My huge race, my 70.3 mile (half-Ironman distance) triathlon, SuperFrog, is in less than 3 months. September 30 is the big day.
When I signed up for the race on March 30, the race was exactly 6 months away. Today, I have just less than 3 months before I toe the line for my biggest endurance endeavor ever.
Although I can theoretically say that I've been training for this for two years (it was two years ago this month, July, that I added swimming and biking into my running regime and unwittingly began triathlon training), I have been intentionally training for this for three months now. I thought I would recap where I am with my training. I started 70.3 training at a baseline level of being able to do an Olympic-distance triathlon (1500 meter swim, 25 mile bike and 6.2 mile run) as I had trained to do an Oly triathlon at the beginning of March (that triathlon got canceled due to horrific weather, but still, I was trained up for it and ready to complete it!) So, on March 30 when I hit the registration button for SuperFrog, that was where I was at. Let's review where I am now, shall we?
Before I registered, most of my training swims were between 30 and 40 laps in the pool (1500-2000 yards). Sometimes I would do 50 laps (2500 yards) but not too often. Since registering, my short swims are 40 laps but I try to do 50 laps. This past week I even did a 60 lap swim (3000 yards). The swim for SuperFrog will be 1.2 miles, or roughly 2100 yards.
I have also been practicing ocean swims. Before this, all of my open-water swims (OWS), both in training and in each of my 6 triathlons I've done, have been in bays. I'd never swam in the actual ocean. SuperFrog has an ocean swim; actually, it's a double loop, meaning I'll do a swim, get out, then get back in the water to repeat the course to complete the 1.2 miles. A few weeks ago, I met up with my friends Steve and Andrea for an ocean OWS. They taught me how to get under the waves on the way out, how to swim parallel to the shore, and how to ride the waves back in. I was terrified at first (a few tears were shed) but once I got in it was exhilarating.
I plan on doing a few more ocean OWS, and a few more bay ones as well, before SuperFrog. I am also signed up for an aquathlon this weekend, which will have a 1 mile ocean swim, but I pulled a muscle in my back yesterday and may have to skip the race if it's still hurting. Regardless, I will get lots more practice in before September 30, and will continue with my higher yardage in the pool.
If you've read my blog for any period of time, you know that the bike portion is my worst of all 3 disciplines. I actually have learned to enjoy riding, and even love it at times, but it's the hardest for me to do. When I signed up for this race, my longest ride had been 32 miles and that had been 6 months previous. Aside from that one ride, my long weekend rides were about 26 miles or so.
Since signing up, I have really been concentrating on the bike. My "short" weekday ride now is about 21 miles. And I've been steadily increasing my long weekend rides. I did 40 hilly miles one weekend, and 45 hilly miles another. A few weeks ago I rode the Silver Strand bike path, which is where SuperFrog will be (although it will be on the highway itself, not the bike path) and I did my longest distance ever---56 miles--the distance of the bike portion of the race. The course is pretty flat--not pancake flat but mostly flat--although the headwind is pretty bad. I felt like I had a headwind both ways, a mild one going south and a much more severe one going north. My legs, especially my quads, were screaming on the ride (heck, they scream during my hilly rides too) but I felt so good afterward knowing that I completed the 56 miles....that I CAN do the distance on race day. It took me just under 4 hours to complete (a turtle's pace) and I hope to get that time down to 3:45 for race day.
I also recently got a professional bike fitting and bought aerobars for my bike. This, theoretically, should help with my speed, especially on the flat portions...but I need a new saddle because leaning over is hurting my lady parts. My friend Angi is letting me borrow one of her woman-specific saddles, so hopefully that will help once I get it put on.
Over the next few months I intend on doing more 40-45 mile hilly rides, and a few 56-70 mile flat rides. Hopefully this will not only strengthen my bike portion physically, but give me the confidence I desperately need on the bike.
The run is the one part I am not too concerned about. Don't get me wrong---I am very anxious about running a half marathon (13.1 miles) after that bike ride. In fact, when I did that 56 mile ride I then ran 1 mile and was freaking out about running 12 more! But I love running, and am trained up for it right now. Since signing up for SuperFrog, I have completed 3 half marathons (Hollywood, OC and San Diego Rock 'n' Roll) and even accomplished my long-time goal of running a sub-2:30 half marathon in San Diego. I continue to run, doing my short runs of 3 miles in the week and a long run on the weekend, anywhere between 6 and 10 miles.
Part of SuperFrog will be run on the sand, both loose and packed. A few weeks ago I ran a 10k on my own on the beach, for practice. It was wonderful! Unfortunately, there was no loose sand at the time, but I had an easy time running 6.2 miles on packed sand. If I get to do the aquathlon this weekend, that will give me additional practice, as that 10k run is all on the beach. Regardless, you can be sure I'll be doing more beach runs.
Bricks and Misc.
I have done quite a few bricks recently (biking then running). It doesn't happen with every ride, but I've been trying to run at least a mile off every bike ride. These short transition runs help get my legs used to the idea of running after biking. Of course, as the summer goes on, I need to run longer than a mile or two. My goal is to bike 50 miles then run 10...that will be the peak of my training, most likely at the beginning of September. But in the meantime, these transition runs have been good.
I had signed up for two races before SuperFrog, all with the intent of practicing for the 70.3. One is this weekend, the aquathlon. The 1 mile ocean swim and the 10k beach run seemed perfect practice for SuperFrog. However, I may not be able to participate with my newly pulled back muscles. If I can, I will, but I'm not going to sweat it if I have to withdraw. I was doing it for practice only. I am also signed up for a sprint triathlon in a few weeks, which I'm doing for two reasons: one, because it's an ocean swim, so great practice, and two, because I haven't done a triathlon since last October and I want the practice of doing one with transitions and everything.
All in all, I am feeling like I am doing well for still having almost 3 months left. I have dramatically increased my mileage and fitness. Can I be doing more? Sure. I know lots of people training for 70.3 races who do more mileage, even do two workouts a day. Ideally I'd be adding in more strength training sessions, something I used to do pretty regularly but have abandoned with the kids home from school for the summer. I'm trying to balance my life...I have two young kids to take care of, plus my volunteer work and taking care of the house and the dog, and I can't do it all. I am doing the best I can. I am training as much as I can while still balancing my life.
I see and feel a difference. I can go farther than I ever thought I could. I'm still as slow as molasses, but the endurance is there. I have gained weight, about 7 pounds, but have lost inches. The added weight is muscle. I bought a bikini last summer (my first bikini I'd owned in over 10 years) and last week I went to put it on and the bottoms were saggy and too big. I couldn't wear it. The difference between last summer and this summer is my biking---I'm doing LOTS more of it--and it's making a physical difference in my body. I've been doing breathing drills during my swims, breathing every 5 strokes, then every 7th, 9th, and built my way up to doing 250 yards only breathing every 11th stroke--and the increased lung capacity has helped my biking and running.
I am getting stronger. I'm doing it. I still imagine I'll come in last place on race day, but I no longer doubt that I'll finish the race.