My focus since the new year has been primarily to complete my backlog of blog posts, but I thought I should post a current post to keep everyone interested! The past couple of weeks have gone rather well for training. I finally feel like I am in the groove again. Going to the gym on a regular basis feels normal, not like something I am forcing myself to do. In the past two weeks I have swam for one hour straight, no breaks, no stops, run for one hour straight, and cycled for three hours straight. Yes, the running needs work but it is coming around.
Back in December Kyle and Carolyn hosted a dinner for those of us signed up for the CDA IM at which time Carolyn invited us to join the 3-hour spinoff at Cross Roads Gym. The spinoff was a fundraiser event, but for the life of me I can't remember for what. I was in it for the opportunity to spin for 3 hours and suffer along with everyone else rather than by myself like I usually do.
As usual my Sunday morning got derailed and I found myself running late to get to the spinoff, but I squeaked in right at 11am and found a bike in the back corner. There were still plenty of other bikes, but I am a wallflower and like to sit in the back. Little did I know at the moment, but that was a bad choice. The format of the spin class was a total length of 3 hours with four different instructors each leading for 45 minutes. Carolyn started it off, followed by Britt B (who is also registered for IM CDA), Ann S (a local triathlon legend), and finishing with Tom F.
We spent the first 5 or so minutes warming up and I mean that literally. The spinning room at Cross Roads is not as well-ventilated as Capitals and with 20+ people it got warm fast. For those who were smart enough to sit near the front, fans were blowing air on them but those of us in the back suffered. Fortunately I brought three water bottles and Carolyn had two big jugs of water for refills. To make the class more interesting and to break up the monotony of spinning for 3 hours, Carolyn had a trivia session every half hour or so. I won a gift certificate to the Hub Coffee shop for knowing the most common bone broken by a cyclist is the clavicle. Fortunately I have not had that experience.
By about halfway through Carolyn's class I observed several things. First, I am a data junkie, and I love to have spin bikes with computers. The instant feedback of what "gear" you are in and how many watts I am using is motivational for me and keeps me on my toes. I frequently find that without the computer I slack a little more. Second, the resistance lever on my bike was slipping. Every time we started a hill I would add resistance and a little while later I would think "Wow, this is easy!" For some reason it took me a long time to figure that out. The one benefit was that it would slip back to about my normal flat road spin resistance. Third, I was sweating a lot. I was keeping an eye on my puddle that was falling around the front of the bike and it was manageable....but what I didn't notice for a while was the puddle under my feet. The reason I finally noticed this was I realized that my feet were sloshing inside my shoes. Yes, you read that correctly, I was sweating so much that my feet were sloshing in my shoes. When I eventually looked down and back I saw that under each side of the bike I had a 4-inch by 2-foot puddle. Fortunately they had lots of towels on hand as I needed 7 to mop up my sweat pool at the end of the 3 hours. Yes SEVEN! Fortunately I managed to take on 5 bottles of water so I felt like I was doing okay.
Its been a long time since I have spent three consecutive hours on a bike. Last summer I had several 2 hour rides, but never hit the three hour threshold. By the last 1/2 hour I was starting to get uncomfortable on the bike. My legs felt fine, and surprisingly I had no back or neck aches, but by bum and feet were not having fun. I find that I seem to sit way too far forward on my bike seat. Rather than sitting back on the seat and letting my sit bones sit on the wide part, I edge forward and all of my weight sits on the nose of the saddle. Eventually that nose of the saddle creates some pressure points and numbness which around 2.5 hours began to hurt. The take away here is that I may need a different style of seat (split nose?) or learn to ride with my sit bones back on the seat. I hate riding with my sit bones back on the seat because most seat noses are too wide for me to ride comfortably. My wife best sums it up by saying my hips were put together too tightly.
Overall the spinoff was awesome, and I wish they could do it every month. The instructors were awesome and I really liked how Ann taught her 45 minutes. To everyone else's credit, Ann is the only regular spin instructor so she has lots of experience. The part I liked most about her class was the visualization. She would give you a description of the terrain or riding you are doing rather than tell you "We're going to add three gears and I want a cadence of 90". Instead she would say, "Now looking up ahead you can see the road is starting to climb a hill" or "you're off the steepest part of the hill but you're cresting over the false flats".
After the class I spent a lot of time considering the following:
a) My legs were tired and while I could probably go out and run, I didn't want to.
b) Three hours seems like a long time on a bike.....what is 7 hours going to feel like?
c) Bike fit and comfort needs to be nailed down, it can mean the difference between enjoying the experience and being miserable
d) Pacing, pacing, pacing! Fortunately my bike resistance kept slipping, but if it hadn't I would have probably pushed myself way too hard the first hour and then felt horrible the rest of the class. This will be greatly magnified at the IM.
e) Iphones, Ipods, and music devices of any type are strictly forbidden (for obvious reasons) during the race, but I keep wondering how I can listen to music while toiling away on the roads? In actuality I realized that maybe I should do more training by myself, without outside distractions such as listening to music or watching movies podcasts, etc, so I can get used to not having my attention diverted from the task at hand.
Ryan and I texted back and forth a few times after the spinoff and while we both feel like we are behind or should train more, we realized that we still have 6-months to train and we have a long road ahead. We need to make sure we put the time and effort in, but don't overdue it, don't get injured, and listen to our bodies. If something begins to hurt more than normal, back off, give it a day or five and assess. The goal is to arrive at the IM in shape and not injured. So while this session made me want to train more, train harder, train faster, I know that I must build cautiously, not with wild abandonment!