Well, the weekend, like so many that have come before, carried about equal amounts of success and failure as far as IM training goes. Cath and I had decided that, because she had the day off excpet for coaching her running group, I would run in the morning with her group and then we'd head over to Lake Michigan for an OW swim. The run was great - her group is made up mostly of running newbies, all training for their first marathon, and they're all very outgoing and positive people. I ran a modest pace - probably somewhere in the area of 8:45 to 9:00/miles - with a guy named Chadwick, and had a nice time chatting with him. The weather was beautiful - sunny, but not too humid, so I felt great affterwards. Then Cath and I walked over to Oak Street beach to swim. There were a good number of triathletes already out there (around 9:00 a.m.), but it never felt crowded, and we had a great session. I put in one and one-half loops of the marked course, so roughly 2500 yards, in just under an hour. Not a great pace, but we weren't really pushing it, and it was nice to just get out there. I can't believe that it's taken until almost July to get into the lake!
Sunday, we had planned to go out and do a century ride in the suburbs. Drew wouldn't be able to go with us, so it was just Cath and I, and just before heading off the bed on Saturday night, I checked the weather - clear skies, high around 82, with * 20-30 mile/hour winds *
Hmmm. Yeah. That sounds pretty crappy.
With that in mind, we went to bed. Checked again in the morning, and winds out there were already in the teens and expected to go higher, so the training committee met and voted to scrap the ride. In fact, it voted to scrub training for the entire day. I was anxious about this for a while, but ultimately decided that:
1. We still have eight solid weeks of training left before the taper starts; 2. We have established a good base of 60-70 mile rides in conditions similar to the IM course; 3. We both could use a blank Sunday to do a whole lot of nothing, and to do that nothing together.
So, we got up early and went for coffee and a long walk along the lake, and then went out for breakfast. Then we came home, napped, and went to the running store for some new goodies (I'll share what they are soon). Later, we had drinks on the deck, while playing with our two grateful-that-we-were-home dogs. In the absence of a long ride, the day was gloriously long and peaceful.
I'm still a bit anxious about getting in all the necessary miles, especially biking, but I'm hopeful that taking back this one Sunday will actually set us up for a solid push to the taper. The plan calls for some ridiculous amounts of training over the coming weeks, and I'll likely appreciate both the mental and physical break this lazy Sunday provided us. There's still a long road ahead.
Monday was an all-too-brief rest day. Tuesday I swam 2500 yards before work (4 x 600, mostly free but with a few sub-sets of pull thrown in for variety; 100 CD)and ran an hour after work. Didn't do any run intervals because it was ungodly hot, and I thought I'd pass out if I did any. Today I'm riding der Keiser for an hour after work and following it with a very short run.
Things didn't go entirely as planned during the last part of last week, but I ended up getting in most of the training that I wanted to. I'm not sure what happened on Thursday, but I just could not muster up the energy to hop on the bike and put in the 75 minutes that I had planned for. Just. Couldn't. Do. It. I think the intervals on Wednesday kicked my ass a bit more than intended, and I was just pooped.
So, I left the bike on the trainer.
I was taking Friday off from work, so I used that as an excuse to bail on Thursday's ride. Friday, I did Thursday's aborted ride, but nothing else. Storms were coming in and out most of the day, so Cath and I decided to kick the swim to Saturday after our long run.
Saturday, Drew and I ran an easy 100 minutes along the lakefront path. It was pretty humid, but some cooler breezes seemed to keep my core temperature from getting too high. Sadly, the heavy rains that came down the last few days closed the beaches, so the OWS got pushed back a week, and Cath and I hit the pool for a quick 1600 yards (500 free; 10 x 50 alternating hard and easy; 500 free; 100 CD).
Sunday, Drew was tied up with Father's Day responsibilites, so Cath and I went out the Palos Park for 60-odd miles and a 30-minute run. Again, the humidity was pretty high, but the sun was hidden behind clouds for most of the ride, and the winds were calm, so I had a pretty nice ride. Never felt too terribly taxed, and we explored some new areas off our typical route. That said, I'll be happy to ride a brand new course when we head out for the century next weekend - the change of scenery will be most welcome. And so will some flat roads.
So, I'm reading an article in the latest issue of Inside Triathlon, which describes the subculture world of multi-IM racing. Yes, I said *multi* IM racing. Apparently, there is a growing interest in taking IM to another level, with double, triple, quadruple, and, yes, deca (10) IM-distance racing. These races can take days, or even weeks, to complete and are typically performed in a pool, a short bike circuit, and a track.
Now I can understand the urge to push yourself further, and if you've done a number of IM-distance races, perhaps the lure of a greater challenge starts to loom large. But I can't imagine ever wanting to do something like that. I just don't see the point. There are other challenges in life besides multi-sport racing. If IM gets boring, just try something else. Climb a mountain. Skydive. Maybe an adventure race. But 10 IMs in a row? Over the course of two weeks? Really?
Personally, I'm just looking forward to IM Wisconsin - although it's just a single IM, it's plenty enough challenge for me.
Training-wise, the week so far has been good: Tuesday I swam 2800 yards (4 x 600; 1 x 200 pull; 1 x 200 CD) and ran an hour on the treadmill. Wednesday I rode der Keiser for an hour, with a bunch of painful intervals thrown in (5 x 2 minutes and 5 x 1 minute, with comparable CDs) and then ran for 15 minutes. I've been sitting on a tennis ball at work for my hamstring, and trying to stretch more after training sessions, and, so far, so good. Nothing seems to be getting any worse. * Fingers crossed *
Tonight I'm doing an easy 75-minute ride, and tomorrow Cath and I are hitting the lake for an open water swim! I'm excited to hit the lake again - it's so much more fun than lane swimming, and I'm excited to try the new suit. It's an XTerra Vextor Pro X2. We recently got Cath an XTerra full-suit, and she really likes it, so I'm hopeful this guy will feel good out there.
I did end up getting into the pool on Friday, albeit just for 1600 yards (500 free, 10 x 50, alternating fast/easy, 500 free, 100 CD). I think the intervals have been helping in the water, as my 50-yard time is down to to about 44 or 45 seconds (for the fast ones) and I can usually do the easy 50s in about 50 seconds, which is quite a bit better than I where I was a year ago. So, go me.
Saturday, I did cut the run short by 30 minutes and went home to do some core work, which I've neglected for quite a bit. The hamstring was noticeable - just a persistent feeling of tightness, really - but I've started a more aggressive stretching regimine in hopes of staving off any real problems. Fingers crossed on that one. I'm slightly scared that this is progressing in the wrong direction. I guess we'll see. Hopefully, the stretching and ice will do the trick.
Sunday, we hit up Palos again for a ride/run, but Drew forgot his helmet, so he ran while Cath and I did a loop (41 miles) on the bikes. Afterward, Cath joined Drew for another run loop (eight miles) while I put some more miles in the bike. I topped out at about 70 miles, and then did a short 20-minute brick with Cath. We hit the taco place again afterwards, which made for a spectacular nap in the afternoon. The hamstring felt fine all day.
Today is a glorious rest day, and I look forward to spending the night camped in front of the tv. Who knew that Mondays would become the best day of week?!
Well, the training this week was a bit hit or miss. I swam 2800 yards Tuesday morning (4 x 600; 1 x 200 pull; 200 CD), which is my longest swim to date, but had to scrub the after work run because of a work event. Wednesday I rode for 45-minutes, including ten 1-minute intervals with one minute's rest in between, and followed that with a 30-minute run. Thursday I rode for 60-minutes at a moderate pace. Today I was going to swim before work, but I just couldn't drag myself out of bed in time, so I'm hoping to go in around lunch time.
My hamstring has felt a little tight during runs and after I ride, so I may cut the long run short tomorrow in hopes to preventing something bad from happening. Sunday I'm guessing that we'll head back out to Palos to ride/run, but I'm not sure how long (the Plan has us at 3:30, but I think that's because we're supossed to do an Olympic-distance race next week, which we're not doing). I imagine that we'll do around four hours in the saddle again with a 30-minute run.
Sadly, it looks like our training weekend in Madison has fallen through, so we're looking at couple of century options in the area instead. One is the Swedish Days ride (see above), which I like for the name alone. It's so nice to find a fully-supported century for training purposes, but the timing is often tricky. This one would be great, so Cath and I (our training partner Drew has *other* obligations that weekend) are likely to sign up.
Other than that, all is well. Pushing forward and all. Oh, I got a new wetsuit, so that's exciting. We hope to be swimming in lake Michigan soon and my current full-suit looks like I was attacked by sharks.
I'm a bit behind in the training updates, so, in a nutshell, here goes:
Friday: 2200 yards (10 x 50, alternating hard and easy; 10 x 100 alt. hard and easy; 10 x 50 alt. hard and easy; 200 CD)
Saturday: 90 minute run with Cath and Drew along the lakefront (felt good, but not great)
Sunday: 4 and 1/2 hours (75-ish miles) in/around hilly Palos (the weather kinda blew - cloudy, and a bit drizzly - so my spirits weren't real high, but it was nice to get some serious miles/hours in on the bike. The ride felt good, but, again, not as good as last week. Started to bonk a bit at the end (fail!). The 30-minute brick felt good, though, and the mexican fiesta-style lunch we had afterwards was heavenly! I woke up feeling surprisingly fresh today (must have been the four tacos).
I can tell that we're getting to that point in the IM training cycle where the fun starts to ebb, and it becomes more of a chore to get out there and put in the training time (seriously, who wants to be on a bike for 4+ hours?!). Conversely, the urge to sleep in and take a leisurely stroll to breakfast is way strong. Luckily, I have great training partners, so it's pretty easy to stay focused. It's all about just getting to the start line.
Well, being as we're half done with this IM training cycle, I guess a little reflection is in order. It's easy to get lost in the day-to-day, especially when one training session bleeds into the next, but I think it's good to take stock in where you're at along the way. Too often, I've pushed myself through rough patches only to find out much later that I should have backed off a bit instead. So, anyway, here we go.
Overall, I feel pretty good about where I am, fitness-wise - I've generally followed the training plan and I'm still feeling pretty good both physically and mentally. I am a little disappointed that I've effectively, by eliminating a few workouts during the week, gone from following Fink's so-called "Competative" plan to really doing something closer to the "Intermediate" option. I accomplished this by skipping one run session each week (which was actually intentional, so as to preserve my wonky hamstring) and just flat out failing to pick up the extra swim session (the third of the week) and extra ride-time on Saturday (the Competative plan has you riding for a period before your long run) that was supposed to start about a month ago. Part of me wishes I could have stuck more to the original plan, but, then again, I may have been a lot more burned out/injured/unhappy now if I had done so. C'est la vie.
Even as an "intermediate," I feel like I'm in a better place than I was with no clear plan to follow, so that's an accomplishment. The interval sessions have helped quite a bit, fitness-wise, and haven't beaten me up too badly. I haven't consulted past training diaries, but I think I'm getting in more - and better - workouts now than I did for either of my previous IM training cycles. I'm also eating pretty well (not in quality, but quantity) so my weight is staying in a good place.
So, all-in-all, I think things are going well. We have a great many long rides to go, which is typically where I get all whiny and want to throw in the towel, but I'm actually looking forward to the outdoor time - summer still hasn't come here with any consistentcy, so the thought of spending a few hours out under the sun is really appealing. Let's hope that feeling lasts.
So, week 15 is in the books, and we ended it in pretty good fashion - Saturday, Drew and I ran 90 minutes (again starting with Cath's running group) along the lake path and Sunday we were back in Palos to bike some more rollers and do our brick along the wooded trails.
Saturday was - once agin - pretty uneventful: we held a nice pace the whole way, and I felt good despite having missed a run earlier in the week.
Sunday was the high note of the weekend - we got out to Palos at about 6:30 a.m., and this week our small group included Drew's friend (and business partner) Ross, who has recently committed himself to his first 70.3 (Steelhead). The plan was to do somewhere between 3.5 and 4.00 hours and brick that for 30 minutes. The weather was clear but chilly, and we all wore arm warmers or long sleeves to start. The big difference for me was that I broke out the tri bike for the first time this year. (I typically start the training year on the road bike and then move to the tri bike as the plan develops). Through a very strange twist of fate, I happened to secure a Cervelo P3 a couple years ago, which is much more bike than my modest skill (see the name of the blog, above) really allows for, but it's an amazing bike and is ridiculously fun to ride.
That said, the day was spectacular - the chill subsided once we got going, and there was very little wind all day. We even modified our tried-and-true route on the fly (again, how did we survive before the iPhone?!) to avoid a long and nasty section of pavement, and added a challenging (but much more scenice) segment to our course. I felt great the whole way - faster, smoother, and with much less effort than last week. I wish I could say that my fitness is that much better, but it really is the bike that made the difference. I could have gone much longer, which is pretty rare for me on long training days. The brick afterward was easy, too, and I felt like we got in a really solid training day.
Speaking of which, it looks like we're going up to Madison the weekend of June 27-28 to do a little training on the bike and run courses, which should be a good time. We didn't get to see the course in advance of the race our first time out, and I think it takes some of the anxiety away if you can get out there beforehand. Hopefully, the weather will be good, and we can get in some quality sessions.