Last week my goal was to hit all of my workouts, and make as many of the triathlon club workouts as possible. Friday morning, I was on target, and the day ahead looked like I could sail into the weekend workouts without too much struggle.
A relaxing swim full of adrenalin and fear
My morning swim workout plan called for an aerobic swim, and so Manly’s Bold & Beautiful should have fit the bill perfectly, had it not been for the largest waves I have ever experienced. I kept looking at my fellow swimmers hoping that some sane person was going to suggest that this was a really bad idea, but eventually I followed my fellow aqua-lemmings into the surf, where I was pounded for 150m, eventually getting to “the Point” where our swim usually begins, and realizing I was exhausted before it had even begun. Somehow I hung on to complete the swim, get some instruction on how to not get crushed against the rocks on the swim back in, and staggered from the ocean. Aerobic, well yes. Gripping. Yes.
Spin out on an easy tempo ride – or maybe instead suffer for 90 minutes
My lunch bike ride was 90 minutes, and I thought I had signed up for something that would give me a great workout, but not push me, because I had a long ride ahead of me on Saturday. I showed up at the cycling lab and realized I’d signed up for a 90 minute race… I kept telling myself not to be competitive, to just spin for 90 minutes and keep my wattage high, but then I was only 30 seconds behind the guy in front of me, and then once I was ahead of him I didn’t want to let him catch me, and then the next guy ahead of me, maybe he’s catchable? 90 minutes later there’s a new great lake of sweat on the bike underneath me and I am seeing stars. So much for relaxing.
Windy, Hills, Potholes, Exhaustion
I had looked up a bike route for the Hunter Valley, a wine region North of Sydney, where I was running a 10K on Sunday. My friend Dariusz (a fellow triathlete) and I headed up Saturday morning and set out to ride around Noon, right around when the wind whipped up. The route was rubbish. Rubbish, I tell you! (Definitely my favorite new Aussie/Brit word). We turned around on one road because it was more potholes than pavement. In the other direction we had chip seal, wind, traffic. Eventually after 3 hours and 75k I decided to call it in. I was knackered, tired, and in no shape to race the next morning. After the Athlete’s Pasta Party for the race in the evening, I was in bed by 9 PM.
The warmup the next morning didn’t give me any confidence. I felt tight, and not loose at all. My runs in Manly had been fluid, wonderful, and for the first time in my life I felt like a runner. Sunday morning I felt like an impostor. The race began and I slowly began to navigate my way through the runners ahead of me. After a couple ks, I was moving well and felt like my body had finally agreed that we were running so it might as well participate. My new ultralight running shoes were making the hills much easier to scale, and so I began to accelerate when I hit the top of every hill, kind of an active recovery. The big hill at the half way point slowed me down when climbing it, but I took off at the top along the flats, and opened it up on the descent, which is not my style but I had a goofy grin on my face. At 5km, I was running on a flat surface, and looking at my watch, and I was flying (for me). I took a deep breath and told myself “let’s see how far you can push this.”
Racing Chica to Chica
I’m not the only guy who does this, and yes, it’s sexist, but when I need some motivation I pick out a woman running ahead of me and try and pass her. Then I pick out another one. And so on. They’re often wearing more florescent outfits than their male counterparts, and they are usually fewer, and they are usually blonder. So my excuse is they are easier to spot. I worked my way farther and farther this way, eventually catching a woman who then passed me back up a hill. I surged ahead at the top of the hill again. There were about 2K left, and I looked at the runners I could see and decided to try and catch them all. One by one I was reeling them in – This never happens to me, i thought. This is pretty cool. At one point I caught up to a guy about a head taller than I am, and paced along side me for a couple of strides. He looked at me, frowned, and looked at the guy 10m ahead of us, and said “GO GET HIM.” Like a well trained retriever, I took off. Woof! I caught him and we ran stride for stride for 50m and I decided I was going to pick it up again. I was then free with no one between me and the finish line, and I crossed and looked at my watch and a huge smile broke across my face.
On a hilly course, after a brutal week of training, I had surpassed the 47:30 I had run in Kona last October by 2 minutes, or actually 3:30 if you count when I actually crossed the 10K point (this race was 10.3 according to their official measurements). The official results below shocked me – I’m never in the top 10 percent, and I was 5th in my age group. However, a lot of the serious runners were running the half and full marathon, so that explains my ranking. I am not an elite runner though it was fun to pretend for a few minutes.
Normally I wouldn’t blog a 10K race, but I wanted to remember this one.