About Cassandra Holloway

Runner + Triathlete. Wife. Marketing Professional. Fearless. Coffee + Wine Lover. "Faith Like A Child."

Ironman Muncie 70.3 Training (Weeks 4, 5, 6, 7)

Weeks 4, 5, 6 and 7 are done and dusted and I feel good in terms of where I’m at training wise. I am back to the familiar feeling of racing the clock every morning and on most weekends. Hurry up and train and then hurry up and get ready while you’re exhausted, then try to make it on time to the next event!

I do admit that there’s been a few times where I’ve thought “Why did I sign up for this again?” But I can spot the difference between this time last year and training right now. I have such a better training / life balance and I don’t feel 100% consumed like last year. (Only like 75% consumed LOL)

Week 4
Total Distance: 72 miles
Total Time: 8:20

So I’m kind of in disagreement with the long rides and runs in this training plan so far. I understand and completely trust the Be Iron Fit program, but personally I feel the time commitment is jumping way too drastically for a Half Ironman.

I’ve been cutting my long rides short by about 15 or 20 minutes each week. I do speed intervals (long and short) every time I’m on the trainer, so I don’t think I need to ride long just to ride long at this point. BUT this is the beauty of self coaching and only training for a Half Ironman! I know I’m in good shape and I know the distance, so I can trust my body and train accordingly.

All pink everything.

Week 5
Total Distance: 75 miles
Total Time: 8:10

Week 6
Total Distance: 81 miles
Total Time: 9:13

The long ride called for 3:15 in week 6…ya don’t put me down for that. My ride was 2:30 (35 miles) and I felt like a million bucks running afterwards. I didn’t find it necessary to ride for that long in only week 6!! This was also the first week I opted for doing my long ride during the week instead of Saturday morning. I had lots of weekend plans and I needed to do a shorter Saturday workout, so I moved stuff around accordingly. *Que my old Ironman familiar friend — the 4AM workout.

My bike set up for long rides — lots of Netflix to keep me occupied!

Week 7
Total Distance: 94 miles
Total Time: 9:13

My long ride in week 7 was 42 miles followed by a 2 mile run. My long run was 12 miles, which included tripping and launching myself forward and catching myself with my index finger! (The sidewalks around our house are TERRIBLE.) Regardless I felt good after both long workouts.

Only one week left in this first phase! CHEERS!

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Ironman 70.3 Muncie Training (Weeks 1, 2, 3)

Week 1 of training went off without a hitch. Nothing crazy, nothing really to report — I guess that’s a good sign, right?

Even my first time back in the pool in almost 9 months went pretty smooth! (If you don’t already know, I really dislike swimming!)

One think I’ll point out though, is that I would like to better incorporate cross training (i.e. circuits, conditioning) and strength training into my plan. I really struggled with this during training for Lake Placid. There’s so much swimming, biking and running to do that it’s hard to carve out extra time for lifting and circuit work. But I feel like I made so much progress in the off-season that I don’t want to lose muscle and waste all my hard work! I will try harder with this.

Week 1
Total Distance: 60 miles
Total Time: 6:24
Training Plan Time Goal: 6 hours [Goal Met!]

Week 2
Total Distance: 63 miles
Total Time: 7:27
Training Plan Time Goal: 6:45 [Goal Met!]

I was back to my old pool stomping grounds in week 2. I ended up just buying a membership to the local YMCA that I used for the majority of Lake Placid training. It was odd being back in the locker room and back in the pool. I remember my very last swim before Lake Placid in the very same pool. It was a weird feeling being back (as an Ironman!!) and as training for a new race!

You know it’s strange not being totally and completely obsessed with training this year. Not every single thing I do anymore revolves around training, which makes me feel both sad and relieved. The weight of Ironman training is HUGE and part of me misses it and part of me feels thankful to have a life outside of training. 70.3 is a much better distance for training/life balance, but I really did love the fire of training for 140.6. Does that make any sense?!

I think as the weather warms up and training hits around 8 hours a week, I will feel a little more connected to it. Right now I’m still enjoying being able to eat whatever, drink whatever, still go out and still get all my training in! With Ironman training I didn’t touch a drop of alcohol for almost 7 months straight. Eeeek!! (I also think my husband is relieved by this new training/life balance thing I’ve found! LOL)

My long ride in Week 2 was for 1 hour and 45 minutes and after going out the night before, I set my expectations low. It wasn’t terrible, just slower than normal, which I was ok with…THAT is the balance I so craved in 2017, but it was also the passion that fueled one of the greatest years of my life… *sigh* It may always be a battle with moderation for me, but I’m alright with that considering I could be fighting a worse battle.

Week 3
Total Distance: 70 miles
Total Time: 7:42
Training Plan Time Goal: 7:30 [Goal Met!]

FinalSurge Training Overview of Week 3

I was really disappointed to find out that my favorite training app, Addaero, will no longer exist as of May 1! They recommended a new app, Final Surge, as the replacement. I tested it out in Week 3 and I guess it will work, but I really liked Addaero, plus it’s what I used to track Ironman 70.3 Ohio and Ironman Lake Placid training.

Week 3 had a long run on the schedule that was 1 hour 30 minutes. I am trying my best to complete all my training Monday-Saturday so that I have Sunday free to do whatever. I woke up at 4:45AM on Friday to get my long run in before an 8:30AM meeting. I don’t know what happened, but somehow everything during my run just…clicked.  It was vaguely warm out (about 50 — but hey that’s good for April in Northeast Ohio!) My music was on point. There was super light traffic. I even saw a skunk AND an opossum and didn’t get startled/shook up! The run itself felt easy and I felt strong. I looked down to see most of my miles between 9:20 and 9:30. Then the more I ran the faster I got! When I had about 30 minutes left I started averaging 9:15 miles. My very last mile was 9:08 and I felt like a million bucks!! [Ended the run with a 9:22 average]

Those are the runs that make you stop and really appreciate this sport. It gives me hope for a sub 6-hour half Ironman! All those winter sprints on the treadmill paid off!

CHEERS to a great first three weeks of training!

Prepping for 70.3

I officially start training for Ironman 70.3 Muncie on Monday (March 26)!

I’ll admit I have had a few heart attacks here and there when I randomly think about it and start panicking about training for the full. Then I have to rationally talk myself down and tell myself “it’s not a full Ironman this time around, you will be FINE.” (I still don’t know if I will ever emotionally recover from the intensity that was Ironman Lake Placid and the 6+ months leading up to the race.)

Since January 8th I have consistently worked out six days a week — that’s 11 straight weeks of solid workouts! I have lifted A LOT over the past three months and can see and feel a difference in my body. I feel very strong, although I know there is still plenty of work to do for Muncie! At first I thought about following the “competitive” training plan from Be Iron Fit, but after reviewing my schedule and just general work load, I have opted to follow the “intermediate” plan. It will allow me to train and work hard, but still have a life — something that wasn’t even a concept last summer prepping for Lake Placid. The plan has us training for 16 weeks. The first 8  weeks are more base training and the second half is peak training and taper.

There’s just something about a fresh training plan that pumps me up!

Recent 8 miler and feeling good!

Right now my biggest obstacle is trying to find a pool to swim in. Next week I’m going as a guest to my friend’s gym to use the pool there, but after that I need to figure something out. It’s challenging because I don’t want to pay upwards of $70 a month just to use the pool once or twice a week. (I belong to two other gyms and have a bike trainer and treadmill in my basement, so I can’t justify spending more on yet ANOTHER gym membership.)

I’m super curious to see how I physically and emotionally handle training. I am no where near the same mental state that I was in a year ago (can you believe one year ago I was on week 13 of 25 for the full??) I would love for my goal for Muncie to go sub-6 hours, but that will be determined when I get into the swing of things and see how I feel.

Here’s to officially chasing another dream come Monday morning. CHEERS!

Holiday & Sickness Recovery — Looking Forward To 2018

First there was the stomach bug over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Then bronchitis hit me. Then consequently laryngitis, which left me voiceless on New Years Eve and New Years Day. Then when I didn’t think I could feel any crappier, I got pink eye — in both eyes.

Not my best showing this holiday season.

But I am alive.

I took 17 days off from the gym. It was longer then the time I took off for recovery after Ironman Lake Placid. In fact, it was the longest I had gone in 2017 without working out. I think I started getting depressed because I was so sick. I would get home after work and just climb into bed. This went on for weeks. I have only just started to feel more like my regular old self. Five miles on the dreadmill left me hacking up half a lung, but I had survived, proving to myself that I was making a slow come back.

I started the Advocare 24-Day Challenge on Monday. I have done it every January for the past three years and I usually lose around 8lbs. (My husband on the other hand, has lost 20lbs while on it before! Ugh, men.) But despite weight loss, the whole program just makes you feel better and it reinforces clean, wholesome eating. I also like it because during the year my diet is pretty clean, but during the holidays I tend to splurge. It’s always a refreshing start come January to get back in the swing of things. There’s something about meal prepping and being in a program that lights a fire under my butt!

Prepping for week 1 of Advocare

A few times this week I started feeling the old familiar pings of motivation. (Something that has been few-and-far between ever since the Ironman.) I don’t start training for Ironman 70.3 Muncie until March 26 — which honestly feels like FOREVER from now. But just being back in a regiment and routine makes me want to work hard again.

Meal planning and workout planning.

In my last post I wrote down some short term goals I wanted to accomplish for myself.

Here’s an update:

  • Register for Ironman 70.3 Muncie
  • Order and read Be Iron Fit half Ironman training book
  • Complete a 10 mile run and feel OK – Does 8 miles still count?
  • In January join a new gym with a new pool — So I joined Planet Fitness, which doesn’t have a pool, but it’s seriously 2 minutes from my house. I just can’t bring myself to swim yet…I know I need to, but I’m going to procrastinate just a bit longer 😉
  • Purchase a treadmill for my home gym — This might not be in the budget for a little while still. Plus with joining Planet Fitness, which is super close to my house, I can get away with using those treadmills for a bit.
  • Try to hopefully become part of a 2018 tri teamI am so excited to represent FE Strong Racing and be an Ambassador for: Nuun Hydration, BOCO Gear and Honey Stinger!!
  • Get a new Garmin watchI LOVE my new Garmin Vivo Active HR!! (Shout out to my amazing husband on THE best Christmas present of 2017!!)
  • Keep consistently working out 6 days a week and moderately watch my nutrition over the holidays — Sooooo kinda?? 🙂 Despite my 17-day hiatus when I was bed ridden, I was consistently hitting 6 days a week before and am doing so again now in my recovery from being so sick! Also being sick left me with very little appetite.

So here’s to 2018 and chasing down my next dream. It has been a slow recovery from illness and an even slower mental recovery post-Ironman, but I am determined that wherever I go from here in 2018 — it will be the right path for me.

Celebrating turning 28 on December 16th by riding 28 miles. Obviously this was pre-sickness!

Tried out a spinning studio called “Cycle Bar” and absolutely loved it!! I’m going to incorporate it into my winter training.

I have also been trying to incorporate Insanity or P90X (both Pylo workouts).

CHEERS to 2018!

“Forward is Still a Pace”

I can’t believe I haven’t written since September! When I was Ironman training I was writing so frequently and with so much to say! (Although it was basically just me babbling about riding my bike.)

The last time I wrote I was still deep in my “Ironman Blues” or my “Ironman Depression“. I was consumed with post-race thoughts. I felt like I had just been hit by a tidal wave and I was scampering to stay afloat. Desperately trying to preserve my Ironman body, dedication, motivation and any and all drive to ever swim, bike and run again. I was a poor, poor lost soul.

Now looking back to Ironman Lake Placid I am confused on how I ever completed the race. How did I ride 4 hours on my indoor bike trainer? Did I really swim 87 laps in the pool? How did I manage to get up early day in and day out? Like honestly how did that stuff ever happen? These days I’ve been pretty consistent with working out 6 days a week — but only for about an hour or so at a time. I constantly check my watch and die a little inside when it says only 19 minutes have passed. BUT. I am out there and that’s all that counts right now. My goal has been to stay consistent with moving my body and I’ve stuck to that. It hasn’t been pretty, but I’ve gotten it done.

I did run 8 miles on Thanksgiving last week, which left me feeling oddly hopeful for my racing future. I have even been riding my bike trainer and not just using a spin bike.

Swimming on the other hand? Hmm. I’ll leave that there. All I know is that when I get back in the pool in January I will be very angry at myself when I can only swim 5 laps without getting winded. But alas that is a tale for another day…

The tale I want to tell today — is that I registered for Ironman 70.3 Muncie 2018! The race is July 14 — which is great because July is my favorite time to race. It’s a little over a 4 hour drive from Cleveland and I love that it’s a Saturday race. I wanted to race somewhere I’d never been, but wouldn’t cost a fortune to travel to. Muncie is a pretty iconic race and the timing fit perfectly into our summer plans. PLUS it’s “only” a 70.3. Crazy how our minds shift with what we think is normal, right?

I have started mapping out my training and will use the Be Iron Fit training plan again, but for the half distance this time. (I followed BIF for full training and loved it.) I was thinking I’d train around 20-25 weeks (especially because I am starting from scratch with swimming again), but the plan only calls for 16 weeks of training. I am a little bummed because I wanted to start training the week of January 8, but the plan doesn’t have me officially starting until the week of March 26. I will start swimming early in January though, just to help build a base before “real” training starts.


Here are some goals I’ve set for myself:

  • Register for Ironman 70.3 Muncie – check
  • Order and read Be Iron Fit half Ironman training book – check
  • Complete at 10 mile run and feel OK – (I’ve reached 8 miles and working my way back up!)
  • In January join a new gym with a new pool (FYI it’s been 129 since I’ve swam!!)
  • Purchase a treadmill for my home gym (I’ve been looking online at used ones. I have a super old, tiny one that I currently use, but it’s just not cutting it any longer)
  • Try to hopefully become part of a 2018 tri team (I’ve applied to quite a few)
  • Get a new Garmin watch (my old one died very conveniently 2 weeks after Ironman Lake Placid)
  • Keep consistently working out 6 days a week and moderately watch my nutrition over the holidays. I’m never one to pass on enjoying holiday treats (you gotta have pie, I mean come on), but that doesn’t mean I need to eat 10 cookies everyday in December

Morning workout at my work gym. Cardio, weights, conditioning – a little of everything to stay consistent.

Workout buddy.

Post Ironman Thoughts, Part 2

It has been 61 days since Ironman Lake Placid and I am finally starting to feel normal again.

Here are a few thoughts I have had post race!

Staying active & working out
I have some sort of workout structure again in my life and it feels decent. I have been focusing on workouts that I enjoy and that make me feel good. Mainly 1 hour or less of HIIT and circuit training/conditioning — both with loud music, of course! I have also been enjoying short runs of 6 miles or less, super casual bike rides (10 miles or less) and working out in my home gym just doing whatever. At this point I’m focusing on keeping my body active and moving. I do not want to gain my notorious off-season weight like I have in the past. I feel I am at risk for this with no real races yet on the calendar!

Speaking of races…
I have started eye-balling a few races for 2018. I figured I will do what I have been doing for a few more weeks and then slowly start to reincorporate swim, bike, run again. (I have not swam since Lake Placid!)

I think I have narrowed it down to only doing half Ironman’s next year. (There is a small chance I may aim for Ironman Louisville — but that is highly dependent on how I feel, what else I have going on, budget, etc. etc. But I think that would be my next full, if ever!)

I did just find out that one of my favorite races (and my first ever triathlon) won’t be happening next year. RIP Triathlon Champ Racing in 2018. Their Half Ironman race was listed on my potential list of races for next year and I’m 99% sure I would have raced it had it not been canceled. Their races were iconic in the past five years I have been doing triathlons. Their events have been some of my favorite summer memories. This line reads on their website and it felt surreal:

“We are proud that some of you, who have continued on to the half and full distance races, began your triathlon career with CHAMP racing.”

So I think I am leaning on Ironman 70.3 Muncie and Ironman 70.3 Ohio for 2018. A big contender is that my family is looking to do a vacation in Greece next summer. We have narrowed down the Greece vacation dates to May, June or August. I am voting for August so that my training and racing will be done for the season. May or June might be a terrible time to vacation since that will be peak training time. Although I keep reminding myself that Half Ironman training is WAY easier to still live life and manage than full Ironman training is! I also love July races and the timing of training is good. More to come!

No longer eating like an Ironman athlete
I am no longer burning 10,000+ calories a week. From just the past 2 months post race I can feel that I’ve become a little more “fluffy“. Not fat, but that I am not as lean as I was while training and that I really do need to start balancing what I eat, drink and do. The crazy thing about Ironman training is that you can legit eat all day, everyday and not gain any weight. I really, REALLY miss that, amirite?!

It’s crazy how the Ironman training process actually works
When you stop and think about it, it’s actually amazing. I remember starting off my trainer rides at 1 hour 15 minutes. Then 1 hour 45 minutes and so on and so on. Eventually I was riding for 7+ hours. Same thing with swimming and running. Then you start to build your base with brick workouts on Saturday and then long runs on Sunday (or whatever back-to-back days work for your schedule.) It’s amazing that the body adapts to it and then allows you to cover the distance through all of these combined efforts. Plus — adding in the taper is the icing on the cake. Through all of the marathon training I have done, I can honestly say that I never fully understood what taper was supposed to do until the Ironman taper. I also remember thinking I was actually leaning out even more during tapering. Maybe it was my body finally reacting to the sheer mile volume of training and then the rest phase (like my body finally caught up). People talk about the body being so amazing, especially during pregnancy for a woman, but I am just as amazed at how strong the body is when it comes to Ironman training!!

Throwback to 2014 when I checked out this book from my local library, LOL. I was just getting a glimpse into the tri world at this point in my life.

Sometimes I am still shocked by Ironman
The other night I was reading a memoir from a local runner and she was describing her very first 5K. I thought back to my running journey and my heart skipped a beat when I thought about the Ironman and how I started off with 5Ks too. My whole running and endurance career slowly evolved from barely being able to run 3 miles. I also thought about this one moment, probably 5-6 years ago at this point. It was summer and we were waiting in line for tickets at the Cleveland Zoo. I looked at the people in front of me and there was a really athletic looking couple standing in line. I noticed they each had tattoos of the Ironman symbol on their calves. In that moment I honestly remember feeling not worthy of ever being an Ironman. I think I had just started looking into my first sprint tri and somewhere deep in my heart was the desire to do an Ironman, but I would have never admitted it back then. But I honestly thought that me becoming an Ironman was unattainable. I thought that Ironman was only for the super elite and fast. My heart still skips a beat when I think back to that moment and when I think about crossing the finish line at Lake Placid.

Me after my first ever sprint triathlon. Notice the odd placement of my ankle timer — why?!

Why do people do it?
It sounds like a poetic piece of literature, but Ironman made me feel alive. I’m not saying I felt like a dead piece of lard before, but Ironman surfaced so many emotions I hadn’t felt in quite a while. It’s easy to get in the same routine, doing the same things, hanging out with the same people. Ironman forced me out of my comfort zone. It helped me make new friends. It helped me do new things. It helped me realize what was important and what wasn’t. It made me feel grateful, lucky and happy. Who wouldn’t want to feel that way?! Ironman helps you realize the big picture. It helps you appreciate that although life is short and small, we can still do great things. Asking people why they do an Ironman is a loaded question. If you have to ask why — you’ll never know 😉

Read more of my post Ironman thoughts here.

The Post Ironman Breakup Feeling

It has been 29 days since Ironman Lake Placid 2017.

With every day and week that passed after the race, I couldn’t help but compare how I felt to a breakup. It all felt so weirdly similar. (Let me remind you I’m happily married, but I still felt the old, familiar surges of breakup emotions following the race.)

I felt sad.
I took the loss of training pretty hard. Suddenly there was this giant void in my everyday life. Day in and day out was about Ironman training. When I wasn’t training I was thinking about training. Every life event — from my best friend’s wedding, to celebrating Easter, to moving — was all based around my training. That’s how I saw it. That’s how I was able to prioritize. The race was my biggest driving force in everything I did. What was I supposed to work towards now? I felt depressed not to have a goal or a reason to workout. I felt sad reminiscing about the roller coaster of emotions I had felt training and leading up to the race. Was I ever going to feel like that again? Those feelings made me feel so alive — they helped put my life in perspective. Now everything was back to normal, but I didn’t feel very normal. I had just done this giant, incredible thing…yet my regular, normal life was just carrying on as if nothing had happened.

I felt relieved.
Waves of “Oh my gosh I made it!!!” would wash over me. Why shouldn’t I feel relieved that I had survived and finished the race?! Every year thousands of people attempt an Ironman race and thousands don’t finish it. I felt so thankful to be done and relieved not to have to worry about it anymore. I didn’t have to lose anymore sleep over it. I didn’t have to panic about if I was doing enough training or not. I could finally have my thoughts back, as Ironman had consumed them over the past year.

I kept remembering the little things.
4AM — an hour few people see, but I learned to love it. It was my hour. My time. The memories of so many “4AM’s” kept replaying in my head. Just looking at my bike and my bike trainer made my heartache. I thought about my 5AM drives to the pool, when the world was still dark outside. I thought about watching the miles tick by on my bike computer. I thought about pit-stops on long bike rides. I remembered getting caught running in the rain. I thought about fun evening rides with my tri club and biking into work and seeing the sunrise. I remembered winter mornings on the bike trainer and racing to make it to work on time… I longed for those little memories again. Each memory was a puzzle piece to the bigger picture, which I could see so clearly now.

I felt free.
I didn’t have to constantly update my training log or rearrange my schedule to fit in training. Weekends suddenly meant something again. What is this sleeping in thing that people talk about? I could sleep in, stay up late, not set an alarm, or even eat fried food!! And did I mention alcohol!? I COULD DRINK AGAIN! (FYI: I had drastically cut out alcohol the past six months of training.) I could pack clothes to go running in after work and if I didn’t make it — no big deal! I didn’t have to bike a set number of miles or for a certain amount of time anymore. I could run a measly 3 miles and call it a day. I could lift weights without worry about being sore for a long run or injuring myself. I didn’t have to constantly think about my hair washing schedule from swimming three days a week! I didn’t have to get up at 4AM… I didn’t feel the weight of training hanging over me anymore.

As much as it hurt to be “done” I knew it was for the best.
Ironman training is not meant to be nonstop all year round. Our bodies aren’t supposed to be under that amount of stress forever. There is an off-season for a reason. People take months off to fully recover from an Ironman, both physically and mentally. So like a breakup with someone who you know is bad for you — it hurt, but I knew it was right and that my body needed the rest.

I’m trying to “get back out there”.
I attempted to run 10 miles the other day. I had hopes to try to run the Akron Marathon in September. With two full weeks off of running after the Ironman, I still had 7 weeks of training until the race. My long weekend training runs would be: 10, 13, 16, 18, 20, 13, 10. Totally manageable, right? No swimming or biking was even involved. I set out early on Saturday morning, and by mile 2 I felt terrible. By mile 4 I knew I wasn’t going to make it 10 miles. I struggled to keep running and to catch my breathe. My miles got slower and slower. My legs were heavy and I couldn’t find a rhythm. I got back home and felt like a complete failure. I spent the rest of the morning laying around the house — tired and even sore from my 8 miles!! I couldn’t believe that less than a month ago I had ran a marathon after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112 miles. Now here I was struggling to run just 8 pathetic miles.

It was disheartening for sure, but I still keep trying to “get back out there” and to rekindle a training fire. I know that my strength (both mentally and physically) will eventually come back. I know that I will once again feel the waves of motivation pump through my veins. I will find the passion to train and to race again. Except for this time around I will have the knowledge and experience of being an Ironman already.

Similar to moving on after a relationship, you reach a point where you realize what you learned and how it shaped who you are today. You take that with you and it becomes part of you. Just like dating and trying to find “the one” you know it’s going to happen eventually for you. Like every relationship has a chapter or a season in your life — so does Ironman.