One of my bffs, training partners, fellow TeamHPB coach and teammate and pro, Leslie Miller, wrote a blog last week about our training tradition that we’ve been able to uphold. It involves us getting together about 2 weeks out from our big race so that we can help push each other through the last big block of work. However, I felt like Leslie must have still had a bit of a training hangover as she drifted over a lot of things, grazing over a lot of the details and leaving a lot of things to be as “oh they were great.” And don’t get me wrong, it was great. But there is a lot more to tell. So, here we go.
One of the reasons Leslie and I like to train together is that we simply train well together. She’s the yin to my yang, the salt to my pepper. It helps heaps that we share the same coach and can generally enter the weekend knowing that we’ll be at pretty comparable fatigue levels. We trust that we’ll each have our moments to shine during the weekend, and can rely on the other to pull us through our weak spots. That said, we almost always realize this in retrospect. We trust it a little more now, but the planning always does start earlier in the week with some doubtful texts: “sure, let’s do it. But, FYI, my legs are so sore I cant get out of bed.” And “No problem, I just failed my swim. We’re good.”
Going into a weekend like this, we each certainly get nervous that we’d be the weak link, and somehow ruin the other person’s training. But that is just our OCD type-A selves talking. In reality, the worst case scenario is something like “remember that time you lapped me in a 400 pull set?” or “remember that time we were supposed to swap pulls but I ended up having to do the entire ride in front?” The worst case really isn’t that bad. In fact, it probably makes for better blogging. One day I won’t get nervous over that!
Since the weekend was taking place at my house, it was my obligation to do a few things: make sure we had ample supplies, and also create our social schedule. This weekend had a few bonuses on our normal weekend sent from Hillary (with love)…..these included a brick run Saturday and a 4k swim on Sunday. Given the increased volume, and the heat, I made the judgement call to clear our schedules of all social obligations. All we had to do was eat, sleep and train.
These training weekends usually involve a later night Friday. By the time we meet up and get through our initial gossip session, it’s later than we would prefer. But, priorities. With the heat and humidity, it’s generally best to start Saturday early. However, with a swim + 4.5 hour brick, there was no way around the heat, really. So, we picked the civil time of 7am to start Saturday’s swim.
As we walked into a mostly dark gym at 6:55 on Saturday, we knew something felt off. Sure enough, some kind of electrical problems meant the pool was closed for the day. Charlottesville has a bunch of pools, but weekend hours are not the strong point.
Nevertheless, we persisted.
I remembered the new YMCA that just opened up, and checked their hours: 7:30! Boom! Only a 30 minute setback. My local swim partner Sandy joined us to help keep us on our toes for the swim. Leslie, a college swimmer, can out-swim me for sure. I give her a run for her money when I put paddles/buoy/band on, but Sandy was my ringer! Sure enough, she came through, taking the W for the day on the final swim TT.
Post swim meant hurry up, eat a bagel sandwich, walk Ramona and get on your bikes as fast as you can. We headed out for our tried and true loop. The instructions for this ride are always my favorite: 4 hours with 3 hours of trading 5 minute pulls on the front trying to kill each other. There are very few other people I could do this ride with other than Leslie. Up and over Monticello and then the fun begins, with a quick pitstop for water/red bull/ice cream….and tampons?! Luckily this is a woman-owned market and the bathroom is fully stocked. We got back on our bikes quick though, because lord knows 2 girls on bikes in rural Virginia is trouble, but menstruating female cyclists? Watch out world.
I’d also like to point out that I am 5’8’’. Leslie is 5’3’’. I’ll let you do the math who has the better time on this ride with their non-pulling turns. For this reason, I count the bike ride as a win for me. For those keeping score, it’s now Sandy, 1, Alyssa, 1, and Leslie 0.
A social patriocial brick run followed, and as we headed down one of my favorite trails Leslie exclaimed, “YAY! Nate never let’s me run single track off the bike!” – Nothing like that to ensure I keep it easy so I don’t end up with a damaged Leslie at the end of that one!
Food, recovery boots, and some quality couch time fills the remainder of the day, and then we’re on to Day Two. The Keene loop is a staple of Charlottesville. A 7 mile loop with plenty of gravel and rolling hills, it’s become our perfect test for Ironman-pace running. The loop allows for a water refill at the car too. In the past we have done 2 loops, then added an out and back on the gravel for the remaining miles. This time, Leslie wasn’t really feeling the gravel rollers and said she was going to add on “a little bit” on the road at the far end of the loop. A nicely timed bathroom stop was keeping her in eye sight, so I followed suit. And I proceeded to follow her on a 2 mile DOWNHILL at mile 10. COOL THANKS, LES! 2 Miles back up, and then thank god only 4 to the end. We both did well, but Leslie takes the W there.
After that we refueled and shook out our legs with an easy spin, which was determined to be a neutral event :) The competition came down to the one tie breaker workout left: the 4k “shakeout” swim of 5×800. Again we felt Hillary’s love as one was band only. We opted to do this in long course for tanning purposes, but that was probably a poor decision as Leslie and I were in pretty poor shape by this time, so Sandy actually wins again, taking the weekend with 2 points, and Leslie and I tie for 2nd with 1. Seems about right.
A final pitstop for waffles with Nutella and brie at Millie Joe’s, and I sent Leslie off home. I’ll be seeing her again soon as we head out to Whistler, and we can both rest easy on the flight knowing we are ready after that weekend!