#21 It’s all about Trainin’, Racin’ and Trippin’
This week was the final training week before I begin to do my “Peak” weeks. I pledged to hit it strong and I’m pretty pleased with the results. On Monday I had a “pseudo-day-off”……a true day off is a pretty rare thing for me, so with the weather report looking better than average, my schedule open enough to pull it off, and very few cycling miles logged on actual roads, I pulled the trigger.
It was to be my final endurance training ride and I had hoped for 100 miles. The day started sort of rainy and raw. Enough so that my hands were so stiff I could barely shift gears. It wasn’t without it’s trials as well. About 35 miles in I hit a bump (or pothole or something) that caused my aerobars to slip forward and one of my water bottles to launch across the road…….the aerobars I didn’t notice until about 15 miles later (funny how zoned in you can get), and although 20 oz of precious “GU BREW” was lost, I was able to recover the water bottle…..but guess what really forced me to pull up short and end at 75 miles? The sun. I know, it’s hard to believe. I, like you, believed that the sun had retired or was boycotting the NorthEast US, or some other equally plausible explanation……but on Monday, there it was and for a little while, it felt good……and then it didn’t.
I’m pretty susceptible to the lobster look and so at the risk of getting too toasty on the shoulders and adding to my “tri-bib tan lines” (which didn’t completely fade over the winter I’m afraid), I decided to end at mile 75 instead of extending my loop. I’m glad I did, b/c I was still pretty pink that evening…….another year of tan lines that only the triathlon community can fully appreciate. The ride however felt great. I got a taste for why I bought the Cervelo in the first place. The bike is smooth and although I don’t do it justice in my dorky gear and aero helmet, my legs felt strong and I was happy with the ride.
Tuesday I swam, Wednesday I took off, Thursday I did a double session of running (5.5 tempo) and swimming (30 min burst), Friday I took off and then Saturday it was back on the bike for another outdoor session.
As good as Monday was, Saturday not so much. We had this little torrential downpour to contend with. When I left the house it was cool and drizzling….45 minutes later, I was being pelted with some really cold rain and blown all over the road……the wind was something I was actually looking forward to. I keep reading about these crazy crosswinds in Utah and so I wanted to get some practice not falling off…..mission accomplished, barely at times, but accomplished. The rain however, was that raw springtime rain that just chills you to the bone…..my fingers were numb and my toes were well on their way…..dreadful. Simple solution right? Just turn around. Well I did……but that was the 1/2 point, so it didn’t make any difference…..45 more minutes of the cold stuff.
Today, I did a trainin’-racin’ set: training as in not going all out, racing as in going with a strategy and pushing it hard enough to be race-like. I ran the Unite 1/2 marathon at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ and unfortunately, it was by far the least prepared to race that I’ve ever been. Not physically, I knew conditioning wouldn’t be a problem, but as far as race day prep, it was lacking big-time. I usually lay out my clothes, items, etc night before so I can just roll out of bed and not have to think. I did none of this……I rolled out of bed, tried to eat something, found everything and eventually, after multiple attempts, got out the door…..it was a little more stressful than I’d like, but this was only a training-race, at least I kept telling myself that to stay calm. Truth is, when I got there and heard that a chunk of the course was underwater from the storms/flodding and it would be a 10 miler rather than a 13.1, it didn’t break my heart.
The race course was nice and although the wind was still a bit much to deal with, it was a successful morning. I’d recommend this for anyone looking for an early season 1/2 marathon (registration was pricer than I like, but the technical tee was a nice touch).
My strategy was to go out easy and stay “within myself” for at least the first 1/2 of the race, now 5 miles, and then slowly open it up according to how I was feeling…..and I am happy to report it went down that way. At mile 5.5 I found myself running side by side with an Ironman triathlete (so said the “M-dot” tattoo) who as it turned out did IM St. George last year. He was quick to tell me how insanely difficult it was and how without comparison it was the hardest of the 4 Ironman Races he had done……I do love a challenge (this is my new mantra, so if you hear me murmuring something to myself, it’s probably just that, I hope). Somewhere around the 6.5-7 mile mark I told him and another guy who was listening in, I was going to pick up the pace a little; he wished me well on the day and in St. George. [As an editorial note: I do have to say that Triathletes, on the whole, are a pretty friendly bunch.] I opened it up a little and continued to accelerate through mile 9……feeling pretty strong. I finished the 10 miler (which my Garmin said was closer to a 9.5 miler) with a solid kick…….a great way to enter my peak week(s) training…..but the endurance week is not over.
ROAD TRIPPIN’ TO BEANTOWN
After a stop-off in Milburn for a u9 soccer game (which became a scrimmage due to weather) where my eldest found the back of the net for a pair (go Lee Lee), we loaded up the car for a little road trip. As I type this we are on our way north and although I can feel my legs getting a little stiffer, I need some to do some glucose and water storing, and I’m not sure how long I can really push his pace, I’m looking forward to pacing my younger and speedier brother Eric who will be making his Boston Marathon Debut tomorrow. Truly, it is an honor to be part of something that he has put so many hours of focus into……surrounded by many people who have done the same…not to mention that, I really like this idea of endurance Mondays.
A LEARNING EXPERIENCE?
I’m sure there people who would disagree with me holding my 9 and 7 year old(s) out of school for the day tomorrow, but in my (admittedly distorted at times) view of the world, this is the kind of field trip and learning experience they cannot afford to miss. It’s been shown of course that humans being social creatures are in large part products of their environment and so I sincerely hope that plunking them and their younger brother in the middle of, and encouraging them to cheer on, thousands of people who have pushed their bodies and their minds to meet their goals will continue to feed their desire to work hard in whatever they choose to do.
NEXT UP……PEAKING FOR ST. GEORGE
Overall, it’s been a solid week, and as long as I can continue to rest up and recover over the next 2 weeks, trading some intensity for duration (more on my peaking strategy next week perhaps), I think things are going to fall into place. I’m not excited yet, there is still a lot to do, but I am starting to feel like things are falling into place.