#80: Solid training w/smart recovery works for a PR this time

If I only had those shoes….

And so, my journey continues….this week was a race week and therefore a step back from the training volume, but I didn’t want to lose too much ground since this was still just a “build” race and not my big race by a longshot, so I tried to only trim the weekend back and keep the week pretty solid.  From a quality standpoint, I was pretty happy with my sessions:

Monday – was Memorial Day and I took a much needed day off to rest.  Wise choice, I needed the break physically AND mentally.  It was nice to head down to celebrate w/Linds’ Mom for her birthday and just veg around the BBQ.

Tuesday – long run x 16 miles in the heat w/4600 ft of climbing, but was able to keep the pace where I wanted, maybe a little better even.  Of course, when I finished my legs were pretty well beat-up so I went back to the well and went chest deep into the chill-tub followed by calf-compression sleeves……it’s enough to take your breath away at first, but to do that kind of run and not feel any ill-effects from the workload the following day is pretty unbelievable…..

Wednesday – I got 36 miles on the bike, which was about what I was looking for…..probably could have stretched it to 40, but was up against the clock some and had to settle for 36.  With some hills, flats and descents, it was the right course and a solid workout.

See, even Ultramarathon Man gets it

Thursday – I put some time in at the pool, something I had sort of neglected the week before in favor of the bike.  I also was able to get about 15 minutes for stretching which I was in BIG need of…..my legs were again really starting to feel beat-up (confirmed by my training stress balance well into the negative, but stretching and swimming have an amazing power to restore…..great recovery session.  To that end, I skipped my run and opted for 14 miles on the Elliptigo to get the volume in without trashing my legs…..again happy with the choice to focus on recovery and not pushing it.

Friday – I knew with a race 2 days out I had to take either Friday or Saturday to lay-low (or off completely), so I opted for Friday since the weather wasn’t as cooperative.  30 min hard swim session

Saturday – Wanted to go easy, but still get something in on the bike, so I emphasized hills and cadence (to prep the nervous system for the BlackBear Triathlon course that promised to have plenty of up and down the next day).  Got a little over an hour in prior to kid-soccer.

Sunday – RACE Day – The BlackBear Triathlon is an Olympic Distance Tri run by CGI Racing (a husband-wife team that does several races in the NJ/PA area).  

Yeah, I think that says it all.

As a quick aside, they deserve a shout-out for always putting on solid events.  I’ve raced their NJ State Tri (OLY) x 2, Run their UNITE 1/2 Marathon (@ Rutgers U) and now done the BlackBear Oly in Lehighton, PA and will likely race another of theirs if I get the chance. It’s so refreshing to work with a company who tells you what they’re going to do and then does it.  Unfortunately the absolute meltdown that is brewing for me in dealing with the company who is working on our racing gear has been the exact opposite…..and although I’m not ready to publicly flog them over the blogosphere, they’ve been an amazing letdown so far……maybe when the ordeal is over, I’ll take a short break to “review” (as in diatribe) why they have been a nightmare to work with and why promising and not delivering is a pathetic excuse for running a business…..but I digress.

ANYWAY – BlackBear is a 1.5K swim, 40K bike, 10K run, the standard “Olympic Distance”.  The most notable item is the bike course which is really never flat…..no huge climbs really….but up and down pretty much the entire time.  My previous best in the OLY distance was a 2 hour 42 min performance last summer at NJ State Tri which is very flat, but very hot course.  I left that race feel pretty down about my swim (probably the impetus to really get serious about my swim technique), good about my bike, mixed about my run (really hot) and awful about my slow transitions……one of the other “big items” on my training plate.

Swim: I decided to go out as relaxed as possible on the swim and see if minimizing the “freak-out” factor was a good thing.  Turned out to be a good thing.  With the addition of the wetsuit (a pretty big help) and the added training time in the pool (a really big help) I was able to shave about 10 minutes off my swim….which is huge.  Results are not out, but that rate puts me on track to meet my open swim goal in Ironman…..the whole point.  Cool.

Transition 1:  Well, endurance athletes everywhere understand the need for enough “lube”….for various high friction areas…..and today I was running low.  I had to decide if I’d go w/anti-friction for parts affected on the bike, or parts that make getting a wetsuit off easier……is it really a question?  Well, running into transition, I learned first hand why triathletes lube their wrists and ankles so well (something I usually do, but wasn’t sure it made that big of a difference….IT DOES).  I took my top off (my wetsuit is 2 pc) and got it over my head and down to my wrists where it abruptly cinched.  It must have looked like someone wrestling an alligator, for the life of me I could not get that friggin’ suit off.  I finally got pissed enough that I just ripped it off and repeated on my lower half……by the time I got on the bike, I had wasted 3 minutes and 21 seconds….and even though this was a far chute, it was too long…..blew that objective.

Bike:  Knowing that I do a decent amount of hill training made me think I could probably push some there…..so I did.  Perhaps a bit too much.  I was pretty happy with my bike split of 1:13-ish putting me in the 19.5-ish mph range, but I was pretty tired by the time I got to T2.  It was a lot of up and down, some sharp curves and one guy who was absolutely HURLING.  I chuckled to myself as I went by, not laughing at him really, just feeling his pain as he lost A LOT of reddish something……too much gatorade perhaps?  

T2: Was a lot more of what I was looking for except that I forgot what a long run it was to the actual bike racks.  I had one shoe basically off and then picked up my bike and ran.  Shoe kept coming off and I was tripping up a little so I ripped it all the way off and ran w/bike on one arm, 1 shoe off, 1 shoe on…..looked pretty goofy I’m sure, but it only took 1min 30 sec…..much more like it.

Run: was pretty standard, except on loose gravel and path most of the way, which is never kind on my cranky heel……this is where I realized I had given a little too much on the bike….I didn’t have the same strength I had a few weeks earlier.  I was able to hold on and beat my “safe” time of 45 minutes, coming in at/near 44:16, a solid run and about 8 minutes off the flatter (but MUCH hotter) NJ State Tri course.  

All said – I took about 18 minutes off my previous best, which earned me 29th overall and 9th (I think) in my age group….a solid day…..but still some room to improve.  Looking forward to seeing the official results and splits.


Bottom Line – I’m feeling pretty decent and basically on track for where I want to be.  I need to continue to stretch out the miles in all 3 disciplines and continue to ramp up the intensity (so more hours AND more effort)…..but that’s the game.

5 weeks before Providence,

Mike E.