Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Running, Riding & The Rain

From a pure training perspective last weekend did more for my mental psyche than any other training period in the past. On Friday night I was able to hammer out a fantastic 3,000 yard swim; this was the first time in weeks that I didn't experience massive calf cramps during my swim and finally was able to get through the mental barrier of what happened at Bassman. Saturday I ran 14.92 miles in 2 hours and 8 minutes while "laying it down" for the last 18 minutes of the run - my best long distance run, EVER.

Saturday afternoon I took a quick pit stop at my parent's house on my way to a pre-Memorial Day BBQ to take a few laps in their pool. I knew I needed to get into some really cold water and force myself to swim "normally" to get over what happened in the water during my early season triathlon. Like a little kid entering the pool for the first time, I held onto the wall, put my face in the water and forced myself to breath out, I did this drill for a good 5 minutes. After I proved to myself I could breath in 50 degree water I started to do some laps; for the first time I felt the true beauty of a wet suit as my stroke came back to me! What I realized was in really cold water you need to really focus on breathing, the stroke will take care of itself if you've trained hard enough but since your body wants to maintain as much heat as it can it doesn't want to exhale. It's a real mind over matter battle in frigid water, I have alot of open water swimming practice left to go but this was a GREAT start.

The real fun of the weekend came Sunday. I once had a friend who used to joke that, "if it ain't raining, you ain't training." As much as I love a challenge, as much as I want every obstacle possible thrown in my way to make the journey that much more fun - riding a bike in the pouring rain at 20 to 25 mph in 55 degree temperatures while stopping every 30 minutes to test blood sugars SUCKS!!!!!!!!!! The weather man is in store for a huge smack down if I run into him anytime in the near future.

Prior to heading out for my Sunday ride I checked weather.com which stated rain was supposed to hold off until 3:30 pm. Perfect, Coach wanted me to do a 5 to 6 hour ride, if I started at 10:30 I'd be able to make it to Bear Mountain and just about all the way back before the rain started. However, after a lap in Rockland Lake State Park and just getting through Congers around 1:30 pm the sky turned Armageddon black! Sh*t, I thought, I better not tempt fate and try to make it all the way to Bear Mountain, as is I was going to have an 89 mile round trip; the 100 miler could wait for my Lake Placid training weekend. I made it just through Piermont when the sky decided to open up and drench me; some 10 to 15 miles away from the George Washing Bridge. Thankfully I had purchased the Gore Xenon Jacket earlier that week:

The jacket did a great job of keeping me mostly dry and somewhat warm - a perfect addition to the biking wardrobe! As great as the jacket was I could have been in a freaking Gortex body suit and still gotten soaked in that freaking rain. As the rain continued to come down my bike began to feel alot heavier, my average speeds dropped from 23 mph to 20 mph to 17 mph, although my cadence remained about the same. Later that night as I was cleaning the crud off my bike, Niagra falls erupted and a good 1/2 gallon of water poured out of my bike frame - hence the slowing speeds at the same cadence. This in part is why the Lemon (which I now call my old bike frame) is being replaced by a shiny new Orbea Ordu bike frame.

A couple weeks ago the bolt that holds the clamp for the seat post in place cracked in half; every ride I've been on since then has required a quick stop every 45 minutes or so to readjust the height of the seat post. The clamp for the seat post sits on top of the head tube, instead of sitting flushly on the head tube the clamp began to pull away from the frame due to the cracked bolt. Orbea was "looking into" the problem and originally was just going to send Strictly Bicycles, my LBS a new bolt and a better tool to strengthen the tightness of the bolt. After 2 weeks of debate, Orbea decided they wanted to work with the bike directly and if necessary give me a new frame. Nelson, the owner of Strictly, knows I'm in the heart of Ironman training and a lost week at this point would be a huge problem. Displaying the amazing customer service he has always shown me, Nelson fought with Orbea to forego the examination process and give me a new frame now - I can't recommend this bike shop enough; it's a class act all the way! If you're in the market for a new ride and near Ft. Lee, NJ please put Strictly at the top of your list. Hopefully the next time I get stuck in the rain my carbon beauty won't go from a sub 15 lbs. stealth machine to a freaking Blue Whale.


Brett said...

Yea I think swimming is mostly mental.

I have also found that it takes a good 5 minutes or so and then you get into that nice breathing rythym.

You might think about doing a little warm up swim around in the lake for a good while about 15 minutes before the race starts next time.

3000 yards, thats like - making me dizzy - or something.

Rami said...

I used to get calf cramps in the pool too. Do you stretch your calves often?