Training these past few weeks has been some of the best that I have done maybe since I started doing this a little over a year ago. Immediately after Trinona, I took a light recovery on Monday, and started up on a strong two week build in preparation for Ironman 70.3 Racine.
These weeks have actually been pretty fun. Well, as fun as making yourself suffer can be. Some of the workout days that I really enjoyed were the Double Bike Days with runs off of both bikes. The first of these came only 4 days after Trinona. I recovered really well from Trinona and was ready to go. The first Bike/Run of the day was some interval Zone 3/4 work, with a very easy run off the bike.
The second Bike was put in with the Description: 30 minute TT, as you wish, but you must get stronger every 10 minutes.
I emailed the Boss and asked, "Is this a test?"
Her reply, "You tell (or show) me. You're off the leash. Have fun!"
And I did.
I hadn't done a Bike Test since Mid-March, but I also hadn't biked/run earlier on that day, and it was a 20 minute Test, not the 30 minute TT I was about to do. But I wanted to see where I was at, and figured if I could get a new FTP today, I would learn a lot about where I was at mentally and physically.
I remember watching one of the Ironman World Championship videos and Chris McCormack, said something along the lines of, "At some point in every race, the person who ends up winning needs to take a risk."
I think that too many people are too afraid of failure, afraid of blowing up, afraid of many things. But if you don't risk failure, you can never know how far you can truly push yourself to go.
That may seem a bit dramatic for a simple bike test, but you get my point. I wanted to see if I could go faster despite the lack of rest/differing conditions to the previous one.
Long story short. After the usual warm-up of Easy, Short Bursts, Clear out effort, Easy. I started the 30 Minute TT. The first 10 minutes actually felt good, all things considered. But always at these parts of the workouts, when you know a new surge is coming, you start to over-think.
"Do my legs have another gear?" "Do they have another gear for the next 20 minutes?"
At this part, the real test started for me. All of my previous tests had been 20 minute tests. I knew what number I had to hit. So I began about 10 watts below that number. I figured after 5 minutes, I could reassess. Again, this didn't have to be a test today. There were no expectations from Coach Liz to make it one, but I had to know.
After that 5 minutes, I still felt good. I thought Let's see if we can make that number raise 5 more. Now, I was starting to hurt. But, it was time to increase again. That was the expectation. I needed to keep getting faster. The next 5 minutes were a blur. I honestly must have cocooned into my own "pain cave" and just blacked out.
I saw that there were 5 minutes left. It is always at this point in the test when you start to feel that there is no way you will finish. Let alone grab any more watts. You legs and heart start to yell cruel, harsh profanities at you. You have one part of your brain that wants you to ease up and feel better, but you have the other part of your brain, the competitor in everyone, that is telling you to suffer more.
Choose the latter.
So my legs screamed, by body rebelled, but 5 long minutes later, I was done. And had improved my FTP by 5! This seems minuscule, but with the conditions, and the fact that since October, it was now up more than 30, I was extremely happy.
Sycamore 15K Race
Expectations also need to be adaptable. This I am not good at. This past weekend, I went and raced a 15K on Saturday with a friend, Liz(different Liz). I went into the race wanting to win, but also knowing that I didn't want to blow up and have to suffer through 4 hours of biking/running the next day.
To be honest, if I were doing this just to race it, I would have changed quite a few things about the race and the days leading up to it. I would have eased into the race and tapered a bit more. I also would have strategized a bit differently in the actual running of the race.
I have always done a decent job of pacing, but today I kinda threw that pacing out the window, or maybe I just didn't realize how tired my legs were going into the race.
Lining up, I saw that there were a few fit looking guys and girls. One guy who was a bit older was wearing North Central College Cross Country shorts. We talked a bit and he was very friendly. I figured he would be the major deterrent for the First Place prize(I later looked up and saw that he was National DIII Runner up in the 10K twice!).
The horn sounded and we were off. My plan(probably not a good one), was to test him and the rest of the field early. Like I said earlier, I didn't want to kill myself for this race, but was willing to. I ran the first few miles, seeing if I could drop him and the others. I was hoping to make him and the others hopeless and settle in later. But, he had alligator blood.
And he was just faster than me. This is the main reason that I don't get nervous for running races. I know, give or take a few seconds, what I am capable of running. I know that if I am in the mix, I can push myself to a dark and painful place, if necessary. But I also know that, if I go to a race, and a person I am competing against can run X:XX per mile, he will beat me. This doesn't change my race and I won't suddenly be able to run my pace minus 15 seconds per mile.
So, he eventually passed me and was off. I played my hand, he played his, and his was better. Once he was gone, and I realized I couldn't stick with him, I settled into a good pace and cruised in the final few miles in.
I wasn't thrilled to lose, but I didn't have that extra gear today. It happens. PR's don't happen every race. This is hard to swallow, and will give me some motivation in the future to get to X:XX pace. But focusing on what I learned is more important on that day.
We are now less than a month from Racine, and I have some lofty goals for that race. Post to follow.