I got to the pool with a rough idea of what I was doing. I’d brought the paddles, pull buoy and band and was going to do a strength session. Until that was I saw Patrick come out on deck and he came over and offered to pace me through a set. Not wanting to lose face I of course told him to jump in but I quickly qualified the invitation by telling him how slowly I’m swimming hoping he’d go easy in me.
I jumped on Patrick’s feet for the 2×200 “easy” warm up. I was coming in with splits during the warm up that were faster than I’ve managed for my hard efforts.

This was not going to end well.

After the warm up Patrick said we’d do 5×200 and I thought he said we’d go off 3:40. I wasn’t sure if I’d heard him right but if I did then I could manage that. My understanding of “going off” a time is that that is how long you have to complete an interval including the recovery. So the 3:40 might have meant swimming the 200m in 3:30 and having 10 seconds rest for a total of 3:40. This would be a bit faster than I’d been swimming for the last couple of weeks but I thought that with the benefit of drafting off Patrick I’d manage it.

Patrick pushed off and I hurriedly followed getting as close as I could to his feet as I could to maximise the draft without hitting him. He might take that to mean he was going too slowly and go even faster which would not be good. I was working hard from the start and by the halfway point I was having to breath every stroke. I managed to stay on his feet to the end of the interval and touched the wall to hear Patrick comment that ” hey you just did a 3:15!”

Holy f***! I haven’t seen a 3:15 in 4 years.

He then added that I did great and that we’d do them all at that speed. Before I could even curse at him he’d pushed off.

What happened to going off 3:40?!?!?

I frantically turned and scrambled to get back on Patrick’s rapidly disappearing feet. My effort level was at 9.5/10 within seconds. Just to be clear 9.5/10 is a very unpleasant place to be for any prolonged period of time. Again I just about held on to the end of the interval although I think he slowed and waited for me as I started to implode.

I think he called it as a sub 3:20 and again commented that that was great. I was too busy trying not to puke to answer.

Then he was gone again. The f****r.

Again I chased and about half way through I realized that I’d only got one more to go. I can hang on for that I thought. At the same time I was thinking it was a good thing I didn’t eat before this session. Patrick was waiting after every turn as every muscle started to tie up. I felt like I was slowing so much I thought this must be a 3:50. I checked my watch at the end and it showed 3:24. Despite my immense discomfort I was perversely happy that I’d not fallen apart completely.

Then Patrick said we only had two to go and pushed off.

I nearly puked! How the hell did I miscount up to three??!?!? I was clearly delirious and hallucinating. Or maybe Patrick was messing with my head. Either way his feet were rapidly disappearing into the distance and no matter how hard I pushed I just couldn’t close the gap. He waited after the turn again. It’s hard to know if he wanted to help me stay on pace or just wanted to turn the screw a little more. Either way he dragged me through another one. I’m thinking that this one has to be close to 4 minutes….I’m dying.

I stopped the watch on 3:25. Wow that’s not bad. And instantly Patrick was gone again. I guess I’m not getting any recovery for the last one.

I was completely fried and couldn’t stay on his feet for even half of the first length. My stroke had gone to bits as my arms, shoulders, chest and lats all tied up. I was taking on water like a sinking ship with every gasping, ragged breath and I thought my heart would explode. When I finally hit stop on the watch I saw a 3:33. All I wanted to do was crawl out and lie on the deck and die but Patrick had other plans. He seemed to think that we should go straight into 100 meters of backstroke. I almost cried.

He went on to drag me through another kilometer albeit at a slightly slower pace. At some point during the session I decided that it would be a good idea to subject myself to this at least once a week and I resolved to ask Patrick to work with me or at least allow me tag on for one of his sessions.

When I asked after the session he kindly agreed to knock lumps out of me again on Thursday.

I’m so excited about it I could just s**t…

Anyway let’s get on with the weeks training…


Monday 5th 1:05 (1)

Run 1:05 11.5k

Easy run. Nothing to report.


Tuesday 6th 1:45 (2)

Swim 1:00 3200m

Run :45 8k

  • Energy 6/10
  • Motivation 9/10
  • Work 9 hours
  • Sleep 11 hours

Wednesday 7th 1:30 (1)

Swim 1:30 4300m

  • Energy 7/10
  • Motivation 8/10
  • Work 8 hours
  • Sleep 9 hours.

Thursday 8th 2:35 (2)

AM: Swim 1:30 4000m

Long Course M/S 8×200 going on 3:40

Splits 3:24, 3:25, 3:26, 3:24, 3:25, 3:29, 3:29, 3:27

PM: Run 1:05 14k

3x3k tempo.

Splits

  • 4:12, 3:56, 4:05
  • 4:05, 4:04, 4:07
  • 4:09, 4:07, 4:01

 

  • Energy 8/10
  • Motivation 9/10
  • Work 9 hours
  • Sleep 7.5 hours

Friday 9th 2:45 (1)

Bike 2:45 76k

Close to Ironman effort effort, big gear strength session

  • Energy 8/10
  • Motivation 8/10
  • Work 8 hours
  • Sleep 9.5 hours. Good

Saturday 10th 1:15 (1)

Run 1:15 14k

Parkrun 20:40 4th

I warmed up before the Parkrun this morning and felt like a complete bag of shite. I was sore and tired and really didn’t feel like hurting myself in the race. I briefly considered not running but discarded that idea as soon as it popped into my head.

Ash would kill me.

Anyway the last time I raced here I felt exactly the same before the race and I actually finished second that time so maybe I might still go ok. I lined up at the start and again had a moment of doubt and questioned the wisdom of putting myself right up at the front. The anonymity of the middle of the pack would offer an easier run. Before I could do any more doubting or feeling sorry for myself we were off.

Immediately I was in 1st place. Damn, I thought. I’ve started too fast and I’ll blow up and look like a tool….But what if I haven’t gone off too hard? I might actually win.

Now it’s important to point out that both of these thoughts have gone through my head before we’ve done 100 meters of a 5k race. I’ll be worn out with the conflict in my head never mind the running. I took the first corner still in the lead and there was what felt like a small group forming around me. I didn’t look around or back to see who it was but I guessed there was ten or maybe a dozen. The first time up the hill would thin that number down a bit. I stayed at the front and tried to hold the pace. I was going hard but not quite at my limit. When I say not quite at my limit what I mean is I was at about 95%. So I didn’t really have too many more gears. In fact I’d be lucky to hold this pace to the end.

As we went through 1k I thought I could hear less footsteps behind me and the runners there were breathing hard. At least whoever was there wasn’t cruising I thought as we turned into a slight downhill section. It was at that point that one of the runners came up alongside me and started talking.

Holy f%$k.

He’s either playing mind games and is also on his limit or he’s cruising and will run away from me shortly. So I answer him through gasps and then another runner comes up alongside and also starts talking.

Jesus what is it with these two?

The second runner is Sean, a Tymon Parkrun regular and he’s won here before. It’s been quite a while since I’ve beaten Sean.

F&*k. Maybe I won’t win today after all. These two are killing me with the chatting. Do they not know we’re racing and this is supposed to be hurting?!?

I try to answer like I’m all under control but I can hear that my breathing is harder than theirs is and I’m sure my legs must be hurting worse too.

So I decide to accelerate.

Just to see if they actually are feeling better than me.

Hours later as I write this I’m still trying to decide if this moment is one of stupidity or heroic racing courage. Of course I want to believe its heroic racing courage, I fantasize that I’m a bit like Steve Prefontaine or Mark Allen or Eddy Merckx. But to be honest I’m sort of leaning towards it being a moment of stupidity.

I also didn’t have much choice in the matter. One second I’m running in the group. The next I’m pushing to get away. It wasn’t a conscious decision it was purely instinctual, which, like I said doesn’t necessarily mean it was the right thing to do.

The first talker comes back to me and sails straight past opening a gap of about 10 meters in a couple of seconds. Obviously taking my mini surge as his cue to start the real racing. Then Sean comes by and bridges the gap to the leader. The last runner of our group of four also comes around me and looks like he too will bridge back to the lead two. But he sort of stalls and I decide to have another go.

Maybe my legs aren’t as fried as I thought as I come around him and push hard until I make it back to the two leaders. I manage to hang on for about 10 seconds and the elastic starts to stretch as my last surge catches up on me. My breathing is hard and ragged and painful. My legs feel like jelly. Very sore jelly. And I think I want to puke. A gap opens again and I lose a couple of meters. I dig in and hold it. I’m now absolutely running on that red line. This is 100%. I’m on my limit. Like the sort of limit you can only hold onto for the last 400 meters but there’s almost three kilometers to go. This might not end well.

I don’t think I can go even 1 second a mile faster without blowing up. Then in that strange way that sometimes happens the body sort of accepts that this is the work level that’s expected of it and it settles into it.  I slowly reel the leaders in again and then I’m pushing past my limit once more. Almost as soon as I make it back to them I start to get dropped. I’m coming to the end of the first 2.5k lap and I very briefly dream of pulling out and going and lying down and putting an end to the pain. I can only imagine what Ash would do to me if she even knew I was thinking it so I quickly squash the thought and turn to start the second lap and the second time up the drag.

I feel like I’m completely falling apart and going backwards but every time I look ahead I see the gap is holding at about 20 meters. Everyone else must be suffering too because I’m definitely going slower this time up the hill. I hit the turn with about 1.5k to go and try to pick up the pace a little. I surge to accelerate and try to hang onto the pain. I think I’m being caught and might lose 4th and the fear of this keeps me running on the red line.

Ash always reckoned that 4th was the worst position to finish in. It’s still funny how hard you’ll push yourself to finish in the worst position in a race. In the last kilometer I drop a little further back from the leaders but not far back enough to get caught by the runner behind me.

  • Energy 6/10
  • Motivation 7/10
  • Work —
  • Sleep 6 poor

Sunday 11th 2:50 (1)

Bike 2:50 69k

Hill repeats

  • Energy 8/10
  • Motivation 8/10
  • Work 8 hours
  • Sleep 8 hours

Total Hours / Sessions

  • Total 13:45 (9)
  • Swim 4:00 11,500m (3)
  • Bike 5:35 145k (2)
  • Run 4:10 47.5k (4)
  • S&C —

Monthly Accumulated Hours / Sessions

  • Total 15:15 (10)
  • Swim 5:30 15,500m (4)
  • Bike 5:35 145k (2)
  • Run 4:10 47.5k (4)
  • S&C —

So that’s the week all wrapped up. 3 swims, 2 bikes and 4 runs. At this stage 12-14 hours training will be a fairly standard week as it’s a very busy time of year in work. If I can average 55-65 hours a month for May, June and July while working 55-65 hours and then put in three big months in August, September and October when work hours drop then I think that will be enough to get into good race shape.

May went well and according to plan and so far June is on track but it’s all very easy to plan from the comfort of the keyboard. It’s quite another to actually make it happen for close to thirty weeks.

If you want to check out the last couple of months of my training diaries you can do that here or I’ve written a bunch of training articles which you can check out here.