Sunday, July 11, 2010

Week 27: Review

It's been a scorcher of a week (mid-40s with humidex factored in), with unrelenting heat and humidity making any type of outdoor activity difficult. As such, that means pouring through gallons of Gatorade and water to get the miles in. It also means that everyone and their brother goes to the pool, which also adds complexity to the one sport that isn't directly affected by the weather. Fortunately, I managed to soldier through the unpleasantness and get most of my scheduled mileage in.

I started off the week by heading out for Monday's 50K ride in the morning to try and cut down on the heat. Unfortunately there are limits to how early I like to get out for rides, as rush hour traffic in the morning can be pretty aggressive so I settled on heading out at 9am. While it was much better than it would have been in the afternoon, it was still pretty bad at this point and I had to take in a lot of fluids. Thankfully there was a bit of a wind blowing in from the west, so that helped to cool things down a bit. Either way, I didn't push quite as hard as normal and let myself take periodic breaks when I happened upon some shade along the side of the road.

On Tuesday, I was scheduled for a swim in the morning and then a 6 mile run in the afternoon. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that the pool switched over to their summer schedule this week so when I got there at the normal time it wasn't open yet. The other annoyance is that they've decreased the session length from two hours to 90 minutes, which meant that I had to modify my program to fit in the shorter time frame. Either way, I headed back an hour later to find the change room packed, so I elected to just do a continuous set as that was the only way to get the required mileage in.

I managed to work in 4,250m in the 1h24m that I had to work with (lost some time at the beginning as the lifeguards didn't have the lane markers in yet). As such, I did get more than sufficient distance in, however a continuous set meant that I didn't have much in the way of a warmup and wasn't able to get any drill work in. Didn't have a whole lot of choice, however, as aside from the time limitations the lanes were packed so trying to do those things would have been difficult either way.

In the afternoon, I took a look at the weather reports and saw that Friday was scheduled to be cooler. They were also calling for rain, so it was unlikely I'd be able to get the scheduled ride in on that day and I elected to move the 6 miler back. With the heat out there any attempt to run would be very unpleasant and likely not particularly productive, so I figured this was my safest bet.

The next morning, I again headed out early on the bike for my scheduled 30K ride. It wasn't quite as bad as the day before, but it was still pretty brutal so I again took it easy. Aside from pulling back on the pace, I also took a slightly different route than normal that avoided a substantial hill. Thankfully, it was only a short distance ride so I managed to get it all in without burning myself out too much.

In the evening, I headed out for my normal group run at the local Running Room shop. Thanks to the heat, it was a pretty light showing so our normal group got together with one of the clinic groups. As such, we ended up doing only 7K at a significantly slower pace than normal, but with the conditions no one really complained. The temperatures did get to a few people, however, so the group got strung out a bit and I did get a few bursts of speed as bridged the gaps between the sub-groups to marshal them back to the slower runners. Either way, I was glad to do what I could to help people fight through it - these are the sorts of days that can be hard when you're just starting out, so I'm happy to lend whatever moral support that I can.

Thursday I headed back out to the pool, but as I had a bit of extra distance on the books I elected to make sure and fit some drills into the session. The pool was again quite busy, so I ended up doing a continuous 3,000m set first and then a quick 500m drill session to finish. Thankfully things thinned out a bit near the end, so I was able to get those in without too much trouble. Ended up doing two underwater lengths to finish it off, as the lifeguards were removing the lane markers and doing anything on the surface would have been pretty messy ;)

In the afternoon I headed out for the planned 6 mile run. It was a fight for the whole distance, but I didn't have anywhere left to move the miles so I had to trudge through. I did debate whether I should cut back the mileage a bit, but decided against it as I had already lost enough on Wednesday. I limited my pace to keep heart rate under control and drank plenty of water so it wasn't too bad. Either way, it felt great when I eventually headed into the air conditioned environment inside ;)

Thankfully, the heat dropped back a bit on Friday so the 6 miler I moved from Tuesday went pretty well. Naturally, it was still quite hot out there, but it was nowhere near as bad as the last few days so it felt quite good. While the body wanted to go faster, I did what I could to reign it in as I figured that it needed some time to recover from the stress of the earlier sessions. As expected, I ended up missing the cycling session due to intermittent rain - it didn't end up adding up to much, but it threatened for the whole day so I didn't head out.

Saturday was looking great as well, so the group that I periodically ride with met up at 8:00am and headed out for a planned 70K route. This was a little shorter than I had planned to do, and the pace of these group rides was a bit slower, but it's worth it to have some great company on these multi-hour rides. When we get into the 100+km range, I'm not fond of heading out solo simply because of safety reasons (if something happens and I'm 50K out, help is at least an hour away). Either way, the weather ended up being absolutely perfect and we got in a great ride before the temperatures started climbing.

I was considering doing a short ~20-30K extra after the ride, but one of the guys offered to have everyone over to watch a stage of the TDF so I figured that was the better course of action. While we do get to chat a bit on the bike, there are long stretches of road where that isn't possible (lots of traffic so we have to stick to a paceline, big hills that string the group out a bit, etc.) and it's nice to have a chance to just sit back and enjoy the company.

This morning the temperatures started climbing back up, which was not exactly welcome for the 17 miler that I had planned. It wasn't nearly as bad as it was last week, but with a much longer distance on the schedule keeping hydrated was going to be more difficult. As I headed out, I elected to pull it back to 16 miles and stick with the route I did a couple of weeks ago to be safe.

It also didn't help that my legs wanted to go fast today, and every time I stopped actively paying attention to my pace it started drifting into tempo territory. I was actually feeling pretty good for the duration (likely why the body wanted to accelerate), but my heart rate was running higher than I would have liked (more due to the higher pace than the heat) and I was quite thirsty so I was going through my bottles faster than planned. Either way, I kept a closer eye on my watch to control pace (making a nice sine wave on my pace plot) and did what I could to ration the fluids.

At the 13 mile mark, I was down to one 8oz bottle of Gatorade so I pulled into a 7-11 along the route to resupply. After grabbing a bottle from the freezer, I noticed that they were giving away free 7.11oz slurpies so I picked up one of those as well before heading to the counter. That ended up working quite well, as aside from quenching my thirst a bit the ice helped to bring down my core temperature a bit and make the next few miles more comfortable (plus, when you're really thirsty they taste so much better than normal) ;)

After a few more miles I picked up a bit of extra water from a community centre, then finished off the final stretch. Aside from drinking so much, the run actually went quite well. I was relatively comfortable throughout despite the high temperatures and faster than planned 4:50/km pace. Probably could have squeezed in that extra mile, but didn't want to risk it as I was running low on fluids when I hit the 16 mile mark.

While my mileage was a bit shorter than scheduled, considering the conditions this week I'm satisfied with what I did manage to squeeze in. It's looking like this summer is going to be pretty hot, so I'm going to have to do more to acclimatize myself to this sort of weather. From prior experience it does get easier with time, but the process of getting to that point is unfortunately not terribly pleasant.

Week 27 Totals:
Running: 52.1km (32.4mi)
Walking: 3.8km (2.4mi)
Cycling: 148.6km (92.3mi)
Swimming: 7.8km (4.8mi)
Total: 212.3km (131.9mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 1157.0km (718.9mi)
Walking: 63.0km (39.1mi)
Cycling: 2519.3km (1565.4mi)
Swimming: 171.9km (106.8mi)
Total: 3911.2km (2430.3mi)

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