I haven’t posted much about training lately so I’ll attempt to do a summary here. In one word, I can say this: ready. What I am ready for is actually two things – taper and a race! I was so tired last week that I fell asleep while baking brownies – totally not my style! Luckily they were still edible 🙂 But seriously, the past couple weeks since Columbia have been a solid block of training. My fatigue level has gone up, but I feel stronger within each workout. This means that I have done a decent job of getting to bed early and eating well which I am pretty proud of. It always feels good to come out of a training block feeling stronger.
Swim: In the past 6 weeks or so I have stopped noticing the speed gains in the pool – No longer am I dropping 2-3 seconds off my 100’s time from week to week. I knew that was bound to happen sometime though. What I am seeing is that I consistently feel stronger during the main sets. I’m not leaving comments after every workout anymore asking if Hillary is trying to drown me or saying that I think my arms fell off to the bottom of the pool. Sure, every now and then a workout gets me, but for the most part I am seeing the gains with consistency of speed over distance. This is mostly exciting for me because I am feeling like in 8 more weeks I’ll be confident going into an IM swim – not something I ever thought possible.
Bike: Cycling has truly become my favorite part of being a triathlete. I made my return to Thursday Night Ride out of Owings Mills a couple weeks in a row and it was great to be back. This is a ride that Ryan introduced me to last year by saying not much more than “it will make you better.” And, he was right. First, the course that is ridden is anywhere from 35-40 miles and it is hard, simply put. On any given night it could be a group of 8 – 30 people, generally split into 2 groups. The first group – some people call it the slow group, I call it the pretty group – leaves at 5:15. The faster guys leave at 5:30 and we all meet up about 10 miles into the ride. From there there are some sections of work with designated meet up spots to regroup, get water, etc. For someone like me, this is the perfect environment to get faster. First, the group is comprised of mostly all middle aged men. That’s like my biggest fan base!! These dudes get pumped to rides bikes, but they get even more pumped to help twenty something girls in spandex ride bikes.
This ride is so fast that even hanging on to the paceline is too much for me at times. When I drop off though someone is always there to pull me back up to to the line. And when even THAT is too hard, I’ll get a hand on my back as they, quite literally, push me there. Some times the same guys helping me here are guys I can actually outclimb. After they pull me 5 miles, we’ll get to a hill and they give me a smile and a wink and tell me to go catch the guys up ahead, as they make their way a little slower up behind me. They never demand anything other than I have fun and ride by the rules. I do my best to not ride like an asshole and always thank them for doing work. I ride the crap out of my legs on that ride and it shows; in turn they respect that and are willing to help me get better. For other girls out there who are looking to get faster, get your bike handling skills in tact and then come out for rides like this. They are very intimidating and suck at first because you will be dropped and will be forced to ride 15 miles home on your own into a headwind. But keep going, earn the respect of the group, and get some work done. It’s fun. Really.
Aside from TNR though, I have been doing the majority of my riding with Ryan. This has enabled me to get out the door much more than ever before, learn some new routes, and get stronger. I actually had my first crash the other weekend – my tire got caught in a track in the road and boom! Before I even knew what happened I was on the pavement. Luckily I ended up with just some bumps and bruises. The scrapes were actually in the exact same spot as the ones from my fall on the trails so no more harm there. Definitely scary and reminds me to keep my alertness in check as my training volume increases and I am going into more rides tired.
Run: In the past 3 weeks I have noticed an increase in volume here but also a new approach to my speed work in the week. Previously I was doing my speed sessions on the treadmill. I know there are a lot of people out there who would never touch a treadmill, especially for speed work. I actually enjoy this and think its great because it does take alot of the variables out, allows me to let go of control, and just run fast. Some of these workouts are what gave me the confidence that I DO have speed in my legs after all. The past few weeks though I have been off the treadmill and doing sets of mile repeats at my goal half marathon pace. This has been really beneficial for me. The first week my pace was all over the place. I also barely made it home after 5 of them. My jaw dropped when I saw that the next week I’d be doing 6. So, I focused more on pacing that week and (with Carly’s help!) kept them all around 6:45 pace. It was like night and day. I can now understand that a 6:45 – 7 minute pace is comfortably uncomfortable for me, but I can keep that up for extended intervals. If I go below 6:45 pace I now know what that hurt feels like, and I also know that any time spent in that zone will cause me a lot of time later in the workout. This was also proven in the half marathon I raced in early May.
According to the website there are 3 days, 7 hours and 40 minutes until Eagleman! Let’s go already!!!