races now and Week 27 is the one that I generally loathe. Sure we have been building up to this week, and truthfully I probably could have done the distance that Week 27 calls for in any of the previous three weekends. But doing it in 90 degree temps?! Yikes. I have gotten through this week before and I was sure I can get through it again. It’s not as tough as the race itself, for Pete’s sake. But the issue at hand was doing a six hour/100 mile bike ride and one hour/7 mile run in the heat. I was really dreading it this time around. Thankfully, my group of Gunner teammates had just the answer – suffer through this together. Here’s the low down on how we conquered the Dreaded Week 27.
The plan was to gather at Dave’s house in Dixon and ride his route, a route that I feel is very similar to what we will expect in Louisville – lots of rolling hills, followed by more rolling hills. The offer to spend the night there on Friday was made so that we could get an early start to our seven hour day, and I gladly accepted. I packed my junk up, double checked that I had all my junk, and had a dinner at a local pizza place with my wife Kari that only made me more anxious. The waitress was terrible and I was starting to believe that I may not make it there on Friday night. Quick pro tip – never tell the waitress that you need just another minute. To them people, just another minute means maybe ten. Whatever. We finally ate and I got on the road.
Upon arriving at Dave’s I was provided a comfortable bed, and the promise of a pre-ride meal in the morning.
I awoke at 5:30 am and got dressed. Upstairs Carla had oatmeal, bagels and bananas waiting for us. Thanks Carla! I probably ate more there than I do on my regular pre-ride meal at home. I certainly left with a full tank. Jeff showed up from Chicago just in time for some breakfast and small talk, and we slathered on some sunscreen and got ready to saddle up.
We hit the road at 6:30 am and it was 64 degrees. I actually felt a little cold and felt a little foolish for worrying about the forecasted heat. But as the sun rose, so did the temperatures. The riding was good, we reminded ourselves to save our legs for later, and slowly paced ourselves out to the first stop to refill our water bottles, a fire station in Lanark, Illinois.
Before we left, Dave had prepared for all of us a plastic bag filled with powdered lemon-lime flavored Gatorade. I joked that it looked like I was carrying a bag of yellow cocaine and almost took a pass on bringing it. I will drink Gatorade on my rides, but after a while all of that warm sugary Gatorade just doesn’t go down very well. I grabbed a bag as insurance, and I am glad I did.
At the first stop, I pulled out the bag and added some to my water bottles, now jokingly calling it “yellow gocaine” but I didn’t add enough. Now I just had dilute Gatorade water. Fortunately, I don’t rely on Gatorade for fuel, hydration or electrolyte replenishment. I always use salt capsules to keep my sodium levels up, and use gels for nutritions/fuel, along with water.
At several turns we were greeted with the possibility of some loose gravel on the turns and we did our best to warn each other. But occasionally we’d forget until after we passed it, but even then we would still shout “GRAVEL!”
I had been riding with Alex a little and he kept telling me about this hill that we would be able to scream down. I kept thinking that we weren’t going to ever get to this hill. But we finally did and it did not disappoint. I hit 45.8 mph going down it and pretty much had spun out my gearing. It was pretty exhilarating, and it ended too soon for me. It then dawned on me that that hill we just enjoyed will be the same one that will kick our butts on the way back. It did.
Our watches hit three hours just before we got to the portion of Dave’s route that included some serious hills to climb. Darn. Oh well. Maybe next time. We stopped for a little chat, a selfie and I ate my banana and some Clif bar.
THE 4 HOUR MARK
We made it back to the fire station in Lanark only to find that all of the doors were closed and it looked empty. That was a problem, as we needed to top off our water bottles with yellow gocaine for the remaining two hour trip back. I checked around back looking for a hose bib with negative results, and Alex knocked on the door of a business on the other side of the street. Turns out it was a realty office and one of the agents was nice enough to allow us use of their bathroom and water fountain. Crisis averted.
GUNNING IT BACK HOME
Dave, who is much better at judging the wind direction than I am (he’s a pilot, so no wonder) and told us that we might have to pick up the pace a little to make it back in six hours. The whole ride out I felt like we were mostly going downhill, and now not only were we climbing somewhat back, we also had a little headwind to deal with. Truthfully the wind was negligible, and the real issue now was that it was hot. We were enjoying ourselves so much that the heat really didn’t seem to matter. Dave manages his hydration much better than I do, and I tried my best to keep pace with his drinking, so I felt pretty good hydration wise. I think I stopped for five or six nature breaks and all were pale yellow, which was very good for me.
As we got closer to home, I could tell we were making a faster split coming back than going out, not just by effort and the fact that I watched our average mph climb from 16.5 to now around 17 mph, but also by the fact that Dave kept taking us on little half mile out and back trips on roads we didn’t ride out on. So I flipped the switch in my mind to forget about being back exactly at 100 miles (we turned around at 50), and just kept an eye on that 6 hour mark.
RIDE OVER – TIME TO RUN
We finished the ride in 6:02, covering 102.2 miles according to my gps watch. I was very pleased. Another 10 miles in that heat would have been doable, but I was glad it was done. The 112 miles will just have to wait until race day.
We seemed to not be in a rush to head out to the run, but we got around to it. I took some time to use the washroom and wash my face and neck off with some cold water. I downed a bottle of cold Gatorade (not the yellow gocaine variety for once!), and we swapped bike shoes for running shoes. The group headed out and paced ourselves fairly conservatively for the first couple of miles. Alex thought he would gun it a little more, but he quickly came to his senses and joined us. Carla came through and met us about 20-25 minutes into our run, offering us water and Gatorade refills which I happily took. Then Jeff hit the gas.
I hadn’t mentioned Jeff much so far in this recap, mainly because he was going along just doing the work. But now I knew that he was ready to rock and roll. He steadily built a lead on us getting a football field length or two ahead of us when we turned around at 30 minutes. Now it was Dave, Alex and I jogging together and thinking that Jeff was forgetting that we have a 3 hour run to do on Sunday. Jeff caught us and passed us easily. Now it was game on. It took me a while but I slowly reeled him in. I passed him with about a half mile or so to go and I got back to Dave’s house before him. But in all reality, he had run farther than me. He was in beast mode on that run. Well done, Jeff.
RECOVERING WITH SPECIAL SAUCE
After getting back, I chose to keep walking around to cool down while the others seemed to prefer to crash. Alex seemed to really be struggling. I keep hinting that he needs to pay more attention to electrolyte replenishment, but you can’t tell a young gun what to do. I hope he remembers what happened at Lake Placid last year, and makes the adjustment to increase his salt intake.
We went inside and showered up and was met with a great lunch spread made by Carla. She had made us all a variety of sandwiches and stuff to go with it and it was delicious. But the thing most interesting about the meal was the special sauce. I immediately got a chuckle out of this thanks to the movie “Step Brothers” where Brennan won’t share his fancy sauce with Dale. I have to admit, I wanted some special sauce on my sandwich. It was good.
After recovering with food, we went out to the garage to admire Dave’s new Corvette, gather our junk, and I threw about a million football passes to Max and Zach, which may have been the highlight of the day. I got in the car and headed home.
Before getting out of Dixon, I stopped at the Culver’s and bought myself a large diet Mountain Dew. I’m glad I did because I probably would have fallen asleep without the caffeine it provided.
As I was driving I got a text alerting me to the fact the the marching band contest that my daughter was competing at in Naperville had been cancelled due to the heat. I later learned that several kids and others were treated by EMT’s there, and the police told the school to shut it down. I chuckled at the fact that we just did seven straight hours and 109 miles of high level endurance activity. I guess we are ready.
4TH PLACE GOES TO…
Me. During the last hour of riding I was finding myself in the sweeper position quite often, trying to play catch-up with the other three. I realized at that point that I would most likely be finishing fourth off the bike ride at Louisville. I guess it’s just my riding style. I prefer to spin, and I am constantly spending large chunks of time in the small chain ring. Dave wouldn’t use that ring unless he absolutely had to. I prefer to save my quads for the run. And unless I gun the run like a madman, I am pretty sure I’m looking at finishing in fourth. But I’m totally cool with that. They are strong riders, and Jeff proved that he may rob me from my marathon crown at this race. It’s kind of cool that we all kind of have a triathlon distance specialty, and each of us have our dominant races. I tend to do well in the short stuff, and Dave is KING at Ironman. Jeff may very well be Dave’s best challenger this time around. Alex, well seeing that he’s the young gun, he’ll toast us all. He’s a lifer. He LOVES this sport! We all do.
THE SUNDAY LONG RUN
I was eager to get to the three hour long run on Sunday, because I didn’t want it to get too hot. The run started with a temperature of 70 degrees but warmed to the mid 80’s by the time I was done. It went really well. I’m surprised at how well I feel on a run the day after doing such a long bike/run brick. I turned around at 10 miles right at 1:30 and headed back home, finishing in 3:01. The only casualty was my left nipple sprung a leak. I was running along and feeling pretty good at about an hour into it when I looked down and saw that my shirt had a huge red bloody stain on it. That explained all the weird looks I was getting from people on the trail. I took the shirt off and rinsed the blood out with some water and made it home. All in all, a pretty good run.
2 Swims – 4200 yards this week / 97550 yards total
3 Bikes – 147 miles this week / 10382 miles total
7 Runs – 50.5 miles this week / 918 miles