Sunday, April 17, 2011

Week 14 / 20

As you'll know if you have been following this blog lately, this week has been a bit up and down due to stomach problems. Still, I am very pleased with myself for having managed to limit the damage to my training schedule to a bare minimum. I was "bricking myself" before the brick session yesterday - 2h30 on the bike, half at Half Ironman intensity + 60 minutes running - but it wasn't too bad in the end, apart from having stomach cramps and feeling completely knackered all afternoon.

I decided to give my bike a bit of love and it has certainly paid off. (My wife will be thinking that I've been giving all my lovin' to the bike lately but it has actually been more of a love-hate relationship.) A bit of quality time and affection can heal any relationship: I re-indexed the gears, cleaned the bike even dismantling the cassette and cleaning all the cogs one-by-one and I re-fitted the disc cover which now fits better than ever. I think all that is left to do now is buy a couple of new tires and I'll be all set. I'd been wrestling with the dilemma of where to take the bike for its pre-race service: to the traditional grease-and-spit local bike shop where they might not respect the millimeter perfect adjustments I've made for my riding position or the torque ratings on the bolts; or the smart up-market and triathlon friendly shop which fitted my Rotor crankset and rings (both of which have fallen off during riding). In the end, however useless I am at handiwork, I realized I trust myself more than I trust anyone else. The other advantage is that you feel a sense of pride if you have done something yourself and a corresponding patience in the case when something does go wrong with it.

The long ride today was 6 hours on a fairly depleted fuel tank after the trials and tribulations of the week. In fact I had a bit of a bonk - bonking in cycling is much less fun than its other common meaning and happens when you run out of glycogen stores; in running it is called hitting the wall because it is much more dramatic. To hell with the healthy diet, I stopped in a shop along the route and stuffed two pink fondant covered doughnuts in my gob and swallowed down a can of non-diet coke. It got burnt off easily, that's for sure. In fact I burnt more calories than I did running the Marathon on the ride alone, which was just shy of 180 kilometers, the Ironman distance.

What do you reckon to this? It's hard to say whether my heart rate really was elevated or whether my Garmin was acting up - I'm pretty sure it was the latter, although it did start just after I'd drunk a Red Bull (I must stop doing that!). Following on from last week's post, I discovered on the excellent blog by DC Rainmaker that unrealistic heart rates in the later stages of a workout could be due to static electricity buildup from synthetic materials. Hmmmm, if this happens in the Ironman I'll be completely "blind".

For comparison, this is the heart rate graph from the 5 hour ride I did last Sunday:

 I'd made a route to go to Toledo and back and uploaded onto my Garmin but then I made a few wrong turns and just ended up doing a continuation of the route I did last week, although the added bit was really quite hilly. (In fact, it turns out that bikeroutetoaster had "toasted" me a route more suitable for a mountain bike - there is no route of comparable distance for a road bike.) When I was suffering, I thought of my friend Paco who was at that moment running the Madrid Marathon and was probably (no, definitely) suffering more than me. It was a lovely sunny day (25 degrees - a bit too hot for a Marathon but fine for cycling) and this time I remembered to be extra careful with the sun block. I did get a puncture along the way and then I discovered that the brand new spare inner tube I had, had a gash in it. I didn't lose my temper! Luckily, just at that moment a fellow cyclist stopped by after seeing me theatrically (but gently) banging my helmet in frustration and he gave me one of his tubes (and, by the way, at least 5 people asked if I was OK before I realized I was not). Thank you whoever you are! The camaraderie that there is between cyclists is really wonderful: united we stand against punctures and other motorists! I'm not sure where motorbikes stand in all this - sometimes they wave at you as one two wheeled minority road user to another and other times they buzz past you at such a speed that it nearly gives you a heart attack.

See the house on the hill with a triangular roof? Doesn't it look amazing? 
Here it is close up. How can this be allowed to happen?
By the way, talking of punctures, I learned a surprising but useful geek fact: apparently tires inflated with CO2 deflate much more quickly than those inflated with air. How can this be? Well, the CO2 actually seeps through the butyl (rubber) inner tube. I'm waiting for these guys to go into production with the most expensive (and apparently most durable and lightweight) inner tubes ever made. At the moment they are only available for mountain bikes. The peace of mind I would have racing with them in the Ironman!

In two week's time its the Lisbon Half Ironman so I had been expecting a bit of a mini-taper and it certainly was looking that way. But now I've looked at what the training plan involves in more detail, I think the load is even higher than this week. Jonathan says to stick with it - the tough workout is next Sunday, 3h30 on the bike, 2h30 of which at Half Ironman intensity + 1h40 running at Marathon intensity - practically a Half Ironman without the swimming. Ideally I would do this on a flat course with my road bike but we are going to Asturias for the Easter bank holidays and so it will be on my "B" mountain bike and with a lot of ascents and descents. Jonathan did say to focus on enjoying the speed that I can run and bike at, thanks to the great form I am in. Good advice.

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