Today I got up at 4:30am without complaining, because today I got to move up a rung on the comeback ladder. Today I graduated from training just one discipline at a time, to working a 'brick'.
Bricks are training two legs of the triathlon together without stopping - ride bike, get off bike, take off helmet, put on running shoes, run. Most often, a brick is bike to run, but can sometimes be swim to bike or swim to run. I'll do a swim to bike in a few weeks, but today was my first of a 6 week series of bike/run bricks.
Central Park gets crowded in the evenings after work, and during the day it is open to traffic, so if you want to get a decent bike ride in, you have to get there crazy early. This class started at 6am, so that meant a 4:30 alarm and I had to be ON the 4/5 train no later than 5:30. It was still dark when I rode to Union Square, but by the time I got to 86th st, the sky had that grey, heavy quality that I used to associate with dragging my ass home after all night partying and a sense of dread for the hangover that was coming to get me in a few short hours. The circumstances were different, and I was anticipating rather than dreading, but make no mistake, that self-inflicted pain was still coming, and rather than hammering my brain with the blunt edge of too many margaritas, it was going perform a full body guerilla strike on all of my muscles over the next 48 hours. OK, bring it. I'm ready. I know for whom the bell tolls, and it tolls for my sorry ass.
Today's brick was going to be 'easy'. The bike leg was only 10 miles, with just one attack on the Harlem Hills, followed by a 2 mile run at 5k race pace on the reservoir. A hard brick would repeat that 3-4 times, with less than 10 minutes rest in between, but today we got a greak.
Hit the hills on the west side, and got a chance to have the coach watch my shifting. I'm having trouble timing my shifts, and as a result, I'm getting dropped on hills. Worked a bit, improved, was confident going up Cat Hill, and then managed to get cold dropped AGAIN at the top of the Harlem Hills. I gotta get this shifting down, because everytime I lose pace, a pack of racers wooshes past me and I lose the line I was riding as the pack spreads out. I thought I hated those hills when I was running, but climbing them on the bike is a new definition of pain. Eventually we will do strength drills and I will need to start doing standing climbs in a higher gear, rather than spinning my way up. I am not looking forward to that day.
The bike to run transition goes from a non weight bearing exercise to full weight bearing, so you can feel like you are running on dead legs for the first mile or so. I was told to spin in an easy gear for the last mile or so to work the lactic acid out of my legs to help get them ready for the run, so the last mile was spent furiously pedaling in the hopes that my legs would not feel like jello for my run.
They felt like jello for my run. It wasn't too bad, and after a quarter mile, I was fine. I started late, but I felt good, so I knew I'd catch people. I forgot my watch, but it felt like a good tempo pace that I could hold for 2 miles, and sure enough, I started spotting people from the class and just worked on reeling them in. I finished behind only two dudes, and I still had a little energy to burn, so it was a good run.
I liked this workout, I know its going to get harder, but it was nice to do so well at my first attempt. Gave me a little swagger for my ride out of the park and into the morning traffic on my trip back to the west side to drop my bike off. Its not THAT bad of a ride, but it is in traffic with lots of buses, morning truck deliveries, potholes, clueless pedestrians and everything else that makes riding in the city so exciting/terrifying.
I couldn't find any good Central Park bike videos, but to see a rush hour bike commute, check this one out. This dude rides from the Upper East Side to West Midtown. Its a pretty good example of why I don't ride in midtown, and why we get up so early to take advantage of the car-free hours in Central Park before rush hour. I have to work through the West Side and Downtown traffic all the time, but this is beyond what I can comfortably handle. Riding in this town is no joke, but I'm learning...fast!