Carolina Half Iron Training Recap Weeks 9-13

Well, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Training has been going well enough, and the rest of life got pretty crazy with work, travel, a wedding, visitors, and more travel. My week day workouts are straightforward enough. This training plan has been true to its name – quite simple to follow – and I’ve missed a run here or there but mostly got in all the workouts. The weekends, however, have each presented their own challenges, as I supposed weekends tend to do. Variety is the spice of life, right?

Let’s see where we left off…

March 15-16: One of my college BFFs Lexi ran the DC Rock n Roll half marathon on Saturday. I had coached her, making use of my RRCA certification. She lives in New York now, after spending a year or so in London, and living in Boston before that. With her traveling down to DC for the race, I was happy to drive a few hours north to go see her for the first time in 2 years. I got in late on Friday evening to stay with another friend and plotted out my morning long run around the race course. On Saturday morning I woke up bright and early, got in a few miles on my own, ran down Rock Creek Parkway as the leaders were coming through, and met up with a friend to cheer for a while. After we saw Lexi, I sprinted up a few miles to meet up with another friend to cheer for a bit. When we saw Lexi, I hopped in and ran the rest of the course with her. It was a wonderful way to catch up on life, and I’m immensely grateful I got to run part of her very first half-marathon with her. After lunch with her friends and family, I headed home.

On Sunday the threat of rain kept me on my trainer for 2 hours and 45 minutes. Not particularly exciting. After that I went for a swim. (The typical weekend format on this training plan).

March 22-23: I ran the Merge Records 25k and had a blast. It was a one-time race to celebrate the 25 year anniversary of Merge Records, and we ran from Chapel Hill to downtown Durham. It was a small race of about 800 people, which is a great size in my opinion. We ran on roads I ride my bike on a lot, so I was familiar with the course. It was a beautiful day, and Merge Records had some of their artists performing afterwards. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay because I had a flight up to Madison, WI.

Which brings us to Sunday. I was supposed to ride for 3 hours, but I couldn’t find a not-outrageously-expensive spin class option to take two classes back to back, and 3 hours on a stationary bike in a gym somehow seems so much worse than 3 hours on the trainer. Eric and I went to the University of Wisconsin gym, and I swam and then biked for an hour while watching the NCAA tournament.

March 29-30: I mentor for Fleet Feet’s No Boundaries program that coaches people to their first 5k, so we had practice Saturday morning in the rain. Then I ran from the store to the American Tobacco Trail to squeeze in my own 13 miles before heading to the airport to pick Eric up. I love running in the rain. Pro tip: wear a hat or visor.

Another rainy Sunday meant 3 hours on the trainer. I catch up on a lot of tv this way… And again I swam in the afternoon.

April 5-6: We had a wedding to attend in Asheville on Saturday, so we drove out Friday night and waited up for our friends to join us in our very cute Airbnb. On Saturday morning the couple getting married hosted a hike for guests. While Eric and the others went to that, I took my bike out for an impressively hilly 45 mile ride. I printed out a route from AshevilleCycling.com, left a copy with Eric in case of emergency, and headed out for an adventure. As expected, it was gorgeous, but hilly and not all the roads were marked, so I had to stop a few time to confirm on my phone that I was going the right way. And only one dog ran through his electric fence to chase me, so I guess that’s not too bad. After the ride, I went for a 20 minute brick run. I love riding in new places, especially ones as beautiful as Asheville. This would’ve been a great place to insert a photo if I’d taken any… Our crew met back up at the house and headed into town for pizza, followed with coffee and fancy chocolates. Asheville is the best.

On Sunday, I headed to the Shut-In Trail, which I found by Googling “running trails Asheville,” to get in an approximately 10 mile run. Again, super hilly, and I had to walk up parts of the trail. I ended up running more on the Mountains to Sea Trail that was less extreme. After a shower and some food and coffee, I drove home. Back in Durham I – you guessed it – went for a swim.

April 12-13: Wow I’m all caught up! We had perfect weather this weekend in Durham, though the pollen was a bit thick, and I’m glad I got to spend a lot of time outside. On Saturday morning, my No Boundaries group ran the Girls on the Run 5k in downtown Durham. I was also part of the planning committee for the race, so I got there extra early to set up tables, cut up orange slices, and generally help get things ready. Once our No Bo folks showed up, I switched gears (and t-shirts) and got into my mentor role. I’m super proud of the ladies I ran with – they ran the entire 5k, just stopping to walk at the water station. I was planning to ride my bike after the race, but it was the middle of the day and I just wasn’t motivated to spend several hours outside in 80 degree temps. And here’s why triathlon training is so great: I just switched Saturday and Sunday’s workouts. Easy enough. After taking care of some chores at home, I went swimming, then took a break to walk around the mall (oops I did a lot of shopping this weekend…), and then headed home for my long run of 12 miles. I doubt I’ve ever run in the evening on a weekend, but it was peaceful! Of course it was still hot and I still got covered in pollen, but overall a positive experience.

Then on Sunday I headed out for a 60ish mile ride on my tri bike. Up until this point, all my outdoor riding had been on my road bike as my tri bike lived on the trainer with a special trainer tire on the back wheel. But with my race coming up in 3 weeks, I figured I need to get comfortable riding my tri bike outside again. I was a bit off balance at first, but then I got right back into it. As I’ve mentioned, this pollen is no joke. At times I could literally see a hazy yellow cloud of it over the road. And it’s really hard (not to mention gross) to sneeze a million times in a row while in aero position, and without tissues. When I got home, my face had a layer of yellow powder, I had yellow gunk coming out of the inside of my eyes (TMI but it was seriously terrible), and I really really needed to blow my nose. My legs felt fine on the ride, but my sinuses and my sit bones were not happy. Hopefully things will get better in the coming weeks.

So that’s my weekend training! I honestly have no idea how this race will go. Last fall I had spent the entire summer riding my bike, and I’ve gotten in the bare minimum of riding this spring. At least I know what’s coming this time (lots of pain on the run), and this race is very much a warm-up for Ironman training, so while I hope to go faster overall, I’m going to take it easy on the bike. I have two more long rides and runs before the big day to eek out any more fitness gains I can find.

Happy Monday!

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