Pro Week

I’m embarking on a new adventure in life — changing jobs. I’ve never done this before so I’m a little nervous and excited all rolled into one. I had the opportunity to take a week off during the layover so I used the opportunity to turn pro for week. I trained my @$$ off as it were. (I wanted to relax and get some stuff done around the house too.)

Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. 9 days. A build like I’ve never done before.

Saturday

I started off my weekend doing a long bike with the VaHi Velo group. The familiar Quad Country Ride (as I call it) that winds south through four counties. I set the 2015 KOM on the big hill climb on the front half of the ride earlier in May and decided to take it easy today. I did however make a go at the sprint to the gas station stop. I was out front the entire way but some caught me in the last few feet. Dang. It was a good hard ride as the temperatures have been climbing. I got home and bricked around the block for 1 mile to see how my ankle was feeling. My recent x-rays revealed a bone spur so the future of my season is a little cloudy right now and I’m trying not get my hopes up about any gains I’m making. It may end at any moment so I’m just trying to focus on staying happy and racing what I can.

Sunday

It was ATC Long Run day. Long run for me is a relative term because I’m supposed to be taking it easy as per doctor’s orders. I was doing short runs of no more than 3 miles for a little bit, so I decided to do the 5-mile loop and see how it felt. I reviewed the route on my laptop at home and picked up a paper cheat sheet only to leave it sitting on the ground outside Energy Lab before heading out. I got about 1.5 miles in and had no clue where to go. I was running with Rett and he had a sheet for the 6-mile loop and I tried to piece our 5-mile route together from that. It didn’t work out so well and we ended up running two gnarly hills in the process. We did hit pretty much exactly 5 miles though on the route we did take so that was nice. I paced around 7:45/mi and the heat was definitely a factor. Not having a water stop along the way didn’t help either but I persevered despite the conditions. Ankle felt good, but legs were tired from the ride+run the day before and now a feel unexpected heat hills.

Monday

Morning came and as everyone went to the office, I did not. I did go to work though. It’s Pro Week! Like most Mondays I started off with the 6am Arches Intown Ride. (M-F at 6am leaving from the arches in front of Agnes Scott. A quick ~1 hour ride that’s different every day of the week.) However this Monday, when the group parted ways to go home, I kept right on going. I headed out to Stone Mountain Park via some of my normal roads and did a lap before heading home. I tacked on a few extra miles in the neighborhood to round my ride up to 50 miles but didn’t plan it so well and arrived in the driveway at 49. Ah well. Time to brick it up. I hit the pavement for 2 miles this time since 5 the day before felt good. I averaged a 7:03/mi pace and was pretty happy with how much energy I still had when I was done. Later that day I drove over to the Grant Park Pool with Amanda and Avery to meet some friends. Just because it’s Pro Week doesn’t mean I can’t hang out with my friends. Oh man and would you look at that! A 50 meter pool! I guess I can swim some. What are these goggles doing in my bag?! I guess I can jump in the lap lanes. I did 1200 m before calling it quits. It wasn’t a long swim, but getting some time in the 50 m pool definitely was good because it’s much different from my usual 25 yd strides over at LAF. Plus, I wanted to play with Avery while she was still interested in going in the water. It was a good day.

Tuesday

The sun comes up and I’ve already been up for over an hour. I decided to join ITL for their weekly Track Workout Tuesday at Lakeside High School at 5:45am. I picked a special day to show up for the first time. Dr. Darden had something special planned that I wasn’t really ready for. After a goodly amount of warm up and dynamic stretching he surprised us with a 1600 m all out to start. And he didn’t ask for the kind of all out that had you tired for the rest of the workout. He wanted all out like you were going to be tired for the rest of the day. It was early and I could only muster a 5:28. I was pretty happy though. From there we did 4 400s at the lap pace from the previous mile with 100m jog rest. I ticked off my 1:22s perfectly and gave a little bit extra on the last 400. It was good workout with a nice large group. I was going to run again later that night but I was tired. After all, I had promised to give the kind of effort that made me tired the rest of the day.

Wednesday

Mike Mike Mike. Guess what day it is! Another 6am Arches ride but this time it was the East Atlanta route. I like this route because it takes us close to my house on two different fronts so if I need to bail early or late because of mechanical, stomach, or time issues I get easily do it. No issues today though. In fact, I took 3rd spot all-time on the climb half way through the ride. I was 2 seconds off taking 2nd spot and I’m not 100% convinced the KOM is legit but that’s a different story. Just like Monday I decided to keep riding when the group split. Instead of going back out to Stone Mountain I decided to ride over Piedmont Park via the Beltline. It was a nice ride and I wasn’t expecting to see so many walkers and runners on the Beltline that early/late on a weekday morning. I was riding aero but I kept the speed controlled. I got back to the hizzouse and bricked around the block as usual. I typically will decide how far I’m going to brick when I pull onto my street coming off the bike. So when I start the run I’ll pick whatever pace I feel like I can keep for the entire brick. Today I decided to not look at my watch the entire time and just run what felt good. I rounded the last corner feeling good and strode up to my driveway (it’s pretty much exactly 1 mile around) just as my Garmin 910XT beeped. 6:28. Dang. That felt great.

I headed off to meet some friends at a coffee shop and then left their to go play a round of disc golf with a buddy. (Heck yeah I’m counting the 2.4 miles I walked shirtless in the heat for training. Every bit counts! I shot a -6 too.) I took a nap when I got home and then headed back to Grant Park Pool around 4pm for some more laps. As a response to the rising temperatures in Atlanta, the City of Atlanta opened 11 of the city pools to the public for free as a place to go and cool off. I took advantage of this fact and saved the $4 entry (not a big deal as I was ready to pay it). I decided on 10×200 as my workout for an even 2000 m and was happy with my splits. I did the first one and last one fast(er) with the other 8 right at a steady 1:55-1:57/100m pace. I felt good. I had been swimming a lot more recently and my times had been dropping a little. I need to keep the frequency and speed work up so that I can be a little more competitive at the sprint and intermediate race distances.

Thursday

Nothing super special to report for this day. I again joined the 6am Arches crew early and embarked on the always fast McAfee route. It’s a route with few turns that pretty much squares around Belvedere Park. I wasn’t planning on going hard but I ended up doing it. The first three Strava segments went PR, 9th overall, KOM. The funny part about it was that I was just going with the group. I was actually in the back of the pack to start the KOM run and was ready to sweep a little bit when Big Dog Dave told me where the start and finish were and that I should go for it. So I did. Took his KOM by 1 second 😉 22.8mph over the 1 mile segment. It’s not an easy segment either — at least not to me. ~150 ft of climbing smack in the middle with a 10% grade at one point followed by a steady low-grade climb to see what you’ve got left. I rode the rest of the ride as a wheel sucker to get home and you can guess… brick. Another no watchy looky for 1 mile yielded a 6:43 and I was really happy with that considering how hard I rode.

Friday

Yes another 6am Arches group outing. (Is there a pattern here?) [I come from a running background and I’m decently fast, but I’ve got room to improve on the bike so I’m putting those miles in right now while my ankle is getting back to 100%.] This ride was also pretty fast. The 6am crew had record turnout this week every single day and some fast(er) guys (than me) showed up to set the pace early. I rode middle of the pack to save something for the week and concentrated on cadence spending most of my time in the 80-95 range. My miles were adding up and I was starting to feel the fatigue. I had never done this many miles let alone this many hours of all-around training before. But that’s what this week is all about and I needed to make sure I could get through the next two days and not get burned out or injured. Circled home and time to run. This time was 3 miles though and there’s a nice little climb at the end (which I have the CR for). 7:30/mi average was good enough to crack a smile and I was ready to head into the weekend.

Saturday

I couldn’t attend my buddy’s birthday party due to prior engagements so I told him I would ride with him on the SCT to hang out and catch up. He wanted an 8:00am start so I showed up at 7:00am to get 20 miles in before we rode. I hadn’t ridden on the trail in a while and while it’s kind of boring because the scenery is mostly trees, it was a really nice change of pace from all the Atlanta traffic lights, stop signs, and turns. I was able to keep an average speed of just over 21mph along with an average cadence of 90. 10 out and 10 back to meet my friend and we retraced my route and added on 10 more. We rode in aero side by side the entire time but on the way back we started a 2-man paceline and laid down the hammer. We hit 30mph at one point but didn’t set any records (people must be flying through there). Circled the two-wheeled wagons at the cars and removed our shirts for a nice little jog session. (Gotta run well off the bike!) I put up a solid 7:12/mi pace for a 2-mile out-and-back. I had just pedaled 50 miles and sprinted the last 3 for the glory. Plus, it’s my buddy. I gotta show him who’s boss so he doesn’t get any bright ideas about trying to sprint me down again.

Sunday

I wasn’t sure what I was going to do today when I woke up. It was the last day of Pro Week so I figured it should be something special. I landed on a workout that would really test me — 1 hour of each. It was derived from a conversation I had with an ex-coworker about our ideal triathlon race. In his opinion the swim, bike, and run weren’t really weighted correctly and we thought it would be cool to do a race where your times ended up being roughly the same for each discipline.

Now in theory the workout seems pretty easy, but for me at least there are a few nuances I wasn’t prepared for.

I started with 3000m at the Grant Park Pool. My pace the last few times was just under 2:00/100m so it seemed easy enough to set my watch for 500m intervals and see if I could do 6 before 60 minutes hit. An hour is a long time to swim. I needed to make sure I was staying hydrated for the rest of the workout so that’s why I opted for 500m intervals so I had a reason to stop for a few seconds and sip on some of that dihydrogen monoxide. You can’t really eat anything either. Well, I can’t. I’d blow chunks if I tried to take something. I guess I could have done an INFINIT blend in my bottle or something, but I didn’t think about it ahead of time.

So we move to the bike which was pretty eventful. A went 30 minutes out toward Stone Mountain and 30 minutes back. A few minutes after turning around someone pulled out in front of me without even looking (shocking I know). For whatever reason they decided to go 5mph so I ended up on the passenger side of the car to avoid rear-ending them. Brown baggin’ a brewski! Nice! Spent about 4 minutes on the phone with 911 trying to report it but it was such a dumpster fire talking to them I’m not even sure they sent someone. (Was transferred twice because we “changed jurisdictions” in the middle of the call.) Anyway, pacelined a wheel sucker until he fell off (hehehe) and headed back home for the next leg. I sucked down calories on the bike as much as I could. I knew I’d need them so I did a double scoop of INFINIT in a bottle and had a Clif Bar on hand in case I wanted more.

The run was the unknown. I hadn’t run more than 5 miles since Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga and I was hoping my ankle didn’t flare up before I could get the requisite amount of time in. I decided on my familiar 3-mile loop followed by mile repeats. This would give me a good 25-minute chunk up front and then keep me close to the house in case I needed to call it quits. It also provided me with a nice aid station that was stocked with ice, water, a Red Bull, and some spectators (lots of neighbors out in full force). I pulled the Red Bull out about half way in because I started to fatigue a good bit and wanted to experiment with something new. I’ve never taken it on race day and wanted to see if/how my body could/would handle it during a strenuous workout. It wasn’t bad at all. I could feel a little bit of energy at the beginning of each lap and no burps or … other bodily functions to speak of. I was pretty thrilled to average 7:32/mi and be able to get in 8 miles. If my ankle holds I see some good race day efforts in the future.

Numbers

Swim: 2:14:53 (6200 m)
Bike: 14:06:16 (250.1 mi / 12,252 ft)
Run: 4:09:38 (30 mi / 1,638 ft)
Total: 20:30:47 (283.95 mi / 13,890 ft)

Thoughts

It was a good week. It was also very eye-opening. This is my third season of triathlon and I’ve been getting better, faster, and stronger with each season (thankfully) despite the bumps along the way. I’ve been doing more races and longer races as well. I thought next season would be when I’d make the jump from 70.3 up to 140.6 but like I said after thinking through IM 70.3 Chattanooga, I’ll probably be retiring from 70.3+ for the foreseeable future. This week gave me some real perspective about how much effort and time would be required in order to train and perform at a level I would be happy with going into the 140.6 distance races. I have no doubt that I could train for and finish any of them, but my mentality and personality isn’t one for JFF. It’s all about competing, push my limits, going faster, and finishing hard. I simply can’t do upward of 20 hours every week. My job and home life doesn’t allow for it.

I think it’s good to put up some big numbers every once in a while to see what you can handle and where your fitness is. I’m surprised I didn’t feel more tired during the week because I was definitely feeling it today. I slept like a rock last night and woke up feeling like I had done a race yesterday. I’m really glad I could train this much this week. I pushed myself hard and hopefully I see some gains.

Happy training everyone!

Charlie Holder Written by:

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