Biking. That’s been my focus this entire season of Ironman training. Twice a week, I do spin classes at the Academy. On Saturdays, I’ve been doing long rides. And until a couple of weeks ago, I was riding again on Sundays, in lieu of a long run. My thinking has been that time on the bike is what I need to be confident going into Wisconsin. I’m not confident yet because I have a healthy respect for the bike course in this particular race, but I’m feeling like I’ve done the best I can to prepare so far. And that’s really all I can do.
Yesterday, I rode just over 86 miles on a route that would simulate Wisconsin. The Wisconsin route is a lollipop route. It goes 16 miles easy, followed by two hilly and hard 40-mile loops, and then we repeat the 16 miles to finish the bike segment of the race. So yesterday, I did a reduced lollipop. I rode 11 miles easy, did two 32 mile hard “loops,” and then returned 11 miles easy. (I say “loops” because what I rode was not really a loop. It was an L-shaped segment that I ride out and back, which I count as one “loop.”) It was most definitely a confidence builder workout, as much for my mind strength as my body strength.
Towards the end of the first loop, I told Dave that I didn’t know how the second loop would happen. I was tired, and it was hot. But I knew I had to keep riding, in part because I had to finish what I’d set out early that morning to do, but also because I had another friend, Katie, riding the same route. I couldn’t bail and leave her out there all alone. So I pushed through physically and mentally and got it done. I was spent by the end, but damn, I was super proud of myself. That’s exactly how I hoped the ride would end. Getting hard things done is how I build my confidence going into Wisconsin.
I have five weekends until the race. Next week is a long ride – the longest on my schedule. The next week is a recovery week, which means I’ll ride for just three hours. (Don’t think the lunacy of that “just” is lost on me. It isn’t.) The next is a long ride. The next is short. And then it’ll be race weekend.
Life is super busy at work right now. I don’t see things at the office really slowing down, so I’m preparing myself for the next five weeks to be hectic. But I will get my time on the bike because I absolutely have to. And I will rest. And I will get my work done. It’ll be a long and hard effort this home stretch towards the race, which will only make race weekend that much sweeter.
Katie and I talked a bit on our ride about how Ironman training is as much about the journey as it is about race day. I believe that 100%. I’m all about race day and crossing that finish line, but I’m also incredibly fond of the effort it takes to get there. I love the structure of training. I love the satisfaction of a hard workout, whether it goes well or not. And I love surprising myself again and again, in little and big ways.
Yesterday, by doing the hilly part of the course twice, I surprised myself in a big way. I’ve done that route a number of times this season, but I’ve never done the hilly part twice. It’s a challenging 53-mile ride just doing the hilly part once. I was proud of myself early this spring when we first did that ride as part of our MS 150 training. When I think about having turned that tough 53-mile route into an even tougher 86-mile route by repeating the hilly part, I have to pat myself on the back. I’ve come a long way this season. The miles on the bike are paying off. And that’s super exciting.