Due to my race schedule, the 5 weeks between Wildflower and Boise was some of the only time I would have to really put in the volume for the Ironmans I plan to do this year. Typically, I do 4 week blocks (3 hard training, 1 recovery), but the aforementioned 5 week gap, plus the 2 weeks between Boise and Buffalo Springs, meant that I would be doing my first ever 5 week block (4 hard training, 1 recovery/taper) leading into Boise. This way I avoided too much recovery time before and between Boise and BS.
At first I didn't think it would be that bad. I made it through the first 3 weeks and felt like I normally did after a 3 week build. The second day of the 4th week it hit me. HARD. As usual, the weeks built one upon the other, so the 4th week was the biggest and I felt it. In particular, the final 3 days had a bright red circle around them in my mind. The weekend would provide the finishing touch on the entire block and I therefore viewed them as being very important to execute.
I won't bore you with details, but provide a few highlights of the weekend:
1. Friday I set a new swim PR. It was my birthday, my 30th, and I had a 2hr swim on the schedule. So I figured something special was in order. Super swimmer Hillary Biscay, who recently earned her Kona slot the HARD way at IM Brazil a week after IM Lanzarote, agreed to provide a little "guest coaching" and designed a birthday swim set for me. My first ever 100 x 100. So Friday afternoon, after a morning run and climbing party on the bike, I hit the pool. 10,000yds later, I had myself a new swim volume PR. It was amazing how fast it actually went by, and I give all credit and "Thanks" to Hillary for designing an awesome set.
2. Saturday morning, I found myself back in the pool for back-to-back masters workouts. I thought I was going to drown. I made it, and hit the road for a long ride. On the way home, I ran into a cyclist who politely asked if I wanted to trade pulls back down PCH. I said I was just trying to stay steady and he asked if I wouldn't mind if he just hung on the back. *Side Note* It is very refreshing when someone actually asks if they can take your wheel. Sometimes its a pretty rude surprise when I am riding along, sit up and realize a guy is 3" off my wheel. I've had some close calls, so it was nice to have him ask. I digress. About 25min later, I grabbed a bar from my jersey and my company asked if I wanted him to take a pull. Sure. Thats when my ride went from steady & moderate, to "choking on my pancreas". This guy did NOT need a pull. I was doing all I could to hold his wheel on the flat. We hit a climb and he started pulling away, I got out of the saddle and was giving it all to keep in touch, when I saw my watts closing in on 500, I knew it was time to let go. Off he went. He ended up sitting up and waiting for me and we had an awesome talk. Turns out he is a pro cyclist from the Isle of Man, and grew up riding, and is "good mates" with Mark Cavendish. No FREAKING wonder he nearly ripped my legs off! He is over here training for a series of races in Europe and the dude hammered me each time he took a pull on the way home. Just under 110mi and I made it back about 20mins faster than I expected.
3. Saturday night: Another first, I had a surprise party. A bunch of my friends surprised me by showing up for an awesome dinner in Hermosa Beach. I was legitimately surprised too. I had no idea. I think the training had taken its toll on my brain. Seriously, maybe the best birthday celebration I have ever had.
4. Sunday: Another PR. My longest brick ever clocked in at just a bit under 9hrs complete with 130mi and over 10,000ft of climbing on the bike. When all was said and done I was totally SHELLED! I had some definite rough moments out there and I chalk it up to working on my mental toughness. Alot goes through your head during a 9hr day when you are on your own, and at the end of a big block. I struggled through the rough patches, refrained from just throwing myself in the Pacific, and was stoked I did when I realized the weekend was complete.
Now it is time to recover, rest and taper for Boise. I am not sure 5 days will really give me a chance to rebound, but it will be another good toughening up experience if nothing else.