I started working with Liz a little over 2 years ago. In my first season, I spent the entire year learning; learning her methodology; learning her workouts. I wanted and needed a new approach, and I absorbed everything she said to me. I kept notes of things she said for easy reference down the road.
In my 2nd year with Liz, I knew the system. I knew what she expected from me as an athlete. I understood the direction we were going.
At the end of the 2nd year, I was training for my half marathon.
I had been racing triathlon for a really long time now. There was this nagging issue at the back of my mind. I've never really done any focused bike training. The thing I absolutely love. The THING that I felt like I could completely dominate.....I was SO good on the bike.....what would happen if I actually spent time training on the bike? I'd had this feeling for a long time that if I could put significant effort into my bike, my run would follow suit.
Halfway through my half marathon training, I decided to talk to Liz. I asked her if we could do a bike test right after my half marathon. I knew my power would have dropped (from a watts perspective), but I really felt like the bike was the missing link in my training. How did I know? It was just a feeling I had.
We did a bike test. As expected, my watts had dropped, but my kg/w ratio had improved dramatically with my pretty significant weight loss. As I was uploading my data to Liz, I sent her a message saying, "I want to do another bike test."
She set up another bike test a month later.
With each passing week, I was getting stronger on the bike. My bike tests were jumping 10-15watts every 4 weeks.
Best of all, my run speeds were making HUGE jumps. So much so that I sent Liz an email one day and said, "Do you see what's happening to my running speeds?" My HR was dropping, and I was running faster than I've ever run.
We decided it was time for a run test (and one more bike test).
During this bike focused time, I've been running, but Liz changed my runs. Obviously, I was running few miles than during my half marathon training, but the structure of my runs changed as well.
Yesterday (Saturday), she had me do a long workout, 3 hours.
I read her instructions for my 5k: Run this without looking at your watch. Go from your gut! Put it all out there!
Run a blind 5k the day after a 3 hour bike/run brick. Ok.
How it all went down:
As Liz instructed, I ran this without looking at my Garmin. I set up distance alerts for .5 miles, 1 mile, 1 mile, finish.
I thought I would use the first .5 miles to "warm up" so to speak. Ease into the race. Because I was running blind, I had no idea what my HR was or my pace, but I felt like I started out too hard. I told myself "back off just a bit". It's ok if it feels easy.
I can't really say I had a "strategy" from that point on. I thought about what Coach Andrew (my masters coach) had told me about swimming. He had recently shared a story with me about his experience racing at Sin City. His story really spoke to me.
I wanted to get faster each mile, but I knew it was going to feel harder. So, I might not get faster, but it would start to get really hard. I SO badly just didn't want to slow down.
This was probably the hardest thing I've ever had to do.
After .5 miles, I started to pick people off. This was hard for me to do because I was thinking "You can't let them pass you back". Could I hold on, though?
Am I going too fast? Am I going to crash and burn?
When I got to 2 miles, my legs were hurting. I wanted to run faster. I felt like I had "spurts" of pushing it. I'd see someone, try to catch them, etc.
Then, the longest half mile of my life. It was a mental battle. I really wanted to slow down. It felt like the wind picked up, but it could be my imagination. It could be that I was just at the end of a 5k. Maybe this is how a 5k is supposed to feel......
At this point, it's a complete battle. Me versus old me. I was trying to convince myself of great things, "WHAT IF you are seconds away from getting a PR? Are you going to back down now?"
Then there was the other voice, "I'm going hard. What if I'm running a 10:00 min pace. I can't bear it. I really can't bear to have a 31 minute 5K."
"Well, you're 48 now. Maybe doing the best you can (even if it is 31 minutes) is enough, as long as you give it what you can."
Then, the timing clock came into focus. It said 24:00, and I had maybe a .25 miles to go? Maybe more? I thought, "Oh god oh god oh god. I'm THISCLOSE to smashing my PR. BUT YOU HAVE TO RUN NOW." Now, my legs really hurt. I kept saying "FAST AND FLUID. FAST AND FLUID." I tried to catch the last woman in front of me. I couldn't do it. We were together for the entire race. She dusted me in the last .25 miles.
I gave what I could. I started fast then backed off. Then, I felt like I held on for the rest of the race. I couldn't believe it when I saw crossed the finish line and the clock read: 27:17. That's an 8:46 pace, and my fastest ever, beating my previous PR (on the same course) of 28:15.
I haven't had a feeling of satisfaction like this in a long long time. A 1 minute 5k PR is HUGE. I didn't know if I could still PR.
I'm enjoying this one for sure but only for a day or so. We have a bike test coming up.