This weekend I’m doing my first Half Ironman, Austin 70.3! Why Austin, you ask? Well, I had money to burn, and I heard that half Ironmans are an efficient way to do it. Just kidding! I wanted a challenge and always considered moving up in race distance.
The idea of Austin was planted by my friend and racewife, Cecilia. I told her we had to train together at least once a week if I signed up, and we stuck to it! Many tempo runs and swims later, and here we are, with the race on Sunday, October 30th.
I’ve also taken advantage of the fact that my other friends’ triathlon seasons are over and have been riding with Lara and Lucy! These girls are super strong on the bike and experienced half ironwomen.
With a half ironman being a longer race than my usual (it’s a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run, compared to a 0.9 mile swim, 24.8 mile bike, and 6.2 mile run of an Olympic distance), the most notable changes in training have been an increase in running mileage. My former 6 and 7 mile workouts are now 9 and 10, and my long runs are 14-15 instead of 10-12! Coach Cane warned me of the requisite increase in running mileage to train for a half Ironman, so I took it week by week. Post-run foam rolling and pre-run lunge matrices were instrumental in keeping me injury free. I also learned the importance of fueling during long workouts…
While there’s a lot of intriguing studies about the benefits of limiting carbohydrate and training the body to use fat as fuel, evidence is anecdotal at best. (Read more here.) Training the body to use fat as a fuel source is another stress in itself, and eliminating all unnecessary stress has been immensely helpful in my training. So, if I’m doing a tempo run and I’m going to accumulate 10 miles, you better believe I’m taking a gel at around 6 miles! And I feel like a new woman when I do, especially when it has caffeine. I go from Debby (my sugar is) Downer to Chatty Caffeinated Cathy in minutes. Gu doping. Try it.
Tip: No pockets in your shorts? Do gels scrape up your boobs when you tuck them in your sports bra? Compression socks will hold as many gels as you care to stuff in them! It’s a quick and easy way to get that abnormal-fat-deposits-in-your-calves look.
I’ve also been fortunate that we’ve had a few sporadic really warm (70+ degree) days in New York each week. In an attempt to retain any summer heat acclimation I have, I’ve been running on these days. The expected high for race day in Austin is 86 degrees, and I’m going to be starting the run around noon. The course profile is: a triangular swim is in Walter Long Lake, a large, single bike loop that’s described by friends as “kinda but not too hilly,” and a spectator-friendly run that’s three loops and is also “kinda but not too hilly.” And because this post seems vague without it, my goal is sub-5 hours.
I’ll write about my experience after the race, but for now, I’m going to enjoy a kinda but not too hilly trip from the airport.