Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Memorable Training Sessions of 2013

People in triathlon will often tell you, "Make sure you enjoy the journey." It can be easy to get sucked into the training and to let it become a grind because you are so focused on the races you have planned. It's sort of like having tunnel vision where you ignore everything that is going on around you because you're too busy staring ahead at your next race. I try to mix up my training once in a while to keep things interesting and exciting. I also have a great group of people who I train with who help keep it fun.

I just got home from my last training session of 2013. I uploaded my Garmin file and then tallied up my numbers for the year. This year I swam 204.4 miles, biked 7,028.6 miles, and ran 1,517.2 miles. The majority of those miles are training miles, not racing miles, so you can see why it is important to make it fun once in a while. To that end, I reflected on my year and picked a favorite/most memorable training session from each sport. Here they are in chronological order:

I can't remember the exact date, but I know it was sometime in the late winter or early spring. If I had to guess it was the end of February or early March. I met Steve and Mike at Genesee Valley Park for our usual weekend run. The plan was to run the first ten miles at a comfortable pace, which is what we usually do on our long runs on the weekend. The kicker was that we would then go straight into fives miles hard, all at a sub-6 minute mile pace. We went out East River Road from the park, and then turned around half way and headed back, so it was 2.5 miles out and back. Steve and Mike are both stronger runners than me, so I knew I was going to suffer. I did. I remember hoping the entire time that Mike would crack so that I could stop and slow down with him while Steve finished the set. It didn't happen. There are a couple of little hills on East River Road that, as we climbed them, I thought I was going to pop and have to stop. To top it off, Steve was chatting the whole time like he was barely breathing hard! I think the best I could offer in response was an occasional grunt. At the end of the day, I survived the run and it was a huge confidence booster for me on the running front.

We rode our bikes up a mountain!
This was a bit of a tough choice between two really great rides that I can remember, but when it comes down to choosing, it has to be my ride with Mike up Whiteface. We were up in Lake Placid to watch our friend, James Cronkwright, race IMLP and we made a training weekend out of it for ourselves. Friday morning before the race we left Lake Placid on our road bikes and headed towards Wilmington, which is about a 12 mile ride. Then we made the left hand turn and headed up Whiteface. It is just over eight miles to ascend on the road, which took us just under an hour. The majority of the climb is at about eight percent gradient. We took turns pulling on the front for a quarter of a mile at a time to help break the climb up mentally. Whiteface tops at at just over 4,000 feet above sea level. After reaching the top of the climb on our bikes we hiked on the rocks to the actual top in our bare feet figuring if we made it that far we should get to the actual peak. After that we descended back down (which is quite scary) though we didn't take any risks and we really burned out our brakes and then rode the rest of the way back to Lake Placid. All in all it was just over 40 miles, but it was an absolutely awesome ride. Making it to the top of Whiteface was extremely rewarding and the view was spectacular. I strongly recommend this ride to any cyclist.

This workout happened yesterday, so it's still fresh in my mind, but it is easily the most memorable of any swim workout I did this year. My swim partner/coach, Joel McFarland, texted me on Sunday afternoon and said he was going to go for the 100 x 100 the next day because it was his birthday. This was something I had always wanted to do at some point, but I wasn't sure if I was up for it. I thought about it for a few hours, going back and forth on whether I wanted to try it or not. Finally I texted him back and said I was in and would go as far as I could. The farthest I had ever one in the pool was 4,000 yards when Ironman training, so I had no clue how far I could make it.

Monday morning I met Joel at the pool at 5am. He explained how we would break it down and the intervals and off we went. At the half way point we took a 5-10 minute break to fuel up and get a little rest. The worst part for me was the 6,000-8,000 yard section. I knew there was still a long way to go and the shoulder and back soreness was starting to become pretty noticeable. Once we crossed 8K I knew I would be able to finish. When all was said and done it took us about 3 hours and 15 minutes to do the entire 10,000 yards. He was nice and kept on the intervals with me. It was an awesome sense of accomplishment when we finished. When we were almost finished I told him I would never complain about an Olympic distance swim again. Workouts like that can change your perspective on things.

So there are my three most memorable training sessions of the 2013 year. I'm looking forward to 2014 with many more miles finding new ways to keep it interesting. Happy New Year!