Monday, April 11, 2011

Week 13 / 20

If only all weeks were like this one. To start with, the weather was fantastic - as hot as 30 degrees which, although it's more conducive to lounging by the pool, it's most likely to be close to the conditions of the Ironman in Brazil. The only day I really suffered this week was on Wednesday, when I had to effectively do the bike leg of a Half Ironman at Half Ironman pace - on the indoor turbo trainer. It is very hard to motivate yourself on the turbo trainer, especially when the only goal is to elevate your pulse rate - there is no indication of how well you are doing (speed or power) and without the wind chill you sweat buckets. Other than that, the other runs and rides were very enjoyable and I made an effort to find some unexplored territory.

I read recently that in cycling jargon, you "get your seat" after some 400 miles or so - meaning that your derriere becomes tough enough to take the punishment doled out by the saddle. Maybe the fact that you have to sit so far forward on the saddle in triathlon means it takes longer to get your seat. I am still definitely suffering, that's for sure. I did find a couple of tricks that are helping, though. One is to smear chamois cream on the chamois itself (this is the padded insert in the shorts) rather than on me (I suppose there's a good clue in the name of the cream). The other is to really concentrate on a smooth, circular pedaling action to minimize the shifting around on the seat.

On Saturday I had a fairly hard "brick" session which consisted of a 3 hour bike ride (including series of high intensity climbs) followed by an hour run. It left me feeling shattered for the rest of the day and worried that I wouldn't recover in time for the long ride the next day. (It's funny how other people say things like "oh, you can run down to the shops - it will be good for your training". How to explain that - more so than for "normal people", my training has been carefully and scientifically measured out - not a minute more, not a minute less. In fact, I think that one reason my back got overloaded a few weeks ago was having to fill the diesel tank for the central heating with two 40 liter containers.) I had planned to meet up with some friends for the long ride but, as they were starting some 30 kilometers from my house, it meant getting up at about half six. I went to bed a bit late in the end and kind of accidentally forgot to put my iPhone cum alarm clock on charge. Of course, I woke up at 8 and ended up having to do the ride on my own (as usual...). It was probably just as well as my friends had opted for a ride in the mountains around Madrid (la Sierra) which would have been tough to do at my low intensity. I went on a relatively flat course (by Madrid's standards) instead with only 1,138m of climbs and I did the 5 hours at 30.8kph the whole way, and it felt easy (average heart rate 121bpm). Looking at the map, I was only 2km away from cycling out of the county (La Comunidad de Madrid) and into Castilla la Mancha - I'll save that for next Sunday, when I have a 6 hour ride planned. Amazingly, my legs didn't feel heavy at any point. I did get a bit sunburnt, though, because I didn't apply the suntan lotion on my back, a part of which I hadn't realized was exposed to the harsh Spanish sun the whole way. I'm convinced that I was able to recover so well from the day before because I slept 8 hours solid and I had stuffed myself with high protein foods.

As an aside, have any of you had these kind of problems with your Garmin 310XT? Look at this crazy graph of my heartrate during a 2 hour run last week. There is just no way that it was really doing that (for a start, my maximum heart rate is 191bpm). When it goes haywire like that, the calories that get calculated are much lower than normal when you'd expect the opposite
Typically I get this kind of behaviour for the first 8 minutes of a run (not on the bike, for some reason) and I put it down to the contacts on the chest strap needing a bit of sweat to make good contact. For a while I thought it might be due to some interference as it would always stop at more or less the same place (but then, the first 8 minutes of my runs tend to cover the same ground) and I am wondering whether that is the explanation this time. Perhaps it comes from aliens trying to read our minds. A more likely explanation could be that the batteries on the chest strap are running out but, either way, I would like to avoid this happening in the Ironman. It's funny how you tend to give a personality to a gadget and a brand. Had this happened with any other watch, I would be cursing it and saying it was a load of rubbish. But my Garmin has been with me along every step of the way and it is such a joy to use that it is hard to get angry with it. On the other hand, if someone told me that it runs a Windows operating system, then I would be slagging it off no end.

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