So whilst down at the Aquathlon on thursday (race report to follow) I jokingly suggested I should try and get an elite slot at Liverpool on thursday after Joe suggested it as he was down anyway. I was half tempted but then forgot about it.
On friday I thought about it again, but not seriously, then Joe rang me and suggested why not. And why not? The pro entry gets paid for, I could get a lift down and worse case I would have a solid training session. So I sent an email off to the organisers with my recent results and when I had awoken from my nap I had a reply with the pro entry code and information! I was surprised to say the least! Somehow they thought I was good enough to race against people like Fraser Cartmell and Stuart Hayes!
So this afternoon we headed down to the pro race briefing where we went through everything, and then at the end the commentator came up to me as she didn’t have any information on me (how surprising!) and wanted to know about me for when all the pros get introduced to the crowd before the race…. aha! Now I realise how in over my head I am! So I told her about my IMs and my packed July and then she said “so is this your first year as a pro?” Umm! Anyway, it will be an experience! Plus, I think I am the youngest ‘pro’ there.
So tomorrow I am well aware that I am going be in for a complete hammering, especially on the swim. If I come out within 5 minutes of the front guys I will be happy! Hopefully there will be some feet I can draft off, and if I can get under 22 minutes I will be very pleased. Then it will be a case of smashing the bike and seeing how quickly I can run. I don’t have any expectations, I am just in it for the experience. It would be nice to see how many of the women I could beat, as hopefully I will out-bike most of them though I expect them to put a lot of time into me on the swim and run. But hey, I’m a long course guy so it doesn’t matter 😉
I must admit when I first started planning my season and realised I had a gap between finishing exams and Roth, I was quite excited by the prospect of a month ‘living the life of a pro’. This got shortened down to a few weeks when my exam timetable was published and took out the first week of June, and then down to 2 weeks when I entered Bala and realised I needed sometime to recover! So after a few days of recovery from Bala, last Thursday I started to ramp up my training.
I quickly came to realise that visions of logging miles in the sun weren’t going to be, as we seemingly are on course for the wettest June on record (completely unscientific observation!); I think I have had one ride this month where I have stayed dry, and I’ve ridden every day! Anyway, the plan was fairly simply – try and swim, bike and run every day where possible. I knew this wouldn’t be possible everyday (with a Kings of Leon gig on Sunday as an example), but generally it worked pretty well. Having the freedom of being able to train when I wanted meant I could pick and choose sessions, reschedule harder days and nap most days.
In the end, I clocked up 32 hours 40 of training, consisting of 511k on the bike, 60.2k of running and 17.3k in the pool. Add in all the commuting I do on bike and that goes well over 35 hours and probably close to 600k on the bike. Not a bad week really! I’m certainly pleased with how I am holding up and once I taper the fatigue should go and I should be in a very good position for Roth.
Having the option to pick and choose sessions, I didn’t write myself a plan to train with. I decided to go on feel and train to what I feel my body could cope with, not to what a plan written before says I should, with no insight into current recovery, form, fatigue and stress. The week started off big with nearly 6 hours the first day! The usual squad swim in the morning was followed by a hilly loop around the Brickworks I like to test the legs, which felt they had recovered pretty well from Bala. I then got a call from Joe Skipper inviting me on a run, so ran down to his, went on the run and then ran home, clocking 17.5k by the time I got to my door! Slightly more than I had planned for, and with no food or water but I was running strong. A good sleep and I was feeling ok on Friday, so swim squad in the morning and then an easy half hour run to clear the legs. I then had a 4 hour ride in the afternoon after a nap, taking in more hills by the end of which the legs were feeling pretty dead! So Saturday was an easy ride on the bike to Dock 9 to get some wetsuit practise in after my terrible swim at Bala. I put in two good 1500m swims, clocking 24 and 23 minutes, then cycled home. In the afternoon I had to drive home to dogsit, so took my run kit and had an easy run down the canal to get the legs fresh for Sunday. Sunday was ‘superbrick’ day with some of the A-team from the club, who were getting ready to go long distance. We were also joined by some of the good cyclists who proceeded to rip my legs off for the first hour before they headed off, and the long-distance lot settled into a more IM-friendly pace. I got dropped by the group going up the Cat and Fiddle – a sign that Bala was still in my legs – but felt fairly good for the most part. I had to cut the ride short unfortunately to get back in time for the Kings of Leon gig (which was awesome by the way!) but still managed to squeeze in a good 100k for the day.
Monday was a day to catch up on sleep, and I had my first long, unbroken sleep in a long time. In the afternoon I went for a coffee ride in the sun(!) to spin the legs out. Getting ready to run in the evening the heavens soon opened and really knocked my motivation. I was getting fed-up of getting wet, so ended up missing my run and being late for swimming. I eventually persuaded myself to get to swimming and had a really good swim thankfully, managing to hit some good turn arounds. I was motivated enough to go for a quick run when I got home. Unfortunately it made for a late night, so I moved Tuesday’s swim til the evening, providing I got back from the day’s training on time.
Tuesday was my IM metric brick day, effectively doing the mile distance of an IM in kilometres. These are really good days for refining strategy, and spotting any weak points in plan or fitness. I planned to ride for around 5 hours, which worked out to be 125k including some stops over hilly terrain, in yet more miserable weather. I have to admit I messed up my nutrition. Being a poor student, I can’t afford to go and buy a box of gels to use before race day, so my nutrition was very haphazard and I ended up not eating enough. When I got back home, I then had a recovery drink and some food but this just ended up sitting in my stomach. Once out on the run, the couple of gels I took with me turned out to be useless because my stomach was starting to reject everything and just shutdown, whilst making sure I suffered from lots of GI distress. So it’s safe to say the run wasn’t exactly great, and I ran pretty horribly! 26k without being able to take any food is not nice, especially after a hard bike and when my legs are tired to begin with. However, I was still running quicker than last year so there is a positive. Further work on nutrition, and ensuring I eat enough on the bike should make sure that I can run close to my training speed. I am also back on Colostrum, using the leftovers from a test I did a while back, to try and combat my GI distress, which has been plaguing me for the last week or so. Unfortunately I got back too late to swim but it was still a good days training. To finish off the week, I had a squad swim in the morning, and then an easy run and another long nap. After sleeping pretty well, I rode out to the local TT to spin my legs out, felt pretty good on the way down so ended up entering! I rode a 26:20, so about a minute down on usual on that course. I actually felt pretty good! Unsurprisingly, my HR refused to go up much, but I managed to push a big gear and felt fairly good throughout. A good way to cap off the week.
This week’s concentration is going to focus on speed. I want to get a couple more longer bike rides in while I have time to recover properly before Roth and get a big swim week in with the aim of getting 8 swims in this week. My run will slowly begin to taper down, certainly no more 2+ hour runs! Hopefully I can keep the hours up, but as the week progresses the focus will begin to shift to tapering if I need to, and recovery will certainly become the priority. I also need to try and remember how to run quickly if I can get a spot on the Thursday Night Aqauthlon Series tonight! That should be interesting!
It has been a good week, and certainly should help put me in a good position for Roth. Now if only I could do this full-time thing for a while….