Monday, June 29, 2009

Week 27: Review

As predicted, this week was incredibly hot and gave me my first real taste of running/cycling under sustained high temperatures this season. While I was doing a good deal of running last summer, I was only training for a half marathon at the time so I wasn't doing the volume or intensity that I am now. As such, I was burning through Gatorade and water to fight my way through all of the planned sessions.

Cycling isn't too bad in this weather, as at the speeds one travels there is a pretty healthy wind to evaporate the sweat and help cool down the body. The only caveat is that on the really hot days (such as the 34C/60% humidity we had on Wednesday), when you inevitably come up to segments where you have to stop (traffic lights, stop signs, etc.) the heat can really hit you. It's kind of a weird feeling to dread the breaks in an exercise session, but on days like this that 30km/h headwind is the only thing keeping you going ;)

Either way, I did end up making some adjustments this week due to the conditions. The group had to do a little over 12K (~8mi) on Wednesday, so I ended up doing that rather than the 10K recovery run I was looking at. With the humidity, however, the thick air made it much more difficult than it would normally be - while we were running at a general aerobic pace (~5:00/km), my heart rate reached tempo levels in the last few kilometers. We took a couple of brief walking breaks as well, as one of our group members was having a lot more trouble than the rest of us.

I was scheduled to do a 10 miler on Thursday, but as the 8 miles done the day before were extra (Wednesday was supposed to be a rest day in Pftizinger's schedule) and it was still pretty brutal out there I figured I'd just make up the difference. As such, I took a five mile course and split it up into 1 mile warm-up, 2 miles at GA, 1 mile cooldown and then walked the final mile. The net result was to put me a little ahead of scheduled mileage for the week and I didn't have to burn myself out once again ;)

Saturday's long ride went quite well, as some rain had come through on Friday night and knocked the temperature and humidity down a bit. It was still well into the 30s with the humidity taken into account, but that was a lot better than we'd had earlier in the week. At about the 25K mark, I popped into a convenience store to resupply my fluids before it became a problem - drinking a bottle of Gatorade and refilling my depleted water bottle. Other than various traffic stops along the way, I managed to complete the entire 70K ride without any further breaks. As I took care to avoid the urban areas that have slowed me down on the last few rides, I was able to comfortably maintain a 30km/h average speed even with some pretty significant hills (cumulative ascent was over 3000 feet). This was a bit of a shorter ride than I've been doing on Saturdays, but with the first of the Marathon Pace runs the next day I didn't want to push it too hard this weekend.

As for Sunday's long run, I was dreading it a bit for most of the week. This would be the first time since Around the Bay that I've run a significant distance at this particular pace (4:45/km), so I was concerned that it would be difficult. They were also calling for significant quantities of rain, so I was concerned that that would just add to the difficulty. Fortunately, while it was pouring when I originally planned to go out the radar showed an opening that would hit at around 4pm so I elected to push it back. This worked out well, as when I headed out the rain was mostly gone (a little drizzle, but nothing significant) the sky was overcast and the temperature was a comfortable 21C.

I programmed the watch to give me a 6km warm up, which would just get me past the big hill prior to launching into the 8 mile marathon pace segment. I'd have to do that hill at pace on the way back, but hopefully by that point I'd be well into my rythum and able to push through. I kept my pace under control during this segment, and was especially careful on the climb to keep my heart rate under control. At the top of the hill I ended up hitting a stop light which gave me a bit of time to recover prior to doing the last 600 meters at recovery pace.

When the watch beeped to signal the start of the marathon pace segment, I accelerated and still felt quite good. I looked down at the readout and saw I was going at a 4:20 pace so I put on the brakes a bit and pulled myself back to the 4:45 pace I was targeting. This continued to proove difficult, and I spent a good deal of the first couple kilometers looking down at my wrist to keep myself at the right pace. Despite the yoyo pacing for the first 3K or so, however, I managed to keep my average pace in the right ballpark - averaging 4:41, 4:43 and 4:42 respectively. I was still feeling good and was partially relieved that my problem was the body wanting to go too fast rather than having to fight to speed up ;)

After that point, however, I got into a residential area where I had to pay more attention to my suroundings and couldn't monitor the watch as closely as I would have liked. The end result was that my pace continued to slip into the high 4:30s, although it stayed pretty stable there. As my heart rate was comfortably within zone 3 I didn't worry too much about it and played it by ear. I was still feeling quite good even with the faster pace, which did a lot to boost my confidence. I continued this for the next little bit until I got back to the hill.

Going down, I was careful to monitor my heart rate to make sure that I'd be able to power myself back up without having to slow down. My pace was still a bit fast, however that was more down to gravity than it was to effort ;) Once the incline started switching it became difficult to maintain pace so I decided to punch it. While it was difficult at the start, once I got up to speed it actually ended up getting a lot easier and I managed to push past the apex of the hill at a healthy 4:13 pace. Suprisingly, even with that push my HR only peaked at 176bpm (~81%) and I was still feeling pretty good. Fortunately, at this point I ran into another stop light that gave me a chance to recover a bit before finishing the last 4K of the marathon pace segment.

Once I got going I was back into the yoyo routine of trying to keep my pace where it was supposed to be. Unfortunately at this point the clouds were breaking up and the sun started shining through, so the temperature and humidity were climbing fast. Thanks to this, the last 3K of the MP segment was probably the hardest part of the run - however I managed to fight through (although it was quite a relief when the watch beeped to signal that it was over). With the hard part done, I did the last 2K of the run at a recovery pace and added a brief 400m walk at the end to help cool off.

Either way, it felt quite good to get such a strong effort in this time around and has shored up confidence in my ability to maintain the pace required for a 3:20 marathon. I have a lot of work to do in getting a feel for this particular pace, as the extra speed isn't a huge deal for an 8 mile segment but would be catastrophic for a marathon distance. That will just be a matter of more practice with it, however, as my gravity toward the 4:30 pace is likely simply because of the tempo runs that I've done over the last few weeks.

Weekly Totals:
Running: 59.2km (36.8mi)
Walking: 3.9km (2.4mi)
Cycling: 176.3km (109.5mi)
Swimming: 1.6km (1.0mi)
Total: 241.0km (149.8mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 1,407.3km (874.5mi)
Walking: 172.6km (107.2mi)
Cycling: 2,162.1km (1,343.5mi)
Swimming: 5.4km (3.4mi)
Total: 3,747.4km (2,328.5mi)

This upcomming week is going to be a bit tricky, as the rain is back for a good portion of the week which will mess things up a bit. Given the weather today I elected to skip the cycling session (although in retrospect I likely could have pulled it off in the morning). Wednesday is Canada day so I'll be busy with family for most of the day, so regardless of the weather there's no way I'll have time for a bike ride (and I'm not even confident I'll be able to fit in the scheduled run). Fortunately, the weekend looks like it will be good at this point so I'm going to try to load a lot of the cycling mileage at the back end of the week.

Upcoming Week:
Mon Rest
Tue 10mi (16.1K) GA
Wed 4mi (6.4K) Recovery
Thurs 8mi (12.9K) GA w/4mi LT, 1.6km swim
Fri 50K Ride
Sat 100K Group Ride, 4mi (6.4K) Recovery
Sun 14mi (22.5K) LSD

The other thing that I'm going to have to start looking into is getting a good pair of sunglasses for use on the bike. I've ridden through a few swarms of bugs in the last week or so, and regardless of how small they may be they make quite an impact at 30-40km/h ;) The tricky part is that cycling glasses are difficult to do right as they have a lot of constraints to deal with - they have to be small and light so they're comfortable and don't obstruct your field of vision, but they also have to be strong enough to take high-speed impacts from debris kicked up by cars/trucks. Doing a bit of digging it appears that Oakley's glasses are the best balance, however they're a bit pricey for what they are so I'm still looking around at alternatives as well. With that said, I don't mind paying a bit of a premium if they are genuinely better as it's the type of thing that could last me for a while.

In other areas, I've elected to just push on with my own training for the Triathlon. The clinic would have been helpful, but the scheduling conflict with my group rides was a big problem. Going beyond 100km is extremely difficult to do on one's own, for both safety and logistical reasons (rides of this length generally benefit from a lunch stop at the apex, and without someone to watch the bikes that's difficult to pull off). I would have liked to get some experience with simulated transitions and mass start swimming, but as I'm not really aiming to be competitive in Orillia I can work around those shortcommings.

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