Week 10 in Boulder

Monday started off with a little bit of everything, the hardest session being the run which had some short intervals above 5k race pace.  During a short easy ride I had my first puncture since arriving in Boulder.  I suppose one puncture in 10 weeks isn’t bad going, especially considering the amount of riding I’ve done.  Even my trusty Gatorskin tyres were no match for the staple that ended up in the bike lane.

On Tuesday Scott and I went out for a ride, and we headed out with Australian professional triathlete Paul Ambrose.  After a solid warm up, I got the meat of my session done, which was a 50 minute tempo interval with a power spike every 4 minutes.  It was about as comfortable as it sounds! 

2 weeks ago, Wednesday was my ‘big run day’, and so it was again this week.  After a light breakfast I tried to get ahead of the sun and start early, but even at 7am it was hot.  I had a 2h15 run in store and it wasn’t going to be pretty!  I decided to loop back to the house twice during the run, allowing me to refuel and rehydrate.  Brian has a plan for every session and within today’s long morning run I had a 35 minute tempo interval, just above Half-Ironman pace.  An effort like that requires a lot of concentration and takes its toll physically, so needless to say when the session was over I was more than ready for a lie down.  I had a big breakfast to replace the nearly 2000 calories that I’d burned, and after a few hours of relaxing, Scott and I went for lunch.  In a moment of weakness I chose a burger, which unsurprisingly, turned out to be huge!  God bless America!

I didn’t feel too bad though, as I’d need the energy later on.  That afternoon we got in a swim session at Flatirons, before my second run of the day – as if 2h15’ in the morning wasn’t enough!  I had a 50 minute run planned at a steady effort and even though I was starting at 4:30pm, the sun was still scorching.  Considering the morning’s training, I felt pretty good and not nearly as sluggish as I expected.  After getting a little lost on one of the trails, the run turned into 55’ for 3h10’ of running that day.  After a quick shower we met up with some other British triathletes in town for pizza, and boy were they good!  Finishing a ‘large’ turned out to be a training session in itself, but us boys all finished our large pizzas, with the girls making us look rather greedy as they struggled to finish the ‘normal’ size! 

On Thursday I had a 4 hour ride with some 12 minute intervals, which turned out to be a lot tougher than I imagined.  It was a lonely day in the saddle and another hot one, which meant I had to stop to refill the drinks bottle halfway through.  The upside of this is that I had a Coke, which is a real gem in the middle of a ride.  Feeling a bit worn out from the ride, I was less than enthusiastic about swimming and running, but it was one of those days where you just get it done.  Friday was a lighter day with only a swim and a run, and the day seemed to pass by quickly.  The highlight was heading into RETUL HQ in Boulder for an appointment with British bike fit specialist Michael Smith.  It was a great opportunity to look at my bike fit and ensure that everything was right.  My current position was established when visiting the Drag2Zero wind tunnel in April in the UK, and Michael was happy with my position, making no changes at all.  Great credit goes to Drag2Zero, where aerodynamicists make a conscious effort to put you in a comfortable and sustainable position for the duration of your event, taking not only aerodynamics into account, but also biomechanics. 

Saturday’s 3h ride included 2x 20 minute intervals at threshold (approximately the maximum pace you can sustain for an hour).  Whilst holding threshold watts for only 20 minutes may sound easy, any athlete will tell you that it is far from it.  After struggling through the first interval, I had just 2 minutes recovery before starting the second.  A battle of will commenced, and in the next 20 minutes I went through ups and downs, really toughing it out against myself.  I’d averaged 96% and 94% of FTP respectively for the two intervals, which was a little disappointing, given that I always like to finish stronger than I start.  Unfortunately the hard work wasn’t over, as I still had a 30 minute tempo interval to do within the ride.  After lunch I went to Boulder Reservoir to watch the Sunset Tri, where Renee Baker was racing.  It was fun to be a spectator for the afternoon, other than having to seek shelter during a brief storm that passed through.  It was well worth going as Renee pulled out the goods, taking the overall win! 

Later that day I had another hour run to do, by the end of which I was feeling pathetically low on energy.  The week’s heat and hard training combined to put me to the test, but I still had Sunday’s training ahead of me. 

A short 30 minute run started the day off, and again even a 7am, it seemed ridiculously hot.  I knew how I felt during that short run, and it wasn’t good.  Unfortunately it was an indication of what was to come for the ride.  I headed to the café for a strong coffee and a croissant, trying to psyche myself up for the scheduled 4 hours ahead of me.  An hour and a half in, I knew things weren’t feeling as good as they should, or as good as I’d want them to.  I started one of my intervals and was really struggling to hold the lower end of my target power.  The trend continued and as I continued to feebly pedal, I decided to throw in the towel and call it a day.  Was there any point in continuing with the session knowing that I wasn’t doing it properly?  I thought not.  Still, I find this one of the hardest scenarios to face as an athlete.  When should you stop and when should you push on?  The desire to quit midway through a session occurs regularly, especially when you’re doing a lot of intense work.  But knowing when is the right time to stop is a hard call.  It’s the first time in a long time that I can remember not completing a session, but the guilt was eased knowing that I really had nothing to give and that resting ahead of Las Vegas next week was probably the right call.