Now that everything is booked, time to officially announce my fall schedule. I say fall schedule, but really I'm considering this my 2018 schedule. The first half of the season I calling a prep phase, getting the you know what kicked out of me a few times, which not only has made me hungry [and angry] for more, but also taught me valuable lessons about what worked and what absolutely didn't work. I had pieces of a good race scattered amongst the bunch such as a 1:16 high half marathon in my first 70.3 of the season in Marbella, Spain back in April (even with a washroom break), then 5th out of the water at 70.3 Victoria with a PB swim at that time, as well as the 3rd fastest run split of 1:17:05 on the day (on a trail/twisty little run course and only 9 seconds off the overall winning time of Cody Beals' run split). Then a 24 minute and change swim in Prague (1:16/100), and a 1:20/100 3km swim in Denmark both big PB's for the 1.2mile and 3km distance. Most of the positives were either from the swim or run, not on the bike, and when I did have a pretty solid bike in Prague considering it was 100% solo against two front packs of riders it was backed up by a terrible run thanks to poor hydration, and injury. But for the most part consistently underperforming on the bike and frustratingly so after consistently solid workouts in practice. So, just as every athlete needs to do not only on a daily basis but also on a more macro-level it was time for some introspection to figure out how I would need to adapt. As Einstein said "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." So why continue to train the exact same way trying to hit so called pre-race test workouts or benchmark workouts that I had set or built up to, when those workouts were clearly not translating over and ended up giving no real insight into my potential performance on race day.
So over the past month and a bit, I essentially tore apart my training methods, and started from scratch. I'm not going to go too too much into that here because that's not the purpose of this post, but to keep it real brief (brief for me) essentially gone are the stupidly long bike rides where I'd spend huge sums of time in zone 3 or even just zone 3 riding in general from any ride, instead I'm achieving the exact same total TSS but done with much shorter workouts with huge sums of time in zone 4-5. In addition, I've been lifting a silly amount of heavy things up and down repeatedly and put on quite a bit of muscle mass (although it honestly hasn't really translated into the outright weight gain that I hoped it would, only about 1-1.5kg) so I guess just built up some areas that were weak before, and maybe moved the muscle around a little. I'd say actually the biggest thing I've keyed in on as to my weight is not as much weight from day to day, but more so my weight over the course of the day. Before I was having just massive weight fluctuations throughout the day of in the range of 4kg due to significant dehydration post-workout and because of it my appetite suffered, my performance for evening workouts would suffer, and recovery overall. So maybe sounds weird as a solution for someone who is pretty obsessive about weight but I'm weighing myself 4-5 times per day trying to keep the hopefully topped up morning number as stable as possible over the course of the day. Admittedly, with the humidity past couple weeks (before the weather change this last weekend) that has been hard on top of the fact I have a very high sweat rate - on a run earlier last week I actually recorded a personal record in terms of a running sweat rate at over 3L/hr, so while that's is impossible to replenish while running, I had many bottles ready to go post-run to get the fluids in asap. I'm finding that while it's important to get some CHO:protein post-workout** to replenish, the quicker I start drinking loads of electrolyte drinks post the better I feel, so it's not so much a matter of I have until my next workout to get back the 3L lost, instead I try to get in the 3L as quickly as possible. In any case I'm finding my evening workouts are of much higher quality and even finding the level of soreness in the morning has reduced significantly so it no longer takes me about 3 hours after getting up to feel somewhat mobile again.
Important to replenish for sure but that 20-30 minute window of "super-primed" protein synthesis is a bit of a myth, and been de-bunked by numerous studies such as those by Dr. Stu Phillips at UofT. The "window" actually extends out to about 3 hours, and even for the entire 24hr post the muscles are still more sensitive to protein.
Finally a big change in my training is that I am fully running to power now using the Stryd footpod. I had reached out to the company back in June, and they very nicely and generously got me started with the system, and I'm now just loving it. I'd say the first little while I was sort of in a learning phase. Just trying to figure out what the numbers meant for me in terms of establishing zones (just like on a bike), and how running to power would really be a benefit compared to just sticking to pace. But now that I've been running with it for a couple months, I'd say the biggest benefit, for someone like me who was returning from injury, was keeping my efforts in check no overdoing it (proper pacing by setting upper power ceilings for myself in workouts), and actually being able to gage the overall training stress of my runs much more accurately which again meant that it would help me determine when I needed to back off a little or could afford to push a little harder on a given day. What I mean by this last point is that I've found TrainingPeaks, while being an incredibly valuable piece of software, to very much so under-estimate the training stresses of running (while usually over-estimating the TSS of swimming). With running being a pretty high impact sport I feel that really no matter how easy the run, the mileage takes it toll and the training stress is higher relative to non-impact things like swimming. Making the switch to running to power, I find the TSS allocated to each run gives a much better representation to what I'm feeling post run, or in the days post hard run, and therefore as I said helps me a little better as to when it's time to hold back and when I can perhaps afford to dig a little deeper on a given day.
So that's what's happening with me for the most part of the training front. Now for the actual purpose of this post my fall schedule.
Race #1&2: After my final prep at the Olympic Triathlon in Lakeside this past weekend, I've been given the incredible opportunity to go over to Changsha, China, along with two other pros here in Toronto, to compete in the Changsha International Triathlon on September 16th (leaving for China on Wednesday Sept 12). The race organizers have been just amazing setting everything up for us to have as little stress as possible while we are there and can just focus on hammering out a great race. I cannot thank them enough for organizing everything and giving us this opportunity of a lifetime. Craig Alexander will even be there, and it is going to be absolutely amazing to just shake his hand and speak with a true legend of our sport. The race will be basically an Olympic distance with 1500m swim, 47km bike, and then 10km run. After that it's a short domestic flight from Changsha over to Chongqing (in the picture below) to race in Ironman 70.3 Chongqing, and again really have thank Ironman for helping organize everything in terms of our stay in Chongqing, and travel. That race will be on my birthday September 23rd, so always a little added excitement when it's your birthday, and then everyone will also be chasing down the one spot being offered to race at IM 70.3 Worlds next year in Nice. After the epic race in Port Elizabeth this year, I'm sure everyone will be giving just that much more to be a part of next year's event, and Nice of all places wow. For me, after 3 wins in a row over the past 4 weeks I feel strong and like I'm ready for anything. All three races were slightly different each posing there own challenges, and received good lessons from each to take into China. I think in particular my bike, run combo is in a real good place, and it was a great feeling in the Lakeside Olympic where even with the hilly, and incredibly windy run course, I felt at the 10km finish averaging 3:30s (the course was a little long around 10.2km so the 35:50 run had actually equated down to 3:30/km pace) that I had another chunk of running energy left in me (maybe still a good 11km) and believe I could've kept the pace there if not picked it up further as the first 2km of the run in particular were quite slow with my feet still being completely numb.
Race #3: After China, I get back home and it will be time to hunker down for 6 weeks of un-interrupted training on route to me finally making my return to the marathon on November 5 for the Road2Hope Marathon. I feel I have a lot of unfinished business with the sport of distance running, and honestly was a bit of a sour transition into triathlon after I spent one fall/winter building towards what I hoped to be a 2:27 marathon in Houston (signed up and everything), but then got the worst stress fracture of my life had to stop, and since then it was just an uphill battle to try to get back to running form, and never was able to get back to the point that a marathon was even in the cards. The rest you know the story. Basically, why now am I deciding to return to the marathon. Well first off, this isn't me quitting triathlon. No not at all. Instead, it is that I had qualified for Boston in the previous marathons I had run, but never took my spot on the start line. Then, watching this year's race as I do every year, those brutal conditions looked just so epic, to me atleast sitting warm and cozy sipping some Twinnings earl grey tea on the couch. For the racers obviously not maybe as enjoyable as a sunny day, but to me it just looked like something you would remember forever. The few wisps of hair on my arms that I've missed shaving, were standing straight up, and got so emotional and choked up when I saw Desi cruising down Boylston to the finish. In my mind, I decided right there I would give everything to run another marathon qualify for Boston and be there to participate in that iconic race. I had run the full course before a few years while on a weekend trip to Boston, to see my Patriots crush the Bills as usual, and loved it and could just feel the energy in the pavement. So I'll be there on the Road2Hope start line (as the timing is better than Scotiabank to give me atleast couple more weeks to build) hunting down a BQ for the 2020 race. Now for this year, I wouldn't be so much racing racing the race. Really I'd be going for a time that comfortably qualifies me for Boston, while at the same time is not so fast that I'm unable to walk for a week afterwards since there is still a lot more racing to do post (plus going for a real quick time would mean I would need to reduce the bike/swim mileage in favour of the run). So I'd say something in the 2:40 range would achieve both conditions. Having said that am I just going to show up race day and go out for a 42.2km stroll around Hamilton. No. I respect the distance too much to just wing it and assume 2:40 is an easy time and I can show up with no training and rip off 3:50s for 42.2km's. So through October I will train for it for sure, so if you live in the area and want to crush some Squire style long runs with me up on my go-to marathon training grounds at Bethesda SideRoad in Stouffville, leave a comment. Also the more I do train specifically for it, the more likely I'll be walking post race with almost no significant interruption in my training for triathlon. If interested my favourite marathon workout is the 5,4,3,2,1 long run (5mile M pace, 4mile M pace, 3 mile M pace, 2 mile HM pace, 1 mile 10k race pace, 1 mile easy between each, 2 mile warmup/cooldown). Overall it is a 23 mile (37km) killer workout that I feel is the closest thing you can get to in training to the feel on marathon race day - as the last 1 mile interval at 10km pace is already 32km into the run so ripping off 3:10-3:15/km so late is very very difficult and feels close to the pain you will feel 38-39km into the race. Anyways I must say it just amps me up so much to think about running a marathon again, and if I BQ then for 2020 I will actually do a legitimate build, and race that race all out.
Event #4: Well not really a race but a significant event for me in the fall, is after 2 years of dealing with it I will finally be getting an MRI on my left hamstring. Thing has been just a total pain in the you know what - literally and figuratively - so I hope we can finally sort out what is up.
Finally Race #5/6: The last two races of the years will be Challange Baja 70.3 (Baja California) on December 2nd, and then Ironman 70.3 Indian Wells La Quinta the following weekend on Dec 9th. Both look like awesome courses and I'm very excited to take on the challenge of back to back weekend 70.3s. I'm anticipating by that point in the year the engine will maybe be starting to fatigue a little (as I started racing back in April so that's a long time to go without any break), but that's also why I think doing the fall marathon in between there is good. Yes, your probably saying how is doing a marathon mid-season good to prevent burnout and fatigue, well mentally atleast it switches things up and keep the mind fresh. The body maybe will be feeling it but endurance sport is more than 90% mental anyways, so if the mind is cooking on all cylinders I'm not too concerned.
After that it will be what looks like it will be an epic round of golf at the resort there in La Quinta, and then a solid chunk of rest into the holidays.
So that's the schedule for now, in October there may be one or two road races thrown into the mix to tune up for R2H, but these are the big ones. Thanks for reading along this way too long of a post, until next time happy training and racing. And keep an eye on the Berlin Marathon on September 16th, Eluid Kipchoge just oblierated a 15x1km workout and is looking super fit to take down the world record.