Monday started off with a 6am alarm call, ready for a 10 mile run with 20 minutes at 10km pace. It was more than a surprise to look outside and see nothing but grey clouds and puddles on the road. I set out along the Queen K Highway and within a mile – for the first time since arriving in the US over 3 months ago – I was running in the rain. I actually quite enjoyed the novelty of it. Despite getting sprayed and splashed from passing cars, it was a great run. The only other session for the day was a 4.3km swim at the pool. The first session on Tuesday was a 5.2km swim, which I did in the morning to avoid the afternoon rush. It felt good to get a decent distance session done, which is something that I missed out on early in the season. Around lunch time I headed out for a 2h30’ ride with 20 minute tempo intervals. One sign that the race is nearly upon us – the signs are out!
That evening I got in my 7 mile run, again timing it perfectly for some great sunset views. On Wednesday morning I had my final ‘long’ run of the build-up, this time a 2 hour session out to the Energy Lab and back. This was an interesting run, which included a long 30 minute interval at 10km pace in and out of the Energy Lab. Running back to town I was feeling pretty fatigued and didn’t quite have the same spring in my step that I had during last week’s long run. I’d attribute that to the residual fatigue from the last 10 days of hard work. Still, it was a great run and one that really tested me. As we did last week, we recovered in the best way possible, well deserved pancakes!
Although obviously tired, I still had a swim to do in the afternoon, and it felt good to get in the water and give the aching muscles a light workout. The rest of the afternoon was spent off my feet, trying to recover from the morning’s session. The following day was probably the easier of the week, with ‘only’ a 4.4km swim and a 2 hour ride.
I had a tough 3 day block to finish the week, with Friday’s main session being a 4 hour ride with a LOT of intensity. I was really pleased with the ride, hitting good power numbers throughout, although by the end of the session I was pretty tired. Luckily I had the rest of the afternoon to recover and we drove south along Ali’i Drive to the end of the world, which is where lots of people come to go cliff jumping. The cliff must be around 10-15 metres high, so nothing too crazy. Whilst tempting, I like to wrap myself in cotton wool as much as possible before a race, so I never even considered jumping in.
A bit of a walk to get there
Later that evening I had another 7 mile run and although I started out lethargically, I soon found a good rhythm and ended up feeling great. Saturday morning started off by swimming the course from the pier, which took a little longer than anticipated after getting confused with the location of the buoys en route. It was a beautiful morning for the swim and a great start to the day. After a hearty breakfast I got ready for a 2h30’ ride with one hard hour in the middle. During the warm-up I knew this would be a struggle and although I got through the session fine, I didn’t quite execute it as well as I would have liked. I can be a perfectionist at times – which isn’t always a good thing in training – but some days you just aren’t as good as you hope. By the time the evening rolled around the last thing I felt like doing was running. That being said, not doing it was never an option. I got out and got the work done and zonked out straight after dinner.
Sunday – the final day. It started off with a 7 mile run along Ali’i Drive with a quick transition to the bike, where I’d start a long day in the saddle. The first 3 hours of the ride went by reasonably well and conditions were good. There was some cloud cover, it wasn’t too hot and there was next to no wind on the descent from Hawi. All seemed to be going well, but by the time I hit Kawaihae I was toast. I hadn’t bonked, but I cracked, mentally more than physically. It was a tough day out there for me. The accumulation of 2 consecutive weeks of hard work had caught up with me and I felt like I had nothing to give for the remainder of the ride, so I slowly made my way back to town, licking my wounds.
I got home exhausted, but my overwhelming feeling wasn’t relief from having completed the two week block – it was disappointment about the way I’d just ridden. Disappointment that I hadn’t done the session as intended. More often than not I describe the positives that come from training sessions, but bad days are part and parcel of training. Not every day can be a PB. I went to Basik for one of my favourite things in the world – their Banyan Acai Bowl. It went some way towards cheering me up!
How glad am I that this week is over… Two weeks ago I opened an email from Brian with my two-week training schedule attached. As soon as I opened the file I knew that it would be the hardest two week training block I’d ever done. In that regard, it didn’t disappoint. It’s been the most mentally challenging fortnight I can ever remember. In the last two weeks I’ve notched up my biggest and 3rd biggest volume training weeks ever, including over 40km of swimming (which in a summer of little swim training because of my shoulder, is significant), 629 miles of cycling and 120 miles of running. That doesn’t tell the whole story though. The volume in itself wasn’t the challenge, but rather, the intensity was. There were only a handful of sessions without structured intervals, which allowed me to recover in between bigger (and harder) training days. The bulk of the work is done. The hay is in the barn. It’s time to taper!