As I was on the TRI bike on Saturday I had a song “on a loop” going through my head rolling up and down the long hills along Parmer lane here in Austin for a 56-mile bike ride.
The Monkees first released single back in 1966 – Last Train to Clarksville – with it’s Beatle-esque “jangly” guitar, chord structure and vocal harmonies powered me through seemingly endless miles of road stretching ahead of me. Only instead of Last Train to Clarksville, in my mind the song kept saying Kerrville. Only 3 weeks remain until Half-Ironman. Race day is no longer some abstract “concept” for me right now, which is the way I prefer to keep “A” races as I am training as long as possible.
It is much easier for me to just focus on the workout that I have on the schedule that morning or that afternoon than to take a peak forward and see a spreadsheet with literally dozens of difficult training sessions ahead of me before we reach the end of the cycle and the reward of race day. But once I get just a handful of weeks out, even I start to look ahead and think about how much further we have to travel to the starting line. As of today we are down to:
8 Bike Rides totaling 251 miles.
12 Runs covering 122.5 miles.
8 more swims, 2 in our wetsuit totaling 10.4 miles.
That is all that remains. Just 383.9 miles spread over 28 workouts until we climb into our race kit, wriggle into our wetsuit, pull our cap down tight over our goggles and take the first stroke towards becoming a half-ironman triathlete.
That may seem like a lot of heavy lifting, but the reality is that when this training cycle began two weeks after the Boston Marathon we had 102 runs, 67 rides and 57 swims ahead of us that would cover 80 miles of swimming, 1,755 miles of cycling and an even 1,000 miles running. When you are staring 2,835 training miles between April 23rd and September 30th in the face, it is smart not to get too far ahead of yourself.
But with less than 400 miles to go, I like where we are.
This week is our final week of heavy lifting. 187.5 total miles on deck, our most ever in a single week. But once we wrap up our Sunday long run and head off to breakfast with Dawn and Landry to celebrate, we will start our taper and begin to reduce total mileage and a bit of intensity – although that cut back, where we go “easy” on our workouts won’t really come until race week.
The formula for the taper that has worked best for me is a two-week period where at first I simply cut back mileage by 25-30%, but still go “hard” on my “hard” days. Followed by a 50% reduction in mileage and I back off the intensity all but completely. No up-tempo running, no hill repeats, no race pace cycling or swimming. Just stay functional, focus on our form and let our body repair itself and get ready for one, huge, intense day.
So here we are, the last train to Kerrville. Not a bad moniker for this stage of training. It could have been far worse as on Thursday’s hill repeat session the song that I could not get out of my head was the classic from the Detroit Spinners – Rubberband Man. Now that would have made for a long, long 56 miles on the bike ….