So, I haven't "blogged" in months now, and honestly I figured I was done with it as I enjoy so many other's posts but haven't been able to find anything "inspiring" or interesting to write about (at least nothing triathlon-wise). Until today...
Saturday was a day to remember for me... A training day that I will draw upon over and over again in my future races. I woke up at 4:50AM Saturday morning absolutely dreading getting up and traveling out to Eisenhower Park to start my epic training day at 6AM. I actually contemplated staying in bed and doing my training day solo, BUT deep down I knew that it would probably be a good thing to do this workout with others (as usual George was the voice of reason the night before as he encouraged me to train with the group when I suggested that I might just blow it off and do the day solo). Also, I had a friend that I haven't seen in a while coming to do the run portion of the workout with me, SO I got myself out of bed and drove out west to the pool at Eishenhower Park.
Once I got to the pool I was greeted by a smiling Jose Lopez and many other athletes, many of whom will be competing in Ironman Lake Placid and Ironman Louisville. We were told that we were to swim one hour STRAIGHT... It was 5:58 AM and I had 2 minutes until the long day started. Just then Bob Spina ran on deck and jumped into the lane next to me. We were off...I swam "smooth and steady" for an hour and ended up completing 3800 yards. I must say that I did "cheat" a bit as I stopped every 1000 yards to switch things up by grabbing my snorkel, or by grabbing paddles. Spina was cruising along in the lane next to me for a hour straight, probably completing 3900+ yards.
We all got out of the pool at 7AM and transitioned quickly before driving 10 minutes to Jose's house. There we got our bikes ready as many other athletes filed in for the ride portion of the day. There were about 45 people getting ready to ride! I must admit that I do get a bit nervous about big groups on the bike, but I figured it would break up into smaller groups relatively quickly. Soon we all headed out on the loop after a briefing from Jose. This bike loop would be supported by vehicles as well as a "special needs stop" half way through! About 3 minutes in Spina noticed that his tire was not properly fitted to his wheel. So we stopped to fix it as the group of cyclists continued on. We quickly got his tire fixed and were on our way!
The bike route was awesome...hills, flats, beautiful scenery... We followed my "workout plan", which consisted of: 30 min warmup, then 2x: [40 min at Ironman pace/5 min easy] then 5x: [25 min at ABOVE Ironman pace/5 min easy], then a cooldown. It was great to do this with Spina as he not only kept a solid/strong pace, but encouraged me the ENTIRE 5 hours! Spina is a true veteran at triathlon and a fantastic athlete. I had the pleasure of doing his last Ironman at Kona back in 2005 where he passed me on the bike, then stopped to fix a friends flat tire in the middle of his race, only to pass me again! This is the type of person he is. Every now and then it would be, "Nice job Danielle, keep it steady", or "you were rocking on that interval, way to go!". This was SO great for my morale throughout the ride and once we got to the 5x25 min at above Ironman pace we were ROCKING! We even picked up 3 other guys (they waited for us at the beginning of the 2nd loop as they went ahead while we stopped in the beginning). Rob, Adam and John all did the intervals as well and we were really hammering on that second loop!
We finished the bike and the three guys and myself were getting ready to run. Our friend Merrie came specifically to do the run with us as well! What a special treat this was! We got to Jose's and she was warming up. She looked fit and energetic as usual! The plan for the group was to run 15 miles...my original plan was to run 45 off the bike and 2 hours the following day, but I was definitely caught up in the moment and I felt great, so I opted for the whole thing! Plus, we had aid every 3 miles (ended up being every mile as our support followed us the entire run)! Because I wasn't planning on doing the entire run, I had no drinks set up, but of course Spina shared his with me and with Merrie and the guys too. Actually, let me re-phrase that...Spina sacrificed his FAVORITE drink (and mine as well) for the run portion of a triathlon: Coke! He drank Red Bull as Merrie and I gulped down his Coke! Unbelievable!
I decided that we should do my long run plan for the next day... It was: 20 min warmup, then 3x: [25 min at roughly Ironman Marathon pace (7:15-7:30)/5 min easy], then a 10 min cooldown. It was hot and sunny and I wasnt sure how I would do holding these paces after a 1 hour swim, a 5 hour bike and a serious week of training under my belt already! My goal was to "stay within myself" and not get injured! We started off the warmup nicely. Merrie was chatty as usual and I encouraged her to keep talking as it helped the run pass along and I didn't have it in me to chat quite as much! Without her, this run would have been much more difficult! The first 20 min warmup went quickly and was 7:34 pace (at this point we had Rob and Adam running with us as well), then we started our first "steady ironman interval" which was done at 7:26 pace. We realized at this point that the aid stations were too far away, so we asked the support to follow with drinks every mile. After one little hiccup, they were there for us the rest of the way! What a difference this makes!
After 5 min easy we were onto the 2nd 25 min interval (and the most uphill). This was a solid 7:25 pace with Merrie leading the way! We were loading up on Coke and Red Bull and after our 5 min easy again we were onto our last 25 min interval. The three of us were rocking as the chatting slowed down a bit. We could actually feel the energy passing through one another, giving us strength as we ran the last 25 min at 7:08 pace! It felt great and we were thrilled when we finished the interval! We still had 10 min to go however, so we kept it smooth, but not too slow. Finally we finished! The three of us crossed the "finish line" holding hands and hugging! Soon there after, Adam and Rob finished and we celebrated with them as well. It was a fantastic day.
It felt so great to finish and it was such a solid day all around. The company made the day and it ended up being exactly what I needed at this point in my training! I haven't felt that positive and truly excited in a training session in a very long time. This was probably the best single day workout I have ever completed and the positive vibes throughout the entire day were incredible! As I spoke to Spina after the workout we both agreed that it would be a day that we would both remember and one that we will draw upon in Lake Placid this July.
I want to thank Jose and Irene for having us at their house and for sacrificing an entire day so that we could all have a training day that was unmatched with support. Oh, and for having a BBQ for all of the athletes to boot! I also want to thank the support crew and organizers Maria, Mindy, Steve, Carmelo. Also a huge thanks to our run support: Toby and Michael (the two of them were our support crew throughout the entire run and they were incredible, ready with anything we needed at every mile of the run)! This was a fantastic day from start to finish! Also thanks to Spina, Merrie, Rob, Adam and John for the incredible company...what a great day!
And also a huge thanks to George who has helped me to get into fantastic cycling shape this year, is always there for guidance with any workout I need suggestions with, and who is always supportive of anything I do. One more thanks to Cliff English for agreeing to help coach me the 2 months before Lake Placid (under Bobby McGee's pleading!) and for writing up some killer workout sessions! I am more excited to race Ironman than I have been in a while!
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