Another Brick In the Wall

Posted: May 24, 2011 in In Transition, Motivation, Run
Tags: , ,

I survived the first week of my base training; the infamous The Big Suck: Part 2.  How was it?  You know…I did okay really.  I mean I’m still here and walking upright.  I’m a bit tired, for sure, but I’m certainly no more worse for the wear either.  In fact, I feel pretty damn good actually!  Total Winning.

I will admit, when I first saw my new training schedule approximately two weeks ago I almost curled up into a fetal ball and lapsed into a fit of tears – it scared me that much.  I even lied awake all night Saturday working myself into an anxious trepidation over the prospect of the next morning’s trial by pavement.  Bricks are seldom fun, but they are a key element into my training this year anticipating my lofty goals for the 2012 year.

Brick workouts are the granddaddy of all triathlon workouts and typically involve following a workout in one discipline, immediately by another workout for another entirely different discipline.  Commonly, the most utilized brick workout for triathletes involves the bike/run transition such is the case with my Sunday mornings.  They are the most realistic race day simulation that you can achieve and therefore an extremely important workout.  They fine tune your body for the rigors of the swim to bike transition and the bike to run transition.  Brick workouts will teach your quads to move when they turn to jelly after the bike.  Trust me, when you first step foot off the bike and onto the run, you will be happy you practiced that more than a few times.  The advantage they have is to prepare you to mentally overcome that pain of moving on to the next event.  Sure, with enough training you will learn how to run with jelly legs going from the bike to the run, but mentally you need to be ready for the pain. If you know what to expect during each transition, then you will know how fast and how far to push yourself during each event – theoretically anyway (one I am banking on). Pacing is incredibly important during a triathlon, and brick workouts will help me best identify how to handle each event.

Throughout the winter months I have been participating in weekly indoor Interval bricks simulations at my local YMCA but now that the nice weather is finally upon us (crosses fingers) I have switched them up now to be the longer Endurance bricks – the mother of all Brick workouts.  This is the workout where I will (eventually) simulate as closely as possible, my race day performance.  In other words, I’m competing in the Welland Half Ironman triathlon on June 26th (4 ½ weeks away) so now is the time where I need to begin practicing the all out 90k bike, followed by the Full Monty 21.5k run afterwards.  This facilitates muscle memory so it’s not such a shock to my body when I actually compete.  These bricks, obviously, are the least favorite of my workouts, but, in a strange way is the single workout in my routine that also leaves me feeling the most accomplished and you just can’t buy that kind of confidence.

So armed with this in mind, I set about the task at hand this past Sunday of accomplishing my first Iron distance brick of the season (3 hour ride, 90 minute run) – into the rain no less.  If my legs felt like sacks of cement before, they felt like hardened stone pillars this time around.  But much to my surprise, they didn’t feel as bad as I had originally imagined them being the night before.  In fact, after the first 5 minutes or so of transitioning to the actual motion of running, they felt pretty good.  Last year, trying to run after a long bike was like trying to put socks on a rooster but, this past Sunday, ‘ol Thunder n’ Lightning seemed to recognize what was being asked of them and they just gave in and got on with the task at hand.  Moreover, my confidence to complete such a grind was steadily improving kilometer by aching kilometer.

Well, maybe that’s not entirely true.  To begin with, as I said, I was amazed at how strong my legs felt and how well they transitioned off the bike into the run.  I am guessing that was directly attributed to the success of my current training and diet plan paying off in dividends.  So that was very encouraging indeed.  The first 10k was pretty comfortable, perhaps the closest I’ve ever come to achieving this whole “runner’s high” thing…just not quite.  I was actually enjoying the quiet tranquility of running along back country roads where the only audible sounds were that of birds, the pitter-patter of light rain on the tarmac, and the steady rhythm of my feet beating the pavement with a steady and determined shuffle.  I passed row upon row of bare grape vines all soaking in the moisture for the coming growing season.  Soon these vineyards would be full of big, juicy grapes ready for harvest at the local wineries.  It was almost hypnotic watching these rows pass by one after the other…on and on and on…endlessly.

After I broached the 13k mark, however, it began to slowly turn into a slightly different story.  Oh yeah, this is hard work.  By the 15k mark it became my mind again – not my body – that had became the major obstacle.  I became very in tune with the aching in my soles and the tightness that was developing in my quads; not to mention all the “what the fuck are you doing?” thoughts that began to surface like little bubbles of negativity rising to the surface of my brain.  Is was at this approximate time that I considered packing it in early, start sobbing like a little schoolgirl and run to the nearest farm house for hugs, cookies and a possible ride home.  But I’m a trooper if anything else and persevered for the full 90 minutes (actually 94 minutes) covering nearly 18k after my ride.  Boo-yah, tri-bitches!

Through the experience I remembered that I can expect to go through a whole range of emotions from total confidence to total self-doubt and tortured pity to utter desperation, yet can expect to come out again victorious – albeit a bit worn out – at the finish line quite comfortably.   It’s like having a mid-life crisis in 21.5 painful kilometers,however, the knowledge of which will serve me well with added motivation to compete in my up-coming competitions.  I feel empowered more than ever and extremely confident in my abilities both physically and mentally.  In fact, I’m looking forward to next weekends amped-up 2 hour brick run just for shits n’ giggles.

Bring it on, baby!

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