Wednesday, July 20, 2011

There's Always Someone Faster

Following the race-heavy week, I was keen to press on last week.  Realizing that time is rapidly vanishing until Louisville, and that I still have two race weekends in between, I had to finally get out on the bike this past weekend.  Following Monday's tough evening run, I went to the track Tuesday with my sights set on doing my first workout in what felt like months.  The temp was around 95 again, and the workout was 5x2000m @ tempo pace with just 1:30 in between efforts.  I figured if the conditions had been reasonable, my anticipated 1600m split would have been in the 5:50 realm, but given the heat, I thought the better of it and decided I'd like to get through 10k and still be alive, so I went out real slow.  When we (my little group) came through at 92 for the first 400m, I was pretty surprised, but rather than freak out and speed up, we gradually picked up the pace so that we came through in 3:03, 4:03, 6:02 and finished at 7:32.  Still able to talk throughout this effort, I was fine with keeping it right around 6 minute pace. 

We would yo-yo between 88 and 89 seconds for our first lap from there, and then settle into a pace usually around 89-90, for the first three intervals (7:29, 7:28), and then on the 4th we started off the same but by 1200m had come through a little quicker, and split 5:53 for the 1600m.  At this point, mudbutt was rearing its ugly head, and I peeled off the track to head toward the bathroom, only to be DENIED.  The building was locked, and so too would have to stay my cheeks.  I got back on for the 5th and final interval, and now it was just myself and Seth.  Excited, we hit 85 on the first lap, before bringing it back to 89, and then checking off 87, 86 (5:47), 85 to finish at 4:12.  I was pleased with the day, as it's not often that I'll do 10k worth of intervals at TNT.  In fact, over the 6 years of our little Tuesday group, I can say there's only been a handful of times we've run that much.  One of those workouts is our annual 10x1000m w/:60 rest, a favorite of mine that I'm not sure if I'll be able to do this year.

On Wednesday I felt the effort, and took the opportunity to get out for a small chain ring ride with Pat.  If you've ridden with OJ, you know that the mantra is "big ring all the time" - which is all good for certain rides, but there is a time and a place for it, and Wednesday was not one of them.  Pat and I waited out a brief storm before rolling out, and due to the late start we were going to cut short the normally 2 hour ride to a 75 minute one (although our speed was slow, so it took longer).  I had gotten a flat on our Rocks ride a few weeks ago - the first I'd gotten in a few years - and it must have had a slow leak because I would fill it up, and overnight it would be flat.  On this day, the tube had had enough, and it went.  I look at the tire, which was only a few months old, and looks like there was a pretty severe cut in it, so I had to get a new one on Thursday.

Thursday's ride was up in Owings Mills, and it was the return of Il Principe, Marc.  Peter was there, Clark was there, Howard was there - it was like a little reunion.  I did not feel great, but put in a few good sections and as usual, was climbing pretty well.  But man, something is up with me because I just seem so tired all the time.  And when I thought about it, I realized my volume is actually lower than this time last year.  So what gives? 

Saturday had been on tap for a while as the Lineboro ride.  Everyone knows this ride, it's the first big one I did with OJ and Benda some 5 years ago, and when we used to leave from old TriSpeed, it was 78 miles.  Then we pushed it back to Meadowbrook, making it like 96 or 97.  Then I had the great idea once to ride from the city, clocking it around 115-116 miles.  Following Wednesday's storm, the weather had actually cooled off considerably, and Saturday was going to be a pretty nice day.  The crew for the ride was going to be myself, Z and Alyssa, with OJ joining for a little while.  I left Alyssa's to ride home in the morning, changed and got on the road to meet Z.  On our way up, we saw this little gem.  Met the gang and started slow, headed up, up and up toward Hampstead.  Our speed was by no means high, and the wind seemed to be steadily gaining strength, making it a tough ride.  We made it to our favorite stop, Leone Spring, around 3 hours, and at this point knew we'd be picking up a nice tailwind as we crossed east through Pennsylvania, to Glen Rock.  At GR, we stopped at the gas station for our afternoon refueling, before continuing up to York Rd.

It was here that we were given confirmation that the wind would be directly in our face as we headed back to Baltimore - some 40 miles or so.  The sun was strong, and the temp was rising.  As we hit the hills of York Rd, the day grew long.  I hadn't felt great from the start, and I really had hoped to get better as the day went on.  I wasn't suffering like I did on that cold, rainy day back in March, but I was not enjoying the trip late in the day.  At mile 104 we still had to climb up Bellemore, which was no fun, and then the day was basically done.  If I added the ride over to my house this morning, I would have been just under 120 for the day.  Somehow this is only the 4th ride over 60 for me this year I think.  All notions of a post-ride run went out the window, and I pulled myself together to get ready to spectate Rockville Twilight.

Rockville is a great summer race, an 8k held at 8:45pm on a Saturday in July, and everyone comes out ready to race this one.  Usually it's pretty uncomfortable, but this year runners were treated to great weather, which resulted in some pretty good times.  Unfortunately, by the time you leave the race area, and then get dinner (Silver Diner on Rockville Pike), and drive the hour home, it's 2am.  Needless to say, I needed a little bit of sleep on Sunday.

Pat and I rolled out around 10am on Sunday for a 3 hour ride, and once again it featured me, in the small chain ring, the entire time.  I just tried to flush out the gunk from yesterday.  It was much warmer today, and following the ride I still had to do a swim (pathetic) and run.  I was in definite caloric debt from yesterday, and nothing I did today felt good.

Onto Monday, and again it was time for the Monday Night Long Run.  This week it was warm, but maybe a little less so than last Monday, and I felt considerably better.  The run was probably a little slower, but I didn't mind, I just needed to get through it.  I was seriously tired as shit after this one, and yesterday evening's swim with today's early morning swim were not pretty. 

And then I realized why I'm more tired than I was last year: while my overall volume was greater, my effort was less.  Sure, I was swimming a lot (101km in the pool in July) but I had also been swimming consistently for a while, and without running or riding for a year, my legs had the ability to get through workouts.  My average run week was about 10 miles less per week, and I wasn't doing 14 mile runs.  I was going to TNT, but I wasn't doing the whole workouts, and while 6min pace was hard for my body, it wasn't that hard aerobically, so I was able to recover quick.  I also wasn't racing.  At this point last year, I had not raced for 13 months.  Now I've raced 14 times this year.  My Wednesday rides were with Alyssa from Oregon Ridge, which was challenging for me but I'm riding nearly 20 minutes faster for the same 30 mile loop with the WNR.  I wasn't going to Thursday Night Ride as much, and when I did, I wasn't adding 14 miles by riding there from Falls Road.  I was getting in long rides, but the effort wasn't as big.  So no wonder I'm tired.  I certainly need to pay attention to some better recovery as I lead up to IM because if it were tomorrow, I don't think I'd make it through!

As I lead up to the New Jersey State Triathlon on Sunday, I am not going to amend the rest of the week's workouts to rest up for it.  I realize that's in direct contradiction with what I just said about resting, but obviously there are races we focus on and take serious, and some that are for training.  This one is for training.  I did this race the first three years of its existence, before being hurt in 2009 and not able to race.  I'm excited to go back, although there really isn't anything spectacular about this race.  Warm water = no wetsuit; flat, two-loop bike course; flat, hot run.  At least the bike is 25.5 miles now as opposed to 23.5, so another 5 minutes on the bike.  I'll be racing with Team CYB teammates Alyssa, Tommy and Zero. 

If you've been following the Tour, it's been totally crazy.  Tomorrow and Friday are going to be two incredibly hard stages and I'm sure we'll see a change in the overall, but through 17 stages, Thomas Voeckler has been indignant in his defense of the yellow jersey, as if he's saying F you to the pre-race favorites.  Never again will he be allowed in a breakaway, that's for sure!  But it also brings up the point of confidence.  While he maintains that he has "0% chance at winning" when the race comes to Paris, I'm sure secretly he believes he can win.  So far, he's marked almost every move and has climbed extraordinarily well.  He is racing confidently, and is having great success.

On the other extreme, there is cockiness, and it's when you hear people saying dick things like "unless you're faster than me, your opinion doesn't count" that you get really annoyed.  I don't claim to be the fastest, I don't even claim to be good.  I have had moderate success in my years in the sport, and enjoy racing, but I realize that a) it represents only a portion of our lives and b) it only matters to us.  Have you ever tried to talk to someone who doesn't do triathlons, about triathlons?  They don't give a shit.  In fact, when most people who do them talk to me about them, I don't give a shit.  It's really not that cool.  I'm just too much of a sucker to quit, and I like competing. 

The most important thing to remember is that there is always someone faster than you.  I don't care who you are, there is always someone faster.  Even Chrissie Wellington will find that out at some point.  Respect your competitors, respect anyone who does the sport.  Because we all have our day, the day where we are being huge pussies and quit a ride, or get out of the pool, or walk home from a run.  Just because you're faster than someone does not mean that you know more than they do, and if you feel the need to point out that because you are faster their opinion doesn't matter, then you are, by definition, a wanksta. 


alyssa said...

Great post! I particularly liked all the parts where I was mentioned.

Haha, but seriously.

Especially in this sport, its so easy to get down about not being the fastest because you're comparing yourself not once, not twice, but 3 times (or 5 with transitions!) to others. The cool thing about triathlon though is that ultimately it doesn't matter if you're the fastest at a particular portion - you can be the almost fastest in each one, and end up winning the race.

Caitlyn Clark said...

It's so true that someone is always faster...Even the best in the world get beat. That's what is so cool about endurance sports, when you win there is no argument that you didn't, and when you lose there is no argument you didn't. Place, time, etc. don't lie. (Drug tests might, though).... I'm a terrible climber on the bike and in running. I realized today that there is literally no direction I can run or ride in my town where I don't have to finish up on a Cat5. I live on a dead end, and the only two streets connecting are Cat5s. It's crazy hilly out here, and the town is small so they hills are all very concentrated. There isn't an 800m stretch of flat running! Any tips for riding on hills? How necessary are clipless? (I only have straps right now... scared to fall with clipless even though I own a pair)

RM said...

cclark - I would absolutely say clipless pedals will make a difference, particularly on hills. It creates a smoother, more powerful pedal stroke. Of course, it can take a little bit of time to get used to it, but practice makes perfect!

For hills, it's all about finding your rhythm, a balance between cadence and power. I like to ride out of the saddle a bit, mostly because now it's a bit easier on my bad knee. But, you will help develop, and sustain power throughout rides if you're spinning up them in an easier gear. Try out some different combinations!