After Steelman I took a bit of a mini-break from structured training. I continued to swim/bike/run, just not on plan for a few weeks. Physically I needed a break and mentally it was nice to get away from the grind. Training with a purpose is great, but sometimes you just need to run for the sake of running, or ride with friends.
Which speaking of riding with friends ... the best part of the late season has to be the Monday night ride from the Velodrome. This year I have been riding most Mondays with the Lehigh Valley Wheelmen "A" ride. For the first few months the ride was led by Brian, who really did a great job of having an organized, safe ride. It was a drop ride, but I can't remember anyone getting dropped. Climbs were every man (woman) for themselves and a regrouping at the top, just like it should be. The fact that there were some strong climbers who would regularly show up really helped me keep the pressure on myself to push my limits.
In July Brian moved out of town but the "A" ride remained. It changed a bit, which turned out to be good. Most of the time the ride wasn't posted, but instead just a loose gathering. There were times we went out with Bruce and the "B" ride (which is no slouch ride btw) but most weeks we had 5-10 riders. Without a posted route we were able to kinda wander around Lehigh County.
With the shortened days we are done for the year. It was fun and I miss it already. Cannot wait for April so we can do it all again.
In the pool this year I had purposely given myself a pass from long, grinding sessions. With only short races on my schedule I found no reason to up the yardage for the sake of seeing a big number in the training log. Typically I lose some swim focus after Labor Day. This year that came early. After Steelman I struggled to get to the pool consistently. A few weeks ago that all changed. All of a sudden I have motivation to swim again!!! Maybe it's some new workouts I've been trying out or just a burst of motivation, but getting into the pool has started to come more easily. Doesn't matter why, just matters that the mojo is back!!!
As for my run, things have been up and down. This year has been a very low mileage year for me, typically logging 15-20 miles each week. The plan had been to increase that mileage heading into a Fall half marathon, which I started to do before heading out to Colorado for Labor Day weekend. All was going well as I climbed Pike's Peak then raced a 10k on Labor Day at 5,800 ft of elevation. I didn't blog about the race, but it went well, placing 11th overall and 3rd in AG45-49. What a trip that was.
When I got back into town I ran the first leg (10k) of the Via Marathon relay for The Queen's CrossFit Lehigh Valley team. That went well, running a 43:30 then a jog from Allentown to my car in Bethlehem. All seemed well.
The next morning I woke up and a familiar pain had formed in my right calf ... a strain. This is something I have periodically dealt with over the past few years, and something I had hoped to avoid this year. Or every year really. I have trained all year long injury-free. My streak was over.
My typical protocol with any little pain is to take three days off from running then reassess the situation. I have found that three days is almost always enough time for some minor little thing to go away. I have also found that taking three days off of running tends to freshen the legs up. Mid-week the issue was still there so I elected to take an additional two days.
Saturday morning I went down to the tow path and ran an easy 6 miles with The Mayor. This worked out fine as my body could handle slow and flat. Still, I wasn't 100% right. What I needed was a good sports massage from the best darn therapist in the Lehigh Valley. Joe P. That visit did the trick and I have been back running my regular schedule for almost two weeks now.
Unfortunately the calf strain caused me to pull the plug on the Quakerman Triathlon. With a hilly run course I knew there would be a good chance that the strain would get aggravated. And not being 100% it made little sense to risk racing at that point in time.
The good news is I appear to be past the strain and back racing. On Saturday I'm running the Runners World 10k. Two weeks later (October 31) I'll be in Philly for the Rock & Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon.
Originally I wanted to finish my season by going sub-41 and sub-1:30 respectively for these two races. Realistically neither of these times will happen. Right now my fitness isn't that great. Having to take time off from running right when I needed to be out there getting in some miles didn't help as well.
I am perfectly good with my current reality. There are other races in the future. Big picture, there are races that are more important to me. 2015 has been about rebuilding strength around my right knee while enjoying shorter races. I have done both. So no matter what happens in the next few weeks, my year has been a success.
Thanks for reading.
Train hard. Stay focused.