This last week had the longest run and the longest bike workouts of the plan - 2h45 in the run, and 6h on the bike. And at this point in the training, I was dreading it all, and very skeptical of any success with them. The load has fatigued my legs to a point where my stamina just isn't there anymore. I'm paying the price for the last 21wks of hard training, early mornings, late nights. I called in the troops to help me kill time on these workouts, and make sure I stayed accountable for getting them done.
Peter joined me on Saturday's run which started at 5:15am - ick. We shuffled along slowly but steadily, and covered a large part of the trail system around my neighborhood. Things were tired and a bit sore, but before I knew it, we had cleared 2h40 of non-stop running. I couldn't believe it. And even beyond that, the ENTIRE run was Z2 intensity. I nearly hit the floor when I made that realization.
Incredible. That solid of a run after a week of training, including a solid swim and bike session the day before. It seemed too good to be true.
Sunday's ride scared me. I've never ridden 6hrs before. My nutrition and hydration is still sketchy, and with Saturday's run, I obviously wasn't fresh. Again, the troops were called in, and this time we had an additional rider - Hans. I rode 90min and pick up Hans riding his shiny Cervelo S5 with Dura-Ace kit (insert gratuitous bike porn here) and he looked solid. And after chatting with him for a while, and hearing his race season and his results, I had no business riding with him. After leading out the 220k ride the week before, I had no concerns for him on Sunday. :) We picked up Warren and Ben, and rode about 90min with them around Carp and Dunrobin, and that left me with 2h30 to go. I was a bit sore and tired, but still holding on well...even after Hans's lead of 48kph to catch a fleeing Ben.
Then Hans asks "So are we going to The Gats now?" We nearly did, but the ride there and back, and the loop would have put me near 7hrs of riding, and I didn't want to push that much. So Hans figured out a route that took us west through part of Lanark County, out to Almonte on some postcard rural roads with lots of twists, turns and rollers. It was a fantastic ride on all sorts of terrain - stuff I never knew my Felt S22 would handle that well. Some roads probably hadn't seen a car for days. It was bloody fantastic. It almost made me forget about the pain and bloat I was starting to feel with 90min remaining.
We made it into Almonte with about one hour remaining in my ride...and 75min remaining to get home. With the sun beating down and our bottles empty, we hit a Mac's store and topped up. Hans continued with the tips and tricks here (he's been racing for years - sprints, crits, long stuff, 'cross - he's loaded with experience) by making me read labels. We compared Gatorade to one of those "dessert" milks (you know, like Caramilk or Oreo flavoured white milk) which floored me. I would never, ever buy one of those milk drinks...until that day.
- Gatorade - 120 cal, 0 protein, 500mL
- Dessert Milk - 360 cal, 15g protein, 330mL
The choice was obvious. I got the "milk" for fuel and an iced tea for hydration, and away we went for that last hour. All along Hans is telling me to eat and drink, but I'm on the edge of barfing. My legs hurt. My arms, neck and back are so tired I can barely hold myself on the bike anymore. I'm hot and feeling tipsy - probably an electrolyte deficiency (I'll need to address that in the race). My mind was fried, and my demons were shouting pretty loud, and I could feel bits of panic starting to set in. But he just kept coaching me through, making me eat and drink. 30min later I thanked him for that. Still bloaty, but feeling more stable and not hurting as much, we kept riding.
Hans rode with me the entire way, right to my doorstep - making sure I didn't bail. That's why we went out past Almonte - to ensure the time was done. I was toast, and I hurt like I never have before in my life. I also had just completed 6h15 of riding, covering 180k - the longest ride of my life. And again, the entire ride was Z2 intensity.
And afterwards, other than being tired, I felt fantastic. And to be honest, I could have turned it into a brick. Even today, as I write this, I'm not really sore. It kind of feels like things are starting to fall into place, like I might actually be ready to do this.
This is one crazy ass journey. And I'm glad that my family and friends are there to help me get through it. And I doubt I'll ever be able to thank them enough.