Sunday, May 15, 2011
Week 18 / 20
The first reasonably hard session was of 2 and a half hours running at aerobic pace on Thursday. In fact, the directions were to run up to a maximum of 30km in those 2 and a half hours, very gently and even incorporating some walking if necessary. Me being me, I took this very literally and ran exactly 30km which took me from my house to the centre of Madrid and back. What I was particularly pleased about - apart from it feeling very easy - is that I did it on an empty stomach, drinking only water during the run itself. I believe it is good practice for training your body to burn fat but you have to be careful not to push it too far and "bonk",' as well as being extra careful to refuel properly for the next day's training.
Friday involved a mega swimming session totaling just over the Ironman distance but with loads of finickety exercises. I got so bored that I confess that I split it into two sessions: one at lunchtime and one after work. I think there is only a limited amount of improvement I can make before the race and it certainly won't come from swimming lengths in a pool badly because I am tired and fed up! I'm confident I have the stamina to do the swim leg in one go, but I am more looking forward to it being over than it starting.
On Saturday, the task at hand was to cycle 5 hours with at least an hour and a half at race pace, two hours somewhere between that an aerobic pace and the rest at aerobic pace. As usual I was on my own so, when I saw this little guy on the hard shoulder, I just had to stop...
I scooped him up and cycled to the Safari de Madrid from where I thought he might have escaped but no... Instead I took him to a nearby river where some locals told me that tortoises (turtles?) could be found in the wild. In all, I cycled at least 5km with the tortoise in one hand, some of the while trying to claw or even bite my hand - not one of my better ideas, but I couldn't rightly just leave him there in the middle of nowhere, the only prospect being getting wrapped around a car wheel. I have to admit I was quite tempted to take him home with me - if I could have found a cheap rucksack in a village along the way - but my experience with tortoises has been that their life expectancy drops dramatically from over 100 years to one or two once you try to domesticate them. And, if I'm honest, they were very boring (RIP).
As my wife is still away in Africa, it's just as well that the kids spent Saturday night staying over with a friend. On the one hand, I missed them especially after spending half the weekend on the bike (as usual) but it is the last time I'll ever have to fit in 11 and a half hours training at the weekend (even the Ironman itself I hope will be less than that, fingers crossed). Otherwise, I would have had to start off my training indoors on the turbo trainer and, as soon as my wife arrived from Africa, shoot out of the door to finish off what I had started. I think she is dying for me to cross the finish line more than even I am.
The other day I was trying to convince her that doing an Ironman was healthier than doing a Marathon - I mean in the holistic sense, not in terms of how physically fit you might be from all the training. "But an Ironman includes a Marathon so it must leave you even more wrecked..." My point is that you can get away with doing a Marathon "just" doing the training but the Ironman forces you to take care of all the aspects of your life - training, food, sleep and stress - ignore any one of these things and you will pay dearly for it. Time is such a hard and merciless master; it marches on relentlessly, irrespective of what we do (I sometimes get asked how much rest you get in between the legs of the Ironman and the answer is "As much as you like, but the clock keeps advancing regardless.") The Ironman forces you to organize your time and, consequently, make you aware of the value of every minute of your life: when you are training you should be training otherwise that time could have been better employed doing something else; when you are at work you should be working otherwise you could have been training; when you are with you family you should be with your family and so on. Although it will be nice to have much more time to spend with my family when this is over, I hope I can retain this value of time that I have now (perhaps without the stress that sometimes accompanies it when things are out of my control).
On Sunday, I did 5 hours on the bike at aerobic pace (averaging around 28kph, what with all the hills around here) followed by an hour and a half running, also at aerobic pace, at an average of 12kph. My butt was so sore from the day before it felt like I'd just escaped from a high security prison: I couldn't even tolerate a single minute in the aero position. Let's put it this way - I normally seem to favour sitting ever so slightly to the right of the seat and, this time, I had to consciously sit to the left. Also, I spoke too soon about my Garmin: it went back into random heart rate mode and I spent most of the ride wondering whether to wear two heart rate monitors in the Ironman or just one, or whether to trust the Garmin or to rely on my hardly tested budget Suunto. I'll take both to Brazil and decide at the last moment what I do but, in the meantime, it might be a good idea to test the Suunto in anger; after all, the Garmin has been fine for most of the 6 months that I have had it. What was gratifying about the training today (apart from being the last time I will probably have to pass through some of those remote places ever) was that - until the last 15 minutes at least - I felt like I could have kept on going indefinitely. Which is just as well really, as that is virtually what I will have to do in exactly two weeks from now.