6/9 - 6/15/2014

This weeks focus was my first big Vineman prep and experimentation day on thursday. The race will be far beyond anything I have ever done before and I planned a few days into the calendar this month to put in huge efforts and simulate some of the demands I know I will experience on the day. Nutrition, pacing and some of the mental and physical challenges late in the day were some of the things I just felt like I needed to play around with before actually having to do it in a race.

I started the day early with breakfast at 5am and then riding to swim practice. I put in 5,000 yds in the pool and it was a solid group swimming well so I actually put up some fast times in the water that surprised me, but that might have just been the double VERVE espresso I had with breakfast :) Jumping out of the pool I noticed that there was a big group of women warming up on the deck that I did not recognize and as I passed by I started noticing a lot of 'Cal Swimming' gear and all of a sudden I realized what that might mean. Sure enough Missy Franklin was right there just rolling her shoulders like she wasn't one of the most decorated swimmers in the world! What a way to start the day!

I rode back to my house and got my things together quickly to get on the bike. I had hoped that getting on the coast early might allow me to avoid some of the winds that regularly sweep down the coast and can make riding north downright miserable. The weather was not following its usual pattern though and within the first thirty minutes I was having to push a big gear to keep the pace up. I took what inland detours I could but the Hwy 1 is pretty isolated and eventually just had to resign myself to looking at the clock and counting off the minutes until I got to turn around. When I got too frustrated I would stop for a second to take pictures.

The marine layer kept the temperature down which I was grateful for as I battled the wind heading north. The 2.5 hour mark got me to La Honda where I turned around. Even with a huge amount of work ahead of you being at the half way mark is always reassuring, my fueling strategy had been holding up well and I was putting up good numbers. If you have never ridden south on the central coast in the summer time it is something I highly recommend. The scenery is enough of a reason on it's own but the prevailing winds are going south and having them at your back make speeds possible that it makes you feel superhuman. There are not too many feelings like spinning your legs comfortably and cruising along at 35 mph under your own power. The fog finally broke around the 3 hr mark and I stopped in at Pigeon Point Lighthouse to get some water.

The last hour and a half were fast but hard. The effort thus far was settling into my legs and they were hurting. I knew it was going to be a hard day and my main focus was just keeping fuel and liquid going in and not letting my mind acquiesce and telling myself I was just going to do what I had committed to. It didn't matter if it was good or pretty but I needed to do it.

It felt good coming back into town and got a little caffeine in the last fifteen minutes to make the transition smooth. I tried not to take too long getting my stuff together and got out with all my gear within a reasonable amount of time. It was my first time running with a belt, which was one of the things I wanted to test out and once I got the flasks positioned right it was more comfortable than I had expected. I kept looking at my watch and was running faster than I expected but felt comfortable and just listened to my respiration, trying to keep my effort consistent and controlled. I picked a slightly hilly route for my run because my plan was to run for 2 hours and less distance didn't matter that much to me. The first 45 minutes were great! I was running really well and my legs didn't feel too tight or tired at all. My stomach started to grumble a little near the hour mark and I diverted my route a little to make a pit stop at a friends house. I think I may have stopped a little too long as it was hard to get going again after that. I felt more sluggish and from there I was headed mostly uphill so it just got worse. The highest elevation in the route came at about an hour and fifteen minutes and I stopped again to fill up on water and catch my breath. By that point I really felt wrecked and I had to wait a while for my body to be ready to get moving again. A few miles of downhill felt good but then once I was running on flat terrain again I started to struggle. I headed towards home and told myself that if I felt good I could add on a loop but by the last mile I was just holding on so I cut it a little short at an hour and forty five minutes but with an average pace that exceeded my expectations.

I stumbled into my apartment, got some cold water and went out onto the deck to sit in the shade and let the breeze cool my skin. I have never been that wrecked and the feeling is hard to describe...but now I know. My body did not feel normal again for hours but after some food and keeping cool for the afternoon the soreness and exhaustion were not as bad as I had anticipated they would be.

I learned a lot from the day and my physical performance across all three disciplines were very encouraging. It was a really good experience and my confidence about being able to handle the distance has been boosted significantly. I may do another big day later in the month with a slightly different format but this was the hardest day of training I have ever done in my life thus far.

Swim 16,500 yds
Bike 13 hrs
Run 36 mi

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