Another Beast of a Week Under My Belt

I am spent.

Another 25 hour training week under my belt.  And this was the hardest one yet — a beast, culminating in another 4 day “Race Simulation” and my longest swimming and riding days to date.  Here’s how the 4 day simulation went down:
Thursday: 12,000 yards of swimming over 2 workouts.  In the morning I went 8,000, broken at the 2,000 with 20 seconds rest in between.  My goal was just to maintain a consistent pace throughout with no energy dropoff, approximating my pace for the 10K Ultraman swim.  I felt good and got it done in under 2 hours, finishing just as strong as the start, which is a good indication of my fitness over my longest swim workout since college.  I came back in the afternoon with another 4,000 swim workout, a set of descending distances, picking up the pace as the distance decreased.  Felt pretty good.  Aerobically no problems and shoulders seemed to hold up well.
Friday: Shoulders were a bit sore but otherwise felt pretty fresh.  Put in a solid 4 hour ride up PCH to Hueneme and back and felt as good as I have ever felt on the bike.  Fought headwinds on the way up and blasted the back half with tailwinds, feeling like I was in the pro peloton, hitting an average speed above 25 mph, which was really fun, finishing as the sun went down around 7pm.  Gorgeous sunset on the PCH as I cruised by all the sail surfers at dusk.  This was a great ride.  But not much time to recover before the big day….
Saturday: 11 hour / 160 mile ride.  This was a beast.  I woke at 4am and was on the road before 5 am.  It was absolutely pitch black dark and FREEZING.  I knew it might be a cold morning, but I was totally unprepared for just how cold.  Despite 3 layers and arm warmers, I don’t think I’ve ever been this cold.  I rode shivering for the first 3 1/2 hours, my feet and hands completely numb — up through Calabasas, north across Santa Susana Pass and down into Simi Valley, then West on Los Angeles Avenue, through Moorpark to Somis.  At 8:30 am the sun was finally up, but I wasn’t warming up.  I stopped at a gas station and had to soak my feet and hands in boiling water for 20 minutes just to get the feeling back.  But after this I was fine.  I rode through downtown Ventura, then up Route 33 through Ojai, then East on Route 150 to Santa Paula — gorgeous countryside and great riding.  Was keeping my pace consistent and working on eating enough to keep my energy solid, although I still struggle with solid foods on the bike, resorting mostly to Perpetum, a high caloric liquid.  I tried to keep away from sugary drinks until the last 4 hours for fear of bonking.  From Santa Paula I headed East on Route 126, then South on Route 23 through Grimes Canyon, which looks like the surface of the moon — very eerie sandy desolate canyon pass.  Then back to Los Angeles Avenue into Simi and back up Santa Susana Pass into Chatsworth, then to Calabasas.  I still had about 45 minutes to go, so I headed up Old Topanga Canyon for one last climb in an effort to approximate the Ultraman Day 2 ride, which is relatively flat for the first 2/3 of the day before alot of climbing at the end.  My energy started to waiver that last 90 minutes, but I held tough and got it done.  One thing I learned — I need to work on eating more solid foods.  And I need a new saddle.  My butt was killing me and this hurt me tremendously as I couldn’t get comfortable the last 4 hours.  But all in all, my longest ride yet.  I was supremely spent when I got home and actually had a hard time getting food down — my appetite was shot.  But I forced myself to eat as much as I could and hit the sack, worried about how I was going to handle Sunday’s long run.
Sunday: 3 hour run.  When I woke up, my legs were so thrashed, I seriously doubted whether I was going to be able to handle this run.  When faced with these thoughts, I just have to turn my brain off and go.  I loaded up my fuel belt and headed out.  My legs were very heavy the first 30 minutes, but they loosened up and I ended up feeling fine.  I built into the run and ended up feeling pretty good, a big surprise and great indication of just how massive my endurance base is right now.  I worked on my climbing and descents, trying to acclimate my legs to the pounding of going downhill, which can bury a runner on a long run when not used to this.  I also had no issues keeping my heart rate squarely in Zone 2 between 130 – 140 bpm, which has become very comfortable — I could run all day in this zone.  The last 30 minutes were tough no doubt, but I was very pleasantly surprised by how well I did on this run.  But as soon as it was over, my legs were throbbing.  Thank God for Monday’s rest day.
Another great confidence boost at 50 days out from Ultraman.  And the 11 hour ride really gave me a sense of just how hard that Day 2 ride is going to be.  A couple more hard weeks before taper.  Just trying to keep my focus….