So the countdown is well and truly on. Where have the last 11 months gone!! It was July 17th 2017 when Nathan talked me into signing up for Challenge Roth and our applications were processed! 12 months of training ahead of me, how hard can this be I thought!
Very bloody hard has been the outcome. Very bloody hard indeed!
Last week and this week are the last few weeks I have to try to improve the fitness and the techniques before I start on the tapering. Something I have been looking forward to for some time.
Due to the long list of injuries etc. the training hours I have put in have not been as much as I had originally thought. I don’t know if it is possible to feel any more tired than I do at the moment, so part of me is glad I didn’t end up doing the 16 hour weeks with regularity. But I am sure come race day I might end up paying the price for not doing them! No one can answer that question just yet, but it will be answered in 3 weeks time.
Saturday was my last chance to put in a race pace bike ride before the event. So the alarm went off early doors and I was up and eating my Bircher Museli with Banana and Maple Syrup by 6.15am. Cortado washed it all down and I was ready to hit the road.
I was ready but the legs weren’t!!
They were still tired and had no life in them from last weekends Blenheim Palace Triathlon and mid week run.
On Wednesday night I set out to do a 15 mile run round Milton Keynes after work. I set off well and felt good running at 8.05 min miles. However that soon came back to bite me on the ass when I hit the 10 mile mark. Not only was that just after the Campbell Park climb, but I had soon realised I had gone out to fast too soon. I was determined to try to keep the pace high, but it was to no avail. It soon started to drop as the wall was fast approaching. I pushed on past the 13.2 mile mark and then eased off for the last mile before quitting on the run and walking the last mile back to the office. 14 miles under my belt but I had pushed my legs a little too hard for what they were use to. Every muscle ached and the right calf was so tight. I even had to stop twice on the run to try to stretch out the calf and give it a mini massage. I know it was just tightness and nothing to be concerned about, but it didn’t prevent the pain from being there!! I think this run above everything else was the main reason the legs were saying no when it came to the ride on Saturday,
So back to the ride; I had planned a route of 50 miles of which I would do 2 laps. I wanted to try to replicate a little of what I would be doing in Germany. The elevation was circa 5000ft (1515m) – I was unsure what Roth has in store for me as the website says circa 4000ft (1200m) but when I look at previous years Strava activities they range from 4000ft to 6500ft (1200m to 1970m) – so I settled in the middle!
Today was also a day to try out my on bike nutrition race day plan. And I needed to nail this to try to push this ride on today and race day.
So the nutrition plan was a SIS isogel every hour on the hour with a SIS energy bar every hour on the half hour, with the first bar being taken on board at the 30mins point. On top of this I had my Torq Vanilla energy powder in the water bottles (love this flavour). I was trying out my new xlabs torpedo tribar water bottle today which meant I could drink without losing the aero position, and I must say I love it. This was complimented by my usual 2 on bike bottles of 750ml. So in total 2250ml of fluid to keep me going.
The plan for today’s ride was to try to do a negative split – go faster on the second lap than I did on the first lap. So I set out and went at a pace and watts that I know I can maintain. However, 5 minutes in and I could tell the legs were not “fresh”. I knew this was not going to be an easy ride today.
Every climb felt like a challenge today but I was still powering along. By the time I was completing the first lap I was sat nicely on 19.1mph. Looking good for the second half where I can increase the pace and push on to try to achieve my goal of 19.5mph.
However, that never happened. I started to push on when I hit the second lap and soon realised that the legs had not improved, and were deteriorating quickly. The last half of the 2nd lap was pain and agony. The pace was dropping dramatically and there was nothing I could do about it. By the time I hit my driveway I had managed to drop my average from 19.1mph down to 18.7mph. The second lap had resulted in a 18.4mph average! Not what I set out to achieve.
Without wanting to sound anal I was disappointed in that result. I really thought I had a 19mph+ over 100+ miles solo in my legs. But alas it wasn’t today. However I am also happy that I did clock 18.7mph over 105 miles considering the fatigue that was and still is clearly in my legs at the moment.
I also realised I need to be taking on more fuel. Tiredness was there towards the end, which is not great when I have a marathon to run afterwards!!
When I got back I took on a recovery shake and had a quick shower and then despite the legs saying no, Tania said yes, and talked me into doing the run off the bike. It was only a gentle 3 miles but I am glad she did talk me into it. The legs were tired, but once I got them going it felt comfortable. The pace was only 9.25 min miles, but if I can do this pace in 3 weeks time then I will over the moon.
Come Sunday I decided I need a long overdue catch up with the Brixworth Velo crew. So I set off early to get 30 miles recovery into the legs before meeting up with them at 8.30am. However the legs were shot. The 30 miles turned into 24 miles as I cut sections out, and the pace was a lowly 16mph. Every bump felt like my own little alpe d’huez!
As soon as we headed off in the bunch I was spat out the back and found myself struggling to keep up, and they were all chatting at a very leisurely pace! Ego stayed back with me for the first 10 miles before he peeled off. And then Chopper stayed back with me for the remainder. Both times helped take my mind off the pain as we had a good natter. The group accommodated my pain well and had me in the pack at times and slowed the pace down to allow me back on after a climb – cheers all. Then just after Thrapston I decided I would cut the ride short and head home, and leave the group to power on.
Now this is where I should have turned back on myself as I had a rough idea I was about 18 miles from home. Instead I went straight on when they went left, and it transpires there was no quicker route back from there. I ended up at Kimbolton, and I am sure the crew weren’t far behind me! This error of judgement meant that by the time I got home I had clocked 75 miles! At mile 60 I was contemplating calling Tania and asking for a pick up, the legs felt that bad. Even when I tried to put out some sort of power the legs didn’t allow it. There was nothing there. Two very heaving useless legs of lead hung from my hips. The feeling that they were not even connected to me in anyway!!
It has been a long time since I have felt this empty. Ultimately this lead to my decision to not swim in the afternoon.
I WAS SPENT!
A hard week over, which also included a decent 3500m pool swim session among other activities.
Next week more of the same as I will be punishing myself for one final week. And then I can start to look at getting myself in tip top condition for race day. I cannot have the legs feeling this fatigued for then, so rest and recovery activities will be on the cards.
Until then I have Silverstone track day on Tuesday to look forward to with the crew. Hope the legs are ready for then as I have no doubt they will be put through their paces by the power boys.
One final note – well done to Woody and his relay team. They went and smashed up the 70.3 Ironman Staffordshire race and finished 2nd overall on the relay, which qualified them for the the World Championships in South Afrcia. Well done boys.
PS not many pictures taken this week so will bore you with some of the official photos from last weeks Blenheim Palace Triathlon