Today was not one of those days, in fact I felt damn-near invincible. The day called for a long ride, and a short run at 90% max effort (how convenient for that most parkrun blessed of days, Saturday). I decided to head up to St Albans parkrun. It's near enough that I can ride there without a crazy early start (I've been sleep deprived enough this week as it is), and it's not a course I've done before. I also needed to do some hard effort periods, 3x 10 minutes well into HR Zone 2. I decided on taking a long route back, and riding the last 10 minutes of every hour at high intensity.
The ride to St Albans was uneventful, apart from some GPS woes. My watch lost about 10km of the route - oddly retaining HR data for the period, but no position. Following that my Garmin Edge 705 which I've recently rediscovered and now plot all my routes into in advance, took 2 reboots to find any satellites. Maybe it was a bit foggy up there in low-orbit land today.
The short (largely flat) route from Wimbledon to St Albans, 46km, 1h 47m
I found the park and got changed. For once I'd arrived in good time, and had a chance for a snack and drink and warm-up jog (I was already fairly warm after an hour and 45 minutes of cycling, but you still need to remind the legs what running is).
We set off on the 9th toll of the bells from the local church (and proved once again that, just like at any New Year's Eve gathering, although large groups of people can count, they certainly can't hold good time). The course runs down a slight incline for 750m or so, round a large pond 3 times, then back up the hill.
Lots of ducks and assorted pond-dwellers to avoid
My first km ticked over in 04:18, well, I thought, it is downhill after all. I had to keep the effort high, so I just thought I'd try holding this pace. 2nd km ticked over in 04:21, nice. I didn't feel too bad either - cadence high, steps light. I'd already reeled in quite a few people who had gone off harder than they could sustain. 3rd km in 04:25 - OK this was starting to look good. I was still holding the pace and cadence well, and felt strong with it. I'd overtaken a few more fast starters too. The 4th km went in 04:22 - great pacing, I was excited now, if I could pull something out of the bag for the final km I might be on for a really good (for me) time. I rounded the corner, gave a push up the short steep part at the start of the finishing incline, and made a big effort. There was a tall man I'd been gradually gaining on the last laps round the pond, I made it a mission to beat him. Digging in I reeled him back, and overtook him with 20m to go - a sprint for the line and it was over.
My official time was 21:30 - a massive PB, taking 45s off my previous best! It was also a new PB on (deep breath) age graded performance (61.71%), gender position (15th of 69 males giving 21.74%, absolute position (17th of 122 finishers giving 13.93%), and age category placing (SM35-39, 2nd of 11 giving 18.18%). And now the world knows how needy I am about my parkrun stats. I've got graphs and spreadsheets too - would you like to see?
Check out that even pacing!
Changed, back on the bike, and off for the ride home - the long way. Legs were understandably fried for the first half hour, but some easy spinning settled them down. I'd decided that the last 10 minutes of every hour were going to be at a hard pace. I was scheduled to be in HR Zone 2, but I can't see my watch when I'm putting a big effort in to see where my heart rate is, so I just decided to "go for it" and see what happened. 0:50:00 came up just as I was turning a 90 degree left hander, I summoned myself to start with the effort and looked up to find a bloody great wall of a hill in front of me! Oh well, better see what I can get done. I put the pedal to the metal for 10 minutes, powering up hills and pushing hard out of the saddle on the flat. I was battered by the end and thankful to sit back down and just spin the wheels.
The long (hilly) route from St Albans to Wimbledon, 96km, 3h 53m
1:50:00 came round quickly, and I went hard again. No idea if I was putting hard enough (or too hard) an effort in. The route was quite varied. I went through narrow country lanes, up and down steep little hills, and past so many enormous and beautiful houses that I lost count. I thought I would find the last 10 minute effort very hard, but as 02:50:00 came round I gave it everything I had left. I flew past a couple of surprised London Dynamo riders who had overtaken me earlier, and really kept the pressure on. I was really surprised at how hard I could go even with everything that had come before today. At the end of the third hard push I found myself at the far end of the Thames Turbo Triathlon bike course, so the way home form here was on autopilot.
The 3x 10 minutes of hard effort are clear, and were at exactly the effort I was aiming for
Today was coloured Gold in my training diary - that means it was a breakthrough session. I feel like today I pushed my boundaries and achieved more than I have before. Over 150km of cycling with 30 minutes of real hard effort - and a massive 5km PB in the middle. Training days don't get much more motivating than this. I try to ask myself regularly before/during/after training, and in other relevant decisions in my life, "Will this make me a better Ironman?". Today the answer is yes, today's training will make me a better Ironman.
Tomorrow is a double-run day, 45 minutes in the morning, and an hour in the afternoon. Let's see if my legs have forgiven me by then! (I've fed them righteous pizza, so they can't be too stroppy about it).