Breakthrough Week

After struggling on and off with IT band issues since November I have finally had a few weeks of limited pain thanks to Brad over at b-project and the stretches he gave me, they have done wonders! I started working on more quality specific workouts over the past few weeks after being in aerobic training mode for which seems forever (November, 2010). Nothing too crazy because I'm still waiting to build towards nationals and worlds which are in Oct/Nov of this year. The point of these next few weeks is to give me a little peak so that I'll be in decent shape for the Xterra West Championships in Vegas which is less then three weeks away. I booked my hotel and it looks like I am going solo. If anyone wants a free ride and stay at MonteLago Village Resort, keep me company and help me out with race-day stuff let me know. The fam would normally make the trip up with me, but we will be racing the Carlsbad 5000 the week before and the Ragnar Relay the weekend after which would be way too much for the kids.

Here's a preview of last year's Xterra Vegas. Looks like the race is on the moon!

I'm very excited to race and I'll finally be able to see what Xterra is all about! I'm also very pumped to race the Carlsbad 5000. This will be my 3rd time racing in the past four years. My progression:

2008: 20:08...fat and out of shape trying to get ready for the R&R Marathon
2009: Quit running (again)
2010: 17:57...just starting to attempt to get back in shape
2011: Predicted time: 16:20

I just started doing some harder efforts on the track and am feeling good. Last Tuesday we did a 5k simulation drill where we went: 1000 (5k race pace), 800 (float), 1000r, 800f, 1000r, 400f, 200r and I did it in 17:37 pretty effortlessly, so I feel like a sub 16:30 is in the cards.

This weekend I had some breakthrough workouts. Over the course of the week I swam the most I have ever in a week which was 8000 meters (or 5 miles over 4 days) including a 1500 time trial I did to start the day on Saturday. Saturday I had sort of a race simulation workout planned. Xterra Vegas is a 1500 meter swim, 18 mile mountain bike ride and then a 10k (6.2 miles) run at the end. First up was the swim and let me tell you, it's hard to get out of the house on a Saturday morning when you can finally sleep in, the kiddos are up, the house smells like breakfast and coffee but you need to get out the door. I took a few swigs of coffee, ate a banana and headed out to the pool. I had a lane to myself, did a quick 200 yard w-up, started my timer and off I went for 30 laps...
Xterra Vegas Swim Start

I started out very hard for the first 200 meters to try and simulate the race. I know there will be a lot of knocking around at the start, guys trying to jockey for position. My strategy is to BE THAT GUY. Instead of hiding in the corner at the start I want to be right up in the mix so I can mix it up with a group that is faster than me, fight my way at the start and latch on to someones feet which will get out of the water in the mix w/my age group. I finished my 1500 meter TT in 26:17 which is like 1:45's (pr 100). I was actually pretty happy with it (although it's not fast to most swimmers) because I know on race day when I am well rested, wearing a wetsuit, property hydrated, full of calories and adrenaline I'll knock that time down a few minutes....hopefully! Mind you, I still don't do kick turns so I know that slowed me down quite a bit too.

Xterra Vegas Bike Course
 After the swim I went home, took a warm shower, ate some bfast and realized how tired my arms were. They were burning! I've never swam a straight 1500 meters before---I think 1000 was the longest before Saturday---which means I still need some work in the pool. Either way, I'm excited about my progress in the pool especially since I've been self-taught from just reading books, watching video and studying good swimmers at the pool. After doing some work in the garage and eating lunch I headed out for my ride and run. The plan was to get in about 20 miles on the mountain bike with 5X6 minute hill repeats. I found a really steep hill about 5 miles from my house that I've been wanting to check out...It didn't disappoint. There is rocky dirt on the shoulder of the road that goes all the way up so I hammered out five repeats and then immediately road full blast down. This did a few things. I had to climb long/tough terrain and then I turned around with my HR at about 85% of my max and flew back down the mountain as fast as I could which can be hard when your legs are shaking and your heart is pounding. The best thing I noticed after looking at workout data later is how quickly my heart rate recovered. It would go from 180-185 at the top of the climb and by the time I got to the bottom (about 2 mins) it would be sitting at 125-130. This is a great sign of fitness. I remember doing mile repeats back in my hay day in Ohio when I could do 7X1mile at 4:40 with 2 minute rest. The tell tell sign wasn't how high I could get my HR on the repeats, but how low I could get it on the recoveries because this is what mimics race day when you can recover from surges or hills that occur over the course of a race.

Xterra Vegas Run...Looks like another planet!
 After tacking on extra mileage after my hill repeats I headed in for a brick run. At this point I was hurting. I could still feel the efforts in the pool that morning and now with the wind picking up, I was not stoked to put my shoes and get out for another hill session-this time on foot. I quickly changed, took in a gel and did a mile warm up and noticed how easily my legs adapted. I ran 7:15 for my mile warm up and it felt effortless. So I hit it. 5X2 minute hill repeats. What made these even harder was the fact that I did them in thick grass. There aren't too many long/steep dirt hills in Temecula unless you drive to get to them so I did the next best thing and ran up a hill that had grass that was ankle deep. Each repeat went faster and faster by design and by the end of the 6 miles I was very confident for Vegas. I put in over 4 hours of effort for the day with a lot of help from Underoath and Chemical Brothers to get me through the session and although my quad started cramping up on my cool down, my body handled the load very well.

That night we did a belated St. Patties day dinner with our neighbors. Had some tasty Corn beef & cabbage with tons of good veggies, sausage, Irish potato pancakes and some Newcastle - well deserved after a long day! The next morning I woke up tired, but not sore -which is another good fitness indicator. As hard as it was on a cold cloudy morning, I headed out for a 90 minute run. No biggie--I had Thrice and Cold War Kids to keep me company during my run. 5 1/2 hours of training over two days....Great week.

Time for another quality week of training before the races begin!

thanks for reading---


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