9 more things that have happened because of Ironman training (peak edition)

ed. note: this is how pitiful things have become on the blogging front – I started this post last weekend during Hurricane Hermine, and I’m only just now getting around to finishing it, oh, a week later. Good lord, I feel pathetic.

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Howdy from soggy, windy Florida!  I was stranded at home today and given an involuntarily rest day, so I figured why not catch up on blogging?

I’ve found the key paradox of blogging is that the more I have going on in my life (aka potential blog fodder), the less time and energy I have for actually writing about it. But things are happening that I would still like to write about, and so in lieu of doing a series of proper blog posts,  I decided to just do another list post where I’d hit on the highlights of Ironman training, and if possible punctuate them with excellent gifs.

1. I finally completed my first century ride!

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I literally set this goal last summer and never even managed to come close – until two weeks ago. Brian and I just looked at each other that morning and said “fuck it, it’s time.”

I loaded up my awesome new Coeur aero tri top with what felt like a billion calories, and we set off.

Less than six hours later, I’d was DONE.

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The unreal thing is that I felt great for pretty much the whole ride (with the exception of miles 80 through 90, which I don’t really remember that much because my brain sort of shut down at that point), which tells me that YES I NEED TO EAT MORE ON THE BIKE.

Ed. note: Since writing this post, I’ve completed another century ride – actually 106 miles, to be exact. It was hot, it was windy, it was hilly, my soft palate decided it no longer desired the feel of solid food after mile 80 – yet I got that shit done. Go me.

2. I’ve been doing short brick runs after my long rides.

I was feeling spectacular after the aforementioned century, until it was time to put on my Hokas and go for a 15-minute run. I took my first stride and literally howled.

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It took everything I had to stay upright. I’ve had moments during long runs or races where I wanted to curl up in a ball and take a nap on the course, but never before have I felt like my legs just didn’t want to work at all.  I was so stunned by the sensation that I actually started laughing as I ran.

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Fortunately after about five minutes, they remembered that “oh yeah, we’re legs, this is sort of our thing!” and I was able to run again.

3. Oh, hai muscles!

I don’t know if they’re new or if my lower levels of body fat are are just revealing what’s always been there, but I’m looking pretty dang buff these days.

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A coworker took a photo of me basically treating a bucket of cheese balls like a feedbag, and when I saw the photo I was like, “WHOA MY ARMS.”  I guess that’s what swimming 7-10,000 yards a week will do for you.

And then my quads are also sloooowly starting to look like…well, like the quads of someone who rides a bike a lot.  Which I am totally here for!  Thigh gap, schmigh gap – I need these bad bitches to be able to pedal hard and fast for hours.

(Real talk: I like flexing my quads and checking them out in the mirror. Hey, don’t judge!)

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4. I’ve started wearing gear that makes me feel a tiny bit like a poser.

It started during an Olympic-distance triathlon I did down in Siesta Key, when I noticed over the course of the 1.5k swim that my tri top was catching tons of water and slowing me down, the way a parachute drags when you’re running sprints.  That’s awesome for training but it sucks for racing, so I decided to get myself a swimskin from ROKA.

The first time I suited up in my ROKA swimskin before a race, I felt a little bit like a superhero.

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Which was cool at first!  But then I was like, “oh shit, I look like I know what I’m doing. I better back this up.” That’s a lot of pressure!

But you know what? I’m still glad I got it, because it really does make me faster and eliminate drag, and it’s worth the extra 15 seconds it takes to strip it off in T1. Both times I’ve worn it, I’ve had really solid swim times.  Coincidence?  Probably, but whatever.

And then Coeur Sports branched out into sleeved aero tops.  The sleeved aero top is a relatively new development in triathlon – I still remember watching Luke McKenzie race in a John Deere green one during Kona a couple of years back and thinking that ish looked hot as balls.

But more and more people started wearing them, and I became intrigued.  So I bought the red-and-black one from Coeur and wore it during my first century.  Holy smokes, it was amazing. I rode my century at a pace that was faster than any previous long rides, and I avoided sunburn AND stayed cool.

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(I’d noticed a weird mole on my back a few weeks earlier – had it checked out, it’s nothing – and now I’m finding myself way less inclined to spend hours with my back exposed to the sun, nothing but a coating of sunblock between my skin and the Florida sun’s blistering rays. Take this as your reminder to get your skin checked, especially if you’re outside a lot like I am!)

5. I’m starting to really dislike summer.

I had an epiphany the other day: what if I actually really like cycling, but I don’t know it because the only time I ever do really long rides is when it’s so hot it feels like I’m riding directly into a blast furnace?

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I see people I know on social media who just loooove to ride their bikes forever, but they’re in, like, northern California and Vancouver and Michigan and the Carolinas.  It makes me wonder if they’d still love riding as much if they did it during the summer in Florida.

And whenever I finish an outdoors training session, I have to actually wring out my clothing afterwards. I’m not even a heavy sweater! It’s just that disgustingly hot and humid right now.

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The sweat situation is so bad that I can’t re-wear my sports bras the way I used to. In fact, I don’t think half of them are going to survive this season.  Why? Because they always smell like ass.

I’ve never been one of those people who’s all “fuck summer, bring on fall” (I mean, obviously, I live in a place where fall doesn’t exist) but this is really starting to make me reconsider some of my life choices.

Fortunately, though, it will be over soon and we’ll have 60-degree days in December and I will remember why I suffer through August and September.

6. I’m battling the most ridiculous heat rash.

My upper thighs look like they’ve come down with a very peculiar localized case of chicken pox. Massive thanks to my Coeur teammates for reassuring me that this is in fact something that happens and that it will pass, even though it hurts and I’m a little embarrassed by the way I look in a swimsuit right now.

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So I’ve been spending a lot of time sitting around with no pants on, swabbing my thighs in tea tree oil and trying not to gawk at how unfortunate my skin looks right now.

I’ve never wanted to be able to wear pants so badly in my whole life. And I don’t even like wearing pants.

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I’ve been training through the discomfort but my god, just go away already, you nasty little rash bumps!  You are not welcome here, now shoo!

7. I watch a lot of Ironman videos.

About once a week, I fire up YouTube, make myself a little nest on the couch and watch videos about Ironman races for a couple of hours.  Sometimes it’s old episodes of Kona, sometimes it’s the promotional videos produced in-house by the World Triathlon Corporation.  Sometimes, I’ll be on my bike and I’ll watch the motivational ones that are mash-ups of clips set to, like, Eminem or electronic music or something.

And reader, I have no shame. I will admit that I often cry while watching them.

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Is it because I am so depleted from my training?  Is it because I’m so inspired and motivated?  Is it because I’ve found that I am one of those women who gets teary-eyed at Publix’s holiday commercials?

I have no idea.  All I know is that I am at the point in my training where watching sweaty, exhausted people stumble across a finish line is enough to cause me to sob like a child.

8. I vacillate between being excited and totally fucking terrified.

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This is undoubtedly the most daunting athletic endeavor I’ve undertaken.  Brian and I have discussed whether an Ironman is harder than a 50-mile road race, and I come down firmly on the side of “Ironman.”  (Why?  Simple – I didn’t spend 6+ hours with a saddle jammed against my perineum during the Keys 50.) I’m trying hard not to think about the full distance because then I just get overwhelmed and I shut down.

Instead, here is what I am thinking about: the party-like atmosphere at Ironman races, the feeling of anticipation as I wait in line to jump into the Ohio River, sharing the experience with other athletes and volunteers, coming down the finisher’s chute, crossing the finish line, hearing “Caitlin Constantine, you are an Ironman!”

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9. I finally feel like I’ve got a handle on this thing.

Last weekend, my training schedule went like this:

  • Saturday: 2-mile swim, 20-mile bike ride, 6-mile run
  • Sunday: 106-mile bike ride
  • Monday: 16-mile run

No doubt, I was sore at the end of that run, and I spent about 20 minutes with my legs up a wall before hobbling off to a nice epsom salt bath.

But sore, I can manage. Tired, I can manage.  Cranky, I can manage.

The key words: I can manage.

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I’ve still got two big weekends of training ahead before I taper, and yeah, I’m ready to just race this fucking thing already.  But at least now I finally feel like I’ve got a good chance of finishing the race, and most importantly, enjoying myself (most of the time…I hope).

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36 responses to “9 more things that have happened because of Ironman training (peak edition)

  1. I also have heat rash from 2 weeks ago, but on my stomach. Cool look. I’m so excited for you and can’t wait for more training and eventually THE race recap!

  2. The sweating, good lord the sweating. I don’t know why I sweat buckets. I probably sweat more than any dude. My teammates tease me that I can make it rain. These pigtails I wear? Yea, they’re not to be cute…they’re to give the sweat some kind of channel away from the back of my neck.

  3. Living in Australia we also have to deal with the sun trying to burn us alive on a daily basis, so I’m interested to read about the Coeur sleeved tri top after the blistered burns I got in my first 70.3 despite 3 applications of sunblock. I’m confused though, because it says on their website that most people put it on in transition because it might impede your movement during the swim. So if you’re planning on wearing something like that during a race, what do you wear for the swim? Sports bra and tri-shorts under a swim skin?

    • Sure, I’m actually going to write a post about a rehearsal training day I did yesterday and that will include that info. But in case you don’t see it, I’ll answer your question here too. Yesterday I swam in just my sports bra and tri shorts (with a swimskin over to simulate wearing a wetsuit, which I will be doing on race day), and then when I was done I toweled off and put my sleeved aero top on.

      My friend Erin, who blogs at sweetsweatlife.com, wears the sleeved top during the swim, but she’ll pull it down around her waist, put her wetsuit on over it, and then when she takes her wetsuit off, she pulls the sleeves over her shoulders and arms and zips it up. I personally won’t do that just because my wetsuit is already uncomfortably tight as is, but I figure with an IM I can take the hit of an extra minute or so to put the top on.

      BTW I’m sorry to hear you had such bad sunburns after your 70.3. That sounds miserable. I can sadly relate, and after that scary mole popped up on my back, I’m getting really paranoid about sun protection. I hope a sleeved top helps you with that.

  4. Hilarious post and love the GIFs. When I’ve done blog posts with those it becomes three hours later and I’m like…wait…what have I been doing all this time?!

    It has already snowed up at high elevations near where I live…so while I am tempted to say that I’m jealous of the heat, I don’t think I could handle a 106 mile bike ride in Florida-level summer heat.

    Good luck to you! It certainly sounds like you have a good chance of finishing & can’t wait to read the post-race report.

    • OMG don’t be jealous. Normally I like the heat but it’s getting ridiculous. We cut our run short yesterday because we were both dying, and when we came in and checked the temps it was in the 90s with a feels-like of 101. I’m actually jealous of you right now tbh.

  5. Could you talk about your hydration strategy in an upcoming post? I live in swampy, humid Virginia and I get terrible headaches after running or biking when it’s hot and humid. I don’t believe it’s totally due to dehydration, though. I drink enough water that my urine is light and I drink a serving of Ultima after exercising. (My working theory is that my brain swells to equalize the pressure…or something. #notadoctor) I’m curious about what electrolyte mixes you use, do you use salt tablets, how often do you hydrate and with what. Thanks from a longtime reader!

    • Sure! I actually just did a dress rehearsal of sorts yesterday and I was considering posting about it (including specifics about water, etc.) If you’re interested, then I’ll definitely do it in the next couple of days.

      Also I feel you on the post workout headaches. I think I know how to deal with them but it’s so individual – what works for me might be terrible for you. But I can definitely share what I’ve learned for my own situation!

  6. The GIFs more than make up for the “lack of coherent” post 😛 You are going to rock this race, I’m excited for you! Also jealous of all these crazy bike miles you are getting in. Someday I’ll figure out my bike fit issue and try to renew my bike love.

  7. I can imagine how anxious you must be to just do this thing now. Sounds like you’re killing it!

    Whenever I watch Ironman videos, I get so distracted by the athletes’ skin. A lot of them look pretty rough and I really wonder what they can do to stay safe when they’re out there for so long. I worry about the elites who can’t afford to lose any precious time. I am pretty paranoid about the sun now, but spent most of my summers outside at the swim club when I was a kid. I just went through a skin cancer ordeal myself recently. I had a tiny black spot on my forehead that I knew was new. After months of it not going away, I finally got it checked out. It had to be removed and it was NOT a fun process – digging into my skin, bandaging me up, waiting an hour and a half while they tested it, doing it again, then finally getting the all clear. About a 5-hour process. I’m glad to hear you got checked out, and make sure you continue to be as smart as you can when you’re out in the sun so much!

  8. Great update!

    If you have a Youtube playlist of IronMan videos, can you share them? I actually haven’t been able to find many and the ones I have are in German or something. I think IronMan Inc tries to keep that stuff off the internet for copy write reasons.

  9. Your GIF game is almost as strong as your IM training! Seriously, though, reading this Saturday morning actually got me excited to pick out a fun outfit to do my normal weekend workouts in, as your fuck-yeah! attitude was definitely contagious. You totally have this race down and I can’t wait to hear all about your experience.

  10. I can’t give you enough props for training in Florida weather. I’m here for work and didn’t think there could be many places hotter than where I’m from (one degree above the equator), but from the minute I got out of the airport, it’s been HAAAWWWWWWTTT.

    I’ve been keeping up my runs in the mornings, which are nice enough but feel as insanely humid as back home. Still so HAAAWWWWWWTTT once the sun comes up…..arrrgh.

    Re: flexing – ain’t no shame in that game. Everyone does it sometimes…amirite?

    Anyways, all the best for the race! Kill it out there!

    • I feel SO validated by this, although I’m also a little alarmed! I was secretly hoping that I was just a wuss but I guess not. Good call on getting those runs in before the sun comes up – I’ve been trying but with the long runs the sun will come up in the middle of them, and what started as a nice run turns into a suffer fest. How much longer are you here? Will you be here at least for the winter?

  11. I love your writing style and that you not only completed one century, but two, then ran. You are my hero.

    • Thanks! I only ran after one of them. The other one, I was way too toasted to do anything but sit on the curb and stare blankly at things. LOL

  12. I just wanted to say: Crying all the time, totally normal, no matter if you’ve done this before. Every female triathlete I know hits peak crying about 4 weeks before the race.

  13. I’m so excited for you. You are going to have an amazing race, I just know it. Your training schedule made my jaw drop. Chapeau to you for your first century training ride xxx

    • Thank you! I sure hope so, although after watching a bunch of my friends – and three of them DNFed – yesterday during IM Chattanooga due to heat, I’m back to feeling nervous about it. Oh well, there’s not much I can do about the weather.

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