Palomar Virgin, No more

The top of Palomar Mountain
 I just wrapped up a solid 3 week training block which included my first ascent up Palomar Mountain - which I'll get to later. Now it's time to have a recovery week and it's just in time for the AFC 1/2 marathon this weekend. I'll admit, I'm looking forward to racing, but I'm not quite as "pumped" as I would be if I were racing a tri. I guess it's because I have put so much time into cycling that I'd like to see where I stand right now in a triathlon as opposed to a 1/2 marathon. I really don't have any huge expectations this weekend since I only put in 2-3 runs and ~25 miles a week these days. I know I'm fit, I'm just not sure if I have the "racing legs" that I'd like to have for a 1/2. I'm still debating on my pacing - so to help with that Ryan and I hit up the track last Tuesday to do what I like to call a "1/2 marathon indicator" workout. It's 3X2 miles w/one lap recovery jog and the middle interval done "blind." The purpose is to hit your 1/2 marathon goal pacing and see where your heart rate lines up with it and also to get your body and mind synced together on the pacing. Going into the workout I feel 5:40 is the magic number which will get me the sub 1:15 I'm looking for. So here's how the workout played:

1st set:  5:42, 5:40 = 11:22
2nd set: 5:38, 5:43 = 11:19 (done blind) as in, not looking at your watch the whole time to try and "feel" the pace.
3rd set: 5:32, 5:26 = 10:58 (simulating the last 2 miles in the race) Not an all out effort, but a strong finish.

My average heart rate was right around 175 for the first two sets and spiked up to around 179 for the last one. I want to be sitting around 174ish for most of the race until the last 4 miles or so where I'll pick it up. My max is ~192. I felt in control the whole time (even the last set) and as long as my legs hold up - I see myself breaking 1:15. Evil thoughts (yes evil) sometimes come to my head and I often wonder what I could do in the 1/2 if I just focused on running again. But the idea of running sub 1:20 off of the bike in a 70.3 is more appealing to me now. Not sure if my body (and mind) could handle 100 mile weeks again either.

Speaking of the bike, last week was my first time up Palomar mountain. For those of you that aren't familiar with it, it's a very popular climb in Southern California and some people put it up as one of the best climbs in the US reaching up over 5000ft in elevation. The Tour of California has even been up the mountain. I was wondering how I'd fair since I would be doing this on the Slice, which is not my weapon of choice when you're climbing 7500ft for the day. I need to get a road bike...shheshh. To add to it, I was riding with Jim Dover who's a well respected cyclist in Temecula and a very strong climber.

Beautiful views as you climb
We made the 20 mile trek which including me watching Jim draft off of a van going 40mph+ going down Pala mountain. Once we started the climb my legs felt surprisingly good after 3 weeks of laying it down. As we made the climb I started getting pretty cocky because I kept thinking this wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. The problem is, it just kept going and going. Switch back after switch back, straight up. The views turned to be incredible on this beautiful morning and it was a great distraction from what was starting to become a pretty difficult climb. I kept rounding the corners thinking it was the last one only to be greeted with a steeper section. We made it up pretty fast and I definitely underestimated it which in turn earned my respect-that's for sure. I didn't time it - not sure where to start? The taco shop?? Either way, I'll definitely be hitting Palomar up more in the future. We took a little breather at the top and then headed down. Jim was nailing the decent and for about a mile I tried to stay with him to see what lines he was taking but after feeling my tire slip for a split second on a turn, I decided I'd just see him at the bottom! I'm definitely not familiar with the road yet, so I'll give it a few more efforts before I try and hit it hard.

Those really were the highlights of the week. I wanted to knock out the blog early this week because I have a busy week at work. I am the tournament director for our 12th annual Customer Golf Classic this Friday, so that is stressing me out and of course the 1/2 marathon falls 2 days after...oh well, looking forward to the beer garden already!

Here's the week summary which happens to be my biggest volume week to date:

Swim: 2hr 45 mins (7,500 yards)...w/longest straight swim to date - 1.2 miles
Bike: 7hr 35 mins (126 miles)...w/11,556ft of climbing
Run: 3hr 22 mins (26.5 miles)

Total: 13hr 42 mins
For those of you that are racing this weekend, find me in the beer garden afterwards. There is going to be a big group of us and we're going to hit up some place to eat after. Good luck to all that are racing!
The kiddos playing in the water...Love em!

An Arrogant Bastard to top of the weekend!


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