Sunday, August 21, 2011

Weeks 32 & 33: Review

Weather last week was pretty rainy, so I ended up pushing most of my rides back to the end of the week. For the first half of the week, things were going great - I was picking up speed in the pool and got a good strong 30K speedwork session in on the bike. I also added an easy walk back into the routine to work my way back towards running.

Unfortunately, after my swim on Thursday I went to pick up some bottles for my water cooler and ended up tweaking my lower back. That, in turn took me out of commission for the remainder of the week and took a big chunk out of my mileage. In addition to the weekday rides that I had to miss, it also meant bowing out of the group ride on Saturday. Fortunately, it got better relatively quickly but I played it safe to avoid re-injuring it.

As I've noted here, I have had these sorts of problems on and off for a while now mostly thanks to a lack of strength in that area. Running and Cycling do wonders for the legs, and Swimming helps with the arms and upper back, but none of them do much at all for the muscles in between. Mix in the muscle imbalance in my legs, and starting back into an aggressive program and I'm likely more prone to this than under normal circumstances.

The only real solution is to add some strength training into the mix, but I've never been fond of that sort of workout so it's difficult to stick with it. I really need to find some type of exercise that I actually enjoy that helps with this, but so far I'm at a loss on that front. Aside from a general dislike of indoor exercise, I've always been more inclined to long continuous efforts rather than structured workouts. Unfortunately, strength training combines those two things pretty heavily so it makes things difficult for me :P

Week 32 Totals:
Running: 0.0km 0.0mi)
Walking: 4.1km (2.4mi)
Cycling: 32.7km (20.3mi)
Swimming: 7.3km (4.5mi)
Total: 44.1km (27.4mi)

Either way, this week I've been working my way back into the normal routine as the back is feeling a lot better. I avoided swimming for the week as it uses those muscles the most and didn't want to push my luck. Instead, I just focused on the bike and forced myself into doing a couple of strength training workouts. I also got back into walking by doing a 5K session on Thursday, and will likely continue this in the coming week.

Thankfully, by the end of the week I was feeling about 99% better so I managed to meet up with the group for a 90K ride up to Lake Simcoe and back. We met up early in the morning and headed over to Warden and then north until we hit water. This was a new route, and it turned out to be pretty much perfect - great scenery, very little traffic and the roads were in great condition. It is rides like this that remind me why I love riding so much, and getting back into this sort of trip felt great after missing so much of the summer so far!

Along the way, there were tonnes of other cyclists out including a number of large groups. On the way up to the lake, there was a group of four triathletes that were going about the same speed. We kept leapfrogging each other for a while (they were relatively slow climbers), and talked a few times when we got stopped by traffic lights along the way. As things flattened out a bit, we started riding with them to get a good draft train going. Unfortunately, the slower members of the group got dropped once we started flying so we had to back off and let them catch up.

Eventually, we ran into some more hills and ended up catching back up with them a little further up the road. We again got into a good strong train, but after a while I looked back and realized that I'd lost everyone so I broke off again and pulled over for a few minutes to let them catch up. At this point the remainder of the route was pretty much all downhill, so we took it easy until we got to the lake and took a short break by the waterfront.

The only downside to this route was the fact that there were absolutely no convenience stores along the route. For rides longer than about 80K, I usually stop somewhere near the half way point to grab some food to fuel the ride, so I don't generally bother bringing many calories. Fortunately, there was some sort of a baseball tournament just south of us so I bought a bottle of Gatorade to refuel a bit.

As it was a net downhill to the lake and the wind was coming from the south-west, the return trip was a good deal harder than the way up. About 8K from the lake I was loosing contact with the group again so I started soft-pedaling to let them catch up. One of the stronger riders caught up and noted that the others were going to meet up with us at the end, as they were struggling and we'd just end up pushing them harder than necessary if we held back. As such, we got into aero and went full bore into the wind.

It didn't take too long before I was on my own again, but given that we had agreed to go at our own pace I just stuck with it. A few more kilometers down the road a large peloton came by, so I accelerated and joined up with them. They were going at a pretty good clip and while I had to work harder than before to keep up, it was worth it to cover the ground faster. On the flats and descents it was relatively easy, but every time we hit a significant incline it took everything I had to stick with them. At this point the lack of fuel was starting to hit me as well, but I fought to stick with them until they turned off at Vivian Rd. and I was back on my own.

At this point I was slowing down a bit, as I still had a good amount of climbing to do and my energy levels were pretty drained at this point. I fought on until I got back to the final stretch, then took a short break to switch around my water bottles (at this point it had been about 30K since I put my feet down). As I was getting ready to start up again, the rider that I dropped earlier caught up and we rode the short trip back to the cars.

Either way, it ended up being a great ride all around. Good company for the first half of the ride, and then a good hard fight for the second half to build up strength/stamina. At some point I probably should look into joining a more formal group for some of my rides, as that stretch was probably the best workout I've gotten on a bike in a long time. Either way, aside from the nutrition snafu things went swimmingly so I'm looking forward to some longer/harder rides in the coming weeks!

Week 33 Totals:
Running: 0.0km 0.0mi)
Walking: 5.0km (3.1mi)
Cycling: 233.9km (145.3mi)
Swimming: 0.0km (0.0mi)
Total: 238.9km (148.4mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 758.6km (471.35mi)
Walking: 37.5km (23.3mi)
Cycling: 2744.9km (1705.6mi)
Swimming: 169.1km (105.1mi)
Total: 3710.1km (2305.3mi)