It's 17 weeks till we're racing.
Well, I shouldn't be as worried as I am; there's been a lot of work that has gone into my training so far. But there's still some fears in the back of my head that won't be placated till, say, April, when you simply have to trust the training that you've done.
This off-season has been great from a strength and awareness standpoint. Doug and I have done a lot of work trying to keep me stronger to prevent form breakdowns. It's also helped out a bit in the water, although there's still some issues there (more on that in the moment). Running is simply easy right now; it's been easy to find speed that last year, I'd spend too much energy trying to get over that hump and would wind up blowing up.
Cycling has been a blast this winter, simply due to The Sustainable Athlete's purchase of new CompuTrainers. Love training on them for workouts in the winter, simply because it feels so much better compared to anything else indoors. I'd like to get on a set of rollers sometime soon, too, just to see how I handle that. Preferably with a large set of couch cushions on all sides to ensure when I fall (not if, but when), we don't hurt myself or (more importantly) my bike.
One of the other great parts about their purchase of the CompuTrainers is that they've created a friendly race series called Friday Night Fights. It sounds just like it is: waves of folks going off onto a CompuTrainer course, showing you how far behind a rider you are, the current grade, etc. Just like racing outdoors, except without any traffic to worry about nor headwinds. It's hellacious. There's no recovery on hills; there's no taking the foot of the gas. It is twelve to thirty minutes (depending on the course) of mashing the throttle and hoping to God that you have enough in the tank.
I've been paired up with a good local, Bootstrap Bob Turner, for the last two series. We matched off in a hill climb two weeks ago where I put out a massive effort (303 watts for my three mile hill) to get him. I felt ready to suffer, and just mentally pushed and pushed till I could push no more. And then dug a bit deeper into the Pain Cave. Victory hurt so good.
So this week BT and I engaged in some pretty friendly banter back and forth via Twitter. Started warming up and felt good, despite having had a late night on Thursday (went to Boston to watch the Bruins get spanked by Carolina) and not eating great. We got into the room, started going, and I just felt...off. Couldn't get things going. Alright, I said, maybe you'll come around, just start off a bit on the conservative side and then start reaching into the well with about 15 minutes to go.
Failure. Just didn't have it in me. Bob knocked me out, Tyson style. He earned it, and no excuses on my part, either. There's reasons why I feel I underperformed, but at the same time, for all I know he could've had the same issues. He won. I didn't. Motivation for next time to suffer again. And to learn from the mistakes of the last one, and execute better.
I wish I could say the same thing for my swimming, but alas, been dealing with a fair bit of shoulder trouble on my left side. What we've discovered is that the left lat has been shut off, and instead taking the brunt of things was the upper part of the shoulder. Oops. We've been doing a lot of self-massage to work out the knotting in my neck, shoulder, and lat, along with more neuromuscular strength. Made it through 2100 yards last week without an issue, so we're going to fire off some swims here soon to see how things play out.
As this season approaches, my goal with swimming is to swim around 33 minutes comfortably. I don't care if I could swim 30, unless I can do it in a way that lets me get on the bike feeling great. If it means I have to swim a little more conservatively to ensure that my bike and run are as well executed as they need to be, so be it. It's a constant push-pull in your brain: get to the finish line faster! Well, to do so, you may need to be slower at one piece of this in order to make up that time and more later down the road.
But the only way to discover the true game plan is to get to work. Time to start buildin' some hurtin' bombs.