0 for 2

Yesterday was the first big training session of my "stay-cation training camp". This session was planned for weeks in advance. It included a 56 mile bike, at race pace, followed by a 6 mile run, slightly below race pace. What made this long brick workout special was the fact that it was to be done on the Harriman racecourse.

I spent the days leading up to the race planning and preparing. Was my bike in proper working order? Did I have my race kit? What would I use for nutrition and how would I carry it? How hard could I go on the bike and still have a very strong run? I better not mess this one up like I did the last big triple brick I had!

Matt and I made it to the park by 9:00 and had our kickstands up by 9:30. We briefly discussed my wattage and the race course before we embarked on this highly anticipated smashfest.

The first loop of the course I really payed attention to the lay of the land. I wanted to be able to push harder and intelligently take advantage of the climbs and descents on the second loop. The first loop was beautiful. The air was calm and the temperature was slowly rising ( when we started it was 43 degrees), the sky was blue, the lakes were picturesque, there were plenty of people riding, the Park's streets were very empty and in surprisingly decent shape and there were dozens of deer walking around. The game plan was to hold back on the first loop and then really push it on the second loop.

As I completed the first loop I was feeling strong, my nutrition and hydration were on point, although I did feel like I needed to use the bathroom (number 2), and was preparing mentally to start to push the pace and effort level. I didn't get more than 5 miles into the second loop when everything changed.

That's a weird and different vibration. I couldn't have a...? I looked down, no way! Pssssssssss. I F'ing flatted! Alright, no big deal, this happens, stay focused, hop off, fix the flat then get back in the game. I quickly took off my rear wheel, took off the flat tube, grabbed the spare and... SERIOUSLY! The tube I had wouldn't work because the stem wasn't long enough ( I was riding on my race rims). And where was the tube I needed? It was packed neatly in my trunk so that I could swap it with the one I had before the day started. And so started my 45 minute walk of shame back to the car.

Let me first say that triathletes need a psychiatrist on standby. The mental and emotional roller coaster I went on was serious. I was pissed, upset, angry, frustrated, annoyed, ashamed, disappointed, let down, enraged, relaxed, tense, focused, negative, positive, unclear etc. I had looked forward to this training session for weeks and was itching to test my fitness level and to have been denied the opportunity killed me.

Despite only completing half of the bike I had to refocus and get my head back into it. I had sacrificed spending time with my wife and brother, who was in from California, to drive an hour and a half away to train. I couldn't just throw my hands up and give up. Since I couldn't finish the bike and push myself physically, I would work on my mental game.

I finally got back to the car, threw my bike on the rack, switched shoes, drank some water, took a deep breath and headed out on the run. I was still pretty pissed off but made up my mind that this was going to happen during a race and I needed to work through it. Weather I ran the prescribed pace or slower I was going to finish the run and run my way back into a positive mind set. For six miles I was tested mentally and finished with a short lived smile knowing that I had successfully pushed myself through another mental barrier.

These are the conclusions of the frustrating day that was;
1. Triple check everything the night before. I should have packed the tube in my rear storage bag NOT the trunk of my car.

2. Because of the drive up there I wasn't able to carry out my normal morning bathroom rituals. As a result I needed to use the bathroom while riding. Therefore I most certainly will be getting a hotel room prior to the race so all rituals can be performed in a relaxed manor.

3. I have now had two very big training sessions and have failed them both! The triple brick I did a month ago I messed up my nutrition and essentially bonked. And now this one I was only able to do half the bike. This worries me. I now question myself as a long distance athlete. Am I capable of competing at this distance? Will I be able to reach my goals? This is the first feeling of self doubt I have had since I began training in November.

4. I was very happy that I was able to maintain, toward the higher side, my prescribed wattage for half of the bike. I also felt confident that I would be able to increase my effort and average wattage for the second loop without blowing up.

5. Up until the flat I felt that I was executing my game plan well. I "raced my race" and didn't try to race Matt ( that would have ended in disaster). I held back on the hills and realized that the time to push hard would be on the second loop. My hydration was perfectly on point.

6. In an effort to eliminate any possible GI issues I'm altering my nutrition game plan. I'm going to cut down on/ eliminate eating Kashi granola bars. Despite loving these bars I believe that they have too much protein and fiber and that is what I don't want going into my stomach. I'm planning on increasing the amount of Ignite Naturals' Reload Energy Gels as replacement.

7. I'm very proud of myself for fighting the mental battle from the flat tire through the end of the run. Despite not making the anticipated physical fitness gains I certainly became a stronger athlete mentally and I know that will pay off in the training and races to come.

8. Any time I eat after big training sessions or races my stomach is a mess. Yesterday I hardly ate anything and had little to know issues. Guess I'm going to celebrate with a big breakfast than a dinner for now on.

At times it's difficult to see the positive because it often easily and ominously overshadowed by the negative. Intelligently reflecting on the day that was I can honestly say it wasn't a waste. I worked hard and did increase my overall physical and mental fitness, just not as much as I expected and had anticipated. It's better that I make these mistakes during training so that I can live and learn from them. Now that these ideas are out of my head I can move on and focus on the rest of my scheduled training week.

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