Week seven: The week of waffling.
Sleeveless wetsuit or full-sleeve for race day? Salt caps or good ol’ fast-food salt packets? Email the bike fit dude that I still don’t love my seat or give it one more ride? What workout for my last weekend before Vineman: short bike/long run or one last 50-mile ride?
I’m at a weird point in training, in which I’ve hit a bunch of milestones — including week seven’s triple brick and run on the race course — and yet things feel unsettled. Vineman is still two weeks away. I’m not fully tapering yet. I still have a bunch of decisions to make about how to approach race day. And at the same time, is anything I do now actually going to make any difference? Or is my barn — to steal an overused blog metaphor — full of all the hay it’s going to get?
I guess this is why I train with a group: to have a coach on the other end of my dithering.
While I wait for him to tell me what to do, here’s what I actually did last week:
Tuesday: In the morning, 2360 yards of swimming, including a total of 18 100s (3 sets of 5, one set of 3 and then had to dash to a conference call) at somewhere just under 2:00 each. In the evening, about “30 miles” of indoor riding at a computrainer class, with a total of 15 minutes (5 times through a set of 30, 60, and 90 seconds) at Zone 5 watts. I’d been debating whether to cry uncle on my newer, narrower saddle, but I made it through this class with no major issues — a far cry from the previous class with my old saddle, where I was uncomfortable from the get-go. Finished with a ~.75-mile misty transition run on the nearby bike path, which was absolutely covered in snails.
Wednesday: Track workout of about 4.5 miles, including a main set of 3×400 targeting 2:00, 3×1200 targeting 6:09. It was sunny, warm, and humid for San Francisco — I have to emphasize the for San Francisco — and while I hit all the intervals, I felt alternately like I was suffocating and drowning for the duration of the workout.
Thursday: 16 miles total of bike commuting (12 to/from work, 4 to/from yoga) and then the last yoga class with my favorite teacher, who’s taking a break from teaching. Yes, this makes me regret every single time I’ve skipped yoga since first finding her class last year.
Friday: Base Pace Test swim: warm up, swim 3×400, divide by 12, get base pace for 100 yards. I swam 8:16, 8:06, 8:04, putting my base pace exactly where it’s been for 18 months. I’m a little frustrated, but at the same time, I felt better on the 8:06/8:04 swims than I think I ever have during a base pace test; if I had another 400 to do, I bet it would have come in even faster.
Saturday: Second in our “peak weekend” series of workouts: the triple brick. I feel like I should be calling it The Dreaded Triple Brick, but having now done three triple bricks in my short triathlon experience, I can honestly say it’s one of my favorite workouts.
This was my first crack at the long course version: 18-mile ride, 30-minute run, 18-mile ride, 20-minute run, 18-mile ride, 10-minute run. Each loop was a circuit around Paradise Loop from Tiburon, including going up and over Camino Alto at miles 12, 30, and 42. First loop clocked in at 1:20, not speedy but steady. First run felt amazing — 9:14/mile pace, chatting briefly with friends along the way. I’ve been saying all year that I don’t know why I’ve been running well off the bike, but I think there’s actually an easy answer: my bike fit. When I run, I’m warmed up but not already worn out; I can use biking muscles for biking now.
Second loop, I was on track for a speedier ride, and I’d just hit the lovely part where the pavement smooths out when I heard a massive pop and felt my back wheel skid out of control. My previous flats have all been of the slow-leak variety, and I’ve been terrified of the explodey kind since I started riding, but in the moment I calmly understood what was happening, unclipped, and got off the road. Started dumping out my flat kit and realized, OH, that’s not tube, it’s tire — there was probably a two-inch frayed section that looked like ripped-up carpeting. I’d been telling passing cyclists that I was fine and had everything I needed, but clearly this was a bigger problem. Luckily, one guy had stopped despite my protests and had a patch that he figured would buy me a couple of miles of easy riding. I realized I could either get back to our starting point or keep going down the hill to a bike shop — and only one of those options would get me a new tire. So, kind stranger fixed my flat and followed me down the hill, where I rolled up to City Cycle and asked for a new tire right now, thanks! Finished up the loop on my sweet new tire, but the whole thing took 1:52.
My 20-minute run again felt great — I had lots of nervous/angry energy to burn — but then I had to decide what to do about the third loop. It was already 2 p.m., I was way behind schedule, and nobody was going to stick around to watch my stuff in our “transition area.” But I hadn’t just spent a bunch of money and time getting a new tire to bail on the workout. So, I packed up the car and set out for loop 3. The wind had picked up by then, but I think the sheer power of not giving up made it the most enjoyable ride, and I came coasting back to our starting spot in 1:16. Locked the bike to my rack, took off for another 10 minutes of running, and finally finished the workout at 3:40 p.m., six hours after starting. Not exactly the day I was expecting, but I’m so glad I didn’t quit.
Sunday: Talked Courtney into a trip up to Guerneville and Windsor for a Russian River swim and run on the Vineman course. The swim went well — same shallow parts as the week before, slightly faster time (41:15) — and I tried out the sleeveless wetsuit. Point for: definitely cooler. Point against: more time to get sunburned. Then we drove over to Windsor High to run, and oh my goodness, I thought I was going to actually wilt. My Garmin claims it was 93 degrees and cloudy, which is hilarious, because there wasn’t a cloud in the sky; my car, on the other hand, said 98. The first three miles are rolling with a little more shade than I expected, and I was actually looking forward to the end of the run … until I realized the course actually loops back on a parallel road with zero shade. We ran everything but the loop around the winery (about 7.4 miles), walked several times, and barely scooted in under 11-minute/mile pace — which is fine except my race goals were premised on 10-minute miles. Time for new goals. We also drank out of someone’s garden hose. Desperate times and all that.
Week Seven Stats
Swimming: 6150 yards
Biking: 101 miles (55 road miles, 16 commute miles, 30 trainer miles)
Running: 19 miles
Other: One yoga class
Most proud of: Finishing the triple brick after the tire situation
Need to work on: Heat acclimation, however possible
Excited for: Race day?! It’s starting to feel close.