6 weeks. That's the amount of time before the first local sprint triathlon.
3 weeks. That's the amount of time until the first bike TT on my 2010 race calendar.
Our triathlon race season starts early around here. There are plenty of reasons for that, not the least of which is, of course, that our weather allows us to train outside all year round. The big 'A' race of the year (for most of us) is the first weekend in June. After that, unless you qualify for Kona, there are only a handful of little races to play around at. My point with all that is this: The time has come for us. It's time to get fit. It's time to start getting fast. It's time.
I am not one of those natural athletes who can not train all year and then show up to a race and be bad ass fast. It takes work for me. Lots of time and lots of work. That's ok. I like work. :)
Which makes the fact that I had the opportunity to participate in my own Bike Week last week just perfect. I've been putting a ton of base miles in, and when you also throw in some short hard fast intervals, it sets you up nicely for some group training where you know you'll be testing your limits. Today was the start of that for me!
So I went out for the group ride with my own understanding for myself that when it got fast, I wasn't going to argue with myself about it being 'too fast' or 'too hard', because it's time. I'm ready to go fast. I'm ready to go hard. And I did. And it was awesome.
I feel good about the way I planned the ride today- 62 miles, out and back... a few other gals started at my house with me and we rode out to Sunset Beach at a steady/moderate zone 2 type effort. All along with the understanding that on the way back we would be joining the group (read: fast guys) and doing whatever it took to hang on to a wheel. Yell obscenities at yourself (or others, whatever), just do not get dropped.
So we met the group at the turn around point and got going headed home. The pace didn't start off too fast. In fact, for the first 5 miles or so it wasn't any faster than what we gals had done riding out... I was not fooled though. I've ridden with these guys long enough to know that at some point they would get all antsy at the slow pace and start racing each other, and I was ready to play when it all started. And then sure enough, one after another, they started attacking and it was Game On!
I glanced briefly at my heart rate monitor a couple times... wow that's high... but I felt ok and was hanging right in there... in no danger of being dropped... and then it got faster... and I hung in there... and then it got faster... We were flying! Yet still, while I was right on the edge of my personal cliff, there was no thought of falling off. I did not know I could maintain a heart rate that high for so long. But you know what? I can.
These are the rides, when used at the appropriate times (and sparingly) that make us fast. There is no way I could have pushed myself the way I did today without those guys to pace off of. So while I am in no way advocating that we should ride like that every time we go out, I do think that without those types of efforts, you finish a race, look at the results, and think, "Why can I not go faster on the bike?" If you're not going fast enough on the bike, it's likely because you're never pushing yourself past your own little comfort zone in training.
When it comes time for you, find a group of people who are faster than you. Then start showing up to their rides. Hang on as long as you can before you get dropped. Then go back and try again next week. Hang on a little longer this time before you start yelling obscenities and get dropped. Then one of those times, you'll be there, at the end of the ride, with the group, thinking, "I just did that. Wow. I rock." The key (of course) is that you have to earn your way into those efforts, and then use them appropriately to boost your ceiling.
My ceiling was raised today. Sweet.