Week 6 was about as relaxing of a week as I will get in 2012 outside of a taper week before my biggest races. I planned to take a recovery week after building up volume for 5 consecutive weeks to begin the 2012 campaign. For the week my total training time was only 15.5 hours. I ran 23 miles, biked 110 miles, and swam 15,200 yards. I also lifted weights and did plyometrics once, speed drills, strides, and push-ups all three times, lunges twice, and core work 7 times.
I had a great swim workout on Thursday. I've done a main set of 10x200's on 3:00 a few times this year but I wanted to see if I could do 20 of them which would take me exactly 1 hour for the set. I hit the first 18 all in 2:49 or 2:50 and then swam 2:46 on the last 2. I'm seeing nice improvements in my swim. A year ago I was doing a main set of maybe 6 200's on 3:00 and I would start at 2:42 and then go 2:45, 2:48, 2:52, 2:55, and barely make the last one. This year I'm finding that my top end speed isn't much different but I'm able to maintain a pace for long sets without my stroke falling apart. Much of this is due to the coaching I've received from Stacey Zapolski and Tara Christensen. They have taught me to swim much more efficiently and I could not have completed a set like I did on Thursday without their help. I'm swimming much more this year than in the past years with a hope that it will help me get out of the water with more riders in the pro races in 2012. We had our monthly swim clinic yesterday and it was another record breaking attendance as we had about 5 new members to the clinic. It is so much fun for me to watch these guys improve as much as they are each month when we meet. I'll keep posting when we have the clinics and if you want to come just show up. We are having a lot of fun learning from Stacey and Tara. This week they brought in a 3rd coach to help since the clinic has grown so much. The 3rd coach is Lisa Lammers who swam collegiately at the University of Iowa.
My best workout of the week came on Saturday when Jen and I drove to Clinton, Iowa to race a 4 mile event called the B-rrry Scurry. I had done a solid 3,700 yard swim workout in the morning and got home just in time to get my running clothes and head out. My older brother Justin rode with us to the race along with Payton and Owen. This race is extremely well run. For $25.00 you get a nice long sleeve dri-fit shirt and they have a great post race party, as well as complimentary childcare that we take advantage of. They also give free entries to former champions and Jen and I both won last year so we were privilaged to get those. Last year I ran the first 2 miles at tempo effort and then raced the last 2 as hard as I could. I think I went through 2 miles last year in 11:26 and then ran 10:18 on the last 2 for a total time of 21:44. This year I planned to race from the gun. After my warm up I found Jen and Owen was not having it in the daycare. He is suffering from a crazy bout of separation anxiety right now. Jen had him in the stroller. I offered to push Owen knowing this was a hard workout and I would still run as hard as I could with the stroller but my chances of placing high would be thrown out the window. Jen said she wanted to push him so I let her have the honors. I told her when I finished I would not stop...I would run backwards until I met up with her to take Owen for her finish.
RACE: When the gun sounded I took off and within a 1/2 mile I was settled into 5th place. There were 2 guys about 5 seconds up the road and I was in a group of 3. We went through the mile mark in 5:20. During the 2nd mile I bridged the group up to the front 2 runners and we hit the 1/2 way point all together in 10:44 (5:24 2nd mile). In the 3rd mile I took the lead and tried to separate the group a bit. I worked hard but I could hear everyone right behind me. I was not getting rid of anyone. I could hear them so close it sounded like I had 15 people running behind me. At the 3 mile mark we were 16:00 for a 5:16 split and we were still a solid group of 5 that you could throw a blanket over. I could feel things beginning to get faster and I soon found myself in 5th out of that pack of 5. With a 1/2 mile to go one guy, Tyler Sullivan from Iowa City was starting to gap the rest of us and I realized it was not going to be a win. Part of me wanted to wait for Jen because when I saw her at the turnaround she was about 10 seconds behind the women's leader despite pushing Owen in the stroller. I thought 1 win for the Paul's would be better than 0. I knew my time was much faster than I ever anticipated I would be running at this point in the year so I forced myself to dig down a bit and I moved up from 5th to 3rd with 600 meters remaining. In the last 400 I found myself about 3 seconds behind 2nd place and I waited patiently until the last 100 meters when I changed gears to a full sprint and was able to make the pass just before the finish line. My final time was 21:13 (5:13 on the last mile). I immediately turned around as promised and never stopped running. I did slow down to 6:00 pace until I saw Jen about 600 meters from the finish. She was now winning and said she would finish with Owen. She won the race not only pushing a stroller but she was also wearing a cupid costume with wings on that her friend Stephanie made for her. Last year they won the costume competition and this year they wore costumes again even though there was no special costume division this year. That is Jen's first win of the year and her achilles is feeling great so I'm really excited to watch her race well in 2012. We are planning to venture outside the QC to find her some highly competitive races this year. I was thrilled to run 21:13 already this year. I would have been happy with that time 8 weeks from now. I never thought I would be running like this already. What has me most excited is that I'm still 10 lbs. from my lowest race weight of last year and it shows in my stomach. Knowing I am racing this fast while carrying extra dead weight that won't be there in a few months has me tremendously excited for the things to come. I know this is a sport that rewards longevity. The training done year in and year out takes time for the body to adapt to. My hope is that the training I've done the past 3 years will continue to build me into better shape for the upcoming year. It was also super fun watching how much faster my brother Justin has gotten. Justin ran 32:24 for the 4 miles. Last year in his 5K's he was running 29:00. He has gone from over 9:30 pace for 3 miles down to 8:06 pace for 4 miles. He has also lost about 30 lbs. Those are the kind of improvements Live Uncommon aims to inspire. Justin is certainly Living Uncommon. Speaking of Live Uncommon they have put up a couple really cool videos on the website detailing the plans for 2012. Check them out at www.liveuncommon.org and join the movement!
This week I'll ramp this back up and hope to have a week similar to the one I had 2 weeks ago as I begin this next block of training. By the end of the next 4 weeks I should be putting in some pretty big volume. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!!