4am....I roll over and hit snooze on my alarm. Finally at 4:30am, I decide I need to get moving. I slip on my running shoes and head out into my neighborhood to get two of the 7.38 miles I need to do done, because I have a long time in the saddle. I needed 74 miles on the bike to complete the challenge. I really wanted to complete this challenge in 4 days, as this is what I told my friends I was going to do it in, and I set a goal for myself.
After 2 miles, I headed in my house, grabbed a bagel, water, my premade water bottles and headed to the trail to ride my bike. Ok I thought to myself, we have seventy-four miles to go. We will alternate riding and running. The first loop I planned on doing fourteen miles and running a mile and then would move the bike down to ten.
I hopped on my bike and headed out to the dark trail. I did a fourteen mile loop, returned to the car and transitioned to my running shoes and gear. Alright half a mile out and half a mile back and then back out on the bike. I started doing my intervals. After half a mile, I still felt good. Well let's go to a mile and that is one less transition off the bike. I was rewarded with a beautiful sunrise on my run. It wasn't super warm yet. Well, I am already at a mile, if I go another mile and half, I'm 2.5 miles out, and that's five miles round trip. My running is done except for .38 of a mile. I knew no matter what I wanted to finish on my feet, because that is how a triathlon ends. Plus I would much rather suffer on the bike in the Florida heat than on the run.
Five miles later, I was back at the car. Sixty miles to go on the bike, I got this I thought. I wasn't sure how I would do, or if I would even make it. The last time I went this far on the bike I was praying to keep it over twelve miles an hour. My original plan was to do one mile hard, one mile easy. I started off on my mile easy, and was very pleased to look down at my bike computer and see fourteen miles an hour reading on my bike computer.
Wow I thought, this actually feels pretty good. Let's just try and keep it here and see if I can average over 14 mph for the last 60 miles. The miles and hours went by. I was happy with my fueling and felt great, until about mile fifty-four, or mile sixty-six on the bike total. It felt like every muscle in my legs said no more. All the hurt that I hadn't felt hit at once. I just want to be done. I don't want to do eight more miles. I want to lay down and take a nap. I took a deep breath, and told myself that I am not leaving eight miles to have to do another day. I am going to finish this today. I pedaled and still tried to keep 14 mph. There were a lot of four letter words that went through my head. I still had to run/walk .38 miles when I got done to officially be finished. That was a stupid idea to leave that, because I just had to finish on foot. I shook my head at myself for being stubborn about the idea to finish on my feet, instead of I could put my bike in my car and go get in the water.
I arrived at my car, finishing the bike. I looked down at my bike computer. Fourteen point one miles an hour was the final average for my bike. I was thrilled. I never thought I would do that well. I looked at my running shoes, and thought nope. I slipped on my flip-flops, turned my Garmin watch on and walked .38 mile. Finally, I was done
I walked down the beach to the water and gingerly walked in. Anyone who has done a long distance race knows why I didn't run in. You know you will find out where you chaffed because when water hits it for the first time, it is painful. It was no different this time, but the cool water felt good on my sore muscles. This was an interesting experience and there were some lessons learned.
Lesson 1: I am not ready for a full ironman yet; and that's ok. My bucket list and biggest dream is to qualify for the Kona Ironman World Championships. Two years ago, I decided to do shorter workouts and focus on speed and it is working. I still have a long way to go, but I will keep working. I look forward to all the miles and hours of training it will take me to get there. There is a line from a Miley Cyrus song called The Climb. It says "You may not know it, but these are the moments you're going to remember most" I already have so many of these and they are not all race related. Many of them are training related. There are memories in the training as well, and the journey is just as important as the destination. Will I do an Ironman? Absolutely. I might eventually have to claim a legacy spot to go to Kona. I hope not because I want to qualify, but I will get there. What's on the list for next year? Two 70.3s.
Lesson 2: I need to run more. Running is hard for me. When I was running marathons, I was doing run/walk intervals. My coach is breaking me of that, and it is hard to do. My bike and my swim have come so far and I have so much fun cycling and swimming, because I remember how slow I used to be and it's so much fun to see how far I have come. Running, well I haven't progressed as much in that. It's my own fault. I'm so slow when I run that I don't want to do it and my progress on the run is slow.
Lesson 3: Even though I live in Florida, I need to run in the heat more. The run during 70.3s and full Ironmans is not at 5am. It is in the warmer part of the days regardless of how fast you are. You will be out when it is warm and these races have temperatures from cooler temperatures to over 100 degrees.
After completing this challenge, I believe anyone who wants to do an Ironman should try this. Over four days was tough, but it was good to get a feel for the mileage and know what I need to do to be ready for my 70.3s and full Ironmans. Take your training seriously, and don't miss workouts. This is not something you are going to hobble through unprepared. It's going to be painful prepared. Make a plan, execute it, and complete that Ironman.
Contact me: Swimbikeruntheplanet@gmail.com