Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Impossibility of Basking in the Afterglow with [a Nasty] Ironman Looming

I should have been (but wasn't) in this pool last Monday
In my attempt to blog at least once a week, it wasn't hard to come up with a topic because there was only one thing on my mind this week - anxiety about the fact that I'm 17 weeks away from Ironman St. George, I still don't have a hotel and I haven't done a long ride over three and a half hours.

After a decent showing at the Walt Disney World Marathon last weekend, all I wanted to do was sleep in on Monday. But I couldn't. A huge snowstorm in the southern U.S. created havoc for my husband Jim and me in getting home. On Monday, we were supposed to stay in bed late, go swimming and hang out at the massive hotel pool, and go to Downtown Disney (because I had not been in the Lego store yet). But when we got back from Epcot on Sunday night, we found out our flights through Atlanta had been canceled due to the storm.

After panicking that we wouldn't be able to get on the same flights out of Orlando because our tickets weren't bought "together," we managed to get ourselves rerouted via a hotel computer kiosk - Orlando to New York to Detroit to Cleveland. The worst part? We had to be at the airport early in the morning. This meant one thing: no fun in Orlando on our final day and stress of a long day of travel ahead of us.

The four-airport travel day made it extra hard to get back to working out on Tuesday. But there could be no rest. Although I'm not stupid -- I did take four days off from running to recover from my 26.2-mile race. But I was seriously behind on my bike training, and two days after my marathon, I got on the CompuTrainer for two days: the first day just to get my bike legs back, and the second day doing a hard strength-building workout. On Thursday, I managed to get in my rec-center pool for 2800 meters. Then on Friday, I finally got back to running, albeit on the treadmill (because we had our own massive snowstorm in Cleveland this week).

Along came this weekend and the most important workout in my mind: a four-hour ride on the bike trainer. I managed to tackle about 64 miles, more than 50 of which were on the St. George simulated bike course. When it was over, discouragingly, my average speed had not even broken 16 mph, and I am increasingly worried I made a huge mistake in choosing Ironman St. George as one of my races this year.

From the video simulation, the course is quite brutal and as of yesterday, I've managed to ride only the uphill parts. After which I find myself lying on the floor next to my bike, and NOT to do my usual sit-ups. The final part of the course (which I haven't actually "ridden" yet) is downhill. Here's the bike profile from the IM St. George website:

Ironman St. George bike course profile

It's a modified two-loop course and although the profile above is very compressed (i.e. 112 miles on the x-axis), it's still a LOT of uphill riding. All I can hope for is that my less-than-16-mph average would have been greater than 16 mph by the time I completed the course -- i.e., had I done that final downhill portion of the loop. But based on how I was feeling afterward, I can't say I'm confident that would have happened.

But the commitment has been made and the registration fee has been paid... and I will do my best teach myself to love hills (or at least think of them as welcome acquaintances) and accept that I'm going to be out on that course for a long time. It's all in the mind, right?

And to end on a high note, there is ONE positive thing I have gotten out of seeing the course on video - the scenery is SPECTACULAR. It might even make up for the fact that I won't be able to take any vacation time off from work to see the Grand Canyon while I'm in those parts.

Ironman St. George bike course


  1. Think of it this way, you will have lots of time to look at the scenery 8-).

  2. I just checked & it turns out that everyone has to complete the same ride so I suspect you will have no problem finishing the bike (to be followed by a 3:30 marathon).

    Good news, the cheese-of-the-month club delivers to Ohio so I've signed you up so you have something to go with that whine :-)

    Train hard & you'll excel on race day (I promise)

    All the best,


  3. Thanks for the cheese. I LOVE cheese. My cat loves cheese to, so I'll share it with him.