Sunday, August 23, 2009

1 week out - the hummingbird wars have begun.

Just one of the hummingbirds fighting for control of the feeder.

I ran into work on Friday morning (Jodie would be driving so I could get a lift home). With my volume cut down so much this week I decided to push the pace. I started pretty hard and pushed the pace once I got on the trace. It is a nice, flat 6 miles from my house to the campus. I did not have my GPS watch on but I did have my heart rate monitor. I was not going to push any higher than my LT zone but I was going to try to ride this edge. The temperature was not a factor but the humidity has SKY HIGH. This would be another one of those workouts were you are immediately soaking wet. I had planned for this by wearing some tri shorts. Regular running shorts just do not perform well in this kind of humidity!

I clocked off laps with my heart rate monitor at known distances and tried to do the math to see what paces I was running. I wanted to keep it at 7 minute miles for the 6 miles. I usually run this route in about 48 minutes (8 minute miles). I was able to complete this run without incident in 42:06 – exactly 7:01 minutes / mile. Now, this is not race pace but it is a hard effort. I have been much faster in 5k races (nearly a minute / mile faster) but those are races. I believe that this is the fastest that I have ever run into work! However, looking at the pace, I am surprised that I have been able to have sub 7 minute miles in my most recent triathlons. I think my run for a standalone 10k can be much faster. I will have to try this distance out in the near future.

At lunch I hit the pool for some easy swimming. I have been practicing the swim with zero warm up. There will be no swimming prior to race start in Louisville! So I am trying to train like I race. It can take me about 500 yards before I am warmed up – during this time my arms and back really feel heavy and sore. They burn a little bit and swimming is hard. Once these first 500 yards glide by my whole upper body feels better. My back and arms just start going through the motions by themselves. There is no pain, burning or discomfort. The swimming is definitely getting easier, although, during races I am not pushing the pace. I still have that ‘panic’ fear in the back of my mind that says if I push too hard I will blow up. Therefore, I am not nearing my best race times by far. Although my swim racing has improved by leaps and bounds the next hurdles will be mental. I need to learn to start to trust my swim. Those bad swim experiences will die hard but I will be able to make them a distance memory. Spending more time in the water will see to that. The swim was one set of 3000 yards – easy.

I had planned on meeting Jim at the lake at 6AM on Saturday morning. Jim contacted me at about 5:30AM saying that he was not going to be able to make it do to family issues (he has a small daughter). I was a little bummed out but I always have contingency plans – there was a 5k race at the Oak Grove High School – put on by Robin. There would be a pretty big group of guys that I know. I would not want to race the thing this close to my big race but it could be fun to hang out. There was also the Saturday morning group ride. I chose the latter.

I left the house at about 6:40AM and rode to the trail head located at campus. The weather was near perfect. The humidity had dropped and the temperature was in the 70’s. As I rode to campus I came up on Steve, Marissa and her husband Dan. We rode the couple of miles to the trail head and just enjoyed the morning.

At the trail head I got to catch up with Jen who had just finished up a run. There was a couple of other cyclist milling around. When we headed put there was a total of 9 cyclists. A pretty good turnout.

We headed out to Sumrall at a comfortable pace. The only pull that I did was at my approximate ironman pace. This pace is between 82 – 88 % of my FTP (functional threshold power). Fancy acronyms. What this really means is that the last race I did I rode for just over an hour and I took my average heart rate for that hour (171) and multiplied it by 82 and 88 % respectively. This gave me a range that I should be able to ride at for the entire 112 miles during my ironman.

That being said, this is not a super fast pace but it is pretty quick for me – no walk in the park – a good semi-hard effort. About 5 miles out of Sumrall the group split up. I chose to ride a little bit longer and went further out with Steve, Ty, Matt and John. These guys can really push the pace. Since I was not looking for a ‘hard effort’ I just sucked their wheels. We got out to the countryside and enjoyed a few hills. It was a good ride and I wrapped up with 50 miles.

I got to do some yard work the rest of the day. I was not sure what to do with all of this extra time tapering. My perspective is funny - a 50 mile rides feels like I did nothing – feels like I have been lazy.