This past weekend I was home for a few days in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, as my family did a delayed burial for my grandmother who had passed in December. The winter was cold and dreary and we wanted to wait for a beautiful spring/summer day, which we had this past weekend. We all miss her so much and she would have loved that everyone was together, laughing, swimming, eating, and playing with kittens. It was the perfect day to honor her and it felt like she was there with us in some way. We love you Gram.
I flew back to Atlanta on Monday morning and was back to training regularly on Tuesday. Sometimes I stress over feeling like I need to be tied to my bike and have to sacrifice life things for training. And it is true, many times you do. But I am really thankful to have a coach who encourages me to book the trips I want to book telling me "we'll figure it out." I am thankful to have a super supportive boyfriend who helps me through my freak-outs and encourages me to take the time I need to do things, even if it means less time together. I am thankful for my family and mom who help me build my hobbies into our schedule, come out to cheer for and take pictures of me on the side of a hot highway in the summer heat. And I am thankful for all my community in this sport who help make it so much fun, even when I am tired and exhausted.
Ironman Chattanooga is 14 weeks away!
As I get further along in Ironman training, traveling poses some challenges - especially on the weekends - as I am away from my bike and can't get in long rides when I am away. This past weekend was one of those weekends. It was a trip that I wasn't going to miss, and that I also wasn't going to compromise to try and borrow/rent a bike and go out on my own. The weekend was about family and getting to spend as much time with my family as possible.
So how does that work with training?
Well, it starts for me with strong communication with my coach. Weeks in advance I let him know my dates of travel and had that built into my schedule and marked on my TrainingPeaks as soon as I knew the dates and had flights book. He then builds my schedule around that. The weekends leading up to my trip had long, challenging bike rides built into them. I rode the Gaps two weeks before, and followed that up with a 5:00 hour bike ride on Saturday the 9th. Everyone else that was riding that Saturday had 3-4 hours on their schedule and a number of people asked me why I had that extra hour!
It was a long, hot day for me and I ended up riding the furthest I have ever gone on an unsupported ride. The long rides I have done have had built in rest stops every 10-15 miles (that I have taken advantage of!) or even ITL-supported SAG vehicles. On this day, there wasn't even an official ITL group ride, I just went out with my friends to ride bikes for 83 long miles. Knowing I had about an hour longer than everyone else, I started early and got in 30 minutes before we planned to meet, tried to keep moving as much as possible even when we stopped to regroup, and then kept going at the end of the ride when everyone else stopped for the day.
I followed that 5:00 hour ride with a 20 minute run, leaving me as the last person from our group in the parking lot for the day. Hot, sweaty, tired, but feeling really proud of myself.
And that bike ride wasn't even the only challenging portion of that week! Leading up to the 5:00 hour ride, I had actually ridden my bike 1:30 hours the day before and had a number of challenging swims and runs built in. Enough so, that I had my first mini-breakdown of Ironman training, where I got into bed at 8:30 feeling overwhelmed and completely exhausted from training, work and life commitments that left me needing to disengage from communication and conversation for a bit (despite the fact that I had driven an hour to go see my boyfriend, and then immediately after running and ice cream decided I needed alone time and shut down.)
The day after my long ride, I had a 2:00 hour run scheduled. I took it nice and easy, getting in 12 miles. I started at 6:30 a.m. to do an hour on my own and Jonathan joined me for the second hour of my run. Going at what must have been a turtle's pace for him, he stuck with me and helped keep me distracted.
The week stayed full after that, going right into long swims, track and an insane amount of lunges, and long trainer rides throughout the week before hopping on a plane Thursday night to head home. When I tell you that literally sitting down to go to the bathroom was ridiculously painful, I am not even joking. My legs were so sore from lunges on Tuesday, that when I saw my trainer ride on Wednesday evening included getting off the bike and doing squats in between intervals, I thought my legs were going to buckle just reading that.
My priority for going home was seeing family.
When I go to New Hampshire, I always stay at my mom's house. And every time I am there, I have the same challenge. I arrive around midnight, and then my mom leaves for work at 6:30 a.m. the next morning. Unless I am renting a car, I have to coordinate if I am going to get up SUPER early and have little sleep but get a workout in before my mom leaves so she can bring me to my sister's. OR I can wait until my sister has the chance throughout her day of managing her flock of babies to come get me. Or I can just hang around at my mom's house all day by myself.
This trip was so short that none of these things were going to be an option for me, so instead, I planned ahead and brought my hiking backpack. Why? So that on Friday morning I could incorporate seeing family into my workout, and threw some clothes and flip-flops and snacks (duh... I didn't know what my sister would have at her house!) into my bag and head out on foot from my Mom's to my sisters. In reality, it was just a bit over 8 miles, which is a normal run for me, but it felt so fun and funny to run the distance from one place to another and make my training functional. Thinking of seeing my little niece and nephews was honestly really amazing motivation and I had a very strong run for myself on Friday. Despite wearing a backpack for the first time ever while running and tackling a hilly back half of the route.
Saturday I planned to have off from training in order to totally devote to family and the reason I had flown up, as it was the day of my grandmother's burial. But then back on Sunday, I had another run on the schedule for 1:30 hours.
As we got off the highway at my mom's exit in New Hampshire around 10:00 p.m. driving back from Massachusetts, we saw a sign tacked to a poll advertising road closures for the "Ribfest 5 Miler" road race. I looked up the run online, and did a little research to learn that it was a little over 4 miles from my mom's house and right around 11:00 p.m. (an hour before online registration closed) I signed up for the run the next morning!
One of the things I am trying to focus on with this training is fun. And although I wasn't going to race the race, incorporating an organized 5 mile route into my run sounded like a top more fun than spending 1:30 hours on the same roads that I have been running every time I go home for the past few years. Roads that I got really tired of running back in December when I was home for 2 weeks in the heart of marathon training.
I left my mom's around 7:30 a.m. and ran the 4.2 miles to the start of the race, checked in, then continued to run around until my watch hit 5 miles. I ran into some people that I knew at the race, got an awesome race T-shirt, and was impressed with the size and number of people that were out at this Ribfest 5 mile race!
We started at 9:00 a.m. and I loved the energy and atmosphere of this race! The route was an out-and-back on some of the roads I had just run on to get there, it was unshaded and hot, but there was music, aid stations, lots of energy, and some beautiful neighborhoods. Out-and-back routes can be fun as well because you get to look at and cheer for other runners. I felt comfortable and happy and pushed the pace a bit, but also stayed in control as I knew this was supposed to be an "easy" run day and not a day to race.
The best part was that my mom came out to cheer and meet me at the finish line, which, absolutely made for a much better running day than what I would have otherwise done! I felt strong, I actually had a great run for me (I guess this is what it is like to run on legs not tired from biking!?) and did I mention I really liked the shirt I got?? It was an all around successful run that is now super memorable for me.
Ironman Chattanooga is 14 weeks away!