The Big Day or, “The Killing of a Flashboy”

Posted: August 21, 2012 in Training
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While rounding the final few kilometers of my ‘Race Simulation Day’ training day, I noticed I was beginning to elicit a few snickers from passersby along the Friendship Trail.  Yeah, sure, I was probably quite a sight to behold.  In fact, here is what they were greeted with as I lumbered by with a pained expression:


And you know what?  I don’t give a shit.  After eight hours of nearly continuous perpetual motion involving a 3k open-water swim, a five hour (150k) bike ride, and all followed up with a two hour (20k) run, I feel I’m allowed to look however I wish…stupid or not.

This past week represented the final big push in my training before getting to ease back and enjoy the beginning of my taper leading into September; my ‘peak’ week, per se.  And what a killer it was; nearly twenty-four hours’ worth of blood, sweat and tears…so many, many tears.  Each and every day held a combination of long workouts to test my overall endurance, musculature ability, pain threshold and, yes, the mental capacity to endure it all.  In total, this week alone, I have spent 4 hours in the water for a combined total of nearly 10k; spent nearly 16 hours in the saddle covering over 375k  (which totals more kilometers on my bike than I’ve covered in my car all month); and 6 hours’ of long, painful pavement pounding spanning almost 60k  (approximately a little over the distance I might drive to work in the morning from Ridgeway to St. Catharines) in total.  Now, I’m not stating any of this to brag or, whatever, but for a (former) fat guy who, just four years ago, couldn’t jog to the end of his street without needing to be resuscitated, this definitely represents progress!

Truth be told, I’ve been dreading this “Big Day” for the past month or so.  I won’t say that I necessary look forward to any of my big workouts, running particularly, but three all in a row?  Day-um!  I’d rather pluck out all my short n’ curlies with a pair of salad tongs than go through all that in a single day!  In fact, I lost as much sleep over it the night before as I would before any important race day.  But it did represent the completion of a four year master plan, as well as having three key objectives to accomplish Pre-Ironman, namely:

  • Practice my Race Day set-up
  • Practice my Race Day nutrition strategy
  • Provide some mental confidence that despite all my previous suffering, I CAN do this!

So come 6:30am  Sunday morning, I awoke prepared to unleash the awesome and get to the business at hand.

Phase One:  3k Swim

I decided to execute the first phase of the ‘Big Day’ in the open water at the Welland International Flatwater Center  rather than at the pool for the sake of keeping things as close to Race Day as possible.  So this involved an early morning start (7:30am) as well as the use of my wetsuit.  The swim, I feel, has now become my strength of the three disciplines as I cover the full 4k distance quite regularly now.  So I wasn’t too concerned with needing to span only 3k  this morning.  Instead, I wanted to more focus on making sure that I was consciously kicking through the workout like I have been religiously practicing and just maintaining the good form that I feel I have been developing over the past three years.  My coach had laid out a 6x500m  workout with 30 seconds rest in between intervals…again, not too challenging at this point.  By the time I entered the water, there was nary a soul around so I had the entire canal to myself (which I love) and, probably for good reason as it was murky, hot, and full of grass and weeds.  Throughout each 500m interval I was inevitably dragging about 3 lbs. of aquatic flora behind me; it was like swimming through a large bowl of birds nest soup.

The only real concern I may still have about my Ironman swim is that the waters of Tenby Bay are known to be cold…very cold.  Oh, and wavy (with the chance of 11’ swells).  There is little I can do to simulate those conditions here in the Niagara Region unless I were to find one of those endless pools and equip it with one of those huge ass swamp boat fans and about 3 tons of ice, so I’ll have to rely on testicular fortitude to deal with those elements providing my swim chops are strong and, if yesterdays’ workout is anything to go by, they are.

Afterwards during the drive home, I made sure to hydrate well and mentally prepare myself for Phase Two.

Phase Two: Bike five hours (150k)

After getting home from the Flatwater Center, I had approximately 60 minutes left to scarf down a light breakfast of a cheese omelet and peanut butter toast made lovingly ready by my sweetheart – who, I must say, has proven to be the best support team I could have ever asked for – prep my bike, lube up my butt cheeks, get dressed in my race kit and get out on the road.  The plan had been to cycle from my home here in Ridgeway all the way to my mom’s cottage in St. Catharines where I could stop briefly, top up my water bottles, and return again the same way I had come (click HERE for the route).

I must say, it was the perfect day to make this ride; clear skies, not too hot or muggy, and just enough wind to provide a bit of a challenge as I might expect in Wales.  I planned for a route with some steep climbs (Queenston Heights), rolling hills along rough roadways (York & Queenston Roads), as well as some long, steady uphill grades (north along Niagara Parkway); so, in essence, as similar to course conditions as I might expect.

Throughout the ride I had an opportunity to marvel over numerous things.  During the course of five hours I cycled along one of the most scenic drives in the world (Niagara Parkway), twice cycled through the mist of a Natural Wonder of the World at Niagara Falls, passed by the Sir Adam Beck Generating Plant (I and II) responsible for generating nearly 2 million kilowatts of electricity, enough to power just about the entire Eastern Seaboard, saw the worlds’ largest Floral Clock, zipped past a Butterfly Conservatory, passed by no fewer than 12 historical battle grounds including the one at Queenston Heights, toured through both an Internationally recognized wine and peach growing region, and crossed over one of the Man-made Wonders of the World in the Welland Canal.  Yeah, that’s a pretty fucking fantastic ride any way you slice it!

By the end of the five hours, I will admit, I was a bit tender in the general region of my ass and just about ready to get off, but also confident that I could do another 40k  relatively successfully with no real issue. My nutrition strategy of consuming approximately 70-90g  of carbs in the way of Shot Bloks and E-Load was seemingly working well too boot with no gastrointestinal issues to report.  I did have to poop at my mom’s though, but that was more due to the omelet than anything else.  Upon arriving home, I had another 60 minutes to stretch, sit and rest, consume some more precious fluids, and visit briefly with my sweetheart’s parents before getting myself back on the road for the final Phase Three.

Phase Three: Two hour run (20k)

This was the Phase I had really been dreading.  Running has never been my ‘thang’, dig?  Sure there are times I’ve tolerated it, maybe even enjoyed it a little, but anything over two hours is a grind.  The objective of Phase Three yesterday was to simply warm my legs up to the idea of running after both a long swim and bike ride and distance was not the measure so much as was time; a whole endurance concept that I’ve been struggling to embrace this year.

Not needing to change into any different gear, instead preferring to stay in my tri-suit, I just loaded up my fuel belt, stashed some more Shot Blocks and dried dates into my back pouches, set my pre-established iPod playlist loaded up with my favorite pump up tunes and set off exactly 60 minutes after getting off the bike.  I had been dreading the feeling of running on extremely tired legs but, you know, it wasn’t so bad…much to my pleasant surprise.  I had originally intended to maintain a race pace and stop every 5 kilometers (or 25-30 minutes) to take in my nutrition and a sip of water; theory being, that I will want to walk through aid station on the marathon course.  I decided on another out-and-back course along the Friendship trail for an hour.  So for two hours I ran, ate, checked out all the bunny rabbits, avoided pleasure cyclists and dog walkers alike, and genuinely got into the spirit of what running a marathon on tired legs feels like.  Sure, I didn’t keep the 5:20 kph  (lesson learned) pace I had originally set out at, but I didn’t have to quit running at any point either other than my pre-established rest breaks.  In fact, in comparison to the three hour solo run I did the week prior, I felt pretty good.

So why the hip-hop fly boy look?  Well, baseball players have what’s known as a “rally cap” and I guess I have just found mine.  So what if I gave some other Friendship Trail users a giggle?  I was near completing a 163k round trip covering eight hours, so I’m entitled to a little goofiness.  And the best part is that I’m just fine today.  My legs have all but lost any ache or stiffness signaling that I might just be ready to tackle this bitch after all and my confidence is beginning to rise a little.

There are still lots of unknowns about Wales and, yes, it is longer than I just successfully tackled today, with no breaks, of course, but, I’m as ready as I’m ever going to be.  Come hell or high water, it’s either the ambulance or the finish line.  It’s real now.  I’m ready.  It’s going down.  Four more weeks and counting…

Time for a soak in the hot tub, a beer, and some much deserved roast beef dinner.

  1. Jeff says:

    hi Terr, was just enjoying your post – as per usual – with your regular positive and/or negative comments on your progress etc when I read the part where you said “But it did represent the completion of a four year master plan, ” …and I thought HOW MANY PEOPLE IN THEIR WHOLE F_CKING LIFE CAN EVER (TRUTHFULLY) SAY ANYTHING EVEN REMOTELY LIKE THAT?

    the culmination of a FOUR YEAR MASTRERPLAN??? jesus fucking h christ that’s impressive


    I have to GET BUSY!!!

    • Jan says:

      You did it! Knew you would! And your legs were OK and you actually enjoyed some running. Talk about fortitude and tenacity. I have never known anyone like you…who can draw up a plan…stick to it no matter what…and time it that you are in A1 shape for your goal. I remember your chubby pics which suggest someone who is not prone to exercise much. But you made a commitment to yourself, you’ve found two loving sweethearts who support you, you still find time for them, are awesome at work AND you spend hours on three disciplines and have excelled at them all. I’m in awe! Terry, you are one very likeable, very intelligent man with excellent writing skills and Triathlon/Ironman skills. What is it you can’t do?

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