Last year when I decided I wanted to enter back into triathlon with the end goal being to complete by first Ironman, I knew that it would be a journey of learning. I knew that I wanted to take two complete seasons to prepare for the race, using each workout and each new event to learn lessons that will help me across the finish line at Beach to Battleship.
In 2004 when I trained for Ironman Austria, I trained on my own. I read every book, watched every video and talked to every person I could talk to but still I passed out during the bike portion of the race and never crossed that finish line.
This time I am not doing it alone. This time I am doing it with the help of Coach Jeff Kline from PRSFit. That was the first lesson. Learning to work with a coach took some getting used to. But with Jeff’s patience I have finally gotten there.
Yesterday was the best proof I could be given that working with a coach works.
For two weeks before yesterday’s 70.3 Eagleman, the weather was unseasonably cool. We enjoyed days with the windows up, I wore sweaters in the evenings and my son’s lips turned blue at each of his swim team practices. But a few days before the race, I checked the weather to find that temperatures would be a blistering 93 degrees on race day.
Coach Jeff stepped in with a plan. As usual he gave me goals for the swim/bike/run but he also gave me advise on staying cool. He reminded me to put ice under my hat, in my sports bra and in my wristbands in order to keep my blood cooler.
Thank God that he did because though the official temperatures showed 93 degrees, the temperature on the road during my bike reach 102. On the run it was even higher with not a bit of shade in sight. And though my run was not pretty at all, I did not end up in the medical tent.
Every race seems to come with its own set of new lessons, but Eagleman may have set a record for lessons learned. Besides learning how to handle the heat I discovered –
- Waking up relaxed and ready to go is not a bad thing. When I awoke yesterday morning I was completely relaxed. I took my pre-packed buckets to the transition area and didn’t fumble around worrying about whether I should lay things out like the other triathletes. Instead I trusted in my planning. I verified that the buckets were okay with the race officials, filled my Speedfill bottle, headed back to the house we had rented just a block away and had breakfast with the family. Being relaxed then, meant I went into the water relaxed and swam without the panic I have had in the past.
- Knowing your body is key. I had a strange experience coming out of the water. Although I had a PR and felt great in the water, as soon as I stood up I felt dizzy and nauseous. My first thought was that it might have something to do with the heat. But I trusted my knowledge of my body, walked to my bike, took some deep breaths and trusted that the heat had not had an affect yet. I was good to go. And boy was I good to go.
- I am faster and stronger on the bike than I knew. I averaged over 19 miles an hour for the 56-mile course. This is incredible considering I only averaged 17.5 miles an hour for the last 16 due to the headwind. The lessoned learned here is to trust your training. I know based on this ride that I am going to be getting faster and faster and I look forward to that.
- Mental preparation is huge. I had mentally prepared for this race. I knew that the heat was going to be stifling but I knew I could push through it if I did it in a smart fashion. I also knew that I needed to give myself some “no’s.” On the run, the rule was no walking except as planned (this mostly worked). On the bike the no was no going below 17 miles and hour. That worked except for a short piece when I turned into the wind and it kicked my butt before I remembered my no and pushed through it to get back over 17mph.
- Work the plan but be ready to adapt. Jeff and I had prepared for the heat. I had also trained with a plan of running a mile, walking a minute. But because the heat was almost a full 10 degrees more than we expected and the aid stations were not every mile but more like every mile and a half, I walked a minute at the mile and still walked the aid station while using two cups of water and a cup of ice to cool my body. I also took two Endurolytes every hour during the bike and every 45 minutes during the run.
- Find the positives. The run was miserable but I made it through it. And I was so pleased with my swim and bike results that the positives were easy on this race. I didn’t end up in the medical tent and I feel pretty good today.
In addition to the more serious lessons, I learned that on any given day I can out perform a professional athlete. One of my all time favorites, Mirinda Carfrae was not feeling it on the bike so she did not finish, meaning I beat her, sort of.
And on an even less serious note, I discovered a new way to pee. As I was running past a competitor who was sitting in the shade messing with her shoe I asked it she was okay.
“Yes. I am just fixing my shoe,” she said before hesitating and adding, “and peeing in the grass.”
As a girl who is very jealous of boys who can just pull over to pee, I am thrilled to have made this new discovery.
The lessons are learned and I am just over four months away from Beach to Battleship. As Jeff said, this morning, “Now its time to get serious.”