Muskoka Training Weekend and 72 HR Adventure Race Prep
We are on a solid one post a week average, folks! Sadly, the trend will not break this week, but I did want to dip in and share some of the things I am learning in my training lately.
This past weekend was a holiday weekend for Canadians so Mark and I headed to the Muskoka region which is the site of our half IRONMAN in July. We wanted to test out the course and see exactly what we got ourselves into and were rewarded with lots of hills and perfect weather.
The first day, Mark did the half marathon course and I rode beside him on the bike to get a sense of the course. I am still not back to running regular miles to make sure my shin splints are completely healthy before I bring back a training load, but I am adding a few test runs which have been largely pain free. I am holding back until that number is 100%! Here is the course we are dealing with.
Regardless, the course was great and other than a couple big hills at the beginning and end of the course, it seemed to be not a problem. The key is being able to sustain a solid effort after 94 KM of cycling!
While Mark spent some time by the water, I hopped in the wetsuit and into the water for the first open water swim of the year. I did about 2,500m and learned that I need to most certainly work on my swim lines. I ended up right in the boat route which was absolutely terrifying and I ended up getting a ride closer to the shore by a very kind boat driver. I have a long way to go in swimming but I was happy to see that I didn’t fatigue.
Like any triathlon, the key element of our weekend was the cycle. Muskoka is a HARD course and I wanted to make sure I was respecting the level of difficulty.
I also was eager to try out my bike nutrition on the course as well. The main test ride was done on Sunday morning. My plan on the bike was to drink 3 bottles of water over the course of the ride, alternating between Nuun water and a mixture from my sports nutritionist with protein, carbs and electrolytes. I planned to drink every 10 minutes and eat something every 30 minutes. I alternated between a mini larabar, a home made date/coconut butter ball (recipe coming soon in collaboration with Goodness Me!) and a gel. For just a simple 100 KM ride, this may be a little bit much, but I wanted to fuel as if I was hopping off to do the run afterwards.
I was absolutely thrilled to see that my hill repeats and zone 4 workouts on the bike have done their job. I had a blast on the course and felt strong enough to try a 3 KM brick run at the end of the cycle. I am not going to lie to you, the course is very difficult, but with hill training and proper nutrition and hydration, it is very raceable and I am excited for July now!
Our final day in Muskoka, we went out on another cycle for a couple hours to chase down some hills and explore the area a little more. It was a relaxed pace and a perfect day, weatherwise. This was exactly the training weekend I hoped it would be – leaving me feeling confident in my ability to perform well on course and pleased with my nutrition plan.
Speaking of nutrition, I am currently pulling together a rough nutrition plan for my race this weekend. I’ll be honest, I am scared spit-less for this race, especially considering this is the weather report:
Rain with a side of thunderstorms.
We have been promised 12,000 ft of elevation gain and a team of researchers doing a scientific study on team work on the racers through a series of interviews before and after the race. I will be doing 432 – 500 + KM over 72 hours which is a logical way to celebrate my 27th birthday. The good news is, nothing in life will seem difficult after this.
I did some huge gear upgrades for this race. I bought a very expensive and extremely effective light system for my bike and helmet that will last the 3 nights in the wilderness as well as purchasing my very first carbon racing paddle for the water portions. I have been informed the the race will potentially begin with a night paddle on white water so it will be put to immediate use. I also replaced my old helmet with a shiny new one.
My ironman training has dovetailed beautifully into this race and other than the paddle and orienteering, I am feeling good. I have done a number of training rides on the mountain bike and I am feeling strong and confident across the disciplines with many hours of training put into this. Brad has warned me that this will be trial by fire in terms of navigation. This is my first multiday on a team of two which means we will be relying on each other heavily – including the navigation. What could go wrong?
As for nutrition, I have never done a race this long without stopping so I am drawing from research and talking to those in my life who have way more experience than me. I learned in my last number of multidays that high protein does NOT work with my digestive system because it dehydrates you, but I have leaned towards the quick and constant energy sources such as gels, food bars and treats. I will continue using those for variety, but I am going to try and do the bulk of this race with more savoury items. I am reading that cheese sandwiches work well and I am wanting to get my hands on a jar of pickles and peanut butter pretzels. The key is to eat a little bit every hour. Adventure/expedition racers burn 250-800 calories an hour, and because you are constantly moving, you don’t want to wait a long time and proceed to eat a large meal which is hard on the digestive system. I will aim to eat 250-400 calories an hour consistently over the race and drink water with electrolytes. It will be hot so I will be taking my salt tablets as well.
One key snack that I always bring with me on my multi-days is chocolate covered coffee beans. When the sleep monsters inevitably show up, I armed with caffeine pills and coffee beans.
That is all for this week! I am off to pack and wrap up race prep. I will touch base sometime late next week with an update. Feel free to head over to my instagram account for photo updates on my journey.