You’ve Got to Go Fast to Get Fast

8 10 2012

First of all, I need to give a huge shout out to Mary, who PR’ed by two minutes at the Chicago Marathon this weekend! Congrats girl!

Mary’s been tapering for the past few weeks, which means I haven’t seen much of her at the pool or on the bike. Last weekend,  while she was resting and focusing for her race, a few Team XPers headed over to Alafia to get in some cycling.

Alafia is about 45 minutes or so away from my place in South Tampa. There’s actually a state park there which has (so I’m told) some of the best mountain biking trails in the area. However, we weren’t headed for those trails; instead, we ride on the quiet(ish) country roads nearby, surrounded by lots of farm land, orange groves, cattle, and these cute little goats that I had to stop to take a picture of 🙂

I’ve ridden with Felipe and Jess a few times at Alafia, so I’m starting to know our route. Last Saturday, Felipe had us ride out almost 16 miles at a comfortable pace. Then we’d stop, refuel and time trial the way back. By “time trial”, I basically mean we’d stagger our start times for the ride back, each person leaving a little after the person in front of them. The intention is to ride fast, almost as if you are racing. Generally speaking, a “time trial” start has everyone leaving an equal amount of time after the person in front of them. But, Felipe staggered us in such a way that our ride back would make us work hard to catch the person in front of us while valiantly trying not to get caught.

And work hard I did!
Here’s my splits:


We actually didn’t go the whole 16 miles back to the car as part of the time trial, we stopped and took the last three miles easy, if you couldn’t tell by the splits. And yes, mile 11 was uphill, a whopping 38 feet gain in elevation. 🙂

I went out to Alafia again this weekend with Felipe, Jess, and Chris, another XP teammate. I knew I was the weakest cyclist of the group, so I was going to need to work hard to stay with them.

We went a slightly different route this time, following Felipe’s lead. This route was sort of like a flag; we went straight for a little, made a right, went a few miles, made a left, went a few miles, made a left, went a few miles, and made one last left, to get back on the original straight.  We rode in a pace line: Felipe, Chris, Jess, then me. It’s fun but also a little nerve wracking, being pulled by strong cyclists!

Felipe had told Jess and I that if we get dropped, he wanted us to work together to get to our stopping point (the 2nd left of our flag). He wanted us to get there as fast as we could. Yes, coach!

Jess and I stayed with Felipe and Chris for a little while, mostly for the warm up and then the bottom of the “flag.” When we made the first left, Jess and I tried to stick with the boys but they were just too fast. No longer benefiting from the draft of the boys, we decided to take turns pulling each other, in 3 minute intervals.

Wanting to (literally) pull my weight as a cyclist, I worked really hard to maintain 19-20 mph. At our stopping point, around mile 17 I think, I was exhausted. That was HARD!

We took miles 17-22 pretty easy because we had some more fast riding coming up. At 22, we stopped for some instructions. We were going to time trial back, but only for 15 minutes. Felipe said something along the lines of “If you don’t feel like you’re going to puke at the end of 15 minutes, you didn’t go hard enough.” I was already pooped from the 3 minute intervals Jess and I had done. Now, I had to go fast again??

I dug deep and hit the road.

You can see that I got about 5 miles in the 15 minutes. My lungs and chest were burning after that! PHEW!

Thankfully, we took the remainder of the ride easy, but it was one of those workouts where you know that you’re better (athletically) because of it. On the ride back, Jess mentioned an article she had read by some famous run coach. Someone asked him how to get fast and he said, “Run fast!” I think the same goes for cycling and swimming too. You have to train your body to know what going fast feels like. If you practice speed, the speed will come! I’m looking forward to getting in more of these cycling workouts. Tri season 2013, watch out!

Side note: It’s pretty ironic that I opened up this post congratulating Mary, who, for this marathon training cycle, opted not to do any speed work. It clearly worked well for her, but remember every body is different and every race is different. 🙂