I thought week 17 was as close to a perfect training week as I had gotten for the last couple of months, but this week was even better.
I got all my workouts in, but the highlight was my monster workout on Saturday. The Be Iron Fit plan had called for me to do an Olympic Distance triathlon and an optional 2-hour bike ride in the evening. I was not going to do an actual race, but I was going to train and do the distances.
I wasn’t keen on doing a 3-sport brick session in the morning and then having to ride 2 hours in the evening, especially as it would be pretty hot here in Texas. But, in looking at the bike distance for the Olympic distance which is 40km or 25 miles and the distance I can ride in the optional 2 hour ride, I realized the total distance would be just a bit more than the Half Ironman bike distance. In addition, for the swim, an Olympic swim distance is 1,500m, so by adding just another 400m to the swim, I would have a Half Ironman swim distance of 1,900m. So with that, I formulated a plan to do a Half Ironman swim and bike followed by a 10K run.
I didn’t want to end up running when it was too hot, so I started the swim at 4am in the morning. The continuous swim went well and I was done in 48 mins. This was just about the time I had expected.
I then had to drive home and start the bike. Even with the drive, my transition was only about 15 minutes. For the bike, I decided to use my aero helmet. I also rode in my triathlon shorts. I did the entire brick session in my triathlon shorts.
I wanted to use this to practice my nutrition and also to see if I could avoid the dreaded leg cramps that have been popping up on my bike right at the 2-2.5 hour mark. I decided to drink my normal Gatorade Endurance, but just 4 bottles over the 3 hours I was expecting to ride. That worked out to about 1 bottle very 45 mins. The 1 bottle every 30 mins on my last long ride was too much liquid. I also took my Oreo cookies with a plan to eat one every 15 mins. And, I took my tic-tac container of salt. The plan was to have 3 licks every 5 miles.
I actually stuck to my nutrition plan really well expect for the last 30 mins. I was tired of the Oreos. I plan to take the regular Oreos again, but I’ll throw in some Golden Oreos next time for some variety. Most importantly though, I did not experience any cramps on the ride which took me 3 hours and 5 mins. I did have on hiccup with about 45 mins to go. I was refilling my aero bottle and I dropped my bottle. So, I then stopped, but I stopped too quickly and was not able to unclip. So my bike came to a stop and I was still clipped in and I did a slow topple to the right. I ended up scraping my my knee and forearm. The knee was just a bit irritating, but my forearm was worse. The part where my skin rubbed off was right where I would rest my arms on the aero bars. I spent the remainder of the ride fidgeting and trying to find a comfortable way to stay in the aero position. Without that fall, I may have had a good chance of finishing my bike split right around the 3-hour mark!
Once the bike was done, I had a 5-min transition to the run. It was longer than my normal weekly brick sessions as I changed shirts and also used the bathroom. I was OK with that as for my actual race, I plan to do the same and taking 5 or even 10 mins to transition during the full Ironman is not an issue.
My biggest problems were on the run. While I didn’t cramp on the bike, I started to cramp on the run almost immediately. I had to stop often to stretch my quads. I still had my salt so I decided to lick a lot and ended up taking 3 licks every mile. I don’t know if that is what did the trick, but by around miles 4-5, the cramping stopped.
In the end, I got through my planned workout in a total time of 5 hours 30 minutes which included about 25 minutes of transition time. If I added another 7 miles to do a full Half Ironman, I would have gotten a time of around 7 hours. I would take that any day!
In the end I don’t think I have solved my cramping issues, but I think I’m getting there. I plan to up my salt intake moving forward. So on the bike, instead of 3 licks every 5 miles, I’ll try 4. Then on the run, I will continue to take salt licks every mile.
My next big 3-sport brick session will be in about a month’s time, when the plan calls for me to do a Half Iron distance race. I wouldn’t be doing an actual race, but I will do the full distance in training.