…that’s something that we’ll cover today in this installment of the triathlon primer.
The last leg of any triathlon is the run. There are one or two things you should know.
Things you should know
-Your legs are going to feel like crap after you’ve been on a longish no-impact bicycle ride. They will say things to you, like, “#@*%!” and “#*$&@!”
-Quick turnover–that is, the ability to put down one foot in front of the other at a faster rate than usual–is the key to faster leg recovery.
There isn’t anything you can do about the fact that your legs will feel like so much garbage after you’ve been on your bicycle.
However, you can help your legs get used to feeling like crap by engaging in brick workouts: swim right before you bike; bike right before you run. In other words, practice what you’d do in a triathlon. At some point, after you’ve done four or five of these, it will begin to feel normal that your legs feel like crap. (?) Yes, yes, I know. It sounds like bunk, and even slightly insane, but hey, this sport is slightly insane.
Don’t think, even for a second, that just because you’re doing that last part of a triathlon, you can slack off on your fueling and re-fueling. Odds are, you haven’t eaten or had nearly as much to drink as you need to, so you’d better keep on sipping that water and taking little nibbles of whatever yummy stuff you’ve got in your jersey pocket, or whatever they’re offering you at the aid stations. All in moderation, though–if you do like I did during a particularly harrowing half-Ironman about a month and a half ago and eat like a peeeeeg, things may not go so well for you.
Between the bike and the run, you might also consider re-applying some lube to the insides of your thighs and perhaps around your arms where your sleeves meet skin. You’ve been sweating a lot, and, um, frankly, the nice technical fabric you put on ages ago is probably just a little crustier with sweat than it was before. The guys out there may want to take care of their nipples. Bloody nipples don’t make anyone want to hug you at the end of a race. Blech.
As usual, pace yourself. This is where something new comes in. This year for Ironman, I’ve decided I’m going to adopt a run-walk strategy. I’ve never done this before, and frankly, it made me feel like a panty-waist. Everyone I’ve ever seen walking in a half-Ironman has looked drained, and, worse, embarrassed. But you know, eventually, I got used to it. And my pace didn’t suffer all that much. And, mentally (we’ll talk about that a bit more in another installment), it really helps me to know that after 8 minutes of running, I get to walk. Walk! Unheard of!
At the very least, my knees are much happier. They no longer feel as if they want to fly off and shoot around the room, wreaking all sorts of havoc before landing spinning at my feet. They feel like they kind of want to stay attached, the better to walk me to the bar, where a sweet pile of cheese fondue and a nice margarita will be awaiting me.
Right. We leave for Switzerland tomorrow. Forthcoming, though, we’ll talk about nutrition and the mental game, as they pertain specifically to Ironman. Thanks for reading, everyone! And feel free to write if you’ve questions!!
I only say this because it’s gloriously sunny out, and I’m recovering from a nasty bout of food poisoning. People, let me just dispense one fine piece of advice: when you are three weeks out from a major race and just barely beginning to taper, it is a really, really bad idea for you to eat food from the hot/cold buffet at any eating establishment. The risk just isn’t worth it. Since I didn’t pay attention to this advice, I had to skip yesterday’s jog, which would have been an awesome walk in the woods with Jim and the hound. There is nothing in my belly except for ice chips and my eyelids feel as if they have been coated with sandpaper (this is no doubt a result of dehydration).
Jim and I had been looking forward to Saturday’s ride, which would have been our longest to-date and the first that we’ve had specific instructions to stay together. Jim is a much faster cyclist than I am under ordinary circumstances. Just to give you some sort of measurement, he does our usual loop, the 14-mile race loop we did for the first time this year four weeks ago, in about 45 minutes. I do it in about an hour and ten minutes. But our coach specifically has asked that I work on my cadence, and she thinks that following Jim around will both give me more confidence and a better feel for faster riding.
She’s right on both counts; it’s just a little disheartening to realize how little I retain of my desire for competition of this sort. Imagine, being told that you need to follow someone around in order to get some sort of feel for speed!
Well. I wasn’t any faster than I usually am, but my legs felt so much better, and I did get a feel for the speed I’d want to be traveling at. Plus, Jim bought me a neat little computer that tracks my cadence, and while I wasn’t as bad as I thought I’d be on the flats and the very slight uphills, my cadence on the uphill-uphills was absolutely dreadful. Oh well.
Anyway, here’s the loop we rode.
We did our prescribed 15-minute run at the end, and piled into the car for home and dinner, only to get stuck in traffic and not be able to go anywhere for a good long while. I slept. When I woke up again Jim was wearing the heavy-lidded look that says he’s not long for the conscious world, and we were still so far away from home.
A normal thirty-minute ride turned into a marathon hour and a half.
Anyway, home, dinner, and sleep, with the knowledge that the next day would be better, but not without the geeking-out that I seem to do every night now before I go to sleep. It looks like this:
and so on. All of that, of course, is the amount of time it’s going to take me to do the Ironman, based on the distances I’ve traveled and the training I’ve done. By my current calculations I shall barely eke in under the 16-hour cutoff point, and I’m OK with that, just so long as I finish.
We ran a few errands Sunday and had the aforementioned buffet lunch, and then I crashed hard on the couch for several hours. I thought I was just tired, but my beleagured little body was waging a war against either the corn-and-edamame succotash or the roasted cauliflower. I woke up, piled leftover fish and chips and grape juice on top of the mess in my belly, and promptly paid the price.
So after a sleepless night, I’m staring at a day of incapability to do work and possibly being late returning my library books. I’d like to actually pick up some new ones and write a book review and some more articles for The Examiner, but…I’m so tired. And hungry. Maybe I can stomach some chicken broth.
Mike says that Twiglets are good with beer. So I am indulging in that, as a late afternoon snack, and I think it well deserved: today’s triathlon workout was 5 hours and twenty minutes of cycling followed by 15 minutes of jog, and it’s done now.
I give myself about two hours before I fall asleep on the couch with my Twiglets resting on my belly and an empty beer bottle clutched in my pruny paws. (This is what happens when you don’t hydrate well and then almost fall asleep in the shower.)
Anyway, we’d ridden about an hour and a half north and had come back most of the way to refuel when we saw the above photo. That tree wasn’t there when we rode up, so I’m glad we were not there when it fell right across the path, as I might have actually pee’ed in my pants if I had been anywhere near it. This is nowhere near as exciting as what Jeff Kerkove sawon his training ride today. We only have in common the fact that I bet Jeff would have also pee’ed his bike shorts if he’d witnessed either the tree falling OR that truck veering off the road, right into the bike lane.
We did the ride on the North County Trail, which is all gorgeous and mostly shaded, and a really lovely respite from the hilly course we’ve been riding at Harriman State Park. Here’s Jim on the path:
Also, the trail is on a rail line that used to run from Westchester County, where we live, straight up through Putnam County the next county up, and there are remnants of the old railroad still around. Here’s the Millwood train station.
I wish they’d do something with this station. Like, I don’t know, open an ice-cream shop. For bicyclists.
Now I want to do nothing but lie about on the sofa and read YA fiction. I could go do it outside, by our building’s pool, but I am *way* too tired to go downstairs.