Week 38 of Ironman Training: Much to Celebrate and Carpinteria Triathlon Race Report

The beauty of sports, triathlon in particular, is that it gives us much to celebrate — from the healthy community in which we immerse ourselves to the friends we make, to the adventures we pursue, and the boundaries we continually push all along the way. Even on our toughest days, it’s hard not to be filled with gratitude about our health and fitness, and be gobsmacked about the lifestyle we have chosen to live.

Last Sunday I had the perfect reminder of all this when I found myself wrapped in a blanket of positive energy while participating in the Carpinteria Triathlon.

It was an exquisite morning in Carp, as once again our coastline was brushed in a classic palette of pink predawn hues. The race started at 7:30, with my swim wave rolling at 7:42. I arrived in plenty of time to unload my gear, pump up my tires, and make sure my bike was in the right gear before I set up my transition area.

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I chose to participate in the Olympic distance course–1.5K swim, 40K bike, and 10K run–similar to the prior weekend’s race in Tempe. Even though this was meant to be another training run, this time I felt a little more fire in my belly to compete, perhaps because I wasn’t starting the race depleted, like I did in AZ. I was well-fueled, relatively well-rested, and ready to roll.

When I staked out my spot in transition, I could tell there was a serious competitor next to me. She was the first to rack her zippy tri bike on the coveted end spot and was most likely out doing a warm-up run. Sure enough, upon her return, I discovered it was Mariann Thomas, one of our community’s fiercest triathletes and masters runners. She’s as nice as can be, but a warrior in competition.

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After chatting with Mariann and several friends, I got body marked, did a warm-up run, then scoped out the water. The waves sounded like they were crashing big over the dunes behind transition so I was getting a little nervous (as were several other women around me), but much to our relief, the water was calm and warm.

I did a short warm-up swim, which felt good, then I struck a pose — a “power pose” that is — ha ha (watch this TED talk video if you don’t know what I’m talking about), and in no time our wave of purple caps ran into the water.

It wasn’t until I reached the first buoy that I finally got into a rhythm that felt good. That’s where I found the feet of a big guy and began drafting behind him. As all of you strong, smart swimmers know, this is what you do to save energy. If you’ve been following along on my blog, by now you probably know that I’m still working on becoming a strong swimmer, so this was huge for me. In fact, it’s the first time I’ve ever drafted because I’ve always been afraid of getting kicked in the face. The guy in front of me was using all arms and barely kicking though, so I slipped in behind him and got pulled along. Now I understand what a difference it can make!

The first half of the swim faced away from the sun, so every once in awhile I’d pop my head up to make sure my guy was on track. He was a rock star “sighter” so mostly I kept my head down and let him do the work (sorry dude). After we reached the turn buoy though, and headed back into he sun, I was completely blind so I didn’t bother to look up any more, instead, following his feet, sighting along the beach at times and hoping for the best. It ended up making for one of the strongest longer open water swims I’ve ever had…that is until my guy, and a couple others, turned in too early, at the first beachball buoy. It took me a while to realize it because I couldn’t see, but squinting through my goggles, I suddenly realized I didn’t see anybody swimming toward shore. Shit. Shit. Double shit.

It’s then I tread water for what seemed like forever, raising my goggles trying to locate the other turn buoy and the rest of the pack. The lifeguard hollered, “Are you okay?” to which I laughed and thought, Not really–I just blew it, but you never joke about not being okay when you’re in the water. So……after the guards pointed to the other buoy, I took off to finish what I started, trying to get back into my zone and finish strong. My Garmin said I swam a couple hundred extra yards, and my time supported that notion, but eventually I got the damn thing done. The funny thing, is that even though it wasn’t fast by any stretch of the imagination, it was still faster than last week’s swim in Tempe (the cup is half full, right?).

I looked at it as yet another mistake to get out of the way before IMAZ. I think I’m good now. 🙂

Even though I was irked at myself, I shook it off in transition and didn’t have any other misadventures on the bike or run. I felt good on the bike, as I know this course well. In fact, I’d just done Toro Canyon and Ortega Hill on my “hill day” a few days earlier. Another woman in my age group and I duked it out over the first half of the course. She was quicker on the flats and I was stronger on the hills, so we kept passing each other. That is until we reached Ortega Hill and I took off. I even dug deep trying to shore up some nerves to fly down Greenwell, which in my mind, is in severe need of re-surfacing. I never saw my competition again after that.

But I did see another rock star athlete. As we turned back onto Linden Avenue and headed toward the beach and the transition area, I had the joy and agony of passing 12 year old Jacob Mansbach. This kid, and his 10 year old brother, Joe, are something. These two are not only already participating in endurance events beyond their years, and killing it, I might add, but they do so, in part to help raise money for our local foodbank.

Jacob started a team called Join Jacob several years ago, and with the help of teammates, he and Joe have since raised nearly $46,000 to help feed hungry people in Santa Barbara County. Very cool, no two ways about it, combining love of sport with love of philanthropy. My daughter and I had the privilege of being part of this team a couple years ago and it’s something we’ll always remember. If you want to see what the Mansbach Boys are up to and would like to support their efforts, you can click on this link to their fundraising page. JOIN JACOB

As I passed Jacob, I couldn’t help but cheer him on and celebrate his accomplishments, but also laugh and think, Holy crap, I’ve been training my butt off all year to do a friggin’ Ironman, and this kid, who is a full-time junior high school student, is already as strong as I am! We zoomed into transition together, then he zipped out much faster than me. By the first half mile I caught up and we chatted a bit, and I reminded him to stay hydrated and to pace himself. He clearly didn’t need any advice (!!) , but because I coached him a few years ago on a couple of my running teams, and his parents are my friends, I couldn’t help but feel like he’s still “one of my kids.” Needless to say, he knocked it out of the park, as did his younger brother, Joe. I’m so impressed with these two, and their parents, Jen and Mike, who support them in every way. Bravo Mansbachs!

1st Place Finishers!

1st Place Finishers, Jacob and Joe Mansbach

The run was hot (85+ degrees), but I felt confident on the course. I knew it well and I had prepared for the hills and heat, and the trails we would traverse. Before I reached 2 1/2 miles, Mariann Thomas came gliding past me in the opposite direction, gracefully heading to her 1st place finish. I wasn’t sure how many other 50-54 year olds were behind her, but my gut told me that if I really wanted it, I might be able to snag a podium spot, even with my swim fiasco. That is if I could reel some people in and not let anybody pass me.

Indeed, I was able to pass quite a few people along the way, including one woman in my age group (thank goodness they write our ages on the back of our calves). When I reached the turnaround and started heading back, I spotted my fellow “bike pal” competitor making her way to the turnaround. Even though I was probably half a mile ahead of her, it suddenly felt like she was right on my tail, and I had no idea if running was her “thing.”

The phrase that popped into my head was, How Bad Do You Want It, from Matt Fitzgerald’s excellent book on mental toughness, so off I went, ramping it up a tiny bit more with each half mile. With the downhill grade on the way back, it was easy to run negative splits, but feeling like my competition might get a second wind, I pushed it, running the final half mile at 7:26 pace, which is speedy for me these days.

It’s funny, I’m all about running my own race, never getting into other people’s heads, and simply “doing my thing,” often even cheering for other athletes as I race, but for some reason, my bike pal, who I’m sure is extremely nice, lit a fire in me that got me to the finish line faster than I probably would have otherwise. So thank you bike pal!

I ended up taking 3rd place in 3:07:59. The second place finisher from Virginia crossed the line 49 seconds before me, and Mariann Thomas finished in champion form with a time of 2:47:35. Way to go ladies! And way to go to everybody who participated in both the sprint and the Olympic. It was a fun community event that let us test our training and celebrate our efforts and each others’.

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Top 3 Finishers. Notice Mariann finished so far ahead of us, she had time to go change her clothes before the awards ceremony. 🙂

I was happy to finish this race 18 minutes faster than my last one in Tempe, on a much tougher course. One small step closer to IMAZ.

Here’s what the rest of my schedule looked like last week:

Monday: Rest (recovering from epic training and racing in Tempe)
Tuesday: Run 20 minutes (only part of a longer scheduled run and swim) and get a massage (aaaah!!!)
Wednesday: Yoga, Bike 3 hours with hills
Thursday: Run 54 minutes with the last 15 minutes 7 x 1 minute hard (1 min rest)
Friday: Swim 3500y (wu: 300, ms: 3 x 1000, cd: 200)
Saturday: Bike 3 hours
Saturday: Race Carpinteria Tri

Here’s a quick recap of the week before the race if you’re interested….

At the beginning of the week I was beyond exhausted from my race and training camp in Tempe so I took Monday off completely. On Tuesday, I was still dragging, but had still planned to do a 45 minute recovery run and a 40 minute recovery swim before getting a massage. Sometimes life has other plans though, so I only ended up only being able to squeeze in a 20 minute run before the rest of the day unraveled. Sometimes you just have to roll with it.

Wednesday I was still fatigued, but I dragged myself to my favorite yoga class, as I knew that’s what I needed most. I moved through all the poses and got in some good stretching, but I can’t say I ever settled comfortably into my mat. Some days/weeks are like that though, and you just have to celebrate that you got your butt there. And that’s what I did.

After class I was still operating in low gear with a friggin’ 3 hour hilly bike ride still ahead of me, AND a flat back tire still to change from Tempe. Argh. This mama’s Namaste quickly went out the window as I battled my tire, feeling like a complete nincompoop and not having the patience to get it done. I finally I threw my hands in the air in an “Un-Iron(wo)man way” and said, “Screw it, I’m taking it to Hazard’s.”

If any of you have ever spent time in Hazard’s, you know the bike mechanics are max’ed all the time. This place is hopping. I felt bad waltzing in and hoping they could change my tire on the spot, but these guys are so nice, not only did Dino change it, but he gave me a tutorial, patiently walking me through the whole process and even having me do it myself. This small act of kindness was definitely something to celebrate as it made a huge difference in my day. Thank you Dino!

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Dino at Hazard’s

Even with Dino’s kindness, I can’t say I was stoked to do this ride–especially in the heat of the day–but sometimes you just gotta get rolling and turn your brain off. Don’t think. Just go. As I rode into the hills trying to turn my mental game around, it kept coming around to my coach, Matt. This guy has helped me get stronger with each workout, has answered all my dumb “newbie” questions, has pushed, encouraged, and inspired me, and has put together my weekly workouts, which always challenge me. Although I may have dropped a few f bombs along the way as I huffed up each hill, I got this ride done. And I only got this ride done because Matt was in my corner. I never would have done this on my own on this particular day with the way I was feeling. So thank you once again, Matthew Tague, for pushing me through the rough spots.

After dragging myself up Shephard Mesa. I'm smiling on the inside--really.

After dragging myself up Shephard Mesa. I’m smiling on the inside–really. Just don’t read the bubble coming out of my head.

Thursday, it was a running day. Yay! As we’re getting closer to IMAZ, we’re now focusing on specificity, and doing my runs on terrain similar to that of the Tempe race course, which is mostly flat. I chose to drive to Goleta Beach Park and run part on the bike path and part on the dirt path that parallels the bike path. It was warm and windy–perfect! Just like Tempe. Must have been because I wore my Tempe Tri shirt.

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I ended up running 6 miles with 7 x 1 minute hard efforts near the end. Woohoo! Love the challenge and the way I feel once it’s over.
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Friday was a swim day and Saturday was another 3 hour bike ride–this time on a flat course to keep working on my cadence. Once again, I zipped from East Beach down to Ventura and back on the bike path paralleling the 101. Forty-six beautiful miles in the books to prime me for the Carp Tri the next day.
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As I head into Week 39 of training, I continue to celebrate all of YOU, the people in my life who lift me up, support my dream and make this Ironman journey meaningful and fun beyond measure. I also celebrate all the small acts of kindness you have extended to me all along the way. It really does take a village to get to the starting line of your first IM. With just eight weeks to go, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about all of you, and celebrate the fact that I have you in my life!

Thank you, dear peeps!
xo Becky

PS: As always, if you missed any of my previous posts about Ironman training, you can click on the links below:

Kicking off My Journey to Ironman Arizona
Week One of Ironman Training: Believe
Week Two of Ironman Training: The Power of Friends
Week Three of Ironman Training: I Think I Can
Week Four of Ironman Training: Progress
Week Five of Ironman Training: Wind at my Back (and Front) and Peeps by My Side
Week Six of Ironman Training: Baking a Cake
Week Seven of Ironman Training: Courage
Week Eight of Ironman Training: It’s All About the Base
OMG, You did WHAT?! (AKA Sleep Deprivation + Training = Embarrassing Moments)
Week Nine of Ironman Training: Growing Pains
Week Ten of Ironman Training: Trust
Week 11 of Ironman Training: Speedbumps and Breakthroughs
Week 12 of Ironman Training: A Bundle of Sticks Can’t Be Broken
Week 13 of Ironman Training: Spring!

Week 14 of Ironman Training: Rollercoaster
Week 15 and 16 of Ironman Training: Staying Happy and Healthy

Week 17 and 18 Ironman Training: Inspiration and Purple Rain
Weeks 19 through 21 of Ironman Training: Transitions

Week 22 and 23 of Ironman Training: Holy Epicness…Julie Moss
Week 24 of Ironman Training: Consistency is the Key
Week 25 of Ironman Training: Embracing New Challenges
Week 26 of Ironman Training: Hills, They’re What’s for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Week 27 of Ironman Training: Taking This Show on the Road (Tri-cation!)
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Tri-cation
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Fun Continues
Week 28 of Ironman Training: Rocky Mountain High
Week 28 of Ironman Training: Finishing Aspen Strong
Week 29 and 30 of Ironman Training: Rollercoasters, Crazies, and Comebacks
Week 31 of Ironman Training: New Heights
Week 32 of Ironman Training: 100 Days to Go
Week 33 of Ironman Training: The Art of Recovery and Balance
Week 34 of Ironman Training: The Magic of Firsts
Week 35 of Ironman Training:Chasing the M-Dot with Toughness Training
Week 36 of Ironman Training: Miles of Opportunities
Week 37 of Ironman Training: IMAZ Training Camp and Tempe Tri Race Report

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Week 37 of Ironman Training: IMAZ Training Camp and Tempe Tri Race Report

Last week was an awesomely EPIC week of training–one in which I learned a lot more about myself and all the exciting challenges that lie ahead on this journey to Ironman Arizona. The highlight was participating in an Ironman training camp in Tempe over the weekend, on the actual course where the race will take place just 9 weeks from now.

Smile Train and QT2 Systems put this camp together for our team so we could familiarize ourselves with the course, get to know each other and celebrate our fundraising efforts, which will help change the lives of hundreds of kids who have cleft lip and palate. I can’t say enough good things about this phenomenal team and organization. Good people with big hearts, and fierce athletes who find no greater joy than in supporting others and helping them reach their goals.

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This is our team, feeling pumped and ready for November, after a private Q & A session with the IMAZ Race Director, Judy Stowers (center in blue). Photo credit: Smile Train

Let me start at the beginning though. I arrived in Tempe Thursday evening after a loooong, nutty drive (especially navigating through LA during rush hour traffic), just in time to check into the hotel, meet our team leaders, Kristina and Lindsay, then join a small crew participating in a swim-run race called Splash and Dash.

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Here’s Lindsay on the left and Kristina on the right with our team coach, Brad (QT2) and two super supportive, enthusiastic Smile Train ambassadors (center).

I have to admit, I was not one bit excited about doing this event. I was fried from driving for 9 hours, hungry (the story of my life), and a little nervous, not knowing how serious all these fit looking folks were about this race. It was also too warm for a wetsuit, so I knew I wouldn’t have the buoyancy I’ve come to rely on to keep my hips and legs up when I swim, meaning I’d likely be slower. BUT, it was a spectacular evening, with a harvest moon, and I told myself I had come all the way to Tempe to get the most out of this weekend, so I made myself get my ass in the water. Don’t think. Just go.

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And I’m glad I did because it was a great experience. I did the 750m race, which felt just right, especially after doing a hard swim workout the day before. It was especially good practice trying to sight the buoys while swimming straight into the blazing evening sun, and also avoid getting kicked while trying to tuck in behind other swimmers. The water temperature was 80 degrees, a far cry from our chilly ocean, which was delightful. Not to mention, I didn’t think about sharks once. Ha Ha!

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Several of my teammates did the 1500m swim and/or the swim and run so I hung out and cheered them on with the rest of the crew. After the Splash and Dash, one of our Smile Train ambassadors, Brian Lewis, drove a few of us to Whole Foods so we could stock our refrigerators for the weekend. Staying at the Marriott Residence Inn, we each had a full kitchen, which made it easy not having to eat out every meal.

After a very long day, I finally ate dinner in my room around 9:00 pm, then spent a couple hours unwinding and organizing all my gear for the next day, eventually turning out the light around midnight (way past my bedtime).

The next morning I dragged myself out of bed at 5 am to eat, have coffee (yes, I brought my beloved French Press), stretch, and get my nutrition ready for our first ride, which would be a 38 mile loop of the Ironman Course. We met at Tempe Town Park at 6:30 and rolled out at 7:00.
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It took a little getting used to riding on the roads in Tempe. There are many more cars here going much faster than what I’m accustomed to, and when we turned onto the Beeline Highway, it was like riding on the 101–cars zooming along at 75, debris in the road and not much room for error. What made it all settle into feeling okay was doing this ride with the team, many of whom live here or who have done the race before.

And it was especially awesome having Pam Kallio from TriSports.com riding behind us acting as the “sweeper” in case somebody had an issue. Pam has completed 17 Ironman triathlons and didn’t do her first one until she was 47. When she first started, she said she could barely make it to the end of 25m pool without stopping. She’s quite an inspiration, and more importantly, a really nice human being.

It was a warm and windy ride, which is what I expected, but it felt like it took a looooong time to get to the turnaround point on the Beeline. After we finally reached it and started heading back to town, we were all spread out, with the leaders blazing along at top speed and the rest of us pushing it at our own pace. I was riding near the middle-to-back with Brad, when we heard a siren coming toward us on the opposite side of the highway. I instantly had a sinking feeling in my stomach, and hoped it wasn’t for one of us.

Sure enough, it wasn’t long before Brad received a message that Misha had crashed. My heart sank. Turns out somehow she hit the rumble strip along the highway and flipped over her aerobars, breaking her collarbone and scraping up her face. Oooweeee oooweeee, ouch. It was bad, but it definitely could have been much worse. And thankfully, Pam was there with her when it happened so she could call for help.

After returning to Tempe Town Park, we ran for an hour along the lake, which is part of the IMAZ run course. Whooo doggy, I was glad I had practiced running in the heat in Palm Springs a short while ago. It definitely takes some getting used to running in 95 degrees, even if it is a dry heat.
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After a short lunch break, we all met up again at the Arizona State University rec center for our swim workout. I was happy to be getting into the pool after melting much of the day. Rumor has it that Michael Phelps trained here so I was hoping to channel my inner Phelps while doing laps.

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The coaches separated us into lanes based on our projected IMAZ swim finish times. The 1 -1:20 hour finishers were in the first three lanes on the far right, with the rest of scattered throughout the lanes. Christine and Carol shared a lane to my left and I shared a lane with Colin, a a funny, self-deprecating guy who I thoroughly enjoyed. We got along swimmingly as we knocked out our workout–or more accurately, “suffered through our workout.” Our legs were both cramping from dehydration, as were many others, so there were several moments of mid-stroke Iron agony. All-in-all though, it was a great day of training.
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I was happy to call it a wrap and to have also gotten several technique pointers from our other coach, Tim Snow, who not surprisingly, noticed several things I could improve upon. I could immediately feel a difference and hope the changes he suggested become ingrained into my swimming psyche so this swimming thing starts to feel more and more natural.
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After another brief break, we met in a conference room and listened to presentations about ways to gain speed by Pam from TriSports.com, and about nutrition and pacing from Coach Brad. Fueling has been a challenge for me as I seem to be perpetually hungry on the bike, so this was especially helpful. Brad has done multiple Ironman races and just completed the Leadville 100 endurance run so he’s figured out a few nutritional strategies that he shared with us.
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First off, he said, “Only sports drinks on the bike–no water,” explaining the reason we were all cramping in the pool today was because we were dehydrated and didn’t have enough sodium. Sports drinks solve many of those problems, but if you also drink water, it dilutes it so you’re back to square one.

The other thing that surprised me was that he recommended not eating any protein as it’s hard to break down and would most likely contribute to GI problems during the marathon. Good to know, as I was intentionally trying to add protein to my bike nutrition to see if it helped with my hunger. Instead, he recommended eating energy gels every 15-30 minutes and a PowerBar or two along the way. I chuckled when he said the surest way to spend a lot of time in the porta potties is to have mixed nuts, peanutbutter and ClifBars on the ride, which have lots of protein, fat and fiber. Those were the exact things I brought with me to training camp!

I have to admit, I was a tiny bit skeptical about the sports drink only/energy gel plan, but the next day I decided to try his system, and it actually worked well. Sipping sports drinks every 10-15 minutes and consuming gels every 15-30 minutes with a couple bars along the way kept me going for 5 hours on the bike with very little hunger. And my calves never cramped.

The hardest part of of our second day of riding was when our team had another scary crash. It happened just a short time after we set out on our long ride. We were all cruising together, with the faster pack up ahead, all of us facing straight into the blinding early morning sun, when someone hit a large rock or some other debris in the road, which caused him to bang into another rider, who in turn knocked into somebody else, who then flipped over his tri bars. It left the team reeling, but everyone stayed calm, directed traffic around our injured teammate, and tried to attend to the other two who were banged up while we waited for the paramedic unit to arrive. This crash involved another broken collarbone, three broken ribs and a possible a collapsed lung. Ugh. Our hearts are heavy for our fellow teammate whose Ironman dream is now on hold. 😦

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Needless to say, we were all shaky, especially this newbie who knows how much her family worries about her every time she’s on the road. One of our team leaders, Brian, did something that made all the difference. First, he insisted that we move the group out of the way to give the medical team more room to work, then he made us continue on the ride. At the first stop light he turned around, looked straight at me and said, “Okay, everybody all right? Now shake it off.” It was the exact terse command I needed to get my head back in the game and focus so it didn’t happen to me or anybody else.

The shoulder of the Beeline Highway was filled with even more debris than the day before, perhaps from the wind, including broken tiles, sticks, glass and an entire tree branch, which made navigating tricky at times. Throw in drivers who had pulled off on the side, then pulled out again without looking, we had a recipe for a not-so-relaxing ride. The team goal was to do two laps on the highway before finishing back at Tempe Town Park, but my coach, Matt, wanted me to get in 75 miles, which meant I’d be doing 3 loops.

After refueling at the SAG wagon one last time, I set out solo on my third loop while everyone else headed back to Tempe Town Park to start their run. The entire day I was hyper-focused and often repeated to myself, “Don’t f%#k up. Don’t f%#k up.” I’d been working too hard all year to get to this point to let a lapse in focus end this journey.

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Teammates Lisa, Christine and Pam from TriSports.com. These ladies are fierce and funny, and you can’t believe how strong they are on the bike!

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Kristina and Lindsay rocking the SAG wagon. Photo credit: Misha Osborne (THE most supportive teammate, sticking it out, taking pictures, and cheering us on even with her broken collarbone. Now THAT is an Iron(wo)man if ever there was one).

Thankfully I didn’t get a flat when I was out there on my own. Many of my teammates did, including Colin, who got 4 flats. As I rode back in to Tempe Town Park where the rest of the team was finishing up their runs, I discovered that I actually did get a flat too, but it didn’t deflate until I got back safe and sound at the park. How lucky is that?

One of my awesome teammates, Michael MacGregor, offered to change it for me, and after riding 75 miles and running in the blistering heat, I didn’t argue. Thank you Michael! Did I mention how supportive all our teammates are? Michael works with the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) and changes flats all the time for those who can’t, so he had this done in the time it would have taken me to get my back wheel off my bike.

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Here are a couple snaps from my run. I didn’t take many because I knew when I was getting chills in the heat, it was time to get back to home base.

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After my run, I was mooooore than ready to be back at the hotel and out of the heat, but I still had to pick up my race packet for the Tempe LifeTime Tri, which I was doing the next day, along with several of my teammates. Packet pick-up was right in the park, so it wasn’t a huge deal. It just required standing in long lines with no shade. Eventually, I got my race packet, went to the mandatory athlete meeting, picked up another spare tube at the expo, and racked my bike before walking back to the hotel.

As you can see from all the bikes, this tri was much bigger than any I had ever done, so it gave me a taste of what IMAZ will be like in November, which will have 2,800-3,000 athletes.

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After hoofing it back to the hotel, stopping briefly to pick up a sandwich along the way, I showered and put my feet up for a bit before meeting the team for a presentation from the IMAZ race director, Judy Stowers. Smile Train had organized a private Q & A session with her so we could get all the information we wanted before the race. This definitely made it feel real. Can hardly wait! She reassured us that the bike course would be clear of debris and also closed to traffic on race day.

Then it was another evening of organizing gear, mixing up bottles of hydration and packing everything up to check out in the morning (no rest for the weary!). Once again, it was a late night, and another insanely early morning. This time 4:00 am. Transition opened at 4:45, but since my bike was already racked, I didn’t arrive until 5:30.

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Bleary-eyed in the transition area, with fellow Smile Train teammate Scott Kadous–one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.

I was relaxed about this race (as much as one can be) because I was doing it as a training run rather than an all-out pedal to the metal race. After riding 113 miles over the previous two days, I wasn’t sure how my body would hold up, but I knew it would be fun to see.

And indeed it was! The swim start was unlike any I’d ever done. Each wave jumped off the steps into the lake and swam 50-100 m to the starting buoys where we tread water until the horn went off. I heard many ladies joking that they were already exhausted before it started. I was happy to have a little warm-up, but was also glad when we finally got going.

I have to say, my swim was less than stellar (ok, it pretty much sucked–ha ha), but it was mostly because I was super hungry the whole time. I had run out of my usual pre-race/training breakfast food at the hotel and didn’t have time to go to the store, so I simply had half a banana and a yogurt and hoped for the best. Bad call. I was also completely out of energy gels and the expo didn’t sell any (really?). Nothing like starting a race depleted.

swimfinish2tempetriswim Photo credit: Misha Osborne
I was happy to be out of the water, but it was soooo good for me to do this race, and be in the jostle of swimmers once again and experience swimming completely blind into the sun, as that’s what it will be like during IMAZ. I will be figuring out tinted goggles for November, that’s for sure.

On the bike I was sucking down as much Tailwind sports drink as I could to get some calories in me, and also chomping on some Honey Stingers, which helped tremendously. I never really had my legs on the bike though, but I had fun trying to push them to work harder while I cheered on people who looked like they were doing their first tri and others who looked like they were struggling. I also held back a tiny bit, trying to work on pacing so I had something left for the run.

As I headed out on my second loop, I saw my teammate Christine standing on the sidewalk with a volunteer. She had another flat. Argh. I got a flat too, but thankfully, it didn’t happen until I finished the bike portion and pulled back into transition. I don’t know how I lucked out two days in a row, but I’ll take it.

Surprisingly, my legs felt good on the run. Heat was the biggest challenge. I carried my Tailwind and BASE salts and powered along though, passing lots of people along the way. Since I wasn’t “race racing” I also took the time to make a pitstop at a porta potty so my bladder wouldn’t explode after all I drank on the bike, and I also stopped at aid stations and poured several cups of water over my head and put ice down my jogbra and shirt. It made all the difference.

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Needless to say, I was happy to have this one in the books. It was the perfect ending to an inspiring weekend.

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Happily whooped, having ridden 138 miles, run 15 miles and swam 2.5 miles in 3 days. Life is good. Next time it will all be in one day!

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And then it was time to pack up and drive all the way back home. So long Tempe…until November!

In case you’re wondering what the week looked like before Tempe, here’s a peek at my schedule:

Monday: Strength, Run 45 minutes
Tuesday: Bike 2 hours
Wednesday: Swim 3500y
Thursday: Drive to Tempe (9 hours), Swim race 750 M
Friday: Bike 38 miles, Run 6.2 miles, Swim 1900y
Saturday: Bike 75 miles, Run 3 miles
Sunday: Race Tempe Triathlon (Olympic/International Distance–Swim 1500m, Bike 25.08 miles, Run 6.11 miles). Drive home.

Here are a few snaps from earlier in the week:

Monday I was running a little low on energy, most likely from my century ride a couple days prior. It was also a gray, dreary day (so unusual for SB), which made me want to curl up with a book and cup of coffee. Instead, I forced myself to do some strength work at home as Killer Kate was out of town. I did all the usual planks, squats, push-ups yadda yadda and a few bridges, bird dogs and bicep and tricep curls. Nothing big, but at least it was something.

bridge  birddog tricepcurlsbicepcurls
It took me until 6:30 pm to finally drag my butt out the door for my run. I rarely ever run in the evening because it’s not my thing, and it’s also usually dinner and homework time, but now that my daughter has a late ballet class on Mondays, I have the option to dilly dally all day if I want (not sure that’s a good thing). Once again, I ran along East Beach and on the soft grass of Chase Palm Park. It definitely felt like summer was over.

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Tuesday’s ride was a 2-hour jaunt from my house through Hope Ranch, up Cliff Drive, then to Padero Lane and back. Short and Sweet.

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After my swim workout on Wednesday, I spent the day packing for Arizona. The amount of stuff I took was ridiculous, but because I was driving, I didn’t even bother being critical and paring it down. I had the whole car to myself so when in doubt, I just threw it all in with my bike.
trainingcamppacking
I set out at the crack of dawn on Thursday morning…and you know the rest of the story.

tricamproadtrip
I think one of the reasons this training camp felt so empowering is because it stretched me in so many new ways. I don’t know about you, but I always feels good trying new things, pushing hard and seeing how I fare. Not knowing a soul, driving solo, doing all the training, getting very little sleep for days on end, racing, then driving all the way home the same day…it all added to a weekend of growth and epic fun.

So now we’re getting down to the real deal here. IMAZ is exactly two months away. Now I can visualize it all and taste the delicious challenge that lies ahead, knowing how difficult it will be to accomplish, and how exhilarating it will be to cross the finish line. I can hardly wait for race day to arrive.

Thanks for all your phenomenal support along the way, dear peeps!

xo Becky

PS: As always, if you missed any of my previous posts about Ironman training, you can click on the links below:

Kicking off My Journey to Ironman Arizona
Week One of Ironman Training: Believe
Week Two of Ironman Training: The Power of Friends
Week Three of Ironman Training: I Think I Can
Week Four of Ironman Training: Progress
Week Five of Ironman Training: Wind at my Back (and Front) and Peeps by My Side
Week Six of Ironman Training: Baking a Cake
Week Seven of Ironman Training: Courage
Week Eight of Ironman Training: It’s All About the Base
OMG, You did WHAT?! (AKA Sleep Deprivation + Training = Embarrassing Moments)
Week Nine of Ironman Training: Growing Pains
Week Ten of Ironman Training: Trust
Week 11 of Ironman Training: Speedbumps and Breakthroughs
Week 12 of Ironman Training: A Bundle of Sticks Can’t Be Broken
Week 13 of Ironman Training: Spring!

Week 14 of Ironman Training: Rollercoaster
Week 15 and 16 of Ironman Training: Staying Happy and Healthy

Week 17 and 18 Ironman Training: Inspiration and Purple Rain
Weeks 19 through 21 of Ironman Training: Transitions

Week 22 and 23 of Ironman Training: Holy Epicness…Julie Moss
Week 24 of Ironman Training: Consistency is the Key
Week 25 of Ironman Training: Embracing New Challenges
Week 26 of Ironman Training: Hills, They’re What’s for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Week 27 of Ironman Training: Taking This Show on the Road (Tri-cation!)
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Tri-cation
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Fun Continues
Week 28 of Ironman Training: Rocky Mountain High
Week 28 of Ironman Training: Finishing Aspen Strong
Week 29 and 30 of Ironman Training: Rollercoasters, Crazies, and Comebacks
Week 31 of Ironman Training: New Heights
Week 32 of Ironman Training: 100 Days to Go
Week 33 of Ironman Training: The Art of Recovery and Balance
Week 34 of Ironman Training: The Magic of Firsts
Week 35 of Ironman Training:Chasing the M-Dot with Toughness Training
Week 36 of Ironman Training: Miles of Opportunities

Week 36 of Ironman Training: Miles of Opportunities

One of the best things about Ironman training is that it gives you miles of opportunities to try new things while pushing your limits and stretching all notions of what’s possible in life. Every new adventure brings the chance to breathe in strength and gratitude and exhale weakness and the dullness of “ordinary.”

On Saturday I had the opportunity to enjoy another new adventure–the Ventura Century, a 102 mile ride through Santa Barbara County with over 5200 ft. of elevation. This was an important training ride for me in which I simulated everything I would do on race day–from what I’d wear to how I’d pace myself to what I’d eat and drink.

venturastart
After doing a 1-hour shake-out ride on Friday and organizing all my gear, I awoke at 4:30 am, had a bowl of oatmeal and headed to my French Press for coffee. This little note kicked off my day in all the best ways. Love my supporters! xo

lovenote

Then I loaded up my gear and arrived at the Ventura Pier a little before 6:00 to pick up my race packet. I also consumed a banana with peanutbutter to top off my nutrition before I started the ride.

gearforcentury

It’s mind-boggling how much thought you have to put into planning for triathlons, and how much “stuff” you need. This day didn’t even involve a swim–only a ride and a run afterward.

I’d planned to start promptly at 6:30, but at the last minute decided to swing by the “bike check” tent to make sure everything was working properly on my bike. Phil from Hypercat Racing gave it a once over and said it was safe, but that my gears were shifting funky, which I already knew. He tinkered with my bike for about ten or fifteen minutes, adjusting the derailleur and a few other things. I started a little later than planned, but because Phil wanted to make sure everything worked well for me, I was able to enjoy this ride on a much higher level (especially since I didn’t have to listen to the horrible noises my bike was making). Thank you Phil!

phil

I also started later than planned because just as I was about to head to the starting line, my sunglasses fell and shattered. Oh shit. Not a good way to begin. Thankfully, I’d thrown in an extra pair with all my gear the night before (I must have known!). After swinging by my car to pick up my replacement glasses, I finally hit the road just before 7:00 am.

This was a VERY low-key event. No big hoopla or starting arch, no music or announcers or energizing buzz–just a handful of others rolling out at the same time, snapping quick pictures, then all hitting the start buttons on our watches.

Even though I was thinking “this could be a long day with so little buzz,” I was mentally ready to take it on, no matter what it brought. One nice thing it brought right way was discovering the awesome bike path that stretches from Ventura to Ojai. I’d heard about it, but had never ridden on it. Because I participated in this event, I am now able to add another route to my training options, which will help keep it fresh.

I started out the morning conservatively, as Matt suggested, saving up for the hills ahead. As we neared Ojai, we turned left on Hwy 150 and headed in the direction of Casitas Pass, our first big challenge. I’d ridden this pass solo earlier in the year, doing an out and back from the Santa Barbara side, so I knew it was a good one. I felt strong though, as I pedaled up to the top, telling myself, “You totally got this.” It was a gorgeous morning so I stopped to snap a picture and enjoy the moment before flying down the other side.

casitaspassview
Then it was back up another peak before connecting to Hwy 192, a road I’ve spent innumerable hours on over the past nine months, and a road I’m not terribly fond of with all its rough patches and territorial drivers. I’ve learned where most of the major potholes are and I’ve learned to ride both more aggressively and defensively, so thankfully, it wasn’t too bad.

The best part was that I felt strong going up Toro Canyon, passing several people along the way, offering encouragement to them as I kept grinding. The same was true as we climbed up Stanwood Drive, another toughie. One guy I caught near the top puffed, “Nice climbing,” which made me send a big thank you to Matt for making me ride so many hills.

After the second aid station just past Toro Canyon, I ended up riding almost entirely solo the rest of the day, which was good for my mental game. Just me, myself, and I and hours of continually monitoring my nutrition and hydration and assessing how I was feeling. I felt good most of the way, except I was hungry often, even though I was chowing on energy gels, almonds, peanutbutter pretzels, SkratchLab fruit chews, bites of turkey jerkey, and even some Red Vines and Tootsie Rolls (my sweet treat when things got rough). At the aid stations I had a ClifBar, banana, and Cheez-its (of all weird things) and topped off my hydration with water and electrolytes. The volunteers were awesome and I thanked them profusely each time before I headed back out.

What I realized is that the physical logistics of riding a bike and trying to open up my new bento box to get food (which opens in the opposite direction of my old, smaller one) was preventing me from eating enough. It was cumbersome to manage. I need something that’s more easily accessible so I can keep my eyes on the road and quickly reach in for some food. It’s fortunate I discovered this problem on this ride instead of race day because it gives me the chance to figure out a better system for IMAZ. If I’m going to run a marathon after riding 112 miles, I can’t afford to start off depleted. The other crucial mistake I made was somehow forgetting my second packet of Tailwind in my car, my go-to source of calories and electrolytes. Won’t do that again.

Fortunately, although I was hungry, I never bonked, and was able to finish strong–especially with a downhill grade to the end. It took me 6:56 to complete 102 miles. Then I changed into my running shoes and took off on a half hour jaunt. I was wondering how my stomach would feel after eating so much junk food on this ride, but surprisingly, it didn’t feel bad at all. And happily, my legs didn’t feel any worse than doing a run after a 30-40 mile ride. All in all, I’d call this day a success as it made me truly internalize the fact that I will cross the finish line in Arizona.
postcenturyriderun

In case you’re wondering what the rest of the week looked like, here’s what my schedule looked like:

Monday: Rest (drive back from Palm Springs)
Tuesday: Swim 4000y, Run 1 hour with rolling hills
Wednesday: Yoga, Bike 2 hours with hills
Thursday: Swim 2000y, Run 45 minutes
Friday: Bike 1 hour
Saturday: Ventura Century Ride (102 miles), Run 3 miles off the bike
Sunday: Stretch class, Swim 1-mile (easy recovery pace)

And here are a few snaps from the week:

On Tuesday I decided to do my long swim down at the Carpinteria public pool. It’s a nice outdoor facility and it’s rarely crowded. Once again, it did not disappoint.
carppool9616
Afterward I had an hour run slated with rolling hills. I knew a trail run would be softer on my body than the road so I went to the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve and ran on the trails. The goal was to power up the hills and cruise back down them, and once again, I choose to run in the heat of the day to continue getting my body ready for AZ heat.
carpbluffsnaturepreservesign
Mission accomplished: 6.45 miles logged with multiple zip-a-dee-doos up and down hills, and time to enjoy the view from the special place.
carpbluffsoverlook
On Wednesday, after going to yoga, I did a 2-hour hill ride, ending it with a short jaunt of Gibraltar Road.

gibraltarroad
Thursday was a mellow 45 minute “maintenance run,” which I started at the Andree Clark Bird Refuge.

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It was a fun surprise to discover this new exercise stretch station City Parks & Rec. recently installed. I was told it was donated by a 90-year old man who wished to remain anonymous. Thank you kind gentleman for your generosity. My hips thank you!
hipstretchbirdrefuge

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After running along the bird refuge and Chase Palm Park, I decided to be a tourist and run on Stearn’s Wharf, something I rarely do.

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It was fun to venture out to the end of the wharf and hear the sounds of many different languages being spoken–yet another benefit of no longer running with music. I find that I’m much more tuned into my surroundings and also my breathing. Tuning in instead of tuning out is kind of cool, even if it has taken me a little while to adjust to it.

wharfseacenter9816  wharfdetail

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New gear I’m loving:

Rapha cycling shorts (thank you Jenni Miller for the recommendation)! These are a game changer for me. For the first time in months I’ve finally been comfortable on my bike seat. Believe me this is no small matter when you’re riding for hours. I’ve tried a variety of different brands of shorts, and have even tried doubling up two pairs of tri shorts, and for the most part I’ve suffered through many uncomfortable miles. All I can say is Halle-freaking-lujah! Extra happy points is that I got them during Rapha’s big sale (think it’s still going on?).

raphashorts

Cobb Randee Saddle: The other thing that has helped is trying yet another new seat. The fourth time is a charm! I think we finally have the magic combination with this Cobb Randee saddle. Thanks to Matt and Bruce at Hazard’s for your perseverance!

cobbrandeesaddle

Feetures Elite Socks: Love these squishy, compressiony socks!

feeturessocksfeetures

Legends: It was fun to hear 2x Ironman World Champion, Scott Tinley, speak to our tri club last week. His talk focused mainly on the history and unique people of this sport, and the many reasons why we choose to tri, but every once in awhile he’d throw in a funny personal anecdote about his racing career (like how he regrets wearing a Speedo during competion–“It was just wrong,” he joked). 🙂
scotttinleytalk
After his talk, I felt compelled to tell him that my very first “real” road bike was a Scott Tinley Ironman Centurion, which made him chuckle. I rode that heavy beast of a bike for more than 20 years. No joke. Many wonderful memories were created on it–including a 400+ mile ride through the Colorado Rockies. I knew that thing inside out and backwards, even if it was a tank. I totally cracked up when Scott said, “Oh man, those things were crap!”Ha ha. Compared to today’s bikes, yes, but back in 1989, well…maybe.

scotttinley

As I head into Week 37 of training, I’m excited about what lies ahead! I’ll be driving to Tempe, AZ on Thursday morning to join my Smile Train Team Empower teammates for Ironman training camp. It’s a 4-day camp, which will have us swim-bike-run’ing on the actual IMAZ course, including a swim race in Tempe Town Lake on Thursday, and an Olympic distance triathlon on Sunday. Think good thoughts. It’s going to be 100 degrees!

Finally….a big shout out to Natasha and Yvonne for their generous contributions to my Smile Train fundraising this week! We’re now up to funding nearly 21 kids for free cleft surgery. My goal is to fund 25 kids by race day on November 20th, which means we have just 69 days to go to make it happen. If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll consider making a contribution. You can click on the following link to make a donation and help change the life of a child and his/her family: Becky’s Smile Train Fundraising Page.

Thanks for considering, and thanks for all your support!

XO
Becky

PS: As always, if you missed any of my previous posts about Ironman training, you can click on the links below:

Kicking off My Journey to Ironman Arizona
Week One of Ironman Training: Believe
Week Two of Ironman Training: The Power of Friends
Week Three of Ironman Training: I Think I Can
Week Four of Ironman Training: Progress
Week Five of Ironman Training: Wind at my Back (and Front) and Peeps by My Side
Week Six of Ironman Training: Baking a Cake
Week Seven of Ironman Training: Courage
Week Eight of Ironman Training: It’s All About the Base
OMG, You did WHAT?! (AKA Sleep Deprivation + Training = Embarrassing Moments)
Week Nine of Ironman Training: Growing Pains
Week Ten of Ironman Training: Trust
Week 11 of Ironman Training: Speedbumps and Breakthroughs
Week 12 of Ironman Training: A Bundle of Sticks Can’t Be Broken
Week 13 of Ironman Training: Spring!

Week 14 of Ironman Training: Rollercoaster
Week 15 and 16 of Ironman Training: Staying Happy and Healthy

Week 17 and 18 Ironman Training: Inspiration and Purple Rain
Weeks 19 through 21 of Ironman Training: Transitions

Week 22 and 23 of Ironman Training: Holy Epicness…Julie Moss
Week 24 of Ironman Training: Consistency is the Key
Week 25 of Ironman Training: Embracing New Challenges
Week 26 of Ironman Training: Hills, They’re What’s for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Week 27 of Ironman Training: Taking This Show on the Road (Tri-cation!)
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Tri-cation
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Fun Continues
Week 28 of Ironman Training: Rocky Mountain High
Week 28 of Ironman Training: Finishing Aspen Strong
Week 29 and 30 of Ironman Training: Rollercoasters, Crazies, and Comebacks
Week 31 of Ironman Training: New Heights
Week 32 of Ironman Training: 100 Days to Go
Week 33 of Ironman Training: The Art of Recovery and Balance
Week 34 of Ironman Training: The Magic of Firsts
Week 35 of Ironman Training:Chasing the M-Dot with Toughness Training

Week 35 of Ironman Training: Chasing the M-Dot with Toughness Training

Much of Ironman training is about showing up and doing the work, whether you’re feeling 100% or not. It’s about getting through aches and pains, life’s scheduling challenges and the onslaught of mental fatigue. It’s about keeping your eye on the prize, even if that prize still feels like it’s miles away.

After flying high during last weekend’s triathlon and follow-up 2-hour ride, my body was feeling it early in the week. On Tuesday my calves were still cranky when I started my 8-mile run, and then in the midst of doing intervals, I tweaked a rib in my back AGAIN. Argh. So #%!@ frustrating.

By Wednesday my mental state was a bit in the dumper. Between my back, my tired legs and many nights of poor sleep, I was definitely not sporting the title of Little Miss Merry Sunshine when I met Matt for our 3-hour hill ride. Fortunately, Matt just got us spinning. He’s wise that way. Don’t think, just go.

I may have been cursing like a sailor at times during this ride (thankfully Matt couldn’t hear me), and every hill may have felt ten times harder than normal, but I got through it–40 miles of ups, downs, heres and theres.

One thing that kept me going was focusing on the back at Matt’s calf with his Ironman M-Dot tattoo–the perfect reminder of the iron strength and mental toughness I will need to earn the honor of becoming an Iron(wo)man myself.

Matt_MDot
Matt reminded me numerous times that there would be rough moments during my race in November, and the key to crossing the finish line would be figuring out how to manage them. Practicing mental strategies to push away the demons and negative thoughts, as well as staying hydrated and adequately fueled to power on for an entire day would be paramount.

One strategy I’ve been using over these past months (including this ride) is to focus on what feels strong at the moment. If my calves are screaming, then I focus on the strength I have in my glutes or quads. If my back is angry, I focus on my abs and pulling them in tight. If my mind is whiny, I remind myself that I am living the dream I’ve wanted to pursue since I was a teenager, and this is what it takes. In other words, “Suck it up Buttercup, and focus on the joy of this journey. And always, ALWAYS remember how lucky you are to be able to do this.”

The other thing that has helped is immersing myself in several books about mental toughness: How Bad Do You Want It, Grit, and The New Toughness Training for Sports. Each is a mix of inspiring anecdotes, science, and ideas about ways to work on your mental game. They’re good reads for those who want to push the limits and see how others have approached mastering the psychology of mind over muscle.

ToughnessBooks

As I focused on exercising my mental muscle last week, here’s what my schedule looked like:

Monday: Swim 30 minutes (recovery swim after Sunday’s tri, working on technique), Strength
Tuesday: Run 1 hour 15 minutes with 5 x 5 minutes intervals in the middle
Wednesday: Bike 3 hours (hills with Matt)
Thursday: Swim 4250y with a 1000TT
Friday: Run 2 hours
Saturday: Swim 2500m  (Palm Springs)
Sunday: Bike 3 hours, Run 1 hour (Palm Springs)

Here are a few snaps from the week:

I loved seeing the remnants of the transition area from last weekend’s tri as I cruised through the East Beach parking lot during Tuesday’s run.

RunChalk
I know I’ve shared this before, but when I need a mental boost, I head to my workout wall to remind myself of all the work I’ve put in so far. This time it was also a good place to elevate my grumpy calves.

LegsWorkoutWall
Then it was back to the incline board to stretch these buggers. And yes, I need a pedicure!

SlantBoard
And then of course, more foam rolling. My Zensah compression sleeves helped too.
FoamRolling
Thursday was a gorgeous day to do a time trial and a long swim! I was happy my rib/back felt okay as swimming relies heavily on those intercostal muscles.

SwimTT9116
Friday I completed my longest run to date–2 hours–12.2 miles, with one minute walking breaks every mile to simulate walking through the aid stations on the IMAZ course. I chose to run down in Carpinteria as that’s where I’ll be doing an Olympic distance tri (1.5K swim, 40K bike, 10K run) at the end of September. It was a gorgeous day, and even though I felt rushed, squeezing in this run between morning errands/appointments and picking our daughter up from school, it was awesome.

Matt suggested I run in what I’ll be wearing on race day, my Smile Train Team Empower tri kit, and consciously focus on the nutrition and hydration aspects of the run as if it were race day. Also, no music! I love my tunes when I run so this was good toughness training for me. The reason behind it is that music isn’t allowed on the course during the race. I also ran in the heat of the day to get my body more and more ready for AZ temperatures. And you know what? I felt good. One small step closer. 🙂

CarpRun9216
Labor Day weekend we loaded up my bike and all my training gear, along with our giant dog, and my very patient family, and we headed to Palm Springs to visit Jeffrey’s parents. Not only was it great to spend time with his parents, but it also provided a good opportunity to train in the heat and also continue working on my mental game.

MentalMuscleMeme
Our car thermometer read 104 degrees when we arrived–hot, but not too bad. It was 122 last time we were there so this seemed tolerable.

CarTempPS
I had a swim on the schedule for the day so I sneaked away in the late afternoon and headed to the public pool, a wonderful facility which, much to my surprise, is hardly ever crowded. My in-laws had a hard time comprehending why I couldn’t just swim in their kidney-shaped pool in the back yard, but when I told them it would take a bizillion laps, it suddenly made sense.

PSLapPool
For this swim, once again, I worked on my mental game. First of all, I nix’ed my music, which is huge, as I lean on it to distract me from the monotony and discomfort of the sport I’m still trying to fall in love with deeply. It was just me and my breath, continually focusing on staying tuned into my form and trying to relax and get in the groove. After a 500m warm-up, I did 2 x 1000m, and was happy that my time was not that far off from my time trial a few days earlier when I was really pushing it and also using a pull buoy. It wasn’t a super long workout, but it was a good one, and one I felt satisfied with without having to abandon my family for too long.
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The next day, it was time for a brick workout–a 3-hour bike ride with a run immediately off the bike. This was another perfect opportunity to work on mental toughness as I had little sleep and it was already 87 degrees at 8:00am. The wind was also picking up.

I was looking forward to tackling some wind and heat training, but I have to admit, this wind thing rattled me. Literally.

As I headed out toward the windmills, desert grit pelted my sweaty, sunscreen-y skin. Hunkering down on my aerobars, I tried to imagine slicing through the wind like an arrow, and when a gust pummeled me from the side, I used my core and leaned into it, holding on with a white knuckle death grip. On several occasions I nearly got blown over.
WindMillsPS
I kept telling myself, “You got this, hang tough,” as I powered on, but I also knew I couldn’t afford to be stupid. If the wind caused me to veer into the car lane, which was way too close for comfort, I’d be toast. Being safe, I eventually looped around in a different direction, snapping this picture on the way. My sideways ponytail says it all. Hopefully it won’t be like this in Arizona on race day! If it is though, I know I will get through it.
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Surprisingly, this ride went by really fast, reminding me that our bodies and minds really do adapt. Not long ago, 3 hours felt impossibly long. Now it just feels normal.
BikePS9416
Afterward I was scheduled to do a 30 minute run right off my bike, but somehow my running shoes, which were sitting right by the door when I left, got placed in our car, which my family took to do an outing while I was riding. Needless to say, this did not make me happy as brick workouts are crucial to training so your body adapts to the feeling of running right after you get off the bike.

The good news though, is that because I had to wait a couple hours for them to return, it got even hotter so I could practice running in the heat.
PSTempRun
And even better is that since I couldn’t complete my brick, I ran twice as long to make up for it. Happiness is feeling strong running 6.2 miles in 90+ degree heat with negative splits. It’s the little things. 🙂

PSRun9416
Now as I head into Week 36 of Ironman training, I will continue to focus on discipline and mental toughness training along with all the physical aspects of training. It will be especially important as I take part in the Ventura Century this Saturday, a 103 mile ride with 5226 ft of elevation–a perfect way to kick my training into a higher gear. And of course, there will be a run after that ride to simulate what it will feel like to run a marathon after swimming 2.4 miles and riding 112 miles in AZ. Practice. Practice. Practice. Only 75 days to go!

Hugs to all of you and many thanks again for being such phenomenal supporters!

XO
Becky

PS: As always, if you missed any of my previous posts about Ironman training, you can click on the links below:

Kicking off My Journey to Ironman Arizona
Week One of Ironman Training: Believe
Week Two of Ironman Training: The Power of Friends
Week Three of Ironman Training: I Think I Can
Week Four of Ironman Training: Progress
Week Five of Ironman Training: Wind at my Back (and Front) and Peeps by My Side
Week Six of Ironman Training: Baking a Cake
Week Seven of Ironman Training: Courage
Week Eight of Ironman Training: It’s All About the Base
OMG, You did WHAT?! (AKA Sleep Deprivation + Training = Embarrassing Moments)
Week Nine of Ironman Training: Growing Pains
Week Ten of Ironman Training: Trust
Week Eleven of Ironman Training: Speedbumps and Breakthroughs
Week Twelve of Ironman Training: A Bundle of Sticks Can’t Be Broken
Week Thirteen of Ironman Training: Spring!

Week Fourteen of Ironman Training: Rollercoaster
Week 15 and 16 of Ironman Training: Staying Happy and Healthy

Week 17 and 18 Ironman Training: Inspiration and Purple Rain
Weeks 19 through 21 of Ironman Training: Transitions

Week 22 and 23 of Ironman Training: Holy Epicness…Julie Moss
Week 24 of Ironman Training: Consistency is the Key
Week 25 of Ironman Training: Embracing New Challenges
Week 26 of Ironman Training: Hills, They’re What’s for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Week 27 of Ironman Training: Taking This Show on the Road (Tri-cation!)
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Tri-cation
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Fun Continues
Week 28 of Ironman Training: Rocky Mountain High
Week 28 of Ironman Training: Finishing Aspen Strong
Week 29 and 30 of Ironman Training: Rollercoasters, Crazies, and Comebacks
Week 31 or Ironman Training: New Heights
Week 32: 100 Days to Go
Week 33: The Art of Recovery and Balance
Week 34: The Magic of Firsts