Hard Workout

Luke McKenzie is a professional triathlete.  Triathlete Magazine recently posted an article with his “hardest workout” and it just so happens to be on the bike.  I would love to know what his Ironman Watts are that he puts out!! 🙂

It doesn’t matter if we are professional athletes, age group podium athletes, or recreational athletes…every one of us has a workout that we consider to be a “hard” workout at some point…one that pushes us physically, mentally or both.

Friday I had a VERY. HARD. RIDE.  Since purchasing my new toy a few weeks ago…

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this was the first ride that REALLY challenged me (both physically and mentally).  After having my VO2 Max test at the end of February, I know what my power zones are:

  • Power Zone 1 = 0 -123 watts
  • Power Zone 2 = 124 – 167 watts
  • Power Zone 3 = 168 – 200 watts
  • Power Zone 4 = 201 – 233 watts
  • Power Zone 5 = 234 – 266 watts
  • Power Zone 6 = 267+ watts

Friday morning’s ride was power intervals and looked like this:

  • 30 minute warm-up
  • 6×3 min power zone 3 (mid to high z3) while keeping my cadence above 95 rpm with 2 min easy spin between each set
  • 15 minute cool-down

Typically I have at least one other person to ride with in the sweat cave early in the mornings, but not this time.  I was all by myself.  In my own head.  Staring at concrete walls and a bunch of empty bicycles.

Here is what my performance yielded:

Screen shot 2014-04-05 at 10.44.44 AM

My power and cadence were nearly spot on according to the targets I was to be aiming for.  The first 4 intervals were challenging, but physically I felt strong.  By the 5th and 6th intervals, I really had to use my mental focus, self talk (or yell) and visualization to dig deep and finish as strong as I could.

Before training with power, I was training on heart rate.  According to my heart rate data below, my heart rate was solidly in zone 4 for each interval after the first two and was nearing zone 5 by the final interval.  With power zone 3 being the target, I was forced to work harder, pushing my heart rate much higher than zone 3.  If I would have done this same workout using heart rate, I would not have pushed this hard.

Screen shot 2014-04-05 at 10.44.53 AM

This was only the first of many more HARD WORKOUTS, but I am excited to see where training on power will take me!!

I'm. Beat. Nothing. Left.
I’m. Beat. Nothing. Left. Put. A. Fork. In. Me. I’m. Cooked.
Puddles of sweat on the floor next to the bike = good workout.
Puddles of sweat on the floor next to the bike = good workout.

What is your hardest workout?  Do you train with power?  If so, what improvements have you seen as a result?

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Week #13 (Recovery Week) Totals:

Swim:  4700 yards

Bike:  76.2 miles

Run:  21.7 miles

Strength Training:  2 hours & 15 minutes

Hot Yoga:  1 hour

Week #13 in the green 😉

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New Ink

After the Indianapolis Marathon, I decided I needed permanent motivation.  What better way than new ink?!?!?!?!  I don’t have many tattoos…as a matter of fact, this one made number 3 (one of which I don’t really count because it was a stupid decision I made when I was 18 and doesn’t have any meaning to it).  I had put a lot of thought into this tattoo…what the design would look like, where I wanted it, when I would get it, why I was getting it, etc.  After thinking and planning for nearly 6 months, I decided the off season was a perfect time to get new ink.

When I am riding my bike in areo position, there will be a constant reminder staring me in the face…a reminder to be strong, confident, persevere and have mental fortitude.

The African symbol means strength, confidence and perseverance.
The African symbol means strength, confidence and perseverance.

The Triple Brick

Last Sunday I had the following workout:

3x(1 hour ride & 20 min run)…the first set was to be easy (with my heart rate in Zone 2), second set should be a little harder (Zone 2-3) and the third set closer to race pace (solidly in Zone 3).

I was SUPER excited to do this workout and see just how far I could push myself…both physically and mentally.  When I woke up Sunday morning it was dark and gloomy outside…it better not storm…I have been looking forward to this workout all week!!  I looked at the weather forecast and saw that there were chances of severe storms starting after 1 pm, so I knew I needed to get started!!  I had already decided that I was going to ride the same route and run the same route with each set to see if I could get a little farther every time before turning around and heading back home.  This would prove to be a much bigger challenge than I originally thought…especially on the bike!!  Come on Mojo…Let’s do this!!!

Set 1:  I started out on Mojo heading east, then north and finally east again.  When I got to the 30 minute mark, I turned around and headed back home via the same route (west, south and west).  With the winds from the ESE at 13 mph, I thought I would be able to get home a little faster (heading west)…and  I was right.  I ended up riding 14.76 miles in 56:36 (just shy of the planned hour).  This meant my average speed was 15.6 mph for the first ride.  I felt as though it was really easy and I wasn’t pushing hard at all.  I took very little time transitioning to the run…I was shooting for a 9:00 pace off of the bike for the first set.  I started off nice and easy and felt like I was at a pace that I could maintain for a few hours at least.  I was right on pace…I ran 2.26 miles in 20:16.  This meant my average pace was 8:58 for the first run.  I was off to a great start!!

Set 2:  I immediately transitioned back to Mojo and headed out for the second set.  I started off slightly faster on this set than the last set.  I felt as though I was working, but not very hard…little did I realize that the winds had picked up and were now closer to 18 mph from the ESE.  I did make it farther, but decided to ride for 32 minutes before turning around to get me closer to the 1 hour time I was shooting for…this strategy worked!!  When I turned around and headed south back into town, I really felt that headwind…WOW!!  I ended up riding 16.17 miles in 1:01:14, which gave me an average speed of 15.8 mph.  While I was not much faster on the bike this time, I was faster…and every little bit counts!!  🙂  I knew I needed to keep some energy in the tank for the last set, so I quickly transitioned to the run and went out faster than the first set, but not pushing to exhaustion.  I ran 2.34 miles in 20:15.  This meant that my average pace was 8:39…I felt like I could have maintained this pace for quite a while…I’ll take that!!

you can

Set 3:  I again quickly transitioned back to the bike and hopped on Mojo for the last set…Let’s get ‘er done!!  I knew I wanted to push hard, but at a pace I could maintain and I did just that…I made it even farther than set #2 before turning around.  This time when I headed south back into town, the winds were even stronger than during set#2…the winds had increased to 21 mph from the ESE.  I was mentally really strong and focused during this set…”I am strong.  I am tough.  I am strong.  I am tough.”  I rode 17.16 miles in 1:03:04 during my last bike leg…WAHOO…16.3 mph average speed for my last set!!  With my fastest transition yet, I was off and running.  I quickly found a pace that I could maintain, but with difficulty.  I ran 2.35 miles in 20:04, giving me an average pace of 8:33…YEEHAW!!  I DID IT!!

I successfully completed this workout as planned!!  With Ironman Kansas 70.3 only 3 weeks away, this was a HUGE mental boost!!  I was exhausted, but ecstatic…time for food, a shower and a nap 🙂  Oh yeah…the severe storm that was suppose to come…it came later in the day with 70 mph straight winds and tornadoes around us.  Glad I wasn’t out on the bike then…

My Race of Good Karma

Drake 1

Last Sunday I ran the Drake 1/2 Marathon

Pre-Race Photo:  Tracy, Jeff, Deb, my handsome gent and me
Pre-Race Photo: Tracy, Jeff, Deb, my handsome gent and me

We had perfect race conditions…53 degrees, sunny skies, winds SSW at 12 mph…where did this April weather come from?!?!?!  In years past the Drake 1/2 Marathon has been known for cold, rain and wind…definitely not like this morning!!  I don’t want to speak too soon and jinx it…the weather forecast for the next couple of days has rain, sleet and SNOW in the forecast.  UGH!!!  SNOW in May?!?!?!?  I’m ready for Mother Nature to get an attitude adjustment…Mother Nature, it’s time for a POSITIVE attitude!!

Let's do this thing!!
Let’s do this thing!!

Back to my race report…My typical race strategy is to hold back for the first half of a race and then pick up the pace to finish strong.  Sunday I decided to take an unusual approach to my race:  start out fast and see how long I can hold on.  While most coaches and athletes don’t recommend this, I wanted to see just how hard I could push myself and see just how long I could maintain it.

Drake 1:2 Marathon CourseIn looking at the race profile, I knew the last couple of miles would be a challenge, so I decided to lay it out on the line and see what I could do from the start.  I strategically placed myself a little bit behind the 1:45 pacer, with the hopes that I would finish between 1:45 and 1:48.  I ran my first mile at an 8:17 pace and I was feeling really good about starting easy…well easier than I had planned 🙂

I kept my sites on the 1:45 pacer and ran my second mile at an 8:06 pace.  This was getting closer to the pace I was hoping to maintain for the entire race.  I was feeling GREAT, but I was still going downhill.  Miles 3 and 4 continued to be successful…my pace for mile 3 was a 7:57 and for mile 4 was 8:07…I still had the 1:45 pacer in my sites!!  At mile 5 my brain started to wander…I began to realize just how much I disliked the new course.  In years past, the route went through scenic residential neighborhoods, but this new route was very industrialized and definitely not the beauty I remembered. I was still on track though as my pace was holding strong at 8:11.  The true test was just ahead…the hills around capital square.

Mentally I was strong and knew I could maintain a good strong pace.  Mile 6 was an 8:22 pace followed by a relatively flat boring section as we went past Principal Park (Iowa Cubs stadium) and ventured out to Gray’s Lake.  Again my mind started to wander and tell my body to quit pushing so hard, but I quickly overcame these thoughts and maintained an 8:07 pace for mile 7 and an 8:17 pace for mile 8.  My race changed during mile 9…I ran upon a friend who was walking and this is where “My Race of Good Karma” began.

Kelly was struggling.  My brain was going a mile a minute…should I help her finish, or push on to see what I could do with this race…if I help her, I will give up a PR…if I don’t help her, will I regret it…what do I do?!?!?  The good samaritan in me won out.  I slowed my pace to help Kelly finish.  My mile 9 split was an 8:31 pace, followed by an 8:29 pace for mile 10 and a 9:02 pace for mile 11.  This is where some of those climbs began.  Kelly continued to struggle, but I reminded her to shorten her stride, lean into the hills and breathe as we climbed.  Our mile 12 split was a 9:24 pace followed by an 8:49 pace for mile 13.  The course was a little long, so the last 0.31 of a mile had an average pace of 7:32 as we sprinted around the Blue Oval to the finish line in 1:52:05…not the PR I was hoping for, but Good Karma in the bank!!

My "Good Karma" finisher medal with my race number
My “Good Karma” finisher medal with my race number

Looking back I am very happy that I helped another runner finish.  I am questioning how much of her struggles were physical and how much were mental as she was able to finish really strong.  Mental training is a component that many athletes overlook, yet it is just as important as the physical training and nutritional training that comes with race preparation.  Mental training will be a topic for another day…

body achieves mind believes

I am hopeful that “My Race of Good Karma” will come back to bite me when I need it most!!