That's what I keep telling myself anyways. I can say that nothing in this training cycle (prep for Buffalo Springs Half-Ironman) has been as easy as I thought it would be. In fact, it's been much harder. Most every "big" workout has been humbling ... some incredibly humbling. But, I'm reminded that some training cycles come easy with PR after PR - I was lucky to have many of those cycles last year - where others will continually knock you down and force you to get up and keep fighting. And those cycles are okay too. I know they will make me stronger in the long run and appreciate future PR's even more.
And to be honest, part of my problem has been mental breakdown on my end. I've gotten into the bad habit of comparing my current self with my former self. This is a dangerous habit to get into. Over the past two years, I trained for two big events - first, an Ironman and then a 50-miler. As as my harshest critic, I have been struggling not to compare the workouts I am cranking out now, with the ones I was cranking out back then. For example, I finished a 15 mile run on Saturday SPENT. Unable to run any further. And while I should be congratulating myself for knocking out a strong long run - my longest post-injury- I instead starting feeling out of shape and frustrated, remembering when 15 miles was a just a short run I used to do in my sleep while training for a 50 miler. Same sob story on Sunday. I finished one of my better rides as of late - 41 hot and windy miles that kicked my butt. And of course my first thought was - GAH, I remember when 40 miles was nothing when training for an Ironman. I used to ride 60, 80, 100 miles all the time. I am so out of shape. I suck.
So, my first task is to STOP DWELLING, STOP COMPARING and realize no one, besides Super Man, is constantly in peak shape and knocking out beastly workouts 24/360. There are peaks and valleys in training.
Back to the weekend. This was my last "big" weekend of training before back to back races this weekend (5k/Sprint Triathlon) and the half-ironman next weekend. My plan was to try to spend quality "time on feet" to hopefully emulate the 6ish hours I will spent swimming/biking/running on June 24.
Saturday: My plan, similar to last weekend, was a reverse triathlon type training day with a long run, bike, swim - in that order. It panned out as follows: 15 mile run/18 mile bike/500m open water swim. Saturday I joined a friend's run group in Round Rock where I proceeded to work my butt off to keep up with the boys on 15 miles of basically hills (anyone who has run in Teravista/Westinghouse/Rabbit Hill Rd can feel my pain). We started at 8 min miles and dropped the pace to 7:30-7:40 for the last few to finish at a 7:50 pace. After the run, I loaded up my bike and headed to Pflugerville for some miles on the bike, followed by an open water swim in the lake. I wanted to bike on tired legs to emulate those last 15 or so miles of the bike portion at Buffalo Spring where I will be wanting to through my bike off a cliff. Mission accomplished.
Sunday: My plan was to ride 40, run 5, then swim long course (in a 50m pool). I ended up with 41 miles on the bike, but only made it 1 mile on the run before calling it quits, putting my tail beneath my legs and walking home. It.was.just.so.hot. And the wind was blowing so hard. And I just couldn't do it that day. I quickly realized that I (once again) had not hydrated enough on the bike and started to get chills about 1 mile into the run. At that point, I called it a day. I came home, refueled, rested and recharged. Later that afternoon, I was able to get in 1600m in the pool, but still all day I had trouble shaking the disappointment and negative thoughts of the troubles I have been repeatedly having running off the bike (which is usually my strong point).
As they say, at this point the hay is in the barn. I've done what I can, and I'll do what I do come race day and be proud. Sometimes I forget where I am going on this journey and how far I have come, but with a little attention to what I have learned over this last training cycle I can learn a lot about myself.