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Countdown to Tuscaloosa: 36 Days

Thursday is my heaviest workout day. Normally, I have an hour plus tempo ride at 6 a.m., a swim lesson at 8 a.m., and a tempo or hill run in the late afternoon. But as we get closer to race date, Coach Heather Collins likes to schedule a couple of brick workouts. A brick is workout that encompasses two of the segments of a triathlon, usually the run and bike segments.

I am planning to compete in two races in Tuscaloosa. The Standard Duathlon (10k run, 40k bike, 5k run) on Saturday and the Sprint Duathlon (5k run, 20k bike, 2.5k run) on Sunday.

It’s still cold here in the morning (32 degrees yesterday) so the ride segment was on the trainer. In order to simulate race effort, Heather had me do an FTP test for the bike portion. FTP is short for Functional Threshold Power. It is a power test used when training inside so that each rider can establish his or her own relative power level measured in watts.

It’s nobody’s favorite workout. An exercise in torture. After a thirty-minute warmup, the objective is to ride as hard as you can at a level you can sustain for twenty minutes. Meaning you’re not supposed to start at 200 watts and end at 150 watts.

As soon as I finished the test, I dismounted, put on my running shoes, and ran out of the house. The run segment was 2.5k and my goal pace was 8 to 8:30 per mile. The fatigue from the FTP test is a good proxy for the fatigue I would feel coming off the bike in the race.

When I did this workout two weeks ago, I took too long to get up to speed and my average pace was 8:40. A learning point for my race preparation.

This time I was really focused on getting up to speed immediately.

Maybe a little too focused. I ran what I thought was the 2.5k distance at a pace of 7:59. I was pleased until I checked the distance on my Garmin and realized I had only run 2.3k. Another learning point.

The coach has added “Know the course” to my list of pre-race instructions.

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