Welcome to week 26 of our IM adventure! As is typical of this (any?) IM training cycle, I had a couple of really good days followed by one crappy let down of a day.
I'll start with Friday - another (unpaid) day off meant that I could swim in Lake Michigan with Drew. We hit the beach around 9:00 a.m., and there were plenty of other swimmers mulling about. The water looked pretty smooth, but with some chop father out. I was trying my new XTerra sleeved suit for the first time and I'm happy to report that the fit is great - the suit is lined to the interior, which makes it super comfortable. I treated myself to a slightly higher end model with thinner material at the shoulders for greater flexability. The water was a bit chilly getting in but it got comfortable pretty much right away. The suit felt great, and, despite the chop being a little bigger than it looked from the beach, we knocked out two miles (a season high in open water) in just over an hour. My shoulders were still sore at the end, but I'm sure that was a result of my non-existent strength training program and not about the suit. Happy with the day and happy to get in a longer OWS.
Saturday, Drew was out of town and Cath was teaching the marathon group, so I decided to run on my own. I set out along the lake path just after 6:00 a.m. and the rain clouds were gathering. After about two miles, the skies opened up and the rain fell for about the next hour. It actually felt great and my pace was pretty much where I wanted it to be (8:00-8:20/mile). I ended up doing just over 17 miles in 2:20 and felt good for almost all of it - I could definitely used another gel (or two) on the way back in, and was lucky to run across a Fleet Feet table with Gatorade about two miles from home. Thanks Fleet Feet!
Saturday afternoon we dropped off the dogs at the PetSmart Hotel and blasted up to Madison to meet a couple freinds who are training for next weekend's Dairyland Dare (a 300k cycling torture fest). Had dinner at a cute little pizza place not far from the IM swim start and spent the night in Verona. Got to Fireman's Park (the traditional gathering place for IM'ers in training) around 7:30 a.m. and hit the road.
And here's where things went a bit sour.
Unlike the weather we've had so far this summer, it was crazy hot and humid even at that (relatively) early hour. Within five miles the sweat was everywhere and the wind - which was also kicking pretty hard - did nothing to cool things off. The couple that we rode with, Nancy and Chad, are ridiculously good athletes - a listing of their accomplishments in triathlon, running and other adventure sports would take its own blog post. And they've ridden the IMWI course a bazillion times, so they were right at home. Cath was also feeling really good, and all three were riding their road bikes like little kids on Christmas Day. I, on the other hand, was quickly feeling like I should have stayed in bed.
For whatever reason, I just didn't have it mentally. Physically, I was pretty good - I had forgotten how deep the rollers are for the first half of the IMWI loop, which made riding the tri bike a bit of a chore (lots of shifting, moving in and out of aero, quick turns, etc.) and my heart rate was higher than usual because of the humidity, but I was hanging in there. We stopped at about the 25 mile mark for water and Pop Tarts (blueberry!), and I still felt fine. Then we knocked off the three big hills, which really weren't as bad as I feared, but as we coasted back into the parking lot to re-load supplies before heading out again, I was already feeling like I was done.
I just flat out didn't want to be on my bike. My companions were super supportive, offering to take an extra (and longer) break during the second loop, but, despite the regret that I knew was coming, I just couldn't convince myself to get back in the saddle. So I let them leave without me, and I slowly stowed the bike, and set out to brick my ride. My ride portion ended up being a sickly 40 miles total over 2 1/2 hours. Certainly not what I had planned on.
I actually had a good run - averaged just over 8:00 min/miles in the very hot sun for 40 minutes - but was crazy disappointed in my ride. Despite having all kinds of motivation - good friends, ample nutrition, and actually riding the IMWI bike course - I just couldn't tough it out. I spent a good long time trying to figure out what went wrong, watching a steady stream of athletes enter and leave the parking lot for loop No. 2, and I can only conclude that my brain was just a bit spent. Maybe too many weeks of sport-specific focus caught up with me. The will to continue wasn't there. I don't know. I was pretty down yesterday, angry that I had let this training opportunity get away from me, but I'm already feeling more determined today to get back at it.
We've made tentative plans to go back and ride the course again before Game Day, probably the weekend of the 22-23rd, so I can give it another go. And I may bring both bikes to see which one I feel better on. Luckily, we have a bit more time to get back up there, and I'm thankful for that. Can't wait to give it another shot (which is, hopefully, a sign that my brain isn't too far gone). Just another reminder, I guess, that there are good and bad days from beginning to end in an IM training cycle.
Here's to a brand new week!
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