Saturday, March 28, 2009

Race, Recovery and Rain

It's a rainy Saturday morning and I am still in my pajamas. My triathlon training plan calls for a rest day. Maybe I am taking the "rest day" thing a bit too far, but cold, grey skies above and puddles below have made the outdoors very unappealing. With nothing urgent on my to-do list, it seems like the perfect morning to curl up with a cup of herbal tea and a good book.

Last Saturday was a different kind of day. The sky was blue, the sun was bright and I had a race. Since it had been many years since my last 5K, I figured it would be a good idea to get one or two small running races under my belt before my first sprint-distance triathlon in June. My training pace has been pretty slow, usually around 11 minutes per mile, so I had no expectations that I would be competitive. I just wanted to see how the distance felt and have a race time I could work to improve upon.

My race results were a pleasant surprise. I finished in 30 minutes and 17 seconds, solidly in the middle of the pack. I was averaging 9:45 minute miles, much faster than my training pace. It really helped me to have other people to pace myself against. (I should start looking for a running partner.)

I felt good throughout the race and had energy to spare at the end. I feel more confident now that by June I will be able to run a 5K, even if it's slower, after swimming and biking.

The timing of the race was good, because it fit in with my plan's last long run before a recovery week. After three weeks of increasing volume, a recovery week gives my body time to rest and assimilate by backing the volume down 25%. I enjoy the beginning of recovery weeks, because after the third week's workouts my muscles are complaining and I am ready for a rest. The end of recovery week gets to be a bit of a drag.

On Fridays I have my long bike rides. Since it's still pretty cold, I have my bike set up on the bike trainer in the house. Riding for an hour or more on the trainer could get pretty boring, but, thanks to Hulu, I've been using my trainer rides to catch up on 24 and Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles, and the shows make the time go by quickly. This week, due to recovery, my ride was only 35 minutes. Afterward I felt like I hadn't done enough. (Not to mention that the latest episode of 24 was still playing.) I guess that's a sign that recovery week has done it's job and my body is ready to go again.

Tomorrow's scheduled run is the last recovery week workout. Outside, the sky has gotten a bit lighter, although the trees are still dripping after the heavy rains this morning. Perhaps the rain will clear out for my run. If not, I'll just have to go out and splash in the puddles. Today, rest day, I might venture as far as my yoga mat, or perhaps lift - a book.
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