Following last Sunday's long ride plus short run off the bike in the land of dehydration, I felt terrible - allergies were kicking up, that weird thing with my ankle was really bothering me. I wasn't in a good spot for a minute, but fortunately, I stopped being a pussy and sucked it UP. Like my best friend Barney Stinson says, "Whenever I get sad, I stop being sad, and be awesome instead. True story."
I hadn't been in the pool since Friday, so Tuesday's swim was just to shake the cobwebs out before a much better swim on Wednesday. Thursday's weather was pretty shitty so once again the week was almost gone before I had ridden my bike. I ran Monday and Thursday for 9 miles each time, and my ankle wasn't great. It seemed to be okay in the pool, and actually feel a little better after swimming, so that was keeping me going. Then Friday came, and it was time to get in a big little weekend.
Friday morning: 6:15am, Gilman track. Alyssa's workout was 8x400 on 2:00 (you can tell a swimmer wrote that workout). I ran them with her, we were running +/- 1:30, so roughly :30 rest for each one. I was then going to ride straight from there, but I had forgotten arm warmers and it was only in the upper 40s, so I had asked her to loan me hers. I go to put them on and wouldn't you know it, they were her compression socks. Shoot. I just did not have an arm warmer-less ride in me, so I texted OJ, who was home, and stopped by his house to borrow his. LIFESAVER. Made it through about 3h45m of riding before getting home. Later that evening I hit the pool for a 3500m workout, of which 3000m was continuous. I like doing longer swims like this, it makes me feel like I'm doing a long run. Just over 50 minutes for the swim, which was really comfortable and I feel good about my swim right now.
Saturday morning: 6:50am, Canton Merritt pool. The pool opens at 7 now, which is sweet, but it's because the kids swim team gets in from 8-9:30 and then masters are in from 9:30-11:30/12. They literally take up the entire pool, which is why I generally don't swim on Saturdays. Anyway, Alyssa's workout for the day was a tough one: 4000m swim (27x100 main set) followed by 5 hour ride. I had felt awesome swimming on Friday night, but 12 hours later was not as excited to be in the water. I also struggle in the fall when it's not light out at that hour, and it's getting cold, because I enjoy neither of those things. Either way, get through the swim, and it's now time to get dolled up to ride, and Zero joins us for the first 90 minutes. It was windy, and not very warm. It took what felt like forever to get to the gas station out of Rocks, where we finally picked up a little bit of a tailwind for 13 miles, before getting blasted in the face again. It was just not a pretty sight. I felt tired and my legs were dead. After the ride it seemed to get nicer, of course, and I ate over a pound of ground beef that I turned into a meat sauce. How that would impact me on Sunday was TBD.
Sunday morning: I got the opportunity to run with my friend Pat Reaves, a Terp who is unfortunately pursuing higher higher education at Duke. He was in Baltimore for the weekend visiting friends, so we made plans to run Sunday morning for 10-12 miles. Since he had gone out, I was able to get a late start, which was nice, but I was still up before 7 anyway. We rolled from Riverside Park at 9:30, headed out onto Shady 7, and about 25 minutes in is where my bowels could not contain the 80% lean ground beef any longer. With no leaves to wipe with, it was a gross situation. I found a leaf that did enough of the trick and we were off again. It was beautiful out, clearly headed for nicest day in October rating, and we headed out to Fort McHenry. When we got there, it was bathroom time again. Fortunately this time I had toilet paper. Along the way we picked up Chrissie for a mile or so, and I finished up with about 12 miles. I took the nice day as a sign to get out on my bike, so around 2pm I made it out and it was...awesome. My thought was "so THIS is what no wind feels like." It was so still, it felt great. I was cruising along Route 40, to White Marsh, and there was little traffic as it often is on Sundays during NFL season. I made it out to Route 1 near Gunpowder and as I was heading up to Mt. Vista Rd, I hear psssfftttt. Shit. I check out my rear tire and there is a gash in it.
This is the 5th fucking tire I've shredded this year.
I burned up one on the trainer earlier this winter, then got another one that didn't last long, then got this one. On my TT bike, I blew through both the very expensive tires very quickly, which begged the question, how shitty were those tires? I used those ones two times before they shredded and died. Fuck you, tire manufacturers. Anyway, I didn't bring my phone, of course, so I use the empty packaging of my Clif Shot gel to line the casing of the tire, which should at least get me home. The hole was so big, it wasn't hard to find. The gel pack is jutting out of the tire, so I'm not confident it's going to last long. The change took just a few minutes, but it felt like it got a lot darker in that time, so I got going again. Legs felt good, which was a good sign, and I made it through a busy Loch Raven and out through Towson and home in just about 3 hours.
The unfortunate part about Sunday was having to run again. Alyssa's Sunday schedule is morning long run, easy shakeout swim, then 5 mile run in the evening. I've done this second run with her a few times. Once or twice it has served as my only run of the day, and once before it was also my 2nd run. Especially since getting hurt, my body doesn't not like running twice in the same day. But today I felt alright, and we started off and I noticed we were running significantly quicker than she's done the run in the past. After an altercation with a local white trash community member, we were headed into the home stretch with a new Sunday evening CR - I was impressed she had run as fast as we did!
My ass was pretty sore after that, I think the combo of 17 miles of running that day plus about 190 miles of riding in the three days just did me in. But, with just a month to go until Arizona, it's as good a time as any to get in days/weekend blocks like that.
Like many, I struggle this time of year to get the training in. It's partially the cumulative fatigue of the season and the year, and how that affects my motivation, and a lot of it is weather-related. I can find all sorts of excuses not to get out to ride (running I'm usually okay). Too windy, too cold, too cloudy, too wet, I just don't want to. I found that, in 2008, when I was training for NYC Marathon, that I just didn't have the drive in October and November like I did earlier in the season. And NYC is two weeks prior to Arizona! So last year, when preparing for Arizona, I found it even harder. I managed to get in some good work last year, however, largely because I was motivated by coming back and just trying to get to the start line.
Obviously I enjoy racing, and I don't often let my fitness slip away, but when I signed up for IM Louisville earlier this year, I wasn't sure how I'd respond after August to get ready for another one. There are some who can do multiple IM events in a year. I don't think I'm there yet. Two is probably my limit. I believe in time off, mentally and physically, and allowing yourself to build towards one event and have that be your premier event.
As my previous posts would indicate, I was able to find my legs pretty quickly after Louisville and so while I have been going through waves of feeling good and not-so-good about Arizona, in general I feel ready to go. I knew that I wouldn't need to do as much to prepare for this one, relatively, because I would have a solid base of fitness from training for Louisville. When I say I "tricked" myself, I mean that I approached Louisville more as an ironman that I was going to do off of my summer fitness, and still had Arizona as the bigger goal. Note: while not originally intended, this also helped ease the frustration of having a bad day at Louisville.
I also knew one of the tough things was going to be doing too much. When the summer temperatures and humidity blow out, and the weather is a lot nicer, it's easier to want to pile it on. Fortunately, in the fall, the daylight limits you a little bit and it's easier to keep things in check. But I didn't want to get too ambitious and try and put in super huge days or weeks through September and October because I knew I wouldn't hold up. I felt like I could handle a small block around this time, up to about two weeks out from the race, and then shut it down. So that's what I'm doing.
As of right now, I'm feeling good about my swimming - much better than I felt going into Louisville. I'm starting to feel a little bit better about the bike again, after not feeling so confident for a while. Running has been going well and it's been nice to notch a PR this fall (half marathon) and have some other good runs. I still feel like I need one or two more long runs, but I've got time for that.
I'll probably post again at the end of the week with this week's outcome, which, two days in, has already been going well. But, as the title of this post indicates, not everything was all rainbows and lollipops - so the next post will talk about my frustrations so far this week!