Week 4 in Boulder

I could practically copy and paste the first paragraph from last weeks’ wrap up, as Monday was a carbon copy: early swim session, bike followed by a pitta burger at Daphne’s and a short run to end the day.  I felt fine following the race at Evergreen and was happy to be able to get straight back into training.  I didn’t have my vo2 repeats on the bike on Tuesday, but a session far worse that I dread – power testing.  This is a session that coach Brian sets every so often to test my maximum power outputs over certain time periods and track progress throughout the season.  For Tuesday I tested 30 second, 1 minute and 4 minute maximum power outputs.  I had a good idea of the numbers I wanted to hit and was pleased with the results, with numbers a few percent less than I’d expect at sea level.  The morning’s work wasn’t over, as after breakfast I set out for my Tuesday 10 mile run following the creek.  I hindsight starting the run at 10:30am proved to be a bad idea due to the heat, so in future I’ll try and stick to early mornings and evenings.

On Wednesday I got another early morning swim in, followed by a 3 hour ride with an hour at a solid tempo effort.  I stuck to the flats for this ride to get some decent time in the aerobars, and despite feeling weak and lethargic at the start of the session, I managed to rally and put out an effort I was pleased with for the one hour.  Later than afternoon I got a run session in along South Boulder Creek Trail close to the house and took a few snaps.  This is a good idea of what most of the trail runs around here look like:

Thursday morning started off with a tough run session with some 20 second intervals - short and sharp stuff that I’m not really used to!  I was up and out the door at 5:30am for this session, keen to get it done before the temperature increased and the sun came out.  After breakfast I got another steady ride in for a few hours, before heading to the pool for a short technique set.  Thursday evening is the Stroke & Stride aquathlon at Boulder Reservoir, and after last weeks’ cancellation, Scott and I had planned to race.  Unfortunately the swim had to be cancelled due to lightning in the area, which meant that there’d be just a 5k foot race.  I felt surprisingly nervous before the start, unsure about how I’d fare after a tough day of training and with a lot of miles in my legs over the recent weeks. 

I started close to the front and as soon as the gun went off everyone went out really hard.  I was conscious of the headwind for the first half of the race and held back, hoping that I’d be able to make up time in the second half.  The first mile ticked by nicely in 5:55, although I must have been in around 15th place at this point.  Once we hit the turnaround I saw the leader who was in a league of his own, well ahead of second place.  I saw that Scott had about a 10-15 second lead on me, and having had a bit of banter with him before the race, he was the dangling carrot ahead of me!  Even though I’d paced the first half conservatively, I was starting to fatigue and was wondering whether racing a 5k was the best idea.  The second mile went by in 5:58 which I was pleased with, and I hoped that I’d be able to hang on and take advantage of the tailwind on the way home.  I’d been passing people since the 1km mark and was soon up to 4th place with Scott in my crosshairs.  With 1km to go he had about 5 seconds on me and at this stage I was really starting to hurt, wondering why the hell I was putting myself through so much pain.  On the final incline 500m from the finish I passed, unable to say anything in between gasping for air.  The third mile went by in 5:34 and I had just over 100m to the finish, pushing as hard as I could all the way, finishing in 3rd place in 17:52, with Scott just 8 seconds behind. 

Less than 100m to go

As soon as I crossed the drama queen in me came out as I felt to the floor seeing stars.  Thankfully Sandi and Will were there at the finish to pour iced water over me.

Scott crossing the line as I collapse in a heap

The aftermath

After 5 minutes or so I was back on my feet in search of sustenance and proceeded to eat 10 slices of pizza!  In retrospect it was a really great evening – a super hard workout that couldn’t be replicated in training - and Scott and I really pushed each other to our limits, which was the whole point of the race.  Still, no rest for the wicked and all that, as the next morning I had a 15 mile run with some tempo efforts thrown in.  Having slept in my Compressport R2’s the night before, my legs felt great and I was really pleased with the effort.  I took the rest of the day to chill, as after 24 rides in 23 days, I finally had the day off the bike!  I still ended up riding, albeit only to grab some lunch and buy some new trainers.  Later that evening I had another short run session to finish off the day.

On Saturday I had a 3 hour ride in the morning which was good fun, mostly at a steady pace.  Later that day I hit the pool again and had my longest swim since the accident 2 months ago.  I’m still getting a little shoulder achiness towards the end of some swims, but the improvement compared to a few weeks ago is great.  After a few days of hard run workouts I had the day off running, which allowed me to rest and focus ahead of Sunday’s session.  If I was dreading Tuesday’s power testing ride, then I was positively frothing at the mouth over the thought of Sundays ride!  I had 4.5 hours planned, with a 30 minute maximum time trial effort thrown in.  The reason that I nervously anticipate these power testing sessions is because I’m anxious to see where my fitness is at.  As a long term power user on the bike, I can quantitatively evaluate each session and look at trends over weeks, months and years.  These power testing workouts aren’t the be all and end all, but they certainly give you a good benchmark for where your fitness is at any point in time.

As always, I concentrated on pacing the 30 minute effort as best I could and managed to finish strong, with an average power number that I was very pleased with.  For those interested in the numbers, I averaged 4.9W/kg for the 30 minutes, which considering we’re at altitude, I was pretty happy with.  The rest of the ride was by no means a cake walk, as I still had 3x 15 minute threshold intervals to do.  After 4.5 hours of riding I was feeling pretty smashed and couldn’t resist stopping for a burrito on the way home as a reward for the hard effort.  After a nap I headed out for my final workout of the week – a 7 mile run – which rounded out another solid week of training.  That’s now three consecutive weeks of 300+ miles on the bike and 50+ miles on the run.  Things are ticking along nicely.