Ice on the water cups at the Al Gordon 4-Miler
The good news about this weekend is that it was super productive. The bad news is that I was completely exhausted by Monday. I ended up with the schedule stacked against me last week, when I realized that I needed to squeeze in a strength training session with Kali the Destroyer. I ended up fitting that in on Thursday morning, which moved my tempo run to Friday. The strength training was great (doing the Jillian Michael sessions twice a week really are making me stronger), and I happy to wake up on Friday without much soreness. My scheduled tempo was 1 easy, 5 at 7:49, and 1 easy, which I got through without much drama. I had the Al Gordon 4-Miler in Prospect Park on Saturday, and I tried my best to channel the successful tempo to garner some enthusiasm for the race.
Al Gordon 4-Miler
I had signed up for the 4-miler when I came back from my stress fracture, mainly as an attempt to save myself from jumping right into training for the NYC Half. That (somewhat) worked, and I really had no goal in mind for the race other than to improve my corral for the half next month. I should probably explain for those uninitiated in the efficient machine that is New York Road Runners, that all of their races have starting corrals which are seeded by pace. The catch is that your pace group is based on the fastest average mile split logged in any race you’ve run with them, regardless of distance. I rarely race anything shorter than a 10K, and when I do, they’re usually social runs with friends when I’m not focused on time. I was currently in the 8:00 corral based on my last 10K, and was hoping to improve my start position a bit given the crowded field in the NYC Half. With that in mind, I dragged myself out of bed at 6 AM on Saturday morning and bundled up. It was 6 degrees out and, not wanting to spend too much time freezing in the corral, I got to the start only a few minutes before the gun. We were off, and I went into Bill Belichik Do-Your-Job mode—no drama, no whining, just hit my pace and get the job done. I still had a 14-mile long run to do on Sunday, so the idea was to run hard, but not plumb new depths of pain. I held 7:30’s on the flats, 8:00’s on the uphills, and tried to take it sub-7 on the downs when I could. I held off a side stitch with some very focused belly breathing for the last mile and finished in 30:23. It would have been nice to break 30 minutes, but I was happy with the effort, and it should move me up at least one or two corrals. After I finished, the Caveboy met me with a warm jacket and asked if the lake was completely frozen, at which point I realized that I had not taken in my surroundings in the least. How’s that for focus?
From Prospect I jumped on the train to Union Square and grabbed a cup of coffee while I waited for Jack Rabbit Sports to open. They were having their spring clearance sale and I was hoping to snag a tri race kit cheap. Long Run Buddy was meeting me there, and we both scored major deals. I was able to pick up two race kits, and I also found a pair of my favorite running shorts and a book on bike maintenance, all for $55. Win. While I was waiting for LRB to check out I checked my race results and discovered that I had finished 4th in my age group. Double win. We had a celebratory brunch and then Caveboy and I headed home to catch up on laundry and other life essentials. I had a bike session on the calendar as well, so after throwing in a load of running clothes I set up the bike and queued up an episode of Gilmore Girls. This was the first session of my base-building training plan on TrainerRoad, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was hoping it wouldn’t be too brutal given the 14 mile long run the next day. “8-Minute Power Test” initially sounded pretty innocuous, but it turned out to be a pretty intense hour-long workout.
TrainerRoad basically syncs your phone, iPad, or computer with your (Bluetooth-enabled) bike computer to give you a customized spin workout. It estimates virtual power based on your trainer model and gives you real time stats on your power output, showing you a green, yellow, or red zone depending on how well you’re keeping up with the designed workout. They also provide real-time on-screen instructions for each session, as well as additional background info on the website and even free webinars on training topics. I’ve heard really good things about it and given that I have zero experience with bike training, I am basically putting all my faith in their approach. The workout started with an easy spin warm-up, and then progressed to two very short, hard intervals. No matter what I did, I couldn’t keep my power up in the green zone where it was supposed to be, and I was starting to get very worried about my biking abilities and questioning why I had taken on this whole triathlon endeavor. Thankfully there was another easy spin period at that point and the on-screen instructions started describing the two 8-minute power trials that were coming up. It was then that I realized that point of this ride was to calibrate my functional threshold power, and that the green zone for power that the app was currently showing me was completely arbitrary (i.e. probably calibrated for a large dude who is a much better cyclist than me.) This is why I probably should not consider reading the instructions to be a sign of weakness… Anyway, I was at least somewhat relieved, and I got through the power tests within tolerable pain levels. TrainerRoad spit out a new FTP at the end, and my next workout should be calibrated for my current fitness level.
Slushy Central Park
Sunday the temperature shot up 30 degrees into the mid-40’s, and it seemed all of New York was covered in 2 inches of accumulated slush, dirt, and formerly-frozen dog pee. I had originally planned to run as much as I could of the NYC Half course for my long run, but it was clear that traversing the sidewalks was not a desirable option. I figured Central Park was probably my best shot at clear roads, so I met up with LRB after his morning spin session and set off. He had a 1:45 run in HR Zone 1-2 on the menu, so it was much the same drill as last week. We ran a bit slower than my target 8:30’s, but my legs were feeling pretty dead after the strength/tempo/race/bike whammy anyway. We were both not wearing headphones for once, so we chatted on and off and the miles ticked by quickly. The encouraging part about this run was really how undramatic it was given how tired I felt. Undoubtedly it would have hurt a lot more had I been running 8:30’s instead of 8:45’s, but I did pick it up for the last few miles after LRB clocked out and my endurance felt solid.
Monday morning I had an hour of strength training scheduled, but on Sunday night I decided that I would benefit more from an additional hour of sleep. I had vague notions of still getting it in after work, but by mid-afternoon it was clear that what I really needed was rest and a massage. After some aggressive tiger tailing and an hour on the couch after dinner I was off to bed, and felt much more alive this morning. The intervals du jour were 2×1200 at 6:53 pace followed by 4×800 at 6:49 pace with 2 minute recovery intervals. After my poor showing last week, I was determined to bang these out without walking a recovery or stopping for a rest, and I. DID. IT. I downed half a power bar while waiting for the train after, which is part of my initiative to be nicer to myself about post-workout nutrition. (More on that in a later post.) Tonight is swim class, and the rest of the week is the usual combo of swimming, Trainer Road bike workouts, hard runs, and beet juice.