The first week of July. A miserably hot and humid one in DC, just as it should be.
Last year, hot and humid weather meant some incredibly slow runs on my part, but I embraced it all in the name of training for a hot, humid Ironman race in Kentucky. This year, however, the Ironman I'm targeting is in Quebec, and this makes heat acclimation for race purposes seem less important, and thus makes the heatwaves an unwelcome training intrusion.
There are still advantages to training in the heat - for starters, if you live in DC in the summer, it's the only way to train, so the advantage is that you still get to train, period. Beyond that, heat-related adaptations such as increased blood plasma volume translate to better performances in cooler conditions. With that in mind, I headed out for numerous bikes and runs this week fully prepared to see laughably slow paces while ticking off the time and miles on my training plan.
That didn't happen, though. I may have finished my track workout with sweat on every square inch of my body, I may have contemplated jumping into a cold shower while still in my workout clothes when I got home from my long brick workout on Saturday, and I may have even welcomed headwind because it was, well, wind. But I wasn't slow. I even held a pace in the 8:40s after 26 miles on the bike on Thursday, despite 90+F heat index conditions.
So, DC summer, welcome. I've got an endless supply of salt and water, and you aren't getting me down this time.
Monday: Plain old 5.4 mile run in the morning, which thankfully felt fine after being sick the weekend before.
Tuesday: 50 minutes of strength training in the morning, then 4000 yards of slow swimming on my own in the evening. DCRP masters practice has moved to an outdoor pool for the summer, and thunderstorms were in the evening forecast, so I went with the sure bet and swam on my own. It’s sad how much slower I am without lanemates to push me to faster speeds.
Wednesday: A 6.3 mile (humid) track workout in the evening, including 7x800: 3:54-3:51-3:47-3:50-3:51-3:52-3:55. The times aren’t terribly fast, but the humidity made speed hard to come by, and I was surprised/pleased to be even under 8 minute/mile pace.
Thursday: A holiday, which gave Jason and I a chance to preview the bike course for the Olympic-distance tri we are doing in Perryville, MD this upcoming Saturday. We did 26 miles of biking, and then I ran 3 miles in some hot (almost 90F), humid weather, holding an 8:40 average.
The course preview was a great idea, and I’m glad we went. There are a few tricky descents and some steep climbs that are nice to know about, and it was also nice to know about the two long, flat straightaways that I plan to use to pick up a lot of speed on race day, since flats are my strength.
Once we wrapped things up there, we recovered with some delicious vegetables and pulled pork.
Friday: Rest day.
Saturday: Another hot and humid special. A five hour brick, starting with just over 60 miles of biking out to Poolesville, with an extra climb in and out of Great Falls Park for the fun of it. My power was high for a low heart rate, which is really notable given that it was 90 F by the time I finished, so maybe all that focused strength work I did to counteract my unwelcome and inexplicable weight gain in May is actually having an impact.
Once off the bike, I was expecting that the triple digit heat index would have me struggling to run anything anywhere near a 10 minute/mile pace. Since I was slated for an hour run, I settled on a standby 6 mile route in my neighborhood. Joke was on me, because I held onto 9:30s, got to 6 miles at 57 minutes, decided that was enough, and laid down in the shade of a tree half a block from home.
Sunday: An 8 mile run, also in hot and humid conditions, at a still-faster-than-expected 9:27 average. Then, some bike cleaning and tire replacement to prep for next weekend’s race.