Weekly Wrap. Week 13
Week 13 was one of more mellow weeks I had during March. Especially when considering that this week started off on a rest day and who does not like rest days? Only recently I have noticed that due to the way my training weeks are structured, where I am often doing a long run and a long bike ride on the weekends, I started considering my days off training as real days off. I found it interesting how the mind works in that regard, eventhough my training volumes are not even close to the amount of hours I work in the office, the perceived exertion from training plays a huge role – ultimately making days off training more desirable, than days off work.
This week is when I started embracing “double-days”. These are days, when I have 2 workouts per day. Usually a swim in the morning and a bike or run in the evening. When we started working with my coach, such days rarely ever happened, but closing in on the race season, I see more and more such days scheduled in my month. Luckily, this week double-day was relatively simple – as it was an easy swim, followed up by an easy run.
The only problematic area during this week was my indoor bike. 3 hours on the bike indoors with not so much of air circulation already is dull activity. To spice things up and started getting ready for races, I swapped my normal bike to a triathlon bike and the plan was to stay in “aero position” for the workout. However, halfway into the session I started experiencing a myriad of small pains all over my body and I ended up switching back to my road bike, during the session. Road bike reminded me of my other problem, which I will expand on in this week’s blog post, and I had to stop the workout yet again and switch my seat post, so I could finish the workout in the lesser discomfort. Such discomfort that you can withstand for an hour. At the end, I got a final confirmation to myself that I need to do a bike-fit (a professional bike fitment, according to one’s body’s flexibility and measurements) and most likely a seat post change.
Other than that, it is less than 2 weeks to my first event in 2018 and a race-check, which is Ironman 70.3 Mallorca. While it is still not as close, I feel excitement and eagerness to participate. It will be an interesting test to all the homework I have done from mid October, when I sincerely came back into training. But before Mallorca, I want to finish the story of my triathlon camp. Onward!
Day 3: Literally bummed-out
This day at camp started out pretty similar to the past few days – waking up, doing some yoga in my room and hoping not to wake up my roommate, then extra strong coffee and meeting by the pool. After previous day’s swim session, coach has leveled me up a notch and I was supposed to be swimming in the same lane as Jon and Chris, who are both excellent swimmers. During the warm up, I step into the same trap/mistake, as I did on the bike for the past few days – I followed Jon’s pace. This decision was quite costly as after the warm-up, before the main session was in front of us, I was already broken and gasping for additional breath. Then the main session started and we were presented with a pretty brutal set of fast swimming paces and descending rest. During the set, coach was calling each one of us, so he could film our swim for future video analysis.
As I was getting progressively smashed by the planned workout, I heard my name called out and I switched lanes, where I could swim solo without worrying about the pace or effort – just a comfortable swim, while I was being filmed.
It felt good to rest a bit from the efforts in the other lane, but I had to go back. The workout turned out as brutal on paper, as it was on the water. When I came back to my swimming-buddies, I found out that Chris has abandoned the swim after 1st set and Jon is finishing the 2nd set and is not going to continue with the 3rd one. I catch myself that this is the point and time to soldier on and work harder than the rest. I commit to finish it all. At the end of the 2nd, feeling as if I am in a limbo state – nor here, nor there – coach approaches me and says that the time is up for our pool and most of the guys are getting ready for the breakfast. After brief chat, he asks me how am I – I tell him that my body does not wish to continue the workout, but my mind can. “No point in over reaching here, you can come out of the pool, do not worry” the words I heard from the coach and I bring out my heavy body out of the water. Thoughts of pleasant breakfast quickly absorb me and I do not dwell on unfinished workout. I did my best!
Once more the breakfast was inhaled faster than the air, where eager eyes and worrying heart put much more into the plate than necessary – we headed out getting ready for our ride of the day. This was supposed to be our bigger ride of preparation before the big day on Thursday – where we would ride all 180 kilometers of Ironman Lanzarote route, around the island. In addition to that, we were supposed to climb one of bigger mountains today – Mirador del Rio. A lot of climbing on the bike combined with 40-45 km/h winds, it was setting up to be a “difficult day in the bicycling office”. And to make matters worse, I have started feeling really painful saddle sores yesterday.
These sores were a combination of biking previously in Gran Canaria on a rented bike and biking in Lanzarote this week on a rented bike with a very aggressive and stiff saddle. On top of that, all my cycling gear was from previous seasons – and I was buying sizes “Large”. But by now, I have lost at least 5 kilograms and that size was not really fitting me – it was quite loose. Loose is one of the the last things you want on your bum, for a 4-5 hours bike ride on a stiff saddle. What usually happened is that foam started moving from the improper sizing over my body and created friction. Friction then created sores against the saddle. Once I started feeling this discomfort, I quickly ran to the shop next our hotel and bought a “medium” sized cycling shorts, which fit me nicely and were comfortable. However the damage has already been dealt and no comfortable shorts would save me from experiences on the road during this day.
Before we took off from the hotel – today it was only me and Finbarr, which made us hopeful as today our egos will not follow the better cyclists like before – we agree to slow down every 30-40 minutes to get some food in us. All planned and ready we take off. As usual on this island we are greeted by brutal winds, which are ready to toss us into any direction any moment, if we ease off on the battle. The route consists of the loop we did previously, where we got lost, with the mountain at the end. We sort of knew what to expect and where to go. After an hour, my bum is screaming at me and sending impulses to my head, which want to make me quit. I collect myself and do not give in. Bicycling here is difficult and every bit of difficulty increase is not something you want. We get to a very poor pavement, where it just wobbles you through the road. Even riding on even surface, I felt huge discomfort in my bum. This piece of road however just squeezed the last out of me. I was absorbing every bump and hit, grinding my teeth and whenever I tried to get some rest , I saw Finbarr getting away. I knew I had to keep up with him, because solo – I will not be able to finish this. At some point I hear Finbarr yelling something – it was impossible to communicate in any other way, due to the wind – I come over to hear him yell it out again, thinking it is something important or a suggestion. All I hear though is “That TRACTOR!”. Yes? “That TRACTOR is the one that my company makes”. At first, I was a bit disappointed that I put my effort and strength to come over closer to hear about the tractor. But then, I looked at it as a part of information my bike-friend wanted to share with me and was proud about. That transported me into a state of tranquility and thoughts about enjoyment of the things we are doing. I had hoped that I will be able to keep such passion for my work as well when I come back. And lastly, this tractor-dialogue became a fun distraction for the rest of my painful road to Mirador del Rio. Later we discover that the wobbly road is infamously called “Paris-Roubaix Lanza”, which refers to one of the toughest cycling races in the world, done with about 70km of cobblestone cycling. It is even painful to watch.
Later in the day, we pass Club la Santa and some beautiful views, which take my mind away from the pain I am feeling from the saddle. I do my best to keep up with my friend. Close to 3 hours of cycling, I feel that all my enthusiasm is vaporized and I have nothing to dig through. We are close to the mountain and close to our hotel as well. I chat quickly to Finbarr and we agree that I will go home, as the pain is too big to withstand. He confirms that it would only be logical to do so, especially to consider that we have twice the distance to cover in 2 days. I shiver from that though – at this point I can not imagine how will I continue my journey home for the next 30 minutes, even more so how can I finish a 7 hour ride in 2 days. We agree that we will part ways soon. While cycling I am being torn apart by the pain, which barely allows me to sit down for more than few minutes, by the fact that I will bail out of the workout and my promise to work hard. I am fighting moral battle on my supposed-to-way-home and suddenly I see Lucy Charles pass by on the opposite side of the road. (Lucy Charles is an upcoming wonder-triathlete from Great Britain, who has finished 2nd in World Championship during 2017). Suddenly I feel inspired and my energy levels rise up, I yell to Finbarr: “Oh my god that was Lucy Charles. Lucy Charles!”. As if I had just seen the most important politician or famous actor. Few more minutes with this excitement and I am at the turnaround, where we were supposed to split. Something comes up in me and I tell myself and my friend “Fuck it, I am coming”.
And I did not look back at that moment, I decided to go all in. I put away all the thoughts of the pain and discomfort away, only to focus at the task at hand – climb the mountain and only then, rest. To find out if I had survived that, I invite you to my next blog post, which will come up shortly after.