Becoming One: The Peaks and Valleys of IRONMAN Training

This is Part 3 of my 8-part column for IRONMAN where I will be talking about my preparations in the build up to my first full distance race- IRONMAN Florida this fall. 

When I started this column, I said it would be an “honest and transparent account” about everything that goes into training for an IRONMAN. That means talking about the good, the bad, and the ugly. So here goes.

Last month, I competed at IRONMAN 70.3 Chattanooga, a race I’ve done three times. This one, however, didn’t go exactly as planned. Still, I learned some valuable lessons that will help me prepare for my full-distance debut at IRONMAN Florida.  

First, a short recap. The swim was excellent and provided an opportunity to test out my new ROKA Maverick X2 wetsuit. (It was my first time competing in a full-sleeve version and this suit is beyond incredible.) Also, my husband and I started the race side by side and, when I climbed out of the ladder at the swim exit, he was right there next to me!

The bike was decidedly average. My overall time was fine, but it was a struggle to hold my target half-distance power and I was about 20 watts under. This wasn’t entirely surprising considering it was the day before my menstrual cycle was expected to start. The effects can be different from woman to woman, but for me, being in the high hormone phase means a higher RPE (rate of perceived exertion) and higher core body temperature.

Despite the challenges on the bike, the run started out spot-on. I was on pace to run one of my fastest half marathons yet and it felt easy. And as it often goes in this sport, everything was great—until it wasn’t. At mile 8 I started vomiting and I had to run/walk the final 5 miles to the finish.

I have mixed emotions about the race. On one hand, I had a great time celebrating my husband’s and many good friends’ races. On the other, I’d put in my hardest training block yet, the weather was amazing, and everything was set up perfectly until it all came crashing down.

As triathletes, we put so much time, dedication, and hard work into training—yet it all comes down to one day. I know that it’s normal to feel sad, confused, disappointed, frustrated, and angry. When something like this happens, I take a few days to process how I’m feeling, decide what changes I’m going to make, and then let it go and move forward.

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