#84: Are we there yet? NO.

This was my down week, the 1/2 step back before my final training push.  With Ironman US Championships a mere 40 days away, I’m basically gearing up for 4 weeks of high intensity AND high volume (overload) work, prior to 2 weeks of “peaking” in order to have everything come together just at the right moment.  With that focus, I used the extra time not required for training this week (somewhere around 3-5 hours) to take a mental inventory of where things are at.  
The simple answer is – I’ve come a long way this training season and I’ve got a lot to be happy about:

  • my fitness is arguably as good as it has ever been,
  • my body composition (weight & body-fat) is stabilizing near where I want to be on race day
  • my resiliency has improved (although I have nicks & bumps, I’m keeping the more severe issues at bay)
  • my nutrition strategy continues to come into focus
  • my heat tolerance is improving

This all bodes well, however, I am by no means THERE yet…..and these next 4 weeks will likely be the determinant in a solid “A” race and the very best I can do.  Given that I’m a “very best I can do” kind of person…..the main objective this week was to stare at those realities (as compared to what I need to do to meet my ultimate goal) and then crank up training another notch to close the gap.  Seems simple enough, however in the context of giving more than what already feels like the most I can give…… and (of course) not overdoing and winding up injured, burnt-out or mentally fatigued and therefore not able to focus on raceday and it’s increasingly difficult to keep things simple.

Yesterday’s test? B-
Yesterday I made the trek north to see where things stood.  The plan was to ride north from Ross Dock (Fort Lee, NJ where the race transitions) into NY state on a road that closely mimics the bike route for a total of 50 miles (i.e. 1 loop of the course) and then run 7 miles in the park (i.e. 1 loop of the harder 1st 1/2 of the race course) to get a feel for the course there.  My real focus was the run b/c although the bike course is going to be challenging, the real game (for me) is coming off the bike and running strong.

Well, I took the bike relatively easy…..and then transitioned to the run.  I got started feeling strong but by mile 4 of 7 it was a very different story.  Bad frame of mind, hurting body and the ugliness that starts to creep in when you enter what triathletes so lovingly refer to as “the pain cave”.  Hmmm…..Pain cave within 4 miles after only 50 (relatively easy going) miles on the bike and 0 swim?  Not so good from a performance perspective, but so good from a motivational one.  It forced me to think seriously about my pacing, my goals, etc.  And for me, it’s the thinking that matters…..because (I believe) that only way I can get where I want is if I’m willing to match the Red-iculous effort I’ve been able to put in to training with an equally Red-iculous effort into my racing strategy……and this little kick in the teeth will motivate me to do so.

Now, in fairness, there were some key details that I DIDN’T get right yesterday that I can’t lose sight of:

  • I didn’t put nearly the emphasis on my nutrition and hydration that I will on race day (maybe 800 calories and 70 oz of fluid, which is somewhere around 30% short on calories and 80-90 oz short on water).  No measured intake, no specific strategy…..just sort of a roll with it day.  Pretty lazy actually and this can’t be minimized…..especially in light of the temperature
  • When I got back from my run the car thermometer was reading 97 degrees for the next hour…..and although my gut says don’t trust that, weather.com tells me it was around 93 at that time…..so I’m figuring somewhere in b/t the two……which is DARN hot.  As an aside, when I looked at my Heart Rate monitor data, my heart rate reached 195 beats per minute on the run…….which is somewhere around 10 beats higher than my predicted maximum achievable……no wonder I was hurting.

Still, this is not the kind of performance I am looking for, so it’s time to get really serious about my racing strategy and EXECUTE, EXECUTE, EXECUTE my nutrition and hydration schedule.  It has to be clock work and I need to put the effort there too.

Where from here?
Intensity – it’s time to find that “extra gear” – which means an emphasis on power in all aspects of my training.  I’ll be putting at least 1 session on the bike and 1 on the run per week that emphasizes power (hills, speed work, etc) and I’ll add in a vomit-inducing, monster-session for core muscle work and lower extremity power each week.  I’ve decided it’s time to put one of those unique resources that I have (coaches and trainers that know the topic of power and core control up, down, sideways and backwards) to work…..so I’ve “hired” our M360 group to put me through my paces.  I figure if they’re good enough to help guide some of the RED-iculous Track Stars of NJNYTC along the journey to their lofty goals (PR after PR including an Olympian), I can probably benefit.

Final Race Test – Providence 70.3 a week from today.  This will be a good test of my fitness, but I have to also make sure I don’t get caught up in the race and “leave it all out there”.  I need to have a strong swim and transitions, I want to have a solid bike, and then pace myself on the run (maybe a negative split?) in hopes to finish in the top 20%.

Train-cation?  You’ve heard of vacation, and even now “stay-cation” has become popularized……but this summer I’ll have my first experience with a “train-cation”……just weeks before the event, a chance to focus on only 2 of the big 3 currently in my life (Family, Work and Training)……it will be a real blessing and I’m looking forward to it…..but I’m also expecting to get a lot from it.

Gettin’ after it,

Mike E.