On Monday at lunchtime I wriggled into my wetsuit, slid into Deep Eddy Pool and swam 100 lengths of the 33.3 yard pool (3,045 meters) in one hour and 38 seconds.
It was our best swim to date, and if that pace were to hold to form over our 1,923 meter swim at Kerrville – we would be getting out of the water in under 40 minutes with good sighting.
It was a busy day at the pool where I had to share a lane with another swimmer. This required me to swim in just the “left-half” of the lane, be very conscious of my form and line and make sure that I didn’t drift either into the lane divider or the other swimmer. It gave me the opportunity to practice swimming alongside another athlete as I was a bit faster than my lane partner. That served as a great opportunity to deal with some turbulent water and splashing going on that would attempt to disrupt my breathing and rhythm. Very similar to points during an open water triathlon swim. I would have preferred to have the lane to myself of course, but all things considered – it was actually a much better workout for me as it was.
The swim was my only workout of the day – just an easy recovery day to help work out the kinks from our 20-mile long run on Sunday capping off a 180 mile training week. The rejuvenation was very welcomed and we hit the ground literally running on Tuesday with an 11-mile run, fitting on the 11th anniversary of 9-11, and a 35 mile bike ride in the afternoon. For the 6th consecutive week we will swim, bike and run further than we have the week before, further than we ever have in any seven day period and then on Sunday we will finally reach the end of the line. We will have made it through week 21 of our half-ironman training plan.
All that will remain will be our two-week taper period. A time to reduce mileage and intensity that will allow our body to manifest all of the gains made over the last 20+ weeks into a finely tuned, well-prepared athlete who is peaking at just the right time for race day. 191.53 miles on deck this week – 5.33 in the water, 126.00 in the saddle and 60.20 on the running trail. Big mileage, tough workouts, but I find myself attacking each one of them with a great deal of zest and determination.
A runner friend of mine paid me a great compliment on Monday, he said,
“Good progress on the swimming Joe, just as methodical and ruthless as you are about your running”.
Coming from one of the most dedicated, methodical, disciplined marathoners I know – the kind words really hit home. The one word that really struck a chord with me however was “ruthless”.
It brought me back to my ride on Saturday morning, where with a cold-front arriving to Austin in the morning I rode directly into a 20 mph headwind all the way from my front door to Andice, TX. Exactly 26.2 miles ironically.
To describe the ride is something that I don’t really think will do it justice. Instead I will share only my ride time:
1 hour 36 minutes and 23 seconds.
After reaching the General Store in Andice and eating one of my vanilla Stinger Waffles I pointed my Cervelo P1 back towards home and covered the identical stretch of road and hills. My return ride time:
1 hour 7 minutes and 11 seconds.
After being beaten up for more than an hour and a half on the bike, pedaling away furiously into the headwind, I then got to enjoy a strong tailwind pushing me back home. Instead of taking it easy however and just cruising on the return trip, I punished my worn legs and covered the miles at race intensity. Mile after mile, several of which I averaged more than 30 mph I made my way home as fast as my legs would carry me.
My 56-mile ride was actually :30 faster than the identical route one week earlier in ideal riding conditions.
Perhaps that is the best way to describe the past 21 weeks training through another hot Texas summer. No injuries, no unplanned days off, just workout after workout – hoping that all of the hardwork is going to pay off on September 30th and we are going to get a chance to race to the best of our ability in Kerrville.
A half-ironman is definitely not an easy race. Aside from ultra-marathons and other 12-hour, 100-mile type run only events, the only bigger “mainstream” challenge out there would be a full Ironman Triathlon. Something that quite frankly is not interesting to us at this stage in our life as a husband/Dad/amateur endurance athlete. The 70.3 mile test in Kerrville however is one that we are more than ready to take head-on.
There are going to be some dark moments. There are going to be some low-points. There is going to be fatigue. There is going to be pain. All this I am quite certain of and I am actually quite comfortable with.
I also know that there is really only one way that I know to go about competing in a race like that.
Hey Dom, make sure you are paying attention on September 30th. You aren’t going to want to miss this one.