Thursday, July 16, 2009

Gorillas from Rwanda (and Final Push Thoughts)

Wow, it's been a great week. Lab has been uber-hectic but I've managed to stay on top of it (thank God last week was a recovery week). Now that the PI's grant has been submitted, I can resume my final block of Ironman training full-tilt (well, I was before anyway but at least now I'll feel less guilty about it).

Each of these final 3 weeks leading up to my taper has a different theme, giving the training a whole special purpose and sense of excitment. This is Final Push, Week 1: Speedwork. I'm maintaining a heavy volume by doing more frequent but shorter and faster workouts, ending with a Half Ironman Simulation this weekend. Instead of my usual 4x bike, 3x run, 3x swim, 2x weights, I'm doing all 3 sports 4x (well, maybe not the swim--we'll see if I can make it to 6 am masters tomorrow--but wouldn't it be awesome if I did?). Sounds crazy...but remember I'm doing all 3 sports in the same day on Saturday. I alternate heavy days with easy ones to give my body a break and do active recovery on my rest days (easy swim, weights, or easy bike) instead of doing nothing. This helps me actually recover faster and sneaks in an extra workout!

am--Swam 3,000 meters (long course) at lunch time with Terry (who's actually a little tougher than Sickie, which I like, and more triathlon specific). Plus, since I swam at lunch, I got to sleep in!
pm--Got a massage that evening, which I thoroughly enjoyed. This was a recovery day.
Tuesday: Tough day!
am--Started out with 1 hour of hard free weights (with a mat and exercise ball). Followed it up with a hard 1 hour Spinerval session on the trainer. Dripped sweat everywhere!
pm--Ran a hard, super hilly (and sandy) 6-miles on trails in Torrey Pines. Forced myself to run the whole way (careful not to sprain an ankle on the way down) even though I swear I could taste my lungs going back up. Those hills are crazy steep (lots of stair running as you hop from wooden step to step embedded in the side of the cliffs)!
am (okay, noon)--Swam 3,000 meters (long course) with Terry again (she's killing me!). Very sore from weights the day before. I had no idea you use your chest and back so much to swim (I did lots of bench press, push ups, and rows the day before; ouch!)!
pm--met a group for a 5K run, cross-country style to do some speed work. Warmed up with 2 miles beforehand. This workout kicked my ass! I had no idea a 5K race simulation could be such an incredible substitute for a track workout. Much more fun too. We all went out to eat afterwards--bonus. I especially loved the Peanut Butter Mousse Dome I had for dessert (Leucadia's Pizza).
am--weights and run. Pretty hard weights again but slightly easier than Tuesday. 6-mile easier run on the 56 bike path. Very hot and humid though. Good heat training! Legs a little tired at beginning but worked out of it.
pm--Can't wait for tonight's hill repeats on Pandora!

Tomorrow is a rest day (optional masters swim) and then Saturday is the big day: Half Ironman Race Simulation! Sunday will be an active recovery day (bike). Next week, (Final Push, Week 2) is all about the bike, ending with the Santa Cruz Alpine Challenge...because I always wanted to know what 11,000 feet of climbing in 100 miles feels like. Final Push, Week 3, will be all about the run, ending with a 20-miler (the day after a 60-mile, hilly bike...Palomar one final time?). Then, a recovery week to rest up (ending with Camp Pendleton Sprint to get my race juices flowing) and a proper 3-week taper with a measured 25%, 50%, and 75% reduction in training volume (based on my average volume during the Final Push Block). These workouts will be short...but hard. Because, remember, taper does not equal recovery.

1. It takes more to make my body tired. Plus, my body is adapting to doing workouts (at a lower intensity) even when I'm fatigued. A big bonus for race day!
2. My swim has slowed down. :( At first, I thought it was a fluke. I noticed it during my recovery week and chocked it up to fatigue but it has persisted through this week. I am consistently 5 seconds slower per 100 meters. It starts out that way during the warm up and lasts through the entire workout. I don't feel particularly tired (although I am sore from weights) but no matter how hard I try, I'm stuck at the same pace. Could it be:
a) Too many ocean swims at base pace have slowed me down?
b) The fatigue from Ironman training is starting to take its toll?
c) I'm swimming larger volumes (last week I swam 10,000 meters, and I've been averaging 3,000-4,000 per swim instead of the old 2,500)?
My guess is (c) but who knows? I just hope it goes away in a few weeks and all the hard work begins to pay off during my taper.
3. My bike has gotten faster, especially on the hills. Yippee! I've been working SO hard on the bike. My strategy, this year, was to focus on a specific sport during each block leading up to the final push while maintaining the other 2 (not your typical IM race plan so a little risky but at least, a lot more fun!). Since running was my strongest, I worked on it first (farthest out from race day), knowing it would be easier to maintain while I worked on my limiter (the bike). My last block was bike-specific: I biked 4 times a week (trainer, tempo, hills, and long ride) while running and swimming 3x (weights 2x).
I was so tired by the end of that 3-week block, I had no idea if I'd improved or not. At the end of my recovery week, I went for a 50-mile, fairly flat, group ride through Camp Pendleton. I started out very easy; I was just getting over a cold and had a hard time finding my rhythm after not riding all week. Plus, I was chatting a lot. Hey, it's a recovery week! After the turn-around, our group picked up the pace, peloton-style. I practiced my group riding skills and was surprised at how hard I had to work to maintain our increased speed. Once back on base, the group splintered, and I settled into my aero bars. We hit a few minor hills, and I spun up them, passing the group! This has never happened to me before. Me? A climber? I was super stoked! Of course, I had to hammer after that, especially on each little hill that challenged me subsequently. I rode out in front the rest of the way home, elated. I guess my bike training block worked! Apparently, to get better on the bike, ride more!

And I leave you with gorilla pictures from Rwanda, courtesy of my Dad and sister (who are on safari in Africa right now. Jealous much?)

Chomp, chomp. Gotta increase my fiber intake for regularity.

Yes, I'm young and fluffy and adoreable. Wanna make something of it?

Man, that was a hard track workout . I need some recovery time!


Renee said...

Good golly you are a fricking machine! I would love to come train with you sometime, but I am fairly sure you would kill me! Your plan rocks though and you are going to do awesome!

Jessica said...

I really enjoy reading your blog, especially since I'm currently training for my first Half Ironman and getting excited to register for my first Full Ironman in 2010! Good luck with the final stretch of training. You'll do great in IM Canada!

Krista said...

Sounds like you've got a great training plan! Keep up the hard work - you will be rewarded on race day!

Ordinarylife said...

wow - I would love to go and see the gorrillas. They looks beautiful.

I hope they enjoy Africa and especially South Africa.