Monday, September 8, 2014

Six Hours on a Bicycle

Can you imagine spending six hours on a bicycle with nothing to think about besides the thoughts in your own head?  I have, and let me tell you, there are a ton of thoughts in one's head.  Throughout these 30+ weeks of Ironman training, I've learned a lot about myself.  Dedication, fitness, drive, determination, and strength are the good things.  Exhaustion, chronic soreness, early bedtimes, even earlier morning alarm clocks, and lack of a social life are the bad.  In the end though, it's been an incredible journey and one that I can't wait to write the final chapter to in just 3 WEEKS!

Let me catch you up on the past several weeks.  Training has gone well (easy for me to say now that it's behind me and the taper has officially begun!).  A couple weeks ago I made the trip to Chattanooga for a preview ride of the bike course.  I rode all 114 miles of the course - now so graciously lengthened and extra 2 miles for a grand total of 116 - and gained perspective on exactly what to expect on race day.  With the exception of the 10 miles in and out of Chattanooga, the remainder is nestled in the beautiful North Georgia mountains.  It's rolling terrain and a fair amount of elevation change, but only one significant climb.  Compared to the areas I ride in Charlotte and Atlanta, it's nothing to be intimidated about.

I got off the bike and my legs felt very good, despite that having been my longest ride.  I was out of time to do the run I had planned, but I drove the North Shore portion of the course and witnessed the hills from hell that will likely be the land of the walking dead on race day.

Fast forward another couple of weeks and I was back in Atlanta for the Labor Day weekend.  As expected, I had a long brick and a long run on the schedule.  Saturday I rode in Cartersville at the Bud Plant, where the terrain is similar but with more turns and steeper climbs than Chattanooga.

The carnage from long brick workouts is impressive.  Between the 8 water bottles, wrappers from consumed nutrition, sunscreen, multiple pairs of shoes, sunglasses, hat, helmet, cooler, bicycle, and recovery food, you literally need an SUV to contain it all.

Recovery has been taken to a whole different level this year.  I'm doing my best to take it very seriously, including a recovery shake within minutes after long efforts, ice baths, compression gear, hydration, stretching, yoga, etc.  I'd like to say that I'm getting tons of sleep, but an orthopedic surgery residency + training for an Ironman just is not a conducive combination for excess sleep.

Speaking of recovery, I'm doing plenty of eating!  One of the highlights from the past few weeks was dinner at Baku.  These pictures don't do justice to the volume of food that was brought to our table, but I can assure you, I think I consumed a couple days worth of calories in one meal.

Sushi and Sashimi Platter
Dessert - Creme Brûlée, Molten Chocolate Cake, Key Lime Pie,
Pineapple Bread Pudding, Sorbets, and Assorted Tropical Fruit
Labor Day weekend eats were nothing short of delicious, which is nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to my parents cooking.  Sunday morning was pure laziness and we feasted on poached eggs over tomato, spinach, and ezekial english muffin.

Sunday night I made comfort food for the whole family - vegan lentil walnut "meatloaf", mashed potatoes with vegan mushroom gravy, and roasted green beans.  It was the perfect evening for dining al fresco and spending time relaxing and chatting.

It's hard to believe that this will be the next to last training update that I'll share with you prior to race day.  After that, it will be an Ironman Chattanooga race report!  Several of my training partners and friends raced Ironman Louisville a couple weeks ago and the excitement of their race day helped to propel me through these last two weeks of peak training.

Week 31
Swim: 10800 yards
Bike: 9 hours, including 114 miles of the Ironman Chattanooga course
Run: 16 miles
Total: 14 hours, 30 minutes

Week 32
Swim: 10875 yards, including 4000m non-stop in 1:02
Bike: 6 hours
Run: 31 miles, including 18 mile long run off the bike
Total: 13 hours, 40 minutes

Week 33
Swim: 10650 yards
Bike: 8 hours, including 85 mile hilly ride
Run: 26.5 miles
Total: 15 hours

Week 34:  Early week recovery
Swim: 7500 yards
Bike: 8 hours, 20 minutes (including 82 miles Saturday followed by an hour run and 40 miles Sunday) 
Run: 23 miles
Total: 14 hours

And now, it's taper time.  Hopefully over these next three weeks I can set a few less 4am alarm clocks, string together some 8-hour sleep stretches, find some fresher legs, and most importantly, get really excited about the final chapter of this journey.


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