I am quite happy to have the time to write this blog post. One, because it means that my HUGE training block is over, but more importantly it was completed in a way that couldn’t have me happier!
As someone who focuses on the full-iron distance, it can be tough to use the shorter races as training. Especially right now as I’m still learning the ropes as a pro, it’s more than a bit daunting to have to race the “short” stuff against girls who specialize in those distances. Even on my most successful day right now I’m not quite within arms length of the leaders…. except maybe at the swim start if I line up near them. Or, if my bike is racked next to theirs and we’re laying our stuff out at the same time in the morning.
Which was why I was almost questioning my own sanity during race week last week. After the prize money was pulled from Quassy, I opted to go race Eagleman instead to get in a good effort. Plus, EM was going to be more of proper course training before AC anyway (flat and hot!) so the choice seemed suitable. However, it was a week later in the schedule, and when you’re within the month of an “A” race, you don’t have much time to train/taper/race….twice. So Hillary and I discussed it – and, I am not sure what made me think it was no biggie – but I agreed that I’d like to switch to EM and “train through it.”
So, what does training through it mean? Well, athletes who focus on 140.6 must certainly use 70.3’s as tune ups in training. However, resting for and racing a half well by no means is a total indication of how fit you are for a full distance race….unfortunately. And, it always baffles me how there are no race distances between the 70.3 and the 140.6. Remember when Tri Star tried to have their 111? (or was it 101?) That would have been sweet if it caught on. Instead, those of us lucky full iron distance lovers often come to terms with the fact that using a 70.3 for training means showing up to the start line with tired legs!
Fast forward to Saturday night, when I finally got through what “training through it meant” for my training block. I’ll spare you all the details, but I can say it included a hot and hilly 115 mile ride + brick run on Friday, plus swimming and biking the entire Eagleman course on Saturday. And, I couldn’t have remembered when my last completely off day was in well, awhile.
I didn’t feel overtrained or overtired – and that part is important. In fact, I tend to feel stronger as weeks of training get piled on. Hillary and I both know that I’m a “rhythm athlete” — my body thrives on that consistency and that constant build. My best workouts come when I’m at the peak end of high volume training.
Which is why mentally I knew I’d be okay. But physically, I also knew I needed some tricks to get through it! My biggest trick is to EAT ALL THE FOOD. Seriously. Your body NEEDS to recover, and recover fast. In every workout I did I paid attention to make sure I was never leaving the workout in extreme calorie deficit. This no doubt allowed me to have faster recovery between workouts, and to get to the start feeling stronger rather than weaker.
There isn’t too much to describe Eagleman other than it was a typical day in Cambridge! Highlights from the race include, but weren’t limited to:
-SWIMMING WITH A PACK! Seriously, this was awesome. After experiencing how much more fun the race is when you get onto the bike with other girls, I am hereby initiating a “No Alyssa Left Behind” act in the pro swim waves going forward.
-Learning to bike with a group! Getting onto the bike with others is useless if you can’t use the pack to your advantage. It can be a tricky thing because the USAT rules are different from WTC rules and 5 bike lengths or 12 bike lengths always just feels so questionable and sneaky. But, for the first time I was able to (legally) use the girls around me for pacing and to help push me through the whole ride. The result? A super steady ride where I hit a pace I would have been happy with on a fresh day.
-Consistency! I don’t mean to brag, but if there was some kind of “Even pacing” award, I would have won by a landslide. Aside from the fact that I nailed both my transition times in 1:21 (seriously, exact same time), my 13.1 mile run was 48:01 on the way out and 48:00 on the way in. BOOM.
-The support! On course, you guys are great! It is a LONELY day out there in the farmlands of the eastern shore, one that I’m not used to as my age group typically started in the back. Take a look at this picture — with no one around was pretty much how I ran every step of the race! (except when the 2 girls flew by me……company for less than 10 seconds doesn’t count!)
That said, I had several people cheering for me as they were on the way out on the bike and I was coming in. And, on the run, it seemed like the whole world was heading out, and I got a bunch of cheers and encouragement as I tried to stay steady on my way in. Every little bit helps and I appreciate it so much, even if I don’t have the energy out there to thank you when it happens!
Support from friends from home was huge, as well as Ed and the best 4 legged support a girl could ask for all made the day very special!
With that behind me, All systems are go for Challenge AC in 2.5 weeks!