It bothers me to write this report, but it needs to be done. I learned something today, but it had nothing to do with the race. It has to do with training and rest.
Today was my sixth race in four weeks. Week one had two tough bike time trials. Week two had a TT and then a 4 mi road race one hour later. Week three was Mooseman, which turned into a 17 mi bike and 10k run. I've done a descent job sticking with my mid-week training, but the races did have an influence, especially this week. I just didn't have the speed or power that I'm used to. At the same time, I've been sleeping very little for several weeks, partially a result of racing (tough to turn the brain off), partially due to training (early mornings), and partially due to stress at work (wondering what the headlines would be when I wake up).
Then this past Friday, I went for a massage to help with recovery and injury prevention. My mistake was going to my #2 LMT because #1 wasn't available. He beat the crap out of me. That night, I was tossing and turning all night long, unable to get comfortable or even take a really deep breath. The next morning, I was sore getting out of bed. I went out on my scheduled 90 minute ride, which was fine- not great, it seemed a bit tough, but good enough. Then I attempted a 4.2 mile run. I wanted to hit the first 1.5 at race pace because that was my focus for today's race. After just a few strides, my entire torso was cramping up. I made it about 200 yards and had to stop. Hands on knees, deep breaths, try again, this time slower. After 50 yards, I stopped, made a 180, and walked home. I quit. I can't remember the last time I did that. I've cut workouts short, gone slower than planned, but I always did something. I could not have even run 8 min miles, so I bagged the run. Due to a forgiving family schedule, I was able to lie down for about 2 1/2 hours, including an hour of sleep and some World Cup soccer. I felt a little better at that point.
Last night, it still bothered me to take a deep breath. Getting out of bed this morning was better, but I still felt it. I got to the race early so I could get in a short bike and run and probe my body to see what was going on. It was certainly better than yesterday, but my overall energy wasn't there. As the time wore on, my torso felt better.
I swam the course for warmup and felt OK. Then we had the prerace meeting on the beach. As I was wallowing in self pity, a mother and daughter from Camp Sunshine addressed the crowd. The little girl, age 7, was diagnosed with something that sounded like cancer in the retina of her eye when she was 3 months old. She's been through so much in her young life, including having her eye removed. It was a heart wrenching story to begin with, but here's the kicker- her name was Leah, the same as my 8 year old. Life isn't fair, and that easily could be my little girl up there. We are so fortunate to have two healthy kids. That was a big wake up call for me. Who am I to complain about being tired and sore when she's been through so much more?!
The waves went off every three minutes, with the women 30 seconds behind the men. There were a bunch of people I wanted to be competitive with (beat), including Bob (my wave) and Ange (30 seconds back). I hit the first half of the swim pretty well, not seeing any of the lovely pink caps that our wave wore, which frankly, I expected. I got into the prior wave before the first turn and made it through them. At the second turn, heading back to the beach, it was far more crowded, so I took a wide berth. It added distance, but allowed me to swim without dodging nearly as many swimmers. At one point, I passed someone and basically caught their head in my armpit as I recovered my left arm, pushing them underwater. I felt terrible, but there wasn't much I could do about it. The entire return trip, the lower half of my body (which shouldn't be working), was incredibly tired and uncomfortable. I badly wanted to just take it easy getting back, but knew I couldn't. I finally finished in a long 7:53, which I'll take.
Out on the bike, the power just wasn't there. Going into the race, I wanted a more controlled effort so I could leave something for the run. My recent races have had very hard efforts, and I learned at Mooseman I need to control it better. But I couldn't even get respectable numbers. My breathing was very heavy and my HR was through the roof. My power numbers confirm the lousy results- normalized power was just 258w, compared to 274 at Polarbear and 281 at Mooseman. Bob finally caught me as we hit the access road and we had a little fun on the way back in. He ended up with a gap of 10+ seconds at the end, which I was able to make up in T2.
Out on the run, Bob put a quick 10 yard gap on me and then very slowly extended it to about 20 yards over the next 2 miles. Then at the water stop, he grabbed a cup, slowed a bit, and the gap was cut in half. I thought for a bit I'd be able to get him, but that didn't last long. Soon after, I hear someone behind be yell, "Go Ange!" Damn. There she was. Our wave started 30 seconds ahead of hers, so I knew she was going to be inside that gap. That took what little life I had left out of me, and she passed me with about 1/2 mile left to the finish.
For a small local race, the field had some great competition. Many did a 70.3 last Sunday, and to go fast for this race is impressive. I ended up 12th OA, and 2/41 in my AG. Looking at the splits, my bike should have been about 2 minutes faster, and the run at least 30 seconds better.
Those of us that are interested in training schedules know that periodization is a cornerstone. And it's a concept I've ignored. You need to rest and cut back on training every 4 weeks or so. In general, since I got back in the pool in February, I've been around 10-11 hrs/wk. Low weeks are 8 hours, and generally due to scheduling issues. There also haven't been many of those.
As a result, I'm going to take the next three days completely off. No training at all. To put that in perspective, I've taken three days off over the last four weeks. On Thursday and Friday, I'll do some light training, then go long and easy on the weekend. I get caught in the same trap that many do- we start good training in December, get to peak form for early May, and then expect to perform well through September. It just isn't realistic. My big race is September 12, so taking a few days won't hurt that- in fact, it could help. I'd like to have a really good showing at Urban Epic on July 10 to atone for today. It's a more competitive race and fun venue. So this little break will allow for a 3 week, logical, thoughtful training period.
Congratulations to all of those who are putting up some great results in local races as well as races that attract huge international talent. It's great to see Mainers doing so well. I still hope we can get a strong contingent at the USAT National Championships next year in Burlington, VT. Qualifying for the Oly race isn't too tough, and I don't think there's a standard for the sprint. Put on your schedule!