Like I said, it ain't rocket science.
The last two 56 mile rides have been pretty tough. If you remember, I had this great plan. I'd split the 56 miles into thirds, and ride the first easy at 90-95rpm cadence, then the second third I'd really hammer down at 80-85rpm, then the last third back at 90, but working. Sounds great in theory, even sort of easy. But I've been left shredded. Last week, in fact, I seriously barely got home I was so worn out. True that this was the day after the half marathon, but that was only a small part of it - I was just blowing up out there. In both cases, I was in zero condition to go running at all afterwards, much less the 13.1 required for the Racine Half Ironman in July.
So - I reconsidered my fantastic plan. All the encouraging run improvements have come by staying comfortable and letting the miles come to me. I'm not out for a joyride, but I keep my Rate of Perceived Effort low - if I'm working too hard, then back off. Why, then, would I go chasing miles on the bike? My big plans of hammering the middle third was leaving me with nothing left in the tank. Stupid.
So today I stripped myself of all the strategery and kept it simple, stupid. 90-95rpm, with a low RPE. All that hammering is great for training, but totally impractical if one plans to actually finish 70.3 miles strong. There was a delicate flower of a breeze when I started (at my back) that had turned into a raging bitch of a wind upon my return (in my face) of 15-20mph. For most of my ride is was a cross-wind, but as it was coming from the NNW, it provided something of a tailwind for half the ride - and then something of a head wind. So - work smart, not hard. When I had any kind of tail wind, I'd crank and take advantage of it, knowing I'd have to make payments on that loan soon enough. In the headwind, just stay with a low RPE and don't try and do anything heroic. Let the miles come.
I felt great all day. Mentally much sharper, and never hit the wall of fatigue around mile 40-45 that's plagued my last few long rides. My nutrition was spot on point. The numbers:
First 18.5 miles: 19.6mph average (direct tailwind, then cross/indirect tailwind)
Second 18.5: 18.8: (mostly headwind, bulk of climbing)
Final 19: 18.0 (mix of indirect tailwind/headwind, with final 6 miles being direct - and sinister - headwind)
Final score: 18.8mph average. 56 miles in 2:59:01
Sub 3-hour, baby.
Consider last week, when my big fat plan netted me a 17.6 mph/avg in 3:11:04, and the ride before that, where I went 18.5mph/avg in 3:01:15 - but totally wasted and unable to run afterwards. In both cases, my "hard work" netted me less than my "smart work". I came away today - in tougher conditions than both previous rides - with a better time and fresher legs.
Fresh enough, in fact, that I easily ran 6 miles afterwards at 8:28/mile pace - with no concern for pace except to glance and notice trends. Just staying comfortable. The objective in Racine is to do 13.1 with a 9:00/mile pace or better. Today was an encouraging indication of what's possible - if I can rock anywhere near a 3 hour bike and a 2 hour run, I'll be in great shape to turn out a significant day of racing.
Meanwhile I have an interesting phenomenon happening with my right foot. On Tuesday I did hill workouts, and noticed a bit of pain on the top of my foot - but nothing too dramatic. When I got home and took off my shoes, I could barely walk the pain was so intense. I had thought - because I was trying a new pair of shoes (the new Zoot's - more to come on those) which have elastic shoe laces, that I had overtightened them and just awkwardly bruised myself. 5 days later, though, and the swelling - which runs across the top of my foot and around my ankle - has not subsided, and nor has the pain in certain situations. Trying to flex or spread my toes apart, for instance, is excruciating. Also when I move my foot in a certain way, it'll send a stinger just up my leg that makes me lose my breath. Interestingly, though, when I wear shoes the pain is almost non-existent (unless I catch one of those awkward movements). I rode my bike today without a single inconvenience, and except for turning corners sharply, it's really not a problem on the run, either. How odd.
At the same time, I've experienced some significant tightness in my right calf since the half marathon - I've struggled with this really for the last 3 years or so.
I did some research online - because that's how I roll - after CznE mentioned a tendon that runs along the top of the foot. Sure enough, I think the culprit is Extensor Tendonitis (thank you podiatrynetwork.com!), which is pain along the top of the foot and toes, and is caused by excessive tightness of the calf muscle. A simple resistance test proved positive to my highly experienced medical mind. As falling of the arch is a common factor in ET (phone home), it makes sense that wearing shoes would alleviate the pain, where being barefoot would aggravate it. The tightness in my calf now makes sense in the big picture, too. Weird how everything's connected.
Anyway - the treatments are the usual RICE and stretching of the calf muscle, so I'll get on that. Or, I could wear a fancy boot around, which would no doubt slow me down in transition, alas. Guess I'll keep my eye on it, but weird to have such a painful injury that somehow has negligible affects on my actual physical activity. I'm been pretty injury free all year - not even much of a nuisance to report - so I suppose I was about due. Game's too easy otherwise, eh?
Hope everybody had a kickass weekend of training - race week next week, stay tuned!
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Like I said, it ain't rocket science.