Since my last blog I completed the St. Louis Half Marathon in a time of 1:29:03. I was pretty happy with the time, which was a little faster than my last race, even with a quick bathroom break mid-race.
The big thing that took place since the half marathon was a training camp week down in North Carolina, just outside of Boone. I went down there with a few friends from the Breakaway triathlon team with the goal of putting in more hours of training than we could normally do in a week since we were away from the rigors of daily life. Although I had to do some work while I was down there due to my vacation schedule, the focus of the week was really on working out and recovering. Any time that we weren’t training, we were staying off our legs, as best we could, to make sure our bodies were ready for the next day. Certainly as the week progressed a little fatigue set in, but getting back out on the bike, riding the scenic roads and taking on the challenges of the various mountains made it easy to keep going. Over the course of the week, I was able to ride every day, run most days and I made it to the pool once. By the end of the week I had amassed almost 250 miles on the bike, which included over 23,000 feet of climbing, along with over 37 miles of running, which is a lot for me.
Our first longer ride involved scaling Beech Mountain, which included a 3 mile climb that gained over 1,500 feet. There were a lot of points along the climb that the grade of the road was so steep that even in the easiest gear on my bike I had to push hard to keep the bike going forward – never mind that at this point we’d already been riding for two and a half hours – but eventually we made it to the top where we were greeted by a stunning view of the mountainous landscape around us. We also had the chance to spend many hours on the Blue Ridge Parkway, including back-to-back days of 50 and 70 miles. The photo included in this post was taken along the Parkway, which is a road that goes from Tennessee to Virginia along the top of the Appalachian Mountains. This time of the year the traffic was really light and it was great to just ride for miles without ever having to stop. As was the case on every ride, the Parkway had two types of terrain, uphill and downhill. On the downhills, I was able to barely pedal and all of a sudden I’d be racing down the side of the mountain at 40+ mph. The uphills, on the other hand, just seemed to keep going and going and going. I would often be averaging around 7 mph for a number of miles as I climbed up the next mountain that the area had to throw at me. The one nice thing about going so slowly, even if the effort required to do so was high, was that it allowed for time to look around and take in the amazing views of the Appalachians. Even though we really pushed ourselves for many hours over the course of the week, I couldn’t think of a better place to log so many miles. It’s always nice to explore new places, and combining a challenging training environment with spectacular landscapes made for an amazing week of training leading into the racing season.
I managed to stay injury free throughout the week, even with the big uptick in volume, but my body has definitely tightened up a bit as a result. I’m very much looking forward to catching up with Brian later this week to have him loosen everything up for me going into my first triathlon of the year.
With all of the extra volume under my belt, especially on the bike, I’m really excited to open the triathlon season up this Sunday. What better way to spend my last day as a 27 year old than swimming 0.8 miles, biking 40.3 miles and running 8.8 miles at the Devilman triathlon in New Jersey? I plan on using this race as a good test leading into the Eagleman half-Ironman in June, which is my main focus this year. I’m hoping to push the bike leg pretty hard and see what I can do on the run so that I can figure out if I need to adjust my strategy at all for the half-Ironman a month later.
This is the time of the year where you get to finally see what all of the months of training over the winter have yielded. I know I’ve been able to see some great results on the run so far but I’m really looking forward to seeing how it all comes together when all three disciplines are involved.
Have fun out there,