With my first half-iron completed, even though it took me forEVer to finish, I’m finally confident that I can survive the distance. For the first few months of my training leading up to that event, I was hitting new distance records on the bike almost every week, and adapting to the distance itself was plenty enough of a goal. Now it’s time to get fast, so I’m going to repeat the last 7 weeks of my training program, but make a very conscious effort to push myself harder, especially on the bike, as that’s where I can gain the most time (an hour or more, versus 20 minutes in the swim or 30 minutes on the run).
Last Sunday I ran 13 miles in 2:11, which I’m pretty sure is a new record for myself. It hurt, and I had to pay attention a lot more than I’m used to, to make sure I kept my pace up. I had a general idea of the average pace I wanted to keep, but instead of staring at the watch for two hours, I find it’s better to push myself to a pace that’s just over the edge of being uncomfortable to maintain, and then stay there. That way I strike a good balance between challenging myself enough to grow my muscles without risk of injury, while still having fun. I also bumped up my gel and fluid intake as much as I could without getting side stitches (came close a couple times), which helped me maintain that faster pace.
I’m having some severe side stitch issues during the week. If I stop intake of all food and fluids for 4 or 5 hours before I run after work, I’m fine, but any cheating and I’m forced to either do run/walk intervals or else run so slowly that I hardly break a sweat. This has only recently become such an issue, and I think it’s because I’m so much faster now. I have an easier time with the pre-run fast before my long run on Sundays, but at the office during the week, there’s always tasty fruit, or crackers, or banana bread, or *something* lurking in the kitchen waiting for me to pass by and absent-mindedly grab. So, I’m simplygoing to have to switch to running in the morning, and swimming in the evening (which I would do soon anyway to avoid the evening heat).
During my swim yesterday, I was doing 10 x 75 yd sprints, and I discovered a great ‘power phrase’ to use to get fast. As I was reaching forward in my stroke, the phrase ‘come here!’ popped in my head, and with it was the image of Scorpion from Mortal Kombat pulling someone to him via a harpoon to the neck (the actual phrase is ‘get over here’, but whatever). Sprints are hard, you see, and it helped to get all aggro and pretend I was harpooning the water to pull it towards me for a wicked uppercut.
I finally got around to finding an event to do in August. There’s an Olympic distance tri in Monroe that I could do, but even better would be to do Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens (or if I’m up to it, both!). I’ll definitely do the 70.3 if I can get the money together before it sells out. It means doing a half-iron distance race 3 months in a row, which might be too much, too soon. I recovered pretty quickly from my first one, though, so I think I can do it. We shall see!