I just finished the last few workouts in the most intense stretch of the year. I'm tired. A rest week couldn't come at a better time. Here's what I've been up to:
Nobody ever said that training for an Ironman would be easy. Last Thursday turned out to be one of the least successful workouts of the year. Going in, the plan was to do another 3-hour run, similar to the one from last week. The only change is that I planned to go around Medicine Lake clockwise this time around.
When I left the house, loaded with pockets full of PowerGel, it was about 95 degrees. At first, I thought about postponing the run until the weekend when the weather was cooler. But, then I said to myself, "Self: don't puss out now. You need to be prepared for a really hot run during the Ironman." I should have listened to my gut, rather than my ego.
The first few miles were okay. It usually takes me a mile or two to warm up my legs and get into a groove. Today felt weird. Maybe the fatigue from the last few weeks was getting to me, or maybe the heat does funny things to you, or maybe the fact I was a little 'backed up' was doing a number on my body. Heck, it could have been all three, or none of the above.
All I know, is that by the time I hit mile 5, I was toast. My heart rate was jumping into the high 160s even on a slow jog, I had a wicked side stitch, back spasms, and the black flies were eating me alive. Add to that the fact that I now had a large lake between myself and home-sweet-home and you have a recipe for one sad panda.
I ended up walking most of miles 6-8, and was finally able to get a jog going again for the last mile or so towards the homestead. My 3-hour 18+ mile run had turned into an 11-mile slog that took 2:20. Blah.
Friday was a pool workout. I like the pool. I like to swim. Shoot. At this point, I'll do anything that will get me out of running shoes for a day. The workout was a real confidence booster. After a quick warmup I had 3 intervals of 700 yards each, with increasing intensity. This was identical to a workout from just a couple weeks ago, and the results were close to the same:
700y RPE3 - 11:27 = 1:38/100y
700y RPE4 - 11:02 = 1:34/100y
700y RPE5 - 10:43 = 1:31/100y
I was pleased. After the disaster that Thursday turned out to be, it was nice to feel normal and somewhat successful.
This was a beautiful day for a bike ride. I did a variation on a 90-mile ride from 2 weeks ago, but added an extra 10 miles to make it an even century ride. I tried to simulate race day as best I could. I kept to gels, Shot Bloks and Endurolytes at regular intervals. I did stop for water, Gatorade and a banana along the way - but water and bananas will be available on the course in Madison, and Gatorade was the only available energy drink at SuperAmerica that day. I think this will be about as close as I'll get to race-day nutrition.
There weren't any major hiccups on the fuel side of things, which is a good sign. The last thing I want is a bad case of The Toots when I'm on the run.
It was a nice relaxed pace overall, but there were quite a few stoplights, especially along the southern portion of the route. If you take out all the stops and starts, I'm guessing that my average speed could be a good 1 MPH faster. If I can average 17 MPH during the Ironman, that'll get me out of the saddle in just a hair over 6.5 hours. I'll take that any day.
In fact, to reward myself for another century ride, I decided to treat myself to not one, but TWO icee-fun-pops!
Sunday was scheduled to be a rest day, but I was still cranky about my run on Thursday. After taking most of the day easy, my ego decided that I wanted to go for a quick run to get my 'mojo' back. It wouldn't be anything crazy - I was supposed to be starting a rest week after all.
I headed out from home along one of my normal 4.5 mile routes. My first mile - mostly uphill - clocked in at 9:10. Okay. That's nice. But can I do it again? Mile number 2 was mostly flat. It registered at 8:50. Huh. A negative split. Papa likes.
Mile 3 had a bit of a downhill, so when I checked my Garmin and it said 8:27, I was pleased, but wanted more. For mile 4 I hit the gas a little more. I hammered it up the steep hill leading up to 36th Avenue and then booked it towards home as the seconds ticked away. I managed to finish mile #4 in 8:08. Wow-Four negative splits in a row. That IS nice.
I ran the last 1/5 of a mile towards home at a near sprint before taking a breather and then heading out for a 15-minute cooldown. Man. That felt good.
I know that a 5-mile run doesn't require anywhere near the effort that a 18+ mile run does, but it feels good to know that I've still got some good efforts in me somewhere. Hopefully, I'll be able to find some more of that mojo come race day.