End of Week #10, which marks exactly one-third of the way through training. This also marks a step change in terms of increased difficulty. Now we’re not just adding more time onto workouts, we’re adding new workouts.
Weeks 1-10 are (were) considered the Base Phase. This is just getting me to a place where I’m comfortable with a bare minimum of duration, perfecting my technique and getting comfortable with the what this nonsense is all about. No surprise, but I consider myself ahead of the game in the run and ride, but lagging behind on the swim. Here are the max durations that we hit during the Base Phase, followed by what I feel like I could do right now (in parentheses):
Long swim – 2500 meters (1600 meters), Long ride – 3 hours (3+ hours), Long run – 1.5 hours (2+ hours), Long brick – 45 min ride / 30 min run (45+ / 30+)
In short, outside of the swim, I feel like I’m ahead of the game.
By the way, a “brick” workout is a ride immediately followed by a run, which is a terribly odd sensation if you’re not used to it. Your legs feel a little jello-y once you get off of the bike as some muscle groups activate while other ones wonder why the hell they’re not allowed to stop. I suspect many people face plant within the first few minutes of that transition. Fine motor control is a little suspect for 5 minutes.
Wow, it took me 10 weeks to describe what a brick workout is? Clearly, I’m a crappy blogger.
So I still struggle in the water. I keep tweaking my stroke and when I do, I feel like I’ve reset my endurance. Hopefully now I’m in a good place to actually build on what I’ve been able to accomplish. Mostly, I’m tired of having to write about how much I suck in the pool. I need new material.
Yesterday was a 3-hour group ride with my teammates and we took on some serious hills. The good news is that I was mountain goat-esque, and I torched hills that kicked my ass last year. I’m even more confident on the screaming downhills and can stay in aero position as I go from Ridiculous Speed to Ludacris Speed (that’s right, I went to plaid – or at least, I felt like I did). This isn’t just maniacal fun, it’s smart. If you brake on the downhills, you’re miss out on all that great potential energy that you spent so much time acquiring. It’s literally the payoff for all of your hard work. To brake is to squander it. Of course, to brake is to reduce the chances of careening into a 75-year old oak tree or 12-year old Buick, so you take the good with the bad.
The bad news yesterday was that I had my first genuine accident on my bike – don’t worry, it was low-speed and I’m fine. I was looking to cross a street and make a quick left. Checking for traffic over my left shoulder, I see a car dart up beside me, so I yank to my right. Unfortunately, I steer directly into a storm drain and my wheel fits perfectly in between the grating. Wheel falls 3-4 inches into the grate and my bike grinds to a stop. I tip over to to the right and bend the wheel in between the cold, hard metal slats. Ride finished. Fortunately, I was pretty much done with my workout, I was close to home and I have super awesome friends who came and picked my sorry ass up. So it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been.
Runs are still good. My average pace has slipped a bit, but I’m fine with that since my legs are increasingly tired and I have no intentions of running fast on race day.
Brick workouts have actually been enjoyable, probably because neither the bike nor the run duration has been particularly long. Provided I’m smart about my cadence on the bike (trying to keep 90-95 cycles per minute), I’m 1 min / mile faster than my normal run pace.
Weeks 11-20 are the Build Phase. On top of the weekly Base Phase schedule (two swims, three runs, two rides, and one brick) we’re adding one swim, one ride and one brick each week. We’re also adding speed workouts. These are quick bursts of activity on the bike or run that increase the heart rate in order to simulate a heart attack (or it might be to creep into the anaerobic HR range to acclimate oneself to harder work and recover quickly, I can never tell for sure). It’s daunting, but I’m ready for the next step.
Build Phase also includes the first “training race” in early June. The schedule calls for an Olympic distance tri, but as I’ve said in a previous post, I’m foregoing that in favor of my first Half Ironman. This will be an excellent litmus test for me.
Motivation: Swim – 4.5 (must…get…this…up), Bike – 9 (super stoked about my ride yesterday), Run – 9 (all systems go)
Weight: 169 lbs. Still would like to get to 160 or less.