I have spent a lot of time this training cycle looking back at my training leading up to Beach to Battleship in 2012. Yeah, yeah, I know. Comparison is thief of joy. Never compare yourself to your former self. I get it and maybe I am just torturing myself. But that day, was one of those once-in-a-lifetime races where everything comes together perfectly, so it is hard not to want to analyze what led up to that.
While I think it hasn’t been all bad to compare the two training cycles (some things were definitely better this time!), what I have to remember is that everything about this race is different than that one.
Beach 2 Battleship was flat. There were a couple of bridges on the ride, but for the most part, the bike was pancake flat and it was a rare not-super-windy day on the coast of North Carolina. The run was also completely flat and temps never got above 75º. Perfect conditions & course for a fast race.
Chattanooga is…not flat.
2200 ft. of climbing over 56 miles isn’t crazy. I have ridden about the same on a few of my long rides and it just rolls constantly. Sort of always up or down. With fresh legs, that doesn’t terrify me too much.
What does scare me is this:
800+ feet of climbing in 13.1miles is A LOT. Like alot, alot. I have run the hilliest routes I can find in Richmond and managed to only find about 450 ft. of climbing over 10-12 miles. To get some perspective, I looked up the elevation gain from what (to me) seemed to be one of the hilliest marathons – NYC – and it only had about 800 feet over the entire 26.2 miles. So yeah – this scares me. Especially if the weather holds as it is showing now at 86 degrees.
Location & Training
When I trained for B2B, I lived in Greenville, South Carolina and had training partners galore. I rarely rode or ran solo and almost all my swim workouts were with the Master’s group. Greenville is hilly, so even when I wasn’t trying to run or ride on hills, I was running and riding on hills.
Now, I live in Virginia – between Richmond & Virginia Beach. I make the ‘commute’ each way once a week, which adds complexity to the logistics of life and means I must always plan for workouts, gear, pools, etc in advance. I had super awesome, consistent swimming buddies for the majority of swims in the first part of this cycle, but for the last half, most of my swims have been solo. I typically ride most long rides with a group in Richmond, but the midweek rides are ALL solo. And the runs – yep, solo. Richmond has some hills and I have done most of my long rides on rolling routes, but I am not forced on them like I was before. And well. VB is about as flat as it gets, unless you count the wind as one giant hill?
I was surprised to look back at my running paces from the B2B training cycle and see that I wasn’t doing speed work, tempos or long runs much slower than I am today. Given that I have dropped 16+ minutes in the marathon, 7+ minutes in the 1/2, 2+ minutes in the 10k and almost 1 minute in the 5k since 2012, I just assumed that I was *slower* then. But (on paper) I was not. I feel like a different runner though. I have more experience and have run more miles, and while the paces are similar, they somehow feel different. I don’t know what that means or how to explain it – maybe just chalk it up to experience, but I feel like a stronger runner than I was then.
It is hard for me to compare swimming, as I don’t have any workout splits from 2012. My race times seemed to be a bit faster in 2012 than recent races, but it can be hard to compare from course to course on swimming times. I don’t necessarily feel faster, but I know I have worked really hard in the pool this time around.
The bike? Well, I do know one thing – my actual bike is faster 🙂 I have a super speedy triathlon bike with carbon wheels now, so that has to count for something, right? Right?! On a serious note – my training ride paces are generally a solid 2+ mph faster now, but I am also riding on less hilly routes the majority of the time so again, kind of hard to compare. Having more miles under my belt from the last 3.5 years definitely feels like it has made me a more experienced cyclist, but my mental game is a little off on the bike right now, so that is a factor.
I am sure there are other things that make it hard to compare the two training cycles, like my age?! and sleep (much more these days!), but in reality, we all know that when it comes down to the day – sometimes it doesn’t really matter if all the prep is there (or not), some days are *your day* and some are not.
What is really funny to me is that when I started reading back over some of my blog posts leading up to Beach 2 Battleship, I found this post. This entire post is focused on how I needed to learn to be comfortable with missed bike workouts and lack of time in the pool. What?! That’s not at all what I remember from that training cycle. I remember nothing but hilly bike rides from beginning to end and tons of Master’s swims. I guess memory is a bit imperfect, huh?