Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Week Summary - Loss of Specificity/Gain In Generality

I finished the third week of this training block with the Record Challenge TT, which is 40K. It was a hard week because of the accumulated training these past few weeks, busy work, stressful living conditions (moving and unpacking and helping my brother-in-law move), and throw in a bit of racing and I was cooked. At the end of the week, I had a total of 14.5 hours. I swam for 3 hours and 8749 yards, rode my bike 9.5 hours and 157 miles, and ran for 2 hours for a total of 15.5 miles. The training alone is fairly scant relative to prior months, but everything else made this a fairly sucessful week.

Yesterday was Labor Day and rather than go out and kill myself training as per usual, I let the whole day be a recovery day. I hung out with the two oldest kids and we just had fun. We played games, watched a movie, and just hung out. It was good fun.

I did the Record Challenge TT, which is 40K (24.76 miles) on Sunday. The course is out-and-back from Moriarty to Estancia and back. It's extremely flat with an oveall elevation gain over the distance of 365 feet. The course is given to gusty wind conditions. The race is held over 2 days; the first day is for solo time trial rides and the second is for specialty type rides (i.e. tandem, team, and other). When I arrived to the course it was pouring rain. The course was wet. Warming up was a real challenge because I had to huddle underneath the rear hatch of my car while on the roller to stay out of the rain. As I warmed up, I couldn't get my heart rate above 165 BPM--just like during the State TT Championships two weeks ago.

After my warm up, I decided to get to the line early to see if there were starting delays due to inclimate weather. As I rolled up to the line at what I thought would be 10 minutes early, they called my name to start in 40 seconds--DOH! How could this be, my watch is GPS. Good thing I came early. I rolled up and got ready to start. After 40 seconds, I was off.

On the way out, there was a headwind that spit rain directly into my face. I was getting drenched. I was killing myself to keep a good cadence and get my heart rate up, but all I could muster was a HR of 165BPM. I couldn't figure out if I was overtrained or too well trained to be able to get my heart rate up. There is a difference. If you're over-trained, your body won't let you get to the upper limits of your heart rate either because of muscle failure or aerobic inability to reach its peak. It just doesn't happen. If you're trained too well--you've trained yourself not to go too high from a HR perspective. Long-distance athletes can't afford to go too hard or they can't finish their long-distance events. They train in tempo heart rate zones and never go higher. This would be me--I never go higher than 165 BPM when I train. During my Ironman, if I see a heart rate at >160BPM, I'm doing something really wrong and am jeopardizing finishing.

I kept pushing with a goal of finishing within or under 1 hour for the entire TT. Near the turnaround in Estancia, the rain let up to a very mild drizzle. I hit the turn around and saw 35 minutes. If I wanted to reach my goal, I would have to make the return trip in 25 minutes. As I turned around, there was a tail wind. I slammed into my biggest gear and started to push. I started to catch people one-by-one until I passed 5 people. Even still with my hard efforts, my heart rate never broke 165BPM. My cadence was around 80 RPMs because I was pushing a bigger gear. Near the end, I did get passed by one person; I tried to keep his pace for a while and almost blew up because I dug too deep. I had to back off a bit and recover. I finished the TT in exactly 1 hour, which means I was able to keep an average speed of nearly 25 MPH for an hour. I was happy with the effort considering the weather conditions.

I warmed down for a few mintues, then changed into running clothes and began to run. I ran for an hour and was able to maintain a 8:30 minute-mile-pace without too much effort. After the run, I was done--I mean I was physically ready to take a nap. That didn't happen because my wife called me on the drive home and pleaded with me to join her for the last hour of church, which I did. Don't ask me what the lesson was about because I was in another place!

In reviewing the results of the TT; I've noticed that my time is much slower than the times of the individuals I used to compete with when I solely raced my bike. Some people put as many as 5 minutes in to me. What's wrong with me? Why was I so slow? Someone once told me triathletes are mediocre in individual sports but fast when all those sports are combined. I think the longer I run and swim, the more I lose my cycling strength specificity, but at the same time I'm improving in my general strength across all three events. It makes perfect sense, but it's humbling none the less when your former competitors ask you what happened? Did you have a mechanical? I hate to go through the long explanation: my priority is triathlons right now. I'll explain to you why I was so slow on the bike...just join me during my run...I explain every thing. I didn't think so. Oh well, I'll just keep getting beat up on the bike and hope it pays off in my triathlons.

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