The original plan laid out by my coach for me this weekend as I headed to Palm Springs for a training weekend was:
Friday: run 7miles after arrival
Saturday: AM bike 60 miles, run 6-8 miles and a PM 40 mile bike
Sunday: Do the Desert Triathlon either the sprint distance or the International
Kinda the point of the weekend was to push the envelope and see what happens. Everything was laid out, but I also had the option of scaling where I wanted to and not doing everything if it was too much. It was my call.
I already knew 100 total miles on the bike on Saturday was going to push the 'too' much button and I wasn't sure how I felt about that 6-8 mile brick off of a 60 mile bike this early in my season. Granted, I've never attempted this kind of volume anyway, so I really don't have a mental concept of where I 'am' on the endurance spectrum 99% of the time. I surprise myself with so much of my training these days so it is a constant process that is always unfolding.
The run on Friday was fine and on Saturday AM, I headed out with my route slip and many gels and an idea to try some shot blocks to see how I trained with them (since normally they don't mess with my stomach). It was a nice day, warmish, and the route was pretty nice...granted there was a LONG stretch in the beginning that was chalk full of false flats which just does a number on my head because it is sometimes hard to realize that the reason it seems like I am going so slowly is because I was actually ON a hill...but with false flats it doesn't seem quite like a hill. BUT with every up hill comes a downhill.
In all truth i'm not the hugest fan of descents. I know, that's weird...i could climb all day but descending sometimes is just not my thing. So finding a decent that I am a FAN of...well that is unusual...but the decent proved to be highly ranking in my book. Open, not technical, and a grade where it was steep but not something that made me wonder if I was taking my life into my hands on two wheels. In essence, my kind of hill...so it was great. In the end our ride was actually a little shy of 50 miles...not quite 60...so I decided to attempt all 6 miles I had planned out since the ride was 'shorter'.
The run was uneventful aside from my legs telling me they hated me...but I pressed on. What was the most interesting though was getting back to the house only to realize that my legs didn't just hate me they were PISSED at me. It felt like every tiny muscle fiber was on FIRE simultaneously. I was in pain and perplexed at the same time. I didn't really know what to do so I actually wondered if what was going on was that each of the tiny muscle fibers were CRAMPING...rather than one large muscle cramp. So I downed a big does of some salt tabs that I had and almost instantaneously the cramping went away.
I blame the shot blocks. I usually only use Powerbar endurance which has almost 2x the salt as the shot blocks...so even though I am trying to expand some things I can eat while exercising, i'm not sure how to address the shot block issue...especially how difficult they are to deal with since it is not reasonable to down 100 calories at a time and you have to eat them slowly. Very fussy.
Got back from all the training and ate a post recovery snack, showered and changed and then headed out to pick up our packets and find some food. Sadly (although somewhat predictably in my book...even though I ATE another granola bar to try to stave it off)I did turn into Ms. Crankypants due to low blood sugar. Oye. But we did finally find some food and then I was super ready for a huge nap....pretty much immediately following lunch, like I could have fallen asleep at the table but I do have better table manners than that so I didn't.
I bye-passed on the second bike and opted for a long nap and was sooooo happy I did that. Amazingly it didn't even affect my ability to fall asleep that night which is pretty impressive considering daylight savings. And let me just say: Day light savings SUCKS the night before a race. Race morning is early enough without losing an extra hour of sleep.
Is this really a good idea???
So today as I was setting up for my race (I had opted for the Sprint) and I started thinking about all the training i had just DONE the day before on top of this race. This race was not even a C race...maybe a D or E or anything that is: does.not.matter...kind of race. For me it was a 'just see' how I did kind of day.
What was interesting though was on the swim. I never have been too terribly freaked out by open water swimming. I grew up swimming in lakes so I think that is part of it, but I started the swim and i'm not sure if was the cold or what but my LEGS started to burn and I almost started to panic. What I find interesting about myself is in scary situations I get severely analytical. I do actually think this a huge benefit because I basically tell myself: Right NOW is a NOT OK time to freak out. You can do that later...but RIGHT NOW...keep it together.
I remember thinking: Am I going to have to call a life boat? AND then thinking in reply: Well that would be severely stupid because you might end up with a small fear of open water swimming for the season so that would just put a damper on things. Don't do that. If you NEED to just lie on your back and back stroke or float until you can regain your composure. But freaking out is really stupid right about now.
I look back on that mental conversation and sorta laugh. How I could just tell myself NOW is not the time to freak out and force myself to calm down was pretty instrumental to getting through the swim. I did finally find a rhythm and pressed on.
And over all...i was really happy with my race. It was freaking COLD and my feet lost feeling on the bike and I didn't gain it back til mile 2 of the run...but it was a good race. I learned a lot about how my body responds when it is tired, when it is cold and what factors I can tweak and others I have to work around. And one of the best surprises was to discover that even though i had just done all of this training on top of my race...I got better than 50% in my AG...which is a tough AG for women...30-35. Which for me is pretty awesome. I was just explaining the other day how GREAT I am at 50% in my AG....almost SPOT on +/- a person. I have no problem with being such a midpacker...it was more of a general observation...so to see that I almost made the top 1/3...i was pretty stoked.
Overall it was a fantastic weekend of training and meeting some new people. I learned a ton and I actually think I'm going to be able to walk tomorrow. That's a good thing.