Though it doesn't feel like it quite yet, mainly because I just finished a relatively hard week (but less so than I've been working with recently), the taper has begun. The thing I like about this phase of the taper is that not only are the workouts less time intensive, but they vary from the traditional to include more bricks and fun stuff like transition practice.
For example, instead of the usual long bike on Saturday (glad those are over with!), it was a brick workout. The HIP plan called for moderately paced ride, follow by a run that focuses on quick turnover and transitions into some solid zone 3 paced running with a finish hitting zone 4.
Just a quick note about my training progress thus far. I've been focusing on my running the past month or so in an attempt to get back my run mojo that I appeared to have lost, while focusing on the bike most of the season. Part of has been the heat I've been running in. My paces have all fallen way off since the temperatures have hit the 90s with high humidity, and naturally so! I primarily train by heart rate and when the temperatures rise, so does the HR. Which then means the pace must slow to account for the higher heart rate, so I can stay within my zones and not push too hard to risk injury. I know its for my own good. Its just difficult to deal with the training and paces when they look slow, compared to how I know I can run in any other conditions. Let's hope for some cooler weather, because if this weekend's workouts were any indication, all this heat training will certainly be paying off.
Back to the brick workout. I set off Saturday morning for a 6 loop ride around my neighborhood with some moderate effort z2/z3. After all these long rides, nothing makes me feel better than knowing I am always only a few miles away from home. So doing so many loops didn't bother me. Besides, it is a great course that has 3 solid climbs (each about .5 miles long), a smaller 4th climb, and very little flat terrain (see middle line for elevation in the file below), so you are constantly working. I haven't ridden this loop since way early in the season and it was staggering to see how much faster I was climbing these hills. These are not mountains by any means, so I was able to climb each of them averaging between 13 and 15 mph. Early in the season, I was riding them between 10 and 12 mph, so I was very happy with those results. Pardon the sudden drop of HR data in the middle. This happens from time to time.Once the bike was over, I quickly threw my shoes on at my transition set up in my driveway, and was on my way. I have been in the process of developing my official race strategy for Patriots Half, so I won't get into too much detail here, but my goal for this brick run was to start the first 1-2 miles at a very pedestrian pace. My best long runs this year have been when I began running the first several miles almost too slow, and gradually build into race pace. This is generally my goal to execute at Patriots. Whether my adrenaline takes over in the race or not, is yet to be determined. But that is how I executed my brick run today. And if this was any indication of my expected times, I am going to be very content with my run results. I ran the first 1.5 miles comfortably in z2 and picked up the pace for the last 2 miles, without feeling like I was running hard (barely touching z3), I was cruising along at paces that had previously caught me in mid z4. This morning was a bit cooler (80 degrees) than I have been running (90+ degrees), so naturally my pace picked up and my HR was lower. By the time I finished the run, I really wanted to keep on going. I just felt so good and knew that I was holding a solid pace I could hold over a much longer distance. I just hope it stays around this temperature range on race day!
Sunday morning brought about my last long run before the big race - 10 miles. As previously stated, my goal on these runs is to start out slow, and gradually pick up steam by finishing strong with quick turnover. Since it was such a nice day, Rebecca decided to join me for the first lap - a sweet surprise! Within a few minutes of running, she was pushing the pace and I was just along for the ride. Similar to how I felt on my brick run from the day before, my HR was low (z1/z2) and we were still moving at a good pace. Once we finished the first lap, I split off and jumped right into my target HR (high z2, building to z3/z4) for the final lap. What amazed me was the pace I was running and my legs felt great! We did this run between 11:30 am and 1 pm, so it was pretty hot (85 degrees with high humidity). I'm just hoping this spring in my step stays for the next couple of weeks! Again - sorry for the loss of HR data...its been a bit finiky lately.
One more week of moderate training and then its RACE WEEK!