Editor's Note: Our Janet became an Ironman this past summer at Ironman Lake Placid. She would inspire Dt to launch it's 3rd Ironman team for Lake Placed 2017.
One year ago I began my Ironman training. I received my first 4 week plan from Jean, my coach. I only wanted 4 weeks at a time. I couldn’t deal with looking at 37 weeks of training…Yes 37 weeks of training. I hadn't even calculated it, there it was, in print “base week 37”. The first phase of my training schedule. “Focus on 4 weeks,” that’s what I told myself.
I was pumped…this was doable, it looked easy…too easy…only 5-6 hours a week…I do more than that now! So of course, I questioned her, “Why only 20 minutes of swimming. It’s not worth getting wet.” “Be patient, it’s just a period of getting used to a routine,” she told me. OK I’m in!
I was still going to my strength trainer 2 times a week, so yes I was paying 2 people plus a membership at the Y! Yup it’s expensive to be a triathlete. On top of that I was determined to ride outside as much as possible so I would also have to beef up my outdoor riding gear…ChaChing! I have been doing triathlons for 6 years and completed 2 half ironman races. So I knew it was going to be expensive. I also knew I needed someone to keep me in check and not let me get ahead of myself, more than I needed motivation. Jean had me start doing drills, drills and more drills in the pool, on the bike, on my run. She even put things on the calendar like “Rest & Eat Turkey” on Thanksgiving. (Thanks for the day off!) Other things she added, which was necessary as a reminder, was to “stretch and foam roll.”
First 4 weeks
So it began…week 1
Monday - strength, GREAT
Tuesday - swim 25 minute technique drills, GREAT
Wednesday - bike 30/run 30…came home…had a fever…
I THOUGHT IT WAS THE END! “First week, I can’t get through the first week! How will I get through 37 weeks”. That’s all I could think. So what do I do? I start texting Jean. She’s always so patient and calm. “It’s okay, rest tonight and tomorrow, see how you feel Friday and pick it up from there”. Now my mind is going crazy…”Friday is my rest day so is Thursday my rest day, I don’t know what to do”. Jean said “see how you feel, text me tomorrow”. Thursday - off, Friday - off, Saturday - walk and yoga (not on schedule)!!!!
Sunday - do Saturdays bike
Week 2-4 SMOOTH SAILING! Week 4 is always a lower volume week or recovery week. I’m not going to go through every 4 week period just some highlights.
More about Jean and my coaching experience:
Jean Gillis had my back and “head” from the start! She didn’t just give me a 4 week schedule every 4 weeks. We met formally twice a month, once in person and one phone meeting. Of course, I texted and emailed her, probably to ad nauseam, with every thought that came into my head. I had a lot of time to think, I was training by myself 90% of the time. After each formal meeting, I got an email recap. Such a good way to keep track of everything. There’s so much to think about in preparing for an IM and working and trying to stay engaged with your family and friends. Hopefully, if you’re going to do an IM you have an understanding family and tolerant friends. I was fortunate to have both and a very accommodating boss. My job isn’t flexible, as far as hours or days, but my boss was and he understood I wasn’t volunteering for any extra duty in the school year 2015-2016. That was pretty out of character, as I’m usually very involved in before and after school activities. Back to Jean, again, her patient calm manner took control of my monkey brain. However, she doesn’t sugar coat things either. Such a great balance. She gave me drills, as I mentioned, but not just for the physical game, but also for the mental game. She offered suggestions for nutrition, sore muscles, mindfulness and provided resources. She put me in touch with all kinds of people, so I was able to get other perspectives on issues or concerns and just to get motivation. She provided the drills with additional resources. She focussed on my sleep patterns, heart rate, and overall demeanor and health. I was monitoring my resting heart rate and my working heart rate throughout this whole process. I was training using heart rate zones.
I did most of my training on my own. From week 37 to about week 30 Jean was totaling my weekly workouts in hours, suddenly the total was in minutes. Not sure if she was trying to trick me or not. Now I have to do math! November & December my weeks averaged about 6.5 hours. It crept up so slowly I hardly noticed. The only workout that was significant or felt significant in the way of time changes were my Saturday workouts. 120 min., 130 min., 145 min., whew rest 110 min. My weeks were pretty much the same Mondays - Strength & Bike; Tuesdays - Swim; Wednesdays - Strength & Brick; Thursdays - Swim & Long Run; Fridays - Rest; Saturdays - long bike, short run; Sundays - Short run, foam roll and stretch! Start all over the next week. On the rest weeks I usually had 2 rest days, otherwise everything was pretty much the same just shorter time per workout. Some of these workouts were specific drills others just in the zone. I was on my bike trainer for my mid-week workouts from November - April, but had a great winter and was able to bike outside almost every weekend. My longest indoor ride was about 2 1/2 hours. I don’t think I ever ran on the indoor track or a treadmill. It was such a mild winter. My longest workout week was about 12 hours. My longest workout single day was about 9 hours. YES! THIS IS HOW I LIVED FOR 37 WEEKS! I worked, trained, ate & slept, the priority of those changed every week, but I always trained. I don’t think I ever got sick again. I missed very few workouts and when I did it was because I just needed to sleep a little longer.
When the weather got nice, my tri-team started training again. They were amazing…thank you DREAMFAR athletes. They came at different times so I could have someone to swim with for my 2 loops around Walden. They rode various distances with me. Introduced me to their friends for some riding and swimming time when they couldn’t make it. The one thing they didn’t do was wait for me for breakfast..LOL. I don’t blame them. It was because I was eating cliff shots, cliff bars, peanut butter and jelly, bananas and tailwind for hours on end. By the time I was done with my Saturday training, in the spring and summer, it was almost dinner. I also had other friends and family that were super supportive. My daughter, Angela and her partner, Lisa were amazing. I would go and stay at their house for some longer training sessions. It was a great area to ride and run because of the hills. This was key to my Placid success. Angela and Lisa would come and meet me on my route to give me more nutrition, both riding and running. They were two of my biggest fans at the event as well. Many other friends joined me for workouts when they could. It definitely helped break up the monotony. I have to thank my husband, for all his support and understanding and amazing photography! He did a much better job at the event than the “pros!”
Taper & Planning
So of course my taper started shortly after school ended. Taper is also a “funny “term for ironman. The first time I saw “taper” on my schedule I thought “Whew!” Then I noticed the weekly total 780 minutes…hahaha! Also, my first taper week included the Patriot half ironman! It was 6 weeks out though! However, now I wasn’t working so I really felt like I was doing nothing. I started organizing my house. Kind of like “nesting” before a baby comes. My mind was on fire. I was dreaming about the race so much I felt like I didn’t sleep. I was calling or emailing everyone I knew who had done and ironman to get advice. Again, Jean was great, calm and kept me in check. I wanted to be wrapped in bubble wrap and quarantine. About 3 weeks before the race I felt like my whole body just relaxed. I had done everything I could. I had to focus on staying safe and healthy. I did a lot of lying on my yoga mat.
About a week out I started packing!!! I packed as if I had all my bags for ironman. You get 5 bags for the race. Swim/bike, bike special needs, bike/run, run special needs and morning clothes bag. I put way too much stuff in those bags. When I was home I had to bring enough stuff for any kind of weather, but I didn’t need to actually pack it all that day!
The Wednesday before the race my husband and I headed to Lake Placid. If you can go that early, I suggest it. I was able to check in and shop without all the crowds. I stayed about 20 minutes away right next to the Ausable River. It was on the course and away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Lake Placid. I drove the course. I was able to sit on the deck and listen to the river. I did some short bike rides, swam in Mirror Lake a couple of times and just hung out by the river.
This is when I got really Zen…my mantra…”TRUST YOUR TRAINING!” Right Jean? No training this week. Enjoy the scenery, it is gorgeous there! Leave EVERYTHING behind. Everything that happened during training is so much worse (almost) than what can happen on the course. Think of it as a catered, totally supported by amazing people, training day. If you can.
Up at 3:30! Couldn’t sleep anyway. Rod, one of Jean’s friend, told me not to worry if I didn’t sleep, no one does. Ate my usual breakfast and headed to Lake Placid. No problems! Get to transition early and get and out as fast as you can and go hang by the water and wait in porta-potty lines! That’s my advice. Take a little warm up swim and wait with the giants. Remember this is a celebration!
When it was time to line up I was ready. Then I suddenly felt dwarfed by all the tall guys around me…TRUST YOUR TRAINING. They have a rolling start at LP. As usual it takes a while to find your spot, but I found it as I rounded the first corner. I was also able to stay on that magic line on the bottom of the lake, so I hardly had to sight. My first lap was great and so was the second. I was done on schedule and pumped for the bike. I was having fun.
Eat as much as you can the first leg of the bike…FILL THE TANK! I did and it worked. Somehow you forget when you ate or drank last. Also, you may not feel you need more, but you do! Make a schedule and stick with it. If you forget, start a new schedule right then. Don’t try and guess, just eat or drink something. I can’t hurt. I had a great ride as well. I think I was so lucky. I totally relaxed during my second loop as soon as I realized I wasn’t even close to the cut-off time. The course is challenging but the scenery is spectacular. The support is incredible. Celebrate and smile
I was happy to be off my bike with so much time to spare. My feet were the only thing that really hurt. My sneakers were a dream come true. I had about 61/2 hours to do the marathon. My new mantra…HAVE AN EZ RUN! My only advice is if you feel a problem starting, deal with it right away. I thought I had a rock in my shoe at about 3 miles, it turned out to be the start of a blister. I stopped to take care of it! So glad I had bandaids with me. However, there were so many aid stations someone would have had one. I never let any negative thoughts stay more than a second. I smiled, ran, walked, ate, drank, smiled, etc. A bunch of “my” people were along the route. It was so good to see them. The run was also uneventful. I just kept running. Everything went as planned! I was celebrating all my hard work and it paid off.
It’s hard to explain the feeling I got as I entered the finisher’s circle. I didn’t feel my feet hit the ground. I felt as light as a feather. It was as if I grew wings. It was amazing to hear Mike Reilly say “Janet Baglione you are an ironman!” I am an ironman and no one can take that away…EVER!!!!
The End or Not
This journey introduced me to some incredible people. It also made me realize how deep I could dig, both physically and mentally. I am grateful for the experience. I will do it again!