Saturday, July 30, 2011

Race Prep Week - Swim and Bike

As I inch ever closer to Ironman Louisville, my training is now shifting to race rehearsal type workouts.  The week itself is a stepback week for the run so I haven't had to endure the countless hours on the elliptical which has been nice.  The brief respite came at a great time because I was growing weary of the elliptical after the last 2 weeks.  Thankfully I only have a couple more weeks of really long sessions to put in on the elliptical.  I really wish I was running, but I know it's not time.

Overall this week has been pretty productive on the training front.   I knocked out a really nice bike ride after work on Tuesday.  It was 105 degrees and 15-20mph winds which normally would have put me in a bad mood, but I've gained some confidence on the bike the last few weeks and I enjoyed the challenge.  The bike is a funny instrument for me.  All year I've really felt like my bike has the most room for improvement and most potential for time improvements in triathlon.  I'm pretty happy with my run when I'm healthy and my swimming is what it is.  I'm never going to be a fast swimmer and even if I was I think there are minimal time benefits in the grand scheme of things.  The bike to me is where I'll focus my efforts on becoming a faster triathlete.  Riding by myself I tend to underestimate my pace potential so I've played it pretty safe all summer.  Riding with the group the last few weekends has allowed me to step out of my normal comfort zone and realize I have a lot more in my bike than I previously envisioned.  While I still plan on not killing myself in Louisville and play it safe with my pace, the last few weeks have allowed me to see the potential of better things to come on the bike.  I like the fact that through this training season I've continued see areas that need my attention and give me something to focus on during the offseason.  As all endurance athletes know, I'm already thinking about what's next.  We are definitely a strange breed.

Thankfully this week I also managed to get in my first open water swim without a wetsuit.  The local triathlon club hosted a Splash and Dash on Thursday evening.  I snuck in my elliptical workout before work so I could head out Arcadia Lake for some open water fun.  There was probably a group of 50 people or so at the "race" and the course was a 500m swim with a 2 mile run afterwards.  Due to the Achilles, I opted to do the swim course twice and skip the run portion.  I was pretty pleased with the results from the swim.  I felt calm and controlled in the water.  The water was a bit choppy due to the wind so it was good practice even though I don't expect to have to worry about that in Louisville.  I'll probably try to get in a few more open water swims the next few weeks, but if the schedule doesn't allow I won't be too overly concerned.  Friday after work was also my trial run for the 2.4 mile swim.  I have to be at work between 7 and 7:30 AM so doing my workouts before I head to the office isn't realistic sometimes.  Due to this, I headed to the pool after work and basically had the pool to myself.  I popped a gel before I hit the water and then just tried to keep my mind focused for the duration.  To me, the biggest challenge with this swim was keeping count of my laps.  It's hard to keep your mind from wandering when you are staring at a black line for an hour and a half.  The swim went about as expected.  It took me 1 hour and 32 minutes to get in the full 2.4 miles.  Pretty much right where I expect to be in Louisville.  Mentally it's nice to get that swim in the books and know that the hardest part will be to stay focused on form and sighting in the water.   I can definitely say I'll never want to be an ultra-endurance swimmer.  I can't imagine staying in the water much longer than that and actually enjoying it.  Ultra-marathoner?  Sure, I can see that in my future.  It's no secret where my true allegiance lies. 

Tomorrow is the big 6 hour adventure on the bike.  I'll report back tomorrow after it's over and let you know how it went.  The plan is to get out and riding by 6 AM for a lap around Lake Hefner by myself before joining up with the the Redman crew for 3 or 4 hours.  I'll tack on an extra hour or two by myself after they finish up and hit my 6 hour goal.  Thankfully the next time I need to ride 6 hours I'll be doing one of the local century rides with a big group of people.  It always helps mentally when you have others with you the entire ride.  Tomorrow will be a good test.  I'm looking forward to the challenge. 

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