It's cold. It's raining. It's snowing. And that's when it hits you:
Why did I sign up for a late November race?
It always sounds like a good idea at the time, signing up for that late November race. You'll have plenty of time to train, and the weather is generally decent enough through October. But then a day like Saturday comes, and reminds you that this is closer to WINTER than it is to SUMMER.
With four weeks until Ironman Arizona, I thought last week would be a good time to put in some higher volume. My initial goal was to spend an honest amount of time on the bike, here's how that went:
Monday - I hit a squirrel. Yep, while riding through Hopkins' campus, a squirrel dashed out in front of me and did that squirrel scramble, and went right through my rear wheel or something. It was messed up. I stopped, turned around, and went to see if I could offer it help, but a car decided to not pay attention and partially ran it over. The squirrel flopped somehow to the side of the road, and somewhat scampered off. I'm sure it's dead now. I felt really bad.
Tuesday - It was a pretty nice day, so what better way to spend it than getting another flat on the side of White Marsh Blvd. Alyssa was with me, and had to endure an expletive-riddled tirade.
Wednesday - It rained. It wasn't supposed to, but it did. I went out anyway. 5.5 miles in, on Route 40, flat. Shit. I fixed it, and was pretty cold, and decided I no longer trust this bike, and I would head back home. A half mile later, it went flat again. The tire was definitely to blame, I should have obviously changed it before going out on the bike today, but I was stubborn and thought I could press it one more day. But after 4 flats in three days (including Sunday, the day it all went wrong in the first place) I caved on Thursday and got a new tire.
Thursday - I calculated my ride distances at 30, 34, and 11 for the past three days. Thursday was supposed to rain all day, and it did. I was clearly not going outside on this day. Late in the evening I made the decision to actually ride my trainer. It was pretty late, so I only did 30 minutes to spin out the legs, but I still got on.
Friday - This day had been set aside as a long ride as it was all-but-written that Saturday was going to be seriously shitty. Alyssa's workout was 4hr ride + 2hr run off the bike. I decided I would ride with for a little over 3 of those hours and then do another hour, and therefore make it about 80 miles for me. It was super windy, and quite chilly. I ran 8 miles off the bike just under 6:30 pace, and it was okay. I could feel the need for calories about halfway through the run, I think the cold was keeping me hungry.
Saturday - I couldn't do it. We were timing a 5k in the morning (in the SNOW) and being outside for 2.5 hours was too much for me. It took all the strenf I had to get into the pool for my 3000m straight swim, and then later in the evening put in a little 4 mile shakeout run ahead of Sunday.
Sunday - It was sunny, but really cold, as we headed to DC to run and support some friends at the Marine Corps Marathon. After putting in 21 miles, and not getting home until after 1pm, I didn't have it to go outside to ride, and instead opted for a very nice shakeout swim.
So the week was kind of a bust on the bike. What had the promise to be a big week on the bike, turned out to be less-than-normal. I was at least able to get in my third 5 hour ride in two weeks. But, I'm lacking confidence right now for my bike.
The week itself was pretty great though, a balanced 22 hours of training, with 57 miles of running (one of my biggest weeks of the year) and 16km in the pool, and just the 160 miles or so of riding.
I feel pretty locked into my swimming, which is a complete reversal from where I was at this point out from Louisville. I haven't really had any bad swims, and have been doing well to keep on top of my weekly long swims.
My running has been pretty solid as well. Tuesday I got onto the track and did a 2.5 mile (4000m) run at tempo effort. For as busted as my legs felt, I felt warmed up after 4 miles and started off at 6min pace. I was able to pick it up from there, splitting 5:50 at the 1600 and running a 5:49 second 1600. I went 86/83 for my last two laps, so it was a 14:29 effort, I was pleased to see that, despite very few workouts lately, I was able to run fairly close to the 5k pace I ran in September.
The big run workout of the week was Sunday's long run, at Marine Corps Marathon. MCM is one of my favorite events, I've been going to it since 1999 when I was just a wee lad in College Park. The course has changed a lot over the years, so this year I ran from Metro Center over to Georgetown, and ran until I hit 31 minutes (~4.5 miles). From there, I jumped in at mile 5 and ran with one of my little teammates, who boasted a 3:01 marathon PR. She was killing it, running super strong. Our mile splits were really even, and I picked up Team CYB teammate Andy Chicken Tender Sovonick. Andy offered to run with me on my long run, a super kind gesture of him, as he generally doesn't do super long runs and his season is mostly locked into training for some shorter races. CTR will also be a key training compadre for the 2012 season as he and I have a very similar schedule.
Anyway, we're running with Emily, and clicking miles in the 6:40-6:45 range, all the way down Haines Point, and back onto the Mall, and all the way to Mile 20. For me, that was 19.5 miles, all well under 7 minute pace, and that was enough. I did a mile and a half easy around the Mall before calling it a day. I peeled off at 20, but Andy, who had jumped in just before 9, kept running with Emily until mile 26! A great act of kindness, and it helped her out a lot.
The Fall is really tough from a training perspective. One by one, people finish their season and move into recovery mode. Each week, fewer and fewer training partners remain. Besides Alyssa, I haven't ridden with anyone else in weeks. On my runs, there are more days by myself, particularly Mondays, when it seems as if I have become too slow to run with! It got me thinking about the great Bobby Brown song from Ghostbusters II - "On Our Own." There are definitely times when I, like many, feel like I'm out there doing it on my own. Workouts become a chore. You want the season to be done. The race seems like it's forever away, which is a curse, because you think you still need to do more to get ready.
But then you realize that you're not out there on your own, you have a big support network of people who are willing to help you get through workouts, or even just to talk you into doing them. It would be nice if they could also then do the race for you. Psyche, obviously not.
My keys over the next few weeks are simple: do enough to get by, but nothing that won't positively affect you in three weeks. With my swimming on point, that means I will swim a little less now. With my running going well, it means maybe another long-ish run, maybe a couple of runs at a quicker clip, but mileage not to exceed 40 in any week. With the bike, I still feel like I have an opportunity to make some gains. I can typically ride myself into real shape just by riding a strong couple of days. I believe I can get that in this week/end, and then I've just got to get my legs back under me before November 20th.
My favorite google search that has brought ONE person to my blog:
"ryan mcgrath asshole"
These days I am surprised it was only ONE google search for that phrase.