About a month ago I did my first, and only, SIM day in my prep for IM Maryland.  Local triathlon legend Frank Webster set it up for a group of us.  The SIM day included:

  • 3100y swim w/ 5x400y main set
  • 4 hour ride w/6x20min and 1x30min @ race power
  • 18mi run broken up as 3 x (4x1mi, 2mi) on 90 second rest

On paper this was an easier SIM day then the 2 I had completed last year, but these days are never easy.  Up to this point it’s been challenging for me to hold my watts over 3.5 hours.  It’s been my back, and not my legs that’s held me back on my long rides.  Also, the run on SIM days is always a challenge because you’re trying to run relatively quick after you’ve already been at it for hours.

Here’s a rundown of how the day went:

Swim – 400y WU, 100y build.  5x400y main set.  600y CD

  • Swim was out in Durham.  I usually swim on my own so it was nice to have some other people around, even if that meant I had to stay on one side of the lane.  I also appreciated that the pool wasn’t nearly as warm as the one at my condo.
  • I was in a lane with Colin, who was a little faster than me, so I had to work hard to keep up.
  • 400s were 5:20-5:30.  I was happy with this swim, but much like in a triathlon, this was only a small component of our day.

Bike – 30min WU. 6x (20min @IM pace, 10min recovery). 30min @IM pace.

  • We took our time getting from the pool to starting the bike.  We were going to be riding loops of a route Frank uses.
  • I was about 250W AP for all my IM pace intervals.  I didn’t feel like I was killing myself, but it was work.
  • It was really warm, and I was trying to keep on top of my nutrition.  I ate every 20 minutes so that every hours I ate a half waffle, half waffle, and a gel.  I was aiming to drink about a bottle of Gatorade every 45-50 minutes.


Run – 3 x (4x1mi, 2mi @ Race pace)

  • We had a quick transition to the run.  For our 1mi runs we would run 800m out, and 800m back.  For the 2mi it was 1mi out, and 1mi back.  We had 90 seconds recovery after every interval.
  • My first time through the intervals I felt great and my mi pace ranged from 6:38 – 6:51 (4:07 – 4:16/km)
  • My second time through I started hurting a little more.  I was feeling the heat, but I still managed to keep all my miles between 6:46 and 6:53 (4:13 – 4:17/km)
  • My third time through is when the wheels fell off.  The last interval of the previous set is 2mi, and I was still feeling it when I was running the first mi of this set.  I ran 6:49 for my first mi, and my heart rate was up at 165.  My next mi I was still holding onto sub 7min pace in 6:52, but my HR was now 168.  My third mi was hell.  My stomach hurt every step, I was over heating, and I was in a world of pain.  I told myself if I can run this sub 7:00 I’d give myself an extra long rest.  I ran 6:56, and my HR was 172.  I tried to cool myself down with ice, and I took 3:00 of recovery.  My last 1mi I tried to push but I was broken.  I ran 7:31 and my HR was still up at 165.  With only 2mi left I wasn’t going to quit my workout, but I was forced to walk for parts of it.  My mi paces were 7:52 and 7:59.


Take Aways

  • I usually wear a HR monitor, but I’ve never really paid attention to it.  It was eye-opening to see when you’re HR runs too high just how difficult it is to get it back under control.  Sitting in the shade with water and ice for 3-minutes my HR only came back down to 137.  This is something I’m going to have to be more aware of, especially in the heat.
  • I feel like my nutrition worked really well.  At Tremblant I decided I was trying to force too much in.  I wasn’t full, but I also didn’t feel like I needed calories.  I also feel like I’ve got a better handle on signs that I need more/less.
  • I should make more of an effort to train with others.  In the swim I think I swam faster because I was trying to keep up.  On the bike I started last and would try to catch everyone.  On the run it was nice to see other people out there hurting alongside me.

October 1 is race day.  This SIM day was about 7.5 hours of exercise.  I’m hoping race day will be less than 9.  At the time of writing I’m 11 days out from the race.  I had planned on doing my last couple hard workouts today and tomorrow, but my muscles have been a little sore so I’ll likely skip them.  I’d rather be underdone than overdone headed into the race.  That means it’s taper time!