Monday, September 4, 2017

When the Hay is in the Barn and the Magic Happens!

I've always understood that about two weeks prior to a race the "hay is in the barn." At two weeks, you essentially have the fitness and strength you can maintain into the race. You can't cram in the gains. The final weeks are intended to absorb the training, maintain speed and fitness, stay sharp, replenish energy, and get mentally prepared.

Fortunately I got a great week of training in before that barn door closed. It gave me a much-needed boost in confidence at just the right time.

Running has been frustrating this summer. Maybe I write that every September as it seems like each year I am less and less heat tolerant. Plus I'm a year older and the threat of age-related speed decline looms larger!

I can't control heat, humidity, aging, or my day-to-day outcomes. But I can stick very closely to Coach Jim's training plan, bring my best to my workouts, and have faith in the outcome. As has happened many many times throughout my 8+ years of following his plans, things magically come together when they are supposed to. It's a pretty amazing feeling and nailing a workout, or a week of workouts, is every bit as satisfying to me as having a great race. I just had a great week.

It started last Monday with a very short brick that included a 15 minute easy aerobic run off the bike. I wrote to Coach Jim, "I didn't mean to go fast, but boy it just flowed. It's been a long time since I have felt that good. It's nice to know that still exists!!"

Thursday I had another brick with a 1:20 bike and 0:40 run. The bike included 2 x 15 minute sections at about 110% of FTP so they were hard efforts. The run started with 3 miles at 10-15s faster than 10K goal pace. Of the workout I wrote, "Ummm :-) I love when this happens... The reward for training through the tough times and persevering!!"

I ran my first three miles strong. Even after "shutting it down" to an easy pace, I still averaged more than 0:30 per mile faster over this 5.1 miles than what I ran for the Luray International 10K (which was not a satisfying run for me).

This is so true:

Saturday was an easy 1:10 run where I had to stay under a particular heart rate. Coach Jim knows me well: "No cheating or excuses to run at a higher intensity today! Start easy, end easy!" I controlled it appropriately and reported in, "That is the absolute best 8.75 miles has felt in ages. I could hardly contain myself. I felt great from start to finish - legs, mind, energy."  I was super happy about the pace and heart rate too. Even this easy run was faster than my Luray pace...can you tell that run is bugging me??

Sunday was a double brick (bike-run-bike-run) with hard efforts in the second bike (30 minutes at 195-220w which is a lot for me) and run (2 miles sub 7:10, I did 6:59 and 6:54). I earned a gold from Training Peaks, but more importantly, I knew I was getting the most out of myself, and I knew I was ready!!

3.6 w/kg

I absolutely could not do this without Coach Jim. I am grateful on a daily basis that I get to just show up and follow the plan - the pacing, heart rate, power, RPMs, intervals, time, and miles. I don't waste time questioning it, I just do it, and I have fun (a lot of fun) working to meet (or sometimes exceed) the goals of each session. At times the targets are downright intimidating to me, but I know he wouldn't write them if he didn't think I could do them. He shows me what I can do!

I'm ready. The hay is in the barn!

There are 80+ people from 17 countries in my age group at the Standard Distance World Championship September 17th at the Grand Final in Rotterdam. I will be showing up as prepared as I can be. I already know I have enjoyed the journey and that's what keeps me coming back for more.

Thanks to Coach Jim and to my training pals including Janet, Rebecca, Kristen, and Gary!