This week I hoped to get back on my schedule after vacation. It only sort of worked. But the trade-off of skipping a few workouts was that I got to make dinners with friends and fit in a much needed chiropractor appointment for my wonky knee. All good things in my book! This was also the last week before I pick up the last 12 weeks of this beginner half ironman training plan. (Related: I think I messed up my countdown for my weekly recaps. I start my weeks on Monday and write my recap on Sunday (usually), so while I have 12 weeks of training left as of today, this recap is of the 13th week, but last week I said 13 weeks to go, which was true, but the recap was of 14 weeks out… something is off.) Starting tomorrow I have to put my head down and put in the work with more focus than I have had the past couple weeks.
Monday: 30 minute easy run
Sunday’s long ride really took a lot out of my legs, so this was just an easy shakeout run to get the legs moving again.
Tuesday: 1900 yards swimming
I’m most proud that I conquered my jet lag enough to wake up early enough to make it to the pool. My legs still felt pretty slow from Sunday, but I made it through.
Wednesday: 4 miles running
I went to my Bull City group at Fullsteam as usual, but it was just too hot to do the longer 6 or 7 mile options. So I did the four mile loop instead, which follows the path around Duke’s East Campus. This path is very popular with walkers and runners, and I passed a couple walking their two dogs, one of which looked EXACTLY like one of the long-timers at the Durham animal shelter that I had spent a lot of time with several months ago. Of course I had to stop and ask the people if that was the dog. Their adoption story lined up with what I thought happened with my doggy friend, but this was a boy dog, and I could’ve sworn the dog I walked was a girl… so there was some confusion. Regardless, the couple was super sweet, and they said they were so happy with the dog and that they didn’t mind I had paused mid-run (and extremely sweaty) to interrupt their walk and ask about their dog that may not have been the dog I thought it was. After talking with them, I couldn’t stop smiling. Even if this wasn’t the dog I thought, I love hearing people’s (happy) stories about their rescued dogs, especially the adults (the dogs I mean, not the humans).
Thursday: 23 mile bike ride
The Luna Chix group met at Maple View Farms for a lovely ride. We followed a different route than the last few times, so that was fun of course. We had to pause for a few huge tractors/large farm equipment that I don’t know the name for. Helloooo rural North Carolina. I chatted with a girl about my age who actually lives near me and works with one of my former co-workers! We exchanged numbers after the ride, so hopefully we’ll meet up to ride sometime soon.
Friday: 20 mile bike ride
Last week, one of the Luna girls invited me to join a small email group of her friends who meet up to ride on Tuesdays and Fridays. One woman suggested a Friday morning ride from a meeting place just a few miles from my apartment, so I couldn’t pass it up. I was the first one to the meeting place (after realizing I had cut it close by leaving as late as I did – pro tip: what takes 7 minutes to get to via car will take more than twice as long via bicycle). Only the woman who emailed showed up, so I met a new friend and we rode for about an hour along the country roads that I usually ride, but combined in a new way. I have collected several cue sheets from various organized rides, and those are what I rely on for my own rides. So it totally blew my mind when this woman made up a route off the top of her head. Of course, she’s been riding in this area for a long time, and I could probablyyyy have put together a similar combination of roads, it still always surprises me when I approach a route from the opposite direction from what I’m used to and have a moment of, “ohhh so that’s how we ended up here.” I should probably spend some time looking at a map…
My parents arrived on Friday evening for the weekend’s big activity!
Saturday: Velo4Yellow Century (102 mile bike ride)
I set a goal to do two century rides this year, and I found this ride several months ago to use as my first century of the year. My parents also ride and are always happy to join in on something fun. (Note that my parents and I all include riding 100 miles in 90 degrees on our list of things that are “fun.” So I blame them for fueling my crazy ideas.) Anyway, we woke up early and headed over to Wake Forest, NC. I ride the same roads so often (because I’m overly reliant on cue sheets, as exemplified above), so I was looking forward to new roads. For better or for worse, I didn’t look at the route or elevation profile until Friday.
None of those hills were crazy steep or long, but it definitely felt like we were always going up or down a hill, and the ups felt much longer than the downs, of course. There were about 100 people registered for the hundred mile option, and we rolled out at 7:30am. I have to say, I was shocked by how few women there were. Aside from my mom and me, there were a couple women who were part of the organizing club, a few (like 2) husband/wife pairs, and a few female triathletes. Maybe I’m spoiled by my Thursday night group, but we need to work on this, ladies! Anyway, the 30-45 year old men took off in their pace lines from the start, and we never saw them again. The turns were extremely well marked with bright green spray paint, which would lead to a problem later…
Leading up to the first rest area, we basically leapfrogged with the triathletes, passing them on the up hills, being passed by them on the down hills, and catching them again. It was not fun and I was hoping the whole ride wouldn’t be like this. I shouldn’t have worried. Most of them skipped the first rest stop (at mile 12), which I would’ve done if I’d been on my own too, but we were taking the leisure approach to this day, so we never saw them again. I’m guessing that anyone using this ride as prep for a fall Ironman would have been testing their nutrition plan, and probably would’ve only stopped to refill on water when necessary. Anyway, it wasn’t too hot at this point, and I hadn’t finished a full bottle of water yet, but I topped off my bottle and grabbed a cookie for now and pack of crackers for the road.
One suggestion for any future ride organizers: have some variety for the food at each of the rest stops if possible. Each stop had oranges, bananas, the same mini m&m cookies from Sam’s Club, fig newtons, Nature Valley bars, and three kinds of Lance crackers (the peanut butter with orange crackers, peanut butter with circle crackers, and peanut butter with “cookie” crackers), plus water and Gatorade. This spread of snacks on its own is great, and I absolutely understand the efficiency of it: buy Sam’s Club size packs of everything and hand them out to the volunteers at each rest stop, but it’s more fun when each stop is a little different. One stop had freeze pops, and they were absolutely amazing. The family at this rest stop said they’d heard of that idea from someone and were taking suggestions of what to bring next year to supplement the standard fare. I’ve heard of making a competition between stations to encourage a bit of creativity. It certainly depends on the volunteer support – it’s a lot easier to stock a stop with homemade treats and snacks when a club or civic organization can draw on their members to prepare things versus a family of four volunteering their morning to sit in the heat and make sure the riders have enough cold water and Gatorade. And I don’t mean to sound ungrateful – we need volunteers to make these events happen! But still, at the end of the ride before we realized there was other food, we thought the post-ride food was more of these crackers, and I could not have stomached another pack.
So where was I? Ah yes, leaving the rest stop at mile 12. From here, our merry little trio continued to make our way through farmland. One farm I do not want to visit: Hook and Bullet Farm. Honestly, we passed a farm with that name. I can’t imagine anything happy happens there… We picked up a few new cycling friends who were riding either in a pair or on their own and became a group of 7. My mom and I pretty much led the whole time because we are both stubborn and don’t like to draft/not be first at something. Though a few times I admit I tucked behind my mom for a few moments of reprieve. Things continued without incident for a long time, and by mile 50-something we were glad to be on a freshly paved road versus some of the rougher surface we’d been on. Eventually it was unnerving how freshly paved it was… We knew we couldn’t have missed a marked turn because they truly were well marked with a few arrows each time, but we weren’t seeing the turns we expected to see. We were definitely lulled into a false sense of security with how well the earlier turns were marked. Eventually we stopped and I pulled out my phone to see where we were. I couldn’t quite figure out where we messed up, but we were thankfully able to cut over to where we needed to be without doubling back 10 miles to pick the route back up. Unfortunately, we cut off at least 5 miles with our error, so my parents and I knew we’d eventually have to add on a bit to get the full 100 in. Lesson learned: check in with the cue sheet at regular intervals.
Eventually we made it! 102.65 miles later.
I’m thankful my parents were willing and able to join me for this ride. 100 miles is a long way to go, and it was hot out. The only other time I rode 100 miles “alone” was part of an event last fall, and it was actually a bit chilly and overcast that day (which also made for a long day, but at least it wasn’t hot). Our final average pace was 16.3 mph, and we were at 16.9 for the first half of the ride before it was particularly hot. I’m quite pleased with that pace!
So what did I eat to get through 100+ miles? (This is something I always wonder about from other people!) I had some oatmeal with pecans, brown sugar, and half a banana about an hour before the ride. Then at each rest stop (placed at mile 12, 31, 52, 76, and 90), I ate a cookie or fig newton or half a banana (or a combination of 2 of these things), and then I grabbed a pack of Lance crackers (I don’t recommend the cookie ones for during a ride – I’d rather have salty than sweet!) or Nature Valley bar to snack on for the next section. So, I think in total I had (not counting breakfast): 3 mini cookies, 1 fig newton, half a banana, 1 of each of the Lance cracker pack options, and 2 Nature Valley bars, plus the one freeze pop that was amazing. Also, starting at the second rest stop, I began filling my water bottle with half water/half Gatorade (plus I had a second bottle of plain water). I don’t love how sweet Gatorade tastes, and I plan to experiment with some other options, but it was wonderful to have something besides plain water.
The ride started and finished at the Carolina Ale House in Wake Forest, but because we did the 100 mile option (there were 60 and 30 mile options) and were on the tail end, we missed the buffet they’d provided for the riders in the outdoor seating section. They were very accommodating and allowed us to order a complementary sandwich from the menu (and I got my essential post-ride root beer!). So, we changed into dry clothes and enjoyed our hard earned lunch/early dinner.
Sunday: easy 3 mile walk
My legs actually felt alright today. Tired but not sore like after a marathon. My parents headed home after breakfast and a few errands. Luckily I get to see them in a few weeks for my older sister’s wedding! This afternoon I went for a lovely walk with a friend to stretch my legs.
Now I’m really excited to officially start my half Ironman training plan! The plan is actually 20 weeks long, but I wanted to add extra riding to prep for this century, and I wanted to enjoy my social training opportunities (Fullsteam and Luna Chix) for most of the summer. I’ve been swimming, biking, and running, and I glanced through the training volumes of the earlier weeks and I think my training has been sufficient. Plus, the plan is obviously not customized to me or my goal race, so it’s a helpful guideline at best. I’m still trying to figure out how much I’m going to stick to the plan versus adapt to what’s convenient or what I think I need. However, that is a discussion for another post. For now, I’m hopping in to the beginning of Base 2 (week 12), which is swim-focused. I have 4 days in a row of swimming on the docket. I haven’t even swam two days in a row, so this should be interesting. Maybe I’m not as prepared for this plan as I thought! Oops. At least I’ll feel like I’m really in training for something. That’s one of my favorite feelings, and it’s been a while!