One week til Eagleman

Posted by on June 4, 2010 in Training

I don’t want to fully believe that the new shoes deserve sole credit (pardon the pun), but it looks like I’m climbing out of the valley.  I bought two new pairs of sneakers, one by Asics who has been my brand of choice for a few years now, and another by K-Swiss.  The K-Swiss pair are much lighter, offer far less support in the arch, and appear to be the ones that I’ll primarily use for interval work and short course races.  The Asics are far more durable, offer greater support, and will likely be far more comfortable for the longer training runs and the half-Ironman in nine days.  I’ve used both in the last couple of weeks and have seen huge improvements in all areas of my running, which in turn seems to have a better impact on reducing fatigue in the legs, which in turns makes cycling better… and when I cycle well, my ego is stable.

Generally, with respect to the emergence from the depths of my training woes, things seem to be getting a bit better.  I’m still not logging the kind of mileage that I think that I would have otherwise, I am being diligent and intelligent with respect to what I do and when I do it.  My swim training is still less than it should be, but that’s more a function of poor scheduling on my part than desire (although a psychologist would suggest otherwise).

I’ve done a couple of long cycling rides that included both hills and long straights, and though I didn’t apply absolute power at any single moment on those rides, and while I still felt some of the deep fatigue in the leg muscles, I did feel like I had some good endurance and my climbing abilities don’t seem to have waned.  Most recently, on a ride in Central Park early in the morning as part of the weekly brick sessions that my team does, I played with my pacing and positioning on the bike and at all times, I felt comfortable.  The run following the bike however is what really has me optimistic.  I was able to find a good pace quickly and maintain it, and toy with it as well at will, for a solid 20 minutes.  I believe that I could have maintained that pace easily for another 30 minutes which, on race day, should take me to the just around the halfway point of the run leg.  The trick will be to get back!

I spent a lot of time on that recent run, as well as on the two other runs that preceded it, thinking about and evaluating everything that I was doing.  Such evaluation included foot placement, mental psyche, and quite simply, how my body liked or disliked what I was doing.  The message I got back was that it was no longer unbearable.  I no longer needed to survive from stop point to stop point.  The fluidity and control that I had early season seems to be coming back and that’s a VERY good thing.

As I look forward to race day a week from Sunday, I envision good things.  I think that my swim will be standard… which is to say unremarkable.  My goal is 38 minutes or less and that is feasible.  Absolutely it is.  I expect transition to be very quick as usual, and I expect to be able to get onto the bike and find rhythm quickly.  Thereafter, I think that my real challenge will be to figure out how hard to ride.  In 2007, I didn’t ride my hardest for fear of what might happen on the run.  I don’t intend to go all out this time, so the trick will be to find out where the proper middle ground is between 2007 and an all out effort.  With my strong affinity for metrics while cycling, I’ll likely consult my cyclometer often and use time increments to determine my effort level, e.g. go hard for 10 minutes, and reduce the effort level for 2 minutes, then repeat.  My goal is to beat the 2007 time of 2 hours and 41 minutes.  In 2007 however, the conditions were not very windy but the course is generally thought of as quite windy.  Let’s hope 2010 repeats the conditions of 2007!

On the run, my plan is to run the first two miles in bike recovery mode.  That is, I’ll run a little harder than comfortable and slowly back off a tad to find some pace that feels manageable, but fast.   Depending on how I feel at the two mile point, I’ll either shoot for mile 4 at that same pace before hitting an aid station, or ease up on the pace and hit every aid station for gatorade.  Mile 4 will be an important point for me as it will psychologically represent the two-thirds of the way mark to the turn-around point (actually slightly less than that, but it’s close enough).  If I need to stop for 15-20 seconds to slow the heart rate and just get my wits about me, that’s okay.  I know that the quality of the next few miles will improve as a result.  Thereafter, I know that the next 21 minutes or so will be to the turn-around point, and the next 21 minutes or so after that to the 9 mile mark.  It’s at mile 9 in 2007 where I began to bonk very quickly.  I’ll likely stop at mile 9 for another quick recovery, then just work the remaining four miles one-by-one until the finish.  I know that when I get to mile 12, I’ll feel like I’m almost done and that a pick-up in my pace will inevitably occur.

See, I’m optimistic!  This morning, I took an extra long shower thinking about how things are shaping up.  Two weeks after Eagleman, I’m doing the Philly Olympic race and I know that I’ll have great legs under me thanks to Eagleman.  Thereafter, I’ll have some confidence and strong desire to focus on speed and interval work for three weeks leading up to the “A” race of the season, the NYC Triathlon.  It’s all shaping up now.

Finally, I’d like to personally recommend for making the shoe-buying process quick and painless (pun intended).

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