Another Brick In The Wall

Building up a strong base in training is essential for triathlons…especially long course and Ironman distance races. A great way to build this base is with bricks (they are a “building” material after all). If you keep up with my training, you know what I do bricks of various distance and intensities about once a month. With my first long course (half Ironman) distance race coming up next weekend, I really wanted to get in a long brick (bike followed immediately by a run) this week.

I also wanted to use this brick to dial in my nutrition. At the beginning of the week, I looked at the extended forecast and determined that Thursday would be my best bet. I even got a glimpse of what it might be like to be a pro triathlete, as I took the entire day off of work so that I could get in this 4+ hour workout.

In order to test my nutrition properly, I treated the morning just as I plan to on race day. All I had for breakfast was a sweet potato around two hours before I planned to start my workout. I packed up all of my bike and run gear, prepared my bottles (all 7 of them) and headed out towards Taylorsville Lake (site of next week’s race) a little after 8am.

The temperature was a cool 44° F when I got started, but I quickly warmed up. I did the 56 mile bike route that is part of the race. I’ve done this route a few times before (including the race last year), but it never hurts to get a refresher this close to the race. Even though I made a point of keeping my heart rate in aerobic zone (around 140 bpm), I was still able to get a good sense of which gears I need to use on which hills and how fast I could safely go down some of the huge declines…41.8 mph is the answer by the way!

Totals for the bike:
55.47 miles in 2:56:00 (avg speed of 18.9 mph)
Avg HR = 129 bpm
Total change in elevation = 5493′ (including one hill that climbs 215 feet over 1.1 miles)

Nutrition on the bike:
(1) 24oz. bottle full of 6 scoops of Hammer Perpetuem (3 hours of mix)
(1) 24oz. bottle full of clear water
(1) 6oz. flask with around 4oz. of Hammer gel
(6) Millennium Sports Athlytes capsules

I took two sips of the Perpetuem every half hour, I squeezed out a mouthfull of gel once an hour (at 20 min., 80 min. and 140 min.), I took two Athlytes every hour (at 30 min., 90 min. & 150 min.). I drank the clear water after each gel and Athlytes.

Totals: 390 calories/hr, 603mg sodium/hr, 82g carbs/hr

My calories are right on the money, but in warmer weather I will need to up the sodium by about 200 more mg per hour.

Despite keeping my heart rate low on the bike, the last big hill at mile 47 zapped my energy. I sped up my cadence over the last two miles or so hoping to wake my legs up before the run. After an 8 minute transition (which included locking my bike up and a “pit stop” in the woods), I set out on my run.

I parked my car where the transition area will be for the race, so I simulated the bike and run start exactly. Both of which head right from transition into a massive hill. When I say massive, I mean a 100′ climb in just 1/3 of a mile…straight up a hill. While this sounds horrible, it was actually a nice way to get the legs going coming off the bike. The hill forces you to run slow, so while it gets the heart rate a little too high, it’s not all bad.

The run course for the race consists of 3 loops on the road leading from the park entrance to the lake. It’s a course of rolling hills with hardly any flat areas. I ran one loop of this course, plus another few miles. I kept my heart rate in my aerobic zone (around 140 bpm) and settled into a easy pace. I felt surprisingly good and could have continued at this pace if I wanted to…I was nowhere near gassed at the end of the 60 minute run.

Totals for the run:
7.00 miles in 59:14 (avg pace of 8:28 min/mile)
Avg HR = 144 bpm
Total change in elevation = 1301′

Nutrition on the run:
Fuel belt with 3 scoops of Hammer Perpetuem (1.5 hours of mix)
(2) Millennium Sports Athlytes capsules

I took the two Athyltes capsules at the car right before I headed out on the run so that I wouldn’t have to carry water with me. There will be water on the course during the race, so I will probably take 6 capsules with me on race day. I sipped the Perpetuem from my fuel belt every 10 minutes or so and had some left at the end. 

Approx. Totals: 270 calories/hr, 570mg sodium/hr, 54g carbs/hr

While this nutrition was enough to get me through a 7 mile run, I’ll need more to complete the 13.1 on race day. I think if I use 4 scoops of Perpetuem in my fuel belt, along with 6 Athlytes, plus the water on the course, I’ll be good to go.

Overall, I’m very happy with the way the workout went. Feeling good on the run was a nice boost to the ‘ol confidence heading into a week of easy workouts before next Saturday’s race. I’ll have a race preview coming up towards the end of next week.

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