It being Labor Day weekend, Monday was another opportunity to get large volumes of training in. After yesterday’s relatively “easy” day, today would be tougher. I used to remember when days like Day 2 were the “hard” days, earning a recovery day afterwards. Training for Ironman has required a rethinking of the scale of hard. Now on this new “Ironman Scale of Hardness” (kind of like the Shore Durometer scale), yesterdays “hard days” are today’s “recovery days”. So after a double workout of a 3400 yard swim and 8 mile run as recovery, today was a tougher brick consisting of a sixty mile ride and 6.5 mile run.
After Day 1’s miserable journey across state lines, I simply opted to stay super local and just do several loops around Fermi-Lab. Loaded up the Ghetto Honda with water bottles, shoes, and bike, then parked at the local forest preserve/running path, which happened to be only minutes away. It felt so relieving to know that if I had another attack of the Zombie Syndrome today; I could simply be home in less than five minutes.
Fermi Lab is good for a loop or two during weekdays as its pretty much closed to car traffic and only has six stop signs on its 10 mile loop, most of which can be labeled as “optional”. The security force does frown on bicycle riders blowing the stop signs, and I do try mostly to be the law abiding citizen, recognizing that riding there is a privilege. Today Fermi Lab was absolutely vacant. Usually Fermi Lab is buzzing with cyclists on the weekend/holidays, but today I saw no one, not even the errant security personnel. It was hot as the sun out there today. Coach Jennifer would have said that this would be perfect Kona training, riding in full on heat and on a course that can be described as nothing but monotonous. It’s a great mental game, but I’ve already witnessed the torment that the fields of the “Lab” have given me before.
Several years ago, upon going down this particular stretch of road for the 8th time that day, hitting the same bump for the 8th time, and loosing the same rear mounted water bottle for the second time, I in a fit of fury, hammer threw my bike into the fields. Unfortunately, those fancy carbon fiber handle bars DO NOT LIKE to be thrown, nor do they like to land abruptly in the grass either. They snapped into two, with the wounded side remaining attached to the bike only by the shift and brake cables. It was a long 40 minute ride home, supporting myself with one arm, while the other carried the STI shifter, shifting only as necessary so that I may at least have some sort cadence on the way back.
After a rather hot, thirsty, uneventful bike in the Lab, I made my way back to the forest preserve to change into my run gear. I opened up the rear hatch of the Honda and was greeted by what can only be described as a blast furnace. The Honda has no tinted windows and will turn into the “Green House of Hell” if left in the sun. It had gotten so hot while I was gone, water bottles which can normally be described as “firm”, were so soft I could collapse them vertically in my hands. It was pretty bizarre. Even the duffle bags were too hot to touch. I was breaking into a full sweat just trying to find my shoes, and I had not even begun running yet.
After what seemed an eternal 8 minutes to get my bike off/shoes on, I hit the running path. Keeping in mind that I should be trying to pace everything for Ironman, I broke into a comfortable gait for the 6.5 mile loop. Compared to the transition by the Honda, running wasn’t too much more uncomfortable, and even seemed cooler. My HR was not in zone 1 as I had hoped. It quickly went into zone 2, then climbed into zone 3, and then threatened to enter zone 4. I tried to slow down, but anything else was not enough air flow, resulting in an immediate blanket of heat, and it felt better keeping the original gait. I did my simple loop of trails, knowing with every landmark I passed, that I would just be that much closer to getting this day, and this weekend done. It came quick enough, playing the game right, having the home field advantage. The only problem is that I came in at just over 42 minutes. It would be a death knell for any hope of a good marathon time if I were to do this in October.
I got back to the Honda, opened it up, and felt immediately as if I were to pass out. I remembered there was a water pump nearby, so I went over to it to see if I could get some cool water on myself. Except when I put my head near the water, it was too cold. Actually, I really didn’t feel that anymore. I went back to the Honda, and immediately got that heat stroke feeling again. Walked back to the pump, and it was cool. It was that damn Honda. I approached it carefully this time, feeling the heat absolutely radiating from it. I promise myself that I will get some window tinting, Limo Black, if they let me, and I take the hottest 5 minute drive back home.
I get back home only to see that Coach Jennifer has added a 2.5 hour run for me on Wednesday, then another 5 brick over the weekend. The Longest Weekend just might be the start of the Longest Week. My only hope is that Kona is 5 weeks away, so there is an end in sight.
BTW, on Tuesday, the newspapers stated that Monday had been the hottest day in Chicago for the past year. No wonder.