Two days ago, on Wednesday, I had a big session planned. 3 – 3.5 hour bike ride and a 20 minute run off the bike. I was keen to do this as I need to experience running off the bike having ridden for such a long time. I have run off of 40K rides and 20K rides (doing Sprint and Olympic distance races) but I need to experience, and get used too (assuming you do ever get used to it) running off a 90K ride.
So I left the house at 8am having had a big breakfast of porridge, toasted egg and ham sandwich and some water mixed with orange juice. With me was a banana, a Cliff energy bar and a marathon energy bar plus two water bottles of filled with powerade and water.
The theory was I had ridden 2 hours 45 mins at the hottest part of the day with this amount of drink and food and all was fine. I was now riding a lot earlier, so it wasn’t as hot, so it would be enough.
I set off and all was good. Really good in fact. Nice pace. Nice and steady heart rate at 80 – 85% of max.
First hour flew by and I was on a nice route I had ridden before so no surprises (e.g. no massive hills). I got to 1 hour 30 mins (half way point) and was just under 40K covered. So I had the bright idea of riding another 5K to get to 45K before turning, so in total I would have ridden 90K (the half ironman distance) and then do the run.
So I did another 5K and turned at 45K. What I didn’t take into account was:
a) I had consumed more than half my drinks and had no money to buy any extra drink
b) It was a lot hillier going back then it was riding out
c) The wind was against me on the way back not with me as it was on the way out
d) Riding back I got lost
e) It was getting very hot even at this earlier hour
The end result was disaster. I tried rationing my drinks, but I run out after about 3hrs 30 mins of the ride and then had to ride another 37 mins on empty. Uphill, in the soaring heat (it was now noon!)
I cannot begin to describe what I went through riding uphill, in the heat on empty with no drinks, food or money to buy food or drink.
I got home after 4 hours and 8 mins of riding, having completed a total of 87K. And I was severely dehydrated. I looked a state as everyone at the house either got me water, or helped me get undressed so I could shower or generally looked really worried and kept asking if I felt all right. And I didn’t. I felt sick, I felt drunk, I felt dizzy, I felt horrible.
The run was out of the question, I had decided that whilst riding back.
I went for a shower and before turning on the shower taps I laid on the bathroom floor until the sickness feeling passed and the room stopped spinning. I showered, which included a few minutes of sitting in the shower tray as I wasn’t sure the legs could hold my weight.
After the shower I had a power nap for an hour, then I had a 10 inch meatball baguette, two slices of pizza (American sized slices), a yoghurt, a banana, tons of coffee and water. And at about 5pm I started to feel human again.
I rested all afternoon and the evening (including an early night) and took a rest day the next day to make sure I was fully OK. And when I say rest day I mean rest day – I didn’t get off my arse all day.
Today I revisited the plan and thought, today I will do the 3 – 3.5 hour ride and 20 minute run off the bike.
I had a big breakfast, took two bigger water bottles and a third in my back pocket (was uncomfortable on the bumps but I drank that bottle first), I also had two energy bars and a packet of Cliff Shots.
I rode the same route and even though the way the is more downhill and therefore faster as the wind was against me on the way out I turned at 1 hour 30 mins. I had double the fluids and I rationed myself on food and drink. At no time was I thristy or hungry. The pace and heart rate was consistent for the entire ride and riding home on the uphill section was fine. I rode for a total of 3 hours 20 mins and covered 75K in that time. And when I got home I felt good.
I threw on my trainers, took my helmet off etc and hit the pavement for the 20 minute run. I started down hill for 2 or 3 mins and all fine, until I hit the flat which was hard and then when I hit a hill it was impossible, as in I had to stop and walk and that was the rest of the session. Walk, run, walk.
I did this for the 20 mins and then was home. I run on the flats and the downhill parts, it was only the uphill bits I walked for. Running off such a long bike ride was a serious eye opening for what is coming up in four and a bit weeks. But taking the positives I now know how important the right fluids and food is at these distances and I won’t get caught out like that every again.
And that is a promise!
This afternoon I had the pleasure of an 80 minute massage and now, as I am finishing this blog, I have been handed an ice cold Margarita.
Thanks for reading.