Ironwoman Wednesday: 112 Miles On A Bike

First, my apologies for making this Ironwoman Wednesday post, almost an Ironwoman Thursday post. Between the power outage yesterday and starting an internship on top of my job and triathlon training, I am a bit of a mess AND it’s Ironman Raleigh 70.3 race week!

Better late than never though! So here is another installment of Ironwoman Wednesday with Jamie at FromCouchToIronwoman, Michelle at IronwomanStrong and me, Lean Green IslandGirl! We are all training for our first Ironman in Louisville this August and sharing our stories. Please join us and share your training, ironman and triathlon stories!

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Yesterday’s Tri Talk Tuesday topic was bike maintenance and today we’re going to talk about all other things bike. While the bike on the Ironman is not the hardest part of the race (that honor goes to the run), it is definitely the longest, at a whopping 112 miles. More importantly, the things you do during the bike will determine how well you do on your run!

Given that the bike will take me anywhere from 7 to 8 hours, there is a lot I can talk about. We talked maintenance yesterday, so let’s go from there…you’re bike’s all ready to go, are you?

1. Building Distance –   The longest I’ve been on my bike so far is 5 hours which for me equates to about 70 miles. While I’ve still got 42 miles to add, I’m feeling pretty confident about my general cycling plan. I can’t take credit for our training plan, but I can tell you the reason slowly building up your mileage every week works: every week you push your body just enough to reach a new milestone, but not enough to injure it or overwhelm your brain.

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Here’s the longest ride…quite a way from 70 to 110, but we have 9 weeks to get there!

2. Training Intensity – I struggled with my training intensity the first few months of training. I was focusing on getting comfortable on my new bike and building up mileage and resolved to not worry about speed. I’d take my rides easy and barely break into the assigned heart rates zones.

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We do most strength and speed workouts on the trainer.

That wasn’t quite the right attitude…While distance is important, there is definitely a place for speed and strength building and I am now making time for both

Distance is still key, but if I can cover the same distance a little faster, at the same intensity, I’ll be on the course a 1/2 hour less! (An increase of 1 mph from 15mph to 16mph would drop my bike time from 7:28 to 7!)

3. Overcoming Fear –  I love to hate cycling and the bike is definitely the scariest part of the race for me. It’s super long, it pretty intensive and it requires a whole lot of skills that are still new to me. My theme these past 2 years has been overcoming fear…in the water, on the bike and in life.

IMG_3885I’ve overcome various fears recently, like finally letting go of the bike with my left hand, refilling my aero bottle while riding and conquering a hill that had given me endless nightmares. Then there’s the inherent fear of sharing the road with cars and other cyclists.

Some days I’m tempted to just stay home, but then I remember my mantra You chose to do this! You want to do this! You got this!” Mantras and visualizations have been super helpful for me in overcoming fears and reaching new milestones. Sometimes it feels silly to do them, but they work!

IMG_49994. Battling Demons – Mantras and visualizations are also important when battling demons. The road gets lonely when you’re out on your bicycle for 5+ hours. You’ve got to train both your body and your brain. There’s a lot to keep your mind busy, like thinking about form, focusing on the road, taking in food and hydration, but 112 miles is a long way.

Besides mantras and visualizations, I’ve also focused on small milestones, like celebrating every 10 mile marker or every conquered hill. I’ve also changed the way I think about the remaining miles. Instead of thinking “Crap I still have X miles left,” I focus on “Wow, I only have X miles left!” That change in mindset makes a huge difference!

5. Nutrition Plan – The bike feels like a buffet to me and for the Ironman that is exactly what it should be! You burn a whole lot of calories during an Ironman and the only way to survive the run is if you are replenishing some of those calories.

IMG_4235People vary how often they eat and what they eat. My general plan includes drinking Powerbar Perform (mostly because that’s what will be on the IM course), eating Honey Stinger waffles, Bonkbreakers and Peanut butter stuffed pretzels. I also want to try a PB & J sandwich.

I cut it all into quarters and drop it in my bento box. My Garmin goes off every 15 minutes and I pop in 1-2 pieces of food, followed by some sips of sports drink (or water). If I do that right, I should have enough energy for the hardest part of the race: the run, which is what we will be talking about next week!