Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Big Weekend Review

So, here we are:  18 days away from Ironman Wisconsin. 

Training is almost over -- just a couple more and then it is taper and travel time.  

Last weekend was my last training weekend on the course.   I've trained on the course every month since April, so by now, I know it pretty much inside and out.   Last weekend marked the "biggie" for my training time there.  

I did hill repeats up and over Observatory Hill on Friday night.  I went along the Lakeshore path from Memorial Union out to Marsh Drive.  Then I turned around, hit the turn on to Babcock, up the flipping hill, back down Bascom (no Lincoln did not stand up....) and back out to Babcock. Repeat.  Several times.   At the end of the final loop, I ran up to Gilman Street and then back to Lake Street.   I felt pretty good and confident.

Saturday was the Madison Open Water Swim.  I was in the 2.4 wetsuit division along with 293 other close, personal friends.  (Actually, only two friends:  My Coach, who came in 1st place, swimming the course in just over 54 minutes, and another friend from my Masters swim group). 

I swam only okay.  Because the summer and the lakes have been so warm, I've done all of my tri events and most of my open water practice swims in my "swim skin", not my wetsuit.   I wanted to do this event in my wetsuit because by the time September 9th gets here, the water temps will be just cold enough that I'll need the warmth.  I also want/like the buoyancy that the wetsuit provides in the chaos of open water swimming with 2,499 of my close, Ironman friends. 

I forgot, though, how different it is to swim in the wetsuit.  My positioning got all befuddled and my form got squishy on the last quarter of the swim.   It took a lot of concentration to get it back together, which cost me some time.  All in all, I swam the course in just a touch over a minute slower than I did in 2011.  This was "okay", but I wasn't the happiest with my time.   I'll be doing more wetsuit swimming over the next couple of weeks to try to get back in to rhythm.

After the swim and awards, my Coach asked me to coffee, so we walked up to Starbucks on the Square, ordered, and sat outside and talked about the strategy for next couple of weeks and Ironman week.

Then he had a run planned for his day and I was supposed to do the full bike course (112 miles).  I went back to Monona Terrace, changed in to my cycling clothes and got on my bike.  I noticed that my bike computer was not registering any numbers.   I really wanted to know my speed/distance, etc. for the ride.  Especially THIS ride. 

I was close enough to the Terrace, that I turned my bike around and headed over to Machnery Row (a SUPER AWESOME bike store).   They looked at the computer, tried to fix it and nothing was registering.   I ended up buying a new one -- had them install it and then, finally, about 2 1/2 hours behind schedule, I started my bike ride.

The ride out to Verona (aka "the stick") was totally uneventful.  I actually like the route now.  I've got landmarks that I like to see (Irish Lane; the first and second stop sign; Verona's water tower in the distance). 

The loop wasn't too terrible.  I know where the big hills are; I know where the REALLY big hills are; I know the flats where I can just sit in aero and push a little. 

There is a detour on the route right now, though.  Construction along Highway 92 in to Mount Horeb pushes riders along another route.  When I was in Madison in July, I took one of the alternative routes, which was loaded with hills.  Last weekend, I rode the second alternative route, and, although it too was hill, wasn't quite as bad.

It was almost 4:00 pm when I got in to Mount Horeb.  I had only eaten breakfast (before the swim) and some of my solid bike nutrition by this point.  I was very hungry, so I stopped at the Kwik Trip and got a turkey sandwich.   Ate that, filled up water bottles and went along my way.

Again, I have visuals along the route that I like to see:  the turn off to Messerschmidt;  Mount Horeb; the beautiful high point before turning on to Garfoot Road; Cross Plains.....then the dreaded quarry.

The quarry in and of itself is not the dreaded part.  It is Old Sauk Pass -- the first of the really big three hills -- that is the dreaded part. 

I've ridden that (those) hills what feels to be a billion times this year.  Sometimes it is easier to get up them than others, but it is never easy.  Still, I know what to expect. 

After Old Sauk, comes a short burst of relatively flat and then Timber Lane -- a quarter mile of steep uphill fun.  Other hills may be longer, but this little bugger is a royal pain to get up.  I typically just get in to my granny gear and pedal up.

After that little fun fest, comes a nice stretch of flat and downhills..... ahhhhhhhhh....... recovery.......Until that last little turn and you see Midtown Road, the last of the three big hills.  This one has been a challenge for me in the past.   It isn't a straight hill.  You start going up angling towards the right, then there is sort of a sharp turn to the left.   You can't ride the tangents particularly easily because of traffic coming down the hill.... so it is a grind, grind, grind.  At the top of the hill is a section of false flats, which lull you in to thinking you can just relax and recover, but, no, you still have to gear down and pedal hard. 

FINALLY, you turn to the right and get some relief.  The final five mile stretch of the loop is down a nice, shady section and then you pop out on a flat section of the road where you can pedal comfortably while you look for Verona's watertower....

I got to the end of the 1st loop about 6:00 or so.   I knew that I would not be able to finish riding a second loop before the sun went down.  I was not willing to risk riding on country roads in the dark, wearing dark clothing. 

So, I texted my Coach and told him I was only doing the one loop, and went rode in to Madison.

I felt good after the ride -- thought it was successful.

The original plan called for me to run 6 miles of the marathon course on Sunday morning.  But, with my shorter bike ride, my ever-thinking (scheming) Coach had other plans for me......

Sunday's ride:  coming tomorrow!

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