Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Holiday weekends were made for some sweet training!

This past week I PR'ed on bike miles. Looking back at my training log, I have consistently put in more bike miles over the last month than I did at any point last year. I guess that it what I get for hyperextending my knee. Swimmer problems. But I am not complaining. I had a great holiday weekend. 

James and I headed up to Lake Norman for the Start2Finish 2 mile open water swim. Both of us were contemplating swimming the 800m option as a warm up but once we got there we decided it was a bad idea. The water temperature was recorded at 69 degrees and the air temperature was about 15 degrees cooler. The idea one could "warm up" was laughable. In fact it never even occurred to me to bring a wetsuit to the swim. The swim was not sanctioned by any governing body so I could swim in whatever I wanted. I guess my priorities were a little off because instead of packing something sensible like a wetsuit I packed several different swim suits because I could not decide what color I wanted to wear. Priorities. 

The swim itself was rather uneventful. When the starting horn sounded we all took off. I was a little surprised by the initial aggression of the swimmers given this swim was not technically a race but I tried to stay calm allowing my body to warm up a bit before increasing my speed.  I was settled into my warm up when I took a breath and found James starring at me right in the eye. I put my head down and took another breath. Aack! There it is again. So freakin' creepy.

The Eye of Haycraft
Needless to say I started breathing exclusively to the left until I was out of the Eye's range. Breathing just to the left, I noticed several people had swung out wide approaching the turn buoy. One by one I was able to close the gap by keeping a straight line so that by the time I hit the first turn only two people were ahead of me, one 1-miler and one 2-miler. This pattern maintained until we approached the end of the first loop. Coming into the third turn, my timing chip started to come off and after 3 attempts to re-secure it to my ankle I finally took it off and stuffed it down the front of my suit. Heading back out for another round on the course I tried to close the gap between me and the other 2-mile swimmer. It had grown a bit thanks to the chip debacle but I slowly chipped away at it. It ended up taking me the entire mile to come within reach of the swimmer and I ultimately exited the swim with about a 10 sec gap. It was a well executed swim and despite the fact the swimmer was wetsuit-clad I was still impressed. Through introductions I learned this formidable swimmer to be Amy Krakauer, the assistant swim coach at Davidson College and accomplished ironman athlete. Pretty cool. My final time in the 2-mile event was 45:37 with an average pace of 1:25 per 100m. I really need to be in the 1:20 pace range but I will take the 1:25 for a cold non-race morning. 

After the swim I grabbed some breakfast and a quick nap before heading out for a 50+ mile spin through the outskirts of Charlotte. It had turned into a beautiful day and I was simply happy to be out enjoying it. When I got home I let the cats out to enjoy some sunshine while I brewed up some summer-inspired kombucha. 

Nectarine, Honey Ginger, and Strawberry
Saturday of course was just a little pre-game action for the weekend's main event. I met up with 9 other local triathletes just west of Morganton, NC. We spent the rest of the day knocking out 108 miles and tackling 11,000 ft of climbing. The route begins at a church just west of Morganton and at the bottom of 181 so we didn't have long to acclimate before we were slapped with the longest climb of the day. Luckily the grade wasn't too bad and we just had to grind it out. We snaked through the Pisgah National forest towards the entrance of Grandfather Mountain before hitting the second big climb of the day on Hickory Nut Gap. Of course these two climbs were just the appetizer to what I consider the ne plus ultra of the route, Beech Mountain. Two years ago I climbed Beech with Johnny Scoots. At the time the climb came at the end of a 110 mile ride. The temperature had suddenly dropped and when we reached the top it started to pour. It was so horribly awesome I decided to make an annual trip to memorialize the epicness of that first climb. 

Third annual assault on Beech Mountain
Once again Beech succeeded in testing my physical and mental capabilities.  The attempt on Beech was ultimately made by 6 riders, who all tackled the mountain like it was just another hill on the airport loop. I was humbled and impressed. About 0.5 miles into the climb I thought about turning around.  How often do you reflect on just how easy it is to opt out and turn the bike around? It is sooooooo easy. But you know what hurts more than any climb? The knowledge you quit willingly. Unfortunately you do not learn that until after you have already quit but I digress . . . After the climb we continued north towards Valle Crucis and Blowing Rock. We rode the Blueridge Parkway and along the Linn Cove Viaduct before making our way back towards the long decent on 181. Just another gorgeous day in the NC mountains with a handful of Charlotte's best triathletes. NBD. 

Linn Cove Viaduct

Mountain Loop Elevation Profile
I wanted to sleep in Monday. The idea sounds soooooo nice. Laying in bed, coffee, breakfast, a kitty or 3 . . . perfection. Of course I knew that would not happen since my body no longer remembers how to stay asleep so felt very content to wake up alarmless at the reasonable hour of 6 AM.  I met with the usual suspects at the MCAC where someone somewhere came up with the idea for the following little swim set:
10x 25 all out freestyle with 10-25 push ups after each 25 on :55 
It was fun, hard, and ridiculously pathetic on my part. Each round I was able to make 3 push ups before it started to burn. The rest interval got shorter and shorter with each repeat but I made all rounds (even the last round I did not think we had to do). We filled the rest of our workout with the normal swimming stuff but push ups are a gift that keeps on giving. Even today. As I type this. With each little lift of my finger/hand/arm. No bueno. 

The usual suspects or blueseventy models?

My holiday weekend came to a close with a little jog around the neighborhood and a chance to relax a bit at a cook out hosted by the ever generous Caamano Clan. I am very thankful to have the opportunity to train in this amazing place and with so many talented and wonderful athletes. 

Man is a special being, and if left to himself, in an isolated condition, would be one of the weakest creatures; but associated with his kind, he works wonders. 

Daniel Webster