Time flies when you’re having fun. The old adage needs a footnote. Fun, or training for a triathlon. I haven’t added up the number of hours I’ve been training every week, but I’d be willing to bet it rivals the hours I work at my part-time job. Sometimes I wake up in the mornings, instantly transported back to the height of my marathon training last fall. Constantly tired, constantly sore, and constantly hungry (more on this point later). I think it’s an act of God that I haven’t been injured yet through the course of my training because let’s be honest, as I sit here writing this post stuffing my face with a muffin the size of a softball, I know it’s not my physique getting me through these workouts.
Over the past week or so I’ve stuck to the 12 Week Olympic Triathlon Training Plan I outlined a while back, with only one modification. Before discussing what hasn’t worked though, let’s discuss improvements. In my last post, I semi-jokingly (mostly seriously), asked how on earth one goes about increasing swimming stamina and endurance. This walrus is seriously in need of a few pointers from a dolphin (heck, I’ll take trout at this point). Since then though, I’ve made a few improvements. Wednesday I swam a mile in 43 minutes. A full 17 minutes faster than when I started. I’m sure I could shave 5 more minutes off this time if I cut out the breaks every two laps or could learn to flip-turn without making the lifeguard think I was having a seizure at the end of the pool. One thing at a time though.
Running hasn’t provided too many surprises as of late. Thursday I had a 60 minute speed workout and I ran my fastest 10K ever (46:15), which I was extremely happy about. Speaking of 10K’s, I signed up for one that takes place in two weeks here in Stillwater. My goal is to finish in under 47:00 which seems completely doable. There was also a 5K here yesterday to support the OSU Triathlon Team, which I came extremely close to doing, but couldn’t figure out a way to work it into my brick. Let me tell you about this race: First of all, this was basically the most amazing race I’ve ever heard of. After every mile you had to eat a donut (doughnut? That war still rages on inside my grammatically fixated mind…). Essentially it combined two of my favorite activities: running and stuffing my face with as much fried, sugar covered, dough as possible. The Fiancee and my parents can vouch for the fact that if someone was driving in front of me with almost any type of food, I could bust out some sub 5 minute miles (Note: this has never been scientifically tested, but I’m open to it). Unfortunately, I had a 3 hour brick to do.
Which brings us to yesterday, a 150 minute Z2 bike followed by a 30 minute Z2 run. For those of you who aren’t familiar with small Oklahoma towns, I would probably have to cycle around the entire city 30 times to get that kind of time in on the bike. So me being me, I decided to hop on trusty Highway 51 and do a simple 24 miles out and 24 back. A few cyclists use Highway 51 because it has large shoulders and is reasonably straight and seemed only moderately hilly. “Seemed” being the key word there. The thing to realize about Oklahoma is that once you’re East of I-35 the landscape changes from unbelievably flat to moderately hilly. Without considering this fact I blindly headed east towards Tulsa. This is when things got interesting.
Below is the elevation graph for the duration of my ride. For any readers who routinely climb thousands of feet every ride and then get off at the top of the hill only to say, “Let’s do that again!” Let me complain for a moment: The lowest point on this graph is 790 feet. The highest is just over 1000 feet, but the stupid dang road had you do it over and over and over again. The most I’ve ever climbed on a given ride is just over 500 feet. On this route I climbed 1,655 feet. Oh, and add in the fact that the winds were gusting to 28 mph yesterday straight into my face on the way home. It turned what was supposed to be a 2.5 hour ride into 5 minutes shy of 3 hours.
As I dragged myself back into town after the ride from hell, I found I was having trouble keeping down the GU packet I’d eaten at half way and the GU Brew I’d been sipping on. When I got home I collapsed on the floor of my apartment burnt to a crisp physically and mentally. I was extremely dehydrated and was definitely feeling it. I laid there for probably half an hour taking in as much water as I could stomach. After I while I had the strength to kick off my cycling shoes and shower off. This was my first experience with dehydration during exercise and I was determined never to let it happen again. Coming from a running background, I had no idea how much you should consume while cycling. After a little research I found that it’s generally recommended to drink about 28 oz. per hour of cycling. I had just completed 3 hours with one 25 oz. bottle of GU Brew. Not my finest hour(s).
Needless to say, the brick didn’t happen yesterday. I think part of being a good endurance athlete is knowing when to push and when to say enough is enough. My body had been through enough so I didn’t push it. I joke a lot on my blog because I like to keep things light. My intention with this story wasn’t to highlight my own ignorance (although I think that came through pretty glaringly), but to caution any other new cyclists/triathletes to consider proper hydration. Just because it’s low impact doesn’t mean you can forget hydration.
Lastly, I thought I would share some of my favorite shots from last month. Most of these were over Spring Break in Oklahoma City. I caught the below picture while cycling one morning. Couldn’t have been more perfect!
The dog park has a lake that the dogs can swim in. We couldn’t get Brinkley to stop swimming. Maybe I should take some lessons from him. He does two out of the three sports right?
Spring time in Oklahoma means one thing: storm season. I snapped this picture of a severe thunderstorm that was passing about 30 miles south of us. Nothing can quite capture how massive these things are.
Hopefully everyone’s training has been going well. Remember to take some time to relax and in the words of The Most Interesting Man in the World: Stay thirsty my friends.