Having the day off for Good Friday allowed for me to get a Good bike ride! The weather was beautiful and I headed out with just a touch of chill in the air. I wore a sleeveless jersey but with arm warmers. You know this style is all the rage with the elite runners – yeah right. I was planning on a hard effort to try and determine my pacing for the 70.3 New Orleans half ironman – which is only two weeks away. I have not built much cycling fitness this past winter season. In fact, I believe that my bike is suffering and I am just a little anxious about this race. I have some aggressive time goals for myself and the bike is the limiter.
I headed out and I bumped the intensity by 5 beats per minute as compared to last weekend. I was able to maintain. I was taking splits at all of my known cross roads – Epley, Sumrall, and Bassfield. This let me know if I was on my paces. At Sumrall, the 10 mile mark I was making good time but lost a minute and a half do to traffic. This is unheard of! This is a little town in the middle of no where. But then I remembered that this was Friday and not Saturday or Sunday. I guess these sleepy little towns have more activity during the week.
I continued on to Bassfield which is another 15 miles away. Remember, this is Mississippi and I am on a rails to trails so there are no hills. But there is a gradual increase in elevation from Sumrall to Bassfield. This is the slowest part on my 50 mile loop. I continued to push the pace but still ride at my predetermined heart rate. I felt comfortable and strong. Last week my legs were feeling it – but that was probably from the BRICK the previous day. Sure, I did a hard running interval on the treadmill on Holy Thursday but I digress (and yes, that is what Thursday is called – I looked it up).
I arrived at Bassfield a full 7 minutes faster than last weekend. Seven minutes over the course of 25 miles is huge (that is a nearly 1.75 MPH faster average). I also only took 2 minutes for the rest stop. I could have been faster but I always like to take round number pit stops because it makes the math in my head easier. So I departed Bassfield at exactly 1 hour and 15 minutes into the ride. I was doing the calculation in my head and feeling pretty damn confident about getting a PR on this ride. I know that this is foolish. I’m not going to get a PR when I am not riding as hard as I can. I have ridden this out and back at a much harder pace and that nearly killed me. But, I did a 1:08 back last week. If I add that to my 1:15 out (which included the water stop) I get 2:23 for the ride. I am not sure if this is a PR but I would have to think it is near the best that I have ever ridden for the distance. For complete honesty, for the last few years I thought the Home to Bassfield loop was right at 50 miles – well actually my cyclometer always read around 49.XX (but high XX’s). Now that I have been using my GPS I know that it is actually a little shorter – more like 48.4 miles round trip. I still use this route and I compare it to my previous times but it is not quite 50 miles. This distance is just a benchmark.
Anyway, I turned around at Bassfield and felt the wind. I was being pushed (sideways by the feel of it) out to Bassfield. I was a little bit deflated by the wind. I would have fight this all the way back home. So I would not be getting a huge PR today but I was not actually expecting a huge PR during a zone 3 ride. I continued to keep my cadence up and keep my heart rate where I wanted it. I did negative split the ride by a minute (1:13 + 2:00 water stop + 1:12 back = 2:27 total) – it is not difficult to negative split this ride. Average speed for the ride was 19.7.
When I got home I performed a quick transition to the run. I simply ditched the bike shoes and helmet and put my running shoes on and a visor. No socks, no nothing. I was going to give the feet a trial by fire. A friend of mine taught me the term ‘summer feet’ a while back. That is conditioning your feet to running around bare footed like you did when you were a kid. This is critical for the transitions in triathlon. So I slipped the running shoes on with no socks. I am actually pretty good at running without socks. When racing anything short I will never put socks on but during this half IM I will be wearing socks. That is just too long of a run if your feet go south (like they did last year). Now back to the brick.
I really like the virtual nemesis on the GPS watch. I had already dialed in the workout for the brick prior to even getting on the bike. It was not going to be overly aggressive. I have failed too many times and simply blown up pushing these bricks – that is pushing the bricks after high mileage bike rides. I have been too aggressive and it has compromised some of my workouts. I was not going to let this happen this time. I wanted to make sure that I was going to get a solid 5 mile brick on this Good Friday.
I had set the trainer for 5 miles at a comfortable 7:30 minutes per mile pace. I should be able to run at this pace. By setting an easily obtainable goal I was freed to run at what ever pace felt comfortable. I quickly started to put time into the virtual nemesis. Although the first half mile was hard it was not unmanageable. I was able to clock the first mile at just over 7 minutes per mile. The next 4 miles were right around the same pace. I did lose close to 30 seconds stopping for a drink of water at Clyde Station. I finished up the 5 miles in 35 minutes and change. I felt like I could have continued on for a few more miles. Probably not 8 more miles but definitely a few more. This was the best BRICK that I have ever had after a substantial bike ride.
So the bike was solid and the BRICK afterwards was even better. When I finished the ride I took a post recovery shake and cold bath (no ice bath this time of year).