Welcome to our daily blog! We’ll be giving you a play by play of each day, show some insights from Ashley, feedback from her coach, Alex Viada, and sharing everything that happens – the good and the bad. We want you to be able to follow along with us and see everything.
We began our journey in Virginia Beach, the city Ashley calls home. We’re all a little bit nervous, but mostly excited to get this thing started. Nobody on the crew is under the impression this will be an easy journey, but we’ve worked so hard to get everything planned and ready, and we’re determined to do whatever is necessary to help Ashley.
Our number one goal is to make sure Ashley finishes all 52 triathlons free of any injuries or major setbacks, not just rush through each event as quickly as possible. As the saying goes, it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and in Ashley’s case it’s more like 52 marathons – and then some. We’re doing this the right way, so we’re careful to make sure we work at a sustainable pace.
Scheduled times for the next day’s events will be posted at the end of each blog post, but those are just our best estimates. Exact times may change based on how Ashley is feeling and performing that day, so please keep that in mind. Thanks for your understanding.
For the first event of the day, we kicked things off with an early morning swim. Ashley was joined by another athlete and supporter, Cheryl, who’s headed out for her first Ironman in just a few days, and was able to jump in and swim with her. Ashley was feeling a little nervous, but as soon as she jumped in the pool, the nerves went away and she felt great. Having fans like Cheryl there to support here made her feel fantastic, and we love seeing how many people want to help her on her journey. We’re all so grateful to see the amazing support on day one, and we wish Cheryl the best of luck in her upcoming Ironman!
After the swim, our first transition to the bike was at American Brew, our home base for the rest of the day. Ashley’s coach Alex Viada biked with her for the first loop of today’s route, and Ashley finished the bike ride on her own while the rest of us stayed back, got some work done, and made sure her food was ready to go for the next transition.
This was also the last day to make sure we had everything we needed before we left Virginia Beach, so there were some last-minute errands and scrambling around getting things together, but it all came together nicely and we were ready to leave as soon as she finished for the day.
Today was brutally hot and humid, so staying on top of Ashley’s hydration was especially important today. We’re being very careful to manage her food and electrolyte intake through each event of the day.
For the final event, her marathon, Ashley was joined by two of her friends, Charlie and Jamie, who helped pace her and keep her motivated throughout the run. The route was a few laps that began at American Brew, so we were able to make sure she was getting anything she needed during the run every time she came back to the starting point.
After the day wrapped up, she grabbed a quick shower, we heated up her dinner, then it was time to load up into the van, eat, and have Ashley sleep a bit while we hit the road for Salisbury, MD. We made it to Salisbury at around 1:30am, checked in to our hotel, then Ashley was out the door at 5:30am for today’s events.
“I felt good during my swim. My heart rate was a little higher than I felt like it should have been, but I felt really good, and the clock ran the whole time. There were some fans by the door when I went in, which I was not expecting, and that was really nice. One of the girls swam with me and that was really cool to have her with me.
My stomach stopped bothering me once I actually got in the water, so I don’t know if it was nerves or food, but I felt really good once I was in and got started.
Getting on the bike, I had a car lead in the beginning which was nice, as they were able to show me the trail we’d be using. There are definitely highs and lows for sure during each ride though; after the third lap it gets tough, and the last two are always the hardest to push through.
I’ve been having a hard time eating today, which I need to get better at, because obviously nutrition is huge. I took 30-45 minute breaks during transitions to rest and eat, but the run was definitely the hardest part of the day. It was the same thing as in Haiti, I hit mile 13 about halfway and it was like I hit a wall. But tonight it was definitely harder because I know I wasn’t eating the way I should have, so now I just have to figure out a way to make myself eat and find something that works better for tomorrow.”
Today Ashley will be completing her triathlon in Salisbury, MD. Tomorrow, August 17th, Ashley will be starting in the pool at the Dover YMCA at 6:00AM. Her bike route is scheduled for 8:30AM, and her run should be starting around 5:00PM.
Remember, all of this is for the Maison Fortune Orphanage Foundation in Hinche, Haiti. Any and all donations would be greatly appreciated, you can help us out and donate right here.
Coach blog day 1:
Welcome to the coaches corner of Ashley Horner’s 50 full distance triathlon in 50 day challenge. At this point, I believe that’s the verbiage I can use without running afoul of trademark, so I’m going with it!
My objective with this portion of the daily blog is to give as much insight into the day’s event as possible- and offer some insight into the technical side of the swim, bike, and run with the data, along with hopefully addressing a few ongoing questions or concerns from those who might be watching.
Ashley’s journey to get here in the first place was a long one- I can’t overstate, really, how much work she’s put into getting here. Her training has been, by FAR, the greatest training volume I’ve put an athlete through- which makes sense, there hasn’t really been a precedent for this level of training on my athlete roster- ever. This challenge makes others we’ve coached people for, ranging from the Marathon de Sables, World Marathon Challenge (7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days), AT through-hikes, 500 mile self-supported MTB challenges, the 268 mile Spine race, double distance long course triathlons, etc all look nearly tame. Hopefully, as this blog goes on, I can discuss one or two training topics in each.
Her swim started at 6 AM at the Bayside recreation center- not too much to note here other than a bit of struggle to get her started- she was meant to get there a bit early to quickly chat with a news crew, but between one thing and another we lost about 12-15 minutes getting her going. Nothing exceptional in the data, but her SWOLF, though still not fantastic, was a bit better than many of her training efforts, so I was pleased to see her swim has still improved just a hair leading into this thing.
She was out of the water, then the original plan was to fuel up in transition for 30-40 minutes and eat a full sized meal to get her ready for the long day- given the duration of this entire events, we couldn’t afford to get behind on calories, so made the call to fuel both on the bike and heavily before and after (with larger, more calorie dense meals). 15-20 minutes of extra transition would be worth the payoff in better recovery. Turns out, her meals weren’t ready there- her crewmember got caught speaking to a news crew rather than getting her food, so we all hopped in the car and headed to American Brew to eat and get her on the bike. Controlling her media appearances and regulating that exposure is going to be so critical.
For this one, suffice to say that we’re starting out on the back foot, data wise. If you check out the attached photo, you can see the note I received from Ashley as she was set to come back to the US. $999 Garmin Vector 3 pedals don’t really survive this kind of rough treatment, so for day 1 we have no power data. However, given how flat the course was, I had no major concerns.
I paced her for the first lap (data here: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2934907538 ) and you can see how flat the output was compared to speed (and heart rate). We were barely working out there, so after one lap I peeled off and let her finish. Going strictly by her heart rate, it was in line with this effort on the flat at pace given her training, so I was pleased with it. Full disclosure- she WAS following a truck for a while, which had a few crew members on there taking some video (this is legal in VA), so if you’ve watched her IG stories, you can see this. We’ve got a pair on overnight delivery to the bike shop in Dover, so hopefully those will get installed in short order.
Either way- the bike was a breeze, fast and pancake flat, with a few lights, but those were really just long enough to shake her legs out. Minimizing starting and stopping is important, though, (since accelerating costs precious wattage) and future routes have fewer stops. Her GOAL here was 135-140 watts as a cap, but clearly there was no way to monitor it besides pace and heart rate- which, again, looked good. My concern here- about halfway through she started losing her appetite, which is not normal for her. Whether this was hydration or some other issue, we can’t tell, but it’s clearly something we need to watch carefully.
Her second transition went just fine- she finished her 112 about 10 miles from the brew, so hopped in a truck to come back. She looked and felt pretty good coming in, but again, we knew she was behind on food and would likely struggle a bit on the run.
Her run- well, her run was exactly as we’d trained for- so consistent she looks almost mechanical with those run/walks. She felt like trash around mile 13, but one of her pacers informed me that she was moving better and in better spirits by mile 16 after taking in a bit more food.
Overall, the timing was dead on, paces were perfect, and I’m very pleased with the first day, but we’ll need to keep an eye on nutrition moving forward.
Her Garmin file here: