It's been a few weeks since I've blogged.  Since then, I've been training trying to see if I can get my fitness back and make a decision on IMWI - will I do the race?  Transfer to Cozumel?  Call it a year and wait until 2016?

My training block started out a little rough.  I just didn't feel fit and running was rough - really rough.  I decided not to make any decisions until my build block was over so I just kept plugging away even though week 1 wasn't giving me any confidence.  I was having some knee and hamstring pain so I was questioning if I would be able to hold up with volume building.

Week 2 was a little better.  Things were improving and my knee and hamstring pain was slowly disappearing.  It wasn't a great week, but my confidence was returning.

Week 3 was a little better yet and I ended with a solid weekend.  Saturday's ride was 2x30' @ 290 watts followed by 5x18 miles at 220 watts.  I managed to push 232 watts for the final 18 mile loop and end with a 230 watt average for 5 hours and 13 minutes.  That was a tough ride, but good for confidence.  

The key to the weekend though, was my 20 mile run on Sunday.  I decided to return to the run/walk, which has worked really well for me in the past.  Conditions were a little tough for a 20 mile run with humidity being really high, so it was pretty tough, but I managed 20.4 miles at a 7:58 average pace.  It wasn't my best 20 miler, but it was an improvement over previous weeks and really good for confidence, especially the day after a tough ride.

Although not ideal (for me), I opted for a 4-week build cycle.  Normally I do 3 weeks on, 1 week off and often switch to 2 on, 1 off when volume gets really high.  But a few athletes I'm coaching were doing a 3-day training camp and I wanted to join them so that meant I'd have to build for 4 weeks.  I was getting fatigued leading into week 4 so I was a little worried.  My 20 miler put a hurting on me.  I anticipated a rough 3-days with them beating the crap out of me, which they were looking forward to, but I held up well.

4-week build

The forecast for our camp had highs in the low 90s.  Not having dealt with the heat much this year, we opted for a really early start each day.  I was afraid too much heat in addition to 3 days of big workouts on fatigued legs might push us over the edge.  So we hit the road by 6 am Friday and Saturday and 7am Sunday.

Friday was a 106 mile ride followed by an 8 mile run.  My legs felt a little sluggish on the bike and my power was a little low.  The sun came out for the last two hours of the ride and things really heated up.  Temps were in the 90s when we got off the bike and I was afraid my run was going to be a death march.  Surprisingly, it went well.  I did struggle with the heat on the second half, but part of that was because I felt good the first couple of miles and pushed the pace too much.  Miles 1 and 2 were a 7:31 and 7:36 pace, which includes walk breaks, so I was pushing.  I faded after that and ended with an 8:12 for the final mile so a pretty big fade.  Overall, I ran 8 miles at 7:53 average and I was really happy with that.

Saturday was a century - no power goals, just a fun group ride.  We avoided the IM route as much as possible, partly because we're sick of it but also because Saturday was the Madison Open Water Swim and the loop is super busy that day and it seriously sucks to be out there.  One of the athletes I coach mapped out a great route.  We had good road conditions, very little traffic, a few tough climbs, plenty of places to get water, etc. It was a really good route.  I'll definitely do this one again. 

Saturday's Century.  It kind of looks like a dinosaur.
We had a good group, including a few guys who didn't join us for Friday so they were feeling fresh and did most of the work.  My legs were pretty heavy so I sat in most of the day.  Despite that, I ended the day with 288 TSS for 106 miles.  I was hoping for an easier day because I really wanted to have a good run Sunday, but it was a really fun ride with a good group so I didn't mind pushing it a bit here and there.  

That's me in the Wisconsin Indoor Cycling kit. 

Sunday was a 16 mile run on the Ironman loop.  I mapped out the route and added two out and backs to Brittingham Park and chopped off the section out to Picnic Point.  That gave us a 16 mile loop with 4 water stops.  I was hoping to match my average pace from the week before so I started out about that pace thinking I might step it up on the second half if I felt good.  We've had some humid weekends lately and the humidity dropped a bit so even though it was hot it didn't feel that bad out there.  We all had great runs (we've been doing this camp for a few years and so far no one has blown up on the Sunday run).  

I did my run/walk (9:30 run with a 30 second walk break so it's a 10 minute cycle) and managed to step it up on the second half and finish strong with 16 miles at a 7:45 average pace.   

Miles splits from my long run.

Sunday run route.

I ended the camp with an easy swim a few hours after my long run.

Overall, it was a really solid 4-week block. It didn't start that great, but it ended strong with my best long run of the year.  All total for the 4 weeks, I swam 40,172 yards, biked 931 miles and ran 143 miles.   My knee hasn't bothered me in about a week and while my hamstring isn't quite 100%, it's getting close.

Now it's time for a recovery week and then one more big week and a taper for IMWI.  Unless something goes wrong in the next few weeks, I'm planning on being on the starting line September 13....and maybe Cozumel as well.  Things are turning around and Courtney and I are throwing around the idea of doing both races.