Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Taper time

So the Outlaw's at the end of this week, and I have finally got that big event feeling of excitement and anticipation. Up until now, the thought of doing a long course tri again has left me feeling a bit 'meh'. Even two weeks ago, I was talking to Suzie, a clubmate from Phoenix as she was feeling the same, although she was tackling Ironman UK in Bolton. It was as she was preparing for that event and I was following a few threads on Tritalk with many first timers excitedly building up to it that I started to feel something too. Then realisation hit; I had not done an open water swim since August 2014 when I did the Alpe d' Huez tri. Yikes; so over the last few weeks I have been down to Shepperton Lake to get a feel for open water again and see if I could get around 3.8km. Last Saturday I met up with Simon and we did 3.2km, so near as damn it, and while not fast, it was pretty comfortable and brought a smile to my face, although my sighting and swim lines were woeful.

So Sunday was spent fairly glued to the laptop, tracking those people I knew at Bolton, in particular Suzie. She had a blinding swim and bike and actually dismounted as second in her age group and therefore in a Kona slot, but she had a torrid time on the run and her lack of run training came back to bite her. 5:15 for the run when I think she did 4:30 last year. A few of the Tritalk guys had similar stories; feeling great on the bike and then hitting a brick wall on the run. I know this feeling all too well from the Forestman and while an IM marathon will never be easy, I am hoping that I can run off the bike. Is that likely though?

So here's the thing; I am probably in the best shape of my life on the bike. I am considerably faster now than I was six years ago ans I have consistently put in some big miles, including 4 century rides and many more over 60. I should, in theory, be able to get off the bike and have fresher legs than I have ever had before, if I pace it right. I could go out and smash it and probably be around the 5 hour mark and yes, this would be monumentally stupid. My last long ride at the weekend was 85 miles in just over 4 hours and I felt really good afterwards. This would be a 5:15 bike but that would still be far too fast. 5:30 pace would be a good target to aim for and hopefully leave me something in my legs.

I would love to run a 4 hour marathon off the bike but with so little running, this is unlikely. A 4:30 marathon would be more likely, but to be honest, it will be what it will be. Ultimately, my run will be dictated by the first 50 miles of my bike. So my mantra for Sunday will be 'Bike slow / run fast (ish)'

The best news is that the forecast weather looks almost ideal with 19 degrees and scattered cloud; compared to the 30 degrees at the Forestman, this is Utopian. If any of my 6 readers can be bothered, I'm number 887 and there's a tracker. It might make Sunday afternoon more entertaining.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Mind Games

It's been a very odd, topsy turvy week. It started last weekend with a 10 mile TT on the F11/10 course where I set my pb last year. Dale, Simon and I were all going for pbs and he Phoenix record. I had a bit of a shocker as I just never really got going. It was quite blowy and I just didn't cope well and my legs felt very tight.  Dale did a long 21 while Simon set a great pb of 21:56, while I was a long way off in 22:29. My fastest time of the year and my second best time, but I couldn't help feeling a bit disappointed. The good news was that we broke the team record convincingly and with neither Dale or I being near our best, it's nice to know that there's more to come. 

The rest of the week was a complete washout. I managed a VO2 max TrainerRoad session which is about as hard as it gets on a turbo and it left me feeling unusually wiped.  I could tell I was getting my usual overtraining symptoms and this was confirmed when I tried a turbosession on Thursday evening. It was meant to be. 1 hour 20 threshold session but I climbed off after 30 minutes, barely able to turn the pedals and feeling mentally and physically drained.  The next day I was back on the turbo and this time only managed 20 minutes before calling time. With the three of use going for the 50 team record on the Sunday at the Blazing Saddles event on the P885 course, it was not looking too good for me. 

I felt a bit better on Sunday despite the 4am start and in my mind I was not expecting very much having had such a poor week. The course has a massive gift hill at the start and as I rolled down it I just didn't feel very fast and the turn onto the A3 felt even slower. Mentally, I had already given up but the thought that I would be letting Dale and Simon down kept me rolling on so I decided to get to half way and see how things were. A bit of rain and squally wind came through which cooled me down a bit and was actually quite welcome. So I went through halfway in 59:25; my third fastest ever 25 but this included the gift hill. Hmmm... so still in with a shout of a sub 2 and by now I had warmed up and was feeling in much better place. I also had a few slower riders in front and began to reel them in. It was weird. I went from 'Sod this', 'Don't want to be here', 'I'm putting all my TT stuff on eBay when I get home' to 'Ooh, I'm doing all right.'  

At three-quarters distance I was still up on a two hour schedule and then I had the lovely realisation with 10 miles to go that I only had to do it in 26 minutes; something I can easily do on my road bike. My only problem was I got the finish position wrong, which meant I didn't really wind it up over the last couple of miles which would have got me another 20 seconds or so. 1:57:34! I couldn't really believe it as it ended up feeling so easy.  Most of the events I've done this year I have pushed very hard from the outset and suffered later on.  I did a negative split yesterday by over a minute and was still getting faster towards the end. I guess the low volume week with lots of rest allowed me to soak in the training stress which I had accumulated over the last two months; but  it was still one of those 'Where  did that come from?' moments. To be honest, while I thought I might have the ability to go under two hours I thought that I would only just scrape it, so to be two and half minutes under with still quite a lot left in the tank is a massive confidence boost. Dale also ended up beating the club individual record and with Simon, we took the Phoenix Team record too, which means that Dale, Simon and I now hold the 10, 25 and 50 team records, which is something I'm pretty proud to be a part of.